Category Archives: MSPI

In My Pantry… what the bleep CAN your kid eat?!

The following is a list of Top-8 and Gluten Free foods that we keep at our house. Please be sure to always read the ingredients before feeding these foods to your child. Some of the foods listed below may have soy oil/lecithin in them.*


  • glutino-gluten-free-breakfast-126176Glutino makes several “Nutragrain”- type beakfast bars that my boys love – a little too much. They will eat an entire box in one sitting if I let them, and they are kind of pricey; however, they are great if you are on the road and need an easy or quick breakfast.
  • Enjoy Life has several bars that are all Top-8 and Gluten Free. I love everything I have ever had from Enjoy Life – except for their bars. They are very heavy and dense. I hate saying that because I LOVE the products made by this company.
  • Peso BarsNature’s Path Enviro Kids has a few bars that are Top 8 and Gluten free. I think they are good, but Z hates them. When I bring home the ones with the penguin on the front, he screams, “Peso bars?! I hate Peso bars!” which is a reference to the Penguin in Octonauts). If it’s any consolation, Manimal thinks they rock. But, Manimal will eat anything. He ate a vintage Barbie shoe just this evening. No, in all seriousness, they taste like fruity rice crispy treats and aren’t that bad…


  • All of Ener-G breads should be safe, but are like eating cardboard. If you can tolerate eggs, I would recommend Udi’s and Rudi’s Gluten-free breads.

Butter Replacement:

  • When baking, use spectrum shortening or coconut oil (you should be able to use it just as you would butter).
  • To flavor things like potatoes or popcorn, simply use canola oil and salt. It tastes VERY similar to butter. In fact, I am often so lazy, I don’t even waste time getting butter out of the fridge, I just use canola oil – I don’t have to wait for it to melt.


There are several Top-8 free candy’s on the market (the below list is not comprehensive. Feel free to add any that you may know of in the comments below). Unfortunately, most of them are chocked full of food colorings (namely red food dye).

  • Peeps (most of them are top-8 and GF)
  • Smarties products, including candy necklaces
  • Star burst Original Fruit chews
  • Starburst jelly beans, GummiBurst
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Hot Tomales
  • Swedish fish – Red, Assorted and Aqua life
  • Life Savers hard and soft candies
  • Sweet tarts
  • Heide Gummi Bears and several other Hiede products
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Dum Dums Spangler Candy Co. said the following about Dum Dum Lolli pops: There is a trace amount of soy oil in the lubricant that we use in our cooking kettles. This soy oil has been refined, bleached, and deodorized and all of the proteins have been removed.


  • Chex (all the GF versions of Chex are safe for my kids). The Hy-Vee and ALDI knock-offs are also safe, but the Walmart brand “may contain gluten” so avoid it.
  • Kix Cereal. My kids go crazy when they eat the Berry ones because of the food coloring.
  • Trix Cereal: We use caution with this cereal. This is the most tantrum-triggering food I have found for my boys (other than gluten). On the rare occation we buy this ceareal, it is only as a small treat right before bed.
  • Cereal Gorilla munchNatures Path Enviro Kids Cereals – Many cereals of this brand are gluten and top-8 free, and my kids really like them. Unfortunately, they are sort of pricey, so we only buy them when they are on sale.


Chips/Crunchy Snacks:

  • Freetos (we also buy the ALDI brand for $.99 per bag, but they have soy lecithin. Soy lecithin doesn’t seem to bother my boys anymore). I believe the flavored Freetos are not Top-8 free, so read the ingredients!
  • Corn Tortilla Chips: Most corn chips are safe, but always read the ingredients. Sometimes they squeeze things like soy or oats in them. In fact, some of ALDI’s corn chips say “naturally gluten free” but have oats in them. I doubt these chips are made with specially-grown oats, so I have never given them to my boys.
  • Pretzels: Glutino and Snyders of Hanover (both contain soy oil/lecithin). Glutino’s pretzels glutinoare the best hard pretzels in my opinion, even over gluten ones, which makes sense since they are around $8 a bag!!! Energ-G makes some as well, but these are for highly allergic people and thus have very little flavor.
  • Popcorn: unfortunately, I don’t know of any microwave popcorn that is dairy-free. When my boys want popcorn I make it on the stove top (an air popper would work too) in canola or corn oil. Instead of using butter, drizzle canola over it before salting. I can barely taste a difference between that and buttered popcorn. Sooo good.
  • Kettle corn – several bagged kettle corns are safe. Orville Redenbacher makes a really good one that my kids plow through.Kettle corn
  • Potato Chips – Most potato chips should be safe; however, beware of Pringles, which has gluten. Original Stax are safe for my kids but contain soy oil.

