Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Delicious and easy!  

I have found it is safer to make my own granola bars as so many store bought varieties are processed in facilities with peanuts.  I also like the fact that these have much fewer ingredients, and all ingredients I can pronounce!  The less processed the food is , the better.  I used soy nut butter, but you can use any nut butter or nut butter substitute.  The nutritional information will vary but should be fairly similar.  Also if you are not avoiding nuts, you can add some in too.  I recommend chopping them up a bit though.  The nice thing about these bars is that you can add in whatever you like- dried fruit, nuts, seeds, flax, etc!  These take no time to make and do not involve the oven. I recommend storing in the fridge.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Granola Bars: 

2.5 cups rolled oats

.5 cup coconut oil, melted

.5 cup honey

.5 cup soy nut butter (or other nut butter)

3T mini chocolate chips

1.63 oz package Enjoylife Not Nuts seed and fruit (or other seed and fruit mix-ins) 


Combine melted oil and honey in large bowl.  Add rolled oats and nut butter.  Mix until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and seeds.  Press mixture into a glass 9×13 pan. (No need to oil pan) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours.  Cut into 24 bars and store in airtight container in fridge for 5 days.

Nutritional Info:  Per 1 bar (about 1/24th)

Kcal: 168, Fat: 10g, CHO 18g, Protein: 3g, Fiber: 2g





Dining Out with Food Allergies

This is an area of a lot of stress for many people dealing with food allergies.  Some choose to avoid it altogether because they feel it is just too dangerous.  Perhaps it is.  There are so many variables.  Did the kitchen staff wash the surfaces and utensils thoroughly before preparing my meal?  Did anyone touch my allergen and then touch my food?  Does the kitchen staff know if the ingredients used in my meal were processed in a facility where my allergen is used?

It is a good idea to ask around and see if people you know with food allergies have recommendations for allergy friendly restaurants. Some are known to be extremely careful, and to educate their staff on the seriousness of food allergies.

I like to review menus in advance and figure out what menu options seem allergy free.  Sometimes I call beforehand to make sure there are no ingredients that will be an issue. Once we are there, we always tell our server about all the allergies we have to deal with.  We explain that these are potentially life threatening allergies, NOT FOOD PREFERENCES!  Even if we have been to a restaurant and found it safe in the past, we go through the routine every time. Restaurants may change ingredients or recipes whenever they choose. We always have epinephrine on hand.  Since we have a peanut allergy, we rarely order dessert.  So many desserts are processed where peanuts are and it’s just not worth it. (We are usually full by dessert anyway, so it is not difficult to pass it up.)

Some people advocate that you should visit a restaurant during a downtime. The thought is that the staff is less busy and can focus better on your requests.  There is less of a chance of a mix up.  I do agree with this, however it is not ideal to have to eat dinner at 3pm or 10pm.  I can see both sides of this argument.  You should consider this and if possible, visit during these less busy times.

A great option is using chef cards or allergy cards.  These are cards that you print up and give to your server, who in turn gives it to the chef.  This gives them a written reminder about the allergy and how to proceed.  Many websites have downloadable versions that you can customize and print yourself.

FARE has a great one : Chef Card

You can also design them on a business card and have them printed.  I am working on one, I will post once it is ready!

Once your food is brought to the table, check to make sure it is correct,  Ask the server again if this is _________free.  Reiterate that this is an allergy.

The more your dine out, the more comfortable you will be with asking questions and telling your story.  Our nine year old does this himself now.  It is important to teach the kids to do this for themselves.  They will be away from you at some point and need to be their own advocate.

As a summary, here are the things to remember when dining out:

  1. Ask for recommendations

  2. Review menus ahead of time if possible

  3. Call in advance to verify recipes

  4. Optional: Visit during a downtime

  5. Stress to your server that these are allergies not preferences

  6. Bring a chef card with your allergies listed

  7. Check your food once it is brought to the table

  8. Always carry epinephrine!!


I will be posting an allergy friendly granola bar recipe this week, stay tuned!  Food allergy awareness week is next week!!!




Food Allergy Basics

If you or a loved one does not live with food allergies, you may not be aware of how involved  or serious they truly are.  Before our oldest son was diagnosed, I had no idea how much this would change our life, and I am a registered dietitian!  There is no cure for food allergies, total avoidance of the offending food is the only treatment.

There are a wide variety of reactions possible.  Hives, itching, swelling of the lips, throat, or tongue, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing are symptoms of a food allergy reaction. This is not an exhaustive list. There is always a chance of anaphylaxis, whether previous reactions have been mild or severe. It is very unpredictable and the treatment for anaphylaxis is epinephrine.  Benadryl will not stop an anaphylactic reaction.

