Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Easy Cherry Raisin Oatmeal Cake

With a nut, soy, egg allergic daughter, I am in search of something sort of sweet to treat (but not TOO unhealthy!) my daughter with (not to mention absent of any BOP ingredients, too!). I'm an avid baker, so not being able to use eggs in my baking recipes is a bit of a disappointment. However, I will not be deterred and I would like to find a cake/muffin recipe that I can use for her. So, here is my take on a recipe originally posted on

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 cups water
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one 10 x 10 inch baking pan.

In a large saucepan boil the raisins and cherries with the water for 10 minutes. Add the butter or margarine and let cool.

In the same pan add the flour, soda, salt, sugar, and oatmeal, mix well and pour batter into a lightly greased 10x10 inch baking pan .

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Serves 8 to 12.

*I like to serve warm cake with a dollop of yogurt and maybe some berries sound nice, too. Also, I believe that these would make a nice muffin, too. If you want to get wild and crazy, you could also ice with cream cheese frosting, too!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

I originally found this recipe on Of course the pictures there make everything look decadent and delicious. I am such a sucker for mac and cheese- NOT the box kind- so I knew I had to try this one. However, with and egg allergic kid and my own BOP allergies, I had to modify slightly in order to make it suitable for our family. I added in some chopped ham and spinach in order to make this more of a meal than a side dish.


4 cups Dried Macaroni (I used whole wheat Rotini)
¼ cups (1/2 Stick Or 4 Tablespoons) Butter
1/8 cup Corn Starch
2-½ cups Whole Milk (I used fat free half and half)
1 pound Cheese, Grated (I used a mixture of low-fat mozzarella and cheddar)
½ teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
½ teaspoons Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper


Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.

In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in corn starch. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.

Pour in milk and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick (and it does get very sticky and gooey!). Reduce heat to low.

Add in cheese and stir to melt (may need to add a touch more milk to thin out- just don't add TOO much milk).

Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Icy Coffee Treat

I don't know about anybody else, but it's HOT outside! We are already into the 90's and it's not quite June! I love my coffee as much as the next girl, but don't necessarily like all the extra calories that come with a Starbucks run. So, here's my (lower-calorie/lower-fat) take on an icy coffee treat- enjoy!

1 cup strong coffee
1 cup almond milk
1 T. Agave Nectar
5-6 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Makes two servings. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies (from Rachael Ray)

I'm a big fan of sweet and salty treats. I found this recipe in a past issue of a Rachael Ray magazine but hadn't tried it until today. If you like peanut butter and pretzels, this is a decadent little treat and there is no vanilla or cinnamon involved (typical BOP culprits when it comes to baking). Yum-o (in the words of RR)!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
6 cups miniature pretzels, chopped

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and peanut butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until just combined; stir in the peanuts.
Place the pretzels in a bowl. Using a 1 1/2-inch-diameter cookie scoop and working in batches, drop a few balls of dough in the bowl and toss to coat. Place the cookies on the prepared pans. Bake, rotating the pans after 10 minutes, until golden but still soft to the touch, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before transferring to racks to cool.

*I didn't have a full six cups of crushed pretzels to use. So, I decided to use crushed up Ritz crackers, instead. Just as tasty- lighter and a little crispier.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pancake Breakfast

Saturday mornings are made for pancakes around our household. Specifically, pancakes made by my hubby and animal-shaped pancake connoisseur. When our daughter was recently diagnosed with a soy, egg and nut allergy, all thoughts of Saturday morning pancakes went out the window. Between the fact that most commercially made breakfast syrups (Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth, Log Cabin) contain sodium benzoate (personal no-no) as a preservative and pancake mixes typically need eggs and/or contain soy, pancakes are just not feasible anymore.

