Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Almost Ready for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just one day away and I am still planning my menu.  This year our Thanksgiving will be pretty laid back, since it will be just the four us, my husband and two boys.  Being a military family sometimes means we cannot always connect with our familys for the holidays.  We make the best of it and enjoy every minute of our time together and secretly I feel al little relieved that we are not fighting the traffic and standing in long lines at an airport.  It also means I can experiment and try new recipes without the worry of ruining dinner for a large group.  So this year I wanted to try brining the turkey.  I have never done this before and found a recipe on the Cooking Light website that we are going to try.  And instead of opening a can of jellied cranberry sauce, my husbands favorite, we are going to make another recipe I found on the Cooking Light website for cranberry sauce.  With a couple of my own recipes to add to our menu I am getting closer to being ready.  Each year I am determined to make Thanksgiving entirely milk-free and still very delicious.  Click on the highlighted items for the recipes. This is what I have so far~

Just need to come up with a vegetable and dessert and we have our menu. Whatever your traditions may be, enjoy, try something new and have a Happy Thanksgiving.~

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

The fall is off to a great start, with fabulous weather, fall sports, fall recipes and most importantly, we got through Halloween and school holiday parties with no allergic reactions.  It has been a few years since Jack's last reaction and I attribute that to the wonderful friends and family we are surrounded by and lots of diligence by Mom and Dad.  I have watched Jack grow and mature into a confident boy who has not let his allergies define him.  Thankfully, he is usually willing to try my new recipes and always seems thankful for what he can have rather than focusing on what he cannot have.

My latest experiment was making chicken pot pie.  I have always wanted to make chicken pot pie for my family, since my mother frequently made it when I was a child.  It is such a nice comfort food for a cold fall day.  I always assumed the recipe would need milk or cream to be good.   But by substituting soy milk into the recipe, it was just as good as I remembered.  I did cheat and found a ready-made pie crust at my supermarket, rather than making home-made crust.  The recipe is so easy to make and I couldn't believe how much it reminded me of the same warm chicken pot pie from my childhood.  Enjoy!~

1 can peas
1 can carrots
1/3 cup soy margarine
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups organic (milk-free) chicken broth
2/3 cup plain soy milk
3 cups cut-up cooked chicken
2 9-inch ready-made pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Heat margarine over medium heat.  Stir in flour, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Stir constantly with a whisk until bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in broth and soy milk.  Heat to boiling.  Stir constantly and boil for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in chicken, carrots and peas.
Pour mixture into pastry-lined pan.  Cover filling with remaining pie crust.  Bake for about 35 minutes.  You may need to cover edges with tin foil to avoid burning.  Serve warm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Having a Milk-Free, Safe and Fun Halloween

Since this was one of my first posts when I started this blog a year ago, I thought it would be a good idea to re post for my new readers.  Halloween is an exciting time and should be a holiday that every child can enjoy regardless of food allergies.  Below are a few of my tips on staying safe and having fun this 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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lemon Chicken with Broccoli and Peppers

My boys absolutely love this recipe and I usually double the ingredients because everyone asks for seconds.  It is simple to make and you can easily omit the broccoli and peppers and add different vegetables.  In the summer, I like to use cherry tomatoes from the garden.   I have had a hard time finding broths that don't contain milk, so make sure to check ingredients carefully when buying the chicken broth.  Usually the organic brands are the way to go.  Of course, double check the ingredients first.  This recipe has so much flavor with the fresh lemon juice and zest.  Hope you like it as much as we do.  Enjoy~

4-6 thinly sliced chicken breast or chicken cutlets
1-2 tablespoons olive oil or milk-free margarine
kosher salt and pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup (milk-free) chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 chopped red pepper
1 cup fresh broccoli, rinsed and chopped
8 oz. farfalle pasta, cooked according to directions on box

In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon milk-free margarine or olive oil over medium heat in.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Add chicken to skillet and cook on each side until done, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove chicken.  Add white wine, chicken broth and lemon juice to skillet and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Add peppers, broccoli and parsley to skillet and heat for about 5 minutes.  Combine chicken and broth and veggie mixture to farfalle pasta.  Add lemon zest, toss and serve.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Snickerdoodle Muffins

This Saturday we started the month of October off at the soccer field at 8:00 AM.  We actually had to pull out the fleece jackets.  Could it be,  is fall finally here?  My Maryland friends just can't understand why I long for the crisp mornings of fall and have no problem saying goodbye to the steamy weather that seems to linger just a little too long here for this girl from Maine.

