Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Sunbutter for a Sunny Day June 26, 2012

Here’s another review in favor of Sunbutter.  I had resisted buying Sunbutter, the peanut-free peanut butter made from sunflower seeds.  I had a reservation about introducing my peanut allergic son to Sunbutter and worried that he would have an impossible time distinguishing it from real peanut butter outside our house.  Let’s face it:  it generally isn’t served outside of a peanut-free house and I was concerned that this might set him up for disaster.

 

But recently I concluded that he’s old enough to know that this is special allergy-free spread.  And, I was craving peanut butter as a healthy (ish) snack alternative with apples and celery.  If Sunbutter worked as a substitute, at a minimum my husband and I could enjoy it!

 

And, I will say, we are split in our feelings about it.  I absolutely LOVE it!  It tastes almost exactly like peanut butter to me — so much so that I originally felt guilty about having it!  It is unbelievably nut-free, but you’d never know.  And, I suspect this would be perfect for baking as well – a very exciting prospect!

 

In the interest of balance, my husband wasn’t as enthusiastic about it.   Bummer.

 

That said, I would highly recommend it for a peanut-free household.  You may wish, as I did, to consider the unintended consequences of introducing a substitute peanut butter and weigh them against your child’s age, understanding of his/her allergy, responsibility levels, etc.  But I would also suggest any family dealing with nut-free restrictions consider Sunbutter – it is perfect for lunches at nut-free schools, camps and playdates.  And, it’s quite a treat for us non-allergic parents and siblings who don’t get to indulge in peanut butter very often.

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Summer Resolution: Train the Sous-Chefs June 19, 2012

Ok, I realize that summer resolutions may not be as traditional as those made at New Year’s.  However, the end of the school year feels like just the right time to begin my new undertaking.

 

My resolution for the summer is to get the kids more involved in cooking with me.  I’ve given up trying to convince the boys that the healthy meal I’ve made for them is also delicious.  If they have a hand in making the meal, perhaps they’ll be more interested in gulping it down at dinnertime.  And, for my food allergic son, this will be a great way to get him thinking about what goes into different kinds of dishes so he can help protect himself when we’re not together.

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To take a tip from the First Lady, I’ve allowed my son’s to each pick a vegetable plant to tend to throughout the summer.  My younger son chose a pepper plant; the older one, a tomato plant.  Plus, we have pumpkin vines growing in the yard where our old jack-o-lanterns were ransacked by squirrels a few years ago, as well as mint and basil that keeps sprouting up whether or not I plant it.  It’s not a produce section, but it’s a start.

 

My husband and I also had a heart-to-heart with the boys one night after everyone was either very difficult about or refused altogether to try a very family-friendly dinner I had prepared.  We’re putting the kids’ suggestion for trying new dishes into practice: each week, the kids will pick a recipe of their choice for the family to taste at dinner.

 

Finally, the boys are getting in on the preparation.  They are old enough to help with the meals.  Not only does this give them an appreciation for making the meals AND give them an incentive to eat their creations, but it also teaches them how to cook.  I only learned when my oldest son was diagnosed with food allergies and commercially prepared dishes just weren’t an option.  I want our kids to see cooking as a family affair. To enjoy the process of learning a new dish.  To appreciate the culture from which it comes.  And, most of all, to feel confident in a kitchen and appreciate healthy, well-prepared food.

 

This is especially important for my oldest son, who may not outgrow many of his food allergies.  I want him to feel confident about food, not nervous around it.  I want him to eventually possess the skills he needs to prepare nearly any dish he cares to try.  And, as stated above, I’d like him to be familiar with the kinds of ingredients that are common to various dishes so that he can ask the appropriate questions and protect himself from reaction when I’m not around to do it for him.

 

I’m excited to begin next week.  And, who knows what we’ll be having.  I have some kid-friendly cookbooks handy and can’t wait to taste those peppers and tomatoes when they ripen.  Wish me luck!  I may need it….

 

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EpiPens in Sun or Snow June 8, 2012

 

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Just a quick reminder to all that EpiPens, like most other medications, should be kept at room temperature.  Of course, this poses a challenge over the summer.  So remember to take them with you from the car and keep them next to your water bottles at the beach.  Or, as one reader suggested below, plop one into a small cooler bag.  Since reading that, I’ve been sticking our EpiPens in an insulated lunch bag with ice or a cooler pack. (Thank you again!)

 

We really tuned into this problem over the winter while skiing.  Thankfully, my son’s ski instructor thought to hold his EpiPens in the inside pocket of her jacket to keep them from freezing throughout the day.

 

I love easy, clever solutions!