Welcome to Lexie's Kitchen & Living. I'm glad you stopped by and hope you enjoy the five years of recipes and ramblings collected here.

The inspiration for this site was my son. To learn about our journey to restore his intestinal and neurological health read here

Follow a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free diet? Take a peek at my cookbook.  

 

 

 


 

 

 

Saturday
Nov242012

Snow Cones for Hot Heads

It's that time of year. The sickies are making the rounds. A friend once told me "when your kids enter school, you will be sicker than you've ever been." It's the absolute truth.

The past four weeks have gone like this. Cough. Low ox levels. Really bad cough. Low energy. Fever. Repeat. I turn to antibiotics only when absolutely necessary—we're on round two—that's how bad it's been. Our little guy has had a real rough go of it this month.

Last night as we watched his oxygen levels plummet yet again, my nerves got the best of me. I found myself shaking with fear. My body was emotially and mentally taxed. I tell you, aside from the one time I had to revive my child, viral-induced asthma flare-ups have been the most frightening thing I have dealt with as a parent.

My hat's off to all you mammas and pappas who stand guard on "asthma watch." It is a tiring and frightening chore. 

Hopefully, with the worst behind us, I can sit down and share this simple recipe for an Immune-Boosting Snow Cone Syrup. I mixed it up to serve over snow cones to bring some relief (and fun) to my hot-headed boy and to ensure he remained hydrated.

The snow cone machine you see here is decent. It was a Bed Bath & Beyond impulse buy. I really have nothing to compare it to. If you are in the market for one, now or next summer, shop around and read reviews. You may come across one that's higher rated. 

One of the ingredients in this syrup is a fruit anthocyanins concentrated liquid. Anthocyanins are the largest water-soluble pigments in the plant kingdom. They are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors in fruits and vegetables and are known for their antioxidant properties. 

We use Dr. William Mitchell's blend which is only available through certain wellness providers. Scientific studies have have shown that the particular fruits and berries contained in his blend—red grape, elderberry, blueberry, aronia berry, pomegranate and red raspberry—have extraordinary health benefits. If you can't find a source for Dr. Mitchell's blend, try this one

Immune-Boosting Snow Cone Syrup

Ingredients:

1 cup no sugar added CHERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE (like this one)
1/2 cup COCONUT WATER or water
1 tablespoon FRUIT ANTHOCYANINS CONCENTRATED LIQUID/SYRUP (like this one or this one)
1 tablespoon LIQUID VITAMIN C (like this one)
Sweetener to taste (see notes)

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a squirt bottle.
  2. Squirt liberally over snow cones.

Notes:

Sugar is your immune system's enemy. If you absolutely have to sweeten the mixture, I suggest using a little liquid stevia concentrate (my favorite) or slightly warmed Manuka or other raw honey (for those over 1 year old). 

Got Asthma?

If you are new to asthma like we were three years ago, here are some things that have given us some peace of mind when our little boy has had flare-ups:

Have an Asthma Action Plan. Formulate one with your child's doctor and tape it to the inside of your medicine cabinet. In the wee hours of the morning it will help you think clearly and know what to do and when. 

Own a Nebulizer. Your doctor has probably already prescribed one. Be sure to be stocked with rescue meds.

Know Your Child's Trigger. For our son, it's an innocent viral infection. If he is going to flare, he usually does so within 24 hours of the first sign of illness. We have learned that we dare not take him into a humid shower to "relieve congestion"—that's landed us in the hospital twice. Everyone's triggers are different.

Get a Stethoscope and OximeterThese tools can buy a lot of peace of mind. With them I can monitor oxygen levels and be alerted to the first sign of wheezing. But symptoms like retraction, fitful sleep, moaning, rapid breathing without fever, and rapid-fire cough always trump the stethoscope and oximeter. That is when we head to the ER. 

Hang in There. This too shall pass. Be sure to take care of you! I ramp up on supplements that support my adrenals, try to eat well, hydrate, and thank my lucky stars for a husband to tag team with. If you are the lone guard, get some help so that you can get some rest. Even if it's just for an hour or two to catch up on sleep.

Thursday
Nov152012

Entertaining the Kids on Turkey Day

Some tasty bites brought to you by Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and Jeanette's Healthy Living.The big day is just one week away. Mom's eyes will be on the roasting turkey, the boiling potatoes and the baking pies. Dad's eyes will be on the game. So whose eyes will be on the kids?

