Thursday, October 16, 2014

{Allergy Free} Maple Cinnamon Cookies


Maple Cinnamon Cookies

3/4 cup Earth Balance
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp egg replacer whisked with 4 T original hemp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 T maple syrup
2 1/2 cups flour blend
3/4 tsp xanthan
2 tsp baking powder
t tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Frosting
1/2 cup Spectrum shortening
1/2 cup Earth Balance
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
cinnamon for sprinkling

Cream Earth Balance with both sugars until light and fluffy.
Add egg replacer, vanilla, and maple syrup and mix well.
Add all dry ingredients and mix slowly until dough forms.
Roll spoonfuls of dough into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Flatten slightly with hand.
Bake at 375 for 10-11 minutes.
Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes.
Frost when completely cool.

For frosting, cream Earth Balance and shortening together until smooth.
Add powdered sugar and salt and mix well.
Add maple syrup and vanilla and mix on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
Spread onto cool cookies and sprinkle them with cinnamon.



Linked up with Allergy Free Wednesdays at Real Food, Allergy Free

Thursday, October 9, 2014

{Allergy Free} Apple and Caramel Muffins



Apple and Caramel Muffins

1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer whisked with 2 T rice milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup rice milk whisked with 1 tsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cups flour blend
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup diced apples (peeled)

Streusel Topping:
1 T Earth Balance
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp xanthan gum

Caramel Icing
2 T Earth Balance
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T rice milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix the dry ingredients (flour through baking soda) in a bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients (olive oil through rice milk mixture) in another bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Gently fold in the apples.
Pour into greased muffin tins and add streusel topping.
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
Then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 10-12 more minutes until tops spring back.
Let muffins cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove and let cool on wire racks.

To make icing:
Combine Earth Balance through rice milk in small saucepan and heat over medium low heat.
Whisk until the brown sugar has melted.
Then add vanilla and powdered sugar.
Drizzle warm icing over muffins.

Makes 12 large muffins.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Unknown Food Allergies



Let's talk a little bit about our sweet Punkin. I have said that she had food allergies from the time that she was only a few weeks old. Here's why I suspected food allergies from the beginning:

  • She had incredibly dry skin. We're talking about very rough, sandpaper, flaky skin. My pediatrician was shocked when he saw her at her 2 month check up because her skin was so very dry and scaly.
  • She had eczema and red rashy skin. Bee was our original eczema baby and while Punkin's has never been as bad, she did have lots of red rashes (and still does).
  • And of course there's the tell-tale sign of hives. She's had outbreaks of hives multiple times. While hives can be caused by other things, I was fairly certain that these were food related.

So, to keep track of Punkin's allergic reactions I keep a food diary. I write down every time she has hives and what she ate that day. So far I haven't been able to confirm any patterns. However, I suspect that she has an issue with dairy and with nuts - specifically almonds.

Right now we can't be sure what she is allergic to. In fact, her allergy tests all came back negative when she was tested last year. But we know from personal experience that these tests are not always accurate, especially on young children. The most accurate way to determine a food allergy is through a food challenge. Of course, I'm not going to start feeding suspicious foods to Punkin to see if she has a reaction, but I can tell a few patterns after looking through our food journal.

While we usually eat only allergy-free foods in our house, there have been times when only Punkin has gone to dinner with us and tried a few regular foods. And there are a few hidden snacks in our house that are just for the parental figures. These snacks are not allergy free and are usually eaten late at night when Bee is not around to have any problems.

Not knowing what is causing a reaction is the most frustrating and scary part of being a food allergy parent. You want your kids to try new foods but you know that new foods could cause a problem. However, you have no idea which foods you should try and which foods might cause a reaction.

What can you do to help you discover the list of food allergies?

  • Keep a food journal - Write down everything that your child eats daily and how their skin looks and if they have any reactions.

  • Continue with allergy tests - While these are not always accurate, they do sometimes yield some helpful information.

  • Learn about food families - Knowing that Bee has an allergy to banana means that she's likely to also have an allergy to avocado and melons (which she does) because those are in the same family and are cross-reactive. 

  • Listen to your child - Often Bee will refuse to eat certain things and it is often because they make her feel unwell. She's a fairly good judge of things that bother her or might cause a problem. Sometimes I just have to trust her senses and intuition. 

