Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Summer Camp With Food Allergies – Our Experience May 31, 2012

Filed under: Preparedness — malawer @ 11:25 am
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Last year, we enrolled my oldest son in Headfirst Summer Camp.  He was enthralled with the idea of his week at their all-sports program and even more ecstatic to be participating with one of his best buddies.


As excited as we were for him, I was – as always – a little apprehensive of sending him to a camp where lunch was involved.  Before enrolling, I called Headfirst’s administrative office to ask questions.  To my surprise, they couldn’t have been either more professional nor more prepared for handling food allergies.  Campers bring their own lunch – already a good start – and snacks were not served.  Phew!  There is a nurse on site (yay!), nut-free area for dining and the counselors carry each campers emergency medications (for us, EpiPens and Benadryl) in a fanny pack (poor counselors) or backpack with that child everywhere the child goes.  Headfirst was both prepared and thoughtful about food allergies (see the policy in their words) – I was impressed and happily signed him up!


We had one little snag for the whole week:  the camp wound up rewarding the kids with ice pops one afternoon – something that was not communicated to me, as a food allergic parent, in advance.  When my son came home and admitted to having the ice pop because he didn’t have an alternative snack and he was sure he had eaten the same kind before, I was concerned.  First of all, this wasn’t the protocol we taught him and secondly, ice pops occasionally contain dairy.  Thankfully, my son showed no allergic symptoms but I checked with the director before camp the following morning, confirming that the pops were, in fact, something my son had eaten before.  I let her know that food allergic parents should be made aware of this reward as they register on the first day of camp – giving them a chance to okay the product in advance.  She agreed and we both called the main office with this suggestion.


All said, my son had a fantastic week at camp!  The program suited my son (and his friend) soooo well.  They were excited going to camp each day and left wanting more.  And, I could send him off without worry knowing how well thought out the camp’s food allergies plan was.


What has your summer camp experience been like?


Top 25 Foodie Mom Blog Nomination May 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 10:51 am
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I am thrilled to have been nominated in Circle of Moms Top 25 Foodie Mom Blogs contest.  Voting is daily and ends tomorrow.


Check out my profile, recipes and some answers to food allergy related questions at:


I’d love your vote.  But I also urge you to check out the other amazing food blogs created by people like us!


Peanuts and Tree Nuts 101 – Required Course!

Recent studies, one in particular from Ohio State, show that about half of people with nut allergies cannot identify the nuts that they are allergic to when shown a variety of samples.  Just under 2% of those surveyed could identify all 19 samples. Oh boy!


I’ve always pointed out what peanuts look like to my food allergic son, so that he could become familiar enough to avoid them.  But I hadn’t considered showing him what they look like chopped up in a cookie, for example.  And, I only just started teaching him about all the other tree nuts.  Now, I’ve begun teaching BOTH my sons about all the nuts my older one is allergic to so that they can be on the look out.  It’s already paid dividends as my older son found a chopped peanut in his sorbet (likely from the toppings bar… grrrrr!) and my younger one found a shelled peanut in our yard (probably from a neighbor’s squirrel feeder).


Here’s a few photos to print out and get you started:




Photo by Aney via WikiMedia







almonds-1740176_1920 pixabaymacaroons-2178371_1920 pixabay














Macadamia Nuts


Brazil Nuts


Memorial Day Meaty Veggie Burgers – Shhhhh! Don’t Tell the Kids! May 25, 2012

Give these a try for your Memorial Day BBQ:

My kids can be finicky when it comes to eating vegetables.  So when they were toddlers, I concocted a sneaky way – and what turned out to be a delicious way! – to deliver some vegetables in ever-lovable burger form.


This recipe is easy, because it doesn’t need to be exact, you can use fresh as well as frozen vegetables, and play around with its ingredients to your taste.



1 lb ground meat

1/2 onion

1 carrot, cut into inch-long pieces

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

Salt or seasoned salt


In a saucepot, boil water.  Add carrot into pot and let boil for 5 – 10 minutes.  Add broccoli florets to the pot and boil another 5-6 minutes.  Once carrots are soft, drain pot.  Place carrots, broccoli and onion in a food processor and puree until a tiny-bit chunkier than applesauce.  Drain excess liquid in sink.


Combine puree with ground meat and add 1/2 tsp salt or seasoned salt (I like Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt).  Form into patties.


Grill, broil or saute as you would a regular burger until preferred degree of doneness.


Amazingly, not only do my KIDS love these, but so does my vegetable-averse husband!


Hit the Road With a Fast Food Travel Packet May 21, 2012

Ahhhh… with great weather upon us, it’s time to hit the road!   ‘Tis the season for road trips and long weekends away.  And, being on the road is no place to be unprepared for dealing with meals if you have a food allergic passenger.


Aside from packing loads of safe snacks to tide the kids over and my son’s medicine, we never leave home without our Travel Packet.  A little general research in advance has gone a long way for us.  Not just of our destination – to help us pick a safe place to eat when we get to town (wherever that may be) –  but research to help us on the road as well.


Over time, I’ve kept a folder of allergen and ingredients lists for fast food chains in our car.  It has been immeasurably helpful when the kids are begging for a break somewhere in between destinations.  And, it’s easy to start the process online.  As you continue to travel, take note of the chains (and local stops) on your route.  Once you find new ingredients lists, continue to keep them in your travel folder.


Here are a few links to get you going (feel free to share more with others in the comments section below):


By sharing tips and links, your Travel Packet will be fuller than your gas tank and will make your vacation just a little more peaceful!  Happy trails!


**NB:  A big thank you to Jennifer for kindly reminding us to please be sure to look for updates to your packet before setting out on each new adventure as restaurants occasionally change their recipes.**


Book Review: The Peanut-Free Cafe May 16, 2012


Hey, bookies!  I just read The Peanut-Free Cafe by  Gloria Koster.  It’s a story about a new student at the Nutley School, where everyone enjoys PB&J at lunch, forcing the peanut-allergic new kid to eat by himself at a  peanut-free table.  In an effort get to know him, the school offers an irresistible peanut-free cafe for anyone willing to give up their peanut butter.


The story is clever and the idea of a creating a peanut-free cafe at our house greatly excited my son (as if my house isn’t ALWAYS a peanut-free cafe, but who’s counting…).  However, I would have liked it better if the story focused more on Grant, the child with the peanut-allergy, and his feelings rather than the kids who are able to eat regularly.


Kids with food allergies are  looking to see parts of themselves reflected in the media and literature.  And, while my son appeared ready to connect with the Grant, his relationship with the character and plot faded rather quickly as it more prominently focused on a child without food allergies.


That said, I think this is a great book to have in school libraries.  It should teach students a bit about what kids with food allergies go through and inspire compassion.   The librarian at my son’s school already ordered a copy earlier this year and the book is constantly checked out.


Baskin Robbins – 31 Flavors and a Few Well-Marked Allergens May 14, 2012

Filed under: Restaurants — malawer @ 11:24 am
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Did you know that Baskin Robbins lists each flavor’s allergens in their freezer window?!  Certainly makes choosing a safe option a whole lot easier!  Thank goodness, the weather’s heating up and we’re craving ice cream!