Friday, January 13, 2017

Food Allergies

During part of my withdrawal from blogging, I had a baby. I now have 3 adorable boys. Here's the most recent photo I have of them - taken last fall.
I mean really, though aren't they adorable?! I may be a bit biased though ;). Thinking about them made me get sidetracked though...

When the youngest was an infant he had neo-natal colitis. It took me 8 months to get a diagnosis and then he had it for 3 more months after that (luckily babies grow out of it). The GI doctor said that it was like eczema in his guts - except a different type (4 vs 2) and some more stuff that went over my head or I forgot. During this time I removed over 13 foods from my diet because they would affect him through me breastfeeding him. (Complete list for all of you who are wondering: Dairy, Soy, Wheat, Rye, Barley, Rice, Chicken, Beef, Black Beans - really most beans except chick peas, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Peanuts, and Fish are the ones I'm remembering right now. I could eat some Pork but only about an ounce or two every few days, which held true of most proteins I had to eat them in moderation. If I ate these foods he'd get blood in his stool and pretty much be miserable with stomach pain. I was so good at not eating these foods because I didn't want to cause him pain. There was no cheating, but I did manage to find some things that I could still eat... Coconut Ice-Cream is delicious. 

When the wonderful time came that he outgrew this condition - which can I say I'm so grateful that he did, I really do feel for all you Mom's out there who deal with food allergies with your children! Late February last year I started eating a normal diet again. And for a week I felt slightly nauseous. After it went away I decided to wait to get tested for a food allergy (I was sure that's what the nausea was being caused by) because I really couldn't handle eating a special diet again. The frustration from figuring out what to eat was not fun, in fact I would break down crying over the knowledge I had to eat but not knowing what to eat (because let's face it you can only have vegetable soup and salad so much before going crazy - or maybe that's just me.) 

One thing I learned - if you want to avoid most processed foods, remove Soy, Dairy, Wheat, and Rice from your diet. It's really hard to find foods without those in them (Rice mainly because most gluten free processed foods have rice in them.)

I finally got up enough courage to get my food allergies tested last month. However there was a preliminary appointment before the testing appointment so I didn't actually get tested until this month, earlier this week even on Monday. I tested positive for 2 foods. And let's just say that removing 2 foods will be easier than 13+ foods, but I'm allergic to Soy and Barley. I just have to say that soy is in pretty much everything. It's a good thing I know how to make my own vinaigrette, because most that are sold in stores have soy in them (sometimes just listed as vegetable oil...) My personal pet peeve is when something lists it as Canola Oil OR Soy Oil, can't you just say which one so I know if I can eat it or not?!? Barley sneaks in a lot too, most malt is made from barley (I like malt but it's not something we have frequently.) 

So starting next week I'm avoiding all things with soy and barley. Funny thing is before my crazy diet with my son's colitis I would avoid most soy (I did have some soy sauce for when I made Asian foods). I've rebelled at reading labels in the past few months and because of such I have let a lot of it into my house. I was semi-surprised how much I have because I do try to avoid it since it can make PCOS symptoms worse. So here's to going back to reading labels again. I really don't mind except how much longer I'm in the grocery store!

My shout out to all those that have food allergies or kids with them. It can be hard! 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kitchen Basics: Vinaigrette

Welcome 2017. I hope this year is so much better for many people than last year was. With the coming of a New Year, comes the setting of goals by many people. One of those goals typically includes eating healthier... Last year I fell off the eating healthy bandwagon, although in my defense I had just eaten a super crazy diet for about a year... that ended in Feb/March of 2016. I had been nursing a baby with neo-natal colitis and couldn't eat about 20 different foods which made eating unhealthy quite difficult. So I regressed to bad eating habits :(.

One thing that I am trying to do is to enjoy more salads. In doing so I've decided that I only enjoy salads IF I have multiple options for salad dressings. I get bored with food easily and if I'm bored with salad I tend to not eat it. At All. Unfortunately. I also have an issue throwing away food and buying multiple salad dressings typically leads me to not use them all before they expire. So homemade salad dressing to the rescue. 

Making a vinaigrette is actually pretty easy and inexpensive - you can make a lot for the cost of a pre-made bottle at the store (and you'll be avoiding all those added ingredients!) The most basic vinaigrette only has two ingredients (but I highly suggest adding some salt and pepper as well.)


and Vinegar

The ratio of these two is the important thing. The most common ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. If you want a more vinegar flavor you can increase it to 2 parts vinegar.

The type of Vinegar you use will depend on the flavor you want the vinaigrette to have. The most common types of vinegar to use are Balsamic Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Raspberry Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, and Rice Vinegar. White Vinegar does not have much flavor and is not typically used in a vinaigrette.  Balsamic Vinegar has a very distinct flavor and is often the feature flavor of the vinaigrette. Apple Cider Vinegar has a more mild flavor and can be used as a base for many different types of vinaigrette. I tend to use Raspberry Vinegar to make a simple vinaigrette when I have fruit on my salads (like spinach and nectarine, etc.) Rice Vinegar also has a more mild flavor. It is also a great choice when making Asian inspired vinaigrette. 

The type of Oil used also matters. If you want an Olive Oil flavor you'll need to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you want other flavors to stand out more, you'll want to use a lighter oil. You can use a light Olive Oil, or any other Vegetable Oil. There are many different types of oil available in most supermarkets so the different combinations are numerous. I like to try different oils to see which I like most. However the two I use most are Olive Oil - light and extra virgin. 

Juices are also sometimes added to vinaigrettes. The most common type of juice added is Lemon. Lemon juice can take the place of the vinegar or be added in addition. Citrus juices (lemon, lime, orange, etc.) are the most popular in vinaigrette, but not the only options. Again the options are really limitless when mixing all the different combinations. When making a vinaigrette, be sure the acids (vinegar and citrus juice) do not ever exceed a ratio of 2 acid to 3 oil. 

Seasonings are the last aspect of vinaigrette I'm going to discuss today. When making a very simple vinaigrette it is wise to add a little salt and some pepper for a bit more flavor pop. Garlic is also another great addition. As are onions, shallots, herbs (fresh or dried), spices (paprika, nutmeg, etc). Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce can also be added. 

Next Kitchen Basics post I'll be discussing making a creamy vinaigrette. But first, what's your favorite vinaigrette - I'd love to hear what you put on your salads so I can use some of the ideas and be more excited to eat mine ;). 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Dear readers

Wow, it's amazing how much you can forget in a few years... I forgot how much time I actually put into this when I was posting every week. This fall unfortunately I had some things come up, health issues and other things that made me super busy. I also re-learned that when I get overwhelmed with everything I withdraw. From Everything. So while I had such good intentions on blogging all last fall and through last month, I did not. I disappeared again and that's not fair to you dear reader. I do apologize for that, sincerely. I am going to do better this year. I do hope you forgive me for leaving you hanging yet again.
I hope you had a great New Year's Day and here's to an amazing 2017!