Convenience Main dishes:

  • Hot Dogs – many hot dog brands are gluten and top-8 free. Oscar Meyer even makes ones that are nitrate free, so if you or little ones can’t have nitrates, these are a great solution.
  • Ian’s chicken nuggets – These are really tasty!ians chick nug
  • Mission corn tortillas and tostadas are also top-8 and Gluten Free. We also buy the ALDI tostadas, but they have soy oil/lecithin.


  • We trust anything by Enjoy Life. My favorite are the crispy cookies, but the hubs prefers the soft-baked cookies. They are all pretty good (except their bars – avoid their bars).
  • Hodgson Mills has a great mix, but other companies make them too. See my recipes for egg and butter replacers.

Egg Replacer:

  • Make your own egg replacer by mixing a tablespoon of ground/milled flax seed and 2 table spoons of water (stir them together and let them sit for several minutes until they are goopy like an egg-Do you like my scientific lingo?).
  • Ener-G makes an egg -replacer you can buy at any health food store.

Frozen Treats

  • Most popsicles are gluten and top-8 free – yay!
    Sorbet is a great replacement for ice cream. Don’t confuse it with Sherbet, which has dairy.
  • Coconut Ice Cream – I’ve never tried it, but I hear it really good.

Fruit Snacks:

  • Many fruit snacks and candies made by Betty Crocker (a General Mills company) are gluten and top-8 free, and are safe for my boys; however, they go nutso when they eat certain food colorings (i.e. they have trouble falling asleep and they throw lots-o-tantrums).
  • fruit snacksLunch Buddies All Natural Assorted Fruit Snacks (ALDI)– These are soooo good, and they are made with fruit juices and natural vegetable dyes (like red cabbage), so you are not dealing with crazy children when the food coloring hits their systems. I think they taste better because they don’t taste artificial like other fruit snacks. We buy these by the truckload!



  • Rice Dream – I have not found any other rice milk brands out there that are soy free. I am sure some exist, so if you know of any, please feel free to post comments! The people who run Rice Dream are great, and if you write them telling them how much you appreciate their product they will send you kick-butt coupons to use on their products.
  • Almond milk – I know almonds are a top-8 allergen, but if you can tolerate tree nuts, almond milk is better tasting in my opinion than rice milk, and it tastes more like cows milk. It also makes me feel more full than cows milk or rice milk. I often find it cheaper than Rice Dream if I use coupons or buy it at ALDI. Unlike rice milk, every almond milk I have found is free of soy and other top allergens. But please, always read the label!


  • Be sure to check out my egg replacer/butter replacers when making mixes!
  • Hodson Mills makes a really good pancake mix I buy at Walmart for about $3.50 a box
  • Bob’s Red Mill has a good pancake mix; although it’s good, I still perfer the flavor and texture of the Hodson Mills mix better.

Peanut Butter Replacement:

Sunflower Seed Butter is the BEST replacement for peanut butter around. It is very similar in flavor and texture to peanut butter. In fact, when it’s in a “PB&J,” I forget I am not eating peanut butter.

  • Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed butter is soy-free and costs around $5.
  • Sunbutter makes some, but it has soy oil in it. You can find it at Target (and probably Walmart) for around $6.50).

*some of these foods may have soy lecithin/oil, so always read the ingredients! Usually, soy oil/lecithin is refined and the proteins are removed. Because of this, it is usually not an issue for those who are intolerant/allergic to soy. However, my boys could not handle any soy oil until they were about a year and a half or older.

For Z, Dairy’s a No-Go, but I can eat Wheat…

This was taken on Lil Z's second birthday. It was the first time he tried ice cream. He developed a hatred for ice cream for quite a while after this, so I bet it hurt his tummy.

This was taken on Lil Z’s second birthday. It was the first time he had tried ice cream. He developed a hatred for ice cream for quite a while after this, so I bet it hurt his tummy.

Last week I told you I was going to be tested for celiac disease because many endocrinologists now believe there is often a link between Thyroid diseases (I have Hashimoto’s Disease) and Celiac Disease. The good news is, it appears I don’t have celiac disease. I tested very low on the Celiac Panel (5 on a scale of 20). Excelsior!

For the bad news, it appears Lil Z has not outgrown his dairy intolerance like I had previously thought. Since taking him off dairy, he has been having more solid stools (as opposed to no solid stools!) and he told me his stomach doesn’t hurt anymore (he also asked in a very sad voice if that meant, he was “not allowed to have Cheetos anymore,” which made me feel terrible because Cheetos are his favorite food.

