M&Mmmmm Cookies!

I was all set on an adventure to make gluten free, egg free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies when I got a little distracted.

I was shopping at our local co-op and came across what looked like M&M’s but the colors were richer, more jewel toned and I thought, “Could these be a dye free version of M&M’s?!!”  THEY ARE!!  Sunspire has made these beautiful Sun Drops that are a natural version of M&M’s.  No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives…No kidding!!  I could not wait to surprise Noah with the good news!  He really misses M&M’s now that he can’t have artificial food coloring.

Ok, now I realize these are not necessarily new.  You may have known about them for a long time, but when I discover allergy friendly products, I can’t wait to share them with you!  It is ALWAYS exciting to find new treats that are safe for our family.

Sunspire Sun Drops

I had to ditch the Oatmeal Raisin adventure and go straight to making M&M…er, I mean… Sun Drop Cookies!  They do contain Gluten Free Oats, so if you can’t eat oats and want to bake cookies, try one of these winners.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (similar to the good ol’ Nestle Tollhouse version)

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now, back to business.

Get your taste buds ready…

1/2 c + 6 T butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs (to replace the eggs use 2 T warm water whisked with 6 T flax meal-let sit a few minutes)
1 t vanilla

1 1/2 c Natalie’s Gluten Free Flour Mix (includes xanthan gum)
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

1c Sunspire Drops (dye free “M&M” type candy)
3 c Gluten Free Oats

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix together butter and sugars until creamy.  Add egg replacer and vanilla, mix well.
3.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined.  Stir in oats.  Then, stir in Sundrops.
4.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper then drop dough by spoonful onto cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
5.  Bake 11-13 minutes or until lightly golden.  Allow cookies to cool a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy!

This recipe has been shared on Gluten Free Tuesdays

Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake

Our son, Noah, doesn’t really care for traditional birthday cakes.  Noah is allergic to artificial food coloring/dyes so when he does have cake, he has to scrape off the frosting.  A few years ago, Noah asked if he could have shakes instead of cake for his birthday and the shakes have stuck ever since.  He loves them and his friends love them too!  With a summer birthday, shakes are a sure hit!
We had shakes for his birthday party and I made a homemade Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake for our family celebration.  He used to love Dairy Queen cakes but they have food coloring and wheat in them so we make our own sensational hit! 
The recipe I adapted comes from a dear old college friend, Jodi Stilp (Who BTW also blogs.  Her blog is called Sole Sisters about running, faith, family and friendships..you should check it out!) 
Do you have any smells that trigger memories?  Every time I make her Hot Fudge Sauce recipe, I remember having great conversations in Jodi’s kitchen, with her standing at her stove, stirring the hot fudge and the amazing aroma filling the air.  I think of her now every time I make the fudge or cake.  Her original recipe was a Buster Bar Dessert (which my “DQ Peanut Buster Parfait Loving Mom” would love – she is not allergic to nuts).
Warning:  The Hot Fudge Sauce is dangerously yummy!  Temptations of eating the hot fudge by the spoonful may be irresistable.  Not that I would ever do that!

Hot Fudge Sauce

1 can evaporated milk
1 c chocolate chips
1 stick butter
2 c powdered sugar
1 T vanilla

1.  Pour evaporated milk into saucepan.  Add chocolate chips, butter and powdered sugar.  Stir constantly over medium heat.  Bring to boil and let boil until it thickens.  Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then, stir in the vanilla.  Allow to cool to room temperature before adding to the cake.

Ice Cream Cake

2 pkg Schar Chocolate O’s Cookies, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 gallon ice cream, any flavor, softened
Trader Joes’ Cocoa Pearls, optional (A photo of this crunchy addition is at the end of this post)
Hot Fudge Sauce
1 pkg cool whip (or homemade whipped cream)

Grease 9 x 13 pan.  Spread crushed cookies evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Then, pour melted butter over the cookies to create the crust and pat down gently.  Spread half of the softened ice cream over the crust.  Next, pour the cooled hot fudge sauce over the ice cream.  Sprinkle generously with Trader Joes Cocoa Pearls (optional).  Freeze for approximately an hour.  Top with the other half of ice cream, then “frost” with cool whip and sprinkle with more cocoa pearls for decor.  Freeze again until ready to serve.  Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Trader Joes Cocoa Pearls
These cocoa pearls provide a similar crunch and taste to the crunch layer in Dairy Queen’s Ice Cream Cakes, but they are gluten free!

Fruit Birthday Cake

Do you have a hard time trying to make a safe birthday cake?  Check out this creative, healthy, allergy friendly birthday cake a friend of mine made for her little boys birthday!  Genius right?!  This cake gets a standing ovation from me!  I just love it when people use their creativity to make healthy look so fun!

