Monday, April 28, 2008

Do You Trust Your Husband?

Last week my husband was talking about taking Max on a camping trip with other fathers and kids. A daddy and kid only trip. I must have been looking at him funny because he stopped and said "That's okay, isn't it." I hestitated. "Yes..." I answered. "What are you worried about?" he asked. "I'm worried about you managing Max's allergies on this camping trip." "Oh." he replied, "I promise I'll really pay attention to it."

It's not that I don't think he can do it. He just doesn't always think like I do. Assesing every risk. Checking out everyone else's food. Playing out emergency situation in my head. Reading every label. Just last week he came home with a new brand of hot dog. "Did you read the label?" I asked. "Doh!" he replied, "I didn't even think about it." Sure enough the hot dogs contained a lactic acid starter culture. I've tried to contact the company to find out if the starter culture is dairy derived but the haven't called back.

And up until recently he couldn't even remember that Max was allergic to tree nuts. I have heard more than once, "Cashews? Really? He's allergic to cashews? And pistachios? Since when?" Grrrrrr. I believe he does finally have that down as he was looking at new recipes last week and shouted from the other room "Cashews aren't allowed in the house, right?"

I will let him take Max on the camping trip. It would be fun for them. But Daddy will need some allergy boot camp before hand and I'll probably worry the whole time.

How is your significant other at manage your child's food allergies?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Rocked the Taj Mahal

Okay, still recovering from last week. (Caught a cold). But our Taj Mahal for Asia Day rocked! I don't pat myself on the back much, in fact if you compliment me I tend to say "Oh, it's all right. Could have been better." or some other self deprecating comment. But, seriously, I'm proud of myself!

Here's David and Owen in front of the Taj Mahal.

Close up of the "scroll" work. Each piece cut and glued by moi.

The food turned out okay. My Pancit Noodles didn't turn out. Seemed like an easy recipe but when you are cooking at 6:00 am sometimes things don't work. Max wouldn't try the veggie wontons, did not like the Samosas (even though they rocked!) but did like the Spring Rolls! One out of four is not bad.

I personally thought the Samosas turned out the best and as they are free of dairy, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish, I'll leave the recipe here. I got it from a friend from Indian. She even offered to have her mother-in-law help. Wish I would have had time to take her up on it, would have been fun.


  • 2-3 cups of cubed boiled potatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • flour tortillas
  • red chili powder and salt to taste
  • oil for deep frying

Fry onions in a little oil til golden brown. Add cumin and coriander and fry for another minute.

Add boiled potatoes and green peas. Add salt and chili powder to taste. Stir for 10-15 minutes.

Stir in chopped cilantro and stir for another minute or so. Your filling is ready.

Cut flour tortilla in half. Put in some filling. Fold into shape of triangle and seal edges with a flour and water paste.

Heat some oil in deep pan. Fry samosa to light golden brown.

You may serve hot with Mint Chutney or other chutney. (They are good cold too. I'm thinking may be a great on the road breakfast item.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Need Four Hands This Week

I volunteered to help create an "Asia" themed set for Max's school. The kids will take a pretend flight to Asia and explore the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, rice paddies, Japenese Sand Gardens. So this week I am literally helping to build the Taj Mahal. I volunteered to do the mosiacs on the building. What was I thinking!!??

In addition, you may have seen my previous posts about food for this event. Here and here. They took half my advice on the food and are limiting the food to two types of dishes per country (for a total of eight different types of food). I decided that no matter what I am still going to need to provide Max's food, just to be sure he is safe. So in the next few days I need to make Spring Rolls, Samoasas, Veggie Wontons and Pancit Noodles. Someone wanna come help me?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Purely Decadent

Saturday I visited two stores in search of Tuffuti Chocolate Ice Cream. I hate switching brands once I have found something that works for us. But as I whispered "Damn it, damn it, damn it" when I realized that I was not to find Tuffuti Ice Cream on that day, I picked up a pint of Purely Decadent Dairy Free by Turtle Mountain. I read the label. It didn't contain any of our allergens. Underneath the ingredients was the 'Allergen Information'. I started scanning it figuring it had to be cross contaminated with something. This is what it says:

'Turtle Mountain applies strict quality control measures in an effort to prevent contamination by undeclared food allergens. To assure our preventative measures are effective, we sample test our products for the presence of gluten, dairy, peanut and almond allergens using state of the art testing methods. To lean more about our allergen prevention program visit us at CONTAINS: SOY'

Wow! You guys are too good to be true! But do you really taste 'Purely Decadent'. Max and I bought a pint to take home for a taste test. Max's conclusion "Delicious!" and I concur. It really is good and it's available at our local Safeway.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Multitude of Events Equals Multitudes of Substitutions

Okay, so I'm exaggerating but we do have a lot of outside the home events to attend this weekend. Today I have been running through the mental list of things I need to bake, buy or otherwise get together.

