Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Update on Where I’ll Be Signing Books

It’s been so great to get out and meet so many food allergy families at the fundraising events that have been happening in the Northeast.

I’ll be at a few more FAAN walks in the next few weeks:

Saturday, October 13, 2012 - Westchester
Glen Island Park
Pelham Road
New Rochelle, NY 10801

Sunday, October 14, 2012 – Long Island
Eisenhower Park
Hempstead Turnpike (Parking area 6 and 6A)
East Meadow, NY 11554

Sunday, October 21, 2012 – New Jersey
Wild Duck Pond
1133 E. Ridgewood Ave.
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Find out more about the FAAN food allergy walks here.

Whether you want to buy a book or simply ask me a question about allergen-free baking, if you attend please stop by and say hi!

Unfortunately, I have learned that the Connecticut location will not allow book sales, so I will no longer be attending that FAAN walk on October 7th. But if you live in Connecticut (or another region of the country) and want a signed book, please contact me here and we can work out the details.

And for those in the Hudson Valley area, I will be doing an allergen-free and gluten-free baking demo and giving a talk at the East Fishkill Library on November 15th. You can find out more and register here. It should be lots of fun!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to Use Quick Rising Yeast

When I’m baking bread gluten-free and allergen-free my choice is always quick rising yeast over active dry yeast.

I choose quick rising yeast because it’s easy and it’s fast. I also choose it because it simply makes sense when baking with gluten-free grains.

Active dry yeast is called for in most wheat-based recipes, and that makes sense too – the gluten needs time to develop, as does the active dry yeast. When baking gluten-free, there is no need to proof the dough for hours, so it makes sense to choose the faster acting yeast. Quick rising yeast is the gluten-free bread baker's best friend!

Here’s my latest video, which describes how to use quick-rising yeast:

Quick rising yeast is also called rapid rise yeast or instant yeast. Like active dry yeast, you should store it in the refrigerator or freezer once opened.

You can learn a lot more about yeast and other gluten-free and allergen-free baking tips and tricks in the Crash Course Features in Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts .

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pasta, Quick and Easy with Namaste Foods

A while back, the folks at Namaste Foods sent me some of their new pasta mixes to review. I tried the Taco Pasta first, and was thrilled with it. Next up was the Pasta Pisavera. I found both mixes to be quite good, and very flexible.

I’ll be honest, I was procrastinating on trying the Say Cheez pasta mix. I have simply not been satisfied with most non-dairy cheeses, and usually find it a better option to forego the cheese. So this particular mix sat on the shelf for a while, but I was down to leftovers or this. I decided to try it, and was quite happy that I did!

The pasta in this mix is made into macaroni-style shapes, to mimic traditional mac and cheese, but it doesn’t try to make a “fake cheese.” Instead, the seasoning packet that comes in this package is a combo of seeds, powders, spices, and flavors that make it quite a tasty dish! When I added some ground sausage and onion, I was quite thrilled with the result. I topped it with some sliced avocado and voila!

I'll be making all of these pasta meals again!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Better Batter Seasoned Flour Mix and Eggplant Parmesan

Of the box full of mixes that the Better Batter folks sent me to try, the one that intrigued me the most was the Seasoned Flour Mix. I’ve been using crushed corn flakes and/or crushed rice cereal as my alternative to traditional breadcrumbs, so I was excited when I saw that this mix was much more than that. The ingredients include rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, potato flour, xanthan gum, pectin, salt, and spices. It’s a gluten-free flour blend with pizzazz!

My first project with the mix was to coat some chicken and bake it – “shake-and-bake” style. I let the chicken sit for about an hour after coating it with the mix, and then baked. Quick and easy – and delicious! I didn’t use eggs to coat the chicken before dipping them in the mix.

With a successful chicken project under my belt, I decided to use some eggplant that I picked up at the farm to make eggplant parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant
2 tbsp salt
¾ cup Better Batter seasoned flour mix
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup mozzarella cheese *
¼ cup parmesan cheese *

*Special note – I used real cheese, as my milk-allergic son is away. If you have a milk allergy, substitute the appropriate non-dairy cheese alternative, such as Daiya.