With that said, I feel like I need to keep Z and Manimal off dairy for another couple of week because they both suffered from some wicked viruses that caused gallons of vomit-poo to be expunged in the last week. Until they have been virus-free for several days, I cannot say with full confidence that they should avoid dairy. I’ll keep you updated!

Weird Birthday Cake and Bad Butter Replacements

Weird Cake 2Z Weird cakeLast week was Lil Z’s birthday. He is off dairy again, so I tried to figure out how to make his cake without butter (while not running back to the store to buy an expensive butter replacement like Spectrum Organic Shortening or coconut oil). One thing any PIC and allergy mom knows is that cooking and baking often is just fits of trial and error.

Using sunflower seed butter instead of butter was definitely an error. It turned the cake green (so weird), and the cake was dense and heavy. Granted, gluten-free baked goods used to be dense and grainy, but not anymore, especially not Betty Crocker GF cakes.

I was able to mask the fact that Z had a friggin’ weird birthday cake by telling him it was a dinosaur cake, and he’s 5, so he bought it.

Z alligator hat

Lil Z wearing his “dinosaur” hat.

How did I pull this off? Well, luckily The Hubs just happened to buy dinosaur cake decorations the night before, and I had gotten Z an alligator hat to wear instead of a party hat (which for some reason Z and I both thought was a dinosaur until The Hubs whispered to me, “You do realize that’s an alligator, not a dinosaur, don’t you?).

Anyway, the weird green cake was turned into a positive and a good lesson was learned: Sun flower seed butter is NOT a good butter replacement. Stick with Spectrum or coconut oil.

Denial, Hangups, Pumpkin Pie… and Action


Photo Courtesy Mrs. Smith’s

I’ve been in denial for months. For starters, Lil Z has been eating dairy for a couple years now with no issues, or at least that is what I thought. But for a while now months, he’s been complaining that his stomach hurts. Well, he’s gluten free. He’s peanut free. Other than having a few foods with soybean oil, he’s soy free. The kid won’t eat eggs or many breads that have eggs (because he’s picky or has oral aversions caused by the pain that those foods used to cause him – I am not really sure). But he does eat dairy. Not in large quantities – he won’t eat much ice cream. He hates yogurt, and he’s never even tried cows milk.

With that said, Lil Z has had maybe five solid stools his entire life. In fact, he often has diarrhea three or four times a day. I thought that is just how his GI tract worked. But, he continues to have the allergy ring I discussed in a previous post, and until I did that post, I didn’t know that was a sign of an allergy/intolerance. I thought Z just had a yeast problem.

But there is one difference I have noticed with Manimal: He does have solid stools as long as he is soy and dairy free. After the Tootsie Roll incident at Easter Manimal’s GI reaction proved that he cannot have dairy and soy. But finally after four days dairy and soy free, he is back to normal.

So what I am saying is that I think dairy is still bothering Lil Z, and I just don’t want to fight with him over his two favorite foods: quesadillas and Cheetos. The kid eats those a lot. In fact, he would only eat those two foods if we would let him. And he is already on such a restricted diet that I feel mean. But, I need to get over it, and be a good mom and make sure dairy is not still bothering him.

And with that said, I need to get over my denial and face the facts that I may have celiac disease myself. No, I don’t have GI issues. I do have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease. And for the last couple of years I have read that many people with autoimmune thyroid diseases should be screened for celiac. Apparently, eating gluten when you have celiac can trigger thyroid diseases.

Well, I have known this, but I’ve been in denial. I’ve been ignoring the fact that I have a constant itchy rash on my hands that wont go away unless I continually rub it with steroid creams. Or no matter how perfect my thyroid levels are, my memory is not what it used to be, and I oftentimes have trouble retrieving simple vocabulary words (in fact, I just now had to pause and close my eyes to remember the word “steroid.” That is not normal, and I never used to be like that). I also can’t shake the fatigue or fogginess that come over me, even when my thyroid levels are correct. And the final straw – my brother’s daughter has celiac disease. It’s no longer an issue that is a curse from my husband’s family. It seems to be on my side, too.

I don’t want to be gluten free. Sure, I eat that way at home almost everyday and it’s really not that hard when you know what you are doing. But, when the hubs and I go out, I don’t want to be selective about where we eat. I don’t want to have to explain to my mom and others who “just don’t get it” why my kids (and now possibly me) can’t eat gluten. I don’t want to have to go to family functions where all the food is contaminated by my grandma’s pie crumbs. I just don’t want to do it. And I don’t want to eat gluten free pumpkin pie. I don’t care how great the gluten free crust is. It’s not the crust I grew up eating.

