The Smith Center – Memphis (Broadway Series)

I feel bad for not enjoying the experience of watching Memphis at the Smith Center.  I got to dress up, spend time with my husband, and see & hear talented people perform on stage so I am appreciative even though I can’t recommend the show itself.

The New York Times and the Las Vegas Review Journal are in agreement with my husband and me that the story just doesn’t hold up.  I think in most musicals you “suspend your disbelief” when coincidences lead to plot advancement but not at the expense of not having character development.

The story follows Huey Calhoun as he attempts to bring the taboo music he enjoys to the mainstream radio (“the center of the dial”) in the 1950s.  I suppose his strength is meant to be stubborn persistence but we never really get to know who he is except a fan of R&B.

I am reminded of #19 on Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling: “#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.”  It just doesn’t ring true when all a main character does is have things happen to them instead of changing and growing.  I get that we want the character here to prevail because he is trying to break across a racial barrier but that isn’t enough.  Setting does not make story, even when your setting is a tense time in U.S. history.  Now, some people did seem to heartily enjoy the show and I am not a professional reviewer but when you get a couple hours every month or so to spend on a date with your spouse you feel a little cheated when a show doesn’t measure up.

The dancing, sets, and performances were all well done but without a story to bolster it you are not moved.  I cried during The Color Purple, wasn’t too thrilled with the changes in Mary Poppins but loved taking my daughter to see it, and I tapped my toes to Million Dollar Quartet but on the drive home from Memphis (and in e-mails back and forth in the days that followed) my husband and I just talked about how the show left us frustrated.

Even though the season ended on a tepid note I am so excited for Wicked in September!  Beyond excited, actually, I first learned it would be featured right after my son was born and now he is going to be two next month!

Couch to 5k Review and What I’m Doing Next

I say this with a twinge of hesitation that I shouldn’t have after reading John Bingham’s great book for “adult onset runners,” “No Need for Speed,” but: I am a runner.  Wait, don’t leave, I’m serious!  It had been on my mind for a while that I wanted to be healthy and I just couldn’t figure out how.  I have so many obligations that squeezing one in that was just for me seemed selfish and impossible but the idea of running started popping up in my mind.  If I could just lace up my shoes and walk out my door while someone watched the kids then I would be good to go, I thought.  I could even take them with me in the stroller if I had to.

With these things in mind I told my husband I was thinking of running.  The next day he called me from REI (a sporting goods store) asking about what size I wore – he was buying me some gear.  I had felt so silly telling him I wanted to do this and here he was taking me seriously and supporting me.  That was the final nudge I needed in January 2012 to give it all a shot.  How hard could it be? I wondered.  I ran until I was tired and walked until I felt ready to run.  This meant I was averaging 15 to 16 minutes a mile and feeling very lame indeed in the process.  After hurting my ankle I took some time off but after I mentioned what I was trying to do with my running to a friend, she suggested something called “Couch to 5k.”  I started in earnest early in May.

Couch to 5k is meant to take you from being a non runner (on the couch, so to speak) to doing a 5k or running or jogging 30 minutes non-stop using a 9 week training plan with runs three times per week.  I gave it a go and am happy to report that though 9 weeks ago 90 seconds of running had me counting my footfalls until I could rest, now I can run over 30 minutes at a consistent pace without stopping to walk.  I have even had a mile as fast as 10 minutes and 57 seconds and ran a 5k in 38 minutes and 5 seconds at the end of the program, beating the time I set at the Terminal 3 5k of 43 minutes and 53 seconds!

In short, the program worked for me.  My husband or mother in law (if she was visiting) would monitor the kids as they slept and I’d wake up at about 4:40am in the morning to get out to run (the photos in this post are from my mornings out and about).  Often that meant being out the door at 5:20 in the Vegas morning heat because R wanted to get just one last night nursing session in but I got out there and did it.  In the process I have lost 12 pounds in 12 weeks (along with diet of course), ran over 5 miles down a road at Mount Charleston with friends while we camped up there early in July, and felt fantastic about myself.

