Allergy Shmallergy

Just another WordPress.com site

Order Now! Some Allergy-Friendly, Actually Helpful Turkey Day Gadgets November 23, 2014

It’s coming!  Thanksgiving is only four days away.  If you’re still struggling with how to make Thanksgiving safe for all of your guests, check out these helpful tools and tips:

 
 
Char-Broil Big Easy – $99

If you like the idea of deep-frying a turkey but don’t want to mess with Peanut oil, this oil-less, propane Turkey fryer might be worth a try:

From Home Depot:  Fry turkeys the safe and healthy way with the Char-Broil The Big Easy Propane Oil-Less Fryer. Since this fryer uses a 16,000 BTU burner, there is no oil to buy, pre-heat or dispose of, making your cooking preparation effortless. Cool-touch handles help protect your hands during operation, and a pull-out grease tray makes cleanup a snap. Cooks up to 16 lb. of turkey, 8 lb. roast, ribs and more.

 
The Vegetti – $14.99

Have a vegan coming to dinner?  Someone going gluten-free?  Yes, “As Seen On TV’s”, The Vegetti takes ordinary vegetables and turns them into good-for-you spiral spaghetti.

 
Mini Chalkboard as Dish Labels – $12.97

These would be a perfect way to alert guests of appetizers and dishes that are gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, etc.

 
Brown Kraft Paper – $10.97

Useful for SO many things, Maggie Batista from Apartment Therapy outlines just a few clever uses. My favorite – no surprise – is to use the paper as a runner or tablecloth and label all the dishes.  I also loved her idea of hanging the menu/main recipes as decoration (and, for those with food allergies, important information).  And, of course, the most fun way to use craft paper?  Place crayons in small tin buckets and let the guests doodle away!

From Maggie Battista’s blog eatboutique.com

 

There’s still time to grab one or all of these items!  Most are available locally and if you order tonight, Amazon prime guarantees delivery by Wednesday!

 

Holiday Talk: Hosting a Guest With Food Allergies November 17, 2014

Holidays are filled with memorable family gatherings.  And, as warmly anticipated as most of them are, if you are hosting a guest with food allergies it can bring up some anxiety.  How will you make your guest feel included while keeping them safe?  What does it mean to be a good host to someone with food allergies?  How far will you need to stray from your familiar recipes to make the meal safe for sharing?

 

Never fear!  As a parent of a food allergic child, I can tell you there are a few simple steps you can take that will alleviate your anxiety and win over your guests:

 

1.  Have a conversation with the food allergic family.

  • Find out what the allergies are so you can do your best to substitute or exclude them from recipes.
  • Ask them what their biggest challenges are when it comes to the type of meal your serving, whether that be Thanksgiving, breakfast, desserts, etc…
  • Discuss cross-contamination in relationship to cutting boards, baking dishes.  Most of the time, a simple cleaning either in the sink or dishwasher suffices, but it’s important to talk to the food allergic family as everyone’s food allergy triggers are a little different.
  • If you are hosting this family overnight, get the brand names of a couple of snack foods that are safe for the food allergic child/individuals.  It’s important to stick with these particular brand names because recipe, manufacturing equipment, and methods can make something as simple as a pretzel go from safe to unsafe very easily.
 

2.  Search Allergy Shmallergy, FARE and other blogs for allergy-free substitute recipes.  For example, Shmallergy’s You’ll Never Miss It Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes are easy to make and are a crowd favorite at every table we sit.  Keep your recipe handy for the guest family to review.  You may never understand how touching a gesture like this is to us.  Safe mashed potatoes from a host can make my son’s whole day!

 

3.  Brush up on the signs on anaphylaxis (among them: hives; itchy lips, tongue, throat; swelling of tongue, lips; wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath).  Watch this video (less than 2 minutes) to familiarize yourself with how to use an EpiPen (one common type of epinephrine autoinjector).  Your guests will appreciate you taking their allergies seriously.

 

4.  Keep ingredient lists of the food your cooking with for reference.  I can’t tell you how many times I read and reread new brand ingredients to be sure they are safe for my son.  And the peace of mind it gives me is more than appreciated.

 

The best ways to be a host to a food allergy family is to create a warm, welcoming environment – as with all guests.  The time you share together will define your memories.  And the effort you make to keep all your guests healthy will surely be one of the fondest ones of the season.

