Friday, November 9, 2012

Foods for Healing | Free Course Videos

I know I've been talking about Meghan Telpner and her new Foods for Healing program a lot, but she's amazing. Full of energy and knowledge plus she knows how to make healthy food taste good. I LOVED the Fab Uplift Detox and I'm so excited about Foods for Healing.

Head over to MeghanTelpnerTeaches to see a video introduction from Meghan all about Foods for Healing. 

Want to know if dessert can be healing? 

Find out in one (of two) FREE course videos in the 'All Access' area. Not only will you learn about food for healing, you'll giggle too; the girl says 'boogery' in the first 30 seconds and she's not talking about a kid!

Registration is now open and this weekend only Meghan is seriously hooking up people who sign up early. If you're even considering participating, go watch the videos and prepare to be inspired.

So here's the goods, direct from Meghan.

If you register between now and 7:00pm (ET) on Sunday, you will also get these sweet and sasstastic very helpful bonuses:

  • Bonus 1: Immediately available for download: Audio lecture 10 Things I Learned Healing an Incurable Disease ($19.99 value)
  • Bonus 2: Immediately available for download: eBook Superfoods for Super Health ($39 value) and includes a complete meal plan.
  • Bonus 3: Exclusive access to join our the group coached call with Clinical Nutritionist Josh Gitalis and I on Thursday, November 22nd at 8:00pm (Normally only available to the deluxe packages)
  • Bonus 4: Immediate access to our brand shiny new PRIVATE ONLINE FORUM so you can start connecting with us and each other in a private, free and easy online space.

Registration is open until November 19th and you can get 10% off your registration by entering code 'Mommastuff' at checkout when you register.

Wondering what exactly you get with registration?

The course includes:

  • Over two hours of lecture style teaching with images, diagrams, and incredibly easy to follow explanations.
  • Accompanying handouts of the slides to follow along and take notes.
  • Additional documentation offering detailed information on specific healing protocols.
  • 8 cooking demonstration videos showing how you can put what I share in the lecture, into practice in your kitchen and in everyday eating.
  • A full 7 day meal plan + over 30 recipes.
  • A full transition plan to help ease your way into a foods for healing mind set.
  • Options to upgrade and get consultations and amazing kitchen equipment.
  • Completely secure access to all your course materials.
  • Flexibility to watch the videos and download the print materials at your convenience.
  • Lifetime access to the course materials.

Don't forget, our MSB Giveaway to win FREE registration in Foods for Healing is open until 12:01am (EST) on Monday, so make sure you enter, share on Facebook and tweet to get extra entries!

Last but not least, if you have a little extra time, check out this guest post 10 Things I learned curing an incurable disease by Meghan Telpner, the nutritionista herself.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

an update on my big boy

Having a child will turn you into a liar; its not something people tell you about parenthood, but its true.

Regardless whether you tell someone your child never cries, barely eats or always sleeps, you can be certain that he will do the exact opposite when you least expect it.
My boys
Case and point, just a week and a half after soul searching and admitting on MSB that my son has aggressive tendencies we started to see a shift in the boys behaviour. I suspect a defining moment was when he met my friends' 4 week old baby and we explained that his 18 month old brother wasn't a baby anymore.

These days he cries less, hits less, occasionally gives his brother hugs and engages in conversations with a newfound level of understanding that's absolutely adorable.

I'm just enjoying him so much; I love him to pieces.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Foods for Healing | Program Introduction, Giveaway & Coupon Code

I'm a firm believer that food affects our well being; its just common sense, what goes into our bodies must affect how they function. Perhaps its the biologist in me, but as of yet, I have found no argument that can convince me otherwise. My recent experience with Meghan Telpner's Fab Detox only proved my point, in addition to feeling better both emotionally and physically, my experience also brought some insight into my eczema.

Up until recently I was certain that my eczema flare ups were due to the food I ate as well as the hormone fluctuations and changes my body underwent as a result of my pregnancies. I honestly expected that within a few weeks of starting the Fab Detox, I would see a dramatic improvement in my skin. The truth is, I didn't see any change over the course of the cleanse, which led me to realize that food cannot possibly be the primary contributor to my condition.

One month, tonnes of smoothies and oodles of superfoods later, my skin is clearer than its been in months, years even. I'm fairly certain its due to my new daily regimen of superfood smoothies, which always contain omega 3 rich hemp hearts and delicious antioxidant rich raw cacao powder.

I've spent so much time taking 'bad foods' out of my diet, that I forgot how many benefits there are to adding 'good foods' back into my diet. This is precisely why I'm so excited to share Meghan Telpner's brand new online course FOODS FOR HEALING with you.

'Foods for Healing' program registration
opens on November 9th 

enter code mommastuff at checkout to receive 10% off or
registration in the 'Food for Healing' Program 
by using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post!

Whether you suffer from pain, digestive trouble, headaches, fatigue or just about any other ailment, food can help you and Meghan will help you understand how.  Meghan's Food for Healing Course includes:
  • Over two hours of lecture style teaching with images, diagrams, and incredibly easy to follow explanations.
  • Accompanying handouts of the slides to follow along and take notes.
  • Additional documentation offering detailed information on specific healing protocols.
  • 8 cooking demonstration videos showing how you can put what I share in the lecture, into practice in your kitchen and in everyday eating.
  • A full 7 day meal plan + over 30 recipes.
  • A full transition plan to help ease your way into a foods for healing mind set.
  • Options to upgrade and get consultations and amazing kitchen equipment.
  • Completely secure access to all your course materials.
  • Flexibility to watch the videos and download the print materials at your convenience.
  • Lifetime access to the course materials.
The 'Foods for Healing' program is broken down into 9 modules:
  • Module 1: My story and how I healed.
  • Module 2: Understanding the root of inflammation, food as medicine.
  • Module 3: The role of the digestive system in total health, managing stress and it’s impact
  • Module 4: Making the connection with food, conscious eating, assessing common dietary recommendations.
  • Module 5: General guidelines for eating for health and healing, the universal approach to health.
  • Module 6: Specific therapeutic foods for healing, dietary recommendations for the three stages of healing, specific nutrients for healing.
  • Module 7: Lifestyle habits and natural solutions.
  • Module 8: Healing beverages, therapeutics foods in practice, cooking demos
  • Module 9: Healing meals, therapeutic foods in practice, cooking demos
  • Tools: Meal plan, recipes, transition guideline.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 2, 2012

10 Things I Learned Healing an Incurable Disease | Guest Post by Meghan Telpner

Five years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a condition that is commonly believed to have no cure. I was given the options of surgery and medication for the rest of my life, still without the potential of a cure. My doctor told me that diet would have no effect and that I would have to learn to live with it.

