A Food-Free Halloween Treat Guide {Teal Pumpkin Project}

A couple of weeks ago, Ashton Kutcher tweeted this:


And my heart skipped a beat. Why? Because people are starting to catch on to the Teal Pumpkin Project.

As a mom to a small child with profound food allergies, I get a little terrified around the holidays.  Halloween is the beginning of a challenging food season for our family.  Seasonal treats are everywhere, and impossible to ignore.  As a healthy adult who tries to avoid sugar and can’t tolerate wheat, I find it hard to abstain. It’s an issue of willpower for me. But for my son? It’s a matter of life and death, or at minimum, a trip to the ER. All that separates him from a potential terrible reaction is our vigilance and the respect of strangers.

I would like to say my son is part of a small group of children, but he’s not.  Food allergies in children have increased exponentially in the last 15 years, and now 1 in 13 children has some form of diagnosed food allergy here in the U.S.  Those numbers are only rising.

Peanut allergies get a lion’s share of the food allergy talk, as it should.  Some people are so sensitive to peanuts that even a trace of peanut dust can kill them.  Unfortunately, peanuts are not the only food that cause deathly reactions from trace amounts.  Wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, oats, cinnamon, bananas, peppermint, and many others are just a few that have serious consequences for those who are allergic.

Because we want to keep our kids safe, but also include them, we are joining the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. Here’s how you can join us:

  • Paint a pumpkin teal, and put it on your doorstep with your other pumpkins. Kids with food allergies know they can come to your house and get a safe treat, and THEY WILL!
  • Offer trick-or-treaters a choice of candy or non-food treats. Kids with food allergies are often singled out for something they can’t control, and feel excluded and embarrassed because of their allergies.  Giving all the kids a choice makes it easier for them to be safe during Halloween festivities without shame.

I know some of you amazing, non-allergy friends want to participate but might not know what give out instead of candy.  This is a new-ish thing, so I’m putting together a handy little guide to help you navigate your Teal Pumpkin Halloween.


Please feel free to grab this image and share it!  Keep it handy and ask questions here or over at FARE. They’re the geniuses behind #tealpumpkinproject and we are so happy to support this awesome movement.

Also, don’t worry about getting the color exactly right or painting it pretty. The message is the most important part! Thank you for keeping our kids safe this season

Funny Tricks and Food-Free Treats,

Our janky teal pumpkin. As it turns out, I'm much better at cooking the food than painting it.
Our janky teal pumpkin. As it turns out, I’m much better at cooking the food than painting it.


Feeding Echo and Finding Purpose – Our Life with FPIES


A few weeks ago, our local news station asked our family to do a news segment on FPIES.  We talk about FPIES almost weekly here in an effort to raise awareness around food allergies, and I’m all about raising awareness wherever and whenever I can. So, of course we said yes.

{Watch our story here.}

Our awesome story teller, Kerry Tomlinson.
Our wonderful story teller, Kerry Tomlinson.

I love the story, I love how well they captured the sweetness of my boy, his gentle, joyful spirit, and most of all his interaction with his dad. The news got about 85% of the story right, and I’m grateful for that.  But they missed a few details, and one major detail that I want to express:

Echo’s illness changed everything.

From the ashes of that first year, a new life was born.  I don’t mean a human life, (although we were terrified of losing our baby for the first 18 months of his life).  But this.  This work, this site, this whole idea was formed from the grief.

Echo, two days old and fighting for his life after a stroke.

In the summer of 2014, my long-time friend, Jessica, asked me to write our story for The Leaky Boob.  I was in the middle of dealing with massive PTSD, chronic mastitis from exclusively pumping milk from boobs that just wanted to quit, a crumbling marriage, and figuring out a way to keep our son alive and thriving in the midst of an illness nobody, even specialists, know much about. He had three “safe” foods at the time: TED breastmilk (wherein I was limited to 12 foods at one point in time), coconut oil, and spinach. Nightmares of feeding tubes and bankruptcy and divorce tormented my sleep, while emotional paralysis, physical pain, and extreme anxiety plagued me during the day.

