Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stop and Go and I Don't Know

It has been a very busy couple of weeks.  School started for both Little B and myself, so it's been very hard to keep up with the things I enjoy like working out, blogging about my dairy-free kitchen and being a generally well-rested person.  Life gets in the way sometimes. It pushes you forward and you just keep going and going and going until something stops you.

Like an intestinal strike, courtesy of Little B's digestive system. 

We were finally getting into a groove when everything stopped. Little B gobbled up vegan lasagna made with cashew ricotta, spinach salads, fruits, veggies, almost everything you'd want your kid to eat.  We'd been on about 3/4 of a teaspoon of medicine for 10 days when everything came to a halt. Her tiny little belly ballooned out like a 9 month pregnant kindergartner. Eight days passed - no poop. Not even a skid mark.

We've been in this situation before, remedied by an adult dose of Miralax daily until things got moving.  So for three more days, we gave her the 4.5 teaspoons of laxative as suggested by our doctor.  She's 5 and weighs 34 pounds.  That's a lot for a little girl. 

Aggravated as ever, we got two appointments set up. One with an Allergist/Immunologist and one with a Surgical Specialist.

ME: Do you do celiac panels?

DOCS: Yes.

ME: At the patient's request?

DOCS: Yes.

ME: Even if the said patient isn't experiencing the "classic" diarrhea symptom?

DOCS: What kind of insurance do you have?  

ME: I will pay cash up front. 

DOCS: Sure. We can do that.  

Strangely enough though, since Thursday, we have had diarrhea. Isn't that lovely? In 5.5 years, the only time she had the Hershey-squirts was once while on an antibiotic for an ear infection.  In the last three days, I've washed out more panties than I care to admit, resulting in the purchase of the most expensive, princess-plastered pull-ups I could find. Thank God Little B doesn't like to have stains in her Tiana panties and understands Mama B can only take so much poop in one day.  I didn't think my gag reflex could take much more.  

When we set out on this venture about 6 weeks ago, my mediocre research led me to believe that if Little B had a allergy it was either dairy or wheat. Based on the fact that a test for dairy allergy will show positive results regardless of whether there has been any dairy intake affected the decision to remove dairy from her diet.  Wheat is different.  If Little B does suffer from celiac, she must to have it in her system to show a positive blood test.  Of course, it is only confirmed by a biopsy to check the villi in the small intestine; six months on a wheat-free diet, then another biopsy to see if the villi have healed. 

Doesn't that sound like a super-fun time?

And, it seems that some celiacs, before they are diagnosed, seem to think they are lactose intolerant or test for a dairy allergy. Their digestive systems can't handle the milk because of the damage in the small intestine. So a dairy-free diet will help, but not cure the problem.  Maybe explaining our initial success?  Who knows...

Of course, maybe it isn't either of those things. Maybe my poor child will have to be on a laxative for the remainder of her life. Maybe she'll grow out of it.

I just don't know anymore...and that's tough for a mom.   

I'm not sure if I can say, "Honey, we'll get it figured out. You will feel better soon!"

In lieu of a cure, I settled for what moms do best...comfort food.

I made Macaroni & Cheese and my own version of LARA Bars, a new family favorite.


1/3 c. walnuts
1/3 c. cashews
1/3 c. almonds
2/3 c. pitted dates
1 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 c. mini vegan chocolate chips

Grind or blend the nuts into dust.  If you like nuts, feel free to blend a little less and leave larger pieces. Set aside.

Blend the dates, vanilla and salt until it separates into balls. Add the nuts. Blend until well mixed.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Press into a saran wrap lined 8x8 pan and press until flat.

Let set for a couple of hours. Cut into 8 bars and wrap individually.

Make sure to take some to your darling co-workers who have to listen to you talk about your child's intestinal duress and keep the school office stocked with TP and panties. 

Gotta go...I just heard, and I quote, "I got a great, big poopie out!"

We shall see friends, we shall see.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do Over!

Everyone screws up every once and awhile.  Some of us more often than others, but it does happen to all of us. 

It happened to me.

It was one of those mistakes that you don't see coming, where you weren't thinking things through, and certainly didn't see the chain of events that would follow after you rectified the mistake.

So Little B starts kindergarten next week.  I am fortunate enough that she gets to go to the school where I teach and the teachers are exceptional. This is not a dumb joke to compliment myself.  The other teachers in the building are phenomenal.  Hardly a days goes by where I don't consider how lucky I am to work with such outstanding people (despite the dent their mastery inflicts on my professional self esteem!).

