Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Now that the shock of Lydia's food allergies has started to wear off, I've actually enjoyed trying out new recipes, and am excited to start cooking even healthier meals for the fam. I found a vegan (meaning no animal biproducts) chocolate chip cookie recipe that is fantastic. It doesn't use any butter, cow's milk, eggs, refined sugar, or trans-fat Crisco. Sound gross? I promise- they don't taste healthy, and they really do taste like real cookies! The recipe calls for 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour- but with both batches of cookies I made, I used all white flour. If you want the cookies to taste pretty much the same as a "real" chocolate chip cookie, you can substitute the maple syrup for granulated sugar- though I made the maple syrup version today, and my kids gobbled them up as if they were eating the full fat butter/Crisco version I used to make.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups white flour (or 1 cup wheat, 1 cup white)
3/4 cup carob or dairy free/soy free chocolate chips *I swear you can't taste the difference!!*
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vanilla rice milk (Rice Dream brand tastes pretty good)
1 Tbsp baking powder
Lightly grease baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

With the first batch I made using the granulated sugar, the cookie batter consistency didn't seem much different than a regular batch- but when I used all maple syrup, as you can tell in the picture below, the batter was much thinner and runnier. This made oddly-shaped cookies, but they still tasted pretty good. I'd be excited to know if any of you decide to try out this recipe!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jewelry Giveaway

About a year ago, Amy and I each bought necklaces that, when put together like a puzzle, look like angel wings. They were beautiful, and I wore mine almost every day- it matched everything.
Less than four months later, my clasp broke, and I lost the necklace. After spending weeks turning my house upside down with no luck, I had to consider it a lost cause. Amy said that she could call the company and see if they could send a replacement, but neither one of us ever got around to it- until a couple weeks ago when Amy decided out of the blue to make a phone call. To make a long story short (the dialogue is quite comical actually, but not the kind of story that's funny unless the person who actually had the conversation is able to retell it- know what I mean?) the lady on the phone told Amy she would mail me a replacement when one was in stock- even with my initial engraved. Amy gave my address and phone number, and the store said someone would call for my credit card number when the necklace was ready to ship.

After not getting any phone call from Jules Smith Jewelry, I considered it a lost cause. I mean, really- would someone go out of their way to make sure a neckace was engraved and shipped without even a formal order? Then yesterday, a package came in the mail- and inside was my necklace with a handwritten note inside: "We heard you lost yours! <3 Jules Smith" For free- no bill included! Is that not the sweetest or what?! Jules Smith Jewelry- I doubt you will ever stumble upon this humble little blog of mine, but if you do- THANK YOU!!! And Amy- I've had my eye on a gorgeous pearl and diamond bracelet- wanna make a phone call for me?

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Normal

I've had a few days to let the news sink in, and my brain has unscrambled just enough to write about it. As I'm sure you've all read on facebook by now- there is a new normal going on in our home. We found out Tuesday that our thirteen month old baby Lydia is highly allergic to the following: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, shrimp, and cats. And yes, we have a cat. (If you are interested in adopting him, please let me know.)  Lydia's reaction to the peanut testing was so severe that the physician ordered her to always wear a med alert bracelet, and that an epi-pen must be available at all times. Anyone left to care for her will have to know how to use the medication in case of emergency.

I was literally shaking as I left the office and gathered my kids back into the car. I could barely calm my hands down enough to drive- I had expected to hear she had allergies, but it was a whole other story to have those suspicions confirmed. I had just looked a physician in the eye while she told me that Lydia's allergies were potentially life threatening, and that based on the severity of her atopic dermatitis, eczema, and allergies to food and animals, she was on track to develop asthma in the next few years. I was given a list of information on food allergies, a blood draw order, an antihistamine prescription, and an epi pen kit along with a prescription for four epi pens to add to the one epi pen already in my purse. The rest of the day was then mixed with shock, crying, and more than an hour spent in the grocery store reading labels. I left Kroger that afternoon with three boxes of crackers that were both milk and soy free, and not much else- not even a loaf of bread.

I kept picturing birthday parties with children lined up to get a piece of cake while Lydia watched from the sidelines. I saw her at a school party eating a special cupcake from home while her classmates ate the regular party food. Our family's routine trips to the Dairy Queen are now a thing of the past, and eating out in general will have to come to an end unless we have full access to their nutritional information. I'll be able to keep her in an allergen-free bubble for the next few years, but the thought of sending her to school away from my watchful eye terrifies me.

While I had my suspicions for awhile, we were first jolted to awareness of Lydia's allergies after I gave her a couple bites of a peanut butter cookie. Watching her lips swell before my eyes, I feared I was watching my baby die right in front of me; it's one of the most frightening experiences of my entire life. Riding in the ambulance to the hospital was a life changing moment- I can't even fathom going through that again, only this time having the unimaginable play out. Our house is now a completely peanut/tree nut free zone, and our family in general will be adopting the same diet as I start to make everything homemade and allergen free.

Through this week's tears, I've been comforted by the following: One- that at the end of the day, we have a healthy, beautiful daughter who has brought our lives so much joy and happiness. Two- we have a Lord in Heaven watching over her, and giving us the strength to figure all of this out. Several years ago when my nephew was diagnosed with several food allergies, I prayed to God that He would spare my own children from any food allergy, as I would be too scared and nervous to deal with anything like that. But after the peanut episode with Lydia, I can say that , while I was never angry with God, I did wonder "Why? Why when I specifically prayed about this??"

While crying out to God about my worries this week, finally a gentle voice whispered, "Do you trust Me?" I'm going to cry while typing this... "Do you trust Me?" The Almighty God of Heaven, who created this earth and everything in it, who makes the sun rise and set each day, who knew my child before I even knew she existed- that same God is taking care of her, and He loves her more than I do. So yes Lord, I trust You, and I place her in Your hands, because I can't handle this on my own. It's too big. I'm too weak. I'm too scared to do this alone. I'm terrified that someone will accidentally feed her something bad, and I'm not there to stop it. I'm afraid that the next time her lips swell, so will her airway. I need You, Lord God, and yes, I do trust You.

"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day." 2 Timothy 1:12