This cool morning seemed like the perfect time to pull out my recipe for snickerdoodle muffins.  These muffins are so delicious warm out of the oven with a cup of coffee.  They are covered in melted margarine and cinnamon and sugar and just melt in your mouth.  I knew if I only made one batch, the muffins would quickly be devoured.  I decided to double the recipe so we could share the muffins with the other soccer parents as we watched the game.

I started making these muffins years ago for my husband and I, before children and allergies.  Now, I only have to replace the butter with soy margarine and the milk with soy or rice milk.  You won't need much time at all to throw these snickerdoodle muffins together.  Here is the recipe, below.  Get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy.

1/3 cup Crisco
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup soy or rice milk (I used Silk Vanilla Soy Milk)

Topping Ingredients:
6 Tablespoons melted soy margarine (I used Earth Balance Vegan Sticks)
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

With electric mixer, mix Crisco, egg and sugar.
Using a whisk, sift flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg in a separate bowl.
Next, alternate mixing sifted ingredients and soy milk with Crisco, egg and sugar mixture.
Drop batter into greased muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool slightly.  Remove from pan.  Then dip the tops of the muffins in the melted margarine and then top with the cinnamon sugar.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to Blogging!

Wow, who knew it would be so hard to stick to this blogging thing.  The summer flew by and now we are in full swing with school, homework and after-school activities.  We've moved the epi-pens from the beach bag to the back pack and soccer bag.

It was not only an epic summer, with vacations to Cape Cod and Maine, but it was a successful summer with no allergic reactions.  It has actually been a few years since the last allergic reaction, but the fears of a reaction and my natural instinct to keep my child safe never goes away.

Even being away from home, on vacation with so many family and friends, who filled the refrigerator and cupboards with all kinds of foods that we don't keep at home, we were able to stay safe.  Constant vigilance was needed and at times it got overwhelming making sure we used the right loaf of bread or the safe container of margarine.  We only keep one kind of margarine at home, the safe one.  Every time my son, now eleven, opened the refrigerator door, while on vacation,  I felt myself take a deep breath and hold it.  We were not at home, where our son has a little independence and can make some of his own food choices without worrying about grabbing the wrong food.  The overwhelming feeling of wanting to make all of my son's choices and protect him will always be with me.  That's just part of loving your child and wanting them to have the most normal childhood as possible.

With good planning and cooperation from all, we had great vacations.  No, we weren't able to go to the local ice cream shops with the cousins, but we were able to make soy ice cream sundaes at home, and even enjoyed lobster in Maine with soy margarine instead of butter.

So now it's back to school, sports and the fall season on the Chesapeake Bay.  Looking forward to trying new recipes that I can share and getting back to blogging!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mango Salsa~Just in time for Father's Day

This fresh mango salsa is a wonderful addition to our pork burger for the summer. (For the pork burger recipe click here.)  You can control the spiciness of the salsa by how much jalapeno you put in the recipe.  The kids loved scooping up the salsa with chips.  They didn't seem to realize that they were eating fruit and vegetables either.  I have to imagine that this salsa would be great on fish and chicken as well.  We all loved it and look forward to enjoying it a lot this summer.  Enjoy!~

Would love to hear from anyone who knows something about canning and if this is something I could can this summer.  Maybe this would be nice to have in the winter or to be able to give out as gifts?

