Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Egg Allergies at Easter – A Round-Up of Egg Free Easter Fun March 27, 2015

Allergic to eggs at Easter… It only SOUNDS like a conflict of interests.

Never fear! There’s no reason you need to forgo the annual tradition of dyeing eggs.  And, you might just pick up a new family favorite while you’re at it!

First of all, after checking with my allergist, egg shells were deemed safe for my son to handle (NOT EAT) while he had an active egg allergy.  The yolk and white of the eggs contain the protein that have the potential to cause an allergic reaction.  Egg shells are almost entirely made up of calcium carbonate, with none of the allergy-inducing protein.

  • Double check with YOUR allergist.
  • Don’t forget to read the ingredients on Easter egg dye kits.
  • And, get coloring!

If you just can’t stomach real eggs regardless of whether their shells are safe, here’s a round up of some other egg-cellent ideas (I’m sorry, there HAD to be one egg-adjective!) to help you celebrate:

How great and festive is this idea from SheKnows?!  Grab bracelet length glow sticks and pop them into plastic eggs for a night time or foul weather egg hunt.  Best part: plastic eggs don’t cause hives!

7. Glowing Easter Eggs

Love to try a Creme Egg but without the allergens?  Cadbury’s version contains dairy, soy and eggs.  Instead, try making them via this recipe from Not Without Salt via Food 52.  FYI, Lyle’s Golden Syrup is cane sugar syrup.

eggs123

Although it’s too late to enter the Washington Post’s annual contest, why not create a Peeps diorama?!  Peeps are very allergy friendly and a lot of fun to work with.  Check out their past submissions to inspire you… Peep Anything?!  I’m dying…

I’m hoping the Easter Bunny drops off a few of these at our house this year.  How cute and easy are these crafts!  Thank you for the great idea, Shaken Together!

There’s a variety of jello Easter eggs out there in the universe, but Kraft seems to make the process the simplest using their Jell-O Jigglers Mold.  Check out some of the rainbow hued ones a variety of bloggers have posted.  They’d be a spectacular end to an Easter dinner.

JELL-O EGG JIGGLERS recipe

I couldn’t risk you not seeing these!  Here they are from Thrive. :

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Happy Eggless Easter, everyone!

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Leprechauns Rejoice! Stories, Game & Easy *No Bake* Snack for St. Patrick’s Day in the Classroom March 16, 2015

I can hear those bagpipes already!  I think most people agree that St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most happy holidays out there.  You don’t need to have roots in the Emerald Isle to enjoy it either; afterall, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!  And, now everyone can enjoy an allergy-free celebration with veggie clovers and sesame seed-free hummus dip.

So, if you’re having a classroom celebration as we did a few years ago, may I suggest these few tips that worked fantastically for our elementary school aged kids:

1.  Download some Irish tunes (you’ll be clapping and toe tapping in the car en route!).  Start with “The Unicorn” by the Irish Rovers (fun fact: this song was written by Shel Silverstein!).

2.  Find a good children’s story.  I last read one from our school’s library (out of print now) about siblings who tried to catch a leprechaun in the hope of gaining some wishes.  It entranced the kids so much that my son came home and built about 5 leprechaun traps in our yard (lots of bugs, no leprechauns caught).  You can check out Amazon’s best sellers for St. Patrick’s Day here to find one that fits your audience.

3.  Crafts or games are always a good idea.  Get those kids moving!  If you have the flexibility, take the gang outside to build leprechaun traps out of sticks and bark.  Indoors, you could decorate boxes (rainbows encouraged!) or use legos to make in the “traditional” leprechaun box trap.  I understand leprechauns are lured by the promise of gold…

4.  Finally, give them food!  Here’s my easy, no bake, idea for serving the kids something healthy…

St. Patrick’s Day Veggie Clovers

mini cucumbers (also sold as persian cucumbers)

green bell peppers (you may wish to choose ones that have fewer side slits)

optional: red or yellow bell peppers or slivers of carrots

For the sesame seed-free hummus:

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained but reserving liquid

2 cloves garlic

olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cumin

optional:  3 slivers of roasted red pepper

Thinly slice cucumber into disks and overlap to arrange into three and four-leaf clovers.  Hollow out peppers and carefully slice horizontally.  If using carrots, slice into thin disks and arrange as clovers or slice into sticks and place in ramekin for easy snacking.