That is, until I found Pioneer Brand no-fat pancake mix! I found it right by the other pancake mixes and it requires no eggs, has no eggs in it and no sodium benzoate! So, top with fresh fruit (non-citrus, of course!) and pancake breakfasts are back in business!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Planter's Nut-rition Heart Healthy Bars

Have you tried the new Planters' Nut-trition heart healthy cranberry almond bars? 160 calories and 3 grams of fiber, this bar is BOP-free! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hot Potato

Just this last week I read two articles about the poor, beleaguered white potato. Both articles were in the Wall Street Journal. The first was about how the FDA wants to completely eliminate white potatoes from school breakfasts and severely limit it's availability in school lunches to once a week. The second article was about how McDonald's restaurants need to stop marketing fast food (would you like fries with that?) to children because it is leading to the epidemic of obese children in America.

First off, let me say for the record that I am not a medical professional. Nor am I a potato farmer, or affiliated by birth of relation to any such person in the farming industry. I'm also not saying that potatoes should be served at every school lunch, five days a week- I'm just suggesting that we take a closer and reevaluate completely taking potatoes out of the picture.

Potatoes are high in fiber, full of nutrients and low-fat. They contain potassium and vitamin C. A humble baked potato can fill you up, rather inexpensively money-wise and calorie-wise (approximately 160 calories for a baked potato with skin). Also, a baked potato can be a "vehicle" to other vegetables- think baked potato with broccoli. With a vegetable-picky eater at home, this is a HUGE deal for me to get my child to eat- and enjoy- her veggies!

We each have a CHOICE as to what to eat and what to feed our children. We have a CHOICE as to where we go out to eat and what food choices we make when we are there. If you go out to McDonald's, just don't get the fries- get the apples, instead. Choose the fruit option, not the chips. Of course, potatoes are part of french fries and french fries have helped lead American children to the obesity epidemic we are currently facing. However, not ALL potatoes are bad. Ban french fries, not baked potatoes. Ban chips from school lunches, not potatoes found in the form of soups, stews and healthy, nutritious casseroles.

Give children a (healthy!) choice. Offer children (and adults!) a wide variety of vegetables, repeatedly. Mix vegetables into a daily, healthy lifestyle through salads, steamed vegetable sides, mixed in with other carbohydrates and lean proteins. Don't say that potatoes are bad when that is simply not true.

In other words, don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Control Freak

I have a confession to make that will not really surprise any of my close friends and family. I am a control freak. This need to control things manifests itself in many different ways in my life- from the need to have the Keurig K-Cup holder full at all times (no empty spots!) to my perfectionist , organizational tendencies (past and present).

Fault me if you must, but when it comes to eating right, control is a good thing (in the words of Martha- a fellow control freak). Since working on improving my diet (and my family's diet along with my own) and strictly eliminating allergens such as Balsam of Peru, I have seen great improvement in my skin (I really wish I had known about this allergy before!), my health and the health and general well-being of my family. We have more energy to get up and move, to focus and be motivated.

Right now, I feel like all I do is read food labels and monitor what we eat. Add in the fact that my daughter has a soy, nut, egg allergy and indeed, all I really do IS read food labels! I have never eaten a more healthy diet! After awhile, you start to get sick thinking of all of the JUNK you used to put in your body. Read some food labels and it will upset you- wood pulp with that cheese, anybody (it's true- Kraft adds cellulose to their supposed "healthy" low-fat shredded cheese)?!

Sometimes, I think that being the gatekeeper for our family's healthy eating habits is a full-time job and in some ways it is. It wasn't until I became aware of my Balsam of Peru food allergies and made the decision to seriously do something about it that our "new" healthy lifestyle came about. I'm doing the shopping, the chopping, the preparing of breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

About a month and a half in, and we ARE seeing results. Both my husband and I have lost weight and that is a great motivator. We are able to better hold and keep up with our very active toddler! My skin looks and feels much better with less flare-ups and redness. Had I known what I know now, back when I was pregnant and nursing, I don't think I would have had such a miserable pregnancy.

Along with the physical accomplishments, eating right has led us to exercise more and become more aware of what we put into our bodies. I'm starting to understand more of the "science" of how food works within our bodies. I'm also becoming aware of the staggering amount of JUNK, unnecessary preservatives and additives that we daily, willingly subject ourselves to by eating prepackaged, processed foods. I'm cooking and eating "closer to the ground. I'm getting back to my love of bread making. I'm learning how to do new things like make my own yogurt. I am far from a tree-hugger, and I'm the last person you'd expect to stand up and extol the virtues of organic-back-to-nature farming, but it is starting to all make sense.