I had to repeat one of the weeks when I just couldn’t finish a 5 minute stretch of running at the end of week 4 but for some reason after I made it through repeating that week I never felt that discouraged again.  I have made new friends and been supported by old ones, I have been able to be a good example to my children and have even started doing other exercise as a form of cross training.  I can’t recommend giving this a try highly enough.  I do know some people do the program more than once and repeat weeks like I did so it is all about listening to your body and doing your best not to get injured but give it a try and surprise yourself like I did.

I have been trying to research what comes next and while some people follow a program called “Bridge to 10k” I thought a 6 week program to double what I could do seemed ambitious so I was going to try a 10 week training plan called “One Hour Runner” (discovered via this MetaFilter thread).  I’ve just completed week one.  A great resource I found in my searches was the post “After the Couch to 5k: What Comes Next,” which makes it clear that you can really make your own plan with the right components that you need for your particular goal but I liked having the pre-made training plan so much that I will continue with it for a while longer.  By my next milestone I should be better able to come up with a custom plan.  My next race is Calico Racing’s Recycled 5k in October and following that I am debating whether to do the 5k or 10k Running from an Angel race in January 2013 (also from Calico Racing, I’ve heard good things about how they operate).

I started with an application for my phone called “My Tracks” to track my workouts but then changed to one called “Run Keeper” that I love because you can program your training plan into it and it will give you audio cues for your intervals of running or walking.  I track my calories and exercise in My Fitness Pal and there’s even a Couch to 5k Sub-Reddit to ask and answer questions.  I also get support from a local facebook running group, I’ve found that runners are kind and encouraging no matter what your skill level and as I am what is considered a “penguin,” that helps!  I have a lot to figure out still, like what I can eat that won’t give me a side stitch as I run (right now I just drink water before runs and eat when I get home, not ideal as I try to add longer distances into the mix).

Some final notes:

  • Music really helps, here are some of my new favorites in my running mix: Wild Ones (amazon affiliate link), Chasing the Sun (amazon affiliate link), and Part of Me (amazon affiliate link).
  • Earbuds that don’t fall out of my ears are Skullcandy Chops Hanger Earbuds (amazon affiliate link).
  • My favorite sports bra is the Fiona by Moving Comfort, great if you’re a nursing mom too (amazon affiliate link).
  • A fantastic book for beginning runners: No Need for Speed by John Bingham (amazon affiliate link).
  • As far as shoes go, good ones that are larger than you’d think you’d need are a must.  Bingham writes that your feet should have lost of space in the toe of the shoe and I’ve found that to be true.  I bought a “neutral” shoe to start but I do feel my ankles tilt in so I probable need some insoles or different shoes when it comes time to buy more.  I may splurge on one of those consults that they do at running stores where they really try to find the right shoe for your running style.

I tell myself things to beat the mental game that sometimes makes me want to stop, such as a phrase I got from this blog post: “running is a privilege.”  I tell myself that I am lucky to be able to run – hurting my ankle early on made me grateful when it stopped hurting and I am grateful for the help of others to watch the kids so I can get outside early enough to beat the heat.  My other favorite was sent to me by a friend as encouragement and I can’t think of a better way to end this post: “Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

July 2012 Living With Food Allergies Blog Carnival

Each month a different blog plays host to a roundup of fellow food allergy bloggers’ posts, courtesy of Food Allergy Buzz.  Last month StacyMolter.com linked to over 20 posts for the June 2012 Carnival – a great way to explore this little niche online.  I’ve read through all the submissions and enjoyed the different perspectives.  To help you navigate the list I’ve tried to group the contributed posts into categories but I encourage you to check them all out and give the respective bloggers some feedback.  They all work hard to contribute to the landscape of food allergy resources, either as food allergic individuals themselves or because they care about someone with food allergies.  Special thanks to Tiffany from Food Allergy Fun for letting me use one of her cartoons for this post, she has another great one linked below.

I’ve created a Pinterest Board for the carnival (if a post had an image, Pinterest won’t let you bookmark something if it doesn’t have at least one picture) as well to make it easy to re-pin your favorite posts for future reference!

