Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sometimes you just get lucky

Is there anything better than when every element of a meal works out?! When you get things all done at the same time? When everything tastes as it should, or better? Happy sigh.

Last night we had a dinner guest. He happens to be gluten and corn free. Between that and my dairy and soy free diet I had to be even more selective than usual. No problem.

The menu included...
Sweet and Spicy Bacon Chicken
Green Bean Mushroom Medley
Fat free, oil free Crispy Potatoes
Mini Morsel Meringue Cookies 

The Bacon Wrapped Chicken was a recipe suggested by our guest. He had a general recipe with no real amounts so I improvised. I have to admit that we really aren't a bacon family. I am 100% certain that I have never wrapped anything in bacon before but shoot, these were really really good!

4 chicken breast cut in thirds (12 pieces)
Bacon slices
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder
chili powder (I omitted as I am breastfeeding currently)
paprika  (I used smoked paprika because I am currently obsessed with it)

brown sugar 

Season chicken with spices--I just guessed as I used them since the recipe didn't give specifics

Wrap chicken with bacon--1 used 1 slice for most of them but didn't have 12 pieces of bacon and half a piece seemed to be plenty as well. In the future to cut fat and calories I will probably use half a piece of bacon for each piece of chicken.
Roll in brown sugar 
Place in an oiled/sprayed dish to go it the oven ( I lined a baking pan with foil and then used a splash of olive oil to coat as there are no MSPI safe sprays that I have found. This made for much much easier clean up.)
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes

GREEN BEAN MUSHROOM MEDLEY - this comes from the KitchMe website

12 lb fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 carrot, cut into thick strips
14 cup butter - I used soy free Earth Balance and scanted by half
1 onion, sliced (I used half a large onion)
12 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp salt
12 tsp seasoning salt
14 tsp garlic salt
14 tsp white pepper


  1. Place green beans and carrots in 1 inch of boiling water. Cover, and cook until tender but still firm. Drain.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms until almost tender. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in green beans, carrots, salt, seasoned salt, garlic salt, and white pepper. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

This comes from Fifteen Spatulas website. Great recipe as well. My almost three year old ate all of his and asked for more!

  • 4 pounds russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour (I used Gluten free Oat Flour)
  • salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Fill up a big pot about 1/2 full with cool water. Peel the skin off the potatoes, and cut them into evenly sized bite-size chunks (you want them sized slightly larger than the dice you find in board games). Place the potatoes in the water and season the water with several tbsp of salt, the same amount that you would add to pasta water. It's important for the water to be salty so the potatoes are seasoned inside.
  3. Bring the whole pot to a boil on high heat, with the lid on. Once the water is boiling, cook for an additional 4 minutes, with the lid off. Drain the potatoes, return the potato pieces to the pot (don't put the pot back on the heat), and sprinkle over the flour. Put the lid back on the pan, and shake it up like crazy until the potato edges are banged up and the flour is nicely distributed.
  4. Dump the potatoes onto a parchment lined sheet pan and make sure they are in a single layer (don't crowd the potatoes, or the edges won't get crispy). Give it a good sprinkling of sea salt and whatever other seasoning you like, and they are ready to go into the oven. Roast for 30-45 minutes at 450 degrees F, but watch them carefully because the roasting time will vary depending on the size of your chunks. 
Editor's note: I do not recommend doing the shaking of the potatoes 3 weeks after a c section. Enlist in help. Ouch. Paying for that today. (Hopefully my OB isn't reading this and shaking her head at me. I can clearly picture her doing that.)

I added a big bowl of fresh grapes to the table and that was that. I am already looking forward to making this meal again. Whooo hoo. 

I have made these many times but they are a good fall back. They require very few ingredients and almost always turn out well. I found them a year and a half ago on the Very Best Baking website. Yum yum. 