So, maybe being a control freak isn't such a bad thing, after all.

Whole Wheat Oat Bread Using KitchenAid Stand Mixer

Since my 100% whole wheat bread didn't rise like I wanted it to, but I want to eat more than just plain white bread, I decided to mix the two recipes and come up with a multigrain bread. The following is what I came up with:

1/2C milk

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons Instant Yeast (.34 oz.)

1-1/2 C warm water (105 F to 110 F)

2 C Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 C Oat Bran Flour

3 C White flour


1. Combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm (less than 110 F).

2. If using active dry yeast, dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. If using Instant Yeast, just add it to the flour and mix it in before adding liquids.

3. Add lukewarm milk mixture and water to 2 C Wheat Flour, 2 C White Flour and 1/2 C Oat Bran Flour. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and mix 1 minute. Continuing on speed 2, add remaining White flour, 1/2 C (2.5 oz.) at a time (slowly so it doesn't fly out of bowl), until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch. (At this point I take the dough and knead it for 5-7 minutes, adding flour as needed, until I get the feel I want from the dough.)

4. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about an hour. 5. Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. 6. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Whole Grain Wheat Bread Using KitchenAid Stand Mixer

Nothing is better than homemade bread with a slathering of homemade jam! I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago (after I made some white bread in my KitchenAid Stand mixer), but forgot to post the recipe. This recipe is from the instruction manual that came with the mixer. I love that it uses 100% whole wheat flour.

It was very humid the day that I made the bread, so one of my loaves didn't rise as much as I would have liked but it sure tasted DELICIOUS! The bread was dense, grainy and wholesome. I feel good about feeding my family good, nutritious foods that I know we can safely eat.

1/3 cup plus 1 T brown sugar, divided
2 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
5-6 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup powdered milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup oil

Dissolve 1 T brown sugar in warm water in small bowl. Add yeast and let mixture stand.

Place four cups flour, powdered milk, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and salt in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 15 seconds. Continuing on speed 2, gradually add yeast mixture and oil to flour mixture and mix about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Stop and scrape bowl if necessary.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about two minutes. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft about one hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into loaf. Place in greased loaf pans. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake 30 minutes longer. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Typical Day of Eating- May 10, 2011

On the menu yesterday was the following:

Breakfast- Omelet made with two eggs and a splash of almond milk, filled with one slice Canadian Bacon, handful of spinach, a sprinkle of low-fat mozzarella cheese, mushrooms and onions. One small piece of homemade whole wheat toast with a thin layer of homemade strawberry jam.

Lunch- Microwave meal of Mac and Cheese (not necessarily completely BOP-free as it contains citric acid). However, if you were to make it on your own, I'm sure you could do it safely without any harmful ingredients.

Dinner- Brown Rice and veggie pilaf.

So, not every day is perfect, but you've got to work with what you have.

Other Food Allergies

We went to the allergist, yesterday, for my 15-month old daughter. It turns out that she is allergic to soy, eggs (both yolk and whites) and nuts (tree and peanuts). So, combined with my personal allergies to Balsam of Peru, pears, peaches, apples and carrots, cooking and eating in this household should be interesting...

Friday, May 13, 2011


So, I've been following a Balsam of Peru diet for about three weeks, now. Of course, I started out strong avoiding everything on the "no-no" list. My skin cleared right up without the help of medicine! I actually felt comfortable taking a warm shower without it stinging my skin. I could give my baby baths without severe cracked hands. In short, avoiding BOP, let me be a "normal" person.

Then, this last week, I let myself slide a little- a little chocolate there, a little ice cream on a hot day won't hurt me... you know the drill. Well, after a couple of days of that, I can definitely feel the difference in my skin!! My face is itchy and irritated. My arms are starting to break out and I can tell that avoiding BOP is in my skin's best interest because when I follow a BOP-free diet, my skin cleared up, it wasn't dry, irritated or cracked.