For the dip:  Add garbanzo beans, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and cumin into a blender or food processor.  Pulse until well-blended.  Add reserved liquid to desired consistency.  Optionally, add roasted red peppers to make a red pepper hummus dip.

Erin Go Bragh!  And Enjoy!

 

Get Ready, Fellow Mathletes: Pi Day is Extra Special This Saturday March 12, 2015

Pi = 3.14159265359…

This Saturday is March 14, 2015… or 3.14.15!  And, on that magical day at 9:26 and 53 seconds (3.14.15 9:26:53), I suspect a lot of math fans like me will be eating pie to celebrate its magical homonym Pi.  Mmmm….

Pie can be tricky for people with food allergies for so many reasons.  They typically contain dairy, sometimes contain eggs, often are topped with nuts.   And, of course, that gluten-filled crust.

If you’re planning to celebrate Pi Day, here are a couple recipes to help you and your little calculators eating safely:

Sweetheart Sorbet Pie:

This cold, delicious, fruity pie is a synch to assemble and a joy to devour.

Egg-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free

Moo-Less Chocolate Pie:

If you’re a chocaholic like my younger son, this recipe is for you.  Alton Brown’s recipe uses silken tofu to achieve its creamy, fudgey consistency.  Be sure to use dairy-free margarine/butter in lieu of the milk-based variety.  Read the reviews to determine if you want to include any of the readers suggestions (like adding cinnamon or using a graham cracker crust).

Dairy-free, Nut-free, Egg-free

Crazy for Crust’s Perfect Graham Cracker Crust:

This blogger really knows her crust as evidenced in the narrative leading up to the recipe.  Again, be sure to substitute dairy-free margarine/butter for the real deal in her recipe.

Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Milk-Free ***but also read ingredient list of graham crackers/crumbs you choose to use***

Gluten-Free Pie Crust:

This ready made dough from Pillsbury can be used in both pies and pastries.

Gluten-free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free

Here are some Pi facts to discuss over pie:

  • Pi is the ratio between the circumference (the distance around its edge) of a circle and its diameter (the distance across the center).
  • Pi is an irrational number. Not only can’t you reason with it, but you can’t write it as a fraction either.
  • Pi’s decimals go on forever without any repetition or pattern.
  • BUT! 314159, the first six digits of Pi, appear in order at least six times among the first ten million decimals of Pi.
  • Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day!
  • Pi has been studied by the human race for almost 4,000 years. The Babylonians established the constant circle ratio as 3-1/8 or 3.125.  One of the earliest known records of pi was written by an Egyptian scribe named Ahmes (c. 1650 B.C.) who was only off by less than 1% of the modern approximation of pi (3.141592).
  • In one Star Trek episode, Spock foils an evil computer by challenging it to “compute to last digit the value of pi.”
  • Comedian John Evans once quipped: “What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o’-lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin π.
 

Look Who’s Blogging at ContentChecked… March 9, 2015

Follow the link for the answer….  ContentChecked Blog: “Stunned to Silence”.

ContentChecked in an innovative app for people living with food allergies.  And, as you can see, they also have a blog filled with interesting information.  I’m thrilled to be partnering with them as they grow and help simplify life for people not just with food allergies, but for those (like me) living with migraines as well.

Writing about my first emotions following my son’s food allergy diagnosis brought me right back to those early days that were filled with questions and uncertainly.  I’m sure many of you felt similar senses of worry, inexperience, anxiety…  Look how far we’ve come, baby!

Take a moment today to appreciate how well you’re handling your family food allergy situation.  And if you know someone who has just received a food allergy diagnosis, send them here and to ContentChecked (“Steps to Success”) to get them started on a good path towards managing food allergies.

 

Visiting DC? Here’s a Food Allergy-Friendly Game Plan March 4, 2015

Despite all this snow and ice, delays and cancellations, Spring Break is really just around the corner.  And, for many people, the spring and summer seasons offer a chance to visit our nation’s capital.  There’s so much to do in Washington DC, it’s almost mind-boggling.  I’m pretty sure I could keep a visitor busy for a solid 6 months here.  So, consider the below an outline and fill in with extras that pique your interests.  And, please let me know about some of your own allergy-friendly finds via Twitter or Facebook using @shmallergy or #shmallergyDC!

Day 1:  The Mall – Part 1

See:  What ISN’T there to see on the National Mall?!  Start at the Washington Monument (and definitely go to the top, it’s amazing – even the ride back down is memorable) and wind your way to the Lincoln Memorial, passing the WWII, Roosevelt, MLK Jr., Korean War and Vietnam War memorials.