Echo's second FPIES vomit-to-shock reaction.
Echo’s second FPIES vomit-to-shock reaction when he was 8 months old.

I said yes to telling our story.  Beyond the fear and the trauma, I knew other families were dealing with the same issues.  They were dealing with the despair, discouragement, and constant barely-subdued terror that their child might not make it.  And what if their kid does make it?  What kind of life and wounds will this struggle indelibly imprint their little bodies and spirits with? I started three drafts, scrapped them all, and then Echo had a vomit reaction to green beans in the middle of it all.  And that was it.  The impetus I needed to get it all out in real time.

This season. Trying to keep it all together and almost losing our marriage in the process.
This season. Trying to keep it all together and almost losing each other in the process.

Our story isn’t just for FPIES families, though.  It is for every family who has faced unimaginable obstacles and trauma.  Maybe it looks like FPIES, maybe it looks like unknown illness, maybe it looks like a brain tumor or infant hearing loss.  Maybe it looks like a massive struggle with self-care or divorce or being a terrible friend for a season.

Echo eating for the first time at a chain restaurant.

Telling our story gave me access to the power I needed to find my way through, even though I never quite knew the next step until I took it.  It gave me just enough Brave to inch ahead of my Scared, and continues to fuel the heart of this little corner of the Internet where I believe Everyone deserves a seat at this table.

Thank you for being a part of this community.

Thank you for continuing to give us, and other families, a voice.

Thank you for sharing posts that are relevant to you with people you love.

Thank you for enjoying the food and laughter and tears and gathering here to have a human experience. This doesn’t happen without you.

Thank you.

Carrie, Lance, and Echo


“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. They come together and they fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

― Pema Chödrön

11 Ways To Keep Food Allergy Kids Safe

It’s back to school time.  I heard the internet’s collective cheer as parents and children started a new school year, and then the following week grumble as new clothes lost their shimmer and the reality of the next nine months starts to settle in like a fog.

With every new school year comes an increasing debate around food allergies.  Peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, wheat, avocado, strawberries, eggs, fish, chicken, you name it, someone is allergic to it.  (Whatever we are doing as a society with and to our food, it’s beginning to emerge as allergies in our children. But that’s another post.)

My son, E, is one of those allergy kids.  In fact, his allergies are so severe, I cannot send him to group childcare or preschool.  I want him to have the socialization.  I think it’s incredibly important. But his list of allergens is so extensive, group settings with other small children just isn’t safe.


But one day, my kid will have to go to school.  He’s outgrowing many of his allergies, and by the time he’s ready for kindergarten, I’m hopeful that he will be completely okay.  Chances are slim that wheat and eggs will ever be okay for him, though.  And I think peanuts will always pose a problem while he’s young.

So, as the school year pushes into full swing, so does the conversation around eliminating certain foods from our schools.  It’s a hot topic this year, and we are all divided.  I’m always going to side with the most vulnerable among us, especially because this hits so close to home.  This isn’t a debate about anything.  This is about caring for children who could die from inhaling PEANUT DUST. Or vomits to shock from a crumb of wheat.