Not one to play by the rules, I decided to create my own. I chose a natural route that included meditation, yoga, acupuncture, rest, and a diet comprised of whole, unprocessed foods. Within one month I was symptom free and remain so five years on. I have since become certified as a nutritionist and run a cooking school in downtown Toronto. I am firm on the fact that getting sick was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and getting well was the greatest adventure ever. This is what I learned healing from an incurable disease.

1. Take other opinions with a grain of salt. It is just an opinion and only our own opinions of ourselves and our current situation really matter. I received the opinion that I had an incurable disease and nothing I ate or did regarding my lifestyle would have an effect. I chose to trust my own opinion that this was not true. That has made all the difference.

2. Learn how to cook… really well. Prior to this experience I owned one cookbook called Help! My Apartment Has A Kitchen.Four years later, I own and operate a cooking school. I believed strongly, despite my doctor’s contradictory opinion, that a disease of the digestive tract would obviously be affected by what passed through it. It therefore became my mission to know exactly what I was eating and so I learned to cook from 100 percent whole ingredients. With all the processing happening in my own kitchen.

3. Yoga is more than twisting yourself into a pretzel. I used to be one of those before-work workout nut heads who rolled into the gym at 6:00 a.m., kicked my own bottom for an hour, and then raced off to work. When high-impact workouts were no longer an option, I turned to yoga. Yoga is a gazillion times harder than climbing a stair master or doing crunches until you want to puke—because it makes you actually look at yourself from the inside and realize some change has to happen.

4. Life may not always bring you sunshine and rainbows, but if you wait out the storm long enough, they always appear if you look for them. That’s all I have to say about that.

5. A cute outfit doesn’t mean much when you feel like total crappola. Great health makes you look (and feel) great—way more than high heels or manicured nails can.

6. Always, always, always trust your intuition. If you can’t hear it, that means your life is too noisy. Be still a little bit everyday and you will start to hear the voice, and over time you will learn to listen. And over even more time, you will learn that it is always right.

7. When you do something in your life that other people deem impossible in their life, you suddenly become  labelled “an inspiration.” I like that I inspire people but I don’t wake up every morning with the thought, I am going to inspire today! I just do what I do, because it feels right for me. Likewise, the people I find inspiring are just doing what seems right to them. I think this means that we all inspire others in our own way, just by being true to ourselves.

8. When something goes wrong in our body or in our mind – whether it be a disease, an injury, or a broken heart – “fighting” it doesn’t help us heal. It creates more resistance. When we can learn to feed and nourish and give ourselves what is needed to work with the challenge rather than against it, that is how we heal.

9. Vegetables are delicious. They used to make me gag. Then I learned I just didn’t like hard chunks of carrot in my salads. There are loads of other ways to enjoy carrots and loads of other vegetables I love to eat. I just had to get creative and explore the unknown.

10. I am better off happily creating than creating to be happy. We think that if we work now, even if we hate it, that the benefits or payoff will bring happiness to the future version of ourselves. When I think back five years to who I was dating, where I was working, and the life I thought I was working towards, it is definitely not what would make me happy today. Wouldn’t it be a waste of precious time to take on misery now and try to achieve something that is only serving to satisfy and bring joy to a future version of myself? I would end up disappointed for a good portion of my life.

Things can change in an instant, with a diagnosis, a disaster …  anything! The greatest gift we can offer ourselves is to wake up happy, excited about the day ahead, and go to bed pleased with the job that we did, accepting that the process itself is the outcome, and that we did our very best at every given moment.

Meghan Telpner
BIO: Meghan Telpner is a Toronto based nutritionista and sought after media personality thanks to her refreshingly humorous, engaging and real approach to healthy living. Her online cooking courses and health programs are improving the health of people around the world. Meghan’s book UnDiet, Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health will be released North America wide in April, 2013. Join Meghan’s community on twitter @MeghanTelpner, or on Facebook at Meghan Telpner Nutritionista. For more visit

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wise Bites Cookies | Allergy-friendly deliciousness

All you baked-goods loving, allergy-suffering folks, there's a new cookie on the block and you're going to adore them. Wise Bites are free of the top eight allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, eggs, soy, dairy, fish and shellfish), which means nearly anyone with a food allergy can enjoy them and given the delicious flavour profile and great texture, enjoy them you will.

Wise Bites are unassuming looking cookies that are reminiscent of a power bar, they are a dense cookie with an almost fudgy texture that is neither gooey or crumbly. The flavour on the other hand is all cookie, despite the change in texture from traditional (wheat-based) cookies, the quinoa chocolate chip cookies tasted remarkably familiar.  If you love candied ginger, you MUST try the quinoa triple ginger cookie;  the ginger is evident in every bite but never overpowering nor overwhelming. The third and final wise bite cookie is the quinoa triple fudge and its every bit as tasty as it sounds.

Wise Bites also come in small bars in the same three flavours; with two small bars per package they were perfect snack to feed to my boys and given the healthy ingredients I didn't even feel guilty about letting them eat pre-packaged cookies.

If all that wasn't good enough, these amazing little morsels are are locally made in Richmond, BC (right next to my Dad's warehouse in fact) and their primary ingredient happens to be one of my all time favourite grains, quinoa. Don't be put off if quinoa isn't your thing, these cookies taste amazing and not a bit like quinoa.

Wise Bites also make hearty quinoa muffins (that I would absolutely buy if they were available at my local coffee shop) and sell bulk items such as quinoa flour, chocolate chips and organic crystallized ginger.

Wise Bites are available at a number of local stores, or they can be purchased online. I hope you try them and love them as much as I do.

Share the love folks, you can find Wise Bites online, on Facebook and on Twitter!

