Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Kinder, Gentler, Lower Calorie Sugar Cookie (Dairy, Egg and Nut Free)

Here is a cookie that is not only safe for those with food allergies, but you won't break the caloric bank with them either (especially if you don't ice them).  No matter what holiday you celebrate, or if you are just in a mood for a really good sugar cookie, try this one out first. 

Here's what you won't get in these cookies!
  • Loads of sugar
  • No egg
  • No butter
Here's what you get
  • No guilt holiday
  • Healthier cookie
  • Great taste

Makes approximately 18 cookies

1/3 cup canola oil
½ cup Florida Natural Crystals
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-cup whole- wheat pastry flour
1-cup unbleached flour
1 TBSP milk of your choice (I use So Delicious Coconut)
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 ½- tsp. pure vanilla
2-3 drops lemon extract

·         Combine oil, sugar and applesauce. You can use a hand mixer or a whisk until it looks creamy and color is uniform. 

·         Add flour, milk, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and vanilla and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated (you don’t have to use a mixer for this).

·         Roll dough into a disk (it may be a bit oily) and wrap it in plastic wrap. I use a Ziploc bag that is cut in half.  The dough doesn’t seem to stick as much to the bag.

·         Place in freezer for 1 hour or more.

·         Set oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets w/parchment paper.

·         Remove from freezer and place it on the half Ziploc bag.  Sprinkle both sides w/flour and place second half of Ziploc over the dough.

·         Flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to ¼ “ thickness.  Turn the dough clockwise to get all sides.  It is so much easier to do this with a Ziploc bag.  I find it works much better than plastic wrap or parchment, especially when you have to “peel” the dough sometimes.

·         Use cookie cutters to shape dough (smaller cookie cutters are best) and place on parchment paper.

·         Bake for 6-8 minutes depending on your oven.

·         Remove from oven and let cookies cool for about 1-2 minutes

·         Slide off baking sheets and place on cooling rack.

A Few Notes for Great Cookies
·       You can double this recipe to make 3 dozen however; I find making one batch at a time yields better dough.  Too much in one bowl is very oily.

·        This is a light, delicious, crispy cookie (make sure you roll it thin) even with the whole-wheat pastry flour.  It is slightly grayer in color (not the full golden color you get with regular flour).  It is slightly grainier, but undetectable to most.  For different results, feel free to play with the flour ratios. 

·        This is very sticky dough.  Use flour to help with rolling and work fast.  As the dough warms up it becomes challenging to work with, so put it in the fridge to firm up for a few minutes.
·         Decorating is the fun part, but I do not like all those artificial sugars and gels.  Here are some other suggestions…

    The most popular cookie so far was the sandwich cookie.  Place two alike cookies flat bottoms up. Fill one cookie with a dark-chocolate ganache, or all natural fruit preserves and press the cookies together.  The preserve-filled whole-wheat pastry cookie was the voted favorite.

·         You can freeze the cookies and any leftover dough.

·         If you have any scraps that aren’t big enough for a cookie cutter…take a small medicine cup and make small circles in the leftover dough.  It’s the perfect shape and you can make mini-filled cookies.

Remember to enjoy your family and your food!! Happy Holiday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe-"Cheesecake Cuties"

Thanksgiving is typically the portal to guilty holiday overeating, resulting in New Year's resolutions which are routinely broken by January 15th. Sound familiar? It's a vicious cycle. Moreover, for those of us with food allergies, these types of holidays are landmines. We are constantly surrounded by string beans almondine, pecan pie, walnut brownies, stuffing with egg, and the list goes on. 

As a writer about nutrition, a recently appointed trainer at ThePerfectWorkout, and a mom with children suffering from multiple food allergies, I am trying to balance holiday consumption and safety-not always an easy thing to juggle especially when it comes to dessert.

This Thanksgiving, try this recipe for "Cheesecake Cuties." They are nut, dairy, egg and gluten free. They are petite,creamy and incredibly easy to make. They won't break your calorie bank (unless you eat all 24) they are safe for those allergy challenged, and they really taste great. There is no reason why you can't have dessert (for diet and allergy reasons) and these will definitely fill both those needs. 

Enjoy your holiday. Be grateful for family. Don't sweat the small stuff. Try to get in at least one workout -you will be glad you did! 

"Cheescake Cuties"
(adapted from The Sweet Spot)

1 cup nut butter ( I used WOW Butter-soy nut butter-you can use any kind of      nut butter)

2 overripe medium sized bananas(I had one so I use about 1/3 cup of pumpkin with 1 banana)

2 "eggs"- I used 3 tsp. Ener-G Egg replacer+4 TBSP water (make this in advance and let it sit for a few minutes before putting in food processor)**

2 TBSP pure maple syrup

1/2 TBSP pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. cinnamon

mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place muffin liners in pan (these make 24 minis or 10-12 full size muffins)
2. Place all ingredients in a  food processor.
3. Blend until well mixed
4. Scoop batter (use small scooper) into muffin tin
5. Sprinkle mini chips on top
6. Bake 10-12 min. for minis- 15 min. for full size. 
7. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes and then place on baking rack. They need a few minutes to cool and come together. 

