August Backlog: Summer Road Trip: Downtown Memphis

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The next day of our summer trip, we met my brother work downtown Memphis after a half day of work. We walked with him and Stina to the more famous area of Memphis: Beale street.

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We came into town the week after Elvis week and saw a few impersonators still wandering around. As we approached Beale street, we stopped at a famous peanut shop.

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I waited outside because they mix all of their nuts together (for more on this see why I am tree nut free) with my brother as Stina gave Luke the tour. Everyone got samples of their favorite peanuts as a snack and we continued walking.

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We passed a statue of Elvis across from the Hard Rock, and the Gibson guitar factory and then we were on Beale street. A very quiet walking street in the early afternoon, the street is filled with big named Jazz bars and night clubs including the original coyote ugly bar.

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On this street is also a bar which hosts parked outside one of Jerry Lee Louis’ cars. All along the street, similar to in Hollywood on the sidewalk are jazz and blues musician names.

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We continued walking to the Peabody hotel and did a fast tour of the hotel and the famous ducks in the pond (to learn more see peabody ducks)

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After a lengthy walk around we got lunch and got back in our cars. We drove down toward the Mississippi river waterfront and parked at what is called “The Pyramid”, and old sporting area that has now been turned into a giant bass pro shop.

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We went in and saw there was a lot to take in. This “shop” has a restaurant and bar with bowling alley to start with, it’s own fudge and sweets shop, hotel rooms built like cabins you can rent on the third floor, and a live alligator display.

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Add this to the fact that the place is decorated to resemble the bayou with floating docks and boats you can tour in a few feet of water filled with catfish. Like most bass pro shops it also included many stuffed and staged animals of all types.

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Luke and I both found good hiking/camping pants downstairs in the apparel then we went upstairs. On the second floor is a duck hunting museum including wood ducks (word?) and a display of guns. There is also a free arcade sample of duck hunting, and a place to test out bows for hunting.

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They had one of the best camping sections I have ever seen and a large hunting dog section as well. Let’s just say my husband was a happy camper.

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We left downtown Memphis and head back to my brother’s place where we got local BBQ and played a board game during dessert.

Good to know: 2013’s Gluten and Tree-nut free Candy Lists

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Some of you have probably already bought (and eaten) bags of Halloween candy to give away or use for your harvest season festivities. But with Halloween approaching it is good to be aware of what candies are allergy-free and which could be harmful or deadly.

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Growing up, this time of the year I knew what candies generally had tree-nuts in them and which did not (for more on this see Why I am tree-nut free). Plus when we came home we would sort out the candy and those I couldn’t eat were thrown  away.

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Now as I think about bite-sized chocolatey snacks to both give-out to kids and to sneak a few for myself, I look at a new list of ingredients including: barley, malt extract/flavoring, or contains wheat (for more on this see Why I am barley-free Part One). It amazes me what candy items have flour or similar in them to give the candy the right texture. For example: a regular shaped reese’s peanut butter cup is safe but any fun-shaped butter cups are not. They are flour in them!

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So whether you have children with gluten/nut allergies, you want to be a conscientious giver of treats, or have allergies yourself and are wanting to enjoy some sugary snacks. I hope you find this information helpful:

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1. Here’s a blog-site called :The Nut-Free Mom Blog where she lists nut-free candy

2. Here’s another blog-site for gluten free halloween candy list from stockpilingmoms.com

3. Click on this link from Celiac Disease Foundation to see their 2013 Halloween Gluten-free candy list

4. Last of all a page from a PDF guide from safe-snack updated earlier this month with candy information that is free of tree-nuts, eggs, and peanuts.

a page from the snacksafely.com PDF on halloween candy

I hope this all helps you have a happy and safe candy-filled day.

