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.)

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Halloween Snacks: Safe and Perfect for the Classroom or Party October 27, 2016

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I had so much fun prepping for our Day of the Dead themed Halloween party!  Not only was it fun to lay out the decorations and style the table, but I loved coming up with fun and festive food to serve.

 

I planned carefully to create snacks that reflect the season and are fun – food that fits right in the spirit of Halloween!  The Halloween table – like all dining tables – is meant for everyone to be included – for me, fun, festive and inclusive food is especially important because my oldest son’s food allergies sometimes leave him without a candy option as he trick-or-treats.  As such, I needed to serve things that are food allergy-friendly.  And themed, safe food can be hard to come by.

 

First, I put our pumpkin innards (“pumpkin guts”) to good use.  We scooped and separated out the seeds. In a bowl filled with water, we strained out the rest of the pumpkin core and dried the seeds in a kitchen towel.

2016-10-25-14-34-38

Above, you’ll see two versions of pumpkin seeds – both are nearly everything-free.

 

 

The Classic:img_5770

Pumpkin seeds (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
2 Tablespoons dairy-free butter, melted
pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 F degrees.

 

With your pumpkin seeds already in a bowl, pour the melted butter substitute over the seeds and stir to combine.

Arrange the seed mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast the seeds slowly, stirring occasionally.  At 25 minutes, add salt.  Roast for another 15-20 minutes, bringing the total roasting time to approximately 40-45 minutes.

 

 

Salty Sweet Pumpkin Seeds:img_5775

 

1 1/2 – 2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons dairy-free butter
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

 

Combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

With your pumpkin seeds already in a bowl, pour the melted butter substitute over the seeds and stir to combine.

Arrange the seed mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast the seeds slowly, stirring occasionally.  At 15 minutes, add sugar mixture and stir.  Roast for another 20-30 minutes, bringing the total roasting time to approximately 40-45 minutes.

 

 

Next, I threw together some easy, no-brainer jello.  Good ol’ fashioned jello.  But check these out…

img_3959

…using the Skull and Crossbones mold, I made fun shapes that my kids gobbled down.  Tip:  spray the inside of the mold with cooking spray before pouring in the jello.  Use a little less liquid than recommended to keep the jello firm.  My larger sized box called for 2 cups of water – I used 1 1/2 cups instead.

 

And, finally, my favorite snack of all….  Stay tuned!  It’s worth the wait!

 

Updated: A Loaded Gun for Lunch May 9, 2016

Update (5/12/16):

Kellogg’s addresses some of the facts regarding their decision to add peanut flour to formerly nut-free snacks.   The public is still asking why, but this link should clarify some of what’s going on:

http://origin-www.openforbreakfast.com/en_US/content/nutrition/peanutflour.html

Again:  As it is not uncommon for formulations and manufacturing practices to change, this is a great reminder to check every label of every food you purchase every time.

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In early April, Kellogg’s added peanut flour to eight of its previously nut-free products. Several varieties of Kellogg’s Austin and Keebler cracker lines – crackers that have been safe to families and individuals with food allergies for many years – will now contain peanuts. Kellogg’s didn’t issue a press release or alert their customers directly.  Instead, hoping consumers would find and read their advisories, they notified FARE and posted a statement on their website mentioning the change without citing a reason.  But many families and other individuals with – or responsible for feeding those with – peanut allergies remained in the dark.

This change comes at a time when food allergies are on the rise and public health officials fear an “epidemic.” Food allergies have increased 50 percent in the last twenty years, currently affecting roughly 15 million Americans. Peanut allergies are among the most dangerous, causing severe allergic reactions called anaphylaxis – a condition that can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and death. Approximately 300,000 ambulatory visits per year are attributed to severe allergic reactions.

According to the non-profit Food Allergy Research Education (FARE), “Most allergic reactions to foods occurred to foods that were thought to be safe.” Imagine the impact of Kellogg’s addition. It’s like slipping a loaded gun into a child’s lunchbox.

The fact that Kellogg’s did not alert their consumers appropriately is disappointing to those with food allergies to say the least – maybe even reckless. To make a change that will knowingly impact the health of some of their customers without issuing a press release is inconceivable. Families, schools, daycare centers, aftercare programs and camps that rely on readily available nut-free snacks are likely still unaware of the addition of peanuts to Kellogg’s crackers and could be putting children in a perilous position unknowingly.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that Kellogg’s did not initially alter the packaging of the new formula of crackers so that a consumer would be clearly alerted of the additional ingredient. It is virtually invisible. [Update:  Kellogg’s has now updated the packing with a “Contains” statement located at the bottom of the front of the package in white.]

