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Reflections Over a Sweet Summer Salad

August 6, 2012 •  one comment.

 •  Blog, Getting Started, Recipes

Written by Robyn O’Brien

I was not always good about following directions.  I was way too curious.  So during my early attempts at cooking as a kid, when anyone would put a recipe in front of me, all I could see were “rules.”  The boundaries telling me to do “do it this way”, “do it that way”, too much, too little.  Those rules didn’t seem to allow for much deviation.

So my tendency was to opt out of cooking, which I did for a very long time until we hit some bumps along the road in the health of our children.  I then realized that I was going to have to set a new rule for myself if I were going to attempt anything in the kitchen: Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

In the years since, I have had to lean on this rule a lot, especially in the kitchen.  I was  known to burn beans, noodles and pancakes, so those insecurities lingered, and I wasn’t too sure I was going to be able to create much of anything.  And as I got started, while I tried to follow the rules in recipes, I found it far less intimidating to get creative.

So today, when a friend asks for “a recipe”, I reflect back on how much we can learn, at any age, and how, if you think about it, we have the ability to become the best version of ourselves that we can be.

Did I ever think I’d be sharing recipes? Not at all.  I hardly trusted myself to hit 2:00 START on a microwave without burning something, but life’s lessons can be sweet, especially in the kitchen, so here’s that recipe (and the different ways we made it listed in the options below).  It’s been a favorite, and it incorporates foods that are good for balancing blood sugar levels, full of vitamins and minerals and full of antioxidants and health benefits.

But better than that, it just tastes good.

Sweet Summer Salad

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup oil (grapeseed is my favorite, though olive oil is also great)
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves (or garlic to taste)
  • 2 cups of black beans (about 1 can), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • Optional, add 1/2 cup of chopped celery, 1/2 cup corn or 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
  • Option to serve over baby spinach or kale, with chopped cilantro or avocado.
  • Heat oven to 400°. Bake potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes; gently peel off skins (you can do this with your fingers as they cool). Cube potatoes.

    For dressing, in a bowl (though in all honesty, I mix dressings in water bottle canteens), mix lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.

    In another bowl, mix potatoes, beans, onions and pumpkin seeds; add dressing and toss.

    Chill in the fridge if you have the time for about an hour then serve over the greens…or not.  We love it absolutely plain.

    And if you have some ideas of ways you want to change it, add to it, we’d love to hear them.

    Looking for Recipes? 120 New Allergy-Friendly Foods for Families

    March 17, 2012 •  no comments.

     •  Blog, Getting Started, News, Recipes

    Written by Robyn O’Brien

    When I was asked to write the foreword for Kiwi Magazine’s new cookbook, Allergy-Friendly Food for Families, I was totally intimidated.  Because in the beginning, I couldn’t really cook.

    But as I leaned into it, the words began to flow, and with the release of this extraordinary resource for food-sensitive and food-allergic eaters, I thought I’d share them below, because the book is an incredible tool, offering 120 gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free and soy-free recipes everyone will love.

    The landscape of childhood has changed. In the last several years, we have seen jaw-dropping increases in the rates of allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma, earning these conditions the nickname “the 4 As” and our children the title, “Generation Rx.”

    Today, it is estimated that food allergies affect at least 1 out of 17 kids under the age of three, with a study showing a doubling of the peanut allergy between 1997 and 2002. And according to an October 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 265% increase in the rate of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions.

    And as we work to protect our food allergic families from the hidden dangers that foods can present, a growing number of us are finding our ways into the kitchen in an effort to prepare foods that are both safe and nutritious for our families.

    For some, like me, this may be an intimidating task. Because a few years ago, I couldn’t cook. But when my youngest child had an allergic reaction one morning over breakfast, which in all candor included blue yogurt, frozen waffles and scrambled eggs, life changed. And like so many of you, I was thrown onto this new landscape of childhood and into the kitchen in an effort to manage these food allergies.

    And in learning to cook, I realized that we can take the fear out of food and make it fun.

    To be honest, I’ve burnt everything from pancakes to noodles, but I’ve also learned that the most important ingredient in any recipe is love.

    So I invite you to pull up a chair, flip through Allergy-Friendly Food for Families and soak in the love and wholesome goodness that are tucked into these pages. Because Allergy-Friendly Food for Families is an invaluable resources for those interested in protecting the health of their families.

    And remember, while none of us can do everything, all of us can do something. So pick a recipe and get started,

    Because with inspiration, practical suggestions, heartfelt instructions and real world solutions, Allergy-Friendly Food for Families is both a sound investment in the health of your family and a resource that will pay dividends for a lifetime.

    You can pick up a copy of Allergy-Friendly Food for Families at Barnes and Noble, your local retailer or on Amazon. To learn more, please visit Kiwi Magazine.

    Tahini Lime Dressing

    August 11, 2011 •  3 comments.

