Allergen free slow cooker sweet potatoes

I host Easter dinner each year for between 12 and 20 people and I love it. I enjoy entertaining and preparing a big sit down dinner for my family. The most difficult part for me has always been timing all of the food to be ready at the same time and a lack of oven space. But over the years I’ve learned to work out the kinks and roll with the punches. When things get too hectic in the kitchen (which is where everyone gathers, no matter how many times I try to kick them out!) I send the men and kids out to hunt for Easter eggs and when my oven broke one year we fired up the grill! One big help has been preparing one dish in the crock pot to free up some oven space. A few years ago I found this sweet potato recipe and I’ve been able to adapt it to be JT friendly. It’s so yummy!!

Allergen free Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

6  medium (2 pounds) sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into into 1/2-inch chunks      

1 1/2 cups applesauce                                            

2/3 cup packed brown sugar                                             

3 tablespoons dairy and soy free butter or margarine, melted  (we usually use smart balance with flax, this year I will try the new olivio coconut oil spread)                                           

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon                                             

1/2 cup dried cranberries


Place sweet potatoes in 2- to 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients and spoon over potatoes. Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until potatoes are very tender. I usually start them first thing in the morning and they are ready for our 2 pm dinner. This recipe can be doubled or tripled if you have a larger slow cooker.


Egg Free Easter

All holidays have changed for us, at least a little bit, due to JT’s food allergies. Easter is no exception especially since JT’s most severe allergy is to eggs…and eggs and Easter just go together. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed on the first Easter after JT’s allergy diagnosis. On top of hosting dinner for about 20, I thought I wouldn’t be able to give JT the things I grew up with on Easter. But I learned very quickly that with just a few changes we could be safe and still have a fun day with family. And the changes that we’ve made don’t take anything away from our Easter celebration. In fact, most of them are welcome changes. Like the fact that there are NO chocolate bunnies in the house. Do I miss egg shaped peanut butter cups? Yes. Would I eat an entire bag of Cadbury mini eggs if you put it in front of me right now? Yes! So, in the end, the lack of chocolate is really a good thing. So instead of focusing on what we can’t do, here is what my kids STILL get to do for Easter, even with JT’s food allergies.
The kids still get some yummy treats, they especially love Starburst jelly beans and egg shaped allergen-free rice krispie treats.
JT and Molly still get Easter baskets (that are filled with much less candy than they would be if JT didn’t have any allergies). I like to try to focus on a theme for each kid, like dinosaurs or princesses, it helps me to keep from buying way too much stuff.
The bunny still fills and hides plastic Easter eggs. They are filled with things like fruit snacks, stickers, temporary tattoos, coins and glow in the dark stars.
And we still decorate Easter “eggs”! This year we are making this adorable paint chip egg garland. I’m letting the kids decorate the eggs with glitter glue first and then I’ll string them up. In the past we’ve covered plastic eggs with glue and tissue paper and made embroidery floss eggs.

It’ fun to try to come up with something new and creative each year. Are you avoiding eggs this Easter? What tips do you have to share?

Here we are at Easter 2012!

Here we are at Easter 2012!

banana cream disaster

My husband, Chris, doesn’t have a real sweet tooth like I do. The man passes up cake at birthday parties and doesn’t even give brownies a second glance, I’ll never quite understand. But he DOES love banana cream pie, and not a real fancy, complicated pie. Chris is happy with pre-made graham crust, instant pie filling and a big-ol’ tub of cool-whip. So I decided to attempt my first ever allergen free banana cream pie. I was really surprised to see that the graham crust and jello instant pudding mix were JT safe, and I had just recently learned this amazing trick, magically turning coconut milk into “whipped cream”. So, I thought I would just use a pre-made crust, make some instant pie filling with rice milk and experiment with the coconut milk whipped cream…simple right? It’s not like me to just wing-it without researching first, but I did, and…I failed. Apparently you can’t make instant pudding with milk alternatives, unless you drastically change the amount of liquid you use. And apparently when you attempt to make pudding with rice milk and pour it into a pie crust and let it sit overnight in the fridge with hopes that it will firm up (which it won’t) the crust gets way too wet and big chunks start to fall into the “pudding” filling. And then your kids sit at the table, looking at you with big,sad eyes, wondering where their pie has gone. Oh well, fruit snacks it is!

At least I’ve learned a few things….
* I’m bad a winging it, research is good
* Instant jello doesn’t work with rice milk
* Coconut milk makes delicious whipped cream (At least that was a success!)
* My kids are just as happy to get fruit snacks as they would be to get pie