There are many reactions that we've never pinpointed the cause. I try to write down everything I remember from the day of every reaction and keep a list, but it doesn't always become clear what food caused the reactions. I can just go off our past experiences and what our various allergy tests have shown. There is so much guesswork and intuition involved.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Allergy Free No Nut Butter Baked Oatmeal



Perfect for a quick school morning breakfast. And it tastes just like eating a chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookie. Yummy!

No Nut Butter Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups regular gluten free oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup original hemp milk-unsweetened
1/4 cup unsweet applesauce
1/4 cup melted Earth Balance
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer whisked with 2 T rice milk
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup Pea Butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Grease a 7x11 pan.
Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and then spread in pan.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aftermath of an Allergic Reaction


Doctors tell you what to look for during an allergic reaction. You've seen these anaphylactic reactions so you know what they entail. You alert everyone to look for hives, swelling, redness, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Numerous online articles are dedicated to outlining all the possible symptoms of an allergic reaction. It's important to quickly recognize these symptoms and be ready to respond with medication. But no one tells you what life is like immediately following an allergic reaction.

Here is what happens at our house after a reaction:

  • Bee is exhausted. She will often go straight to bed and sleep for hours after a reaction. She's usually very tired for the next few days as well.
  • Bee is swollen - often for several days. This swelling is usually somewhere on her face or her neck.
  • Bee is stuffy and runny. She sounds like she has a terrible cold and she needs lots of Kleenex.
  • Bee has a cough. She will start coughing during her reaction and the cough will linger for several days or even a week. It's usually a dry cough that occurs throughout the day and can be worse at night.
  • Bee is itchy. While the itching is uncontrollable during an allergic reaction, she might still have some minor itchiness for several days afterward. This means lots of lotion, cool baths, steroid cream, and humidifiers.
  • Bee has a rash. During the reaction Bee usually has a full body rash of hives. After the reaction calms down, she is usually left with patches of a red, bumpy rash. This is usually her eczema flaring up and making her feel hot and itchy.
  • Bee needs Benadryl. We often need to treat her discomfort with some Benadryl for a few days. It also helps prevent a rebound reaction since it does take a few days for the allergen to completely exit her system.
  • Sometimes Bee needs oral steroids for a few days. While I don't like giving her steroids, they are sometimes necessary following a severe reaction. They keep the swelling down and help prevent a rebound reaction.

Usually with an allergic reaction we spend about 6 hours in the ER to treat the reaction and monitor Bee. After that, we go home with an exhausted child who is still miserably uncomfortable. Then we spend the next few weeks hovering over her, watching for any signs of another reaction and worrying ourselves silly. Thankfully, she's never had a severe rebound reaction and after a few days, is feeling like her old self again.

While a reaction is very scary and stressful to the child, what does the recovery process look like for the parents?

  • We are weary and exhausted. We usually feel like we need a nap after our ordeal. It's almost like feeling you've been up for days and then run over by a truck. It's a terrible kind of tired.
  • I usually have a migraine. The stress and panic of the reaction usually sets off a migraine for me. Not only am I tired, but I have to spend the next day in bed with a pounding headache.
  • We are stressed. Nothing can ruin your day like seeing your child unable to breathe. It makes us feel stressed and that stress and anxiety linger for weeks.
  • We feel guilty. After every reaction we analyze what we did and what we didn't do. We feel guilty wondering if we could have prevented the reaction or if it was somehow our fault.
  • We become hyper vigilant. If you thought we are always neurotic, you should see us after a reaction. We check and double check everything. Many days we don't even feel like leaving our little allergy free house. We also tend to hover over Bee and worry about everything she touches.
  • We lose trust in both ourselves and others around us. The guilt compounds and we feel completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with our allergy lifestyle. We question everything we do and cook. We also refuse to eat out for a time and we try to stay away from everyone for a few days to allow us some recovery time. We feel like we're second-guessing ourselves and everyone around us.
  • We plan for the next time. After each reaction we come away a little more knowledgeable and a little more prepared. We talk about what we would do differently next time and how we can be better prepared for an emergency.

