The Easiest Shredded Chicken – EVER

I know sometimes, parents cook two meals. One for their kid(s) and one for themselves – especially if they both have separate issues that are food related.

Well. I have a problem with that. I think it teaches our kids that they are “special” and can eat whatever they want. There are rare instances where I make separate meals – like a celebration where I really, really want to eat something Logan can’t have – but I eat it after he goes to bed.

I may occasionally make multiple sides. For example, if we’re having baked chicken and I’ve got cauliflower left in the fridge, I know Logan really dislikes it. I may make a few tater tots to add to his plate, all the while hoping he changes his mind about that cauliflower (nope, not yet!)

So now that it’s mid-June, I’m pretty sure we’re heading into high temps mostly everywhere in the northern hemisphere. I love cooking, but on a hot day, forget it. 

Today, I’ve got this chicken in my slow cooker. It shreds beautifully. Logan will eat it hot or cold and Brad and I top our salads with it.

It’s easily modifiable for food allergies and it works for me, as once again, I try to clean up my diet. “Diets” are funny things like that, hey?

The Easiest Shredded Chicken – EVER

Ingredients:

  • 16oz of boneless chicken breasts or thighs (I buy what’s on sale – if you buy thighs, trim the fat)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (but if you use beef, let me know how it tastes!)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (I’m a garlic-a-holic, so decrease per your preferences)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Place chicken in slow cooker. Put bouillon cube and water on top of chicken, then top with spices. Stir mixture, then place top on slow cooker.
  2. Cook for 2-3 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low. Shred the chicken with two forks, stir, then let cook for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. Voila! Eat the chicken hot or put in fridge to eat cold for salads.

Tips:

  •  I use bouillon and water because I’m frugal (or cheap ūüė≥) – you could also use one can of your chosen broth. Ensure broth or bouillon is free of allergens.
  • Play around with different seasonings. I have also used Cajun seasoning and Italian seasoning (not together, of course!)
  • You can also omit the bouillon and water combo completely and do 1 cup of salsa for a spicy flavor.


Because a slow cooker full of shredded chicken makes for a boring picture, here’s a salad I made with the chicken. Yum, yum.

Next up – a coconut chocolate chip cookie recipe made with ingredients sponsored by Coconut Secret!

-KO

We Are Our Children’s Advocates

Approximately 0.4% of children have a soy allergy. My son is one of the 0.4%. And, this is one of the more common allergens.

You may have heard of FALCPA – the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 – which stated that all companies had to label their foods if they were a major food allergen, or contained a protein of a major food allergen.

Which is awesome. But for some reason, the FDA also stated that companies did not have to label foods as containing soy if they contain soybean oil.

Why??

Soy in the form of soybean oil or soy lecithin has been highly processed. Researchers state that people with a soy allergy can typically eat foods that contain soybean oil or soy lecithin – without a reaction.

Yet foods that contain soy lecithin must be labeled as containing soy, whereas foods that contain soybean oil, do not.

Well, I’d like to make the argument that this is bullshit.

As a parent of a toddler with a soy allergy, I am grateful that the FDA has implemented this Act. But I am savvy enough to read labels and know what’s best for my child.

Not every parent has the same level of health literacy that I do. What if there child is reacting to soybean oil, but they don’t know the difference?


Today I went to pick up these pizza crusts. I buy them often.


Whoops. Logan’s been eating soybean oil. We avoid it.

I think, even if it’s not required, what about labeling it because it is ethical?

And, for comparisons sake… these crackers have soy lecithin… supposedly not harmful to those with a soy allergy, yet are labeled appropriately.


I am unsure how to make this change but it makes me angry. So I’ll end with this picture, because Logan and Grandpa are cute.


-KO

I am a Writer

I have been working as a freelance writer for several years; it has been my side job and has afforded me the ability to pay my husband’s truck payment and is paying for my yoga teacher training.

I have balanced it with my part-time job as a diabetes educator. I loved both jobs equally.

On May 19th, unfortunately, my position as a diabetes educator was eliminated. I was heartbroken. Which led me to question a lot of things, career-wise – did I really want to continue to spend the next 30 years, working in a broken healthcare system?

I had dinner with some of my coworkers last week; when I mentioned this, she said, “but you’ve been bit by the diabetes bug.”

Ok – that may sound weird to you, my dear readers. But my job – I actually felt I made a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. So, I decided to take my career in a different direction and work in a contract position, working with an insulin pump company, meaning this is on my terms.

The beauty of this?

My life is my own.

Well, kind of. I have a husband, and a son, and a family, and friends, and responsibilities. But you know.

Where am I going with this?

Before, my writing was a side gig. It took the backseat. I never thought of myself as a writer, merely as someone who wrote for extra money. 

Now, I know: I’m a writer.

