Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Essential Items for Families with Food Allergies – Portable Food Carriers March 28, 2017

Filed under: Parent Sanity — malawer @ 11:00 am
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Food allergy parents are accustomed to prepping safe food at home and taking it on-the-go to parties, school functions, and family gatherings.  Here are a few items that might make carrying safe food just a little easier!

 

Portable Slice of Pizza or Pie?

 

Take a gluten-free or dairy-free slice of pizza to a party?  Who knew there was a container just for that purpose?!  This Brick Oven Pizza Saver looks like it’s perfectly sized to transport both pizza and maybe even a slice of cookie cake or pie!

Brick oven slice saver

 

 

Individual Cupcake Holders:

 

Both this reusable (by Fox Run) and these disposable cupcake holders (both via Amazon) are the PERFECT container to tote a peanut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free cupcake to a birthday party!

 

Fox Run Cupcake Holder

Cupcake Supply Co Indiv Cupcake holder

 

Removable Labels:

When sending your child with a safe snack or special treat – OR when labeling your own lunch at the office – the best way to ensure it doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s is to clearly label it.  These removable labels by Avery do just the trick:

Avery Labels

 

Hot Lunch!

 

If your kids are itching for a hot lunch, but school lunches aren’t a safe option, then you absolutely need a thermos that will keep your meal warm for up to 5 hours and fit neatly into your lunchbox or work bag.

 

Thermos

 

And, while you’re packing your lunchbox, why not add Sistema’s four-piece cutlery set.  It connects handles to fork, spoon, kid friendly-knife and chopsticks – making it a synch to grab on-the-go.

Sistema Klipo

 

For Safe Restaurant Dining:

 

If you’re allergic to soy, you’ve probably already toted salad dressing to restaurants.  Allergic to gluten/wheat, I’d bet you’ve stashed tamari in your purse as you meet friends for sushi.  OXO Good Grips On-The-Go Silicone Squeeze Bottles allow you to do just that in a small, spill-free way!

OXO Squeeze containers

 

We want to hear from you!  What other items do you find useful for living with your food allergies? 

 

(Thank you in advance! A portion of the proceeds of the affiliate links go toward AllergyStrong.org – an organization aimed at helping low income and at risk families with food allergies.)

 

How to Get Enough Calcium When You’re Dairy-Free June 16, 2014

Filed under: Health — malawer @ 1:19 pm
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As the mother of a child with a (now-former) dairy allergy and of two still picky, non-dairy eating boys, I worry about their calcium intake.  But, I can’t force them to like yogurt or drink regular milk when it tastes foreign and evokes mixed emotions from my FA son.

 

Children between 4-8 yrs old require approximately 800 mg of calcium per day while pre-teens and teens require 1300 mg (adults, you need 1000 if you’re under 50 and not pregnant).

 

So, how else can you sneak calcium into their diets:

 

Alternate Milks and Drinks:

Calcium Fortified Orange Juice     8 oz     350

Calcium-Fortified Soy Milk      1 cup     300

Calcium-Fortified Rice Milk    1 cup     300

 

Non-Dairy Refrigerator Items:

Soy Yogurt      6 oz      300

Tofu     4 oz       240-400

 

Dark Leafy Greens:

Edamame, soybeans cooked     1 cup    175

Kale, cooked      1/2 cup     103

Broccoli, cooked     1/2 cup     47

 

Grains:

English Muffin     one     100

Waffle, frozen toasted     one    81

Corn tortilla w/calcium (who knew?!)     one     60

 

Don’t forget that when you add black beans, tahini (**if you’re not allergic to sesame seeds**), oatmeal, calcium enriched cereal or Nesquick into the mix you up your calcium intake as well.

 

Now go out and keep those bones strong!

 

 

 

New Years Resolution? Learn to Cook and Avoid Food Preparation Problems! January 13, 2014

Eight years ago, when my son was first diagnosed with food allergies, I was a terrible cook.  Truly terrible.  If you saw the Discovery Channel documentary, you may have noticed the burnt spoon that had caught fire when I “blackened” chicken noodle soup.  That’s right:  I burnt soup.  Take a moment:  I know you’re all very impressed.

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As soon as the doctor listed my son’s food allergies (at that time: peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, dairy, eggs, soy, wheat and corn), I was thrust into a whole new world.  One in which I would have to cook.  And, the result would need to be edible. (Gasp!)

 

Now, many years later, I actually enjoy cooking.  I can’t have enough cookbooks and I love the challenge of turning something that isn’t initially allergy-friendly into something safe and delicious.

 

But the biggest bonus must be the understanding and innate sense of what goes into a dish.  It has helped me innumerable times to determine what is safe for my son while we’re out enjoying the world!

 

It’s important to have a sense not only of ingredients, but also of the process in the kitchen.  A sampling of questions, I’ve needed to ask are:

  • Can you check the breading on fish?  Or, the breadcrumbs in the meatballs?  Breadcrumbs very often contain sesame seeds.
  • Are the chicken nuggets/calamari/fried zucchini coated with egg?
  • Is there egg in the salad dressing?  Some contain either eggs or mayonnaise.
  • Does that sauce contain flour?  Many are thickened with gluten flour.
  • Is there parmesan cheese in the marinara?
  • Do you add milk to your scrambled eggs/omelet/pancakes?

