Thursday, September 11, 2014

{Allergy Free} Maple Cinnamon Bread

Maple Cinnamon Bread

2 1/4 cups flour blend
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup rice milk whisked with 1 tsp lemon juice
3 tsp egg replacer whisked with 4 T rice milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup browned Earth Balance (melt Earth Balance over medium heat until it bubbles and then wait until it is clear, about 5 minutes)
1/8 cup cold Earth Balance
1 T cinnamon
2 T brown sugar

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 T rice milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk together flour blend through salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl stir together the maple syrup through browned Earth Balance.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients just until combined.
In a separate small bowl cut the cold Earth Balance into the cinnamon and brown sugar.
Fold the cinnamon mixture into the batter.
Pour into small greased bread tins.
Bake at 350 for 25-27 minutes or until toothpick inserted into loaves comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for 15 minutes and then cool on wire racks.
To make the icing combine the ingredients and whisk well, adding more powdered sugar or rice milk as needed to achieve desired consistency.
Drizzle loaves with icing.

Makes 4 small loaves.

Linked up with Linda's Lunacy Making a Home Linky

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why Food Allergies and Church Don't Mix

I've found that the church is one of the most difficult places to navigate with our food allergic family. It's so frustrating to us. We want to be involved and be a part of our faith community. But our food allergies severely limit the number of activities and functions that we attend.

We've even found some churches to be unable to accommodate our family. When this happens, I'm sad and discouraged. Some staff are inconvenienced by our needs. Rather than find ways to allow us to participate, they are rigid in their policies and unwilling to make changes to welcome our family. This can be very hurtful and while we try not to take it personally, we do feel isolated at times. The very place that should be accepting of our medical needs, the church, is the one place where we are not welcome.

What makes a church an unfriendly allergy place?

Most churches serve coffee and donuts or other morning foods such as muffins. When you are bombarded with breakfast foods at every turn, it becomes frustrating and scary. Trying to walk through halls or pass through common areas where everyone has plates piled high with unsafe foods is a nightmare.

Some churches allow food in the sanctuary. In some churches, the members sip their coffee and snack on donuts in their seats as they listen to the sermon. This means that it is unsafe to sit on the pews or chairs at church. We sometimes have to bring blankets to cover our seating area to minimize the risk to our children.

Some churches have multiple buildings and the children are far removed from parents. In these situations, it would take a long time for me to navigate the large campus to get to my child in the event of an emergency. It also makes it difficult to communicate with those who are caring for our children and makes it impossible for us to check on them without missing the Bible study for adults.

Most children's programs serve snacks. This means that I can't leave my kids in any of the rooms safely because they are contaminated. Because snack time is such an ingrained notion in most church programs, the thought of changing the normal snack or doing away with the snack completely is met with much resistance. With the unwilling attitude to make changes to the snack policy, it means that my child cannot attend.

Most staff members are uneducated about food allergies and emergency protocol. Because the teachers and staff do not understand food allergies, I am unable to safely leave my children. Often, the staff has no plan in place to accommodate children with any type of special need and I'm left with a child who has no classroom to attend and who feels completely isolated and left out.

Many staff members underestimate the severity of the allergies or don't take the risk seriously. I've had many members tell me that they'll just serve my child a different snack while still serving the unsafe snack to the rest of the kids. They don't understand that just being in the room with the food can cause a problem. Some even believe that a little bit of the allergic food won't be a problem and have not followed my snack instructions for my children. This results in allergic reactions for my kids.

Most church functions revolve around food. The Sunday night fellowships often include a dessert get together after the service. Wednesdays nights often begin with a church wide meal. Special events are centered around the food, the candy, the ice cream, or the desserts. Sometimes the Bible studies are even potluck-style with everyone bringing their favorite snack food. When it comes to church events, the food is inescapable.

Many churches are changing their format to include small groups in people's homes. These always include food. For an allergic child, going to another person's home is often very unsafe. There could be residue of allergic foods throughout the house or the owners could have pets that cause allergy issues. Moving the church functions into homes of church members that are not aware of the allergies creates a scary environment that can be dangerous.