I know I’ll pay my dues. I’ll write things I don’t necessarily want to write, to make that cash money. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a life on purpose.

Why am I sharing this? After all, this is a blog about food allergies. And migraines. And an anti-inflammatory diet. And healthy living in general.

Because every now and then, I want to humanize it a bit, and let you know who I am, what I am about, and where I come from. People, I’m not going anywhere.


-KO


Soy-Free Stirfry Sauce

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a food allergy, I’ll bet your family went through a time where you were like “OH EM GEE, HOW WILL WE EVER LIVE WITHOUT {insert food here}?!?!?”

When Logan was diagnosed with peanut, soy and dairy allergies, Brad’s first thought was of the pizza we’d be missing. Mine was of the Reese’s peanut butter cups Logan loved as a treat.

Then it hit me.

Oh my God. How would we get Logan to eat vegetables without stirfry?!?!

As a young toddler, Logan ate anything you’d put in front of him. Even raw onion (yes, Aunt Dena tried that one).

As he got older, his tastes inevitably got pickier. I’ve been told this happens (argh). But one meal remained constant – his love for stirfry.

So, I got to work finding a replacement for teriyaki sauce.

I found this recipe after much searching. I’d never heard of coconut aminos before but surprisingly, they were easily found at my grocery store, right by the teriyaki sauce.

So, I made the sauce. It was just ok – it was far too sweet for my liking – there’s quite a bit of sweeteners with the honey and the orange juice.

After tweaking the recipe to to our family’s liking, here’s what works best for us.

Soy-Free Stirfry Sauce

Yields sauce for one stirfry

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos (the brand I’ve found is Coconut Secret)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (essential – DO NOT LEAVE THIS OUT!)
  • 2 tbsp honey (I used maple syrup once in a pinch)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (you can also use fresh ginger, but I never have this at home)
  • Salt to taste (I do several twists of my Himalayan pink salt grinder because like I said, I like my sauce less sweet)
  • Optional: crushed red peppers to taste (I highly recommend, but I often leave out because of Logan)

Method:

Dump all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to boiling on medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens. Pour generously over stirfry.


It looks just like teriyaki sauce, and it beautiful with those cloves of garlic, if I do say so myself.


He’s a tough critic, but he likes it so much that he omits the fork.

-KO

Dealing with Migraines – My Best Tips

As someone who has dealt with migraines for well over half of my life, I have quite a few tricks up my sleep when it comes to managing migraines.

Besides the obvious – medical management – I try to manage my migraines using alternative treatments whenever possible. ¬†I’ve found, through trial and error (mostly error) that overuse of as-needed medications has caused rebound migraines – those dreaded headaches that stick around¬†for days.

These days, I only take as-needed medications on the worst days. ¬†I’m not saying that this is what¬†you should do. ¬†This is what I do. ¬†This is what works for me.

That being said, here’s what I do.

I do the yoga.

I have my mother to thank for yoga.  When I was about 15,  my mom dragged me to a yoga class at the local YMCA.  I thought she was crazy, but she had told me it would help with my migraines.

Well, here’s what I learned about yoga and migraines.

When I have a migraine, yoga does not lessen my migraine pain.  However,  yoga has a direct effect on my anxiety, which has a direct effect on the amount of migraines I have.  So, while yoga does not cure my migraine pain, it does reduce the amount of migraines I have by decreasing my anxiety.

I try to have a daily yoga practice.  With a rambunctious 3 year old and a husband who works swing shift as a miner, this is not always feasible.  So, I shoot for doing yoga as much as reasonably possible.

I am so passionate about yoga for anxiety reduction that I am currently in training to become a yoga instructor.  Everyone, do the yoga.

I take the naps.

When my head is throbbing and I can’t take it, my husband sends me to bed. ¬†He literally takes my phone or book from my hand, tells me to stop what I am doing, and tucks me in to bed. ¬†“Go to sleep. ¬†I’ve got this,” he’ll tell me. ¬†And he’ll take charge of whatever balls I’m juggling, such as cooking dinner, doing laundry, or putting Logan to bed.

I’ll draw the shades closed and fall to sleep, often with ¬†an ice pack on my forehead and my neck. ¬†I’ll wake up, a couple hours later or the following morning, feeling at least a little¬†bit better.

Have I ever mentioned that I have the best husband ever?

I use the peppermint oil.

I carry peppermint oil with me at all times. ¬†I have a certain brand that I like to use, but I really don’t care what brand you use (I don’t sell or endorse any brand of essential oil). ¬†Nor am I an expert on essential oils. ¬†In fact, I have a small selection of essential oils that I use and swear by but couldn’t tell you what to do with them besides what I use them for.

That being said – peppermint oil.

The peppermint oil that I carry with me is used strictly for headaches. I carry it with me for this purpose and when I feel a doozy coming on, I place a small amount of the oil on my finger tips, then smooth the oil on to my temples (where it normally hurts) and my neck.  I reapply as often as needed.