I recieved product in exchange for this review, however all opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Angry Bird Costume and a Peanut-Free Halloween

This is the first year the boy understands what Halloween and trick or treating really means. In fact, at three and a half, its probably the first year that he's even understood the word 'candy'. That means that this year is going to be way more fun, involve way more sugar and probably involve just as many, if not more, catastrophic meltdowns.
Angry Bird Costume
Without asking for his opinion, inspired by Pinterest (of course), I decided to make the boy an Angry Birds costume, based on a sweatshirt that I've made it him before. The idea being that it would have a similar feel and fit in the hopes that he would be eager to wear it. I just finished it today and now that its stuffed, its doesn't exactly resemble his other sweatshirt, but I did get him to put it on, for at least a moment.

Getting him to wear his costume however, is the least of my worries.  Much higher on my priority list is watching out for peanuts and potential peanut contamination. I have this fear that the boy is going to grab a candy out of his bag, somehow get it open and eat something delicious and equally deadly like a peanut butter cup before an adult can stop him.
Red Halloween (Peanut-Free)
Fortunately, the good folks at Nestle sent me one of their Red Peanut Free boxes of Halloween sized candy that I can allow my boy to eat without worrying. I've already purchased a second box that I'll be using for 'tradsies' with the boy when we sort through his candy; although not dairy free, the red box includes Aero bars, which are a safe treat for those of us living the gluten-free life.

Thanks to Yummy Mummy Club Founder Erica Ehm, Vancouver mom's everywhere will be making Halloween safe for allergic kids. If you're purchasing peanut-free treats, place the box in your window and let Mom's like me know that your treats are safe for their special little person!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vegan Indian Cooking with Anupy Singla | Cooking Demo in Vancouver October 13, 2012

Vegan Indian Cooking by Anupy Singla
I love the flavours of Indian food, however I must admit I'm not always up for the heat and combined with dietary restrictions, eating out can be a bit of a challenge. Enter Anupy Singla's books 'The Indian Slow Cooker' and her more recent 'Vegan Indian Cooking' and suddenly eating Indian food for dinner is not only possible, its easy.
Vegan Peas and Cheese
Anupy's books use healthy, whole foods and authentic blends of spices to create delicious meals. Best of all, given that her entire second book is vegan, my family's dairy-free diet is a non-issue.  In fact I was able to create one of my favourite dishes, 'peas and cheese' by substituting baked tofu for the traditional paneer. It was so tasty my vegetarian friend and I gobbled it up in no time flat, we even forgot to take a picture to share with you all.
Each dish in the book begins with a thorough introduction to Indian cooking, ingredients and spices and each recipe includes a personalized note from Anupy sharing anything from the history of the dish, her personal  memories and a experiences or a brief description of the flavours that the dish imparts.

After reading through most of the recipes in her books, I already kind of feel like I know Anupy and if you want to know her too, she's going to be in Vancouver doing a FREE cooking demonstration and book signing this Saturday, here are the details:

Anupy Singla
FREE Cooking Demonstration and Book Signing
Saturday October 13, 2012
1:00pm - 2:30pm
1740 West 2nd Ave

If you're in the market for a new cookbook and need something to do, on what's anticipated to be a very wet Vancouver Saturday, stop by Barbara Jo's Books to Cooks and meet Anupy Singla.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lessons Learned Thus Far on the Fab Uplift Detox

If you include the precleanse days, I'm almost 10 days into the Fab Uplift Detox. I won't say its been easy, but it certainly hasn't been as difficult as I anticipated.  I also can't say I feel like a million bucks quite yet, but I do feel good; like I've been nourishing my body and truly giving it a chance to find a balance that may never have existed, but if it did, it was long before I had children.

Although there's still six more days left in the Fab Uplift Detox, I already feel like I've learned some important lessons that I hope to carry into my everyday life.

I don't NEED coffee; I've been drinking it on a daily basis for close to fifteen years but its been at least a week since I found myself needing to resist the urge for a coffee. It still smells delicious and I'm sure it tastes as delectable as I remember, but if I can take my previous daily habit and turn it into a treat, that's a remarkable success.

I don't NEED meat to feel satisfied; I have a big appetite, a hearty metabolism and high protein needs. My regular diet includes an egg for breakfast, protein with my lunch (usually dinner leftovers) and meat with my dinner, so I was more than a little apprehensive about embarking on a plant-based diet, even if it was only for 16 days. Without legumes and grains, the last few days have left me feeling a little bit unsatisfied but on the whole, the food on this cleanse has been fabulous, filling and easy (though time consuming) to prepare.

Smoothies don't NEED milk or juice; for some reason I was under the impression that a smoothie made with water would be disgusting and that's just not true. When armed with fresh fruits and vegetables, superfoods like hemp seeds, goji berries and my new favourite raw cacao powder, water and a little ice is all that's required to bring that healthy deliciousness together.

I can't wait to see what other tidbits of insight the Fab Uplift Detox is going to bring me. Today was our juice and smoothie day, which means that we've made it through the toughest part of the cleanse and tomorrow we start slowly reintroducing nuts/seeds, gluten-free whole grains and finally legumes back into our diet. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to eventually re-introducing meat, but I love knowing that my body can function, with remarkable alertness and clarity, on an entirely plant based diet.

As a sidebar, my apologies for my absence and lack of posts, my computer has been having some issues and is currently on its way to the manufacturer for some diagnostic tests. Plus I've been spending oodles of time in the kitchen preparing yummy, healthy food to feed my detoxing body!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fab Uplift Detox | Precleanse

Fab Uplift Detox Program
If you follow me on facebook then you probably already know I'm super excited about Meghan Telpner's Fab Uplift Detox. Today is the first precleanse or transition day. The fab detox is about food, nutrition, health and most importantly its about learning to love both yourself and your food.

I'm nervous and excited to try and put aside my excuses and really take care of myself. I discovered Meghan Telpner via my friend Sondi who writes at The Copycat Cook and guest posted here about eating gluten free and ensuring you meet your nutritional needs (Sondi assures us we are doing just fine).

For me today is about getting into the mindset, skipping the coffee (I've been practicing) and unnecessary snacks and staying focused on eating healthy.

I'm also super exited about diving into the amazing box of goodies that the fine folks at Navitas Naturals sent me to support me on my journey back to health. Today I'm drinking out of my new Camelback bottle and munching on raw cashews, yummy! (In case you are wondering, the cashews are NOT processed in a facility with peanuts so I feel safe eating them!)
Superfoods from Navitas Naturals

All opinions are my own; I am a member of Meghan Telpner's affiliate program and Navitas Naturals provided me with product.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Aggressive Children at Daycare

What would you do if there was a slightly aggressive child at your daycare? A boy with the tendency to push or hit if words did not have the desired effect?

