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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Vanilla Sugar Cookies Made With Unexpected Substitutions

Cookies With Sprinkles

Sugar Cookies With Sprinkles

These cookies gave me a huge lesson in baking substitutions. They are really good. I think they shouldn’t taste this good, given all my substitutions, but I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, I only need my food to be soy and milk-free. But this recipe also happens to be vegan as well as egg-free, nut-free, and gluten-free too. I used the recipe on the back of the Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour bag to make them. I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post, for those interested.

This recipe called for interesting ingredients. I have never baked with ingredients such as coconut flour, brown rice flour, and potato starch.

Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch, Coconut Flour, and Brown Rice Flour

Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch, Coconut Flour, and Brown Rice Flour

Instead of butter, I used Spectrum Butter Flavor Shortening (Palm Oil).

Spectrum Butter Flavor Shortening (Palm Oil)

Spectrum Butter Flavor Shortening (Palm Oil)

My son and I used the electric beater on the sugar and palm oil shortening.

Fun With the Electric Mixer

Fun With the Electric Mixer

It didn’t produce a creamy mixture that butter would have.

I used Vanilla Coconut Milk instead of the Soy Milk ingredient. Coconut milk is something my toddler and I only discovered this week, and it is has been a huge hit. My son likes it in his cereal. I like it with my protein drinks.

So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk

So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk

I found some sprinkles that looked interesting (gluten-free Sprinkelz). The sprinkles are not as colorful in actuality as they are on the picture of the box (see the first cookie picture at the top of this post).



By the way, I added Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips (dairy, nut, & soy free!) to the top of some of the cookies when they came out of the oven. Of course, my son just picked them off instead of eating the cookie.

We Added Mini Chocolate Chips to The Top of Some of the Warming Cookies

We Added Mini Chocolate Chips to The Top of Some of the Warming Cookies

Enjoy Life Mini Chips - Dairy, Nut, & Soy Free

Enjoy Life Mini Chips - Dairy, Nut, & Soy Free

We also experimented with adding strawberry jelly on some of the cookies. Again, he couldn’t help himself. I let him dip his finger into the cookie…that was HIS cookie now.

All-in-all, I like the substitutions. My only complaint is the palm oil leaves a slight aftertaste — I didn’t notice it with yesterday’s batch but I especially noticed it when eating the cookies with the jelly on it. I might try using coconut spread next time.
So, what’s my conclusion about all these substitutions? I’m going to keep making them in other recipes. It’s my fun new journey in the kitchen!

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

1 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Butter (I used Palm Oil Shortening instead)

1/3 cup Soymilk (I used Coconut Milk instead)

2 tsp. Vanilla

3/4 cup White Rice Flour (I used Brown Rice Flour)

1/3 cup Coconut Flour

2 Tbsp. Potato Starch

1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together shortening and sugar with an electric mixer and beat two minutes. Add vanilla and milk (coconut milk) and beat for an additional minute. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add dry mix to wet ingredients and briefly mix, then add the almonds. Continue mixing until just blended. The batter should have a moist and fluffy consistency. Place by rounded tablespoon on greased cookie sheet (actually, I didn’t need to grease the sheet when using the palm oil shortening) and bake 10-12 minutes (I needed close to 13 minutes). Makes 24 cookies.

A Yummy Breakfast Sandwich (Soy and Milk-Free, Of Course)

Today I decided I would slow down and take care of myself. I’ve been sick all week so I canceled my fun weekend plans to recuperate. My son is with his dad this weekend which meant I could make whatever I wanted for breakfast without accommodating his picky pleas (it also meant I could sleep in an extra hour – ahhh).

So last night, I went to bed a little giddy that I would make myself this sandwich for breakfast.

My Simple Egg Sandwich

My Simple Egg Sandwich

I’m not really a make-it-from scratch kind of girl. I don’t have time to follow elaborate recipes (nor do I feel like following one in my current state). So, when I find an easy-to-make soy and milk-free tasty meal, I am a very happy girl.

The sandwich is super simple. And the real star ingredient is a rare find from Whole Foods Market — it’s a soy and milk-free mayonnaise, made with canola oil by Spectrum (“Canola Mayonnaise”).

Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise

Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise

The other star is the soy and milk-free pita from Trader Joe’s. [I plug a lot of products from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in my blog –  Ahem, where is my endorsement check??]