The thing about peppermint oil? The aroma is strong. If you’re in public, it’s going to draw attention. Apply it anyway. Oh, and it’s also going to tingle quite a bit (but in a good way.) That’s when the magic happens.

I drink allll the water.

I have yet to narrow down a dietary trigger, but dehydration will get me. Every. Time. 

If you know me, you know that I developed an affinity for drinking coffee while working night shift as a nurse. I can’t go a day without coffee. However, I force myself to guzzle water before I pour my coffee.¬†

Why? Because if I don’t, I’ll never drink the water.

I’ve taken to carry a water bottle with me as well. Hardly a new tip, but it works for me. I dislike warm water, so I invested in a quality water bottle that keeps my water bottle cold, for like, a month. Kidding, but it works well.¬†

I do the therapy.

I’m unashamed to admit that I go to therapy. I’m an anxious person. For me, anxiety causes migraines. Therapy = less migraines.

So, dear readers, here are my tried and true tips for managing migraines without medication. Do they always work? No. But they certainly help me.


 

Dairy- and Egg-Free Banana Bread

I apologize for being absent the last couple weeks, dear readers – my life has changed dramatically. On the plus side – more time for blogging! I’ll share more about the changes over the next couple weeks.

Today, though, I would like to share a family favorite banana bread recipe. I’ve been using it far before Logan was born, simply because it’s good.

It is dairy- and egg-free, making it ideal for those who have to stay away from those allergens. I also ensure I am choosing ingredients that are soy-free and peanut-free due to Logan’s allergies.

If you’re looking for a light and fluffy banana bread, this recipe isn’t for you. But if you’re searching for a bread that is dense, sweet and is perfect with a cup of coffee and cream, well, you’ve met your match. 

I promise you – once you’ve made this recipe – you won’t go back. Even my friends and family members who don’t need to restrict their diets have switched to this recipe.

Dairy- and Egg-Free Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350; yields 12 slices 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (any type will do – sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) – use REAL butter; butter is a dairy product but is low in the protein that causes reactions.  For those with significant reactionst, use a dairy-free “butter”
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed + extra to sprinkle on top
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 small/medium bananas or 2 large bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Cinnamon to taste, to sprinkle on top 

Method:

  1. Combine non-dairy milk and apple cider mixture and set aside.
  2. Line a 9 x 5 bread pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray (my personal favorite is any type of coconut oil spray – but check the labels; some contain soy!)
  3. In a large mixing bowl (I use a Cuisinart stand mixer), combine flour, baking soda, salt, and allspice.
  4. Melt butter. Add butter, sugars, bananas, vanilla, and vinegar/milk mixture to the flour mixture. I always add these one at a time to the flour mixture.
  5. Pour into bread pan. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  6. Bake for 60-70 minutes.
  7. Enjoy your creation.

Tips: I freeze bananas that are well-ripened (I.E. we did not eat them in time.) I can then pull them out of my freezer. When they thaw, they look like this:


Yum yum.

I also like to sprinkle things in to my banana bread. Chocolate chips (Enjoy Life dairy-free chocolate chips if Logan is eating it), walnuts or pecans, and other fruit, like strawberries or blueberries.

Prior to Logan’s allergy diagnosis, I also would add 1/4 cup peanut butter to the batter. Now I would add almond butter or sunbutter.

Look at this glorious crust on top:

The beautiful batter. I have been known to eat this by the spoonful:
So that, my friends, is how you make the world’s best banana bread.

On a side note, I want to share with you a little secret. I am the worst at keeping my kitchen clean while cooking or baking. I know what you’re thinking – Krysti isn’t perfect? No, I’m not.

Photographic proof (whoops, I’m wasting water in the first picture):


Next up – tips for dealing with migraines – without meds.

-KO

Product Review: Homefree Mini Cookies

Logan is at it again.

Sampling the sweets.

This time, the lovely folks at Homefree sent us 5 bags of mini cookies for Logan to sample:


We received Lemon Burst, Chocolate Chip, Vanilla, Chocolate Mint and Double Chocolate Chip.

Logan is a bit of a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur so when I let him pick out which cookies to try first, you can guess what he picked:


DOUBLE chocolate chip. It was love at first bite.

In fact, he loved every cookie Homefree sent, except for the Lemon Burst (which I loved… quality control, you know.)

Homefree cookies are made in a bakery that is completely free of peanuts, tree nuts,  eggs, dairy, and gluten. I did learn from Jill, the president of Homefree, that often kids with a soy allergy can tolerate soy in the form of soy lecithin because the protein has been removed. Only the Chocolate Chip Minis contain soy lecithin.

So, friends with allergies – or cookie lovers in general – enjoy these treats! I tried all of them myself and I can attest to their deliciousness.

