Chad and I have just completed our first week of being dairy and wheat-free. And it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Sure, we had delicious Kung Pao Chicken tonight (with rice and steamed summer zucchini) and Pasta with Eggplant and Summer Squash last night (a Williams and Sonoma recipe with brown rice penne), but I had to say NO to orange almond torte on Wednesday at Bunco. And there is Halloween candy in the freezer. Sad. I think I need to go make some knox blox.

Our reasons for this month-long food experiment are many. Christian has developed some mild dry patches on his legs and I’m just wondering if they might be related to a food allergy and not just the weather. I’ve been spending a lot of time with other mamas and it sounds like any skin rash or eczema is frequently associated with a food allergy. Since at the moment Christian lives solely on mama’s milk, it’s a good time to check things out, meaning, it’s easier to control my own diet than to control anybody else’s. I’ve considered myself lactose-intolerant for most of my adult life, although I appear to handle cheese and yogurt relatively well – it’s butter, cow’s milk, and sour cream that gives me a stomach ache, and I wonder if Christian has the same sensitivity. Bella did when she was younger. I know that Asian (and African-American) populations have a much higher rate of lactose-intolerance than others.

And while I don’t think I have a problem with wheat, I suspect that Chad’s frequent head-aches might be related to wheat. I don’t have a reason why – just an intuition.

So we decided to get rid of both – for an entire month – to see how we feel.

Bella’s gloating that nobody can snack on “her” cereal (Pomagranate Blueberry from Trader Joe’s) or munch on her stash of fig cereal bars (also from TJ’s).

But before we said farewell to wheat and dairy we had a regular smorgasbord of the stuff – and I mean, besides the two Key Lime Pies and caramel sauce I made last month, I also made four trays of these completely out-of-control-decadent Caramel ‘n Chocolate Pecan Bars (once for Bella’s cheer team, once for the staff at Chad’s library, and twice for us).

Caramel ‘n Chocolate Pecan Bars (from a box of LandoLakes butter)


2 c flour (I used whole wheat once, and it worked fine)

1 c firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 c butter

1 c pecan halves


2/3 c butter

1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar

1 c chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine all crust ingredients, except pecans, in a bowl. Beat until it looks like fine crumbs. Press into a ungreased 13×9 casserole.
  3. Place pecans evenly over the crust.
  4. Combine the butter and sugar for the topping ina  saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until entire surface begins to boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Pour mixture evenly over pecans and crust.
  5. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until entire caramel layer is bubbly. Do not overbake. (This is emphasized.)
  6. Remove from oven immediately and sprinkle on chocolate chips. Swirl melted chips if desired.
  7. Cool completely.
  8. Cut into bars.