What if you witnessed that child pushing YOUR child? What would you do then?

Worse yet, what if YOUR child was the aggressive one?

I ask because MY child, the boy, has aggressive tendencies. I assure you, we are present for both our children; we try and model good behaviour, we talk about (show and explain) gentle hands, feelings and emotions. We've tried empathetic parenting and time outs. We try and ensure that our boys get one on one time with each of us and we work to encourage and acknowledge good behaviour. We've been to the behavioural paediatrician and we've followed their advice, which included enrolling the boy in a very structured daycare.

Slowly but surely, we are seeing improvements; the boy now tells people when he doesn't like their behaviour or asks for a turn with a toy, but he doesn't seem to have the patience to wait and his words often turn to aggressive behaviours within seconds. All that being said, the boy is a very sweet and lovable little man who uses his manners and gives out hugs and love on a regular basis, particularly in one on one situations.

I know that this week two daycare parents have expressed concerns to the site director about my boy and I honestly don't know if there have been others in the past. I understand their concern for their child's safety and wellbeing and in no way begrudge those parents for expressing those feelings.

I just want them to know that we have those feelings too. That we empathize with their concerns because we worry about the effect the boy's behaviour will have on the baby's development.

I want those parents to know that we are acutely aware of the boy's behavioural issues and that we work every day to try and find a way to help him work through his issues. That we want him to have the skills to go through life without aggression and just like every other parent out there we are doing the very best that we possibly can in a challenging situation.

So if there's a particularly challenging child at your daycare, please take a moment and ask yourself, 'what if my child was the aggressive one?'

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Litterless Lunch | Green Your Routine with Seventh Generation

The litterless lunch is an easy way to green your routine; its something I work on constantly, but I have to confess, sometimes I give in to the convenience of disposable.

This is week 1 of Green Your Routine with Seventh Generation and they've provided some numbers that are hard to ignore.

According to the stats, the average child throws away 66 pounds of lunch packaging waste a year, this might not sound like a lot, but when you think about the actual weight of disposable packaging, that's a pretty astounding number.

If the environmental costs don't sway you, the economics might. Litterless lunches are 35 perfect cheaper than their disposable counterparts; that number is based on an average price of $2.65 and $4.02 respectively.

Seventh Generation provides some pretty compelling arguments to commit to litterless lunches, and I promise, I'm going to try. My boys are fed lunch and snacks at daycare, but I send extra snacks for the baby to accommodate his dairy-free diet. I'm going to work on consistently sending snacks in containers rather than ziploc bags.

As for my own lunch, I tend to have problems with the lunch bag itself. I have tons of Tupperware containers (because Kat used to sell it) but they are a variety of sizes so I perpetually have problems fitting my entire lunch into one bag. I fixed that problem by buying a larger lunch bag, its actually a small cooler that can accommodate 9 cans, or in my case, a lunch.
Lunchbox Cloth Napkins
But my commitment, specific to this challenge is to start packing cloth napkins with my lunch (and sewing them too).

This inspiration came directly from a comment on my Green Your Routine introduction, thanks for the idea Bets. I'm so excited, I'm going to start sewing myself a set of lunchbox napkins now.

Do you litterless lunch? Will you be starting this September? What's your litterless lunch secret?

Don't forget to enter to WIN a Seventh Generation Cleaning Starter Kit.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dinner's on the table with VHSauces | Sweet & Sour Meatball Recipe | gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free

Did you know that some VH sauces that are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free?

They are not certified or labelled as such, but if you read the ingredients carefully there are a number of allergen friendly sauces, which also happen to be delicious, convenient and affordable. A rare treat for families with food allergies.

I was super excited about the opportunity to work with VHSauces via Collective Bias (#Cbias) and I spent some time browsing the VH Website and their multitude of recipe ideas, but in the end opted to share a tried and true favourite, gluten-free sweet and sour meatballs.

Since time always seems to be tight, I often run to the grocery store on my lunch break to grab a few items for dinner and this week was no different. I grabbed my co-worker, a summer student that's been a blast to have around, and headed over to Save-On-Foods to check out the selection of VH Sauces and pick up a couple boxes of coconut milk and some Daiya vegan cheese.

Although all the VH #DeliciousSauces were located in one aisle, they were not all in the same location.  I found some of the VH Sauces with the Indian cuisine and others located with the Asian cuisine.

In only five minutes I found a number of sauces that met our allergy needs (I read the labels EVERY time and so should you) and I didn't even take the time to read the Indian sauces as my husband doesn't care for curry flavours. I ended up buying the Sweet and Sour cooking sauce, the Teriyaki cooking sauce and the new Garlic Hoisin stir-fry sauce, which I can't wait to try.

But I digress, back to my sweet and sour meatballs. With only a little bit of prep the night before to make the meatballs, we had a sweet and tasty dinner on the table in about 15 minutes yesterday. A small, but important feat as my boys begin screaming for dinner if they aren't eating within 20 minutes of arriving home.

Quick, easy and delicious, I love the convenience of VH Sauces; they feel like a huge treat because I can so rarely find mainstream products that meet our dietary needs.

Check out photos of my entire experience with VH Sauces on Google + and keep reading for my recipe for simple homemade, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free sweet and sour meatballs.

Check out VH on Twitter and Facebook.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
(gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free)


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 lb ground pork
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp gluten-free italian seasoing
  • 1 tsp dried, minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • VH Sweet and Sour Cooking Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together everything except the sweet and sour sauce.
  3. Use a tablespoon to create even sized meatballs.
  4. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until the temperature reaches 160F. Do not overcook.
  5. You can proceed directly to the next step or allow the meatballs to cool then refrigerate until ready to use. 
  6. Empty VH Sweet and Sour Cooking Sauce into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.
  7. Add meatballs to the sauce and cook until warmed through.
  8. Enjoy, we like to eat ours with freshly cooked rice!
This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias
however all opinions are my own. #CBias 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Kat!

Some of you may know my sister, Kat. For those of you who don't, she's five years younger than me and I often describe her as just like me, only more intense, in all ways. She is fierce.
a moment in Seaside

She was the first high school student in Richmond to complete the apprenticeship program in hairdressing and she managed to finish a semester early. She is an amazing stylist, who can work wonders with your hair, but due to injury she retired and underwent a work retrain.