Family

2nd Birthday Party: An Allergy-friendly Celebration – I just love Kathryn’s name for her new blog: Mamacado!  Her post has great pictures throughout and the little crispy rice guitars she made to go with the music themed party for her son are the cutest.  Her recipes, like this Summer Corn Salad, look great!

Humor

Side Effects – A Food Allergy Cartoon by artist Tiffany Glass Ferreira at Food Allergy Fun, a longtime favorite of mine!

In the Know

Cradle Cap Products With Nut Oils – Karen at Chemurgy and Allergens provides a huge service to the food allergy community and this particular post reminds me of my daughter’s cradle cap and how I used products on her skin that I later learned she was allergic to.  As Karen writes in her description of this post, this is, “[…] another reminder to read the label of every product, everything from lice treatments, to drugs can have nut oils.”  Follow her on Facebook to get the latest updates!

Food allergic kids: entitled or special needs 11 rules your kids did not and will not learn in school – A worthwhile read from Caroline Moassessi of Grateful Foodie, food allergy advocate and fellow Nevadan – she recently testified before the Nevada Legislative Committee on Health Care regarding epinephrine in schools and shared her experiences as a food allergy parent.

Food Allergies Around the World & Food Allergy Treatment Options – The blog Food Allergy Assistant brings you two informative posts this month, the first is about which allergies are prevalent in different parts of the world and the second uses news articles to explore the up and coming research about food allergy treatment.  I read the post about food allergies at the 2012 Olympics with interest and excitement, it is nice to know other people are as eager for tomorrow’s opening ceremonies as I am!

A Mom’s Perspective: A Guide to Registering Your Food Allergic Child for Kindergarten & Open Letter: Why Your Child Can’t Bring Peanut Butter to School (and What You Can Do About It) – Dave Bloom at SnackSafely.com submitted a comprehensive and timely post (is school really about to start?) with answers to questions on many parents’ minds.  In the second post there are some ideas for things to say to a parent that has a problem with a nut-free policy at school.  The comment section is pretty bracing so be forewarned that there are opinions from people who simply don’t understand food allergies.  The site also provides a safe snacking guide for parents of nut and egg allergic children with regular updates which shows a level of dedication you’ll find on many food allergy sites.

Surprised by Child’s First Allergist Visit? Lessons Learned – Devin, fellow attorney and food allergy mom at Nom Yum & Free has a fantastic post about her experience visiting the allergist, I know that there are a few allergist bloggers online but nothing beats the perspective of a fellow parent.  Check out Devin’s post How Did a Bean Become My Picky 3-Year Old’s Favorite Snack? to see how you can enter her Enjoy Life Foods giveaway but be sure to read Plentils review, it is well written and made me smile.

7 Tips for Planning a Vacation with Food Allergies –  Stacy Molter of StacyMolter.com (last month’s carnival host) has some great information if you are planning your next vacation, I wholeheartedly agree with her “pack heavy” tip when it comes to food!  My favorite post by Stacy is this one, detailing how she keeps a spreadsheet to track the food allergies her son has.  It is a great idea to keep a spreadsheet like that on your smart phone on vacation or just as a matter of course.

Recipes, Cooking, and Baking

Home Ec. with Mel: Gluten Free Snickerdoodle – Melissa Shields at Home Ec With Mel shares her gluten free snickerdoodle recipe, a great option if you are avoiding gluten alone – it is her first “vlog” so check out the video that accompanies the recipe and her about page where she details what it has been like cooking safe foods for her husband who deals with Celiac disease.

Hummus Lunchbox (Lunch for Mom) – Libby blogs at The Allergic Kid and shared a recipe we have made versions of before (and loved): Sunbutter Hummus!  If you’ve never been to her blog before, you really must see the monarch butterfly cookies she made for her son.  I’m still in awe months later.

Vegan Roasted Tomatillo Enchilada Lasagna Recipe – This is one of my latest recipes here at Oh Mah Deehness!  I named the blog after the way my daughter used to say “oh my goodness” because I thought it was cute.  It makes it hard to tell people the blog address with a straight face in conversation but I still like it.  I have other recipes on our What We Eat page as well.