1 mango, peeled and diced
4 grapevine tomatoes, diced
1/2-1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, chill and serve on top of burgers, chicken, fish or serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Milk and Egg Free Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Scones for Mother's Day and Teacher Appreciation Week

This is the first time I have made scones and I have to say I am quite pleased with the results.  It only took me about a half hour to make them.  A few years ago a few friends gave me a collection of recipes as a going away gift before one of our "military moves."  One of the recipes was for scones and I can't believe I am just now trying it out.  I had to change the recipe slightly to make it "allergy friendly."  Instead of half and half, I used soy milk and of course vegan margarine instead of butter.  The original recipe called for chocolate chips.  Instead, I decided to try raspberries in half of the recipe and milk free chocolate "chunks" in the other half for the chocolate lovers in my family.  The chocolate "chunk" scones were a big hit.  The raspberry scones were a little plain.  So next time, I might add chocolate chunks to the raspberry and maybe a teaspoon of vanilla to the recipe.  We did our taste test when the scones came out of the oven and were still warm.  This is a recipe that will make a nice addition for Mother's Day brunch or for teacher appreciation week and it is easy enough that maybe my husband will attempt to make them for me for Mother's Day.    Enjoy!~

2 cups flour
5 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 Tablespoons margarine (I use Earth Balance Vegan Sticks)
2/3 cup Vanilla Soy Milk
1/3 cup chocolate chunks ( I use Baker's Chocolate Chunks) 
1/3 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in margarine with a pastry cutter.  Stir in soy milk until just moistened.  Divide dough in half.  Fold in chocolate chunks in one half and raspberries in the other half.

Gently knead dough on lightly floured surface.  Only knead about 5 times.  Shape and pat each half into a one inch thick round.  Cut each into 4 wedges.  Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Brush top of chocolate chunk wedges with soy milk.  The raspberry wedges will be moist enough and won't need to be brushed with soy milk.  Then, sprinkle sugar onto the tops.

Bake until golden brown for twelve to fifteen minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy warm!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake for Easter or Anytime

Try this easy to make coffee cake this Easter, especially if you have family visiting.  It smells amazing baking and tastes so delicious warm with a cup of coffee.  I have made this many times for friends and family.  Often, I make it to give to someone who needs warm comfort food, whether they are healing from a surgery or grieving the loss of a pet.  Nothing about this coffee cake tastes "milk-free."   It is delicious and a big hit every time.

This year I am going to make this coffee cake for my family for our Easter brunch.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  Enjoy~

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup margarine softened (Earth Balance, Vegan Sticks)
1 cup Silk Vanilla Soy Milk
1 egg
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat all ingredients, except blueberries.  Grease 9"x9" pan (can also use 13"x9")  Pour half of the batter in pan.  Spread 1 cup of blueberries over batter, then top with remaining batter.  Add streusel topping, listed below.  Bake 40 minutes.

Ingredients for Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon margarine
Mix all ingredients and sprinkle on top of cake batter.

After cake has finished baking, top with glaze, listed below:
Mix 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoon Silk Vanilla Soy Milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Drizzle over top of baked cake.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Will a child be forced to leave school because of an allergy?

It is very hard to understand how people could be so horribly insensitive.  A girl facing a life threatening allergy, already struggling with the burden of trying to fit in and live a normal life, is asked to withdraw from school.  I am not sure if I agree with all that the allergy family is asking of the school.  However, there must be a way to resolve differences and come up with a solution.  There should be a way that the family, their allergy Doctor and the school can agree on a plan that does not result in the child being forced to leave the school.

Equal access to education is not only the right thing to do, it is what the law requires.  I hope the school can work out a good solution in the best interest of the child.

Go here for the story:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crepes for Dinner

Crepes are a family tradition for us.  I remember my Grandfather making them every time we would visit him when we were kids.  He couldn't make them fast enough as my siblings and I were always  "ready for another one."  I love making them for my children and hope they will cherish the simple memories.  These are so easy to make and can be made for breakfast or dinner.  We love to have breakfast for dinner.  They are also fun to make if you have company.  When we get together with our family in the summer, my niece and nephew always ask for crepes.

