Monday, October 25, 2010

Please share your Divvies

Divvies makes baked goods and candy and boasts that your friends without allergies will want you to share.  This company is worth looking into.  The baked goods and candy are free of nuts, eggs and dairy.  The products are made in a dedicated facility where no peanuts, tree nuts, eggs or dairy enter the doors.  They conduct routine testing for cross-contamination.  Divvies also gives back to the Food Allergy Initiative.

Some of the products look a little pricy.  However, I met a Mom recently, who highly recommended the products from Divvies.  Her daughter is also severely allergic to milk and was able to have for the first time a chocolate Easter bunny.  I am looking forward to seeing what products are available for the holidays and will most definitely put an order in for a chocolate Easter bunny.  That will be a first and I don't think you can put a price on that.

Divvies is currently selling chocolate ghosts for Halloween.  Check it out.  Just click on  Divvies for the link.

Banilla Shake-Up

Try this shake for a fun after-school snack.  It is a little sweet.  So maybe save it for dessert.  My boys loved it and one does not like bananas.  To get the recipe, go to the Milk-Free Recipes page of this blog.  I added a little milk-free chocolate syrup before blending.  Everything tastes better with chocolate.  I have found that many chocolate syrups do not have milk proteins but most sauces or hot fudge sauces do contain milk.  As always, just make sure to the read the ingredients carefully.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Donuts!

Anyone with severe food allergies knows what it is like to be envious of those who can eat anything they want.  A simple thing like going through the Drive Thru at Dunkin Donuts is something we have never been able to do with our son, at least not to buy a donut.  I cannot describe the excitement and joy I felt as a mother when our son experienced a donut for the first time when we discovered Kinnikinnick Donuts this summer.  Kinnikinnick Foods is currently selling Pumpkin Spice Donuts for the fall season through November 30.  Our Whole Foods store was not able to order them today.  They were not available yet for retailers, however, you can order them direct from the website. Not only are the donuts milk free, they are wheat, nut and soy free.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How does your school handle allergies?

Where is your child's EpiPen?  Does your child carry the EpiPen or does it stay in the nurses office or does it stay in the classroom?  How old should the child be when he or she can be responsible for the EpiPen?

We review these questions every time we start a new school year.  Most likely the answers to these questions vary from child to child and with different Doctor recommendations and with different school policies and of course your comfort level as a parent.  Since we have moved a couple of times over the past few years, we have tried different things with different schools and as our child has moved through different grades.

For kindergarten, we actually had a hook placed near the classroom door to hang the EpiPen carrier.  When the class moved out of the room to another class, such as music or art, the teacher would carry the EpiPen to that particular class and hand off to the teacher of that class and the EpiPen would follow him wherever he went.  He did not carry the EpiPen himself.  This was a good reminder for a teacher who only saw my son one day a week that someone in the class has a severe allergy.

Now, we are in a new school and my son is a little older.  The EpiPen stays with the nurse and he keeps one in his backpack.  The EpiPen does not follow him from class to class anymore.  We are comfortable with this change, since he has a better understanding of his allergy.

What is your school's policy?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin Bread by Popular Demand

This is not a new recipe to me but it is a family favorite and too good to keep a secret.  This recipe gets used quite frequently for school snacks, breakfast, visitors and gifts and upon request.  I also like to make it for when we are traveling.  It is a nice comfort food for long car rides (we have driven cross-country twice) and plane trips.  You can find this recipe under the Milk-Free Recipes page on this blog.  I hope you enjoy this fall treat as much as we do.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

One of the reasons I started this blog was to get out of the rut of eating the same old things week after week.  I grew up eating casseroles with milk based soups and meats and potatoes.  Now, we can't use milk or meat ( cow meat anyway).  When we learned this summer that our son's milk allergy has gotten worse, I decided it is time to learn new recipes, try new things and accept this as a way of life, quite possibly for a long time.

Certainly over the past few years, I have gotten into a habit of making pretty much the same menus over and over again to avoid the risk that someone might not like their dinner and it will be wasted effort.  Who wants to eat the same things week after week?  Once I started going through my recipes, I realized I actually have so many that I have never tried or only tried once and didn't get back to.  I am looking forward to trying new recipes and exploring the possibilities.

