Please read, before reading

I am saddened by the comments on this blog that often take a judgmental turn. The information is intended to be just that -- information. You need to make your own decisions for your life and be accountable for your actions. I debated closing the blog, but feel there are many valuable items listed for families struggling with food allergies, especially early on.

If you need further information please contact a doctor. If you need to verify a product's ingredients, please look at current labels and contact the company yourself. Note many posts are several years old. Use your best judgment and do not make up comments to scare people.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My food allergies- update

I have previously posted about my food allergies.  To summarize, I am allergic to all things living and can't eat raw fruits and vegetables, which is called Oral Allergy Syndrome.  I can eat raw foods but I normally have a minor sore throat.  Recently, I had a reaction to shellfish.  This really worried me that I might have an allergy to it.  I decided that it was best that I see an allergist.  I haven't visited an allergist in almost 15 years.  They try to help, but I tend to know about what to do than they do.  I figured maybe there has been some new treatment or research that would help me.  

I didn't really get the help from the doctor that I had hoped for.  Long story short, two blood tests and a skin test later I found out that I am not allergic to shellfish, but also found out I have a peanut allergy and a couple other tree nut allergies.  The peanut allergy is a total shock to me. I eat peanut butter granola bars almost every day and eat peanut butter on a regular basis.  I can't think of ever having a reaction.  The nurse told me that if I can eat it then I'm "one of the lucky few."  Confused.  I decided it was best to eliminate peanut from my diet and reintroduce it in a few weeks.  During this process I got some blood test results and asked the nurse how long the peanut protein stays in the system.  She asked the doctor and he said if I didn't notice a change after not eating the peanuts that I can eat it again.  Well, that was not an answer.  It was almost like the doctor didn't even care.  I explained that I have so many reactions daily that it really would be hard to know if I had a mild reaction to peanuts.  By daily reactions I mean sneezing, minor throat irritations, etc.  I just live with it without really noticing much anymore.  The nurse understood my logic, but didn't really have any further advice.

I am going to see a dietician in June and hope to have a plan of action in place by then.  I'm going to slowly try different fruits and vegetables to see what really bothers me a lot and what I might be able to tolerate in small doses.  As for the nuts, I think I'm going to stay away from all except nuts I am not allergic to that are packaged in a plant that doesn't cross contaminate.  Boy oh Boy, it would just be nice to eat...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Porcupine Meatballs

I don't remember eating many meatballs as a kid.  But my husband used to eat porcupine meatballs that his mom made all the time.  I recently stumbled on a recipe and he said he had his mom's recipe.  So we made it last night. It was simple to make and the flavors were mild.  Best part is that there is no dairy or egg. Our little girl loved it.  I think she liked the name best of all (she does like the porcupine at the zoo).

Porcupine Meatballs

1 lb ground beef (uncooked)
1/2 c uncooked rice (I used Minute Rice)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper

15 oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. Mix beef, rice, water, onion and seasonings together.  Shape into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.
2. Place in small casserole dish or 8 x8 pan.
3. Mix sauce ingredients together.
4. Pour sauce over meatballs.
5. Bake covered for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
6. Uncover, turn meatballs (so rice cooks) and bake for 15 minutes or rice is finished.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fun Snack-- Dairy-Free Banana Boats

Here's a recipe for a really fun snack.  We used to make these at the Girl Scout camp that I worked at years ago.  They are originally made to put on a campfire, but you can get the same taste from the oven.  They are so oooey and gooey and yummy.  I can't imagine any kid not liking them (unless they don't like bananas).
Banana Boats (see photos here)
(You can make one or a half a dozen at a time.  Prep time is about 5 minutes and baking is about 5 to 10 minutes)

mini marshmallows
Enjoy Life Chocolate chips
Aluminum foil

1. Carefully slit open each banana the long way with a sharp knife.  Be careful not to cut all the way through.
2. Gently stuff the  as many chocolate chips and marshmallow under the peal of the banana.  It's okay if it doesn't close.
3. Wrap each banana in foil.  No need to wrap really tight. I placed ours on a baking sheet so it is easy to put in and take out of the oven.
4. Place in 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted.
5. Let cool for a minute or two before diving into the tasty snack.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

No dying of eggs here!