**Notes on Egg replacer-you can use regular eggs, or if you don't have Ener-G, you can use a flax egg-1 tbsp golden flaxseed, 3 TBSP water (mix well and let sit for 5 minutes before adding).

PS-Looking for an amazing workout? 

Go to will be amazed what you can accomplish in only 20 minutes, twice a week with NO CARDIO!  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An AfFARE to Remember

Hey everyone! This past Sunday my son and I worked one of the tables at the local FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) walk in Maryland. It was a beautiful day and a great event. What struck me the most, however, was my 11 year old's metamorphosis. Most of the time, I'm telling him to "cut it out," "calm down" or "stop being so silly and focus." I know, these are typical statements used in reference to most 11 yr. old boys! Nevertheless, what I witnessed this past Sunday was eye opening. Here was a boy full of poise, maturity (always relative) showmanship, salesmanship and totally being in the moment.

For the first time in a very long time, he was able to be himself without worrying that someone was judging him as "weird" for having a food allergy. He talked to little kids and shared his experiences, and just as easily conversed with adults, impressing them with his allergy acumen and his passion. Who was this kid?

I have always firmly believed that doing good for others makes for a well rounded child, yet due to  generally letting life and all it craziness get in the way, we haven't done enough of it lately. What I witnessed this past Sunday only reinforced the idea that gratitude and good deeds truly are an essential part of our children's upbringing. Sometimes we need reminders to just smack us in the face bringing us out of our complacency.

Below is the link to the live impromptu video we did on Facebook. I love this video because it truly demonstrated our genuine feelings about the day along with our gratitude to being an important part of something greater than ourselves.

Friday, September 9, 2016

You Can't Put a Price on Life-But Mylan Did

When our 20 year-old television started cutting off tops of heads, my husband and I decided to purchase a flat screen. We didn't need a lot of reasons to make this investment. The culminating factor was when  my 11 yr. old had to start wearing his glasses specifically to see the Netflix descriptions because they were too small-OMG tragedy!  Sure, it was an expense, and yes, we researched it for weeks, poring over Sunday circulars and stalking Amazon until we found the right size at the right price. Press the button-CLICK-and a new TV comes to our door through Prime magic. TADA! Now, could we have waited a while longer? SURE. Did we HAVE to get a new one? NO. Could we have survived? ABSOLUTELY!

The television is a luxury, a frivolous source of entertainment. If it's on the fritz or it cuts off tops of heads or the news crawler at the bottom of a newscast, I can pretty much live, or find another gadget like my phone or Ipad. On second thought, it's probably better that I can't read the news at the bottom of the screen. The point is, it's an OPTION and I won't die if I had to live with the status quo. Moreover, I had thousands to choose from. Admittedly a little overwhelming.

Not so much with an Epi-Pen purchase.  It's not an option. It's not something my kids can live without. I can't run to Amazon and price compare. There's one choice. LIFE. They say you can't put a price on life, but evidently you can, to the tune of $600.

The Mylan Epi-Pen scandal has been an unfolding  news story these past few weeks and while I have remained relatively  quiet on the subject, (which is unusual for me) it has been bubbling up within. Both my children have severe food allergies. We live with the reality everyday. The Epi-Pen is an appendage, It's basically attached to us even if it's a non-food related activity. That's our life. An asthmatic wouldn't be without an inhaler; a diabetic needs their insulin. These are the things that help keep us alive, so we take it pretty seriously, even though much of the population thinks that food allergy folks are over dramatic sensationalists.

The fact that a company can gouge it's customers who basically have no choice, is not only reprehensible but a complete violation to human beings on this planet. I'm not naive. I know the world can sometimes be a nasty place, however, this isn't the first time a company's greed reached a pinnacle where the Senate woke up and decided to launch an investigation. HO HUM. Like that hasn't happened before. Then what? In the meantime, while they're scrambling and acting self-righteous, we (the allergy community) are still stuck in the trenches shelling out thousands of dollars (because one needs more than one Epi-Pen) to keep our children alive. My wish is that this issue will have an expedient resolve before a tragedy unfolds because you can't put a price on life, even though Mylan did.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Taking Things with a Grain of Salt-Literally-Adventures in a Salt Cave

Bethesda Salt Cave - Bethesda, MD, United States. Inside the salt cave.
Photo from Bethesda Salt Cave

Hello folks! Yesterday I had a unique experience. My son and I went to a salt cave! Holy salt cave bat man, what’s that? Well, for the uninformed (and I am in the same boat as you until yesterday), a salt cave is literally what it sounds like. It’s a cave made from salt. Well, this was a man-made cave, it reminded me of a cheesy soap opera sound stage where the couple finds themselves trapped in a cave-salt or otherwise, and wind up making mad passionate love on the floor, while attempting to fight the evil that surrounds them. Alas, no couple, no evil, just me and my 11- year old taking a nap in a salt cave.  But let’s backtrack. Below is a description of the Bethesda Salt Cave, (from their website) where I experienced bliss in a cave.