Crepes can be served so many different ways.  We love them simply with margarine, sugar, rolled up and topped with strawberries.  Another option would be to spread with jam, roll up and top with powdered sugar.  If you have ever made crepes, I would love to hear how you make them!

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups soy milk (I use Silk Vanilla Soy)
2 tablespoons melted margarine (I use Earth Balance, Vegan Sticks)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Combine dry ingredients and sift by mixing with a whisk.  Add remaining ingredients.  Beat all ingredients until smooth.  Heat skillet on medium heat and melt margarine to coat pan.  To cook each crepe,  pour batter onto warm skillet with a ladle.  Pour enough to fill the pan. (Make sure the bottom of the pan is covered with batter.)  If you have never made these before, it may take a couple times to get the hang of it.  You don't want them to be too thick like a pancake or too thin so they burn.  They cook very quickly and will need to be turned when it is light brown.  Use a spatula to loosen the sides and turn and cook the other side until it is also light brown.  Immediately spread with margarine and sprinkle with sugar.  Roll the crepe and top with fresh strawberries.  Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gourmet Chocolate Bunny And It's Milk-Free

We are getting our very first chocolate Easter Bunny this year, and will be getting it from Divvies.  Divvies  offers candies and baked goods that are free of nuts, eggs and dairy.  The products are made in a dedicated facility to avoid cross-contamination.  When I checked out the website recently to order our Easter Bunny, I also noticed another fun treat that I might order.  They are selling Easter chocolate bag-kits.  This is a kit which contains instructions and ingredients to make edible chocolate bags to put all your Easter treats in.   I know my boys would love this.  I would even consider ordering it early and making it with them rather than making it for them.  I think this would be a fun activity to do with them.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Happy Spring~

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

In our family, we get very excited for the holidays, especially St. Patrick's Day.  Last year, one of the boys asked me to make these cupcakes, when we came across the idea in the Family Fun Magazine.  For whatever reason, I just didn't get around to it.  Well, the idea and directions can still be found on the magazine's website, so yesterday, I thought I would surprise the boys with them.

I had to make a few changes, but I think they came out great.  First, I could not find a "white" cake mix that did not contain milk.  Maybe if I looked harder and took the time to go to other stores, such as the Whole Food's market, I would have found a safe, milk-free mix.  Since I really did not have the time to make home-made cupcakes, I opted for the "yellow" cake mix that I found at the local supermarket, made by Duncan Hines.

The other change I made was to the suggested topping.  Family Fun suggests using whipped cream on the top to look like a cloud on top of the rainbow.  I used my own frosting recipe and a frosting decorating bag with a wide tip and got the same look.  For the frosting recipe on the milk-free page of this blog, go here: Milk-Free Recipes.  For the directions on how to make these cupcakes, go here: Family Fun.

The magazine has lots of other suggestions for the St. Patrick's Day holiday.  Next, we might try making the Shamrock Pretzels.

Happy St. Patrick's Day~

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Barbecue Pork Burgers for Dinner

Try this recipe for grilled barbecue pork burgers for an alternative to beef and turkey.  My husband likes to experiment a little in the kitchen, if it means he gets to use the grill.  The whole family loves his burgers and suggested that he jot down the recipe.  If you are not quite ready to get the grill out, the burgers can be cooked on the stove top.  I suggest putting a little olive oil in the pan first.  But, we are ready for spring and plan to make our burgers on the grill this week.  Then again, we grill outside year round, snow or no snow.      So why not kick off spring a little early and fire up the grill.  Enjoy!

1 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch salt and pepper
finely crushed crackers (6-8), (we use Town House Toppers Original)

Heat grill to medium-high.
Combine all ingredients.
Shape into patties.
Grill about 8 minutes per side, until cooked through.
Serve on your favorite roll.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blueberry Bran Muffins

These muffins smell great baking and it is so easy to throw the ingredients together and have them made in under thirty minutes.  Today I made them for the boys to have after school.  They love them and didn't even seem to care that they are "healthy".

