Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free Chicken Tacos with Pear Salsa
I was lucky enough to get some dairy free cheddar cheese from Angel Food last week and we’ve been trying it in all sorts of places I’ve been missing cheese, like Baked Potatoes, Pizza and Tacos. It works pretty much like regular cheese, the only difference really was I found I needed to heat it a bit higher/or for longer to melt it. No big deal at all.
Acrylic Painting with Children
So anybody that knows me well, knows we aren’t exactly floating in cash…but I have a few things I think are really important for quality play at home and I make sure we have these supplied all the time. I’m going to lay out why I think that good quality paints are right at the top of the list from a few different perspectives: as an Allergy Mum, as a training child psychologist, and as a proponent of free and natural play. But at the end of the day, they are just a really fun medium to work with.
From an allergy perspective
For cultural and allergy reasons, we try to stay away from food-based activities as much as possible, so obviously painting is a natural choice. My youngest one is a sensory-girl and does love to eat paint, sand…anything she can get in her mouth, but I’m happy to report, she’s no worse off for it and has never had an allergic reaction to acrylic paints. That’s not to say you couldn’t be allergic to it, but all three kids have been fine.
Miss 4 has a terrible time with allergy-related eczema and she just loves to paint herself (ALL OVER!) with paints. It’s not super fabulous for her skin, but I bath her in her fatty cream afterwards then reapply another coat of the cream before dressing her and she copes with it just fine.
Any allergic reactions we’ve had to paints have been with face paints (all three of my children have reacted to these) so we now have a no-face paint rule.
If anybody is interested in the brand, we use Chromacryl.
From a psychology perspective:
-it is a beautifully natural way to develop fine motor skills important for writing later on. These processes involved in manipulating paint brushes help develop the muscles in the arm and hands important for writing and a number of other skills. For this reason, I provide a range of different shaped and sized brushes, sponges and rollers.
-I’m not a believer in sitting preschoolers down ‘in preparation for school’, but sitting at a table to paint is just easier; it also requires focus and concentration necessary for school life should you choose it. It also requires moving the paper to a correct position for making marks which they need to master before writing effectively.
-for me, most importantly, it fosters an appreciate for art and the process of being creative. I never guide their painting or set limits. If you are worried about mess, I take a small kids table and chairs outside, cover with an old sheet and strip them down naked. More often than not, the result is what I call ‘process art’. So, you might not end up with something ‘frame able’, but they sure had a good time doing it. They will let you know when they are ready to create something specific.
-it provides a myriad of learning opportunities.
For example, during this recent painting session, Miss 4 told me she wanted to draw a rainbow. She drew it inside out, but it really doesn’t matter. As she was drawing it, we discussed each colour and talked about what colours we needed to mix to get the right shades. Then she told me in order to have a rainbow, you need both rain and sunshine so she set about creating those. She had drawn a blue sky with white clouds so we had a discussion about the type of clouds which create rain. She knows about different types of clouds and said that the cumulus clouds she had drawn were not rain clouds, so she then drew some rain clouds. So that was a great Science lesson. Then she decided she wanted to count all the drops she had made, then we talked about more and less, and she added some numbers together. So in one painting session we had really nicely covered Science and Maths.
Free and Natural Play:
I believe painting is one of the most enjoyable ways of fostering a love of free and natural play with children. This type of play is central in my household and has a number of benefits:
-encourages imagination and creativity.
-enables healthy play alongside each other (whether that be children alongside or parents and children alongside).
-enables a huge amount of sensory exploration.
-it provides a different medium for expressing feelings, thoughts and sensations. This is fabulous while language is still developing.
-it encourages the natural curiosity that children possess and they can choose which direction to take their learning.
-it enables a way for parents to provide guidance and support without driving the play/exploration/topics/themes.
-lets the children take charge of their own education.
-has links to optimal brain development, and its association with emotional regulation.
By the way, if anybody is wondering why I choose acrylic paints over non-staining water paints….the colours don’t mix together as easily, meaning we have less ‘brown all over’, pretty ugly finished pieces. Also, they have a much more interesting texture for the children to explore. The finished piece dries with the same texture and my children love rubbing their fingers over it when it’s dried. Oil paints are also lots of fun….but they take an age to dry!