Story of the Salt Cave
Bethesda Salt Cave is a family-owned and operated business located in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. Based on medical knowledge and experience, we have recreated the natural salt-enriched micro climate of a Himalayan salt cave. Our unique therapeutic salt cave contains salt rock crystals weighing between 2 ounces and 250 pounds each that come directly from the deepest recesses in mines located at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range.

More than 250 million years old, the rock salt crystals are the result of micro-organisms that were compounded by thousands of tons of heavy rock plates causing them to fossilize. The crystal rock salt is considered an organic food source laced with 84 different minerals and trace elements, all of which are found in the human body. The purity of the salt is retained due to the solid rock masses which created and protected it from surface water erosion. Himalayan crystal rock salt is highly acclaimed as a natural, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agent, uncontaminated by dirt and free of toxins and pollutants.

The Secret of Salt Therapy is Simple
Bethesda Salt Cave is lined from floor to ceiling with Himalayan crystal rock salt and heated to 68 degrees. This heat generates a negative ionic charge in the salt rock which is released into the air. By breathing in and exposing our internal systems and skin to the healing negative ionic charge and to the 84 different trace elements found in the salt, our mind, body and spirit become detoxified, relaxed and recalibrated and heal on many different levels.

Why Did I Go to a Salt Cave?
Pretty simple-We have a host of eczema, asthma and allergy issues in our home. When my son came home from camp, I figured all those issues would be very prevalent, and tired of the steroid spray, Claritin, skin steroid merry- go- round, I figured it was less than a co-pay to the allergist or dermatologist. In other words, it couldn’t hurt. Now, mind you, while I’m all for alternative healing methods, I still firmly believe in conventional medicine. I am not one to ditch inhalers, or creams in search of the elusive alternative therapy cure. Rather, I am a firm proponent of using both in tandem to create a better chance of relief and recovery.

My Impressions
Loved it. Now, our experience was a bit unusual because we were the only ones in there. It was during the week in the summer and you won’t find many people flocking to a salt cave at 1:00 on a Tuesday in downtown Bethesda. So, to have the cave all to ourselves was definitely a luxury. It has zero gravity chairs and some comfortable floor cushions that my son and I chose to lay on for 45 minutes. Of course, we tried the chairs as well, but at the end of the day lying down curled under a blanket was the most comfortable. It’s quiet and cool, and if you can believe an 11 year- old turned off his electronics and took a nap-well as far as I’m concerned-that’s a cave miracle in and of itself!! Yes, he really fell asleep!

I could definitely breathe easier, my post nasal drip virtually disappeared, I didn’t have one hot flash and call me crazy, the little aches and pains I normally experience in my injured knee or back, seemed minimal. Ari, didn’t sniffle once and his itching was minimal. We both walked out of there feeling so relaxed and refreshed, it really felt good. I also slept better that night-coincidental?

Here’s the downside-I did notice that an hour later or so as we re-entered the hot, harsh and polluted world, not to mention my dusty home, all the symptoms returned. Bummer.  But, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t return. It probably takes a few more sessions to see longer lasting results.

What Does the Husband Think?

For those of you who know my skeptical husband, you can only imagine. But the thing I love about the hubby is that before he calls it new age malarkey, he will at least entertain the possibility. Of course, he hasn’t drunk the Kool Aid on new age therapies like I have, but he was interested in its potential.  Once I started spouting ionic negativity theory, he did break down in a fit of laughter, not to mention some very exaggerated eye rolling.

Would I Go Again?
Absolutely. My son loved it. It’s roughly $35. Of course I had to pay for parking.  I felt really good for most of the day and so did he.  It’s the price of a pedicure and if I had a choice, I would probably choose the cave and do a home pedi for sure.

A Few Bad Salt Puns and Idioms
1 You won’t feel A-SALT-ED. Get it?Assaulted.

2 It’s good to rub salt in your wounds, literally.

3 In the cave, one has a salter-ego 

4 A trip to the salt cave really “shakes” things up.

  A sprinkle a day keeps the mucous away. (OY)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Washington Family Magazine, August 2016

Hi everyone! Here is my back to school allergy article in Washington Family Magazine, with an awesome and really easy recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies!! Video of recipe coming soon! ENJOY!! For a larger view click on the link below:

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Good to Be Back

Hi All!

It's good to be back. Sorry for the hiatus. Sometimes life just gets in the way. The point is, life keeps chugging along and so do I.  So, my goal this year is to provide more recipes (allergy free of course) though, I am not a very good food photographer so you will have to take my word for it, even if it doesn't look stellar .  While I would love to muse more about my children, as I so often do, I have recently found out that both of them now actually read what I write-oops. It hasn't been pretty. 

Nevertheless, I'm back and working on things for the Fall including an article I wrote for Washington Family Magazine on Back to School and Food Allergies. See you soon. Happy Summer. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

When TV Journalists Go To Far

When TV Journalists Go To Far

I am simply  appalled by this. Do you think Al Roker and/or Matt Lauer would make fun of diabetes or cancer? When noted journalists make comments like this they set the allergy world back by encouraging the public to think that food allergies aren't serious.