Mardi Gras 2023 – King Cake Recipe Edition

For my earlier graduate studies, I lived in New Orleans, LA, (NOLA) and attended @Tulane_SPHTM for 15 months to complete my MSPH degree. I enjoyed soaking up the NOLA culture while I was there. It was amazing to me how unique the city of New Orleans is with so much beautiful culture and traditions. I truly enjoyed living there! And currently, I am attending Tulane again for my terminal public health degree in a more virtual learning setting. 
One of the special times I enjoyed while in New Orleans was the Carnival season, which always begins on January 6, and is known as “King’s Day” (Feast of the Epiphany). Carnival season is a time to “eat, drink and be merry” before the fasting and sacrifice during Lent. The Carnival season consists of parades, balls, and other celebrations leading up to Mardi Gras day, aka “Fat Tuesday”. Some people do not know that Mardi Gras is really a Christian holiday and it falls on a different day each year because Easter Sunday is never celebrated on the same Sunday. This year, Mardi Gras Day is on Tuesday, February 21, 2023. Carnival officially ends at midnight on Fat Tuesday and Lent begins. You can read more Mardi Gras and New Orleans history here.
One of my favorite local NOLA sweets during the Carnival season is King Cake. You can pretty much eat King Cake any time, like for breakfast, snack, and/or dessert.
Traditionally, King Cakes are cinnamon-flavored and can be stuffed with cream cheese, more cinnamon, fruit (like strawberry), and/or nuts.

Since I wanted my daughter to enjoy this New Orleans treat, I have adapted an easy and allergy friendly recipe that was included in my grad school’s weekly newsletter. 

Here is my adaptation of the easy, allergy-friend recipe for a Mardi Gras King Cake:

  1. Use 2 cans of cinnamon rolls, unroll the cinnamon rolls, and then twist or braid the strips into a huge bread circle.  Even though there are 3 cans pictured here, I actually used two cans of allergy-friendly and organic cinnamon rolls from @TraderJoes. This is our favorite brand for homemade cinnamon rolls!


It seems like a huge mess while getting all the cinnamon rolls strips unraveled and then twisting them all together onto a baking sheet to make a large bread circle! BUT, you will get there eventually!

2. Bake the cinnamon bread circle for the temperature that is printed on the cinnamon roll can for about 15-25 minutes (varies by oven). Make sure the dough is cooked thoroughly and it does not burn on the bottom or top (I tented a piece of foil when I had to put it back in the oven for five more minutes).

3. Take the cinnamon bread circle off the baking sheet and onto the presentation plate. Let the bread cool completely.

4. Using the vanilla icing that came with the cinnamon rolls, pour it over the cinnamon bread.

5. Then, sprinkle and alternate the colored sugars using Mardi Gras colors: purple, green, and yellow/gold. I used these purple, green, and yellow/gold sanding sugar and crystals from Hobbyland (via Amazon). These sugars are made of natural ingredients and are allergy-friendly.

6. Serve immediately or store the King Cake covered for up to 24 hours at room temperature.

Overall, my family enjoyed the allergy friendly King Cake. We actually finished it in two days! And usually each year, my grad school best friend sends my family a King Cake from a local New Orleans bakery. However, this year I told her not to worry about it since I made a King Cake that my daughter can help me make and she can eat safely. I am so happy my daughter was able to enjoy this Mardi Gras tradition and we were able to celebrate the colorful festivities at home! 

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (Let the good time roll!)

Little Miss Is 5 years old!

This weekend we celebrated our daughter’s 👋🏼 birthday! And at school, she had a mini bday party during snack time with her PreK friends!
Since we were in CA in the prior week, Little Miss opted to stay home for her birthday over the weekend. We honored her requests for a homemade taco bar for lunch and @make_it_ranis ‘s yummy spaghetti for dinner. I also made her favorite strawberry cupcakes with “cream cheese” frosting. Everything was allergy friendly for her, too! I also bought a vegan chocolate cake with a candle since Little Miss has been asking for a store-bought cake…I want to say that she does not want me to make her a cake, but I really know that she wanted her own store bought birthday cake like her friends get for their bdays. 🥹 I am relieved to know that @rubiconbakers cakes are vegan and safe for Little Miss, so I got the cake from @sprouts 🎂
For Little Miss’ school party, I packed her allergy friendly strawberry cupcake, while I brought mini cupcakes for the class. We also provided organic @sunberryfarms juice boxes and veggie straws from @traderjoes  We packed Minnie Mouse goodie bags for her preK friends, which each bag contained Disney character twist straws, pop-it keychains, bendable straws, and strawberry @madegoodfoods crispy squares. 😋