When I went to enroll her, my also exceptional administrator asked which class I would like her to be in.  I told her it didn't matter to me.  Let's just put it this way.  People should move cross country to get their five-year-olds in my school.  Mrs. L and Mrs. S work kindergarten magic.  Then she asked me if Little B had any Little friends she might like to be with. "Yes!" I responded immediately.

Little B and her little friend got tucked away into the same class.

I went home and shared the news, everyone was ecstatic. 

Enter a Mama's kryptonite: WORRY.

I love Little B.  She has a great imagination, an aptitude for music, a zest for life and Chocolate Soymilk.  But she is also a follower.  It is dreadfully common for kids this age to want exactly what their friends want, do exactly what their friends do, throw a screaming, crying fit when they can't see their friend.

All I could see were precious minutes of instruction flushed down the tube thanks to my child's antics...and of course torturous seconds of wailing from the time-out chair (torturous for the teacher that is, who would have to endure the aural damage).  

So I decided to start out my journey as the interfering, annoying parent a tad earlier than expected.  I mean, come on! The school year hasn't even started yet!  I tucked my tail and asked if Little B or her friend could be switched to the other class. I explained I felt like a total irresponsible moron, who didn't take the time to think about the consequences of that decision I made in haste.  Idiocy: it's a lovely badge to wear. 

The change was made.

The emotional avalanche that I was expecting was merely a wintry drizzle, except for me

I want a do over, not necessarily to make the right decision the first time, but to change my expectations instead of making mountains out of molehills. I sort of thought I had passed that juvenile, psychotic reaction phase.  Apparently, not. I thought everone would be mad at me, everyone would feel bad because of me.  Turns out I am waaaay more self-referential that I realized. Hello, junior high.

I still feel like a tool, for lack of better late nineties slang. Aren't I just prolonging the issue by rehashing it and writing about it?  And isn't this blog supposed to be about dairy-free living anyway? Shouldn't I be talking about Little Bs bowl movements and abdominal distention?

I'm going to shut up now and make some cookies. Cookies make you feel better. 

At least I can't interfere or talk when my mouth is full of dairy-free, gooey, chocolatey goodness.


1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. all purpose flour  (I'm a realist, people)3/4 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt
1 c. Earth Balance margarine (softened)
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup silken tofu, drained
2 t. vanilla
1 c. dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Use a Silpat mat or spray cookie sheets.
Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  (I sifted.) 
In another bowl (I used my Kitchen Aide), combine the margarine, sugars, tofu, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and beat well. Add chocolate chips. 

I used a cookie scoop and placed the wads about 2-3 inches apart.  Bake until the edges are brown. 10 minutes was the magic time for my decrepit oven.  (Hint, hint, Mr. B)

Oh, and if you live in Kansas or anywhere else it is 105* at 7pm, you'll want to put your dough in the fridge between batches. 

Cool on wire rack.  Store in an airtight container if you don't eat them all while wallowing.

It turns out this is the best cookie I've ever eaten.  I plan on abandoning my lucrative, but short-lived career as a bread maker and focus on cookies.

Forget Earth GrainsOtis Spunkmeyer better watch out now. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Living the Dream

My brother-in-law always says he's "Living the Dream."  Beautiful house in swanky suburb of Cincinnati, posh job with a big company and a super cute girlfriend.  So maybe he is living his dream.  But this weekend, I got to live a little one of mine.

Mr. B asked me Friday morning what I'd like to do for my last weekend as a free woman. I described it to him...and people - IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED!

Remember that catchy song from OKLAHOMA?

I got to Kansas City on a Frid'y

By Sattidy I larned a thing or two

Like I would totally uproot my family simply to live near a Whole Foods Market. Sigh.
For up to then I didn't have an idy
Of whut the modren world was comin' to!

Yes, that's our hotel.  You know they must be hurting if they are only charging $89 a night.

Ev'rythin's up to date in Kansas City
They've gone about as fur as they c'n go!
They went and built a skyscraper seven stories high,
About as high as a buildin' orta grow.

Again, our hotel.  Swanky

Ev'rythin's like a dream in Kansas City,
It's better than a magic lantern show!
Y' c'n turn the radiator on whenever you want some heat.
With ev'ry kind o' comfort ev'ry house is all complete.