Our dad is a mechanic, but what defined him, was that he was a racecar driver. As children we spent hours at the racetrack and it made me giggle when I found out that Kat's boyfriend races autocross. With only a little prodding, R had Kat racing too.

Although I think its super amazing that Kat is racing and doing well, R blows my mind. He was just one of three drivers chosen, from across Canada, to participate in the Scion Tuner Challenge. Team VCMC is representing the West Coast through 11 different challenges in the Scion FRS, where the prize is the car! The first challenge was this weekend and I hear that Team VCMC rocked the challenge!!

If you or someone you know has an interest in racing, give Team VCMC your social media support and check them out the Team VCMC Blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Happy Birthday Kat, I hope its fabulous and I'll see you tonight for birthday sushi!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Green Your Routine with Seventh Generation | Giveaway

It's hard to believe that summer is rapidly coming to a close and that the back to school season is upon us. My kids are not yet school aged, but that doesn't mean that we can't take advantage of this transitional time to reprogram our lifestyle and green our routine.

Did you know that in only two weeks you can create a new habit, or break an old one, depending how you look at it?

The folks at Seventh Generation are challenging families to take four small steps to 'Green Your Routine' this fall and our household is up for the challenge. Over the next four weeks we are going to implement one small step per week; I hope you'll join in and help keep our planet a beautiful place to live.  Here's a summary of the 'Green Your Routine' program.
  • Week 1: The Litterless Lunch
  • Week 2: Watch How You Wash
  • Week 3: Choose a Fun, Fit and Sustainable Route to School
  • Week 4: Rebrand Responsibly
Are you interested in trying out Seventh Generation products? Make sure you enter below for your chance to win a Seventh Generation Starter Kit composed of coupons for a complimentary package of Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Soap, Free & Clear Kitchen Spray and 4X Laundry Detergent!  And if you're in the mood for winning, make sure you enter for a chance to win a Canadian Adventure for two courtesy of Seventh Generation.

Don't forget to check in later this week for my post on the litterless lunch.

Seventh Generation is on the Web, Facebook and Twitter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received product in exchange for this post, however all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Blueberry Cake | gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free recipe

blueberry cake closeI love blueberries and so do my boys. Fortunately, blueberries grow best in bog environments and Richmond, where we live, happens to be primarily bog so in the summertime, blueberries are bountiful. We eat blueberries in just about any form, but the fresh local berries are the absolute best. They're delicious, healthy and packed with antioxidants, I really don't see a downside.

When I saw this pin on Pinterest for buttermilk, blueberry breakfast cake, I knew I had to have it. I grabbed some blueberries out of the fridge, my janet & greta gluten-free flour mix and got to work creating a gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free version.

It turned out beautifully, spongy, soft and sweet with a hint of lemon to brighten the flavour of the blueberries. To me, it tastes like summer and as an added bonus, it travels well and would be great in parent and kid lunchboxes alike.

I prefer to use coconut oil in my recipes, but because of the summer heat it was already in its liquid form. Fortunately after I popped the coconut oil in the freezer for about 5 minutes it had partially harded and I was able to use my kitchen-aid mixer to create a smooth, creamy texture suitable for creaming with sugar.

Summer Blueberry Cake

Summer Blueberry Cake
(gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups of gluten-free flour mix*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp xantham gum**
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a 9" square cake pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine blueberries with 1/4 cup of gluten-free flour mix. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining gluten-free flour mix, baking powder, salt and xantham gum. Set aside.
  4. Blend coconut oil until creamy, blend in the sugar.
  5. Add eggs to the sugar mixture, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Starting with the dry ingredients, alternately add the dry mix and the coconut milk to the wet ingredients, mixing well between each addition.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the berries, then spread the mixture into the prepared pan. The batter will be thick.
  8. Sprinkle the cake with 1 tbsp of sugar, bake for 35 minutes until the top begins to golden and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  9. Cool, in the pan, at least 15 minutes.
  10. Enjoy!
*I used the janet and greta gluten-free flour mix, recipe below.
**If your gluten-free flour mix does not contain xantham gum, add 1/2 tsp instead of 1/4.

Janet and Greta's
Gluten-Free Flour Mix
The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski

  • 2 cups sorghum flour
  • 2 cups potato starch
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp xantham gum
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large ziploc bag, bowl or container.
  2. Blend well.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My baby's getting tubes in his ears

Before I had kids, I thought ear infections were inevitable, a rite of passage for new parents. I was wrong. The boy has had just one ear infection about four months ago. My one year old baby on the other hand, got his first ear infection within a week of his brother and has spent the majority of the time since then with an ear infection or on antibiotics to treat one.
myringotomy and tympanostomy
After five rounds of antibiotics, a ridiculous number of trips to our family doctor and two trips to the ear, nose and throat specialist at Children's Hospital, my baby is scheduled for surgery. Minor surgery, but surgery none the less. He will be recieving a myringotomy and tympanostomy tubes, or simply, 'tubes in his ears'.

Although it was common practice in the past, recurring ear infections on their own are no longer considered adequate justification for putting tubes in a child's ears. As a mother, its hard for me to imagine that neither my sons constant pain and discomfort, nor his inability to function, learn and grow to his full capacity are reason enough to perform a minor surgery that would fully prevent further ear infections for at least a year. 

I'll admit I was apprehensive going into the hearing test, the doctor told me explicitly that if there was hearing loss then we would have sufficient justification for the surgery. Emotionally it was strange to find myself hoping that the baby would actually demonstrate some level of hearing loss.
cool dude
He did in fact exhibit approximately 30% hearing loss, which they were able to confirm was a result of fluid in the inner ear. Much to my relief, the hearing loss is temporary and should return to normal once the tubes are in place and the fluid has drained. I recognize there are risks with surgery and putting a child under general anaesthesia, but my boy deserves to enjoy his young life and we feel the risks are well worth it.

We have just over a month until the surgery, now all I can do is hope he can make it that long without another ear infection. Sadly, it may be more realistic to hope for only one round of antibiotics.

Did your children suffer from ear infections?
Did you heal them holistically or with antibiotics?
Did your child need tubes in their ears? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Saturday Sale at

One of my absolute favourite online shopping destinations is; their prices are comparable to my local drugstores and they offer free shipping, regardless how much you purchase.  They have tons of gluten-free products and with their Baby Club, you get special sale prices on baby products, including amazing sale prices on disposable diapers.