We are still uncertain if our daughter has an egg allergy.  I just haven't had the heart to do the blood test.  Her last skin test was questionable in August, so I figured we just wait until she's 3 and do extensive testing then.  With that said, we don't want to endanger her with dying Easter eggs.  Instead, we painted wooden eggs.  You can find them at a craft store and maybe even Wal-Mart.  Remember just because food allergies limit us, that doesn't mean there aren't options.

First we painted the wooden eggs with white tempera paint and let them dry overnight.  They actually were dry within an hour, but painting with a toddler is a process, to say the least.

The next day, we picked paint colors and painted the eggs.  I gave our daughter the freedom to do whatever she wanted.  I did encourage her to use many colors on the last egg (she even used two brushes at the same time).  The first two eggs she painted were just one color each.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Website Review

If you like shopping online and are interested in online coupon codes, you will want to checkout my review on my other blog.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Allergy-Free Easter Treats

Oh, it's so hard to figure out what to do for holidays for a food allergic toddler.  I envy the people that just buy a couple bags of candy and an chocolate bunny without thinking.  With food allergies you have to be a little creative.  It's good to exercise that muscle.

Here are some of my ideas for this year's Easter Basket.

(in photo)
  • Fruit Snacks (these are pretty much candy in my book)
  • Chocolate eggs (I'll adapt this recipe into an egg mold)
  • Chocolate suckers (bought an Easter mold at Michaels and will simply melt Enjoy Life chocolate chips)
  • Enjoy Life Candy bar (find coupon here)
(not in photo)
  • Marshmallow Peeps (so far these have been safe for her)
  • Homemade gummy snacks (check out recipe here!)

**Note that even when we have holiday treats, I tend to spread the snacks out over time.  We still have Heart Peeps in our pantry (not sure if they will be gone by Easter).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Homemade Play Dough

I'm pretty leery about so many products now that we deal with food allergies.  I don't know if store-bought play dough or clays are required to list any allergens.  So we make our own play dough and we know exactly what's in it.  It's fun and really simple.

Homemade Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 package Kool-Aid (any works, we used grape)
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup salt
3/4 cup boiling hot water

1. Mix dry ingredients in bowl.
2. Stir in boiling water.
3. Mix well.
4. Store in air-tight container in fridge.  Ours has lasted close to a year!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Great pasta

What?  No!  But that's one of our favorite meals.

Yes, as luck would have it the Alphabet pasta form Earth's Best has been discontinued.  Not to be found anywhere.  I told our daughter the last batch of it I made and she moaned that is was no more.  I knew I had seen ABC pasta in a store in the past year, but had no idea where.

We took a trip to Whole Foods about a month ago and I found Eden Organic Vegetable Alphabet pasta. It is very different and made from vegetables. It has tons of nutrients, a lot of fiber and protein.  Leery that a picky toddler would eat it, I bought it.  Guess what?  She loves it and is now our replacement for Alphabet Spaghetti, which is just 1/4 cup pasta and a couple ounces of tomato sauce.  Easy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Teaching a toddler that she has food allergies

When we chose our daughter's preschool for next fall, I realized that I needed to give her some education on what her food allergies actually are.   I can't expect her to be responsible for food intake when she's 3 years old, but I can give her the tools so she can express to the teachers the best way she can.   She has known for a long time that she can't eat Mommy or Daddy's milk or cheese because she will get "itchies."  But that was the extent of what we had told her.  And frankly for a toddler that's about all you can do.  Now that she's getting older and understanding more and more, we decided to take it to the next step.