Eat:  I’d recommend packing a lunch and having a picnic right on the mall.  There are some beautiful shaded lawns, benches beside the reflecting pools and vistas along the Potomac River.  There’s a Whole Foods in nearby Foggy Bottom (2201 I St NW) that will help you accumulate your dairy-free, gluten-free and other food allergy friendly snacks.  And, Foggy Bottom also hosts a SweetGreen (vegan, dairy and egg-free dishes), dc dosa (gluten-free options), as well as Roti (some gluten-free choices), Chipotle and Subway (where you can find their allergen menus online here).

Day 2:  National Zoo

Eat: Start the day with a hearty breakfast at Open City (2331 Calvert St. NW) where you can enjoy some straightforward favorites like poached eggs and ham alongside mouthwatering brioche french toast.  They serve tofu and fresh fruit here as well if you’re avoiding eggs, dairy, or wheat for example.

See:  Make your way up Connecticut Avenue to the unmissable National Zoo.  Wind downhill while at the zoo via the Asian Trail, passing by our beloved pandas and impressive elephant habitat.  And, take a rest in sight of the famous O-line, an overhead ropes course that the orangutans freely travel from one building to another.

Eat Lunch: Take a short taxi ride to the kid-friendly and ever-delicious 2 Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria.  They don’t take reservations so you don’t need to worry about rushing through the zoo to get there.  Just sit back, and try not to drool over the amazing crust.

Then, See:  Take the opportunity to walk off lunch by strolling a couple of blocks across the street to The National Cathedral.  Between the stunning grounds and gardens, serene setting and unusual gargoyles – there’s something for everyone here.  Bonus points if you can find the Dark Vader gargoyle.

Map of Smithsonian museums on and near the National Mall

Day 3:  Back to the Mall – Part 2

See:  Did I mention that the National Mall hosts EVERYTHING!?!  Get there early and snag a ticket to the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing to see money being printed.  Then, meander over to any of the MANY amazing Smithsonian museums.

Eat:  Walk over to Old Ebbitt Grill.  This restaurant was a favorite of several presidents including Teddy Roosevelt (*read its full history – it’s like eating in a Washington historic landmark). Bonus, Old Ebbitt Grill is part of the Clyde’s Restaurant Group which takes food allergies very seriously.  I’ve found their serving staff to be knowledgeable in regards to food allergies and willing to thoroughly find solutions to allergy questions and substitutions.

Then, See:  A very short walk from Old Ebbitt Grill is The White House.  Regardless of politics, you just have to see it.

Day 4: Capitol Hill

See:  In addition to touring the Capitol building (and trying not to sing “I’m Just a Bill” from Schoolhouse Rock aloud), be sure to stop by the Library of Congress.  Thomas Jefferson’s personal library is on display there and the LOC’s exhibitions are fascinating.

Eat:  Tortilla Coast is probably one of my favorite restaurants in DC.  It’s great for families, relaxed and a favorite of Hill staffers which is how you know it’s good!

Then, see:  Head to Penn Quarter where you’ll find the National Portrait Gallery and catch sight of portraits of all kinds of history-making Americans.  Or, cross the street and check out the Spy Museum!  Being in Penn Quarter sets you up perfectly for a night out.   Catch a Washington Wizards or Georgetown Hoya’s basketball game, a Capitals hockey game, or concert at the Verizon Center.  Or, hop a cab to the National’s Stadium.

Eat Again:  If you’re in the mood for a burger, you’re in luck:  Clyde’s has a fabulous one along with its many other offering and (as mentioned above) is very food allergy savvy; and Shake Shack is an easy go-to with a well-informed online menu to browse before you go.

Day 5:  Georgetown and Arlington

See:  Today is a day to stroll.  Georgetown is full of history from its cobblestone streets to its beautiful university.  But some of the fun in Georgetown is shopping, checking out the canals, and strolling by the Potomac’s waterfront.

Eat: If you find yourself at Georgetown University, you have to eat at The Tombs.  It’s an institution and, again, part of the food allergy aware Clyde’s Group of restaurants.  It purportedly inspired the setting for the 1980s classic “St. Elmo’s Fire” and is a great place to catch a game on TV.

Then, See:  Hop across the river to visit Arlington National Cemetery before plopping back on the bed in your hotel room and realizing you’ll have to plan a second trip to see all the DC has to offer!