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) I used Enjoy Life Mini Chips to stay Gluten, Soy, Dairy Free
Preheat oven to 300° F. Grease baking sheets. (I always use Parchment paper)
Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in small mixer bowl until soft peaks form. 
Gradually add sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. 
Gently fold in morsels 1/3 cup at a time. 
Drop by level tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until meringues are dry and crisp. 
Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
Store in airtight containers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MSPI in the Hospital

When M was born, I had been meticulously following the MSPI diet for over a month. No dairy or soy proteins and no soybean oils or soy lecithin (which are actually not proteins but fats). I had called the hospital months in advance to find out if they had dairy and soy free options and what the best way to convey my needs to dietary were. The dietitian I spoke with said that they had an MSPI menu and that when I called for my meals to let them know that I was ordering from that.

The day after delivery I received my menu. As I was looking through it, I knew that it didn't seem right. I noticed several cereals that I knew were off limits as well as wraps, breads, bagels, and entrees that I knew I wouldn't be able to have. In the hospital's defense, MSPI really does stand for just milk/soy PROTEIN intolerance and doesn't include fats and oils. The thing was, I had worked so hard for a month to make sure that everything I ate was completely dairy/soy free, and I wasn't about to let the hospital food negate all that hard work. My husband and my mom stepped in and provided dinners. I always had enough for the next day's lunch. I could order fruits and cereal that I knew to be ok with rice milk. Patrick brought me a few groceries like peanut butter, sprouted wheat bread, pretzel sticks from Trader Joe's, and Trader Joe's Salt Water Taffy! I had packed Enjoy Life Vanilla Graham cookies as well as Enjoy Life Smore's snack bars for a little treat. I also called down to the dietitian and explained my concerns to them.

On Monday, my discharge day, I called to get lunch and requested a salad with veggies. The gal that answered said, "oh, that is crossed out in red on your menu". Apparently over the weekend or Monday am, someone had done through the entire menu's ingredients and marked out all of the items I was not ok'd to eat. She listed off a few entrees that I could have and for whatever reason really wanted me to have a baked potato. I politely declined but asked for a green vegetable. Later, someone from dietary came up to profusely apologize for the issues. I explained why I was being so careful but let her know that I was not at all upset and that I understood completely. 

I have to say I was very very impressed with the hospital staff for making an effort to see that my nutritional needs were met. My mom and Patrick saved the day with food from home that I trusted.  It's funny, you would think that a hamburger patty would be safe no matter what. My mom sent two hamburgers with all the veggies over one night including homemade pickles!! They were delicious and didn't need a bun. If I would have asked for that from the hospital thou, it would most likely have been cooked on a grill sprayed with a spray containing soy. (All of the cooking sprays I have found have soy in them.) My mom also made homemade pizza with her own pizza sauce and a crust I recommended from Trader Joe's. She made everyone else's with cheese but left the cheese off mine and I didn't miss it at all! She sent two kinds, one with hamburger (I think she thinks I need more meat in my life!) and veggies and the other with chicken and sun dried tomatoes. Soooo delicious both hot and especially cold!

I guess the moral of the story is, trust your instincts. It isn't worth "ruining" a lot of hard work and ending up with a crabby baby just because someone doesn't understand what you need. I had a great experience and I was very lucky to have wonderful people watching out for me. Don't hesitate to take your own food to the hospital and don't be shy about letting them know what you can't have!

E meeting M for the first time with Grammy supervising.

Grammy getting snuggle time with the new babe.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Love Resides Here

I've been away for a week or so. In the hospital with our new little one. The birth story is for another day but in the meantime I would like to introduce M.

He was born on Thursday 8/8/13 by Cesarean and was 7.0 lbs and 20 3/4" long.

He is perfect and I am in love with him. His big brother E has taken to him, luckily.

I have to say that I am so blessed to be surrounded by all my boys. Couldn't ask for anything more (except maybe to be able to carry more than 7 lbs). :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A day in the MSPI life

As I have stated before, the first time I eliminated dairy and soy from my diet I was overwhelmed. This time, as I have had time to think about it and be a bit more methodical it has been really no problem at all. As I have also said before, I am eliminating ALL dairy and ALL soy including soybean oil and soy lecithin to start with. This will make it a bit easier for anyone else who is looking for recipes to follow. Unfortunately, you still have to check ingredient lists as products do occasionally change.