Here's the list:
Saturday afternoon birthday party: The mother is keeping it simple (Bless her!) She is serving fruit, juice and cookies. Note to self: Bake cookies

Saturday evening auction and dinner at Max's school, kids are going to onsite child care (only $30 after paying $80 last week for a sitter this is a steal.): They are serving the kids ice cream and were going to serve goldfish crackers but changed to teddy grahams. Note to self: Buy Tufutti Ice Cream (Chocolate) and send along own ice cream scooper (so my kids don't get cross-contaminated ice cream).

Sunday Newcomers Welcome Luncheon at our church: croissant sandwiches and sliced wraps (from Costco), potato salad and cole slaw (Safeway deli), brownie bites (Costco), Country Time lemonade and sparkling water. Glad she gave me a complete list but this requires I bring along complete lunches for Max and Owen. To make it simple I'll pack: Turkey wraps, Pillsbury crescent rolls (Note to self: buy Crescent Rolls), Carrot slaw (grated carrots) and the cookies I will have already baked.

Why the list? I titled this blog "Everyday with Food Allergies" because I wanted other people to see the preparation that happens for events that people without food allergies don't have to think twice about. I also want to say that a year ago I probably would have only done the birthday party and skipped the school dinner and church luncheon all together. But I can't keep us all shut away in a house. We need to build a community, make friends and get involved. Unfortunately this often involves events with food. So we will just need to learn to deal. Bring our own food. Watch carefully. And carry an Epi-pen (or two or three).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Why the Challenge?

(I have been avoiding my blog the past week. I've been having really angry feelings and misdirecting this anger at my husband (mostly my husband) and kids. And when I'm unbalanced emotionally everyone here seems to be off. So trying to recognize where I am and move on.)

3 for me asked why we challenged egg with Owen instead of testing. My husband actually asked the same question when I called to tell him what had happened. It's a good question.

I'll start that with a brief history of Owen's egg allergy. Having an older child with food allergies, I watched for ANY signs that Owen might have an allergy. He was a very colicky infant. So when he was only weeks old I did an elimination diet on myself (I was breastfeeding exclusively). I slowly added things back in by eight weeks he was a happy baby and the only thing I hadn't added back in my diet was eggs (interestingly enough toward the end of my pregnancy I couldn't tolerate eggs and threw up everytime I ate them.) We were on a trip the time Owen was eight weeks old and I had an Egg McMuffin one morning for breakfast. By evening Owen was a miserable baby. The connection seemed clear to me. So I steered clear of eggs until he was around 17 months old. By then he was only breastfeeding once (okay most of the time twice) a day and my diet no longer seemed to be affecting him. Some eczema but otherwise fine. He had by now exhibited allergy symptoms to dairy.

We did have Owen tested. Skin test at 9 months was negative for milk, small positives for egg and rice. At 17 months he was skin tested again, small positives for milk and egg. When I say small his wheals were 4 or 5 mm compared to Max's tests at this age which were 10 and 12 mm. Rice was negative we added it back in his diet.

After his reaction to sunflower seed we did a RAST. Milk was 2.6 (moderate level) Egg yolk was negative and egg white was only .55 (very low). On the same RAST sesame was .44. The doctor asked if he was eating sesame. I said yes. She said to continue to give it to him if he was tolerating it. He loves hummus and sesame crackers and eats them all the time.

Based on all these low test results the doctor suggested we challenge egg. I actually waited 8 months before I followed through with her suggestion.

So, what does all this mean? I think it means that the numbers don't always matter. Someone with a low RAST score can still have a severe reaction to a food. The number indicates that someone MIGHT react. It can't predict severity. And these tests are not perfect. They are performed by human being in a lab and errors do occur.

More than one allergist has said to "History trumps test results."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tale of a Food Challenge - Owen Gets the Epi

"Why are you cooking eggs!" exclaimed Max.

"Because Owen has a food challenge today to see if he really is allergic to eggs."

"Itchy" says Owen lifting up his shirt. Was this foreshadowing? I'm sure he was mimicking what Max did at his food challenge last week.

At the doctor's office they started out by just touching the scrambled egg to the inside of his cheek. He scratched at his cheek a little while later, it was red but not hivey so after 15 minutes they went ahead with the first dose of 1/4 teaspoon egg. I put it in his mouth and he pushed it out. He really didn't want to eat it, kept turning his head. I finally disguised it in some soy yogurt and he swallowed it. Complete betrayal registered on his face.

Soon after he was definately getting hives. I went and got the nurse who in turn got the doctor. We gave him some Zrytec and then an oral steroid. The hives were not abating and his eyes were beginning to swell. "I'm going to have to give him an Epi." the doctor said. I was surprised. They had been continually checking his blood oxygen and it was fine but I guess they just needed to stop the reaction. I held him on my lap while the nurse injected epinephrine into his leg. Soon after that he threw up. Before I had left the house I had thought to myself, 'I should bring him a change of clothes.' But I hadn't. I ended up having to take his shirt off and put his jacket on him because the vomit on his sleeve kept giving him more hives. We were there for two more hours before they released us after more anti-histamine and some oral steroids he is to take this evening.

I've been crying on and off since we got home. I don't know why this is more upsetting to me than last week. Because for the first time one of my kids got the Epi? Because it proves to me they really are THAT allergic. I don't know. Owen is fine now. Resisting nap as usual. I think I'll cry a little longer.