I know. It’s stupid, that a huge hangup is Pumpkin friggin’ pie. But I need to get over that . Because if I expect that from my children, the least I can do it make sure I am walking the talk. And with that said, I am getting tested tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Oh the Horror! Flesh-Eating Brown Goo – Tips for Dealing with Diaper Rash

RAsh free zoneFrom what I hear from other moms, “normal” babies deal with diaper rash every once in a while – some more than others. But my boys, and other protein intolerant children, deal with horrible skin-eating diarrhea on what seems like an almost-daily basis.

There have been times that my baby’s butt will be lily-white, and an hour later he’ll have pooed a liquidy, yeasty nightmare that seems to burn his flesh on contact. Despite an immediate diaper change, his skin will be raw and oftentimes bleeding.

After they eat offending foods their diaper rash is often immediate, and may go on for days and days. They also usually get the “red anus ring” (yeah, chew on the beauty of that phrase) sometimes called an “allergy ring.” Even when I changed them almost immediately, their flesh will be raw and oftentimes bleeding.

So, after dealing with this problem for five years, there are some things I have learned. My boys’ diaper rashes are usually caused by the yeast that is in their poo, which is worsened when they eat offending foods. I have discovered some very helpful treatments to stave off this horrible diaper rash. When obvious tricks like changing them often and using lots of butt paste aren’t working, try the following:

Bathe them often, or at least bathe their “privates” as we call them in my family.

  • I know people who only bathe their children once a twice a week. I have found that when I try to do this, my kids’ diaper rashes are much harder to control.
  • In fact, I wash Manimal’s privates just about every time he poos, at least if I am home. If I don’t, I end up using a lot more fungal creams and pastes.

Pour Apple cider vinegar in their bath water:

  • Vinegar will make the pH level in their hinter-regions a hard place for yeast to survive. I use one to two cups per half-filled tub and let my baby play. When apple-cider-vinegaryour baby is little like Manimal, he doesn’t care. Lil Z has caught on and can tell by the smell, so he refuses to take a bath in the stuff. What I do is simply clean the bathroom with white vinegar as he is bathing tell him he’s not smelling his bathwater, mama’s “just cleaning.” It works 50 percent of the time. Yeah, it’s a lie, but sometimes a moms gotta do what a moms gotta do.
  • I use Heinz, but I’ve also used organic stuff. Because it’s going on their butts, I don’t really feel guilty about using non-organic.
  • Beware: a lot of generic apple cider vinegar is really white vinegar made from corn, dyed and flavored. All the health-nut message boards insist it should be true apple-cider vinegar, so I’ve never tried any other kind on their yeast rashes. They make it sound like the world will end and yeast will start growing out of their ears, or something horrible like that.
  • In the past, I would dilute apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to apply on their butt after I changed them, but it was really cold for Lil Z and Manimal, and if I didn’t get the mix quite right it burned; This is why Lil Z now hates apple-cider vinegar baths, because he associates it with my failed spray method. Since then, I’ve discovered tea-tree oil.

Put one to two drops of tea tree oil into your baby’s diaper rash cream as you apply it.tea tree oil

  • Tea-tree oil (a.k.a. melaleuca oil) is an essential oil from the tropical melaleuca plant. It is a natural anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-septic. It feels “minty” as Lil Z says, and the smell reminds me of eucalyptus. It’s pretty potent stuff.
  • This stuff really works, and I wish I had gotten some when Lil Z was a baby. Back in the day, I had read on several message boards that this was good for diaper rashes, but I never bought it because it sounded hokey, and is expensive. Well, a little goes a long way. I use Walgreen’s Brand, which is about $10 per one ounce bottle.
  • It can be toxic when ingested, so keep it away from your little ones.

Apply Clotrimazole Cream:

  • When Manimal and Z have the tell-tale blisters of a yeast rash, I pull out Clotrimazole cream. This anti-fungal cream, also known as Lotrimin AF, is used for athletes foot, ringworm and jock itch. We buy this stuff like it is going out of style. Please talk to your doctor before using any medicine, and also to verify that your baby actually has a yeast rash. Also, when you use this cream, make sure you use it as the package directs to make sure you kill off the yeast. If you don’t, you could inadvertently create a super-yeast bug that is difficult to kill/treat.
  • I used to pay anywhere between $3 and $7 per tube (even when I bought generic), but discovered that WalMart carries Nauterplex Brand for $.88 per tube. It works just as well Clotrimazole creamas the name brand, so whenever I go to WalMart I buy five tubes or so, and get weird looks from the cashiers who must assume I have some really bad fungal issues… down there. But, you know what, I don’t care that it says “cures most jock itch” in big bold letters. I’m saving money, and that’s all I care about.