To date, Kellogg’s has not given the public an explanation for their decision to change the ingredients of these crackers.  Without an answer, speculation abounds.  Perhaps they were trying to add protein to these snacks.  Perhaps the crackers are made in a facility where peanuts are processed and the inclusion of peanut flour in the ingredient list reflects that.  SnackSafely.com, who has been leading the charge in informing food allergic families and individuals about the sudden change and who started a petition asking Kellogg’s to reconsider it, has a theory: could Kellogg’s be adding peanut flour to avoid the cost of complying with new FDA regulations? In an effort to protect the nation’s food supply, the FDA has raised their concern about food allergy cross contamination to the same level as food-borne illnesses. In doing so, it has put stricter manufacturing codes in place. Companies have until September 2016 to implement necessary changes. SnackSafely wonders, could it be cheaper for them to add peanut flour to their products in order to reduce cost in complying with the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act?   Until Kellogg’s clarifies, the public is left guessing.

Kellogg’s has responded to complaints and petitions, by vowing to remove peanuts from one of the varieties of crackers affected beginning in September. This hardly constitutes a consolation after confusing and endangering their most vulnerable customers.

Let this situation serve as a reminder to all to check the ingredient lists of all the foods you purchase for yourself and your family every time you buy them.

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After following this issue and reading the above, Fox 5 DC wanted to inform the public of this change:

http://www.fox5dc.com/news/140044884-story

http://up.anv.bz/latest/anvload.html?key=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

 

Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse November 5, 2011

My son was invited to a birthday party at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse.  What a great idea!  But with dairy, egg, sesame seed, peanut and tree nut-allergies, we always have a bit of homework to do before we can party down.   I contacted the hosts as well as the Drafthouse and found out the following:

 
  • The popcorn is dairy and nut-free.
  • The pizza is sesame-free and nut-free and made on the premises.  (And, delicious!)
  • All other menu items may/may not be cross-contaminated with nuts according to their catering people, so they recommend that an individual with a severe nut allergy stay away from other menu items to be safe.
 

I was pleased with their quick response to my questions and even more so when my son checked the safety of the popcorn for himself with the server who knew the answer off-hand.

 

The party hosts made a last-minute change to their own menus and offered safe candy to all of the partygoers in lieu of the chocolate bars they had planned to serve, making my son’s day.

 
 

In fact, as he relaxed in his comfy swivel chair, munching on popcorn, with pizza being served to him and a container full of safe candy to his right, he declared, “This is the best day of my LIFE!”

 

Play Date, Anyone? Friendship with Food Allergies January 19, 2011

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photo taken by kaboompics via pixabay

I’ll admit it:  when my son was first invited to go on play dates without me, I was nervous.  Okay, I was panicked.   It would be one of the first times my son was being fed outside of my supervision or in the nut-free safety of his preschool.  Our first drop-off play date was at the house of a family with whom we had spent a lot of time.  This was as much to comfort me as it was for my son.  Before dropping him off, I called the mother and discussed my child’s food allergies and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to set up a carefree play date.

It’s wonderful watching your child grow and develop friendships.  Play dates are an integral part of that experience.  To have a successful play date away from home, I would suggest considering the following:

  • Talk about food choices that you know are safe – and BE BRAND SPECIFIC.  The hostess of our playdate had planned to feed the kids lunch and we discussed a variety of safe meal options. Once decided (we chose chicken nuggets and noodles), I asked if she minded if I emailed her the brand names of the pasta and nuggets that were safe for my son, since some others contained unsafe ingredients.
  • Bring safe snacks for the kids to share.  Consider it a hostess gift!  We brought two of my son’s favorite snacks which were voraciously devoured.  To this day (3 years later) these items are always on-hand at her house for my child or others with similar allergies.
  • Discuss commonly encountered scenarios with the other parent and how to handle them.  You know your child and can predict if he/she will, for example, eat strange objects off the floor, grab food without asking, or throw a fit if certain safe foods aren’t available.   Give them words to handle these encounters.  “I know you can have some kinds of cookies, Billy.  But since I’m not sure these are safe, let’s wait until your mommy comes before I give one to you.”
  • This is a good time to discuss good playdate behavior with your child, especially how THEY should handle food issues.  This includes rules about eating only off your own plate, asking if foods are safe, speaking to the host parent if something doesn’t feel right and general expectations of safe food availability.   “Joey’s house doesn’t have soy milk, so why don’t you drink water while you’re there today and we’ll get a yummy glass of milk when I pick you up.”

My son had a fantastic time on his first play date – and on many more since!  Turns out, most other parents are more tuned in than you think.  I should have been more nervous about my son wetting his pants (which he did! Oops!) than having an allergic reaction.  It’s comforting to know that other parents are just as concerned about your child’s safety as you are.  Keeping your son or daughter safe while independent from you is not only practical, but should be the goal for every parent of a food-allergic child.