One of the products they carry, that I've been drooling over is the Zoku quick pop maker, which allows you to make fresh, healthy and delicious popscicles in a matter of minutes.  

This Saturday only, you can get a family grab bag that includes the Zoku Quick Pop Maker (Regular $69.99), Summer Infant Car Seat Shade (Currently $15.00), Badger Lightly Scented Sunscreen SPF 30 (Currently $15.99), Badger Balm After Sun Balm: Blue Tansy & Lavender (Regular $7.99), Vital Baby Free Flow Cup (Regular $3.99).

At a price of $69.99 for the entire grab bag, you're essentially buying the Zoku quick pop maker and getting everything else free! There is a limited number of grab bags available, so if you want one, make sure you buy early!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Nuts are NOT toys | a Momma Bear's plea

I believe in a mother’s instinct to protect her children; I belive that there are no limitations to the lengths a parent will go to ensure the safety of their child. Fortunately, for most of us, the moments when our Momma Bear must emerge are far and few between, however, when your child has a life-threatening allergy, the Momma Bear never gets a chance to hibernate.  When we discovered the boy was allergic to peanuts, we had to sort through out cupboards and reread the labels of products we’d been eating for years.

It’s difficult to decide where to draw the line with regard to the foods you allow your child to eat.  The allergist determined that the boy had no reaction to any other nuts, including tree nuts so we made the decision not to feed him, or keep in our home, any products that ‘may contain traces of peanuts’.  This is especially difficult for our family as many gluten-free products contain or are manufactured in facilities that process nuts. Fortuantely, as parents of an allergic child we are acutely aware of the food we buy and feed our children and our home is a location that we can control.

Public spaces on the other hand, can become a parent’s nightmare in a matter of moments.

Case and point, we were recently enjoying the summer weather at our local park with the boys; there is a fountain that drains down and around a small hill to a gate that traps the water, but can be released by the children. My boys, and almost all the other children, love to chase their ‘boats’ as they float down the river and open the gate.  We’ve seen ‘boats’ in a number of forms and on this particular day some older boys (probably around 7) were chasing leaves down the river.  Our boys were playing happily and the hubs and I were enjoying the peace and sunshine until suddenly the hubs noticed that the leaves had been replaced with nuts and shells.

We raced up to the boy and quickly explained to him that the other kids were playing with nuts and reminded him that he was very allergic.  We explained that we had to go home immediately because if he touched them, he might end up at the hospital. I felt awful cutting his playtime short so abruptly, and he was a upset for a few moments, but without doubt, keeping him safe is far more important than preventing a few tears of frustration.

As a parent, an aunt and a sister of individuals with life-threatening nut allergies, I know that I am hypersensitive and acutely aware of the presence of nuts in public places. For those of you who are not directly affected, its easy to forget that some people need not ingest their allergen in order to have an anaphylactic reaction. For my boy, touching a peanut butter sandwich crust resulted in two shots of epinephrine, a shot of steroids and a week of benadryl. I have a friend whose daughter had a reaction just from being in the vicinity of a peanut butter sandwich on a family outing.

If your child had a life-threatening allergy, how far would you go to keep him safe?

Nuts are a great source of nutrition for those that can ingest them and I wish that I could feed them to my children, but I can't.  If your child eats nuts, please take the time to teach them that nuts are not toys. If your children consume a snack that contains nuts in a public space, keep the snack localized and ensure you take a few moments and do a proper cleanup.  Simply washing hands, wiping tables, chairs or any other public items that may have been contaminated (even using just a baby wipe) can go a long way to keep an allergic child safe and healthy.

Please Momma Bear, won’t you help me protect my cubs?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Celiac Clinical Research Study

Although I follow a strict gluten-free diet, I am not a diagnosed celiac, and its unlikely that I ever will be.  If you however, have a confirmed (by biopsy) diagnosis of Celiac disease and have been on a gluten-free diet for a minimum of 12 months you may qualify to participate in a Celiac Disease Clinical Research Study.

Trials are taking place across the US and Canada, click the image below for more details.

Thanks to Living Without for bringing this to my attention. Have you checked out their recipes? I made this Gluten-Free Corn, Mango and Black Bean Salsa twice this month and it only arrived in my email box on July 12!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A little treat, Chapman's Sorbet | lactose free, gluten-free, peanut-nut free

sorbet label
The hubs and the boy went camping today and they probably won't be home until Tuesday, possibly Wednesday. Although I will miss my big boys, I'm super excited to have four days of one on one time (minus working of course) with my littlest man.

Now that I have him on his own, I'm trying to find special little moments that we can share, but it seems that even ordinary activities are a completely new experience when its just the baby.

I've been craving ice cream lately, so I was super excited to discover that Chapman's Sorbet can meet my entire family's allergy needs. I read the label over three times before I realized that the front label stated that it is lactose free, gluten free and peanut-nut free. Amazing, an allergen-friendly product that I can buy at my regular grocery store and at $7.50 for a 2L the price is comparable to ice cream.

sorbet front Orange is not my favourite flavour and apparently I'm not the only one; there was exactly zero of the neopolatin flavour and an entire row of the orange. I obviously bought it anyway, the texture is great and it tastes delicious.

Seriously, I'm on my third (little) bowl since I bought it this afternoon. The baby wasn't exactly sure what he thought of it, but I sure had fun watching him test it out.

This post is not sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DIY Green Wall using a Pallet and Landscape Fabric

DIY Pallet Garden
I've always wanted a green wall in my home and now I have this gorgeous garden propped up against my west facing chimney. We followed this awesome pallet garden tutorial, and although it was a little bit time consuming, it was actually pretty easy to make.

To make our skid garden, as the hubs likes to call it, we got the best looking pallet the hubs could find and stapled like crazy to attach landscape fabric to the back and sides.  Then we laid it down and filled it with almost 5 bags of topsoil.  We packed the plants in quite tightly, about 8 plants per row.

We watered it like crazy and left the pallet flat to give the plants a chance to get established in the soil.  After about two weeks we very carefully stood the pallet up and leaned it against the wall before attaching it with a metal hinge.

After that, all that's left to do is water, water, water and let mother nature do the rest!

