Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Graduating to a Summer Blog Break, Plus a Nut-Free Basil Pesto Recipe!

Hi everyone and Happy Summer! As many of my regular readers know, I've not been blogging as much lately and that's for many reasons. One is that I've been working on some new and non-food allergy writing projects, the other is that I was super-busy getting my oldest daughter through her last few days of 8th grade. Yep, I have an 8th grade graduate, heading to high school next year.

Getting to this point with my daughter, who has severe peanut and tree nut allergies, has been a long but rewarding road. Those of you who read my blog regularly probably know that working with schools regarding food allergies has been one of my most frequently blogged topics. It's a big one.

As I sat in the audience watching my daughter receive her diploma, I thought back to kindergarten and how much we've been through together. School with food allergies hasn't always been easy -- field trips, parties, lunch tables and just understanding from others -- has been a challenge at times.  For those of you just embarking on the school with food allergies "journey" (not to sound like a reality show), take heart and remember to communicate. With everyone. Frequently. It's the only way, and if you go about it in a reasonable manner, you will be successful.

Many people still need a food allergy education so never feel badly about speaking up and speaking out. Reasonable, safe solutions can be found and kids with severe allergies CAN have a safe and healthy school experience, especially if compassion and preparation are involved. What I really want to say is that if we did it, so can you.

Use the "search" bar on the top left hand side of this blog to find lots of posts to help you with school.

After 6 and a half years of writing this blog, the time has come for me to take a break from it. I'm sure I will still have things to say about nut allergies -- always. Still, with a shortened summer due to our extended snow/cold days following a tough winter, some exciting summer travel and some new writing projects that I'm highly committed to, I feel the need to take some time off of the blog.

When I started The Nut-Free Mom blog in January of 2008, I'd been dealing with my daughter's food allergies for 4 years and I felt like I had learned a lot I wanted to share. I've been so happy to hear from the many wonderful and supportive readers of this blog who have also shared their stories with me. I'm also grateful that I was able to share much of what I've learned not only here, but in my Nut-Free Mom e-book parenting guide. Many of you have written to me or have taken the time to write a positive review of this little book and I'm happy that so many of you have found it and are still finding it useful -- it continues to be selling well on Amazon Kindle.

The Nut-Free Mom blog has more than 600 posts, so if you're just finding me, you have plenty to keep you occupied! I also encourage you to check out my e-book and Pinterest boards that deal with nut allergies. My Pinterest button is to the right of this post -- I have a lot of boards but many of them deal with allergies. If you're a Pinner, see you there!

Before I take my summer break, I want to share a recipe I've wanted to put on the blog for YEARS but for some reason, I never did. It's very fitting for summer: Nut-Free Basil Pesto. Basically, this is a cross between a traditional Italian pesto that has pine nuts or walnuts (a no-no for us, of course) and a Provencal "pistou" which is a basil sauce without nuts or cheese. (Don't worry, this recipe has cheese but no nuts. :))

The basil in my garden is booming -- maybe you have an herb garden too but if not, basil should be cheap and plentiful at the supermarket right now.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy it and enjoy your summer!

Nut-Free Mom's Nut-Free Basil Pesto

This doesn't make a huge amount, but a little pesto goes a long way. It's very flavorful! Toss it with pasta, add it to pizza or even to cold summer soups like gazpacho. If you have a LOT of basil, double the recipe.

2 cups firmly packed, fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
2 sprigs of fresh parsley (or use mint if you have it in your garden for a refreshing note)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsweetened dairy butter or dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or dairy-free cheese)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients EXCEPT the oil. Process until ingredients are finely minced. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil and blend thoroughly.

You can freeze your pesto (in ice cube trays, if you like, for individual servings) for several months (how about a little pop of nut-free pesto on the kiddo's lunch pasta), but bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 1/2 cup.