Like $4 Aquafinas in the hotel room.  C'mon Hyatt - that's just filtered tap water! GAH.

You c'n walk to privies in the rain and never wet your feet!

I'm sure I would have appreciated the LINK more if it were raining, but in 100* heat, it was more like getting cooked in a long glass oven.  

They got a big theayter they call a burlesque  The Coterie.
Fer fifty cents  $42 you c'n see a dandy show.

Best children's theatre I've ever seen and worth every cent.   

Ev'rythin's up to date in Kansas City

They've gone about as fur as they c'n go!

However, I didn't bank on an awesome Clifford the Big Red Dog Exhibit to tickle Little B's fancy.

After dragging her away from Clifford heaven and avoiding the scary clowns in the Crayola store, we headed to the Whole Foods Market for Lunch and to stock up on things we can't get next door to the middle of nowhere. 

Like Daiya Shreds.  They. Are. Unbelievable. 

I've never told Mr. B to keep out of any food we have in the house, until last night.


So obviously, the dream is over...until Trader Joe's opens in Omaha.

I dreamed a dream of days gone by...
Where I was near a Trader Joe's and life was worth living...

Thursday, August 5, 2010


It's hot here.  The past two days have been 105* with the heat index even hotter. Outside is completely unbearable. I'm to the point where I'd rather have the dog pee on the carpet than take the dog outside for 30 seconds. 
It's hot.

I practically roasted yesterday as Little B and I went out to do our trading in Manhattan.  School supplies, groceries and the like.  We raced through each store like our pants were on fire, which they practically were.  I'm sure that sweatiness was the only thing that prevented combustion. 

One item on our shopping list was bread.  As much as I prefer not to subject myself to the black hole that is Big Box Mart, I needed to search the wall of bread to see if I could find one lousy loaf that did not contain milk products. 

How fun do you think that was?

I'd checked things out at the not-so-stressful health food store a while back.  Their gluten-free loaves didn't have milk, but it seemed silly to spend $6 on a loaf of bread with 12 silces when wheat doesn't seem to be our problem. 

I showed Little B where to look on a label to see if there was milk. 
She has definitely added contains, wheat, soy, and milk to her sight word vocabulary.

After checking TONS of labels, we ended up with this...

Rainbo. $2.68

Manufactured by Sara Lee, it is full of enriched chemicals, day-glo white and smooshy.  I have to say that when I read the ingredients, I thought they were less than stellar, despite the lack of moo.  I threw the loaf in the cart and proceeded to check out other carbohydrate delights.  Luckily for my sanity, I found some 100% whole wheat mini-bagels and sandwich thins that were sans dairy. 

Little B hadn't had a sandwich in three weeks.  All she wanted for dinner was a PB&J on bread. It was like Christmas. As she chowed down on her refined sammy, I stared at that evil oven.  Too many weird ingredients on that bread label, not enough fiber. Watching her eat that bread made me a little uneasy.  I hate to even type the words...

I'm going to have to bake my own bread. 

Hey - it's only 94* today. The heat index is still under 100, I think. Let's fire that oven up!

Wheat Bread

1 t. agave nectar (or honey)
1/2 c. warm water
1 packet of yeast

Mix and let sit for 10 minutes or so, then mix in...
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 t. salt
3 T agave nectar (or honey)
2 1/2 T. pure maple syrup

Once mixed well, slowly add...

1/2 c. ground flaxseed
2 T. Vital Wheat Gluten
1 c. soy flour
3-4 c. whole wheat flour

Once it is pulling away from the sides of the bowl, let it rise for 1 hour in a warm spot or preheat your oven as low as it will go (170*), put the dough in and turn the oven off.

After an hour, separate into to loaves, then let rise another hour or so. 

NOTE: make sure you have loaf pans before you start.  Or you'll have to do this:

I should have just told you I was going for something a little more rustic, but I digress...

After the second hour, bake at 400* for 10-15 minutes, then 350* for about 20 more. 

Cathe Freidrich was kicking my butt during this the details are hazy.

Someday, people...someday.

You can use whatever combination of flour you may have and you do not have to use the gluten.  Gluten is supposed to help it rise a little more. I also sifted it all together, hoping for more fluffyness.  

The result was, like the Rainbo, less than stellar. 

