Monday, May 12, 2014

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie

I came up with this delicious smoothie Sunday afternoon and just had to share it with you! My husband bought me a Ninja for my birthday a few weeks ago and it is perfect for making smoothies {among many other things}. It just blends it to a perfect consistency!

This is a fairly healthy smoothie so it's pretty much the perfect treat for a warm day. Down here in the Southeast, we've got a lot of those days ahead of us so I'm keeping the freezer and pantry stocked with these favorite ingredients.

Here's what you need:

a handful of ice cubes

1/2 banana, peeled

1 cup of frozen raspberries

1/2 cup of almond milk

a few dark chocolate chips or square of dark chocolate

and the secret weapon...... 2 tablespoons POM juice
Add them all to the Ninja or the blender and pulse or blend it til you get it to the consistency you want. Pour into a glass. Add your favorite straw and sip away!

Makes enough for one 12 oz glass.

This will have a thicker consistency. If you want it thinner, add more almond milk. Thicker, add more banana. If you'd like it to taste more chocolatey, add a tsp or two of pure cocoa powder.

Be prepared to share. Once the family finds out how delicious this is, you'll have to make more.

Hope you love this as much as I do! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Revolution Doughnuts {Atlanta, GA}

This past weekend, I went to Atlanta for a girls' weekend and found the best doughnut place ever! My friend texted me the night before we left and told me about this neat looking doughnut shop so I looked it up online. The website itself makes you want to get in the car and head right there. But there was one thing that really jumped out at me.
The little symbol (v) next to several of their doughnut flavors. That (v) is highly important to me because it stands for Vegan and in my world that means egg-free and dairy-free. So, it only took me a second to jump on board with adding Revolution Doughnuts to our bucket list for the weekend. Vegan doughnuts? Sign me up. And that's exactly where we went Sunday.
We arrived around noon to the shop in Decatur. We had thought about trying out the Revolution Doughnuts at one of the Farmer's Market locations (there are three of them), but because of the time, we decided to just hit the shop to be sure we could still get some fresh doughnuts.
When we arrived the line was out the door and that seemed to be the norm. Everyone patiently waited and believe me, it was completely worth the wait!

I chose to buy the Bacon & Salted Caramel and the Dark Chocolate for the Hubs and I and then I bought Raspberry Sprinkle doughnuts to bring home to my girls.
I had to try the Bacon & Salted Caramel in the shop. You just can't leave without trying one on the spot! It was heavenly.
I love that their doughnuts are a nice spongey texture and have some substance to them. I ate half of my doughnut there and brought the other half home with my others. It was delicious. I ate another the next day and it was still very good. Definitely better fresh from the store, but the next day was still yummy. They state on their website that they do not ship doughnuts because they are better fresh, so you'll have to find a way to get to Atlanta to have one of these delicious treats!
My daughter with the egg, dairy and peanut allergies LOVED her raspberry sprinkle doughnut! It was the very first 'real' doughnut she has ever eaten in her 8 1/2 years of life. I know there's always a fear of cross contamination, etc., but our experience was wonderful without any allergic reactions. I let her try a few bites of the doughnut the day I brought it home and then made her wait until morning to finish it just to be sure there was no reaction.

Revolution Doughnuts states that all of their doughs, glazes and fillings are made from scratch free of trans-fats, and made by people, not machines. They use organic flour and high quality ingredients.
You will love the unique flavors! And don't forget the yummy teas and coffees they have! It's such a cute place!

I plan on making this a definite stop on every trip I make to Atlanta in the future. I hope you'll give them a try, too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Allergy-Friendly Ice Cream Cake for the Whole Family {Dairy-free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free}

It's that time of year again! Birthday times three at our house this month. And when you have a family member with food allergies, it's time to bake up {or freeze up} some creativity! We are kind of burnt out on the same ol' cupcakes all the time, so this year we decided for the first birthday of the month {which was mine} to just take the family to Bruster's Ice Cream. There we can all get what we want, including my daughter who is allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts. She loves their italian ice and sorbet options. There are about 4 or 5 different flavors to choose from at any given time so it was a great non-cupcake option.
The next birthday was my 6 year old's birthday and she wanted a cake. However, still being kinda sick of the normal cakes we make for birthdays, I decided to make an ice cream cake. We do love an ice cream cake around here, but with my 8 year old not able to eat store bought ice cream cakes because of the obvious milk factor, making one was my best option.
You will not believe how simple this is! It literally took about 20 minutes to make. Less time than baking a cake!!

To make this you'll need either Tofutti brand ice cream sandwiches or SO Delicious brand ice cream sandwiches. I bought SO Delicious brand for this cake at Publix.

You also need Pillsbury Classic White frosting (contains soy) OR another allergy-friendly one suited to your specific needs.