Homemade Yogurt

I love yogurt and my family goes through a lot of it! We put it in smoothies, we eat it plain, we put it in parfaits and my one-year old daughter has an almost unhealthy obsession with it! However, when you look at the ingredient list of most major brands of flavored yogurts, they contain things like citric acid, benzoates and other un-pronounceable ingredients. Do you really want to be putting all of THAT into your body?! So, that is how I arrived at the decision that I would attempt to make my own yogurt at home- crazy, I know- but I figured I could make my own plain base and add fruit and flavoring to my liking. Here goes!


-8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk

-frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring


-Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

-Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.

-When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.

-Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened-it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.

-Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.

-Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. Keep 1/2 cup of plain yorgurt for a starter for your next batch of yogurt. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days.

Instead of blending the yogurt while it was warm, I added fruit as I ate it. I had some fresh, homemade strawberry jam that I used and mixed it with the yogurt- kind of like "fruit on the bottom." Let me tell you, this stuff is delicious! My baby ate three bowls of it today, already. This is way better than the store-bought stuff and I can feel good about the ingredients that go into it and goes into our bodies.

Black Bean Burgers

I love Garden Burgers, but they tend to be a bit pricey AND contain items that are not so good for a BOP diet (read the ingredient list and sometimes you have no idea what goes into the burger you are eating!). Therefore, I did a little searching for a recipe for an equally tasty meat-free "burger" and this is what I found (I did some minor tweaking). This recipe is quick, easy, filling, very healthy and best of all it doesn't contain BOP, vinegar, citric acid or benzoates! I will definitely be making these burgers again- yummy!

Servings: 8


3 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups uncooked oats
1 medium onion, diced
2 sweet peppers
1/2 cup chopped spinach
2 large eggs beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
vegetable oil to saute burgers in
8 hamburger buns


1 Coarsely mash the beans with a fork or potato masher.
2 Mix together the mashed beans, oats, and next 5 ingredients.
3 Shape mixture into 8 patties.
4 Mix together the flour and cornmeal; dredge patties in flour mixture.
5 Let the oil get hot in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned; drain on paper towels.
6 Serve on toasted buns.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Learning to *Tolerate* Bananas

I have a confession to make- I do not like bananas. In fact, I really detest them and for years, I would not let one cross my lips. It's a texture, taste, smell thing for me. Yuck!

Well, introduce a Balsam of Peru allergy and all things citrus are out of the question and I already know that I'm allergic to apples, pears and peaches (that's why you'll see so few of those fruits listed in recipes on this site). SOOOoo, that means that doesn't leave me with many fruits in which I can safely consume without an eczema breakout.

So, I'm learning to tolerate bananas and even voluntarily buy them at the store. *Gasp!* I've used them in a couple of recipes and some smoothies. I can still taste them, but at least I don't go running away, screaming. I've got to start somewhere, right?! ;-P

Monday, May 9, 2011

(Another) Homemade Protein Bar Recipe

Here is another protein bar recipe that is BOP-free. The original recipe called for a layer of chocolate on top (doesn't that sound yummy?!) but I omitted that for the sake of eliminating BOP from my diet. While I love eating bars- FiberOne, Cliff bars, and other protein/granola bars out there on the market- most include chocolate, vanilla, citric acid and/or cinnamon. So, I'm on a quest to find a bar recipe that I enjoy as much as the store-bought ones.

1 mashed banana
1 1/2 cups dry oatmeal
2 Tablespoons flax seed, ground
2-4 scoops protein powder
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients together well (mixture will be somewhat sticky). Line an 8×8-inch pan with foil and spread the mixture evenly in the pan.

Place the pan in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Cut into 10 -12 bars and wrap in plastic wrap and/or foil and store in the freezer.

Thaw slightly before serving.