Today I hosted Robin of Mother Nature Network, Jeanette of Jeanette's Healthy Living, and Sarah of Sarah Bakes Gluten-Free for a Google+ Hangout to talk about ways to keep our little ones blissfully entertained, contented, and (ahem) out of mischief this Thanksgiving day.

Tips to Highlight

1. Start the day off with a finger-food breakfast. Fruit and these Cinnamon Roll Muffins fit the bill.

2. Put the kids to work prepping vegetables, mashing sweet potatoes, hauling in groceries, rearranging furniture, or writing little messages to go into these Thankful Rolls—the cutest thing ever!

3. Keep kids' hunger at bay with easy, prep-ahead finger food like these 5 Kid-Friendly Dip Recipes.

4. Put kids to work setting up and decorating a Kids Table that the adults will envy!

5. Set up a craft table. Here is a fun idea. For more craft ideas, visit Kids Activities Blog and do a "Thanksgiving" search.

I hope that because our family doesn't do the football game scene doesn't make us TOO un-American. Ha! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Thursday
Nov082012

Maple Syrup-Sweetened Marshmallows

New Pinterest Board!

Looking for a Pinterest board dedicated solely to Gluten-Free Goodies? Look no further. Check this one out and begin following along. Just click the badge below.

A few weeks back I tempted you with some cane sugar-free, corn syrup-free, egg-free marshmallows. I promised the recipe, and it's finally ready. We've had some medical stuff to deal with and so I thank you— you've been incredibly patient.

Mad Science in the Kitchen

These past weeks in my mad marshmallow experimentation I have learned that you cannot substitute agar agar for gelatin when making these marshmallows. I have learned that the type of sweetener used can make a difference. Believe it or not, marshmallows have a preference for sucrose over glucose. And, I have learned that as temperamental as they can be, marshmallows are pretty easy to make! I feel I have a lot more to learn and so I will continue my education in the field of Marshmallow Science. I wonder if Alton Brown would want to come over and play? Alton? 


The Sweeteners

I tested a slew of sweeteners ... and here's how they fared.

HONEY
First up were honey-sweetened marshmallows using this recipe from Z's Cup of Tea. Its a goody! An intense "honey" experience, fur shure. Oh and if honey is your thing, Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut has a great recipe for Honey Marshmallow Fluff in her Dairy-Free Ice Cream cookbook.

COCONUT NECTAR
Next up, coconut nectar—that insanely expensive, lower-glycemic, caramel undertoned sweetener that I love atop my almond milk frappucino. Well, the jury is still out on this one. This batch bound up on me to the point I couldn't even scoop it out of the bowl! I plan to try coconut nectar again to ensure it wasn't an error on my part, but after my initial "fail" I moved on to ...

GLUTEN-FREE BROWN RICE SYRUP
These marshmallows (pictured in the tutorial below) turned out nicely—not as fluffy as the maple syrup version (I used a smaller measure of water), but more on the soft and tender side. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the brown rice syrup aftertaste. That said, I might make these again, but I'd likely flavor them with a fairly strong extract (peppermint was great) to mask the brown rice syrup aftertaste. But really, I thought they were the bomb until I tried ...

MAPLE SYRUP
YES! These were the ticket! Tonight, as we finished off a batch of Maple Marshmallows, my son said "Mom, these are the best ones so far," and I had to agree. These marshmallows were fluffy and on the stiffer side. 

Three Tips

Before we dive into the recipe, I am going to to give you three pointers.

FIRST: 235-245˚F is what we call the soft-ball candy stage. I found that it's best to remove the boiling sweetener from heat the instant it hits the 235˚F mark and certainly before the 245˚F mark. A syrup hotter than 245˚F may cause the marshmallows to flop.

SECOND: Do not over beat. Beating and beating and beating in hopes of creating a mile high pile of fluff seems to cause the mixture to cool to the point that it begins to set. This may not be the case for all marshmallow recipes ... but seems to be for this one.

Beat just to the point when the mixture turns white, thickens up, and gently falls in ribbons (versus thin stream) from the beaters. Beat much longer—to soft peaks or when you feel the mixture pull at or climb up the beaters—and the mixture will begin to set and will be nearly impossible to spread (but not to worry, they'll still be good to eat!).