This time I made them with blueberries.  The blueberries could be replaced with other fruits, such as raspberries, raisins or bananas.  The original recipe did call for milk, which I replaced with Silk Vanilla Soy Milk.

The recipe made twelve muffins.  Just enough for snacks and breakfast for a few days.  Enjoy!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups.
In large bowl, combine flour, bran, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, soy milk, oil and egg; blend well.  Add to dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.
Fill muffin cups.  Bake 18 to 20 minutes.  Cool in pan for about 5 minutes; remove from pan.
They are especially good eaten while still warm.

Add 1/2 cup frozen blueberries or raisins or another fruit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The kids decorate cookies for Valentine's Day.

It is not always easy coming up with a craft that all age levels will have fun with, especially if you have more than one child.  The monster mail box, shown in my previous blog post, is perfect for my second grader, but seemed too young for my fourth grader.  My fourth grader is also my child with the milk allergy.

Since everyone loves cookies, we decided to have the kids decorate sugar cookies during their Valentine's Day party.  I had volunteered to bring in a sweet treat for the class party, as I always do so that there is a safe snack that everyone can enjoy.   A friend suggested decorating the cookies as the craft for the party.  I have to say, I was relieved.  This is a great idea for the kids and it takes the pressure off of me to come up with the holiday design and relieved me of the extra time it would have taken to decorate, not that I mind, of course.

The recipe for the Sugar Cookies is below and will be added to my Milk-Free Recipes Page of the blog.  In addition to the cookies, I plan to bring in a bowl of frosting.  The frosting is so easy to make and the recipe can also be found on the Milk-Free Recipes page.  Don't forget to add red food coloring.  In addition to the frosting, the kids will have safe candies and sprinkles to add to their cookies for decoration.

Looking forward to seeing what the kids come up with.  Happy Valentine's Day.  Enjoy!

1 cup (milk-free) margarine, I especially like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Mix thoroughly margarine, confectioner's sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Blend in flour, soda and cream of tartar.  Cover, chill for 2-3 hours.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Divide dough in half, keep one half refrigerated until ready to roll and cut.
Roll each half on lightly floured surface.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
Place on lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until light brown on edge.
Cool on cooling racks.  Store in air tight container until ready to frost.

For 25 large heart shapes, I increased the ingredients by three.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Day does not have to be about a box of chocolates.

If you are looking for craft ideas that do not involve food, Family Fun Magazine has some fun projects for Valentine's Day.  I especially like the alien monster mailbox.  It was easy to make and is a fun way to collect all those Valentine's Day cards.

This is the box we made at home and will be making with my son's class.  We only needed a few materials and it took only minutes to make.  To make the Valentine's Day box we needed an empty tissue box, a small piece of felt for the teeth, paper for the hands, feet and nose, pipe cleaners and googly eyes, found at our local craft store.

Check out the holiday craft ideas at Family Fun by clicking here.

Send me your ideas or photos of your Valentine's Day creations.
Happy Valentine's Day~

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Doughnuts for breakfast

These baked cake doughnuts are so easy to make.  The boys love them.  No we can't walk into a bakery and pick up a box of pastries or doughnuts.  But with the right recipe and without taking much time out of my afternoon, I created something that looks and tastes as good as the best bakery!  And with a couple minor adjustments to the recipe, they are milk-free.

Looking forward to enjoying them with my coffee in the morning.  Go here for the recipe.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Dreaded Sleepovers

It is difficult to put into words why a mother of a child with allergies is not fond of letting her child go to a friend's house for what most families take for granted as a regular,  normal, harmless, fun activity for their children.  Sleepovers.  Like I said, it is really hard to put into words all the scenarios of what could go bad that go through my head.  Unfortunately, a parent of a child with life threatening allergies has to go through all the scenarios.