  1. Wash hands after eating. My niece, who is allergic to peanuts, reacts to traces of peanut residue on the shopping cart.  My son pukes when he gets a tiny crumb of wheat.  Wash hands, okay?
  2. Wipe mouths after eating. If you think your child might put their hands in their mouths after eating, go ahead and wipe their mouths. If you plan on kissing or hugging a kid with food allergies, take this to heart.  Your love should not cause pain.
  3. Create a safe zone. Remove shoes before entering a house where children have food allergies.  If you have someone over who has food allergies, wipe surfaces down, and give a good sweep or vacuum.
  4. Don’t mix food with toys. Don’t allow food to be in the same space as toys.  Contact reactions are real, and they’re scary.  Kids eat in a designated area, kids play in designated area and wash hands after eating, before playing.
  5. Consider changing your routine. If you or your child eats peanut butter or wheat bread at home before school, consider eating first, then washing hands and face, brushing teeth, and then changing clothes to minimize contact.
  6. Take allergies seriously.  Yep, food allergies are a total pain in the peanuts.  I get it.  But you know what’s more painful?  People (and specifically children who are too young to fully advocate for themselves) dying from a speck of peanut dust they inhaled that could have easily been prevented. Why did they die a needless death?  Because you wrote the mom off as crazy.  And speaking of crazy…
  7. Acknowledge the crazy.  Parents of children with food allergies are totally crazypants.  I’m raising my hand here because it’s true.  But imagine the entire world was full of poison that could kill your child at any given moment and the only thing standing between death (or a trip to the ER) and your kid is YOU. All the time.  You would be crazy, too.  Hug that frazzled mom next time you see her.
  8. Skip food crafts. Macaroni art or jewelry making? Use toothpicks or beads.  I’ll buy some for your classroom, and I’m sure every food allergy parent would gladly buy the supplies.
  9. Talk to your kids about food allergies.  Your children are soaking up every attitude you have, more than every word you say.  The words are still important, though.  Talk to them about the importance of keeping each other safe and discuss ways you can work together to keep their friends safe.
  10. Volunteer to eliminate peanuts (or known allergens) from your child’s school lunch. Keeping our kids safe in community space relieves massive pressure for Crazypants Allergy Mom and Dad.
  11. Become an advocate. Be a safe harbor for these kids.  Advocate for their safety, just as you would if it was your child in danger.  Learn how to use an Epi pen. Learn CPR and brush up on food handling safety. Be a vocal supporter in the PTA, support separate eating areas and safe classroom policies. Give Crazypants Mom and Dad a hug and a bottle of wine when you see them.

Every child deserves to feel and be safe in our schools.  You can help make that happen.  Now, go forth and switch your peanut butter sammies to sunbutter and try to keep your sanity this school year.  And for the love of Zeus, STOP MINIMIZING ALLERGIES.  It’s harmful and directly hurts the children in your community.

Your Crazypants Allergy Mama,

Boozy Lamb Short Ribs

Short Ribs 1You know how you have friends coming over and you want to cook for them, but lack the kitchen space, air conditioning, and energy to execute it?

Yeah.  Me, too.

Here’s The Thing, though.  I am fairly certain my love language is food. And I’m also fairly certain I have conditioned my family and friends to receive my love in this manner.  Food is NOT love, but food can be a loving gesture in a world of convenience and fast meals.  What’s better than sitting down with friends and sharing a great meal, enjoyable conversation, and choice adult beverage?  Not much.

Also, food is effing delicious, so there’s that.

When I want to share the love and keep the temperature in my kitchen down while making the most of my limited energy, I always turn to my crockpot.  I used to have major bias towards slow cookers. I grew up with crockpots galore at church potlucks.  Everyone clamored for an outlet to plug in their pot before service started so their mystery dish would stay hot and avoid poisoning a whole congregation. It was a sea of crockpots

A couple of decades later, I decided to try to resurrect my slow cooker that was still sitting in my kitchen in the box from our wedding when my truly kind souled cousin gifted us with it. I got brave.  I bought the food.  I read a couple of blogs. I studied and sweated and prayed to the kitchen gods that it would all turn out beautifully.  It didn’t.

I ruined a 5 lb brisket.

$40 of beautiful, succulent, grass-fed meat totally ruined because I didn’t understand fully how to use my slow cooker.  I did not sear it.  I under-seasoned it.  I ADDED WATER. Then I cooked it on high for 4 hours.  It was totally inedible, but of course we ate it anyway because we have a strict budget and can’t afford to toss food when it doesn’t turn out well.  I nicknamed it the Brisket of Tears, because I wept when I ruined it, and again every time I ate the chewy, gray, tasteless meat.