And then whatever toppings you want to use to decorate your cake. I bought Nerds & matching gumballs from the Dollar Tree to decorate ours.
To put this cake together, just stack your ice cream sandwiches on whatever size plate or dish you want and arrange them in the desired shape. I used a rectangular dish and it worked perfectly! Then, quickly spread the room temperature frosting onto your cake, covering as good as you can. Next, I put mine right in the freezer to firm up because ice cream sandwiches melt pretty quickly and ain't nobody got time for that! Nobody. This is when I ran to the Dollar Tree because I realized I needed sprinkles or something to put on my cake. As soon as I got home, I took it out of the freezer and decided to smooth out the frosting to make it look more professional. I put a butter knife in ice cold water and then, took it out and immediately started spreading out the frosting. It REALLY made a big difference and a much smoother appearance. You'll need to reinsert the knife into the ice water a few times throughout the process to keep it nice and cold. Then, when you get it looking the way you want, decorate it! Finally, refreeze it until it's time to party!

The cake cuts very nicely and looks like a layered cake on the inside! My kids called me 'The Best Cake Maker in the World' and said things like, "You should start your own business!"
Mission Accomplished. Amen?

Happy Ice Cream Cake Making to You and Yours!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Maggiano's Little Italy {a success story}

 
Last month, we took the family on a mini vacation to our favorite beach in Florida. It was perfect. As always. It's a place we can go and just totally relax and enjoy ourselves. There's something about the ocean that makes you forget everything stressful in your life. It's just pure enjoyment. That's not what this post is about, though. It was on our way home that this story takes place.
We planned to leave early enough so that we would arrive in Jacksonville right at lunch time. We had heard about Maggiano's from family members that had been there and we were really wanting to try it out. As a family that operates on the food allergy mindset, we had never taken our family out to an italian restaurant before because of the egg ingredient present in nearly all pastas. It's never a risk we've been willing to take because there are only a couple different pastas available in stores that my daughter can eat and pretty much every italian restaurant we've looked up online has no egg-free version. But we researched ahead of time {as always} and saw on Maggiano's website that they try to accomodate food allergies, etc. So, we made the decision to go. {There were plenty of other places nearby to eat in case we got there and it proved not to be allergy friendly. We always have a backup plan.} Upon arriving, it was a little busy outside the restaurant, so Hubs let me out of the car to go get a table. When I was greeted by the hostess, I asked her about the food allergies, specifically my daughter's allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts and she said they happily accommodate food allergies and that the chef would come to our table to speak with us about it. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the chef came out {which my daughter thought was awesome} and asked us about the allergies and then gave us our food options. He told us she could eat any of the straight pastas like spaghetti, etc. and then which sauces were appropriate for her allergy needs. When they brought out Callie's big bowl of spaghetti {her very first time eating it at a restaurant!!}, she was thrilled! Spaghetti is her favorite meal at home, but it was even better in a restaurant.
I had to take her picture because this was a moment to remember! Excuse the crazy hair and tired face. We had been traveling all morning.

I, of course, had Benadryl in my purse just in case, but it was completely fine for her and caused no reaction whatsoever. It was a real treat for her to eat pasta that day. I was so happy for her and thankful that she got to have this first-time experience. Wish we had a Maggiano's close to us!

I'm adding this to my list of allergy-friendly restaurants at my page entitled {Allergy-friendly Restaurants}. Go check out the others listed. If you know of some I have not listed, please comment and let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!
Amy

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to Deal with the Emotional Effects of Food Allergies or Any Other Trial in Your Life {a personal story}

Let's face it. Food allergies are difficult to live with. They affect our emotional being just as much as our physical being. Pain, sickness, and sometimes {unfortunately} even death comes as a result of food allergies. The emotional side brings fear, anxiety, sadness, distrust and feelings of loneliness. It's hard, and as a parent of a child with multiple food allergies it's heartbreaking at times. Today was another one of those moments for both my girl and me. If you've read my blog before this post you know that I try very hard to help my sweet girl live as normal a life as possible. It's time consuming and sometimes inconvenient, but ALWAYS worth every bit of effort. However, there's no way I can make her life feel normal 100% of the time. Because her life requires a lot of care and careful watch over everything in her environment, she naturally feels different from everyone else. This afternoon, she had another one of those moments where it really weighed down on her and she was overcome by emotions. The crying and inability to understand why she has food allergies and no one else in our family has them. Why she can't eat more than half of the halloween candy she got {which we switch out for things she can eat} is a trial for her that she cannot understand. And the tears. They pour down her cheeks like a rushing river. Head in her hands. Sobbing. Until there's nothing left. I just sit there holding back my own tears and once again ask God for wisdom to be able to help her believe in something she cannot see. SomeONE she cannot see, but Whose hand is very evident in her life to those who are watching. I sit there among the sobs and tears and am reminded of His faithfulness. God's protection. His love. My whole life is marked by His faithfulness to me. Every trial and tear, He was there and there was a purpose for it. I couldn't always see the purpose during the hard times, but the sunshine after the rain is always more beautiful. I see Him clearly now in every one of those deep, difficult days. Times when I thought I knew what was best for me, but in His lovingkindness He didn't allow. Times I couldn't understand why life seemed so hard, but now through tear-stained eyes I see. He always has a purpose. And I sit there with my girl, worn out with grief, and begin to tell her - again - about this God that loves and has a purpose for everything. "He makes no mistakes!" I declare for the hundredth time. Do you believe that? This God Who loves with everlasting love, dishes out grace upon grace, and heaps mercy on me in my worst state. He loves. And He cares. He has a reason for these food allergies. I believe it with my whole heart. I have no doubt about that. So, we prayed again asking God to give more grace for these moments, to reveal to us the purpose of these food allergies and for healing from these allergies. But if He chooses not to, I ask Him to help her trust Him that His way is always best. Even when we cannot see or understand and nothing makes sense or seems fair.