Check out Homefree here.

-KO

Food Freedom

I’m about to get very real here.

I am 31. I have been dieting for about the last 20 years of my life. 

That is two-thirds of my life.

Guess what? I’m still overweight. I have had periods of my teenage years and adult years where I have been a so-called “normal” weight but the weight always comes back. Inevitably, I stop following whatever plan I had embarked on and I have never really learned how to deal with emotional eating.

A few days ago, I deleted the calorie counting app from my phone that I randomly fall back on. I took off my trusty FitBit. I no longer feel the need to quantify calories, steps, sleep, hours worked out, or what-the-fuck-ever thing I’m supposed to measure to lose weight.


I also unfollowed some people on Instagram and Facebook – because I don’t really care about what workout they’re doing. Or food they’re eating.
At the end of the day, I know several things… I want to eat better because I want to feel better. However, I will never have a be-all, end-all goal of weight loss again (it doesn’t work for me… it may for you so I’m not knocking that). I need to work harder on self-love because when this is consistent, I believe everything else will be easier. I also need to manage my stress eating.

So if you just read all of that, thanks. It felt good to get it off my chest.

On a side note, a few days out from this liberation, I do know this – eat like crap, feel like crap.

After I realized that I couldn’t live that way anymore, I also realized that I had the freedom to eat whatever the hell I wanted – guilt free. That included Diet Coke every night, accompanied by M&M’s and ice cream.

Inherently there’s nothing wrong with that. In my personal migraine world, though, extra sugar sends me to the medicine cabinet.

Reminder: I may be free to eat whatever the hell I want, and should eat whatever the hell I want, but I should also remember, for me, there may be consequences.

Next up… cookie review from my little sweet tooth foodie, Logan!

-KO

Product Review: Yogi Tea

The kind folks at Yogi Tea sent me a couple different teas to sample!


Neither are teas that I would gravitate towards… I’m a big tea drinker but if it says “spicy” or “spiced”… I’m probably not going to pick it out on my own.

I am, however, a big fan of bedtime teas and anything that supposedly builds the immune system – so, I was excited to try.

I first tried the Bedtime tea.


If you’re unfamiliar with Yogi teas, the tea bags all have beautiful quotes on them. This tea took a bit longer to steep but then became a dark brown. I honestly didn’t notice any “spiciness” to the tea. It was mildly sweet and by the end of the cup, it was almost too¬†sweet for me (I’m not a fan of overly sweet teas).

The verdict: it was just ok. I love a cup of tea at bedtime and it was relaxing and made me sleeping – just like a good cup of bedtime tea should. However, it was too sweet for my palate.

Then I tried the Tulsi Spiced Berry

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t taste anything “berry” or “spiced” about this tea.

Are you one of those people who follow the instructions on the box and steep the bag for only X amount of minutes? Yeah… I don’t do that. I drink my tea until it’s gone… with the tea bag still in the mug. And by the end I had a nice, string cup of… black tea?

This tea was pretty awesome. It was slightly sweet without being overpowering. I could see it being an everyday tea for me if I didn’t have a favorite already (Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green Tea, which I buy in truckloads at Christmas time so it lasts me all year…) but no where did I get that spiced berry feel. Sorry, Yogi Tea.

The verdict: loved it, but not what I expected. If I was craving a berry tea, I would be disappointed.

Disclaimer: Yogi Tea sent me these teas for review but the opinions are my own.

-KO

Things I Worry About with my Allergy Kid

I strongly suspected a dairy allergy in Logan about 6 months after transitioning to cows milk. One day he was fine. The next day – not so much. After some research and discussion with a dietitian at work (I’m a diabetes educator and work with dietitians) we transitioned him to almond milk (now cashew milk, per his preference) and off of dairy.

Over the past 2 years, we’ve tried to add dairy back in, to no avail. The kid kept getting sick.

Then we found out about the soy allergy. And the peanut allergy.

Although I’m an educated, rational adult, I can’t help but wonder – is there something we did wrong?

I feel bad complaining. I really do. My child is healthy. He’s growing (off the charts, in fact). He’s got no health issues besides these allergies, which seem to predispose him to colds a bit more frequently than the average kid.

Logan just had strep throat twice in a matter of a month. My husband asked me if it was because of something we had exposed him to at home. No I replied. Deep down, though, I worried it was because we sometimes allow him to have foods with milk.

I worry that his peanut allergy, which we never knew about because he always ate peanut butter, will randomly cause anaphylaxis. 

I worry that he will be teased about his allergies, because kids tease about the dumbest things.

But maybe this is all my anxiety talking.

My son is three but he is a big personality. I’m trying to teach him now about the foods he’s allergic to because I want him to be his own advocate someday.

Until then, we are his advocates and maybe I’ll have to learn to always be just a little bit worried.

-KO