We experience the aftermath of an allergic reaction for weeks and sometimes months after the initial incident. Once the initial reaction is over, there is still a long recovery time. This recovery is not just physical, but is mostly emotional.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

{Allergy Free} Chicken Potato Soup

Here's an easy fall crockpot recipe. The red potatoes, garlic, and rosemary make a perfect comfort food!


Chicken Potato Soup

6 large red potatoes, washed and diced
1 large onion diced
6 garlic cloves diced
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 package of chicken breasts
enough chicken broth to cover
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in crockpot.
Cook on low for 6 hours.
Remove chicken and dice and the place back in crockpot.

Roux
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 + 1/8 cup rice flour
1 cup rice milk

Melt Earth Balance in small saucepan.
Whisk in the rice flour.
Slowly pour in the rice milk and whisk until the roux is thick.
Pour the roux into the soup in the crockpot and turn off crockpot.
Let thicken for 20 minutes and then serve.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When the Food Allergy Lifestyle Gets Old



If you are managing food allergies, you know that it gets old rather quickly. It is so tiresome to constantly evaluate every situation for an allergen and read every label for safety. I often confess to my husband that I'm tired-tired of eating this way, tired of living this way, tired of explaining the allergies, and tired of being so stand-out different. I just want to go out to restaurants whenever we want. I want to go to that birthday party and not worry about food. I'd like to go to someone's house even though they have cats and dogs and there are peanut butter cracker crumbs on the floor.

But in the times that the food allergy life gets old to me, I realize that I'm not being vigilant. Usually I'm able to remind myself that I have to be always aware in order to keep Bee safe. I must refuse to give up even though I'm tired. Other times I find myself being less careful or even entertaining the thought that she has grown out of an allergy. Most of the allergic reactions and ER visits that we've experienced have been in these times when I was feeling less alert in monitoring the allergies.

Yes, I get so very tired of living this way, but it's no excuse for forgetting to read every label and not taking the time to call every event ahead of time to discuss the allergy safety protocol. Despite the mundane moments in this allergy life, I have to choose to persevere and continue to advocate for Bee.

If I get tired of the allergy life, how much more so do those around me? I've noticed a trend in friendships.

In the beginning, I explain the food allergies and am usually met with faces of fear and awe. They are terrified to be around my children and amazed at what our family has to manage. I try to impress the seriousness of the allergies upon them so that they will be alert and aware when around our family. This helps keep Bee safe when we are with friends. I need everyone working together to insure that Bee's environment is safe.

It becomes more routine after we've known people for a little while. They easily remember that we are "the weird allergy family" and so they always remember to wash their hands and do things differently around us. They don't need me to remind them that they can't eat certain food around us. They know that we can't attend certain events - like that ice cream sundae party. So, they know that when we decline invitations that we're not being rude or ungrateful, we're just being safe.

Over time though, I've seen that some friends tend to forget the allergy situation or at least diminish the seriousness of the allergies that we manage. They ask if they can bring certain foods to our house. They ask if they can eat something around us. They question why we don't get out more and they wonder why we live so differently.

I've learned that this is not because they are insensitive and inconsiderate. It's just because our allergy lifestyle gets old to us and to everyone around us. They get tired of taking the precautions all the time. The seriousness of the food allergies gets tiresome and they can become forgetful. They don't intend to cause us to be in an unsafe situation, but they can overlook what we cannot - that Bee's life is at stake and we won't compromise her safety.

So, what do you do? I remind myself that they don't have to think of food allergies daily. When the newness of our friendship starts to wear off, so does their awareness of our allergies. They can become forgetful. They have good intentions but they simply don't live in this state of awareness that we do.

I have to extend them some grace. The same grace that I have to give to myself when I am feeling less than eager to read another label or cook another new meal. I understand that I can get tired of being different. It's to be expected really. Others will feel the same way. They will be tired of having to be alert and aware around us. They will accidentally forget certain things about our medical issues. And in those moments, I can respond in grace and provide gentle reminders.

There are going to be times when I feel less alert and when others experience forgetfulness. A food allergy parent must continue to persevere even when it's tiresome and it just gets so very old to live this way. In those moments I have to look at Bee and I'm quickly reminded that it's all worth it.

 
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