Isn't it lovely?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Humility in Motherhood | Reflections

I remember a time when the thought of a fellow driver seeing me singing in my car was means for great embarrassment.  Clearly, that was in my life before children, because these days not only do I sing as I drive, at red lights I appease the boys' request that I 'sing Boom Boom Pow and dance with my elbows' and I don't care who sees it.

Motherhood naturally changes us; it makes us humble and it teaches us humility.

In some ways, I wish that I could have learned these lessons earlier in life; that I could have found a way to release myself of the constraint of potential embarrassment in my early twenties.  It seems ironic that the portion of my life that was solely devoted to my happiness, my joy and my goals was also the time when I spent too much time and energy worrying what other people thought.

Now that I'm a mother, I don't think twice about heading to the grocery store with greasy unwashed hair, spit-up on my shirt or dinner on my pants.  Instinctively, this feels like it might be a bad thing, but in actuality I believe it truly a reconnection with the innocence of childhood.  I knew that motherhood would change me and yet like so much else, this self-acceptance is a pleasant surprise.

Motherhood changes us all, how has it changed you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Your stroller wants 'The Mommy Hook' | Review

If you have a stroller, you could benefit from a Mommy Hook. Seriously.

Quite simply its a large aluminium carabener with a rubber for easy carrying and to keep it from sliding when clipped onto a stroller, grocery cart, luggage or just about anything else you can think of.

Have you ever been out on a walk, realized that you needed to grab a few things at the grocery store only to realize too late that you had bought more than you could effectively stash in the stroller?  Sadly this has happened to me more than once, I've tried all sorts of methods to carry the extra groceries.  The top of the stroller canopy isn't strong enough, groceries draped over the handlebars require extra attention when starting, stopping, turning or when uncooperative children are the soup d'jour. The default option is worst of all; carrying the extra bag(s) while pushing a stroller chock full of groceries (and in my case 50lbs of children) back home. The only way I've found to conveniently carry the extra bags is to hang them on the Mommy Hook.

The Mommy Hook is also great for small jobs like holding my clutch and keeping my wallet, phone and keys within eyesight and reach at all times, or carrying multiple grocery bags at one time.

With a $10 price point this simple yet ingenious product is well worth the investment.  I've used mine on a regular basis for the last eight months and its shown literally no signs of wear. The packaging says 'The Must-Have Mommy Accessory' and over the past three years I have tried a lot of products; The Mommy Hook truly belongs in every Momma's tool kit.

I received The Mommy Hook for the purposes of this review, however all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Looneyspoons Collection | Cookbook Review & Giveaway

The Looneyspoons Collection (TLC) by Janet and Greta Podleski is hands down, my new favourite cookbook.  The first week I had it, I used it four days in a row, each time trying a new recipe.  After a few short months I have at least six new recipes in rotation to be cooked on a regular basis and tons more I can't wait to try.  If Janet and Greta look familiar, you may have seen them on their super fun TV show, Eat, Shrink and Be Merry.

Janet and Greta's recipes are flavourful, healthy and easy to make; many of them are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free or easily adapted with simple substitutions. More importantly, my kids seem to genuinely enjoy the recipes we've tried from TLC; if the kids are eating healthy food, I'm happy.

Although this book would surely knock any family out of a dinnertime rut, its equally suitable for a recent graduate learning to cook on their own.  In fact I used to run a community cooking program for youths on Friday nights using recipes from Janet and Greta's previous books Crazy Plates and Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, which they generously donated to the program.  Cooking tasty, healthy food brought those kids, and myself, such immense pride and I hope that many of them have carried the skills and confidence they learned in that kitchen, into the rest of their lives.

But I digress, TLC is truly a collection, it combines old favourites, like the 'Must Bake Carrot Cake: two-tiered spiced carrot cake', 'Burger, She Wrote: Teriyaki seasoned burgers for the barbeque', 'A Lotta Enchilada: Flavor-packed chicken, black bean and corn enchiladas', 'The Ladle in Red: Everyone's favourite classic beef chili' and more with a ton of new recipes that are just as tasty.

Some of my new favourites include 'Mulligatawnski: Southern Indian soup with curried chicken, apples and quinoa', 'Bananaberry Bombs: Moist banana-blueberry muffins with oats and flaxseed', 'The Sound of Muesli: A high-fibre breakfast blend of oats, yogurt and fresh fruit', 'Sticky Chicky: Baked chicken thighs in a sticky-sweet barbeque sauce" and of course the 'GRAINola Bars: chewy homemade granola bars with oats, flax pumpkins, cranberries, nuts and mini chocolate chips', the base recipe for my gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cranberry granola bars.

My mouth is watering just thinking about all that delicious food. There are recipes in this book are for everyone and I would buy it for anyone.

Want to win your own copy of The Looneyspoons Collection, signed by Janet and Greta? Enter to win using the Rafflecopter after the jump.

And if you're looking for some instant gratification, Janet and Greta have some free recipes on their website and if you sign up for their newsletter you will get new recipes in your inbox.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I answer to mom, but you can call me wonder woman

Compliment of the week: 'I'm pretty sure you're wonder woman.' -via facebook

Unfortunately my superhero costume isn't skin tight and sexy, its stretched out, loose and covered in barf, boogers and excrement.  In no way do I begrudge my children, their little immune systems are learning to ward off offenders but its been almost three months since I had a healthy household and I'm starting to feel more than a little thin around the edges.

The baby is finally on the mend (this month alone he spent a week throwing up, a week with a near 40 degree fever and a week on antibiotics for a resulting ear infection), unfortunately the boy is still fighting something and has had a fever for a day and a half and has been cranky and miserable for two weeks and my poor hubs, he's been fighting a cold for weeks too.

I'm generally a glass half full kind of gal, but as of late I have to admit that glass has been starting to feel a little bit 'half empty'.  I hate being negative and I don't want to wallow in self-pity so when I could have (and perhaps should have) been finding moments to share the challenges that have been my life as of late, I instead chose to introvert; to read a few pages in my book, bake muffins with my boy or watch a show with my hubs.

But all that is going to change; I've spent the last week alternating between thinking of great posts to write and feeling guilty that I haven't made time to do so.  I believe in mind over matter, and I've decided that this is the turning point and I WILL get back on track with my posts.  Although I generally try and make sure that my posts have a good balance of personal and sponsored posts, there may be a small flux of sponsored posts as I have a number of commitments that are overdue and I'm keen to get published.