 

Why I am tree-nut free: Part 1

Last spring I wrote several blog-posts providing the details of the discovery that I was allergic to barley and how this allergy changed my diet. (for more see Why I am barley-free: part 1Why I am barley-free: Part 2). If you have explored my blog enough you would know that I am also allergic to tree-nuts though I have never really shared how I discovered I was allergic to tree-nuts or how this allergy affect my life. Well here I go:

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Unlike my barley allergy which mainly affects my skin (though it may tear up my intestines a little too) my tree-nut allergy is much more deadly and I have had it my whole life. When I was two years old I was at the San Diego zoo with my whole family: cousins and all. Sometime during our visit I was given half a macadamia nut to try. Still new to harder foods, my family was attentive to see how I would handle it. When they noticed I did not seem to be breathing well they thought I had choked on it. But  fortunately my firefighter uncle recognized the signs: my throat was closing up due to an allergic reaction. We rushed to the hospital. My mom not knowing how bad I was tried to sign us in to wait, but once the medical staff saw my face they rushed us in. With my anxious family unsure what to do, I was taken in and given shots of benadryl. The swelling went down and I recovered.

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After that my parents were cautious of foods with tree-nuts; keeping any far from my reach and being careful when baking with them in the house. Many times there were baked goods made in two versions nut-free and with nuts. By the time I was in elementary school I knew what to watch for: homemade desserts, certain candy bars and the like. I learned quickly to always ask, to read labels, and not assume something was tree-nut free.

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I always carried benadryl on me, just in case something happened, there were few instances at school were a treat for the class or special event meant unfamiliar dishes with unknown ingredients that I thought were safe. But after a bite I could tell my mouth would start itching,  then my chest would get tight, my eyes well with tears, my nose would run and then I would get what almost looked like scratch marks around my face. Now this did not happen everytime. It really all had to do with how much I ingested before realizing the harm. For the most part I would only get a itchy mouth, take some benadryl and I’d be set.

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Now before I go any further let me make this clear, I am not so allergic to tree-nuts that if I touch one and get the oil on me I go into shock, in order to go into any form of shock I would have to ingest a large amount (and I mean a huge amount) of nuts and not know it. I also am not allergic to peanuts which are technically a legume or peanut butter. That is a different allergy all together. I love my pay days, apples and peanut butter, and the occasional reeses or reeses pieces. So no issues there.

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I as I already stated, had learned to expect tree-nuts in desserts mainly but as I got older I learned they can be found in unusual dishes as well. At a holiday meal, again with the whole family, I decided to try a family member’s chili, after a few bites and recognizing the familiar crunch, I mentioned I thought there were nuts in the dish. This was not stated on the menu. My family was skeptic but when we asked the waiter sure enough there were cashews. A little benadryl and again I was fine.

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In high school for a friends birthday party we went to a restaurant that sells huge warm cookies in small pizza dishes. I ate half of one that was oatmeal raisin. It tasted great, until the very end, when my stomach started to cramp up. I asked to look at the menu: the whole thing had macadamia nuts in it.  How would I know that? The crunchy texture I took to be only crispy oats. I was taken home quickly and fed plenty of benaryl. My parents had me stay awake in front of the TV and monitored my breathing etc. I broke out into hives, and could barely breath between the tight throat and running nose. My eyes were swollen and watering. I had a hard time, unlike other instances staying calm. But like previous experiences  the medicine did it’s magic and I was fine.

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These are some of my early life experiences with my tree-nut allergy. In all of these encounters I have never discovered what any of the individual nuts taste like. Name it: pecan, walnut, cashew, pistachio, hazelnut, macadamia, almond, I do  not know what any of them taste like -to me no matter how delicious you say a dish is if it has nuts in them all I taste in a itchy tongue.

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So that is the start to my story of why I am tree-nut free my experiences with my tree-nut allergy are different as an adult as I have traveled to other countries and discovered more foods and languages. But more on that to come.

Greene’s Gluten-free Granola Bars

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On weekday mornings it’s just easiest to grab a breakfast bar and a cup of coffee when starting the day. But because I have food allergies to barley and tree nuts, finding a breakfast/granola bar that I can eat can be a challenge. Usually gluten-free bars create texture with tree nuts and bars without tree-nuts often have barley in them.

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I got accustomed to buying Luke a box of Cliff bars and myself a box of (one of the few “safe” flavors) Luna bars once every  two-weeks. But then Luke realized his Cliff bars were almost 300 calories each and loaded with Caffinene. Plus these boxes could cost upward to 11-12 dollars for only 10 bars (that is more than a dollar a piece!)

