Monday, January 31, 2011

Lunar New Year: Crafts

I always try to have crafts available for all of the little angels that visit my house.  I try to associate them with upcoming holidays so that they can better relate to the celebrations.  This year, we'll be making "dumplings" and paper rabbits.  You can find the links to the crafts below.

Here are some ideas from

Felt Dumplings:  Dumplings are an important part of any New Year celebration but, at our house, they are difficult to make because of the grain allergies.  So.....why not make felt dumplings?!  They are a perfect addition to any angel's little kitchen.  I mean, what better to way to build traditions than letting the little ones pretend to set their own holiday table! 

Origami Bunny:  You can use an index card to make this bunny, perfect for the Year of the Rabbit.  And,  he really hops!

Paper Plate Rabbit:  This rabbit may not hop but it is perfect for the little ones who aren't quite ready to fold origami.  This bunny would be a perfect decoration around the table!

I also usually print out a few coloring pages and puzzles for those moments when the kids just need to fill a little time!  There are lots to choose from at

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit

Soon, the Lunar New Year will be celebrated by many people around the world.  According to the calendar that follows the moon, it will be Januray 1st.  Of course, to us sun worshippers, it will be February 3rd! It is said that this will be the beginning of a year full of manners and intuition; it will be the year of the rabbit. 

Preparations are well under way in our home.  We have purchased beef bones for Dduk guk, rice flour for Dduk, and oranges for our snacks.  I am looking for crafts for the kids and have pulled out our traditional clothes.  Just like Christmas, the excitement is building in our house.

I hope that you will follow along as we get ready for this celebration.  I will share the foods and the crafts as we get ready for the Year of the Rabbit.

Here's the plan:
Simple Rice Cakes (Dduk)
Traditional Dduk Guk (Rice Cake Soup)
Year of the Rabbit Crafts
A toast to the Year of the Rabbit

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lunar New Year: Simple Rice Cakes (Dduk)

Dduk is the korean word for rice cakes. It is particularly associated with the Lunar New Year's celebration (often referred to as Chinese New Year) which usually falls in February.  

Dduk are a snack food frequently used in celebrations, memorial rituals and holidays.  We eat them plain or drizzled with honey.  Some people fill them with sweetend beans or sesame.  But, my angel's favorite way to eat these goodies is in soup.

While Americans find the texture of Dduk to be an adjustment, I can speak from experience when I say that these rice cakes grow on you.  My  husband is always shocked that I now have cravings for these and when I cook my favorites, I can't stop eating them.

The recipe below is straightforward Dduk made from regular rice flour.  Whether or not you decide to eat them, these are super fun to make.  And, you never know, your allergy challenged angel might ask for more.

Simple Rice Cakes (Dduk)
1/2 C rice flour
1/8 C sugar
1/8 t salt
5 T hot water
  1. Place ingredients in a small bowl and stir.
  2. Once dough is manageable, knead to form a consistent, workeable texture.  See my video (coming soon) How to make Dduk dough for more on knowing when the dough is ready.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest 5 minutes.
  4. Turn dough onto a silpat form small pieces of dough (approximately 1t) into shapes.  The shapes can be simple or sophisticated - balls, snakes, cubes, pyramids.  Have everyone in the house pitch in to help.  Keep a small bowl of room temperature water nearby in case the dough gets sticky.
  5. As shapes are formed, place them on a parchment lined tray.
  6. While everyone is forming rice cakes, line a steamer with parchment paper.
  7. Bring the steamer to a boil.  If using a bamboo steamer, let the bamboo sit over boiling steam to wet the paper and bamboo sufficiently.  This helps the dduk cook better.
  8. Place rice cakes in the steamer, leaving 1/2" space between rice cakes.
  9. Steam for 7-10 minutes.  Remove from steamer and place back on parchment lined tray.
  10. Allow rice cakes to cool then cover tightly with plastice wrap.
NOTE:  Rice cakes do not keep well.  You should eat them the same day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Congratulations to The Olivers!

A special congratulations to the winner of our BugaBee Giveaway, The Olivers!
Your copy of the BugaBees: friends with food allergies by Amy Recob is on its way!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Snack Match: Hot Cocoa

A snack match is an allergy-friendly snack that nutritionally and/or visually resembles a popular children's snack.