Check out the reel for this post!
Overall, Little Miss enjoyed all of her birthday celebrations this year! Stay tuned for a reel from her early party at Disneyland last week.
Time is definitely flying and Little Miss is growing up so fast!

Little Miss’ 5th Birthday at Disneyland

We celebrated Little Miss’ 👋🏼 birthday early at @disneyland while we were in Los Angeles last week. 

Check out the reel here!
It was hers and my husband’s @make_it_ranis second time at this Disney park and we noticed it was busier than it was in 2021! But we were still able to ride 6 rides (and a 2nd round on the carousel), met two princesses, and watched a Beauty and the Beast show! And we were excited that the Haunted Mansion still had the holiday theme (Nightmare Before Christmas, which is Little Miss’ fave movie).

We enjoyed a yummy character brunch at the Plaza Inn and Little Miss was able to hug many of her favorite Disney characters. And throughout the park, we enjoyed all of the delicious allergy-friendly snacks: pretzel, Dole Whip, and popcorn.
We also were able to join in the #Disney100 celebration that started at Disneyland. Little Miss unknowingly chose the celebratory purple & silver ears as her souvenir from this annual Disney trip!💜🪙
Overall, I think Little Miss really enjoyed this part of our family trip to L.A. 🤪

And thanks to @disneyphotopass for all the cute and memorable still pics! 📸

Christmas Time – Disney Springs Visits

During the holidays, we went to @DisneySprings several times to enjoy the allergy-friendly goodie spots! We even saw Santa Claus during one of our visits and admired the cool Disney Christmas trees! 🎅🏼 🎄
My parents’ home is about ~10 miles away from #DisneySprings so we always get our dose of Disney World when we visit Central Florida! We usually go to Erin McKenna’s bakery, but this time Little Miss wanted something different!

Here is the link to the reel. Stay tuned on Instagram for the upcoming reels highlighting each spot where we enjoyed the allergy-friendly goodies at Disney Springs! 🙋🏻‍♀️

Hawaii Travel

In September 2022, we spent our vacation time traveling to two Hawaiian islands and had two layovers in California. Overall, we had a great time! It was exciting to experience a new Hawaiian Island with Little Miss (we already went to Oahu and Maui before Little Miss was born). And to our great surprise we did not have any allergic reactions! We were pretty careful and I always made sure to read all the ingredient labels and ask the chef/servers about food ingredients. And we mentioned our daughter’s food allergies.

Below are links to our Instagram reels from our Hawaii and California travels. We cannot wait to go back to Hawaii and visit a new island, and hopefully go back to Oahu and Big Island again!

Link to Big Island trip

Link to Oahu trip

Link to Layovers in California

End of Summer 2022

We had a lot to celebrate this week! It was Little Miss’s half birthday and I still cannot believe she is now 4.5 years old! Time is flying and I selfishly want her to stay this little!

This summer, Little Miss completed her first summer of ballet and tap classes (4 weeks). She loved it and I have signed her up for this upcoming fall/spring classes. She will be part of the spring dance recital next year. I am glad she found something she really liked doing. She’s tried swim classes and gymnastics. Little Miss finished almost a year of swim classes so I believe she is confident to survive in the water. Unfortunately, times and days for gymnastics did not work with our schedules, but hopefully next summer it will! So Little Miss will just stay active after school with ballet and tap classes.

Also, it has been 4 weeks ago since it has been approved for her age group to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This week Little Miss received her second dose and she seems to have tolerated the vaccine series pretty well without any major side effects. The only thing we noticed is that she didn’t want to go to bed at the usual time at the night of the vaccination. Also, she has only experienced slight pain at the injection site.

