Thursday, July 26, 2012

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip

Food allergies lurk around my family. Two of us are allergic to dairy fat. One of us is allergic to soy and tomatoes. Soy is in so many foods, listed as soybean/vegetable oil and soy flour to name a few. That cuts out anything with flour or oil, because soy is cheap and added to everything. That also cuts many options at the kitchen table, and 99% of dining & snacking out.

One of the family's favorite recipes is buffalo chicken dip. We make it for parties and just for us too. Normally it contains canned chicken, cream cheese (dairy fat), blue cheese crumbles (dairy fat), blue cheese dressing (dairy fat, soy) and hot sauce (soy). I had always played around with the recipe. We're not big fans of blue cheese, so I would replace it with ranch dressing and feta or gorgonzola cheese. I managed to find a soy-free hot sauce, thank goodness, that's a staple in our house. But most salad dressings contain soybean oil. I tried to make ranch dressing on my own, having to make mayonnaise from scratch too. I'm not too crazy about adding raw eggs to make mayo. But I've tried this recipe with homemade ranch because I figured it's going into the oven. But the ranch smelled pretty gross, I guess I need a better recipe. So some more tweaking to the recipe... and I've come up with the best version. It's so good, my allergy-free husband says it's his favorite. And it's low-fat too! Win-win.

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip
- 2 cans of Underwood canned chicken
- 8 oz. Neufch√Ętel cheese (found next to the cream cheese, 1/3 less fat)
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup hot sauce

Mix all ingredients in baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350F for 20 minutes. Serve with veggies, crackers or bread.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nature walk, part two

Here are some more interesting things that we found on one of our last walks.

 Crab apple tree
 The boys love dandelions.
 Not sure what kind of berry this is. They're not wild blueberries or poison ivy berries.
 Maple leaf
 "Helicopters" Maple seed pods
 Ladybugs love fennel
 These are interesting, not sure what they are
 English Ivy. Our woods are full of it in one part. I'm sure that somebody a long time ago planted some of this and it grew out of control, taking over some parts of the neighborhood.

So there you have it, a botanical view of a typical southwestern PA neighborhood. My sons can usually name different plants and berries already, and can tell if they're toxic or edible. We've been working on kinds of birds lately too. If I can get some good photos of them, I'll be sure to share!