Reviews

El Uh-Oh & A Real Gem–er, Pearl – Two restaurant experience reviews (I think you can guess from the titles that one experience was great and the other was, well, not) from Jillian at Persnickety, a new blog about Jillian’s food allergy experiences (be sure to check out her “About” page).

Ruminations

Compassion for All – Allergy Mentor (Allergy friendly, family friendly FOOD) has a thoughtful post that reminds us that we are all learning at different paces and have different circumstances.  No one person is struggling more than another, it is all just different.  I think of this idea often and encourage you to take the time to read this post.  Also check out her Gluten Free Apple Crisp recipe, I am so excited that it features quinoa flakes and not oats (my daughter is allergic to oats and many gluten free recipes rely on them).

Don’t rely on first impressions–they might turn out to be food allergy alliesGluten Free Froggie in the Kitchen is the blog of a college student dealing with multiple serious food allergies and this post details her experience having a friend that seemed to mock allergies at first ending up as a help to her during a reaction.  Her post for Food Allergy Awareness Week entitled “What CAN you eat????” is another one to check out.  The perspective of young adults with food allergies is helpful not only to fellow allergic individuals but to parents wondering what the future holds for their children.

Food Allergy Feelings – Jennifer at Food Allergy Buzz writes about empathy and how one of her sons can have certain types of store bought ice cream while her other son cannot.  PeanutFreeBaseball.com is a Food Allergy Buzz sister site that is worth a click because it tracks places all over the country with safe games for kids and families to attend.  I know we’d love to have a nut free game here in Las Vegas!

If you give an adult food allergies… – Elyse writes on her blog Following Him about being an adult with food allergies but this post has a twist in that it is in the style of the “If you give a mouse a cookie…” books.  It is clever and poignant, applying not only to offering support to people with food allergies but anyone who is walking a tough road.  If you follow Elyse on Instagram you’ll get to see adorable pictures of her dog Ember like the ones she gathered together for this post.

Pet Peeves: How do you Bake Without Flour? – I think we’ve all been asked this question when we tell people we bake gluten free or wheat free, a post by author Colette Martin at Learning to Eat Allergy Free.  She has a brand new book out that I have been excitedly reading and baking from (review coming soon!): Learning to Bake Allergen-Free.

City of Henderson Animal Shelter

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A friend mentioned that the Henderson Animal Shelter needed supply donations and I thought it was a great way to introduce the kids to a more tangible form of charity.  It has been on my mind before but the children are older now.  I mapped the location of the shelter and it turned out to be exactly next to a favorite of ours, the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, so in cooler weather stopping by both the shelter and the preserve would be a great idea.

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We brought newspapers to help with lining the cages for the cats and were able to visit some of the residents of the shelter afterwards.  E and R loved the kitten room.

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I took plenty of pictures because they enjoy looking at pictures from our day.

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Here you can see where the dog kennels are being misted because they open up to a courtyard.  There were also bunnies outside in the shade.

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Another view of the dog kennels with a tiny aviary to the left.  The birds aren’t for adoptions but I am guessing Henderson residents leave birds in the care of the shelter that they can no longer keep.

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Cats are just about my favorite animal ever so the “kitten special” sign tugged at my heartstrings because I think cats should be adopted in pairs so they have a companion.

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When I was a kid we had a tuxedo cat and a calico, they were the best of friends and these two reminded me so much of them that it made me catch my breath.  I stayed strong but E burst into tears when we left, she really wanted to take a kitty home.  It is strange because she’s visited animals before and never wanted to bring them home but I think the scope of the shelter was different than that of, say, a pet store where she’s seen animals previously.

The car ride home was filled with very deep discussion, I tried to tell E that part of loving animals is knowing when it isn’t the right time to bring them home but that we could donate more and visit.  She responded that she needed a screwdriver to open her piggy bank so that she could give the money to the cats.  I asked her if she knew how to care for cats and she told me she did so I asked what she would do if a cat scratched her bed.  The response reminded me of myself as a girl: “I would pick the kitty up and bring it onto my bed to snuggle.”  I love that she assumed a cat scratching a bed would want to come up.  Oh, and one more thing she said was that she would drive my car to take herself to school so I could stay home and keep a kitty company.  We’re planning to get a fish at the end of the year and she’s been excited and I hope she isn’t too upset about visiting the shelter in the future.