Giggles Fun Dough: Review & Giveaway!

Hello again, dear friends!  I was on an unintentional blogging vacation.  The past couple weeks have been full of fun with my kids, from sun up to sun down.  Ok, not exactly sun up, which I am really thankful for!  I really love summer!  The pace is slower, we are outside more.  A lot more.  And I get to spend so much time with my kids!!  I hope you are all having lots of fun with your families and friends as well.

When Anna got diagnosed with her wheat allergy, our old friend play dough had to leave our house.  I didn’t want to let Noah and Josie play with it and not Anna.  Plus, it left behind a lot of residue.  Not just on the table and fun tools but it gets everywhere.  So we decided to say goodbye to our old friend.

Fortunately, we quickly found Moon Dough and it was a safe option (call the company to find out if it is still safe and safe for you).  Boy oh boy, I thought play dough was messy.  Moon Dough takes the cake.  It is lots of fun but very messy!  In fact, it quickly became something I confined to playing outside at the table to make clean up a little easier.

When Anna started Kindergarten, we met with her teacher to explain her allergies to her.  She boosted my confidence in having her in someone else’s care, when she told me she was going to remove play dough from her curriculum for that year.  Even for her other half day class.  She said she didn’t want to risk any residue in the classroom.  And as you can imagine, that made my heart so happy.  I wouldn’t have to worry about that culprit.  However, I really wished I could have given her an allergy friendly option.  There just wasn’t a allergy friendly play dough around (besides homemade).

Not long ago I heard about Giggles Fun Dough.  Giggles is an allergy friendly playdough!!!  That’s right folks, it’s time to celebrate!!  I am over the top excited about them.  I seriously wished I could give the founders a big hug!!  Play dough can come back into our home.  Now I just wish I hadn’t gotten rid of all our cool play dough tools.

Giggles Fun Dough was created for a young girl with celiac by her Mom and her Aunt.   It is gluten free, free of the top 10 allergens, has no artificial colors or dyes, fragrance free and made in a dedicated facility!  They generously sent us a sample of their product to play with and review for you.  It feels and plays like Play-doh.  Giggles Fun Dough is missing the “not so pleasant” smell of Play-doh which is a plus for me.  In fact, I don’t even noticed a smell!  Our kids had a blast playing with it!

It will last about a year in it’s original container at room temperature.  They are based out of Canada.  Currently, you can pre-order Giggles Fun Dough through their campaign for delivery this September.  Perfect timing for back to school!

Three cheers for Giggles Fun Dough!!!

One lucky reader will win their very own Giggles Fun Dough package!  Enter below with the help of easy peasy Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let’s Raise Our Hands for Anaphylaxis Awareness

 Julie Bowen has partnered with Mylan’s the Get Schooled In Anaphylaxis website to help get the word out about anaphylaxis.  This site is a great resource to learn how you can help keep your children and classmates safe. 

When it comes to food allergies, education is crucial!  When I hear parents at schools complain that they can’t pack their children certain foods because of a classmates food allergies, I know it is really because they are uneducated about it.  But that can change if we all speak up and help. 

Everyone needs to be educated because anyone could be in a situation involving anaphylaxis.  Be prepared.  Equip yourself, your children’s teachers/aides and classmates, caregivers, Sunday School teachers, neighbors, relatives and friends.  Get Schooled In Anaphylaxis includes information on signs and symptoms, allergic triggers, food allergies, anaphylaxis in schools and a wonderful resource library.

Exciting News

You could help your school district win one of four $15,000 educational grants by Raising Your Hand for Anaphylaxis Awareness.  The four school districts with the most Hands Raised by October 1, 2013, will win one of the grants.  You can vote once a day.  The first time you vote it takes about 2-3 minutes to sign up, but then each time after that takes just seconds.  Spread the word to your community. 

Even if you don’t win a grant, I still see it as a win win situation.  More people are hearing about and learning about anaphylaxis which is a really GREAT thing!  Share it on your facebook and twitter accounts and spread the word.

I am proud to be an ambassador for Get Schooled In Anaphylaxis initiative and am “Raising My Hand for Anaphylaxis” for my daughter, Anna’s life-threatening food allergies.  

Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Gluten Free Biscotti

Gluten free, egg free, nut free biscotti?!  Absolutely!  After a few attempts that didn’t turn out so well, we have a winner!

When my husband came home from work today, he said,  “Wow, something smells good!  Are we having cookies for dinner?”

Oops… dinner!

These little biscotti turned out exactly how I like them, soft after a dip in coffee, full of flavor, crisp yet tender.

