Thanksgiving 2020 recipes: Fresh Pear & Calamansi vinaigrette and Homemade Sweet Potatoes Casserole

For the Thanksgiving holiday this year, my brother and I made our traditional American Thanksgiving lunch at our parents’ home in Central Florida.

I made a fresh green salad with fresh pear strips and calamansi (Filipino tiny oranges) vinaigrette,  vegan cornbread stuffing (see the product post) and vegan sweet potato casserole (see the recipe below). And my brother cooked an organic turkey and lechon kawali (Filipino fried pork belly). 

For the salad dressing vinaigrette, I just mixed some of the freshly squeezed calamansi juice (about a 1/3 cup) with 1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil, and salt to taste. I made sure to add and mix in the freshly sliced pears to the dressing mixture to add some sweetness to the vinaigrette. Also, I made sure the pear pieces were coated with the vinaigrette. Then I tossed the bagged salad mix with the vinaigrette dressing.

The vegan sweet potato casserole was easy to make. I boiled about 5 large sweet potatoes and took off the skins. Then, I combined the mashed sweet potatoes with oatmilk (my favorite brand of oat milk is by Pacific Foods) and 2 tbsp vegan butter (I prefer to use the Earth Balance brand vegan butter sticks). Then, I top the casserole with the Trader Joe’s mini marshmallows. And right before we sat down for lunch, I broiled the top of the casserole for the yummy melted marshmallow goodness.

Overall, we had a delicious Thanksgiving lunch this year!

Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing & Mini Marshmallows

 

My brother and I usually cook the Thanksgiving lunch at my parents’ home in Florida. This year I used the Cornbread Stuffing mix and mini marshmallows from Trader Joe’s. Both products are vegan, so my daughter was able to enjoy the Thanksgiving side dishes with my family and I. 

I used the mini marshmallows  to top the sweet potato casserole. You can find the recipe for the sweet potato casserole on the recipes page of this blog. The cornbread stuffing box recipe was easy to follow, too. Both products from Trader Joe’s were delicious as always!

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the Thanksgiving holiday this year, my brother and I made our traditional American Thanksgiving lunch at our parents’ home in Central Florida.

I made a fresh green salad with fresh pear strips and calamansi (Filipino tiny oranges) vinaigrette, vegan cornbread stuffing (see the product post) and vegan sweet potato casserole (see recipe post). And my brother cooked an organic turkey and lechon kawali (Filipino fried pork belly). All dishes were safe for my daughter with food allergies, minus the desserts. She actually had a yummy slice of a vegan gingerbread loaf for her dessert.

Then, the next day my family went to my in-laws’ house, which is about an hour away. 

This feast was not all allergy-friendly, so I had to make sure my daughter didn’t grab something she shouldn’t eat. But, her grandmother is well aware of this, so she made my daughter’s favorites: homemade Filipino eggrolls (no eggs though in the wrapper), Filipino pancit (noodles), white rice, and sweet potato casserole. Also, our uncle made coconut milk-based desserts which she also enjoyed.

Overall, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday in Florida this year as always. We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as well!

 

Chocolate Chip Waffles for Halloween

It’s another Minnie Mouse Waffle Saturdays over here and it’s Halloween today! We cannot get enough of the Birch Benders Pancake & Waffle mixes . This time I am making Minnie Mouse waffles with the Birch Blenders chocolate chip pancake & waffle mix. 

My daughter loved the chocolate chip waffles!

As mentioned in a previous post, this and the Organic Classic pancake & waffle mixes can be considered as vegan and are allergy-friendly to dairy, eggs, and peanuts allergies. All you do is add water and oil to these mixes.

Remember to always check the labels for allergens. Some of the Birch Benders pancake & waffle mixes do contain milk, eggs, and nuts, like the protein & paleo mixes.

Buzzing for Organic Honey

Thanks to Nature Nate’s for sending me a sweet box* of their #organic honey minis!

Before I became a a #NatureNates #HoneyBeeAmbassador for 2020, I was disappointed with the honey they had at the local grocery store. But I decided to try Nature Nate’s organic honey one day and it has been the only honey I buy now! You can tell the cleanness and purity of Nature Nate’s honey. Even though I prefer the organic honey, the non-organic honey is pretty tasty too!

*I received this box of FREE honey minis as a Nature Nate’s Honey Bee Ambassador for 2020 to share the sweet honey love!

Vegan Asian Dessert, Khao Lod Song – Snackboxe Bistro in Atlanta, GA

Today, my daughter tried fresh khao lod song, which is an Asian dessert from the Laotian street food spot in Atlanta called Snackboxe Bistro.

 

According to a quick google search, the dessert contains “delicious vibrant worm shaped food is made out of rice flour and pandan. The green glowing dessert is drenched in salted coconut milk and caramelized syrup.”

Snackboxe Bistro informed me that most of their desserts are vegan, in which they use a lot of coconut milk. Check them out if you want to try some delicious vegan desserts from Laos!

Celebrating With “Homemade” Allergy-Friendly Cake

September is always a busy month in our household. It’s my birthday month and our wedding anniversary. My daughter has been asking for “cake” since I discovered (from countless blogs) that I did not have to add eggs to a Duncan Hines cake mix, and this is how I make “homemade” cakes that are allergy-friendly! And, the Duncan Hines “cream cheese” frosting is also allergy-friendly. REMEMBER: Always check the labels on everything to make sure your allergens are not present!