I picked up a list of things they need as far as donations go (in addition to newspaper) and have quoted it below, so feel free to drop any of these things by during their normal hours (they open at 9 and close as early as 4 on some days and 6 on others):

  1. Gift cards from Petsmart so we can purchase items as needed
  2. Gravel (not scoopable) cat litter (least expensive brand is fine)
  3. Cat food (dry and canned)
  4. Wash cloths and hand towels (new and used)
  5. Paper towel rolls
  6. Towels (new or used)
  7. Dog/Cat beds (small, for small dogs in kennels)
  8. Blankets and small rugs (new or used)
  9. Food and water bowls for dogs/cats
  10. Buckets for dog drinking bowls
  11. Dry kitten food (Purina One brand preferred)
  12. Small (inexpensive) stuffed animals for elementary students who attend shelter presentations

I think that animal shelters are a great way to start kids with helping in their communities, especially vegetarian children.

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Elsewhere…

Check out  my latest Vegbooks.org reviews:

Red Knit Cap Girl – This is a fantastic and gorgeous book illustrated on actual wood grain.

One Night in the Everglades – A science picture book for older children.

More More More, Said the Baby – A board book we love in our house.

Click, Clack, ABC – A companion ABC board book to the delightful Click, Clack, Moo.

Also, I’m hosting a “Blog Carnival” for Food Allergy related topics and blogs for July!  Click here, the submission deadline is the 25th at 11 p.m. EST (8 p.m. here in Vegas) so get those links in and I’ll be featuring submissions here on my blog shortly thereafter.  Thank you to Jennifer at Food Allergy Buzz for letting me be July’s host!

Esselmont Park

We were at Esselmont Park a few weeks ago and it is down in Anthem, an area that is apparently confusing to any sort of GPS system so you have been warned that a regular map is your friend in areas with new construction!  At any rate, after a lot of being lost we found it and enjoyed the castle themed splash pad…

…and similarly themed covered playground!

You can see from the photo above that there are slides for all ages which is something I really like in a park, R especially did not want to head home.  Luckily we were meeting our friends who live nearby and I got much better directions for how to find my way back to Eastern Avenue than the GPS had provided.

The most refreshing thing about this particular playdate was that our friends also deal with food allergies.  In fact, they wrestle with multiple top 8 allergens just like we do.  It is nice to not have to worry that E will be giving a hug and that there will be traces of peanut butter to think about.  Then there’s the personal support I get as a food allergy mom, being able to vent to someone that just “gets it” and share ideas.  She told me she’s been active with FAPE, the local Food Allergy Parent Education group so with her encouragement I will be trying to be more active locally to get to know more Las Vegas and Henderson food allergy parents.

Tivoli Truckin’ Tuesdays for Children

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I’ve never been to Tivoli Village in the North West part of Las Vegas but when Emily (introduced to me by another local blogger, Sarah of Wandering Off) of Family and Life in Las Vegas shared the July Tivoli Truckin’ Tuesdays schedule on Instagram I knew we’d be making a trek over there if the weather cooperated!  The morning of July 17th was fairly cool and breezy so we headed over.  Now, we’ve been to the annual (usually every March) Touch a Truck event so be aware that this is a lot more low key but it is also free and not as loud and crowded.

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Each week they have a different selection of vehicles to see.  Some you can climb in (and on) while others may be a little more restricted.

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The Nevada Energy van was a fascinating one and the moving van you see to the left was a favorite of E’s – she kept running up and down the ramp.  The real star was NDOT‘s street sweeper.  We even got a great state map and coloring books.  I also appreciated the patience and friendliness of their representative.  He said good-bye to the kids by name after hearing me talk to them which was nice of him.  They got to sit inside the vehicle and loved it.