All of these situations create a problem for food allergic families. Because there is a general lack of awareness and sometimes no allergy policy in place, churches are often very unsafe. This means that there are times when we cannot attend church or must visit multiple churches to be able to find one where we can safely attend. We want to worship with those who share our faith and not be limited by the medical conditions of our children. At some churches, it's just not possible.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

{Allergy Free} Blueberry Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

This is perfect for rushed school days when you want a warm breakfast. The cinnamon and nutmeg go wonderfully well with the dried blueberries. My kids loved pouring some milk over their oatmeal to help it cool.

Blueberry Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

3 cups regular oats
1/4 tsp xanthan
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnmon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup olive oil
4 1/2 tsp egg replacer whisked with 6 T rice milk
1 1/2 cup vanilla hemp milk

Grease a 7x11 pan well.
Mix all ingredients in large bowl and then spread in pan.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Can pour milk over the oatmeal before serving.

This can sit in the fridge over night covered with foil. If you choose to do that, place the pan in cold oven and preheat to 350 and then let it bake.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

{Allergy Free} Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

These are rich, creamy, and amazing.  The cupcake is moist and the frosting is thick, but my favorite part is the cookie crumbles throughout the cupcake and icing. 

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
4 cups flour blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup vanilla hemp milk
4 1/2 tsp egg replacer whisked with 6 T rice milk
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance
1 cup water
1 package of K-Too chocolate cookies (Oreo substitute)

Pull all cookies in half, leaving cream on one side.
Put the cookie pieces with cream on them on bottom of lined muffin tins, cream side up.
Crush remaining cookie halves.
Mix dry ingredients.
Add all wet ingredients and mix well in mixer until smooth.
Fold in 3/4 of the remaining crushed cookies, reserving the last 1/4 of the crushed pieces to put in icing.
Pour over the cookies in muffin tins.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

For icing:
1/3 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup cream cheese substitute
1 T vanilla hemp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar
remaining cookie crumbs

Mix together all ingredients, adding more milk or powdered sugar to reach a thick, creamy consistency.
Fold in the cookie crumbs and pipe icing onto cupcakes when cool.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

If you use one package of K-Toos you will not have enough cookies for each cupcake.  I just left a few cupcakes without a cookie on bottom rather than open a new package.

*These should probably be stored in the fridge because the cream cheese substitute can become runny when not kept cold.

Linked with Share Your Stuff Tuesday

Linked with Allergy Free Wednesdays!

Linked with Linda's Lunacy

Hip Homeschool Moms

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Identifying as the Allergy Family

If you knew us in real life we would be "that family with food allergies."  Most people know *of* us before they've actually been introduced to us.  I feel like we walk around with a tattoo across our foreheads that identifies us as the food allergy family.

Why this is good
  • People never forget us
With our little entourage of 5 stair step kiddos and our larger than life food allergies, we are pretty memorable.  Thankfully this means that people immediately recognize us and our kids and connect us with food allergies.  This helps us keep our kids safe.

  • People heighten their awareness when we are around
Because we are apparently so unforgettable people are mindful of what they are eating or serving when we are around.  Most people see us and their immediate reaction is to remove food or to keep food away from us.  At least they get the message and give us a wide path.

  • People are educated about food allergies through us
We have the privilege of being the face of food allergies in our community.  When people think of food allergies, they immediately think of us.  And through the educational information that we've been able to share with others, they are more aware and understanding of others with food allergies.  They often refer newly diagnosed friends to us so we can connect with other new allergy parents.

  • People are brought into our food allergy network
Through our food allergy advocacy we often meet other families with food allergies.  It is encouraging to be able to connect with them, share our struggles, talk about our discoveries, and commiserate about our fears.  We have been able to connect with so many other wonderful people and families through our identity as an allergy family. 