Whole Wheat Pita Bread from Trader Joe's

Whole Wheat Pita Bread from Trader Joe's

Really, that’s all you need to know and the blog is finished. But, my morning plans also included nourishing my artistic self so I decided to take pictures while making my breakfast.

1) Toast the bread.

Toasted Pita Bread

Toasted Pita Bread

2) Fry the egg. I coat the pan with 1 tbsp of safflower oil or sunflower oil. I like it over-medium so the yoke is just a touch runny. But, scrambled eggs are awesome too.

Frying eggs...these will eventually be over-medium.

Frying Eggs...On Their Way to Over-Medium.

3) Spread your soy and milk-free mayonnaise inside the pita (tear out an opening in the pita).

Spread your mayo

Spread Your Mayo

4) Lightly salt the eggs and slip them inside the pita. That’s it!

My Happy Sandwich

My Happy Sandwich

Super simple, right? Maybe next time I’ll toast the bread with a slice of ham inside or toss in a sausage patty for extra protein.

By the way, also part of taking care of myself – I picked 3 oranges from my tree in the back yard and juiced up some fresh O.J. Delicious.

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

My Juice Maker Hard at Work

Orange Juice

I feel better already.

In Wellness!

Must. Satisfy. Sweet. Tooth. Coconut “Ice Cream”

The pictures tell the story this time. Yum.

Our first bowl of Coconut Milk "Ice Cream"

Our first bowl of coconut milk "ice cream" - Chocolate

"This is GOOD!"

"This is GOOD!" he says after eating his first bite. And his second. And his third...

"So Delicious" Coconut Milk No-Dairy Frozen Desert

"So Delicious" Coconut Milk Frozen Desert. Soy Free and Dairy Free! Pictured is Chocolate and Mint Chip flavors.

Blogs and Websites I Love

I just created a new page: Blogs and Websites I Love.

I will be storing all my favorite links to blogs and websites about allergies, living soy-free, living dairy-free, and other relevant topics at this new page. Visit the “Blogs and Websites I Love” tab regularly to check out the new resources.

In Wellness!


Snacks to Replace the Soy and Milk-Filled Ones We Love

A quick blog for you. My toddler and I love to eat snacks. Here are three we love:

1) Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks are great! They taste just like the other brands of graham crackers, but without the soy and milk ingredients. In fact, you can’t go wrong with a store-bought snack that contains just three simple ingredients: Wheat Flour, Graham Flour, & Honey. We eat these as-is. I also break them up and use them in place of croutons on my salad (it tastes GREAT with kale, apple slices, and balsamic vinaigrette). I found these at Whole Foods Market and Trader Joes.

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks contain just three ingredients: Wheat Flour, Graham Flour, & Honey

Also, look for the Back to Nature brand Crispy Wheat Crackers. They rival the taste of Wheat Thins (without the soy)! I’d show you a picture of them, but they disappear quickly in my house. Instead, I’ll leave you with a link to their website.

Back to Nature Crispy Wheat Crackers

Note: Not all Back to Nature crackers are soy and milk-free, so be sure to read the labels.

2) My boy and I have missed Ritz Crackers (which contain soy). But we found a great alternative by Trader Joe’s brand, Golden Rounds Crackers. They are slightly more dry than Ritz, but same overall flavor.

Trader Joe's Golden Rounds Crackers

Trader Joe's Golden Rounds Crackers - a great replacement for soy-filled Ritz Crackers

3) And because sorbets usually have dairy, frozen fruit bars are a great alternative. I found this one at Trader Joe’s: 365 Mango Frozen Fruit Bars.

365 Mango Frozen Fruit Bars

365 Mango Frozen Fruit Bars

OR, you can make your own frozen treats! My son and I found a super-hero-FUN ice cube tray at a local comic book store.

Batman Silicone Ice Cube Tray

Batman Silicone Ice Cube Tray

Together, we fill the tray with grape juice or apple juice and put it into the freezer for a few hours. The tray is made from silicone so, the “cubes” pop out easily. Since there are no popsicle-like handles for this frozen treat, I end up chopping them up in a bowl for him to eat with a spoon, but only after he admires the frozen Batman logo and gets a chance to yell, “Batman!!” a few times. It’s one of his favorite treats – and it’s only frozen juice!

In Wellness!