Apply butt paste regularly:

  • This goes without saying, but butt paste is expensive, especially if you use the premium brands. We go through butt paste here like candy, so it was becoming a very expensive part of our budget.butt paste
  • I used to use A&D, Desitin, and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste when I had a kick-rear lineup of coupons I could stack at Target. Still these were pretty expensive. And then I discovered the Boudreaux’s Butt Paste knock off sold at the Dollar Tree: Baby’s Butt Aide. It has the exact same ingredients as Boudreaux’s, but it is $1. 16% zinc oxide cream, for $1. No coupon-slaving needed.

Use unscented baby wipes.

  • I really like the ALDI Brand wipes because they are thick like Huggies and Pampers wipes, but for $.99. They are the best generic wipes I have aldi-baby-wipesever found, and I bet you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them and the name-brand wipes.

Use probiotics

  • These are the “good bacteria” that fight off the yeast in your body. Several studies have shown that probiotics have many health benefits, including increasing your immune strength and regulating your GI tract.
  • It is very hard to find ones that are soy free. I have found only one probiotic that is soy free, which is Phillips Colon Health. When we use it regularly, I see less diarrhea and diaper colon health
  • Open the capsule and pour the probiotic powder into a cool drink. I did this once a day with the boys, but would do it 2-3 times a day when they were on antibiotics. The trick (I’ve heard) to taking probiotics while on antibiotics is to wait at least a half hour after taking your antibiotic before taking your probiotic.
  • I am sure there are better ones you can buy at health food stores, but whenever I am at a one, I usually have a screaming child, and reading probiotic and vitamin labels is at the bottom of my list of things to do.

If you do all these things, especially in conjunction, you should definitely see major improvements in yeast diaper rashes, oftentimes overnight. However, if you have tried the above tips and cannot get your baby’s diaper rash under control, make sure you call your doctor.

Easter and the Case of the Exploding Diaper

Manimal EasterYesterday was Easter and we had a fun Easter-egg hunt at church and one in our backyard.  It was a great day.

Last night was… not so great. Manimal clearly is still intolerant to dairy and soy, and his waking every two hours last night proved that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a plan for keeping Manimal away from all the candy with dairy and soy (namely the Tootsie Rolls, which he can open by himself). On top of that, saying, “No, no, that’s an ouchy in your tummy,” doesn’t work on him like it did for Lil Z, the ever-present rule-follower. Unlike his brother, Manimal is a risk-taker, so regardless of what we tell him, he does what he wants when our backs are turned.

By 10 a.m. yesterday, Manimal had already ingested several Tootsie Rolls. by 1 p.m., his pants had erupted onto the living-room floor and his belly was distended (The Hubs thought one of the boys had spit chocolate onto the floor, but to his disgust – it wasn’t chocolate). After that, we were conscientious of making sure Manimal didn’t get any more dairy or soy, but unfortunately his big brother was not so conscientious of where he left his Easter basket, and Manimal took full advantage of Lil Z’s forgetfulness.

Z dumps basketBy bedtime both boys had trouble falling asleep (it was a combo of food coloring, sugar overload, and excitement from a fun day); however, Manimal had even more trouble falling asleep than is normal, I’m sure because his tummy hurt. Unfortunately, he woke five or six times last night to be held as he battled painful gas and acid burps (it was a blur, so I am foggy on the exact number of times he awoke).

The lesson learned: have a better plan for situations like this. Immediately remove offending foods from sight and and/or reach and hide them. Feed them to older children in secret. This is the tactic that we do at our house with Cheetos – Lil Z can eat them during Manimal’s nap time when Manimal won’t feel left out or upset that he isn’t able to eat them.

I am hoping that Manimal sleeps better tonight, and I am thankful my children don’t have life-threatening reactions to offending foods. We’ve already had a diaper explosion this morning, and I am assuming I will deal with more today. I have also been seeing the bloody-blister diaper rash forming on his bottom, and have been trying to get ahead of it by treating with with lots of ointments… but I will save the topic of diaper-rashes for the next post.

boys with baskets

Lil Z, The Hubs and Manimal act goofy after a rip-roaring Easter Egg Hunt.