Now, I just hope my immune system is up to wonder woman's standard and I don't get knocked down with illness the moment all my boys' recover.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy Allergy-Friendly Birthday! | Guest Post

I have vivid memories of attending birthday parties as a kid. I loved running around with my friends, playing games like pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs. But what sticks out in my mind from the majority of the parties I attended was having to be very diligent about what I ate. I was sent with a list of instructions from my mom about what I could/couldn't eat and usually a bag full of food that was just for me. Now didn't I sound like the life of the party?!

Being so hyper-aware of allergies and what was and wasn't typically in both homemade and store bought food at such a young age definitely wasn't something I enjoyed. In fact, I hated it! All I wanted to do was eat what the other kids were eating! But knowing the ins and outs of cooking and eating for allergies has come in very handy over the years, more than ever, now, as I have a child of my own who is leaning in the direction of being just like me in the allergy department (sorry kiddo!). But I'm ready. I can swap out ingredients in recipes like nobody else. So if you're new to the allergy arena, cooking either for your own little one, or that poor, allergy-riddled kid who will be coming to your son or daughter's next birthday party, here's a bit of help. Just a few simple swaps can make any recipe safe for even the toughest-to-feed child.

So what's on the menu for an allergy-free party?                                        
It's a party so toss out a bowl of salt 'n vinegar chips and some Doritos and you'll be all set, right? Wrong, especially for dairy sensitive kids. Salt 'n vinegar flavouring, for example, almost always contains milk ingredients, and of course, anything nacho-flavoured will as well. But this doesn't mean you can't have easy snacks lying about. Just choose crowd pleasing yet safe flavours like salted; try corn or rice chips for gluten/wheat sensitive individuals, served with salsa or guacamole; or pop your own kernels and top with a little olive oil and different herbs or nutritional yeast for a healthier popcorn.

Fruit and veggie platters are always safe bets as well, and can be made more appealing by using different shaped cookie cutters (stars, hearts, etc.) or creating fruit kebabs. 

Main Course
Pizza, hot dogs and deli sandwiches are all great regular party staples, but can be loaded with danger for the allergic kids in the group. If you're looking to make a meal everyone can enjoy without a ton of work, I suggest sticking to whole foods. These are foods that have not been processed in any way. You know all the ingredients because you can see all the ingredients, right in front of you. If the idea of serving just whole foods is leaving you a bit stumped, I suggest the following, very easy to handle homemade fare, which are all kid and adult favourites, made allergy friendly. The best part is, those with regular diets won't even know they're eating 'safe' food!
  • Chicken breast tossed in gluten free breadcrumbs and oven baked for everyone's favourite - chicken strips!
  • Chicken wings made by ditching any flour dredging and opting instead for a salt and pepper toss before throwing them on the bbq
  • Tacos - you can even have a 'make your own' taco bar set up with corn tortillas/shells, rice, beans, veggies and meat
  • Homemade burgers - turkey, beef or veggie - with regular buns as well as gluten free buns or lettuce for wrapping the patties of wheat sensitive diners
  • Meatballs, omitting the breadcrumbs or eggs, depending on the allergy
  • Sushi platter, safe for most, so long as you steer clear of any rolls with sauce (soy allergy) or any tempura rolls (gluten allergy)
  • Side dishes - potato salad (use olive oil instead of mayo for egg allergies), green salad, macaroni salad (gluten free macaroni is easy to find!), potato wedges baked in olive oil and herbs, rice or quinoa salads...the options go on and on here!
Birthday Cake
If you'll be making a cake or cupcakes from a box mix, there are a few swaps that can be easily accomplished. Usually, the recipe on the box calls for the cake mix, water, butter, vanilla and eggs.  Let's address each one separately.

Dairy Replacement
For a dairy allergy, you'll obviously want to avoid the butter. An easy substitute for butter in a baking recipe is an equal part of mashed up fruit, such as pear or apple (canned or fresh, either works). The fruit flavour will be subtly present in the finished product, which isn't a bad thing, I personally enjoy it, but it's something to be aware of, especially if you have potentially picky eaters. You can always add in a few dairy-free chocolate chips (like those made by Enjoy Life Foods) to distract them though! If you don't want to use fruit, another option is to use coconut oil as a butter substitute. If you've never experimented with coconut oil, I recommend it! It comes in a tub-style container and is actually solid at room temperature, not liquid, so you can scoop it out just as you would with butter. It can be a bit pricey but you only need to use 3/4 of the amount the recipe calls for. Example - recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use 3/4 cup coconut oil instead. Just like the fruit substitute adds a bit of extra flavour, so too will the coconut oil. But if you enjoy the taste of the tropics then you'll like this swap.

Egg Replacement
To replace eggs, there are a few tricks. Eggs act as binders in recipes so you're looking for something that has a sticky quality. The easiest option, if you're already running to the store, is to buy a box of egg-substitute. It's just a powder mix to which you add water. I like EnerG brand myself and it's pretty readily available. If though you'd prefer to use ingredients you already have on hand, you can try any of the following to replace one egg: 1/2 mashed up banana; 1/4 cup tofu (make sure soy isn't an allergy issue if going this route); 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp water; or a mix of 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp oil and 2 tsp baking powder.

Gluten-Free Replacements 
If gluten free is what you're after, well, you'll have to either make the cake mix from scratch with gluten free flours or try out one of the amazing new Betty Crocker gluten free cake mixes. They are available in yellow or chocolate at most grocery stores and are my go to when I need to quickly whip up a cake. I've fed them to avid gluten eaters and they can't tell the difference. If you'll be using the gluten free yellow mix, be sure you also use gluten free vanilla flavouring. The regular kind may trigger a reaction in gluten sensitive kids.

Planning an allergy-free party doesn't have to be a ton of extra work and ensures all the party-goers, especially the ones with allergies, feel included and just like all their friends. And having a safe menu allows you to relax and have a good time too, focusing on making memories with your kids, not worrying whether or not Johnny is staying out of the trail mix and Suzie has her hands off the icecream cake.

OneStopMamaShop is a blog offering advice, information and practical tips for all new mamas who are navigating the wonderful worlds of pregnancy and motherhood. 

The blog's author is based in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, so some of the posts are regional and apply specifically to mamas in that locale, though the many product recommendations, general pregnancy and baby-care information, and stories on the ups and downs of motherhood are universal, for any and all mamas to share in and enjoy.