This week's snack is: Hot Cocoa
Snack Match substitute: Ginger Honey Tea

Ginger Honey Tea

With blankets of snow covering the country and the chill of winter winds whisping through the cracks, nothing warms my angel like a sweet cup of ginger honey tea!  Instead of a sick tummy or a bad case of the itchies,this drink serves up a helping of vitamins, while it warms your tummy. 

1 large chunk of ginger root
1 T honey
2 cups hot water

  1. Peel ginger and cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  If the ginger is young and the skin is still pretty, you can just wash and chop it.
  2. Place ginger in a pot of water and simmer for one or two hours until all of the goodness has been sucked out of the ginger roots.
  3. Strain "ginger" tea  into a jar and store in the refrigerator.
  4. When you are ready for a cup of Ginger Honey Tea, place 1/4 cup of the Ginger Tea with 1 tsp of honey and 1/2 Cup of warm water in a wintery mug. 
  5. Stir.
  6. Taste the tea, adding honey and Ginger Tea to your taste.  (After making this a few times, you will know the exact combination for you.)
  7. Stir well and sip by the fire.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the BugaBees Book Giveaway!

sent me a copy of her picture book.  Now, I am sending it to one of you!

Which BugaBee are you?

Cricket who is allergic to peanuts?
Beetle who is allergic to milk?
Ladybug who is allergic to fish?
Caterpillar who is allergic to wheat?
Butterfly who is allergic to shellfish?
Firefly who is allergic to tree nuts?
Bumblebee who is allergic to eggs?
Dragonfly who is allergic to soy?

You're not any of these BugaBees? 
Then, what bug would you be and why?

To be entered in a drawing for a copy of Amy Recob's book, tell me your answer by:

Adding it in a comment on this post,
Tweeting me @AllergicAngel #BugaBees,
or in a comment on the Bugabees giveaway link at My Angel's Allergies on FB

Remember:  If you post a comment anonymously, I will enjoy reading the comment but,
if you win, I will not know who you are!  So, be sure to use those UserIDs or logins!

Entries will be accepted until the time of the drawing on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
For a review of the book, see my post the BugaBees: friends with food allergies.
For the complete rules, see Contest and Giveaway Rules.

I can't wait to see which bug you are!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A little something Japanese - well, almost

One of my dear friends called today because her boss was looking for a new rice appetizer to add to his menu.  She said, "No problem," and called the "rice expert".  I have been called many things but "the rice expert" was one that I didn't see coming!

I promised my friend that I would come up with some recipes for her to share with her boss.  I hope that you enjoy them, too.

Rice Cake Sushi Trio

Rice Cakes:
1 C cooked short grain rice
1/2 C rice flour
2 T chive or green onion, finely chopped
1 T rice oil
1 t salt
1 C water
rice oil for frying

Smoked Salmon
Blanched asparugus tops (2 inches in length)
Chopped chives
Seared Tuna slices
Chopped green onion
thin slice of lemon
Spicy sauce (optional, check ingredients)
Black Tobiko (Masago or ikura may be substituted)
Thinly sliced strips of Nori
wasabi (optional, check ingredients)
ginger (optional, check ingredients)

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until just mixed.  Do not over-mix.
  2. Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour enough oil in a skillet to cover the bottom.  Turn heat to medium or medium-high.
  4. When the oil is thoroughly heated, ladle approximately 1/4 cup batter into the pan and gently press to flatten.  You want your cakes to be about 1.5 - 2 inches in diameter and not too thick to eat once the toppings are in place. 
  5. NOTE:  Keep your ladle in a bowl of water to prevent the batter from sticking.  If the batter begins to stick to the ladle, just dip it in the water again.
  6. Cook the rice cake until light brown on one side.  Watch your heat and only turn them once.  If the rice cakes cook too slow, they will be hard on the inside or too fast and they will be mushy. 
  7. Once the latke have cooked on each side, place them on plate with a paper towel to cool.
  8. Place 3 rice cakes on a plate.
  9. Top one cake with a slice of smoked salmon, two blanched asparagus spears (approx 2 inches long) and a few pieces of chopped green chive.  Try this one drizzled with honey for a variation.  
  10. Place a slice of seared tuna on another rice cake.  Top with chopped green onion, a slice of lemon and a dab of spicy sauce.
  11. Top the last rice cake with one spoon of Tobiko and sprinkle with very thinly sliced strips of nori. Serve with a side of wasabi and ginger.
NOTE:  Please remember to check the ingredients of the wasabi, ginger and spicy sauce that you use.  There is much variation and some may not be allergy-safe.  Or, if in question, omit these ingredients entirely.