Food Allergy families:  what would you add to this list?  Please add your suggestions below!

 

Teal Pumpkin Project for Food Allergy Awareness During Halloween October 27, 2014

Filed under: Holiday,Preparedness — malawer @ 12:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,

IMG_6612.JPGIMG_6604.JPG

 
 

My kids and I were asked to do a news segment yesterday for Fox 5 News about Food Allergies during Halloween.  As we all know, having food allergies during a food centric holiday can be very difficult.  Luckily, FARE aims to make that easier with its #TealPumpkinProject.  Please watch the clip and pass it on!  I think it goes without say that Halloween would be even MORE fun if it were more inclusive and SAFE for all children!

 

 IMG_6607.JPG

 

Our segment is running throughout today, but in case you missed it or don’t live in the DC market – here you go:

Teal Pumpkin Project for food allergy awareness – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG.

 

And, please read my next post for Trick or Treating tips and non-food Halloween ideas!

 

Halloween, Safety and Teal Pumpkins October 24, 2014

Filed under: Holiday,Preparedness — malawer @ 11:45 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 

Halloween is a particularly tricky time for kids with food allergies.  I’m always amazed at how many houses give out treats laden with peanuts, tree nuts and other common allergens.  Although my son understands that he can get a safe treat from me when the house treat is a no-go, it’s hard not to be disappointed for him.   Holidays routinely make kids with food allergies feel left out and Halloween is the king among them.

 

There ARE a few things you can do to make this Halloween safe and pure fun:

 

1.  Carry a variety of safe treats for your child to choose from so that he/she can get a replacement treat when the neighbor’s doesn’t cut it;

2.  Always carry your epinephrine while you trick or treat and remind your child NOT to eat any candy until you get home to ensure its safety;

3.  Don’t forget to read the labels of even candy you know to be safe.  When miniaturized, manufacturers often use shared equipment that isn’t a problem at the candy’s regular size package.   Read, read and re-read;

4.  Always carry your cell phone.  In addition to taking adorable shots of your kids sprinting from house to house, you may want to have it with you in the unlikely event that a reaction occurs.

 

And, look for houses with TEAL PUMPKINS.  The non-profit Food Allergy Research Education (FARE) is encouraging families who are offering non-food treats to place a teal pumpkin on their doorstep to let kids with food allergies know that they can safely trick or treat at your house. Read more about the Teal Pumpkin Project here.

 

In that vein, here are some great non-food options to offer.  Order today so that they’ll arrive before Halloween!

 
Glow In The Dark Fangs - 12 per packEYE BOUNCE BALL
                                       

Glow in the Dark Vampire Teeth

Mini cans of Play-Doh

GlowStick Bracelets

Slap Bracelets

Head Boppers (remember these,  parents?!!  Flashback!)

Spider Pop-Ups4CT SPIDER POP UPS

Bouncing Eyeballs

Creepy Glow Fingers

Zombie Eye Patches

24CT GLOW FINGER

 
 
 
 

Happy Haunting, everyone!

 

Put This on Your To Do List Today: Food Allergy Action Plan October 15, 2014

Severe Allergy Action Plan

One of the most helpful food allergy documents I ever received first came, not from our wonderful allergist, but from our  pediatrician.  An Allergy Action Plan is a vital document for you and your family.  It clearly outlines what to do and who to call in a variety of allergic situations.  It spells out how much medication to give and reminds the reader if the patient is asthmatic.

We keep copies of our Allergy Action Plan everywhere.  I have one in our emergency medication basket in the kitchen, one in the car glove compartment, one in our Emergency On-The-Go Kit, one at school, one at religious school, and others at camp.  Now that I’m writing this, I think I should give a copy to my parents and in-laws so that they can familiarize themselves with the right course of action and know where to access this crucial information in case my son is staying with them (even if his On-The-Go Kit also contains one).

To complete your Food Allergy Action Plan today:

1.  First download Allergy Shmallergy’s:  AS – Severe Allergy Action Plan;

2.  Bring to your allergist or pediatrician to fill out.  This is not for a parent/patient to complete;

3.  Make more copies than you think is necessary to display/distribute to anywhere you/your child keeps epinephrine;

4.  Date the document and remember to update it every 12 months.

 

While I’ve Been Away… September 18, 2014

Filed under: Recipes & Cooking,Uncategorized — malawer @ 6:17 pm
Tags: , , ,

September is always a crazy time.  Each year, I go through summer denial for the first two weeks before succumbing to autumn and finally getting our schedules together.