1. Slice the eggplant (about 3/8” slices). Fill a large bowl with water and stir in the salt. Soak the eggplant in the salted water for at least an hour. This step helps eliminate the bitterness in the eggplant.

2. Spread the seasoned flour mix on a plate. Dip each slice of eggplant into the flour mix, coating both sides. Set the coated slices aside on a plate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Spread half of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Layer eggplant, then mozzarella cheese, then eggplant, then cheese, until all the eggplant is used. Cover with the remaining tomato sauce then the parmesan cheese.

4. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes (until the sauce is bubbling).

Success! Again, in this recipe I didn’t coat the eggplant with eggs or any other liquid prior to coating them with the seasoning mix, and I found that this worked extremely well.

Have you tried Better Batter seasoned flour mix? What do you think?

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Great Day with KFA in Plymouth Meeting

The Kids with Food Allergies Foundation had their annual fundraising Expo – Strides for Safe Kids – on Sunday in Plymouth Meeting (near Philly). I was there to sign books, but also as a member of the Board of Directors of Kids with Food Allergies. If you couldn’t be there, here’s a bit of what you missed.

It was a beautiful day and we arrived early to set up.

Lynda Mitchell, KFA CEO and President was greeting people and make sure things were running smoothly.

I wasn’t the only one signing books – Sloane Miller, author of Allergic Girl was there too! Here she is (on the left) with Heidi Bayer (right), Chair of the Board of Directors for KFA.

Later in the morning, Heidi Bayer, KFA board chair, presented Pennsylvania Representative Thomas Murt with a certificate of appreciation for his legislative efforts to protect children with food allergies in school. Representative Murt is a co-sponsor of the Pennsylvania House bill for “School Access to Emergency Epinephrine.

I was busy signing books...

... while Kyle Dine entertained the kids.

The best part of the day was talking to the parents (and the kids) about their favorite foods. The positive energy was everywhere!

The very first book I signed was for a couple that came in with their grandson. They were all beaming from ear to ear. The proud grandmother informed me that her daughter had told her she must get a signed copy of my book. We talked a bit about her grandson’s food allergies, and then she told me that her daughter would been there herself, but she just had a baby on Saturday and was still in the hospital. (Between you and me, having a baby is as good a reason as I can think of to miss an event!) She asked me to sign the book to Kathryn, and I paused – Wait, I know her! Yes, the very first person I signed a book for was Kathryn Macado, who blogs about raising her family with food allergies at Mamacado and is a frequent visitor here! Congratulations Kathryn on the new baby, and enjoy the book!

Kids with Food Allergies is a national non-profit, and helps families struggling with food allergies every day. Even if you live in another part of country you can still help. The event is continuing as a “virtual fundraiser” until early December. On the top right of this screen you will see a donation button. Whether you donate through my page, to another Kids with Food Allergies giving page, or directly, doesn’t matter one bit, but if you can, please consider a small donation. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Every Kid Should Be a BugyBop

I was delighted earlier this week when I received a surprise in the mail from children’s author Amy Recob. I like surprises! Amy sent me a copy of her award-winning children’s book, The Bugabees: Friends With Food Allergies, as well as the latest addition to the series, The BugyBops.

The first book, complete with colorful and captivating illustrations, is about a set of characters who have food allergies – each unique – but all who are happy and have fun despite their food restrictions. It is simply delightful.

When I met Amy a few weeks ago, she explained that she also needed to write a book for her second, non-food-allergic child, and the BugyBops was born.

The BugyBops focuses on the friends of the BugaBees (who incidentally are all bugs or insects of varying species). The BugyBops look out for their friends, they protect them, they are the children’s version of what Allergic Girl author Sloane Miller would call “safe friends.” BugyBops make changes in their own diets so their friends can stay safe, they speak for their friends when they need to, and they wouldn’t think of doing anything that can harm their friends.

Whether it’s a sibling, a friend, or just a classmate, every child should be a BugyBop.
As parents, we should teach our children to be BugyBops, just like we teach them to hold the door open for the person behind them.

One of the things I really appreciate about these books is that they are appropriate for children of all ages; they are great read-aloud books, but also appropriate for children to read on their own, as they get older. And the activities and talking point sections in each book are perfect tools for parents, grandparents, educators, or caregivers to help children understand the importance of food allergies.

Let’s all be BugyBops!