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Had to get a shot of this gorgeous clock, I told E that it rang to tell the time and as it chimed I tried to count along with her only to be interrupted: “Mommy, I am trying to listen to the [clock’s] music!”

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There are two more days you can check this out, July 24th and 31st.  Emily told me that on the final day there is a book drive for gently used kids books:

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Even something as simple as a chain hanging from the moving truck was cause for excitement.  I was really hoping for R’s favorite, a garbage truck, but he was very excited about the yellow street sweeper as yellow seems to be his favorite color right now.

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I didn’t realize there was underground parking which is great in the heat so be sure to drive around a bit to find it.  I didn’t mind our outside parking but it was also a beautiful morning.  I’m not sure we’ll make it back because it is a very long drive from our side of town but do check it out, especially since it starts at 9am and there is so little that is available for kids that are early risers (and therefore early nappers).

Vegan Roasted Tomatillo Enchilada Lasagna Recipe

I hinted at this Enchilada Lasagna recipe in my Oven Roasted Tomatillo Sauce post and I actually got a comment from a reader asking about it so I made some time to get the details together.  The name “Lasagna” actually specifically refers to a pasta dish but the layering of the tortillas and filling is reminiscent of assembling lasagna so I included it.  We’ve been gradually introducing corn into our diet on the recommendation of our allergist to try it with E to see if she can tolerate it (always have the guidance of your allergist before trying potentially allergenic food) and these uncooked corn tortillas from “Tortilla Land” are sold in large Costco packs for $5.99.  You just put them on a heated pan to cook, they are really delicious, fresh, and gluten free!  I also used Trader Joe’s Roasted Corn (in the frozen section) which gives a really great summer flavor to the dish.

Supplies

Cutting Board

Knife and Spoon

Baking Dish

Aluminum Foil

Frying Pan

Sieve or Colander (if you are draining canned beans)

Ingredients

Verde Tomatillo Sauce (I used 321 grams last time but whatever your recipe yields is fine, if you need more liquid you can use a jarred tomatillo salsa or even some veggie broth just to make sure the tortillas don’t get dry in baking)

2 cups Trader Joe’s Roasted Frozen Corn

12 Corn Tortillas, cooked (see my note about Tortilla Land uncooked tortillas above)

1/2 cup of diced onions

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

1/2 cup Daiya Vegan Cheddar Cheese Shreds

2 tablespoons Turmeric

1/2 teaspoon Cumin

1 cup frozen chopped spinach

1 cup of chopped mushrooms

2 cups cooked beans of your choice (I used this slow cooked refried bean recipe but left the beans whole)

1/2 of a Lemon’s juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add the oil when the pan is hot, it should shimmer a little when you put it in.  Add onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.  Put the spices in and stir, then add your mushrooms and cook until they’ve released some of their juices.  Now add your frozen ingredients (spinach and corn) and cook until they’re soft, finish by adding the beans and the lemon juice.  Stir, cooking a little longer, and remove the pan from heat.

If you have raw tortillas, cook them while you’re making your filling and set them under a damp towel to stay pliable.  Even if you overcook them a little they should soften in the oven.

Set out your baking dish or pan, I like my pyrex (amazon affiliate link), Daiya, filling, tomatillo sauce, and tortillas and you’re ready to assemble!  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees at this point so it is ready when you are.

You don’t want to use too much sauce at the bottom of the pan because it is more important at the end, so spread it thinly.  Then add a layer of tortillas, I do three to a layer.  You can either tear them to arrange them or overlap in alternating configurations.  Follow the tortillas with a portion of your filling, then a few sprinkles of Daiya cheese, then another layer of tortillas.  Now filling, sauce, Daiya shreds, and tortillas into layers.  This doesn’t have to be exact, you can see that I finished below with a layer of filling with sauce because I didn’t want the tortillas on top to become dry.

Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, removing the foil at that point and baking another 10-15 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!  An eighth of a pan will run about 250 calories so it is not a bad meal at all.  If you aren’t watching calories you can increase the Daiya you use in the recipe, maybe sprinkling some on top of the dish.

Shared at Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Friday (Fourth of July Edition 2012).