This year, however, I was baking allergy-free Christmas cookies.  No, I’m not that organized. And don’t worry:  I promise I’m not taking a cue from our local department stores either.   I was asked to contribute an article to AANMA’s publication, Allergy and Asthma Today.

Do you know about AANMA?  Allergy & Asthma Network Mother’s Association (AANMA) has been around for nearly 30 years, advocating, educating and reaching out to local communities about asthma and allergies of all kinds.  I was impressed with their efforts at AANMA’s annual Asthma Awareness Day on Capitol Hill this past spring.  It was evident they were committed to keeping lawmakers attention on these important healthcare issues. AANMA is a rich resource for allergy and asthma information and activity.

Check them out at aanma.org.  And, stay tuned for AANMA’s winter publication to check out my delicious recipes!

20140917-174546.jpg

20140919-162935.jpg

 

“We’re Going Back, Back, Back to School….” August 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 3:13 pm

(**10 points for anyone who can remember what movie sequel this title is a lyric from…**.)

 

It’s with both excitement and sadness that we approach the start of a new school year and the end of summer.  While I love our long, lazy days catching sea creatures and playing wiffle ball, the nerd in me looks forward to school with all the social and educational stimuli that accompanies it. 

 

As my son enters 4th grade next week, he enters not only a new building but also new responsibilities in our school system.  This year, we’re preparing to handle his food allergies in some old and some new ways when it comes to school. 

 

As he matures, my son both earns and requires different forms of independence.  And, one of those ways is for him to have some limited control over how we handle his food allergies.  If you find yourself with a tween, you’re probably noticing the same thing.  Here are some of the ways we’re approaching my son’s allergies this school year:

 

1. Once we receive teacher assignments, we will talk with his teachers (particularly homeroom, art and science teachers) to educate him/her on my son’s particular allergies, ask questions about the in-class manipulatives the students will be expected to use, and to inquire about their snack, holiday and birthday policies so we can accommodate our son safely. Our school nurse is the same as last year and is well-versed in food allergy management, so that’s one less conversation for us.  If you have a nurse that’s new to you, it’s important to know what her protocol is and for her to know any food allergy symptoms/triggers you’ve seen in your child.

 

2.  We’re going to speak to the school nurse and middle school office about their policy regarding students carrying their own epinephrine autoinjectors.  Each school has a different feeling and liability on this subject.  While in school, our school nurse is well-equipped with the medications we’ve provided god forbid a reaction occurs.  But, my son now sometimes stays after school to watch his older cousins play sports or goes straight from school to play at a friend’s house and having his autoinjectors make him feel more self-assured.

 

This summer, my son took the initiative one day to pack a sports sackpack with his emergency on-the-go pack as well as his most recent allowance and, of course, his awesome neon sunglasses.  He was so excited to be in charge of his own pack and who doesn’t love seeing a kid’s confidence grow like that?!

 

3.  Got a few extra oranges laying around?  Any expired epinephrine?  These two things are great for teaching others how to use the autoinjectors properly.  This year, we’re including my son’s best friend and parents in on the practice.  His friend is old enough and mature enough to WANT to know what to do.  Not only will we demonstrate how to use the EpiPens/Auvi-Q, but we’ll also discuss contacting the nearest adult and calling 911 no matter what.  It makes all parties involved feel better knowing the proper protocol and having given the injectors a little practice.

 

4.  We have and will continue to have talks with my son and rehearse different scenarios:

  • In-class/sport team celebrations that involve unsafe foods;
  • Play dates that don’t quite understand how to handle his allergies;
  • Hygiene: proper hand washing (and when/how often) and how hand sanitizers do not eliminate allergens;
  • What to do if he believes he’s experiencing an allergic reaction and how this is a GOOD time to interrupt any teachers/adults; and
  • What to do/How to ask teachers and cafeteria assistants about the safety of any “surprise” foods that weren’t on our original menu for the week (sometimes a shipment doesn’t arrive on time for service that day or the kids earn an unforeseen treat at lunch).

 

To see our complete list of back to school prep, please read Back to School: Safe, Ready and Prepared and Back to School Food Allergy Checklist.

 

What other changes have you done to prepare for your growing child to go back to school?

 

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,231 other followers