I thought I might just document what one MSPI mom eats in a day. The options really are a bit more broad than one might think. I suppose it also depends on whether or not you eat meat, or wheat, or eggs but those are all to be included here. The ingredients that we avoid other than dairy and soy include ALL food dyes and as many preservatives as possible. I am 37+ weeks pregnant now so I don't yet have a newborn. I am also feeding a hungry husband and toddler and they do eat dairy and soy.

First Breakfast
- half a banana
- 1/2 Tablespoon Jif Creamy Natural Peanut Butter (Peanuts, Sugar, Palm Oil, Contains 2% or less of: salt, molasses)

Second Breakfast
- one piece of Trader Joe's sprouted wheat bread toasted
- 2 egg whites
- one piece of sliced ham (organic slices from Natural Grocers - check ingredient lists)
- one slice of GO Veggie American "cheese" (Organic Rice Base (Filtered water, Organic Rice Flour), Potato Maltodextrin , Rice Bran Oil, Pea Protein, Rice Maltodextrin, Calcium  & Sodium Phosphates, Contains 2% or less of Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Mono  & Diglycerides, Natural Flavors, Lactic Acid (non-dairy), Apocarotenal (Color), Beta-Carotene)
- Trader Joe's ketchup (Organic Tomato Puree, Organic Sugar, Organic White Vinegar, Salt, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Spices)

- Homemade salad with spinach and romaine lettuce,  black beans, corn, quinoa (I always have cooked quinoa or couscous in the fridge ready to go), tomatoes, and homemade Balsamic Vinegar Dressing (click on link for recipe) from a recipe I got from a coworker. It is the only dressing I ever use even when I am not adhering to the MSPI "laws".
- apple

- grapes
- Trader Joe's Honey Whole Wheat Pretzel Sticks (enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), honey, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, palm oil, ammonium bicarbonate, malted barley flour, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), yeast)

- Tomato Vegetable Soup
- Corn on the Cob
- Cantaloupe and blueberries
-two pieces Trader Joe's Salt Water Taffy (Corn syrup, cane sugar, organic extra virgin coconut oil (expeller pressed), natural flavors (strawberry, sour apple, red licorice, watermelon, banana cream, wild cherry), egg whites, malic acid, salt, colored with vegetable extracts (red radish, red cabbage, tumeric)
- multivitamin

-Outshine Popsicle - Cherry (water, cherry juice from concentrate, sugar, cherry puree, citric acid, beet juice color, natural flavors, guar gum, vegetable juice (for color), ascorbic acid (vitamin c), carob bean gum, tumeric color extract)

MSPI Tomato Vegetable Soup

I found this recipe on

 With a few simple modifications, it was MSPI friendly. You have to be pretty cautious of bouillon as it often contains dairy and/or soy. I found this brand at several of the natural grocery stores in town as well as on Amazon. It is a little pricy but I have used it several times with good success.

Delicious Tomato Vegetable Soup (adapted from

1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce (Hunt's brand is MSPI safe)
5 cups water
1 cubes vegetable bouillon (Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with Herbs is the brand I used)
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning - Hyvee Brand
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce (I used Trader Joe's Chili Pepper Sauce - chili peppers, distilled vinegar, sugar, spices, xanthan gum. They recently added that this is made on shared equipment with wheat, eggs, soy & fish. I used it anyway as I put just a splash in and the ingredients weren't dairy or soy directly.)
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup uncooked Trader Joe's Orecchiette pasta

In a large pot, mix the tomato sauce, water, vegetable bouillon, bay leaf, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, parsley, sugar, salt, pepper, and hot red pepper sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer at least 30 minutes.
Stir in the celery, carrots, zucchini, and corn. Cover, and continue to simmer 30 minutes.
Stir pasta into the pot, and continue cooking 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente.

We liked this. I am not sure it even needs the pasta and I might consider adding mushrooms and maybe using my immersion blender a bit next time. YUM! Ate half and put the rest in the freezer for a more tired evening. 