The best resources for her have been books (as with just about everything we do).  We read them and then discuss what she can and can't have.  It's really helped her understand and she now will use the words "food allergies" instead of "itchies."  It has been really helpful when testing her with food cooked with dairy.  I'll ask her to try some food because we want to see if there are food allergies.  She gets excited with us when we see no reactions.  The other day I gave her an Italian Breadsticks saturated made with butter (I could have used dairy-free or olive oil, but I wanted to test).  She took some bites before I made it to my seat for dinner.  She told me that she had food allergies.  I didn't see any hives on her face, but she told me that it was on her lips.  She didn't eat anymore of the breadstick, so I believe her.  Wow, talk about progress.  It's nice to know that she understands and can communicate it so that we all understand.

Just a reminder that all children develop at different rates.  Also we have been discussing and reading more about food allergies for almost two months.  This wasn't overnight success.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Negative, Again and Again

Even thought our 2 1/2-year-old daughter had a positive reactions to cold milk recently, we have been testing some more cooked meals with milk with her.  I thought I would share our progress. Here are some of the foods (with recipe links) that our daughter has eaten with absolutely no reaction!!  Note that some meals have more than one milk ingredient.

I don't have a rigid plan.  As I make certain foods, I'm giving her the opportunity to try them.  I'm going to continue with two ingredient meals before trying another "cold" uncooked product.  Also interesting to note is that she is healthy right now with no tummy problems.  I figure that starting with a healthy kid is the only way to know if she is reacting or not.

REMINDER: Do not do any allergy testing at home unless advised by a doctor.  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Nut Note

Our daughter suffers from nut allergies as well as milk and egg.  But not all nuts are bad, but finding certain nuts or even sunflower seeds that aren't processed with nuts she's allergic to is a big challenge.

I recently was in a health food store and saw a product for nuts that interested me.  No where on the label did it say "manufactured in a facility with other tree nuts or peanuts."  Hesitant to buy, I made a mental note of the product and e-mailed that afternoon.  

The company is Now Foods, a fairly common brand found at health food stores.  This was their reply to my inquiry about whether their nuts and sunflower seeds were cross-contaminated:
We are a peanut free facility and no tree nuts cross contamination is occuring.
Our GMP certification and extensive cleaning of the machines between runs limits potential cross contamination with other allergens including tree nuts, soy, wheat, and other allergens.  
Our testing indicates our products to be free of cross contamination. We are GMP certified and need to carefully handle our products and breakdown and clean packaging machines between runs. See our website for more info under a search for GMP.

Isn't that great news.  Yes, the cost might be a little more than the grocery store or Wal-Mart.  But to have food that is "safe" is worth it! 

Friday, March 5, 2010

What do when eating out

There is a new website just launched that gives those of us with food allergies valuable information when dining out.  AllergyEats allows you to search by zip code for restaurants in your area.  A comprehensive list is then compiled of restaurants including links to allergy information, if available.  I was surprised that many of the chain restaurants have information online.  As for local restaurants, who may not have links to allergy information, AllergyEats gives readers the option to post comments and rate restaurants.

What a great tool for those of us, who just rather stay home than even try to deal with allergies in public restaurants.  Since our little one is only 2 1/2, we can get away with bringing her own snack when we do venture out.  But soon, I hope to you this resource to help her "eat out," too.  This will be especially helpful when traveling.

You must check out AllergyEats!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Allergy approach

I recently posted on my other blog an approach to food allergies.  Check it out here!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Allergy testing at home

Do not test for allergies at home unless advised by a doctor.

We tested our daughter with milk this weekend. I made an icing and put in on cookie.  She reacted to it with hives.  But it was a milder case than in the past.  We didn't even give her Benadryl.

I have been feeding her more and more dishes with milk cooked in them and she is tolerated them just fine. Ah, no more making two of everything.  Although I still will if I think something might have too much "milk" in it.

It's a really good feeling to see her slowly being able to eat more.
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