A couple of years ago, I decided to master the crockpot.  I did a massive amount of research. After a week of fretting and praying and hoping that I could pull it off, I made a pork shoulder.  It was phenomenal.  It gave me confidence. And I went further into the slow-cooker abyss.

When I found a ridiculously good sale on New Zealand grassfed lamb, I knew I could execute it well.  My dish would not go the way of the church potluck or failed brisket attempt of 2009.  Nope.  It would succeed.

This is probably one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.  I’m not exaggerating in the least. The flavor of the lamb is complex and finishing the whole dish off in the oven to crisp up the fat made this dish completely decadent.


  • 3-4 lbs of lamb riblets or short ribs
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/3 cup olive or avocado oil (I prefer avocado bc of the mellow flavor)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup(ish) fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup  fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium shallot or small onion, quartered
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp (+) fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp (+) salt


  1. Combine all ingredients (except for lamb) in blender or NutriBullet.  Pulse until everything is combined.  Pour over lamb and marinate in a ziplock bag or covered dish for 2-12 hours, or if you’re in a hurry, skip the marination and use right away.
  2. Rub crockpot with a little oil, and put lamb and marinade in.  For best results, cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  Eight hours is optimal, but do what you can.
  3. When the lamb is finished in the slow cooker, transfer to a baking sheet and bake on 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes to crisp up the fat and caramelize.
  4. Garnish with chopped mint leaves and devour immediately.

Short Ribs 2I served this with a side of saffron infused basmati rice, pan fried mushrooms and sweet onion, along with a fruit-filled salad.  There wasn’t even a speck of lamb left on the bones, and we devoured an entire plate in 20 minutes flat.

You will love this.  Trust me.  Or don’t.  But take a chance.  And make friends with your crockpot this summer.

It feels good to be baaaaaad,



Hemp Heart Crusted Zucchini Fries {Vegan, Paleo}

I know.  You just read “hemp” in the title and immediately assumed it was about marijuana.  I GET IT.  I live in Oregon, where it is now legal to smoke, grow, and posses these controversial little plants.

But that’s not what this post is about.  Because I’m not about to touch that conversation with a 10 ft bong pole.

Hemp hearts.  These are the shelled seeds of the hemp plant, and they are loaded with maximum nutrition.  Back when we were trying to find new and varied protein sources for my food intolerant toddler, these were a saving grace.  I mixed them with a little bit of raw honey to make them barely sticky, and gave my kid the spoon.

He was a serious fan.

Now that summer is squarely upon us, I have zucchini coming out of my ears.  It’s one of my kid’s favorite foods so I planted a few little seedlings…and they grew.  In fact, they’re mutant and grow as big as my head. Or roughly seven times as big as my hand.

We have to get creative to use them all, so I’ve been trying out different recipes using as few ingredients as possible to maintain the natural flavor of the fantastic zucchini, and to get them out of my kitchen fast.

I made a fast coating of hemp seeds, arrow root, a dash of tumeric, paprika and salt.  They were a fast hit with my family, and we chowed all of them.



They went so fast that I didn’t even manage to get a good picture because they were so tasty and nobody could wait for a dumb camera.

Did I mention they’re paleo and vegan, too?


  • 1 large (ish) zucchini, cut into sticks
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 2-3 Tbsp arrow root powder or tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric (optional)
  • dash of paprika
  • small bowl of water
  • Coconut oil for cooking


  1. In a medium frying pan, heat 1/4 inch of coconut oil until hot. (Typically medium+ setting, but don’t let it smoke.)
  2. Combine hemp hearts, arrow root, and spices and blend throughly.
  3. Take a piece of zucchini and dip it in the water. Remove and lightly shake excess water off.
  4. Press each flat side firmly in the flour mixture and then place into hot oil, flat side down.
  5. Rotate the zucchini to get both flat sides nice and brown (2-3 min each side). Be careful not to burn them!
  6. Place on paper towel lined plate to drain off excess oil.

Eat as soon as they are cool!  These stay fresh and delicious for a good 30 minutes after cooking.


What are your zucchini hacks?