1/1o th of this recipe = approximately 260 calories and 11 to 13 grams of protein (depending upon how much protein powder you use, per Calorie Count.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


When you are allergic to BOP, it's really hard to find a toothpaste that doesn't contain vanilla, mint or cinnamon. So, enter in the idea to make your own toothpaste. After a little searching, I came across a homemade recipe in which I can omit the flavoring.

Homemade Toothpaste

2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
3 Tablespoons Baking Soda

Mix ingredients and store in airtight container.

Now, I tasted this one and admittedly, it tastes AWFUL! I was hoping that with the use of coconut oil, the taste would somehow be better and I wouldn't miss the mint or cinnamon flavorings, but not so. We'll have to tweak this one a bit. For now, I can at least rest assured that I'm cleaning my teeth with something that won't aggravate my allergies.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Energy Bars (Pseudo-Cliff Bars)

Since chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon are out when following a BOP-free diet, that severely limits the variety of pre-packaged energy/protein bars out there that one can consume. I really like bars in general because they offer me a nutritious, quick, all-in-one, eat-with-one-hand (I have an active toddler in the house!) meal/snack option. So, I've been searching for something that I could make at home omitting any necessary ingredients (i.e. cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate chips, etc.). This is what I came up with:

1 and 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/4 cup finely chopped dried fruit (e.g., raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc.- I used cranberries)
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/3 cup honey/real maple syrup/molasses (I used Light Agave Nectar and I don't think that it's sticky enough to hold the bars together so next time, I'm going to try honey)
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Combine the rice cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, dried fruit, and nuts in a large bowl. Combine the syrup and nut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and well-blended. Pour nut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated. Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch square pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) using a large square of wax paper (really tamp it down). Cool in pan on a wire rack and chill at least 30 minutes to help it set. Cut into 12 bars. (Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator).

Now, here is what I learned: Currently, my bars are chilling, so I'll have to wait to see how they taste- they look good, though! I used Agave Nectar instead of honey and I really wish I had used honey because Agave just doesn't have the "stickiness" needed to hold the bars together properly. Also, next time, I'd like to try using crisp brown rice cereal because I believe that would help with the overall nutrition of the bars. There's lots of room to play with this recipe and make other flavor combinations- shredded carrots with raisins and walnuts for a carrot cake flavor, dried cherries with almonds, flaked coconut for a tropical twist, dried apples with raisins for an apple pie flavor. The sky's the limit! Any other flavor combination suggestions would be most welcomed- just leave a comment.

**Update- I ate one of the bars for a snack, this afternoon, and it was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. However, it was not as soft and chewy as I would have liked (Cliff bars tend to be softer and more in line with a no-bake oatmeal cookie texture). The bars stuck together- putting it in the fridge helped.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Basic White Bread Using KitchenAid Stand Mixer

While following a BOP-free diet, I'm learning that not only do I need to start eating more foods in it's most natural state (veggies, salads, grains, meat, etc.), but I also need to start making more from scratch so that I know EXACTLY what is in it (i.e. no BOP)! As I'm reading more labels and learning how to decipher the ingredients, I'm becoming more aware of the JUNK put into processed and manufactured foods. I was so angry when I read that high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient in the loaf of labeled "100% whole wheat" bread sitting on my shelf. Seriously?!

Anyway, I digress. Back to the topic on hand- making more things from scratch. First up- bread. What is more basic than bread? I love, love, LOVE bread! I especially love homemade bread. Now, I've made bread in the past- both using a machine and the good ol' fashioned way by kneading the dough, but I decided that I'd give my Kitchenaid stand mixer a try for this one.