The more hands-on experience you have in the kitchen, the more you’ll understand what kinds of things you may need to look out for in others’ kitchens.  You’ll be surprised at how often you save yourself from a potential reaction.  So, cook and speak up!

 

Here are a few tips for starting out:

  • If you’re brand new in the kitchen, don’t feel overwhelmed by trying to make a main dish and sides.  It’s okay to try ONE new recipe and buy preprepared sides or make a new side dish and buy roasted chicken.
  • While looking at recipes, don’t be put off if they include your allergen.  Simply do a little research to see if there’s a safe alternative and/or omission.  We just omit peanuts from our Kung Pao Chicken dish.  And, we sub-in soy milk for regular in pancakes.
  • In choosing a recipe:  read the recipe in full once before you even go shopping.  It may call for “1 garlic clove, minced” which you could mince yourself or buy pre-prepared.
  • And, while reading the recipe, take note of prep time as well as cooking time.  Ingredient lists often list ingredients that have been pre-prepared like garlic noted above, a pie-crust pre-baked, or “3 cups spinach, sauteed”.   This translates to time, so simply be aware and plan accordingly.  This was tricky for me for a while.  I can’t tell you how many times I served a meal a whole HOUR after I thought it would be ready.
 

Good luck, watch your soup, and send me picts (and samples – mmmm!) of your best recipes!

photo: countryliving.com
 

Food Allergies and The School Lunch November 17, 2013

I can hardly believe I’m able to write about this.  I never thought that my son would be able to participate in any school lunch program.  He entered Kindergarten allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, eggs and dairy.  Amazingly, in close collaboration with our allergist, my son outgrew that latter two.

 

We rejoiced when he most recently outgrew dairy.  Our family happily made a list of all the foods he could now taste.  And, suddenly, we realized that he might be able to sign up for our school’s hot lunch program – a program he had been hoping to try.

 

Like many schools, our hot lunch program is entirely nut-free.  That came as a huge relief.  But sesame seed allergies are tricky.  And, I would have to do a lot of research to ensure the meals were still safe for my son before signing him up.

 

I first went online to our school’s internal website.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the lunch schedule mapped out from September until winter break.  And when I scrolled on each dish on the menu, I was even more surprised to see the ingredient lists pop up.  What luck!  I made some notes on a few meals where questions remained (such as ingredients in hamburger buns, oil used to fry falafel, additional information needed in various seasoning mixes) and contacted the school to get answers.

 

The Director of Food Services at the school was amazing!  When I contacted him, he immediately made time for us to sit down in the kitchen and gather additional information.  He demonstrated great understanding of food allergies and was patient as we plodded through his kitchen reading the ingredient lists of bottles and packages.  We made a final list of questions he needed to follow up on with his suppliers and I left with a sense of confidence (and awe) that my son could try hot lunches.

 

As it turns out, there are three meals that my son can’t eat:  Falafel (they’re baked not fried, but the mix contained sesame seed oil) and two Asian-inspired dishes.  Thankfully, the cafeteria always serves two main dishes each day, so my son can choose the other on days when one of the above forbidden meals are offered.

 

How has he liked it?  Pretty good!

  • He’s 8, active and growing.  So, he’s HUNGRY at lunch.  He loves that he can eat a hardy meal and go back for seconds.
  • He enjoys the variety:  rotisserie chicken one day, italian sausage and peppers the next, chicken fajitas a third.
  • Plus, it’s hot:  roasted potatoes and meatball subs taste way better warm!
  • I love that he tries new things all the time.  Not only does he only have limited options for a main dish, but watching his friends chow down on something new, like jerk pork chop, intrigues him into giving it a fair shot.
  • And, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s certainly easier for both of us in the morning!
 

I was biting my nails with anxiety the first day of hot lunch.  Although I had checked and read the packaging, I was still nervous about him embarking on this great, big step.  But he came home thrilled – and proud!  And I love that kind of confidence and hope this transition in the life of food allergies only continues to foster his sense that he can manage anything!

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Playdates: An Interesting Reminder February 20, 2012

Filed under: Preparedness,School — malawer @ 8:30 am
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So, an interesting thing happened the other day…

 

My younger son (4), who has no food allergies himself,  had a playdate with his adorable friend.  While running from one room to the next, they found time to stop just long enough to eat some leftover Valentine’s Day Pez – a fact I didn’t know until the next day.

 

Although the food (and candy) in our house is always nut free and almost always dairy and egg free…  And, although this friend has no food allergies, it is still important that he learn to ask an adult before sharing.

This lesson has been long-ingrained in my older, food allergic son, but I think it will be important for me to re-state this principle with a new angle.  While we’ve been so focused on keeping my big guy safe from his many food allergies, we may not have emphasized enough the need to think of other kids and theirs.

 

Thankfully, it was Pez (sugar, unpronouncables, and dye but no top allergens) and no harm done.   But, we’ll be talking before our next playdate.