June 19th, 2013

{video} Allergy-Free Chocolate Chia Pudding & Lemon Berry Icebox Squares

Check it out! I produced a video on allergy-free summer snack recipes with ABC News online. Read on for details and watch for the recipes, but be warned that there is a quick commercial in the beginning since the video was produced by the good folks at ABC.

If you’re looking for a sign that summer’s begun, how’s me going MIA for a few days for ya?

We’re only three days into summer break and I’ve already said (a temporary) goodbye to my sitter, attended several end of the year events at more than one school, gone camping in the woods (with poison ivy and ticks pulled off of my kid and stored in a baggie as proof), and been on a westward plane that landed just hours after a tornado landed in very same airport. After a week of family vacation, my flight home will usher us into the first full week of mommy camp.

Oh, who am I kidding. I’ll do mommy camp one day (to check out the rain room at the MoMA – how amazing is this?!), the rest is Jenny camp while I catch up on work. (I don’t know what I’d do without my sitter. THANK GOD she’s also coming back from vacation next week.)

Still, summer—with it’s concurrent slow pace and frenetic energy—took no time at all to set in. And also to whoop my ass.

My kicked butt aside, I’m excited for the change of pace that summer brings, both in and out of the kitchen. Lazy mornings with no school lunch duty, weekends in the country, day trips around our great New York City, abundant farmer’s markets, fruit pies, no-cook meals and, of course, easy summer snacks like the ones I whip up in today’s video.

I was recently asked by ABC News online to make a video on allergy-friendly summer goodies. I whipped up a Chocolate Chia Pudding, which can easily be made free of gluten and the top 8 food allergens, and also a batch of Lemon Berry Yogurt Icebox Squares. The squares are obviously not free of dairy (ironic, huh?!), though they can be made with cultured coconut yogurt, which is what I’ll be doing this sumer. If you do that, they’ll also be free of gluten and the top 8 food allergens. You can even add a crunchy crust and keep them allergy-free by choosing an allergy- and gluten-free cereal like Rice Chex and butter alternative like coconut oil or Earth Balance buttery spread.

Allergy-Free Chocolate Chia Pudding
(Can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup chocolate rice milk
2 tablespoons chia seed

1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk well, making sure to break up all the clumps and coat all of the chia seeds well. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up to overnight. Serve cold.

This recipe is foolproof, so feel free to experiment! Add a few drops of natural mint extract to make a chocolate mint version or add a dash of cinnamon for a Mexican Chocolate adaptation.

*Note: While there is nothing in this that is unsafe for younger eaters, I recommend serving this to children 12+ mos due to the relatively high sugar content. This may be allergy-free, but it’s also a sweet treat. If you choose to share this with younger children, be sure to serve age appropriate portions. Just a little of this pudding goes a long way with wee ones.

Lemon Berry Icebox Squares
(Can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
Makes one 8×8″ pan

2 cups plain Greek-Style yogurt (you can substitute an equal amount of cultured coconut milk for a dairy-free version)
1 cup of berries (you can use one kind or a mix, fresh or frozen; no need to defrost frozen berries)
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 .25-ounce envelope of unflavored powdered gelatin
1/4 cup honey, plus more to taste*
1/4 cup just boiled water

1. If making this with a crunchy bottom crust, see below before beginning. Otherwise, start by combining yogurt, berries, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Mix well.

2. In a separate small bowl, sprinkle gelatin powder over the honey. Pour the just boiled water over both and mix until well combined and smooth.

3. Add the gelatin mixture to the yogurt mixture and combine well. Taste; if it’s too tart, add more honey and mix well to combine.

4. Pour mixture into a parchment lined 8×8″ glass or porcelain baking dish that will fit in your freezer. Freeze for at least 3 hours and up to overnight before serving.

To add a crust
(Do this before step 1 above)

3 cups of your favorite allergy-friendly cereal (I like using Rice Chex)
6 tablespoons salted butter or Earth Balance non-dairy spread, melted and cooled

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add cereal to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cereal crumbs and butter. Mix well.

3. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of a parchment lined 8×8″ glass or porcelain baking dish. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before resuming at step 1 above.

*Note: While there is nothing in these that is unsafe for younger children, I recommend them beginning at 12 months because they can be a challenge for beginner eaters to eat, plus they contain honey. If you want to make these so that they can be shared with younger eaters, you must substitute another sweetener for honey (e.g., agave syrup or sugar) since honey carries risk of botulism for children under 12-months-old. No matter how old your eaters, serve age appropriate portions of this sweet treat—just a little goes a long way with wee ones!

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