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With all that in mind I decided it was time to experiment with my own homemade gluten, barley, and tree-nute free granola/breakfast bars. The first batch was a little sugary and too sticky but by round three I had adjusted the ingredients and felt confident this was worth the time.

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This recipe will make approximately 20 bars (depending how you cut them). If  your recipe yields 20 bars then they will be only around 150-160 calories each!! Plus a whole batch will cost you less than five dollars! That is 25 cents or less per bar versus my 1.25 each from before!! It does create a few sticky dishes but I have been finding it is well worth the mess.

Even better this is a good basic recipe with plenty of room for changes and subsitutions. In the ingredients list I will mention some potential changes you can make, but be aware that substitutions may not change your portions but they are apt to change your calorie count.

Here’s how:

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Ingredients:

½ C honey

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1/3 C peanut butter

substitute: (you can use coconut oil, sunflower oil etc. or add more honey and remove the peanut butter if necessary)

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1 and 1/4 C rolled oats

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1and 1/4 C rice cereal

substitute: (you can use flavored chex, corn chex, crispix, etc. based on your allergies or lack there of)

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3/4 C peanuts

substitute: (you can use different tree-nuts if you not allergic, or seeds)

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3/4 C dried cranberries

Subsitute: (you can use any wide variety of dried fruits)

1/2 C white chips

Substitute: (you can use carob, semi-sweet, peanut butter, butterscotch-you name it)

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Instructions:

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-Heat the honey and peanut butter (or other liquid ingredients) in a small saucepan until combined. Here also you can add any spices or powdered protein etc.

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-While the honey and peanut butter heat, put oats, nuts, cereal, & cranberries in a large mixing bowl.

-Remove saucepan from heat.

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-Slowly add the honey PB mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. (It is easiest with a mixer but it can be done by hand).

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-Once all ingredients are incorporated and cooled a little mix in the chips.

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-Spread mixture evenly in an 9×11 square pan pressing it down with the back of a spoon or spatula.

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-Let it cool (fastest to clear room in the fridge to place the pan).

-When cooled it will harden, cut into squares or bars.

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-Store in fridge.  I layer them in tupperware with foil between layers.

Then Enjoy!

As I mentioned before there is plenty of room for variation. How about a fall recipe: replacing peanut butter with pureed pumpkin, tree nuts with pumpkin seeds, and cranberries for raisins? Or what about winter recipe: replace peanut butter with a little nutella or chocolate syrup and mint extract?

Be creative! And let me know how your own recipes turn out!

What are your favorite granola bar ingredients? Flavors?

Mixing it up: a trail mix/snack recipe

Chex mix, trail mix, gorp whatever you call it. It is that crunchy sweet and salty goodness pumped with protein so that a few handfuls can get you through the next mile of the hiking trail, your homework/after hours paperwork, or that long-haul road-trip.

Everyone has their favorite ingredients some like it spicy and salty with wasabi , others healthy with dried fruit and nuts, and some like theirs sweet full of chocolate chips or M and M’s.

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With my allergy to barley and to tree-nuts eatable ingredients are more limited the most store-bought trail mixes (for more see Why I am barley free). So I have learned to make my own.

The summer Luke and I started dating we took a road-trip to Yellowstone to spend time with my family and then on to meet Luke’s parents in Oregon (for more see Update on my life 2011). That was the first time I made a homemade trail mix and since then it has been our go-to snack mix providing us with a kick of sugar and protein to keep going.

So here’s what I do:

I start with a carb. base of gluten and barley-free rice squares (aka chex):

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Then I add the goodies: For fruit I prefer dried cranberries over raisins; they have a tart kick but also can be sweet. Then also some peanuts (which are not tree-nuts) for protein. And then for some added sweetness a limited dose of butterscotch chips.

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Then last of all some seasoning. To balance the sweet and salty I include cinnamon, salt, and a little brown sugar.

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And there is the Greene’s simple recipe for trail mix/snack. I know I didn’t give exact portions here just ingredients. But t it really depends on how healthy you want your snack to be and how much you plan to make.

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And when your trail mix looks this good it’s not easy to remember it is only a “snack” (especially when you are home with the whole stash of it).

So how about you what is your favorite power snack?

How do you like your trail mix?