Dairy and Egg Free Plum and Ginger Cheesecake
You may have seen a pretty delicious looking Plum Cheesecake circulating around social media lately, which has had me drooling…..only catch is, it is absolutely laden with no-go ingredients for our house. So this Dairy and Egg Free Plum and Ginger Cheesecake has been sitting in the back of my mind ready for a remake….we just so happened to have a big BBQ/party to go to this weekend so I had a bit of an experiment. The first attempt was really good, I made it again the next night. It is honestly REALLY yummy! I didn’t tell anyone else at the party that it was allergy-friendly (other than the hosts who know our situation) and had a bit of a laugh to myself as I watched everyone diving into it.
This version features a ginger biscuit base, which can easily be adapted to make this recipe gluten free. I have two children who are fine with wheat and one who absolutely cannot, so I ended up just making it normally then scooping the top section off for my gluten free kid. Obviously if you are dealing with Coeliac Disease or are really concerned with cross contamination this wouldn’t be wise. If I was making this gluten free, I would probably just buy the gluten free ginger biscuits and proceed normally, but if you would rather make the base, there are shortbread recipes on here using gluten free flour which you could just add ginger to.
The middle section is like a cross between a fruit mousse and a chilled cheesecake. It has tofu and Italian meringue made from chickpea brine…don’t let this put you off if you are new to these ingredients….you honestly cannot taste them in the finished product. Then it has a sour jelly topping which kind of ties all the layers together and helps the dessert not taste too sweet.
Egg, dairy, gluten and nut free peppermint thins
We usually make these Egg, dairy, gluten and nut free peppermint thins as part of our Christmas presents to teachers as I think they are a really lovely gift….you really wouldn’t know it was an ‘adapted-for-allergies’ version! My 9 year old has always loved making wee presents for her extended family so she asked if we could make these for her Grandparents the other day. I had a ton of requests for the recipe after I shared a pic on Instagram, so here goes! We hope you all love them too 🙂
I’ve loved Sticky Date Pudding since forever and I happened to have some dates leftover from a Wedding Cake I’m making so thought I’d have a bash at making this Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Sticky Date Pudding since my youngest REALLY loves cake. And dates. It went down a treat with some lovely visitors I had today and the two kids that can eat it in my house both love it. The eldest mostly because she has some weird infatuation with anything caramel.
How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity
I’m all about free play with my 3 crazy kids and I love setting up art and craft activities which are completely open-ended and just sitting back to see where they will take it. If you have been following this blog for a while, you’ll know my kids have wildly different temperaments so it’s always really fun seeing the different directions they take things.
Have you tried using sensory water beads with your children? They are awesome fun, and I got a packet of a thousand for less than $2 on aliexpress. They are so simple to use: you literally just tip them into a bowl of water and you can watch them fluff up right in front of your eyes. They have the most glorious feel.
Warning: these are not safe to be swallowed, so obviously watch little children really closely.
You may have seen a Facebook video circulating around for a particularly naughty but yummy looking dessert…I did, and have come up with this Dairy and Egg Free Lolly Cake Cheesecake as a pretty awesome substitute 🙂 It has a lolly cake base: for those new to this amazing New Zealand birthday party food tradition, this is generally sweetened condensed milk, butter, crushed biscuits and Eskimo lollies (a sort of chewy marshmallow confectionery): obviously not a very allergy friendly snack! I’ve made a few substitutions to make it egg and dairy free. If you need it gluten free as well, use gluten free biscuits and safe marshmallows. If you can’t find Eskimos, any sort of chewy marshmallow will do.
A May Contain Goodness subscription box review and giveaway
We were lucky enough to receive some boxes of the new allergy-friendly subscription box by May Contain Goodness which was pretty much like Christmas for my girls! I’ve also got two boxes to giveaway so keep reading for details on how to win this awesome prize 🙂
The day my daughter turned DIY Gummy Bears into an impromptu Maths Session and an awesome giveaway!
This Dairy and Egg Free Chocolate Peppermint Slice is ridiculously easy to make and perfect for adding a special treat to the kids lunch boxes 🙂 It’s also nut free and would be very easy to adapt to be gluten free by substituting a gluten free flour mix (I use a bit less).