“My lipstick contains soy!” And Other Soy-Laced Beauty Discoveries

An alarming discovery:

Soy is contained in most cosmetics, hair products, and skin care products.

WHAT?! So, I’ve been poisoning my allergic-to-soy skin with various beauty products for years and years? No wonder my skin has been so irritated and unhappy. This could explain my adult acne and eczema. What’s more – my LIPSTICKS contained soy which means I’ve been ingesting small doses of soy all day long. Actually, after all the research I’ve done about soy in our foods, I can say that about more than just my lipsticks. But I digress.

A few weeks ago, I posted a small blurb about soy in cosmetics to my Facebook friends, just days after learning nearly every beauty product I owned contained soy. It was shortly afterwards that I realized I needed to start this blog.

The soy-laced cosmetics I've been using for years

The soy-laced beauty products I’ve been using for years.

This picture speaks volumes. First, ladies, can you imagine how much money I have invested in all these products?! I’ve used some high-end brands, and over the years this collection has cost me a pretty penny. Each of my products contain an ingredient shown as “soy” or “tochopherol” (which is most often derived from soy, but can be derived from wheat, cotton seed, olive oil, and others). The tocopherol ingredient has many names: Alpha-Tocopherol, a-Tocopherol, D-Alpha-Tocopherol, Vitamin E, D-MIXED-TOCOPHEROLS, O-Tocoferol, E 307, Tokopherol, Soy Tocopherols, Pflanzliches Vitamin E.

Many cosmetics companies use a soy-based tocopherol, yet they are not required to share the source of the tocopherol on the ingredients list. This bothers me. Does it bother you? I know I’m not the only one with topical allergies to soy – it would be so helpful if I could easily determine if I am allergic to the product before I buy it. Plus, lipstick is ultimately ingested…shouldn’t companies be required to state clearly that a known allergen is contained in their lipstick?? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect cosmetic companies to alert the customers to a possible allergy risk, whether it be for those allergic to soy, gluten, or any other known allergen that might be in the product.

Anyway, because there is a high probability that the tocopherol ingredient used in the product is derived from soy, when I’m shopping for makeup or skin care products, if I see the name tocopherol (or any one of it’s alternate names), I just assume it’s derived from soy and move on to another brand of makeup. Makeup is expensive, my time is valuable, and I don’t want to take any chances.

However, I did contact the companies who make the makeup I’ve been using (MAC, NARS, Bare Essentials Bare Minerals, and Laura Mercier) to see if they use soy in their products, and asked what their tocopherol is made from. Here are the responses:

  • From the Consumer Care Representative at MAC: “In regards to Tocopherol (Vitamin E), we are unable to determine the exact derivation of the ingredient as there are varied sources and vary from formulation to formulation…the Vitamin E could be derived from various sources such as synthetic, soy, etc.” In other words, MAC isn’t sure where their tochopherol is derived from at any given time…it could have soy in one batch and no soy in another. To be safe, avoid any MAC product containing the ingredient tochopherol. The MAC products that I owned that definitely contain soy (as confirmed by a MAC chemist) are the eye shadows, paint pot, powder plushes, sheer tone shimmer blush, mineralize blush, several lipsticks, and all the products in the Prep + Prime line. The Frost lipstick and Sheertone blush did not contain soy.
  • From NARS Cosmetics Customer Service: “Please be advised that NARS Sheer Glow and Sheer Matte Foundations and the Larger Than Life Lip Gloss currently contain soy. The other products you requested information on [blush, eyeshadow, and powder] do not contain soy derivatives as a synthetic vitamin e is used.”
  • From Bare Essentials Bare Minerals Corporate Office (as explained to me over the phone): “The tocopherol ingredient (vitamin E) is derived from soy.” This means that each of the products in the skin care line are off-limits for those that need to avoid soy. In fact, anything that is not a loose powder mineral product is off-limits too (those products in liquid, pancake, or lipstick form). The good news is, soy avoiders CAN use the loose powder mineral foundations, eyeshadows, and blushes (see more about this below). Please be sure to check the ingredients to ensure tocopherol is not an ingredient in the product you buy.
  • From Laura Mercier Customer Service: “Laura Mercier lists the ingredients for their products on the website so you can print, review and discuss with your doctor. The source of our Vitamin E (tocopherol) is bioengineered and not derived from any plant or animal.” This means the tocopherol is not made from soy. Great! However, I should note that after not using my Laura Mercier products for 3 weeks, I wore it last weekend and ended up with a terrible bumpy rash on my face. I checked out the ingredients list of the foundation and found the ingredients list to be more than a page long in MS Word. Apparently, while their products are soy free, they are not sensitive enough for my skin.