MSPI Safe Balsamic Vinegar Salad Dressing

Homemade Balsamic Vinegar Salad Dressing

I got this recipe from a coworker about a year ago. I made a few adaptations but it is the only dressing I eat now. Super easy and delicious. I always have these ingredients on hand too which makes it convenient.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

-1 part Balsamic vinegar (1/4 cup) to 2 parts oil (1/2 cup)

-1-2 T of honey

-1 T of Dijon mustard (double check ingredients list for MSPI safe brands. I use Trader Joe's)

-1 tsp of garlic salt

-pepper to taste

Mix everything together except the oil.  
Gradually add oil by whisking.  
The Dijon mustard is the key to emulsification, if the oil and the other parts are not combining well, add more mustard, but be careful because it can definitely take over in taste.  


Black Bean Burgers

We are not vegan or vegetarian or paleo or any of those other things. We don't tend to eat much meat. I really, really don't like raw meat. It ruins the whole dining experience for me. I do best when I can put it in the crockpot and ignore it for the day.

These black bean burgers were delicious, and at least for me, they were the perfect solution to rectify a hamburger desire and keep it meat free. There is just something way less gross about mashed black beans and veggies than ground meat. Yuck.

On that note, this recipe came from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom. She has great recipes. I've been searching around on her site and have come up with a few more to try.

I made a few adaptations to this recipe to make it MSPI safe. Double check your ketchup, bread crumbs, and substitute Worcestershire Sauce for soy sauce  or use homemade "soy sauce". The boys ate theirs on sandwich flats and I ate mine without a bun but topped with lots of fresh veggies. I used spinach greens, a few red onion slices, tomatoes from our garden (yay!), and my mom's canned bread and butter pickles along with ketchup and mustard. One can never have too much ketchup, just so you know.

Oh and I was exhausted and having contractions every 7-8 minutes so photos were not on the do to list but ours ended up looking very much like Scattered Mom's so click on the link below to see photos of her results.

MSPI Black Bean Burgers adapted from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
(Makes around 15 sliders)


  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 2 15.5oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained (I realized after I got started that I only had one can of black beans so I substituted the other can for kidney beans. Turned out to be a great decision!)
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn (I used frozen as I try to avoid canned)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used HyVee brand Worcestershire Sauce as it is MSPI free and I was out of homemade "soy sauce".)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (or cilantro paste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs (I used organic bread crumbs from Trader Joes as they were MSPI safe. It required over 3/4 cup to get to the stick-together point.)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute until onions are tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mash black beans using a potato masher until desired consistency. Add in corn, ketchup, soy sauce, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper, onion and garlic and until well combined. Fold in bread crumbs until mixture holds together. Form into patties and chill for 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook burgers until crispy, about 5-8 minutes per side depending on your stove top heat.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Not so bad after all... and Guacamole

So the "peanut brittle" I made the other night that I thought was a disaster? Perfectly fine on day two. Don't ask, I have no idea. Go check out Averie Cook's for the recipe! Easy, microwavable, fast, and yummy. Even if you do accidentally use cashews instead of peanuts. Ha!

As for the guacamole, delicious. I don't really love guacamole but my husband does so in the name of love... find this recipe on Picture Perfect Meals. I left out the jalapenos because I didn't have any. No harm done there.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Big huge-mongous flop

E has been talking about the huge-mongous church that we walk by when he and I walk the dog. It cracks me up every time. :)

Anywho, speaking of huge-mongous... I had a flop of that magnitude for dinner tonight. I made banana oatmeal pancakes and I am not even going to post the recipe or the link because I am fairly sure they should never be made again.

I ended up eating egg whites on sprouted wheat toast and the boys suffered through a couple of pancakes doused in syrup and then had snacks.

Then I made chocolate microwave peanut brittle. Also not so good. Nuts. 0 for 2 on the MSPI recipes.

Off to make a menu for next week and try again tomorrow. Black bean tacos and homemade guacamole. Much more likely to taste delicious.