 I just add the 1 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and an applesauce pouch (or 1 cup of applesauce) to the Duncan Hines cake mix. Then, after the cake/cupcakes are done, I top them off with the allergy-friendly frosting. Please note: The cake may require to stay in the oven a little longer than what is published in the box directions.

           

And, yes I did get a cake that my daughter could not eat, but she didn’t notice! She enjoyed her allergy-friendly pineapple cupcakes with “cream cheese” frosting!

Minnie Mouse Waffle Saturdays

We love making Minnie Mouse waffles over here! Unfortunately, the Enjoy Life Pancake + Waffle mix has become harder to find. So when I found the Organic Classis Birch Benders pancake and waffle mix , I was so excited! 

     

All you do is simply add oil and water. It’s practically #vegan too! Unfortunately, there is wheat in this product so please be aware if you have this allergy!

The waffle taste is similar to buttermilk pancakes/waffles, so this mix is a hit at our house for Minnie Mouse Waffle Saturdays!

Remember to always check the labels for allergens. Some of the Birch Benders pancake & waffle mixes do contain milk, eggs, and nuts, like the protein & paleo mixes.

 

Preschool & Food Allergies

This year, my daughter started her second year in preschool.

Last August 2018, she started at the local Primrose School. My friends in Florida praised the Primrose School franchises there and the excellent curriculum they provide. I was excited when my daughter got off the waitlist so she can also start preschool at Primrose. But within two months of attending there, we realized that our local Primrose School did not take her food allergies seriously, despite providing the school with her allergist’s signed food allergy action plan and having many discussions with the teachers and administration about her severe food allergies.

As mentioned in the previous “Food Allergy” category post, my daughter has went to the children’s emergency department for a total of 3 times as of date due to a food allergy reaction. During this particular incident, the teacher accidentally gave my daughter a “vegetarian lasagna” which had dairy in it (cheese and possibly eggs). I was livid and scared to say the least when this incident happened! My daughter could have died…that’s how serious food allergies are! We decided to pull her out of that school. The Primrose School franchise was reported to the state, was investigated, and paid a fine for the negligence.

Also on my daughter’s last day at Primrose, apparently a staff member who had the key to the cabinet that stored the medications was out of the office that day. This upset me because how about if another allergic reaction incident occurred again to my daughter or another child needing emergent medication from that locked cabinet? The staff finally located the key and we took my daughter’s Auvi-Q injectors home with us. In the end, I was relieved that my daughter was no longer at that school.

Thankfully, my daughter got off the waitlist for a non-franchised preschool located literally down the road from our house. And we found this school to be more compassionate and caring towards our daughter. She really loves attending school there and has learned so much in little time! And we have not had experienced any problems, especially with the management of her food allergies. She is on the dairy-free menu for the daily meals and snacks. And we provide weekly her non-dairy milk to go with her breakfast and lunch, in which we switch between oat and rice milks. The preschool really understands how to manage my daughter’s food allergies and they make sure to moisturize her skin as necessary. And we are very thankful for them!

In mid-March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we decided for our daughter to stay home with us for her safety because no one knew about the infectious novel COVID-19 virus. My daughter stayed home with my husband and I as we worked from home even before the pandemic.

Of course it was a difficult decision to send her back to preschool during the pandemic and with her ongoing food allergies. However, during the past months we have noticed that our Baby Girl was growing bored at home. And I could tell that she really missed being around people her age!

I work in public health, so I did my own research and heavily debated if we should send our daughter back to school. Before her re-enrollment to the same preschool, we made sure that the school adhered to the CDC guidelines, like lots of hand washing, installation of a new air filtering system, and all school staff are required to wear masks. Also, since she was attending the preschool since late November 2018, her new toddler classroom teachers were aware of her severe food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and seafood. The school really informs all staff of any students with food allergies- another reason why we love this school! And my daughter’s  two Auvi-Q injectors , benadryl, and an allergist signed food allergy action plan are kept in a safe, accessible location at the school. I even met with her teachers last week to ensure that they know how to use the Auvi-Q injector.

At morning drop-off today, my husband observed that the school had a great process of taking the kids’ and staff’s temperatures  before going into the building and the masked staff walk the children to their assigned classrooms. No parents are allowed in the building. And throughout the day we receive updates and pictures about her day on the school’s app.

When I picked up Baby Girl in the afternoon, she seemed happy and it was reassuring that one of her teachers said she had a great first day of school!

Once at home, we gave her a bath right away as an extra precaution (we used to wait until after dinner because that can get messy!). I can tell Baby Girl had a busy day so I am predicting that she will be going to bed early tonight!

My daughter will have weekly music, PE, and Spanish lessons (in place of sign language that she was learning last year). We are very excited for her school year. We are hoping she will have more happy days at preschool this year!

I also hear people debating if they should send their children to daycare and/or preschool. If you are able to, I will definitely do it! Especially if both parents are working or you just need childcare while you are working. And please make sure to do thorough research on the childcare facility, especially if your child has food allergies.