Thursday, December 11, 2014

Effects of Anaphylaxis

I wanted to share this graphic of the 17 Effects of Anaphylaxis on the Body. While I've seen little Bee have many of these symptoms I was not fully aware of all the different internal effects of anaphylaxis. I learned a thing or two about Bee's reactions and I plan to share this with family and friends so everyone can better understand what happens during an allergic reaction.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

{Allergy Free} Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are wonderful moist muffins with the perfect amount of chocolate. I love that they have no cinnamon so the flavor is purely pumpkin and chocolate. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

6 tsp egg replacer whisked with 8 T rice milk
2 cups sugar
1 can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup apple sauce
3 cups flour blend
1 tsp xanthan
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

In large bowl whisk together egg replacer mixture through applesauce until smooth.
In another bowl combine flour through salt and whisk well.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into greased muffin tins and bake at 400 for 14-16 minutes.

When cool, glaze with a mixture of rice milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Drizzle over the top of muffins.

Adapted from Echoes of Laughter

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

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.

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