2 c Natalie’s Gluten Free flour mix
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 c sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
 3 t Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 4 T warm water
 1 c toasted sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 (approx. 2 oz) high quality dark chocolate (like PASCHA’s 55% CACAO), cut into chunks

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Line edged cookie sheet with parchment paper, spread coconut out on parchment paper.  Cook in oven 3-5 minutes, keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t get too dark.  Remove from oven when golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder, set aside.
4.  In mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.  Mix on medium speed until creamy.
5.  Slowly add egg replacer to sugar mixture and mix just until combined.  Add flour to mixer one cup at a time and mix just until combined.
6.  Stir in toasted coconut and dark chocolate chunks.
7.  Shape into 6 inch rolls then place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Flatten the roll to about 3/4 inch thick.

8.  Bake 40 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool about 30 minutes.
9.  Cut the biscotti diagonally into 1/2 inch slices.  Place cut side down on cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes.  Turn biscotti over and bake another 5-10 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.


This recipe has been shared on: 
Simply Sugar & Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays
Real Food Allergy Free’s Allergy Free Wednesdays

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Scruffins

There is a little bread company/bakery near our house that I use to visit every now and then on my way to work.  They made scruffins which I fell in love with the first time I tried them.  Scruffins are somewhere between a scone and a muffin.  These Raspberry Dark Chocolate Scuffins are soft, tender and light and made with PASCHA’s Organic Dark Chocolate.

2 c Natalie’s Gluten Free Flour Mix
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt

1/3 c sugar
3/4 c half n half
1/4 c coconut oil (melt before measuring)
1 T vanilla

1 c fresh raspberries
1/2 PASCHA 70% CACAO bar, broken into chunks

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine sugar, half n half, coconut oil and vanilla.  Mix well. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined.
4.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Drop about 1/3 c of batter onto cookie sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.  Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Easy and delicious!
Enjoy!
Melanie


This recipe has been shared at these great blog parties, which are full recipes and ideas:
Vegetarian Mama’s Gluten Free Fridays
Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Fridays

PASCHA Organic Dark Chocolate

Hold on to your hats folks!  This week is dedicated to chocolate!!

When I went to the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo this spring I was thrilled to meet a new company called PASCHA.  They generously asked if they could send me some samples to try.  Of course, I was eager to agree.  I mean, who could turn down chocolate?!

On May Day, my Mom and I were out running errands together.  On our way home, the rain turned into SNOW.  I had been trying to have a good attitude about our long winter, but enough is enough and I was bummed out to see it snow.  We came inside and the house was cold, so I turned the heat back on…on May Day!   It was so cold, I kept my coat on and started a pot of fresh coffee to warm us up.  As the coffee brewed, the doorbell rang.  A box PASCHA chocolate arrived!!  My dreary day was about to become much brighter.   The timing could not have been any better!

The packaging is beautiful, elegant and something I would be proud to give as a gift.  The more I read on the labels, the more excited I became.  I read out loud to my Mom, “It’s Organic!  Free from peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, eggs, fish, wheat and gluten!  Made in a dedicated facility!   No GMO’s!  And it is FAIR TRADE too!!!”  See what I mean?!  What a winning combination, wrapped up in delicious, smooth dark chocolate.  We opened the 55% CACAO with Cocoa Nibs and savored every little bite with our cup of coffee.  PASCHA is quality through and through!  It is passionately pure!

What more could you ask for?  Nothing… except a sample for one lucky reader.  You can enter below using Rafflecopter (easy to use) for your chance to win three PASCHA Organic Dark Chocolate Bars.

You can purchase this wonderful chocolate through PASCHA’s online store, available in five wonderful varieties.  My favorite is the 55% Cacao with Cocoa Nibs.  The little crunch blends nicely with the smoothness of the dark chocolate .

Check out my Raspberry Dark Chocolate Scruffins & Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Biscotti recipes featuring PASCHA Organic Dark Chocolatea Rafflecopter giveaway

All opinions are strictly my own 🙂 

Epi Travels

We are taking a road trip this weekend.  Road trips with asthma and allergies takes extra planning.  Anna’s asthma has been flaring this week, thanks to good old springtime blooms.  She has been on her nebs, so last night I very carefully packed her neb, tubing, mask and medicine.  While I was packing I thought to myself, we could forget anything BUT asthma nebs & medicine and Epinephrine.  Everything else could easily be replaced at a store along the way.  