     •  Getting Started, Recipe

    Tahini Lime Dressing

    ¼ c Tahini

    1 t Fresh grated ginger

    1 t Fresh chopped mint

    2 T Lime juice

    2 T Maple syrup

    ¼ c water

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Combine all ingredients and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Add more water to make salad dressing; add less water if using as a dressing for meat.

    From The Food Allergy Cookbook: A Guide to Living with Allergies and Entertaining with Healthy, Delicious Mealsfocuses on foods that are dairy, gluten, soy, corn, nut and shellfish free. It is available in all bookstores as well as on amazon.com and Carmel has graciously shared a recipe with our readers which can be found on our Recipe Page.

    To become part of The Food Allergy Cookbook team, please visit their Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Food-Allergy-Cookbook-A-Guide-for-Living-with-Allergies/220720771272899

    Spice Up Veggies with Cabbage Pico De Gallo

    August 8, 2011 •  no comments.

     •  Blog, Getting Started, News, Recipes

    Written by Robyn O’Brien

    Growing up in the South, I loved all things hot and spicy, from huevos rancheros in the morning to fajitas at night. The spicier the better.

    But when we moved to Colorado twelve years ago, I realized (much to my dismay) that I was doing a pretty dismal job of getting fresh veggies into our diet. So we started trying to incorporate a few more greens.

    And this weekend, while at a BBQ, these two worlds combined when a friend from New Orleans who was visiting Colorado introduced me to this Pico de Gallo recipe. It’s hot, spicy and loaded with…cabbage! Who knew that eating your veggies could be so easy?

    So have it, it’ll feel good, taste good and it goes well with everything from grilled veggies to burgers…..but it may just be best as a stand-alone salad.

    Cabbage Pico De Gallo


    • 1 head of cabbage
    • 1 large red onion
    • 4 or 5 roma tomatoes
    • 1 bunch of cilantro
    • 3 or 4 limes
    • 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos with 2 or 3 TBSP. juice.
    • 2 or 3 TBSP. red wine vinegar.
    • 1/4 teasp. cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teasp. chili powder
    • 1/4 teasp pepper
    • 1/4 teasp salt (note: last 5 ingredients can be adjusted to taste)

    To Prepare:

    Shred cabbage and red onion with a food processor and put into large bowl. Add: chopped tomatoes, juice of limes and chopped up leaves from cilantro. Add remaining ingredients to taste and stir.

    Great (seriously great!) for several days stored in refrigerator. Stir before serving with chips, fajitas, salad, eggs, grilled veggies…or just by itself!

    As originally seen on Better Recipes: Mexican

    Bachelor Pads, AllergyKids & a Recipe for the Grill

    July 20, 2011 •  no comments.

     •  Blog, Getting Started, News, Recipes

    Written by Robyn O’Brien and Adam Acheson

    When I learned about the efforts of a guy who was tweeting out “Bachelor Pad Info” where he was giving advice for guys who have champagne taste but live on a beer budget, I had to laugh, as he sounded just like my husband did when we first met. So when I reached out to see if he might be interested in sharing his thoughts with our readers on AllergyKids, I think I might have caught him by surprise.

    But when I shared how many dads are on the frontlines when it comes to protecting the health of kids and how important it is to share the perspective from a guy’s point of view, he was game.

    So with that, meet my friend, Adam, who tweets under @BachelorPadInfo. He has some great thoughts and an awesome recipe, and it is an honor to share them here.

    Summer time, the days are longer, school is out, and the smell of charcoal wafts through the air. It’s a special time, because in every young child’s life and in every father’s life there comes a point where cooking secrets and grilling knowledge is passed onto the younger generation.

    Spending time preparing food and teaching how to tend to the grill is one of the best ways fathers can bond with their kids. We all know its important to teach healthy eating habits at a young age, this a great way for children to learn. Kids learn about the importance of seasoning food, and how to successful to mange heat control of the grill so food isn’t undercooked or burnt.

    So here is a healthy and fun to grill recipe below.

    Salmon steaks: Easy to grill and prepare with kids. Also very healthy and in easy way introduce children to eating fish.

    • Salmon Steak (Only wild caught, never farm raised)
    • Tin foil
    • Pepper
    • Salt
    • Garlic powder
    • Olive oil
    • Butter

    Take piece of tin foil and drip a small amount of olive oil onto it. Then place your salmon steak scales down onto the tin foil and season lightly with pepper a pinch of salt and garlic powder. Place a tsp. of butter on top (if dairy allergies aren’t a concern) and wrap the salmon steak tightly in the tin foil.

    Place on the gill for 10-12 minutes on medium heat.

    Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

    If you want more ideas from Adam, please visit his site at http://bachelorpadinfo.com where he gives “advice for guys who have champagne taste but live on a beer budget and can make your bachelor pad look high style without the high price tag”.