Jumok bab Bites  (Mini Vegetable Rice Balls)

4 cups cooked short grain rice
1 green onion or chives, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely diced and par boiled
2 baby bella mushrooms, finely diced
2 T rice oil 
salt, to taste

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until the ingredients are evenly mixed throughout the rice.  Add salt and taste.  Now is the time to make any adjustments to the veggies or salt to ensure the flavor that you like.
  2. Place about 1T of the mixture in your hand and squeeze.  The rice should stick together.  If not, add a little more oil and test again.  If you are still having trouble getting your rice to stick, add a little more rice.  Sometimes, if there is not enough rice or too many veggies, the balls will fall apart.
  3. Once the mixture is ready, wet your hands slightly and begin forming balls.  Place 1 tablespoon of rice in your hand and squeeze until it sticks together.  Turn and squeeze the rice until it forms a ball.  The balls should be bite-sized.
  4. Place 3 balls next to a pinch of seaweed salad and serve. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the BugaBees: friends with food allergies

Oh joy!  Oh joy! Amy Recob, author of the BugaBees: friends with food allegies, sent me a copy of her book to share with you!

I just love this beautifully illustrated book about eight little bugs - the BugaBees - each with a different food allergy. These bugs share how they manage life's daily food challenges, whether in school, at a party or even at the beach, they know that bugs can still have fun without the foods that make them sick.

Children with food allergies often struggle, not knowing what to say when they are offered unsafe foods or when others are eating foods that are not safe for them.  This book provides allergic children a simple sentence that let others know "It's really OK" if they can't eat the foods that they are being given.   Often, my angel struggles to tell adults that a certain food is not safe.  While our angel knows all of the key phrases, such as, "No, thank you, I am allergic," or "Mo-o-o-om! Take this off my plate!", this book goes a long way toward further equipping our allergic angels with vocabulary that could save their life.
"No thank you," he says.  It's really okay.
I can still have lots of fun without soy anyway."
What an important lesson for all children, and adults, to learn!  So much of life in all cultures evolves around sharing food with each other.  It is how we celebrate, we mourn, we meet and we part.  This is not going to change today or tomorrow but with a little awareness, we can learn to take the focus of gatherings off of which foods we are eating and place it on the people with whom we are sharing that time.  In this generation of allergies and obesity, I think that we can all use a reminder that the real blessings of life are good friends and the fun that we have together. 

This is such a heavy message for such a joyful children's book.  So I asked my angel, "What do you like about the BugaBees?"  I expected to hear something like, "The colorful pictures," or "All the little bugs with the allergies."  But, kids are so much more complex than we think.  My angel said that the best part of this book was "that part in the back".  The back of the book contains eight pages devoted to educating children about food allergies.  One page is devoted to each bug and its food allergy.  Then, the children are asked to identify foods that would make the bug sick, what would happen if the bug ate that food, and which foods are probably safe. Children are given more language that the bugs use to find out if a food is safe and are also asked to think about what the bugs might do instead of eating the unsafe foods.  I was surprised and thrilled to see that this is the part of the book that my angel loves the most.  We can never spend too much time reviewing safe foods, language and procedures with our allergic angels.

I can't wait to share this book with one of you.  Educating angels with and without allergies will go a long way toward societal understanding and acceptance of the challenges that come with food allergies.  I truly hope that you and your children enjoy this book as much as we do. 

Check back later this week, I will be giving away a copy of the BugaBees: friends with food allergies by Amy Recob.  Thank you, Amy for sharing a copy of this with us!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Celery and its stable molecules

Have you ever stopped to think of how often you eat celery? "Oh, I'm not a fan of celery," you may say....well, think again!

Growing up, celery onion and bell pepper were the base of most foods that came out of our kitchen. We found it in salads, beans with rice, and soups. Celery was always in the refrigerator though we rarely ate it raw - it was just one of those ingredients that you knew belonged everywhere.