Living with food allergies requires constant vigilance- always reading labels, always asking questions, always carrying epinephrine and always educating others.

There are eight foods which cause the vast majority of allergies.  These are egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. In 2006, the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) went into effect.  This law made food labels much clearer to read in regards to these top 8 allergens.  The common name of the allergen is required to be listed on the label now.  This has made it easier to determine what foods are safe.  However this is not fool-proof.  Foods may be processed in a facility that processes an allergen, and this is NOT required to be listed.  More companies are voluntarily listing these warnings but this is not a law.  Another concern is that people are allergic to foods that are not in the top 8 allergens.  What about them?  It becomes more difficult to deal with a food outside of the top 8.

Unfortunately we often cannot rely on food labels due to the above reasons.  This means actually calling the company and asking specific questions to determine if the food is safe.  Imagine having to do this on a regular basis, just to stay safe.  This is a reality for many families dealing with food allergies.  And just because you call a company once and hear that it is safe does not mean it will always be safe.  Companies change their operation from time to time, so there is constant re-checking involved.

We also have to consider cross-contamination.  When cooking and preparing food, it is so important to wash surfaces and utensils that came in contact with the allergen very well before using those again for the safe foods.  This includes hand-washing and possibly brushing teeth.  If I were to eat peanuts, I would wash my hands and brush my teeth before giving my son a hug and a kiss. This may seem over the top, but we would much rather prevent a reaction and spend a few minutes cleaning up than end up in the ER.

Since 1 in 13 kids have a food allergy, this is real life for someone you know.  When we ask how food was prepared, when we ask to see a food package to read the label, when we ask you to wash your hands, I hope you will understand that we are not be being helicopter parents.  We don’t want to have to ask these questions.  We don’t want to constantly be on guard. It’s exhausting. We are trying to prevent a serious reaction.  We want our kids to live normal lives and not feel excluded, so we do it.  We do it because we have to.

We have amazing family and friends.  They have been so willing to learn our allergies and prepare food that everyone can eat.  They ask me questions, text me pictures of food labels, and always include our children.  I hope that all families dealing with food allergies have such an amazing support network.  We love you guys!!!





Food Allergy

Food Allergy Awareness Week


This a topic near and dear to my heart.  As the mother of three children with food allergies, I have been living it for almost nine years.  We are lucky and none of our  kids have had an anaphylactic reaction, thank God. We hope we never have that type of reaction, but we know it is always a possibility.  Anaphylaxis is unpredictable.  People may only experience mild reactions to their allergens and then suffer anaphylaxis and vice versa.  A food allergy is a serious medical diagnosis and the only treatment is total avoidance of the food.

We are avid label readers and are constantly asking questions in other people’s homes, at restaurants, sporting events, movie theaters, etc.  We are always on guard because we have to be.  Our children have been taught to read labels and ask questions themselves.  They know how to speak up for themselves.  If they are not sure something is safe, they ask us.

This month I will be sharing some of our experiences with food allergies from pre-diagnosis to now.  I will share my favorite resources and facts and what you can do to support food allergy research and awareness.  I hope you follow along and learn more about food allergies and how to help your friends and family living with them.

Thanks for tuning in!


Family Feeding, kids

Mini-Series Part 3: Healthy Kids

Welcome back for the final post in my mini-series.  Since this is just a mini-series, I am going to keep it short and simple with my top ten tips for feeding healthy kids!


Ten Tips for Feeding Healthy Kids

  1. Teach your kids to cook and let them help!  I mentioned this before but it truly is the foundation for healthy eating.
  2. Make dinner (or any other meal that everyone is home for) a priority as family time in your home. Eating together has an amazing impact on families nutritionally, emotionally, and socially.
  3. Offer variety, and try new foods.
  4. Do not force children to finish their meal.  They are learning to listen to their body signals.  If they are truly full, they should not have to finish everything.  This can lead to many eating issues down the road.
  5. Snack on fruits and vegetables and do not allow snacking close to meal times.
  6. Do not make foods “for the kids.”  Everyone should be eating the same foods at meals.  Kids may take a few tries before liking a new food, but they are very capable to eating and liking “adult food.”  Do not become discouraged when you offer something 5 times and they do not like it.  It can take many more attempts.  Just continue to offer new foods.
  7. Lead by example- eat healthy foods yourself.  Kids are very good mirrors…
  8. Allow treats from time to time.  If you restrict certain foods, there becomes a greater desire to indulge in them.
  9. Exercise!  Playing outside is exercise- promote physical activity.
  10. Menu plan- when you take the time to plan your weekly menu, you will have healthy choices ready every night, instead of grabbing that frozen pizza at the last minute!