So…I am giving away my soy-filled beauty products to a friend (I’m wondering if maybe that isn’t a nice thing to do). What have I replaced them with? First, a disclaimer: please read the labels before you buy anything! Companies can change the ingredients at any time, so don’t just take my word that a product is soy-free. Double check for yourself before you make the purchase.

For makeup, I use Bare Essentials Bare Minerals loose powder foundation, eye shadow, and blush. I’m pretty happy with this choice of makeup. Beware though, the loose powder is messy and you can expect a bit of countertop cleanup after your applications.

Bare Essentials Bare Minerals

The loose powder mineral foundation, eyeshadow, and blush by Bare Essentials Bare Minerals is soy free. Beware of their other products – the tocopherol ingredient is always derived from soy.

Sephora store has several brands of lipsticks that are tocopherol-free. The brand I went with is Make Up For Ever.

Make Up For Ever lipstick is tocopherol-free.

Make Up For Ever lipstick is tocopherol-free.

I ditched my old face cleanser and my moisturizers since they were soy-infested. I am fortunate to have found Dermalogica, which carries SOME soy-free products: Ultracalming Cleanser, Ultracalming Serum Concentrate, Ultracalming Mist, and Active Moist (not in the Ultracalming line).

The Dermalogica has a few great soy-free products: Ultracalming Serum Concentrate, Ultracalming Cleanser, Ultracalming Mist, and Active Moist (not in the Ultracalming line).

So, now I’ve found makeup and skin care products that keep me happy. In fact, the few soy-free products in the Dermalogica Calming line actually do seem to calm my skin when I have low-grade itching. If I have a full-blown itchy flareup, these products won’t touch the problem…so I will resort to my dermatologist-prescribed medications. By the way, Dermalogica has body washes in the calming line too! I’ll be ordering some next month. My back will thank me…my wallet will not.

My shampoo and conditioner advertise as vegan and natural (Abba)…but they contain hydrolyzed soy. Instead, I replaced them with Bumble and Bumble Seaweed line of shampoo and conditioner. I am quite happy with this switch. Note 1/22/14: A reader of mine posted they contacted Bumble and Bumble and found out that the products do contain ingredients derived from soy! I have recently been experiencing irritated skin and I didn’t know why. This may be it. 

Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Line is soy-free

Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Line is soy-free…and I love what these products do for my hair.

Here are some great products for kids (and adults too!): The Original Sprout line is soy-free. I used the shampoo and conditioner for a while and it left my hair a bit too dry for all the blow-drying I do. The Natural Hair Gel works well enough. The Scruptious Baby Cream has a yummy vanilla scent and I use it as my body moisturizer. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is also soy-free.

Great soy-free products for kids (and adults)

Great soy-free products for kids (and adults) by Original Sprout and Johnson & Johnson

I should mention that my soy-free replacements have been costly. Surely there must be more non-salon brands that are soy-free! Please feel free to post some of your finds down below.

One last thing. The U.S. Department of Health has a website called Household Products Database that allows you to do a search on household or personal products containing soy (or any other ingredient for that matter). It doesn’t seem to be an exhaustive list, but perhaps it can be a good start for checking the items you use.

In wellness!

Can’t Avoid Soy and Milk at Arby’s

I’m starting this blog while watching my brother devour his Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich.

When I arrived here I hadn’t done any research about the ingredients in the menu and planned to take a few moments to search for the allergen statement online. However, before this, I asked the clerk if he had an allergy statement…he wasn’t sure but tore off a piece of paper from a large pad and asked if that was it. Yes! Good for you, Arby’s! All allergens are highlighted in an easy to read format. See pic:



Trouble is, now I know that we soy and milk free folk can’t eat anything at this restaurant except a few condiments. Boo. Not surprising, I suppose, after all the research I’ve done so far about fast food restaurants (see my other blogs over the last two weeks). Fast food eating is apparently a thing of the past for us…with the exception of In N Out protein burger (without sauce) and fries. God bless In N Out.

So here I sit, drinking my Diet Coke (with a shot of Dr Pepper) which will have to do for now until I get home within the hour. Hmph.