We got on the road this morning, nice weather, full tank of gas, meds and food for Anna packed along with our suitcases.  About an hour into the trip my heart sank as I realized I forgot to grab her EPI pen!!!!  Oh no!  I suddenly felt so vulnerable and anxious.  
Then I realized maybe her pharmacy could transfer her prescription to one of their stores at our destination.   With the help of modern technology, I made a few phone calls and had it all set.  We could pick it up in half an hour, just before we get lunch.  
I am so thankful for modern technology!  We would have had to add on over two hours to our trip of we had to turn around.
I felt horrible that I let her down and left her health at risk.  I was not a good role model while I’m trying to teach my seven year old the importance of ALWAYS carrying your epinephrine.
I told Anna, in the back of our van, that Mommy forgot her EPI, but that we were stopping in a few minutes to get a new one.  She lit up as she informed me that she might have it in her travel bag!!  After a little digging, there it was!!
Wow!!  I am so proud of her for remembering to bring it, without my prompting.  It is so good to see your kids learning responsibility and safety.  My heart was so relieved and I was able to call and cancel our order at the pharmacy.  She is my little rock star!  

Giveaway & Review: The Sneaky Chef

The original winner never contacted me and I don’t have a way to contact her so I ran the random number generator for a new winner.  The number is #5… Brenda K in Florida!  Please email me you address by tomorrow to receive your jar of No-Nut Butter 🙂  Congratulations! 

The Sneaky Chef, Missy Chase Lapine, is a New York Times bestselling cookbook author.  She has begun selling pasta sauces and peanut butter alternatives.  What’s so sneaky about pasta sauces and peanut butter alternatives?  Sneaking veggies into them, to help provide your kids (or yourself) with the recommended amount of veggies each day.    They are gluten free, contain no msg, are all natural (no artificial colors or flavors) and have no added sugar.

The Sneaky Chef sent me the Pasta Sauce and No-Nut Butter to try and let you all know what we thought. 

The Pasta Sauce has eight hidden veggies!  Tomatoes plus sweet potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, yellow squash, celery, and onions, With that much vegetable power in it, I did not tell my kids The Sneaky secrets.  Much to our surprise, the sauce was smooth and tasty.  My kids enjoyed it and I enjoyed knowing they were getting extra veggies in for the day.  The Sneaky Chef also makes a Cheesy Red Pasta Sauce.

Now for the No-Nut Butter.  It sat on our shelf a few days because I knew it was made with Golden Peas, and I have to admit I was hesitant to try it.  I had never heard of golden peas and my only reference point is green peas which didn’t sound so good.

One evening, after my kids went to bed, I baked a fresh loaf of The Best Gluten Free Vegan Bread.  I was craving a slice so I decided to crack open the No-Nut Butter and give it a try.  Since I was hesitant, I put only a small amount on a little corner of the bread.  Holy Moly!  It was GOOD!  In fact, I put more on my slice and ran over to my husband to insist he try it.  He doesn’t like sunflower seed butter, in fact he is a strictly peanut butter kind of guy.  I wished I had a picture of the look on his face, he was pleasantly surprised and said it was really good.  The rest of my family loved it too.  The taste is really subtle with just a hint of sweetness, surprisingly similar to peanut butter minus the sticky, dryness.  The fresh bread and No-Nut Butter make an amazing combination! I wanted to try baking with this to see how it works.  Sunflower Seed Butter often makes the food look greenish after a couple of days and I wonder how this will do.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) it was too good to save any to bake with.  We couldn’t stop eating it!  🙂

All The Sneaky Chef products are specifically made in a facility that do not contain any of the top 11 allergens.  Way to go Sneaky Chef!!!  That helps so many of us!

The Sneaky Chef Foods are currently only available at select grocery and natural retailers (like Whole Foods) in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as online at NetGrocer.com. However, Sneaky Chef Foods is hoping to expand their availability soon.

For more ideas on how you can sneak vegetables into your foods, check out her bestselling cookbook,  “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals,” available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

And now for the Giveaway!      Contest is over.

The Sneaky Chef has offered to send one lucky Hope’s Kitchen reader a jar of the No-Nut Butter!!!

Details:
1.  Contest ends on Monday, May 20 at 10 pm CST.
2.  To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below with the your name and the name of your favorite bread to put the No-Nut Butter on (or what you want to try it on).  It could be a recipe or store bought.  (If you don’t see the comments at the end of the is post, then you need to go up to the title and click on the post title, which will open a new page and at the bottom of the post will be the comments where you can add yours)
3.  If you share the giveaway post on Facebook or Twitter, you will receive an extra entry, just leave me a comment letting me know you “shared” or “tweeted” the giveaway.  This allows you up to three entries per person.
4.  The winner will be chosen at random and the name will be announced on this post.  So please remember to come back to see if you won!
5.  Let the contest begin!