I thought this one would be a good one to start off with: Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs.  The recipe is posted under Milk-Free Recipes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Having a Milk-Free and Fun Halloween

Most holidays can cause a lot of anxiety for a family dealing with severe food allergies, especially, since the holidays seem to always revolve around food.  At first, I was saddened that our child would not be able to dive into his Halloween bag and eat anything he wanted like all the other kids.  Over the years, we have learned to make sure that milk chocolate candy is not what makes Halloween great. Below, I have listed a few ideas that our family has done to make sure Halloween is a fun and allergy safe holiday.
  • Ask a few neighbors and friends ahead to have some "safe" candy available so your child can trick-or-treat at their homes.
  • Have a Halloween party at your home and ask everyone to wear their costumes.  Give parents suggestions for safe treats to bring to the party.  However, make the focus on costumes not candy.  Offer prizes to the most creative, scariest, prettiest and funniest costumes.  Play age appropriate games.  For instance, one year friends brought their own small pumpkin to decorate.  We didn't carve them.  We decorated the pumpkins instead.  Family Fun Magazine has great ideas for no-carve pumpkins.
  • If your child's teacher is having a party in the classroom, offer to volunteer and bring a safe snack that the whole class can have.  This way your child doesn't feel singled out by eating his own "different" treat.  My favorite holiday treat to bring to the classroom is cupcakes and whoopie pies.  Both recipes are listed on the Milk-Free Recipes page of this blog.  It's easy to change the color of the frosting to fit the holiday.
  • A neighborhood we once lived in organized a Halloween parade for the kids to show off their costumes in the neighborhood.  Since it is usually dark when the kids go trick-or-treating and it goes by so fast, the parade gave everyone a chance to enjoy each other's costumes that some of us spend so much time making and getting ready.  At the end of the parade, everyone gathered in one yard to play games and decorate pumpkins.  Again, this was all about the costumes not the candy.
  • Now that my son is getting older, we are much more comfortable letting him go door to door with his friends without Mom and Dad hovering over him.  We let him make the choice to take the milk-chocolate candy or not.  He  knows not to eat anything until he comes home and we check the bag together.  If he comes home with milk-chocolate, then he gets to trade with his brother or we have milk-free candy saved for him to trade for.  In the end, he always has plenty.  Most importantly, he has a blast putting his costume together and walking around the neighborhood with his friends.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Milk Allergy or Lactose Intolerance?

Does your child have an allergy or intolerance?  Over the years, I have found myself explaining this difference over and over again. It worries and frustrates me that a milk allergy is frequently mistaken for an intolerance.  Yes, many people are "lactose intolerant".  If you are intolerant, however, you don't have to worry about a life threatening reaction.  You might end up on the toilet rather than in need of Epinephrine and in an emergency room.

My frustrations started very early on in this process.  For instance, I remember reluctantly bringing my son to a new playgroup when he was about two years old and worrying about the cups of milk and spills and kids walking around with chocolate muffins and donuts.  I certainly was not comfortable leaving him, even though the parents I was getting to know all seemed quite nice.  One parent tried to comfort me by saying, "Well, you should be able to leave him.  I just won't give him milk."  Wouldn't it be nice, if it were that simple.  Of course, anyone with a food allergy, whether it's milk or something else, knows that even the smallest amount in any form could cause a severe, life threatening reaction.  It is not as easy to get this point across to others.  Someone actually said to me once, "What's the worst that could happen? So he might get an upset stomach or diarrhea".  I wish.  I truly wish our son only had to worry about an upset stomach.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

Symptoms of lactose intolerance can be mild to severe, depending on how much lactase your body makes. Symptoms usually begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after you eat or drink milk products. If you have lactose intolerance, your symptoms may include:
  • Bloating.
  • Pain or cramps.
  • Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly.
  • Gas.
  • Loose stools or diarrhea.
  • Throwing up.

What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:
  • Rash or hives
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling of the airways to the lungs
  • Anaphylaxis
The lists of symptoms for lactose intolerance and food allergies comes from

Doctors don't know everything.

Recently, my son broke his finger.  This would be his fourth broken finger.  Each time, I ask, is he getting enough calcium?  Would he be at less risk of breaking bones if he was not allergic to milk and could get more calcium?  Should we supplement and what is a good supplement?
At the most recent appointment with the Orthopedic Doctor, I asked these questions.  I did not get the definitive answers I was looking for and will follow-up, after reviewing with our Pediatrician and maybe even a Nutritionist.  To be fair, the purpose of this Dr. visit was to make sure the bone was healing properly and not to review his nutrition and allergies.
The Orthopedic did however mention a supplement called Viactiv.  Of course, I immediately went shopping for the supplement to learn that they come in four delicious flavors and ALL FOUR CONTAIN MILK.
This is just another reminder that the patient and the consumer must take the responsibility to read labels, do the research and not assume anything in order to keep someone with allergies safe.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Milk-Free Donuts!