My boys love to have sleepovers. For a long time, we would only allow sleepovers if the friends came to our home.  Of course, I want them to have fun.  But, I have to admit this is one of my least favorite activities.  It is a lot of work and takes quite a bit of courage on my part to let my son stay anyplace other than home.  But with great friends and understanding parents, and a lot of communication, we've been able to start letting our son stay at other homes.

Here are a few tips to help with this transition from the toddler safe at home to the big kids having sleepovers.

  • Start with a friend very close by in the same neighborhood.  That way, you are near by if needed.
  • If it is a birthday party/sleepover and there will be several children eating the same thing, get a list of what foods will be there and send food from home that will be similar.  Sometimes I even ask what color the frosting will be on the cake and send a cupcake from home with the same color frosting.
  • I like to send a enough treats to share.  That will help your child not feel singled out by eating something different.  Often, I make my pumpkin bread for the kids to eat for breakfast.  Go here for the recipe.
  • Make sure your child has played with this friend several times first and that you have had plenty of discussions with the parent about EpiPens and warning signs of reactions, what the allergies are, ect.  Don't let your child stay, if this is the first time the parent has experienced watching a child with allergies.
  • Pack food and have your child only eat what you have packed.  Unless you plan to stay and read every label, that's probably the safest.
  • Recently, a friend's mom wanted to supply all the food and made many efforts to shop and talk to me about what is safe and what is not.  This was so thoughtful and I am so grateful for her efforts. She even bought our son's favorite donuts from Kinnikinnick for everyone to have in the morning.  I couldn't help worry, even though we had gone over the list, what if someone grabs the wrong bag of chips or the wrong cookie.  I also didn't want our son to have a false sense of security and think that every food was safe.  We decided to put stickers on all the packages of foods my husband and I had checked.  This helped us to have more confidence that everything would go well at the sleepover.
It is so important to us to keep our son safe but at the same time find a balance so that he can just be a kid and focus on nerf gun wars, pillow fights, staying up late watching movies and just having fun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

EpiPen is treating you to a 10% off coupon for your Divvies purchase.

Divvies offers gourmet treats made in a dedicated facility.  They make cookies, cupcakes, popcorn and candy that is peanut-free, tree nut free, milk-free and egg free.

Enter the promo code: EPI at the checkout at www.divvies.com

Can't wait to make my purchase for the next holiday.  Maybe a chocolate candy bar for Valentine's Day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

How to read a label for a MILK-FREE DIET.

I am often asked "Is there milk in that" or "How do you know if your child can have that?"  The list is long and needs to be reviewed often.  Milk seems to show up in the most unsuspecting places, like bubble gum, crackers, breads, juices, cereals, meats, soaps and the list goes on.  Parents of children with a milk allergy or any allergy for that matter, find themselves reading every food label not once but several times, and sometimes backwards, to make sure they don't miss anything.  Since the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 came into effect on January 1, 2006, reading labels became a little easier.  The law requires that manufacturers clearly identify on their food labels if the product contains an ingredient from any of the eight major food allergens.  However, the list can be daunting.  For a reference, I keep a list in my handbag and in the kitchen of what foods contain milk and what ingredients need to be avoided.

Even after ten years, I find myself often referring to this list.  This list comes from The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

Avoid foods that contain milk or any of these ingredients:

butter, butter fat, butter oil, butter acid, butter ester(s)
casein hydrolysate
caseinates (in all forms)
cottage cheese
lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
milk (in all forms, including condensed, derivative, dry, evaporated, goat's milk and milk from other animals, low-fat, malted, milkfat, nonfat, powder, protein, skimmed, solids, whole)
milk protein hydrolysate
rennet casein
sour cream, sour cream solids
sour milk solids
whey (in all forms)
whey protein hydrolysate

Milk may also be found in the following:

artificial butter flavor
baked goods
caramel candies
lactic acid starter culture and other bacterial cultures
luncheon meat, hot dogs, sausages
nondairy products

This list is available on a wallet-sized plastic card that can be ordered from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.