The same is true today if we take a look at recipes but even more so when we looked at prepared or processed foods.  For example, bacon.  Does bacon really need celery?  How about hot dogs?  Or vegetable stock? Or crackers?  There's celery seed, celery root, celery stalks....

Last week, an article titled "Study pinpoint novel allergen in celery" and published on shed a little light on the subject of celery allergy research for those of us not in the medical field. 
Reseachers have identified 3 celery allergens at the molecular level.  Of these 3 allergens, one in particular seems to be resistant to heat.  That means that even cooking it in soups or with meats will not alter it enough to make it tolerable.  To complicate matters further, the molecules in celery appear stable and not easily digestable.  So, although celery is not one of the top 8 common allergens, it is not far behind and should not be overlooked nor underestimated. 

This is not good news for those with celery allergies because celery is a difficult ingredient to identify.  Unlike many other ingredients, the FDA does not require celery inclusion to be listed on labels.  Furthermore, when celery is used in processed foods, it is often considered a proprietary ingredient and listed as "spice" or "flavor".  This makes it especially difficult to identify foods which contain celery.   For someone who is allergic, this can be challenging to say the least.

In my home, we have managed a celery allergy along with the others that challenge us.  While I wouldn't say that clery is the single most difficult allergy to manage, I would ceratinly say that it is among the most difficult.  My angel's allergy to celery has meant giving up hot dogs, making our own sausage, boiling our own stocks, and mixing our own spices. It has meant countless hours on the phone with food companies trying to elicite their exact "secret" ingredients.  And, it has pushed me to devour cookbooks looking for recipes without all of the complex "spices" found in processed foods.  But, when the day is done and I reflect on all that has been done, I believe it was time well-spent. By subsituting allergy-free homemade foods for allergic processed ones, I think that my family is eating healthier.  I may have to work a little bit harder, but I am thankful that our celery allergy forced us to learn healthier eating habits. 

So... thank you, Celery!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sometimes we all cry...

When you are living life with food allergies, you will cry.  It is a life that challenges and stretches you, pushing your love to its boundaries and ultimately calling you to make tough decisions on a daily basis.  You live with worry and hope, often in the same breathe.

Today I read a post by blogger that I recently discovered.  Her post described so well the complexity of emotion and thoughts that are part of the life of a family with food allergic angels.  I want to share her post with you and I hope that it touches your heart as it did mine.

"I cried at Target", written by Cheryl Rosenberg of 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snack Match: Oatmeal

A snack match is an allergy-friendly snack that nutritionally and/or visually resembles a popular children's snack.

This week's snack is: Oatmeal
Snack Match substitute: Cranberry-Banana Rice Porridge (Jjuk)

Cranberry-Banana Rice Porridge (Jjuk)

This porridge can be made simply with rice and a little salt for flavor.  In its simplest form, it is a perfect baby food.  However, by adding vegetables or fruit, you can make a complete meal perfect for breakfasts, snacks or food for older babies.

1 C cooked rice  (short or medium grain works best)
3/4 C water
1/2 banana
1/8 C dried cranberries, raisins, cherries or apricots
1 T brown sugar (optional)
salt (optional)
  1. Place rice and water in a small pot.
  2. Simmer on low until the rice is broken down and it has reached desired consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Turn off heat and add banans, dried fruit, brown sugar and a dash of salt.
  4. Stir and let rest for 1 minute then stir again. 
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. Serves 1-2 people.

NOTE:  If you do not have rice already cooked, you may substitute uncooked rice using a 1:6 rice to water ratio.  For a single serving, you would use 1/4 C uncooked rice and 1 1/2 C water. 

Friday, January 7, 2011


This week there has been a lot of buzz about the new EpiPen app for smartphones, IPads, and the like.  I thought that I would give it a try.