These things are sure:
  1. God makes no mistakes.
  2. He loves and cares.
  3. He has a distinct purpose for your trial.

If you're struggling with this or another trial or hardship in your life and you just don't understand why. If it seems like it will never end, let me encourage you to listen to this series on Seeing through Suffering & Pain. It has been a huge blessing in my life and I am sure you will benefit from it, too.
If you have questions or would like me to pray for you, email me through my profile. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by!
Amy

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Allerbling {Food Allergy Awareness Bracelet}

My awesome cousin sent my daughter this Allerbling bracelet she got a few weeks ago. She put a pic of it on Facebook and it looked like such a great idea. I had never heard of this company! Well, we got it in the mail today and I am so impressed with this thing!
From Amazon:

Product Description

"The best way to avoid food allergy emergencies is through awareness. Allerbling is a visual educational tool and a conversation piece that has the potential to save children's lives by raising awareness of a child's food allergies.

These bright, stretchy bracelets are a great way to alert others about your child's food allergies. To insert charms, simply stretch the wristband a little with one hand, and elongate a hole. Then squeeze the charm backing and insert it partially into the hole and pull the backing through the other side - a bit like threading a needle. Do not use a sharp object to elongate the hole. Continue until you have installed all of the charms your child needs." 

What I love:
*The bracelet comes with 5 holes to accommodate 4 food allergy charms + 1 medic charm. It comes with 8 charms and you can choose from the 14 they offer.
*I also love that the charms are not easily removed from the bracelet, so there is no chance of them falling off or even being pulled off.
*It's the perfect size for my girl. Not too big, not too small. Just right.
 
You really need to purchase one!!

*These are my own opinions, no one paid me to write about this post. I just want the world to know about this great product!*
 

I'm sharing this with some of these friends, as well as, everyone I know with food allergies!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Daughter's 1st Trip to a Pizza Place {Vegan Pizza}

About two weeks ago, my husband discovered a local pizza place that offers a vegan pizza. We are always looking for places to go out to eat with our 8 year old who has a dairy, egg, and peanut allergy. So, when we realized there was a pizza place she could actually eat at, we were so excited to try it out!

We have NEVER gone as a family to eat at a pizza place without bringing my girl her own food to eat, so this was a highly anticipated event. Not only that, but this place does Kids Eat Free on Sundays! Win, win situation! Your Pie is where we took her. They have a choice of two crusts, two sauces and a cheese that are all vegan. You pick your toppings accordingly. My girl isn't a fan of pepperoni or other meat toppings, so she chose cheese and black olives.
Here she is getting ready to eat her very first restaurant made vegan pizza:
And, here's her first bite:
The look on her face is a slight indication of how she felt about it. I only wish I would have gotten the next picture - think: face scrunched up, tongue sticking out. She did not like it. {Insert X-Factor Buzzer Sounds} We were all a little disappointed for her. She wanted to like it so bad, but she just couldn't handle it. The one lesson she learned today is that now she knows she isn't missing out on anything when people around her are eating pizza. She just plain didn't like it.
In defense of Your Pie, I did try it {and they warned me that most kids didn't like the Daiya cheese they use on their vegan pizza}. I consider myself an expert on pizza tasting. I love pizza just like 99% of the free world, so I tried it for myself to see how it compared to the taste of my own pizza. It was actually VERY good. There was no weird taste or smell about it. It looks like real cheese. It's a great dairy-free option!! I highly recommend it. My girl just clearly hasn't aquired a taste for cheese since she has never in her life tasted real cheese.
We drove down the street to her favorite place, Taco Bell, and got her favorite bean burrito with no cheese and no onions and she was all set.
Have you ever tried vegan pizza? Is there a restaurant you like that offers it? What's your favorite vegan cheese brand?

Thanks for stopping by!

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