Our household is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19!

We look forward to this fall season to watch Little Miss grow taller and wiser each day!


Easter Treats

Happy Easter!

This year’s Easter celebration seemed to come fast this year (or we have just been so busy with life). Thankfully when I was doing our weekly grocery run at our local Trader Joe’s yesterday there were plenty of vegan, dairy-free, nuts-free, seafood-free, and egg-free goodies to purchase for my daughter.

For my daughter’s Easter basket, I bought the Oat Chocolate Bars and the Spring Gummies. When I was at the Trader Joe’s checkout, the cashier asked me if I ever had the Spring Gummies because they were her favorite and reminded her of the Mott’s flavored fruit gummies. I replied that I have not had these Trader joe’s gummies, but my daughter enjoys the Mott’s gummies so I was happy that she will like these too. Also, my daughter rotates her plant-based milks with oat milk, so I was excited when I saw these oat chocolate bars!

Here are the ingredients for the Spring Gummies and Oat Chocolate bars:








Overall, this year’s Easter basket was a hit with the allergy-friendly treats! I also added a kid-friendly, non-toxic Disney Princess nail polishes set…..I cannot believe how my 4 year old princess is growing up so fast!

Happy Easter, everyone!

St. Patrick’s Day treats

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s time to get the green sugar sprinkles out for cookie decor!

I used the delicious @sweetlorens sugar cookies again this year to make Little Miss’ #allergyfriendly cookies so she can have cookies with her classmates. 🍪 #inclusionmatters  And I topped the cookies with Duncan Hines vegan cream cheese frosting underneath the green sugar sprinkles.

 I tried to get creative with the green sugar sprinkles, but find the cookie loaded with sugar sprinkles (on your right in the middle of the picture below)…..yeah that was a failed attempt for trying to make a shamrock out of the green sugar sprinkles!

Overall, it was fun making these St. Patrick’s Day cookies for my daughter!

I am assigned to bring cheese puffs for Little Miss’s  class. Good thing Hippeas has a yummy vegan version of  these cheese puffs favorites!

And here’s a pic of Little Miss enjoying a cookie after school!

If you are not wear green, *Pinch! Happy St. Patty’s Day!


Valentine’s Day treats

Who else spent some of their weekend doing Valentine’s Day preparation for the Monday holiday? 

For Little Miss’ classmate, we put the yummy @YumEarth organic Vitamin C pops in super cute @Disney Valentine’s Day cards.

Then, we constructed her Valentines box, repurposing my husband’s Nike sneaker box and cutting out different sizes of heart to place on the box with heart stickers.

On Sunday, we baked delicious heart-shaped sugar cookies by @SweetLorens and topped them with my daughter’s favorite @RealDuncanHines cream cheese frosting  (It’s dairy-free, vegan, and allergy-friendly) and red sugar sprinkles.

Overall, it was a very productive weekend in preparation for Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Chef Mickey’s, Disney World @ Orlando, FL

The last time we went to Chef Mickey’s was in 2020 for my daughter’s second birthday, right before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Two years later, we are back and the character brunch was definitely different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, there is no more brunch buffet at Chef Mickey’s and the food is served family style. However, we were still able to order directly from the chef for my daughter’s allergy-friendly meal.

The above menu lists the allergy-friendly and not-allergy-friendly dishes that came out in family style portions.

Here are pictures of the not-allergy-friendly dishes that were brought to the table to share family-style:

 The chef came out to discuss the menu and I ordered my daughter the allergy-friendly Mickey waffles, tofu & plant-based scrambled eggs, and bacon.
And the chef brought out a special birthday platter with allergy-friendly cookies and cupcake topped with lit The Little Mermaid piece (to match my daughter’s Ariel dress).My daughter requested more bacon and Little Miss was given a big plate of crispy bacon, which she finished!

As we ate the delicious family meal, we enjoyed the ongoing visits from the Disney character chefs who posed at each table.

Overall, we had a delicious and magical time at this charactering dining place.

Have you attended a Disney Character Brunch during the pandemic?