MyEpiPenApp is a free app from the makers of EpiPen.  For those not familiar with the EpiPen, it is a self-injection epinephrine "pen".  It is designed as a first-response for those with severe allergic reactions or anaphalaxis.  You can read more about the EpiPen on

A tweet linked to a blog (Allergy Notes) lead me to this app and outlined what it does.  While I could imagine the possibilities for an app of this sort, I wasn't sure how friendly or helpful it would be for users.  Here is what I found:

  1. Uses:  MyEpiPenApp is a great way to quickly share information regarding you or your child's allergies.  It can be easily pulled up and quickly emailed.  I like the fact that the app allows you to send general info about the EpiPen or specific information about the allergic person's needs.  Once an email is formed, you then have the opportunity to adjust the email to meet your specific needs before sending it.  I think that moms and caregivers will find this app very beneficial in keeping up with allergy records of students, friends, children and themselves.
  2. Profile:  The app allows you to develop profiles specific to each person's needs.  It allows you to input their name, attach a picture, list their allergies and the types of reactions that they have.  A list of reactions and allergens is supplied along with the option of adding more to meet individual needs.  While this is a critical part of the app, I found it a bit uncomfortable to use.  To find the allergies or reactions, you must click on each word to make it scroll.  If an individual has only a few allergies, this may not be an issue, but for a person with multiple allergies and reactions, it was bothersome to "click, click, click".  With touch screens becoming common, it would be nice to have one that had a rolling scroll.  I found that while "clicking", the scroll would occasionally roll the entire profile.  I also noticed that if I want to view one of my profiles, I must click "Edit" and scroll through the profile.  I would like to view my profile in an easier to read version that the "Edit" version.  I need to be able to do a rolling scroll then choose edit if I need to alter something.
  3. Sharing:  Sharing profiles and the User Guide is simple and quick.  On the home page, you input an email address then choose what you would like to send:  only the user guide or individual profiles.  The email recipient will receive an email listing information from the users profile, precautions, safety information, and a link to a user guide.  The user guide is a simple 1-2-3 of  injecting the Epipen then calling 911.   
  4. Other Info:  The applicaiton does not only allow you make and share information specific to one patient, but also provides user information to the allergic person.  MyEpiPenApp contains the User Guide, a "How-to-Use" video and safety information.  This information is available through the app or on the website.  However, the app falls short by not allowing users to share the video along with the other information or provide a link to the video via the email.
While I will use this app and the benefits are too many to mention, there are still many areas for improvement and expansion.  I would like to see this app allow people to not only specify allergens and reactions but make notes about anything that a caretaker or medical professional might need to know.  I would like to be able to indicate potential language that a caretaker might hear from my child and more clearly indicate medicines that may cause an allergic reaction so that medical professionals may quickly know what to avoid.  It would also be nice to have a place where emergency numbers could listed such as emergency contacts, doctors or medications currently taken.  I would like to be able to share the "How-to" video along with the user guide but this can be remedied with a link.  The only other short-coming that I can see is that I can not easily view profiles.  I would like a touch-screen rolling scroll in a view-only, easy-to-read mode that then allows me to choose "Edit" if I need to adjust a profile.  The view mode would be critical for medical professionals who need to quickly access info about a patients.  Finally, although not essential, I would like to see the addition of an alarm allowing users to input a specific med (inhalers, EpiPens etc) and the date in which it expires.  The alarm would sound when it is time for us to replace the medications.

I believe that these changes are essential to the usability for patients with multiple allergies and reactions.  With time, I know that this app will find its place among users and medical professionals.  The usability and options will increase, shaping and molding itself along with the mobile industry.  I am glad to know that an app like this is available.  I will use this app often despite its current shortcomings.  I praise the makers of the EpiPen for creating such a useful, free app.  Technology has helped those of with allergies better manage our condition.  Thank you EpiPen!  You are always with me, now more than ever.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back in the Saddle, Again!

It is hard to believe that the holidays are over and a new year has begun.  I'm not sure if I am getting old or just having too much fun but it seems as though last year was over in a blink.  Throughout the holiday, I was blessed with a full house.  With family from out-of-town and friends dropping by, it was a great holday filled with many blessings.

I am excited to get back to my blogging, though.  I have so many ideas to share that I am not sure how I will find time to post them all.  Some things to look forward to in the near future: 

"Can it!  In the kitchen with Cranberries"
"Snack Match: Oatmeal and Grits"
My Russian favorite: "Plof""
"Cranberry-Ginger Wild Rice"
finger foods just in time for the Super Bowl
and "Duk Guk" for the lunar New Year

I am back in the saddle and ready to write.  I hope this year that I can get to know more of you.  I look forward to hearing your comments on my posts, the thoughts that you share on FB and the Tweets that you twit!  So....get ready, 'cause....

.....I'm back in the saddle again!  Yee-haw!