Now, this bread is huge - if you are a Princess Tiana Polly Pocket (who happens to be missing an arm).  

So my vain attempts at height were as feeble in the world of bread as they are in real life. However, I heard no complaints...

Mr. B even said it tasted like a loaf I bought at the store.

Watch out Earth Grains - I'm coming for you!

(And friends, don't use this bread recipe - not yet, anyway!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bakefest 2010

I am starting to feel the pressure of going back to work.  I told Mr. B the other day that I am now like a real person because I only have one week of vacation left before the first duty day.

"So you weren't a real person before?" he asked.

Always the comedian.

This weekend I was going to get a lot of stuff done. Shopping, cooking, and movie watching.  When I announced to Little B that we would be taking a trip to Manhattan, her face fell like a leaf.  I had a lot to do, 99% of which could be considered torture to a 5-year-old.  I called my friend who agreed to let her come over to play with her girls.  Little B was ecstatic, crowned me "The Best Mama I've Ever Had," brushed her teeth without me asking, picked out an outfit that actually matched and was waiting at the door to the garage before I could get my right contact in. 

As an extra-special treat, my friend, Jen the Dietician, came with me on my not-so-fun errands.  We'd been trying to plan a girls' night out since my birthday in March, then her birthday in May. Who knew it would be Harry Potter's birthday before it actually happened?  Such is the life of mothers of young children.   

Our Girls Gone Wild Saturday consisted of...please skip the next paragraph if you are a prude...

...Hobby Lobby, Hastings, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Then we decided to stop for a drink at Starbucks and then hit the primary target of our day out - the Health Food Co-op.

 I know, I know - we really know how to tear it up. No rumors, please.   

I was in search of a few items that have been cropping up in recipes that elude me at the local grocery stores.  I use the 's' very loosely - there are TWO.  

Agar powder: I think the dude helping me find it told me at least 5 times how to pronounce it. I would try to type it phonetically, but I still can't say it right. Apparently, it is seaweed gelatin. I can read your mind - YUM. Am I right? Am I right?

Arrowroot powder: an alternative thickener; it may make baked goods crispy as well - I tried it in a banana streusel muffin without much luck.  I was hesitant - maybe arrowroot powder needs a firmer hand.  

Stevia: I bought some powder and a little dropper so I can mix my own. I felt a bit like those people who make experimental drugs in their basement behind a faux cinder wall.  I think if I mentioned Stevia to the next 5 Kansans I meet at least 4 of them would think I was in the drug market.  

Sucanat: I was interested in buying this so I could make my own chocolate chips. I've been calling it "suck-on-that" ever since I first read it in a recipe. Aren't I so charming?

Braggs - at first I thought liquid aminos meant some wierd, natural body building supplement.  My brain immediately went to amino acids.  Well, whatever it means, it's commonly used as a replacement for soy sauce or tamari. This is for a cheese spread recipe that is in my current line-up.  It's made from cashews and nutritional yeast (who refused to pose for the blog photo).  

Many of my new ingredients didn't make it in to any weekend dishes.  I was in more of a baking mood this weekend and finally turned my oven on. (GAH!)  Despite our recent estrangement, we did a Strawberry Flax Cake, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and Banana Streusel Muffins.  Many of the cookies, which Little B loved, went into snack baggies to be frozen for school lunches, which start in two weeks.  (Again, GAH!) 

In this realm, I found a book I'd been hunting for called The Vegan Lunch Box. This mom was also faced with the dilemna of packing her child's lunch for school. When she asked him what he wanted, he said "sushi." And thus, the blog was born...then the book. I'm hoping to get lots of those recipe/lunch attempts blogged...we shall see! I don't know about sushi, but there will definitely be Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

They are vegan, but don't be afraid!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1/2 c. canola oil
1/3 c. agave nectar
1/3 c. almond milk
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 1/3 flour (I used 1 c. all-purpose, 1 1/3 whole wheat)
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
2 c. oats
1 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350*
Combine oil, agave nectar, milk, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon into the wet ingredients and mix. Stir in oats and raisins. 

Bake for 10 minutes on a greased cookie sheet or silpat baking mat to prevent sticking. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. 

I used a silicone scoop to gather the dough and my fingers to press the cookies down a little flatter.

        A couple of cookies in hand and a large cup of coffee now -  Little B is waiting to play Princess and the Frog on the Wii.  What can I say?  Duty calls.