Thank you for reading, and watch for my May posts about the upcoming Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 14-20.





Family Feeding

Mini-Series: Eating On the Go

Thanks for stopping in for part two of my mini-series: Eating On the Go.  We live in a go-go-go society.  We have little free time and have to multi-task to get everything done each day.  Often times that means eating on the go.  Unfortunately, the choices we make when we are out are not usually healthy.  Drive-thrus, convenience foods and high calorie drinks are easy and quick to pick up.  Since our lifestyles do not seem to be slowing down, here are some tips for eating healthy when on the go.

  1. Bring your own food!  This takes preparation but will make a huge difference in your health and pocketbook.  It gets expensive to eat out all the time.  You can pack breakfast, snacks, and lunch.  (More on packable ideas later)
  2. Always have water with you. It is your best choice for a beverage.  There are other good options: tea, sparkling water, coconut water to name a few.  If you are a coffee drinker, make it at home and bring it along.
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast before you leave the house. (or lunch, or dinner depending on when you leave) If you can eat a full meal before heading out, you will not feel the need to snack so soon.
  4. Do not wait until you are starving to eat.  Poor choices are often made when we are very hungry.  If you know that 10am is a normal snack time for you, plan to have a snack around that time.

So you are ready to pack your food and avoid the fast food line.  What do you pack?



Breakfast Ideas:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Fruit
  • Greek yogurt and fruit and/or granola
  • Granola bar
  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothie (my favorite breakfast idea!)




  • Veggies and hummus
  • Almond butter and carrots
  • Nuts- unsalted
  • Fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bars, homemade if possible!
  • Nut mix- like almonds, raisins and dark chocolate chips





  • Salad packed with protein and healthy fats:  like seeds, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and avocado
  • Veggie wraps with hummus
  • Tuna and cucumbers
  • Chicken sausage
  • Leftovers from dinner the night before


Thanks for stopping by, keep an eye out for part three of the mini-series later this week!



GF/AF Expo, Peanut Allergy

GF/AF Expo!

Today began the GF/AF Expo in Schaumburg, IL.  This was my first time going and wow!  I arrived at 9:15 am for the bloggers breakfast.  The show did not open until 10am, and there was already a long line forming.  This expo is extremely popular and for good reason.  The amazing companies developing gluten-free and allergy-friendly products have lots to share.   I tried many different, delicious samples.  There are  names you may recognize, like EnjoyLife, Udi’s, glutino, and Ronzoni.  There are also smaller companies with great products to offer, such as Don’t go Nuts (nut free granola bars) and The New Primal (grass-fed jerky).

I also saw three great speakers.  Heather Wisniewski talked about Food Allergy and Gluten Sensitivity testing.  This was very interesting and reminded me how gluten can treat different people differently.  Dr. Paul Green from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University spoke on the gluten-free diet.  I liked his presentation and learned some new information regarding diagnosis and treatment.  Lastly, Kim Koeller spoke on travelling with food allergies.  She has excellent tips for travel and especially for eating out.

If you did not go today, you still have time to stop in tomorrow from 10-3.  I highly recommend making the trip, there are great products and speakers.  You will not be disappointed!

Fresh Thyme- Crystal Lake This grocery store has a huge selection of gluten-free, allergy friendly products. They gave a lot of great samples today. Thanks Ladies!
The New Primal: Excellent jerky and meat sticks- grass fed and many delicious flavors
Enjoy life exhibit: lots of great snacks that are free of the top 8 allergens. If you haven’t tried these, you need to!
Family Feeding

Mini- Series: Healthy Home

Today I am starting a mini-series on how to feed a healthy home.  I get many questions about picky eaters, healthy food choices for kids, eating on the go and meal planning.  I am going to address meal planning first as I think it is an important first step for anyone trying to be healthy.


What is meal planning??  Meal planning is a way to think out what will be prepared for a set amount of time.  I personally meal plan for 1-2 weeks at a time but it can be whatever length of time works for your family.  This is an important step to living a  more healthy life.  Planning ahead can keep you out of the fast-food drive thru and from resorting to convenience foods.  When you know what you are making and have the ingredients on hand, you are much more likely to prepare a nourishing meal.

Here are the steps to follow for successful planning:

  1. Decide what length of time you want to plan for.  I recommend starting with one week at a time. Have your calendar available so you can plan around different events on your schedule.
  2. Decide if you are planning 3 meals a day, just dinner, or any combination.  
  3. Brainstorm meals you like to prepare, meals the family enjoys, meals you want to try.
  4. Review your schedule: If there is a night when many activities are going on, it would not be a great night to prepare a thanksgiving-style turkey dinner!  Plan the more involved meals for days when you know there is adequate time.  On busy nights, either plan a make ahead meal, have a leftovers night or sandwiches night.
  5. Write down what you will have each night, using meals you wrote down in step 3.  Variety is great, so try not to serve similar meals consecutively.  Take into consideration your schedule.
  6. Review the meals and determine what needs to be bought at the store and what you already have on hand.
  7. Post your menu in the house so the whole family can look forward to meals of the week!