1/2C milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons Instant Yeast (.34 oz.)
1-1/2 C warm water (105 F to 110 F)
5-6 C Unbleached bread flour

1. Combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm (less than 110 F).
2. If using active dry yeast, dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. If using Instant Yeast, just add it to the flour and mix it in before adding liquids.
3. Add lukewarm milk mixture and water to 4 1/2 C (1# 6 oz.) flour. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and mix 1 minute. Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 C (2.5 oz.) at a time (slowly so it doesn't fly out of bowl), until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch. (At this point I take the dough and knead it for 5-7 minutes, adding flour as needed, until I get the feel I want from the dough.)
4. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
5. Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
6. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

My dough at step three was very, very, very sticky and I ended up adding closer to seven cups of flour. I was concerned I was going to make it too dry and knead the dough too much making it tough. However, miracles of miracles, the dough rose perfectly and formed a beautiful golden brown crust when baked. The stand mixer makes it easier to assemble-I did it one handed while holding my 14 month old daughter in one hand and measuring ingredients with the other- just measure, dump, let the stand to the mixing and then you are ready to form the loaves and voila! Fresh, homemade bread! However, it's harder using a stand mixer because you can't FEEL how the dough is forming and a lot about bread making is how the dough feels- the texture, the softness (or hardness). So, note to self, dough in the stand mixer is stickier than making it by hand.

I wanted to start out trying to follow the recipe to the T since I was unfamiliar with how the stand mixer works when making bread. Next time, though, I'd like to tinker with the recipe and incorporate whole wheat flour, make some flax seed, oats and/or bran to make the bread healthier.

A Typical Day of Eating- May 3, 2011

Today's menu included the following:

For breakfast, I had a 1/2 cup Quaker Oat Bran Cereal with some blueberries and almond milk mixed in. I also had some cantaloupe.

For a morning snack, I had a Blueberry Crisp Clif bar. Clif bars do contain citric acid as one of the last ingredients, so they aren't totally BOP-free. Also, be careful when eating Clif bars because a lot of flavors contain cinnamon, too.

Lunch included a mixed greens salad with red, yellow and orange peppers, onions and roast beef. I dress my salads with s spritz of olive oil and some oregano since most salad dressings include either vinegar, sodium benzoate or citric acid- read those labels carefully because the ingredients may surprise you (and not in a good way!)!!

For snack, I had some more cantaloupe and a Babybel light cheese wheel.

Dinner was a frittata made with eggs, a splash of milk, peppers, onions and celery. I also had a slice of homemade bread with butter (the bread was truly the main dish- yum!).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kashi Blueberry Waffles

Have you tried the new Kashi frozen Blueberry waffles, yet? They contain 23 grams of whole grains AND the don't contain any BOP ingredients! Two waffles are 150 calories. They are hearty, healthy, contain real blueberries that I can see (and don't need a microscope to find) and delicious! Due to the fact that many syrups contain BOP ingredients, I topped mine with more frozen blueberries. Yum!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ricotta Cheese

Today, while I was eating 1/4 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese with a drizzle of honey- one of mine and my daughter's favorite snacks- I read the ingredients on the back of the ricotta cheese container. Vinegar is the third ingredient listed. Since vinegar (think pickles, pickled beets, etc.) should be avoided in a BOP-free diet- Yikes!

Since my mother's side of the family is Italian, ricotta cheese is a BIG deal! So, I wanted to brain storm some alternatives to ricotta cheese. The best I could come up with is cottage cheese. You could use it to layer in lasagnas. You could alternate layers of pasta, thinly sliced zucchini and mozzarella for another variation on lasagna.

Ravioli is basically a stuffed pasta so the possibilities are endless. You could stuff with pumpkin, walnut and butter. or, perhaps you could make a pesto- basil, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese- ravioli. Or, simply, you could just use cheese. Of course, if you stuff the ravioli with cheese, onion and potato you've got a pirogi and you traveled north a bit in ethnicity :-).

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Before I get to far into this blog, I want to mention that I am NOT a medical professional. I do not have an medical training and I do not claim to know all of the facts. The purpose of this blog is to record my findings as an everyday person dealing with a severe allergy to Balsam of Peru. Because of my lack of knowledge about the allergy before being diagnosed and the lack of information out there listing "safe" foods for those suffering from a BOP allergy, I started this blog. This blog is not only my informal record of things that work and things that don't, but it is meant to be an encouragement to others with similar allergies. This blog should NOT be used as a medical diagnosis, nor should it be taken for medical basis of any kind. All results are personal and meant strictly for the reader's information.