THIRD: No two batches of marshmallows have turned out exactly the same for me. So just roll with it and enjoy the fruits (however they turn out) of your labor!

Maple Syrup Sweetened Marshmallows

Ingredients:

1/3 cup, plus more as needed, ARROWROOT STARCH, potato or corn starch
1/2 cup cold WATER
2 teaspoons pure gluten-free VANILLA EXTRACT
1/4 teaspoon fine SALT
2-1/2 tablespoon unflavored powdered GELATIN
1 cup pure MAPLE SYRUP
1/8 teaspoon CREAM OF TARTAR (recommended but not necessary)

Directions:

  1. Lightly coat an 8x8" square pan with oil. Generously dust sides and bottom with starch. Set aside.
  2. Add water, vanilla, and salt to a deep, wide mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly sprinkle gelatin over surface of liquids to bloom. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan slowly bring maple syrup and cream of tartar (if using) to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, slowly increasing temperature to medium-high until a digital or candy thermometer registers the syrup at the low end of the soft ball candy stage—235˚F. Immediately remove from heat!
  4. Working quickly and carefully, slowly beat hot syrup into bloomed gelatin using a handheld or stand mixer. I have a handheld and do this in the sink in case of splatters.
  5. Beat until the mixture thickens, turns white, and gently falls in ribbons when the beaters are lifted from the bowl—about 5-6 minutes. 
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared 8x8-inch pan. Quickly smooth top with oiled rubber spatula or fingers.
  7. Dust surface with additional starch and let set 2-3 hours at room temperature or until firm to touch.
  8. Unmold from pan onto a starch-dusted surface and slice into desired sized cubes (large or mini) with a sharp starch-dusted knife.
  9. Dust marshmallows in starch as needed to prevent sticking.
  10. Store in air-tight container at room temp for up to one week or freeze.

Notes & More Helpful Hints:

Like 'em Super Firm:  If you like firm and structured marshmallows (like Kraft Jet-Puffed), add an extra 1/2 tablespoon gelatin, bringing the measure up to 3 tablespoons.

And I Bet You're Wondering... : Yeah, no, these beauties do not perform fireside or atop a sweet potato casserole. They don't "toast," they melt. But that's okay by me, I am just glad to know that I can make these fluffy treats for my kids to enjoy as is or floating in a mug of hot cocoa.

The Mixer: Gasp! I don't have a stand mixer, and sure wouldn't refuse one (hint, hint KitchenAid, this one would be sweet!). For those of you who do, I'd love your report. Did your marshmallows turn out insanely fluffy?

For Mini Marshmallows: Spread the whipped mixture in a slightly larger pan to achieve a height of about 1/2 inch.

Flavors: For chocolate marshmallows, add 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder in the last minute of beating. For peppermint marshmallows, add 1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) of peppermint extract. For an extra vanilla kick, add a couple teaspoons of this powder (does contain a small amout of cane sugar) to the your final dusting starch. Mmmmmm. Still dreaming up more!

Wednesday
Nov072012

Cara's Cravings Clean Eating Cocktail Party

Grab a napkin and sample some bites at Cara's Cravings Clean Eating Cocktail Party 2012! Today over at Cara's Cravings I am sharing a quick and easy recipe for Mac Ricotta. Paired with your favorite gluten-free cracker, this macadamia nut "cheese" spread makes the perfect base for all kinds of toppings—sweet, savory or both.

Like you and I, Ms. Cara is a lover of clean food. Her blog event runs through the month of November and will showcase a host of like-minded and "like-eating" food bloggers.

Stop by Cara's Cravings each day this month for healthy hors d'oeuvre recipes that will be the hit of your holiday party.

 

Thursday
Oct252012

Google Hangout with Mother Nature Network

Last night I hungout with some very cool ladies in a Mother Nature Network Google Hangout on Air. We exchanged ideas for going "greener" this Halloween. I did mention the touches I added to our entry (above)—a branch the kids and I pulled out of the wooded area behind our house, construction paper crow cut-outs, cobwebs, spiders, and pumpkins. Quick, easy and fairly "green."

We didn't cover all the topics we had planned to but did talk a bunch about treats and ideas for making Halloween allergy-friendly.

Here are some treat options that might not break the bank:

For more inspiration, head on over to Mother Nature Network.