Other considerations:

Let your kids and other family members get involved.  Ask for their ideas and assistance.  When you involve the family in the process there is a much higher rate of acceptance at the dinner table.  Planning, shopping and cooking with kids is my #1 tip for avoiding picky eating habits.  When the kids have a hand in cooking, they want to try the food and they want to like it!  I will have a future post dedicated to cooking with kids, so look for that soon.

Be creative.  Try one new meal a week.  It is easy to get into a rut and prepare the same meals over and over.  If new foods are being introduced regularly, kids will learn to try new things.  Also, consider non-traditional dinner foods.  Breakfast for dinner, soup and sandwiches, or appetizers are examples of thinking outside the “dinner” box.

Enjoy making the time to sit down and eat together.  Turn off electronics, focus on each other and your meal.  Planning your meals is worth it, I hope you will try it!







Family Feeding

Why I am not a Short-Order Cook

There are six people in our house with a variety of food allergies and aversions.  Three of the kids have food allergies, none of which overlap.  The fourth kid is incredibly picky with a very strong sense of smell.  So how can we all eat together at dinner???

When the kids were small, we figured out quickly that we needed to all eat the same food.  Making multiple meals is too time consuming and prevents young taste buds from discovering new foods.  We have the mentality, “this is not a restaurant.”  At the same time, we do not force anyone to finish food they honestly do not like.  It is unrealistic to expect a child to love every food.  Adults have likes and dislikes, and so do kids.  We do continually offer healthy foods in a variety of ways, which has led to greater acceptance.

Since we have multiple allergies, there are some foods we completely avoid.  There are no peanuts or shellfish in our home.  However, our youngest is allergic to chicken, turkey, pork and eggs.  These are more difficult to make the whole family avoid.  We do have chicken twice a week and pork twice a month.  Turkey is rare and eggs are avoided at dinnertime pretty easily.  So on the chicken nights, our little guy will either eat the same meal as us, minus the chicken or I substitute leftover beef or fish from the night before.  This is not ideal to me because he is being singled out, so we have been more adventurous in trying new meals everyone can enjoy.

This is working out well and is positive for all of us.  The kids LOVE quinoa, and most vegetables.  They get excited for stuffed peppers and salmon.  I am looking forward to adding more and more foods to our repertoire.  I think that by making meals for everyone to enjoy together we all benefit.  The kids have learned to try and like so many more foods than they probably would have if we were allergy free. I have learned new cooking techniques and broadened my own palate!

I hear parents complaining all the time that their kids will only eat chicken nuggets and pizza.  They talk about having picky, unhealthy eaters.  This is so common.  I have so many ideas and resources to help you help your kids.  It starts with  not being a short order cook!  If this is you, follow my blog for new posts to get your family eating together and trying new things.  If you are really ready to make a change, check out my services page and schedule a free 15 minute discovery phone call to see if nutrition counseling is right for you.

How do you feed your family?  What works in your house?

I would love to hear from you!



Peanut Allergy

A Peanut-free Easter?

If you have been shopping lately, I am sure you have noticed there is no lack of candy on the shelves.  Bunnies, eggs, marshmallows, it’s all there!  Kids and adults alike look forward to these holiday treats. In our house, we have to read all the labels carefully and often have to throw out candy that isn’t peanut/tree nut free. The good news is that there are companies out there making candy safer for allergies.  Always, always read the labels.  Things change and even if something was okay last year, it may not be now.  What candy have you found to be allergy friendly?  Here are some peanut free candies to add to your list:

  • Hershey’s offers several options, including bunnies.  Some of their products are not peanut free so be sure to read labels
  • Tootsie rolls
  • Junior mints
  • Jelly Belly- note that these are peanut free but may not be tree nut free, read the labels carefully
  • Sixlets
  • Starburst

Other peanut free food ideas that are not candy

  • Applesauce pouches
  • Rice krispies treats
  • Goldfish
  • Some fruit snacks, read the labels
  • Oreos

Non-food ideas

  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Bubbles, chalk and jump ropes
  • Baseballs, other small balls
  • Sunglasses and flip flops
  • Play jewelry
  • Books
  • Small gift cards
  • Word finds and puzzle books


I know you have ideas, please comment with your allergy free Easter basket ideas!