Also, I specifically name products and name-brands so that others that suffer from BOP allergy can readily find the foods/products and not have to go searching or deciphering ingredient lists. I do not get any monetary reimbursement for these product endorsements.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

1 cup Steel Cut Oatmeal (do NOT substitute quick-cooking, rolled oats!)

4 1/2 cups Water

Butter to taste

Sweetener to taste (I used a little bit of brown sugar)

Mix all ingredients together in a 2 or 4 quart crock pot. Cook for six to eight hours. Top with dried fruit, a dollop of plain yogurt or nuts.

I turned the crock pot on right before I went to bed and had a warm, filling breakfast ready when I woke up. Now, talk about easy!

Eat as close to the ground as possible

After a trip to the grocery store and a long hard study of the current state of my pantry, I've decided that the best possible way to BOP-free is to eat as close to the ground as possible. What I mean, is, eat food as close as possible to it's natural state. While frozen entrees and pre-packaged foods are convenient, quick and easy (trust me, I enjoy easy dinners as much as the next girl), there is absolutely NO control over what goes into them and you risk exposing yourself to either BOP, sodium benzoate or citric acid.

I have been eating lots of salads, sandwiches, omelette's, fresh fruit and cheese. Not only are all of these items free of BOP, but they are really healthy for you. Also, they are quick to prepare (often without much cooking involved). So, in exchange for giving up foods that you normally consume, you might get a trimmer waistline in return. Now, who doesn't love that?

A Typical Day of Eating- May 1, 2011

So, I'm on day four of my elimination of BOP from my diet and I'm already experiencing marked improvement with my eczema. While the rash is still present on my hand, it is not as dry, cracked and painful and I can see signs of healing.

For breakfast today, I had steel-cut oatmeal made with steel-cut oats, a dollop of butter, a little brown sugar, a splash of almond milk, and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and dried fruit. And of course, I had a cup of strong coffee with powdered non-dairy creamer and a packet of Splenda.

Lunch consisted of a bed of spring mix greens, grapes, a sprinkling of chipped walnuts and cranberries (this was before I knew about the benzoate relationship), diced onions and slices of cucumbers.

I had a light dinner, this evening. It was a large lavash wrap made with flaxseed and oat bran and sold at BJ's. I spread a wedge of Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese on the bread, piled on some spinach, cucumbers, two slices of roast beef and called it a day. I must say, it was quite tasty and filling!

Dessert (even on a BOP-free diet, a girl has to have dessert, right?!) was a yogurt parfait made with Dannon non-fat plain yogurt, organic frozen mixed berries and a sprinkle of homemade granola. With the berries and granola, I didn't even realize that the yogurt was plain and not flavored or vanilla. In fact, I almost thought I had mixed up my parfait with my hubby's vanilla yogurt.

Sodium Benzoate

In my last post, I wrote that it was prudent to avoid benzoates while trying to follow a BOP-free diet. This led me to find out what exactly IS a benzoate?

According to Wikipedia, benzoates are a preservative. It- specifically sodium benzoate- can be found in salad dressings, carbonated drinks, jams, jellies and even as a preservative in medicines and makeup. It can also be found naturally in low levels in cranberries, cinnamon, prunes and apples.

While making a marinade for our salmon dinner the other night, I reached for Kikkoman's Low Sodium Soy Sauce. Guess what? It contains sodium benzoate.

While brushing my teeth and going through the usual routine, I reached for the Listerine Fresh Mint Mouthwash. Guess what? You've got it- it contains sodium benzoate.

Hmm... this is getting complicated.

So, instead of using soy sauce in my marinade for dinner, I just brushed the fish with olive oil, gave a generous dollop of minced garlic and broiled. Fifteen minutes later, accompanied with a side of sauteed spinach, I had a healthy, quick dinner free of Balsam of Peru, benzoates and citric acid.

As for the mouth wash, well, I had to skip it and I'm now looking into how to make my own toothpaste free of mint, vanilla or cinnamon flavoring. More on that, later.