We were so excited this summer, while on vacation, when we came across milk-free donuts at the supermarket.  I've been looking for them at our local markets and just found them today at our Whole Foods store.  They are made by Kinnikinnick Foods.  The added bonus is that they are also nut free and gluten free.  AND they are really, truly good.  We have tried the Cinnamon Sugar Donuts and the Chocolate Dipped Donuts.  Love them both.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook

Thanks to my friend, Tracy, for the following cookbook suggestion.  This is what she said:
Not sure if you have this already...great source for fun recipes with good suggestions for substitutions (when applicable). Because I deal with dairy and egg substitutes (never mind the nuts!) I found it very helpful. Check it out--maybe a good link for your blog too.

The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook: More Than 150 Recipes That Are Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, and Low in Sugar

This is great, Tracy! I will definitely add this link to the blog. This is exactly what I was hoping for, new ideas to share, even if it's not about milk specifically. Regardless of the allergy, we all share very similar experiences. This is a great suggestion. Thank you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time to update the school health plan?

I have been checking my son's back-pack and folder every day for the letter that should have gone out to the parents notifying them that there is a child in the class with a severe milk allergy.  I did get a letter regarding a child with a severe peanut allergy in my younger child's class.  As in years past, the school agreed to do a letter for our class about our allergy issue.  Wondering why I had not received the letter yet, I decided to check with the school nurse today.  She said, I have spoken with the principal and teacher and they feel this is not necessary.
We have always sent out a letter.  Since kindergarten, this is what we have been doing.  Before giving in to the temptation to burst into tears and yell, "how dare you not follow this procedure and tell me this is not necessary", I decide to take a step back and think about this.  They assure me that the lunch room is following the proper procedures to keep our son safe.  The teacher is informed and knows how to keep him safe in class.  The room is not "milk-free" nor have we ever requested that a room be milk-free.  However, the kids are not drinking milk and having lunch in the room.  I am not asking for the room to be milk-free.  So what is the purpose of sending out a letter?
When our son was younger, we felt a letter was necessary.  It served as a reminder for parents and the teacher to be mindful during holiday parties in the room.  Young children should not have to take on the responsibility to wonder if a volunteer parent or teacher accidentally put the wrong cookie on their plate, or if the friend sitting next to them has a cup full of chocolate milk.  Sometimes, parents would ask me for ideas for holiday treats or birthday treats that were safe to bring in.
Now, we are realizing that our son is getting older.  He knows to be aware of his surroundings and if his buddy sits down with a carton of milk, then he should move over and give them some space in between.  He certainly knows enough not to take any food without checking first to make sure it's safe.  He definitely understands the importance of not trading food.  In addition, our son does not want a lot of attention drawn to him and to be labeled the "allergy kid".   So maybe, the letter to the class isn't necessary anymore.  It would have been nice, though, had the school discussed with us the change to our usual routine.   I should be happy. Things are getting easier.
Parent's of children with life threatening allergies will always worry.  I have a feeling the age of the child will not change that. However, they do grow up and become more responsible.  Maybe it's time I take another look at our allergy health plan and make room for adjustments.

Eating out is not fun.

I would love to go into a restaurant and feel comfortable ordering a meal for my family.  This is one of the most stressful things I have dealt with as a parent of a child with life threatening food allergies.  I can't tell you how many times we have asked if the chicken fingers and french fries in a restaurant have milk  in them and are told they do not.  After asking to look at the label on the box of chicken fingers and french fries, we find out that they do actually have milk proteins, like whey in the chicken breading or parmesan cheese on the french fries.

We usually feel like we are playing russian roulette when we go out to eat.  Even if we have checked and double checked with the waitstaff, talked to the chef and read labels on boxes, I sit there and watch my son eat and hope that no mistakes were made in the kitchen, that there was no cross-contamination and that we read the labels carefully enough and didn't miss anything.

The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that came into effect January 1, 2006 made reading labels much easier for people trying and needing to avoid major food allergens.  Wouldn't it be nice if restaurants had to follow this same practice.  It is appalling to me that with allergies on the rise that people in the food service business do not take this issue as seriously as they should.  It would certainly increase business for an establishment to be a trusted allergy aware restaurant.  It would be so much less nerve-wracking to go out to eat, if we could look at a menu and feel confident that what we were about to order didn't have any life threatening surprises.  At the very least, it would be helpful to have someone in a restaurant available to speak to who fully understood the impact of the questions being asked and could say with confidence that the food is or is not safe.

Pizza Night

Friday night is pizza night in our home.  Only until recently did I feel comfortable with the idea of eating pizza in front of my son.  I always thought the cheese must be the best part and it wasn't fair that he couldn't have it.  Now, I realize, it's the idea that we are doing something together that makes it fun.  Sometimes I buy the pizza dough already made. Pillsbury makes a milk free dough that is good.  A couple weeks ago I started using my parents recipe that was used when I was growing up.  It is very easy to make and smells great in the oven.  There is something about the smell of fresh dough baking that is so comforting.  The recipe for the pizza dough is posted under milk free recipes.