Why this isn't good

  • I hate standing out
Our family stands out and not always in a good way.  People seem to panic when they see us coming and quickly hide the food.  When they talk with us the conversation often centers around the food allergies and how to keep our kids safe.  I miss being somewhat normal.  I miss just being able to have a quiet conversation and not have friends and teachers tracking me down to ask food safety questions.

  • I hate when we are treated differently
Yes, we are sometimes looked at as if we are pretty strange.  Some people refuse to accept the reality or severity of the food allergies and they think we are ridiculously over-protective parents.  Others are so worried about the food allergies and our kids that they seem to exist in a state of panic whenever they are near us.  

  • I hate when we are excluded
There have been times that we were not invited to a party or other function because the host didn't know how to accommodate us (or didn't want to make the effort).  It's hard to hear of birthday parties or get togethers that bypassed us.  Some people are honest and tell us they don't know how we could possibly come and others try to secretly overlook our lack of invite.  Either way, it does hurt that we can't participate as much as we would like.  There's no easy answer for including us, but it's heartbreaking to watch the world go by filled with cupcakes, ice cream, and pizza and miss out on the fun and togetherness.

  • I hate when it feels lonely
I've talked about it before and I'll say it again.  The food allergy life can be lonely.  Some people think I'm crazy for my vigilance.  Others don't understand our medical issues.  Still others overlook us because it can seem nearly impossible to find a way to safely spend time with us.  I feel the loneliness and also worry about our children's ability to make friends who are compassionate and understanding.

I'm still trying to make peace with the fact that we are the food allergy family and that our reputation will always precede us.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

{Allergy Free} Strawberry Streusel Muffins

Strawberry Streusel Muffins

1 3/4 cup flour blend
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup hemp milk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer whisked with 2 T rice milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely diced fresh strawberries

Streusel Topping
1/4 flour blend
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan
2 T Earth Balance cut into small pieces

In small bowl combine first 7 ingredients.
In large bowl whisk together hemp milk through vanilla.
Stir in dry ingredients until just moistened.
Gently fold in strawberries.
Spoon into greased muffin tins.

To make streusel:
Combine flour, sugar, and xanthan in small bowl and cut in Earth Balance until mixture forms crumbs.  Gently press topping onto each muffin before baking.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Cool on wire racks.

Makes 12 muffins.


I'm linking up with Allergy Free Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why You Need a Spacer for Your Inhaler

When we were first prescribed rescue inhalers to keep in case of emergency I was not very familiar with them.  My husband has asthma but he rarely uses an inhaler so I was hesitant and overwhelmed.  I thought that you simply grabbed the inhaler, took a quick puff, held your breath, and then were fine.  I've learned a few things since then.  After visiting with the respiratory therapist at our hospital I was introduced to the spacer.

What is a spacer?

Spacers are devices that fit with an inhaler and help ensure that the medicine is properly administered.

There are two more common types of spacers:

One has a round opening that is placed in the mouth.  The inhaler is attached to the other end and medicine is sprayed into the chamber of the spacer.  Through taking normal breaths, the medicine is administered to the lungs.

The other type has a face mask that is placed over the nose and mouth.  The medicine is sprayed into the chamber of the spacer.  The medicine is administered to the lungs through the nose and mouth.

Which spacer do we have?

We actually have both.  However, we have found that Bee is most comfortable with using the spacer with the small mask.  I carefully fit the mask around her nose and mouth and administer her medicine.  She takes 5-8 normal breaths and then all the medicine has left the chamber and entered her lungs.  She is not as comfortable with placing the other spacer in her mouth.  Spacers with the mask are better for younger children.

Why do we use a spacer?

Without a spacer, much of the medicine from the inhaler sprays into the mouth and coats the teeth, tongue, and throat without reaching the lungs.  Less medicine actually reaches the lungs.  Also, much of the medicine can be swallowed and will end up in the stomach without reaching the lungs.

With a spacer, a child can breathe normally while the medicine is administered.  Because the medicine is sprayed into the chamber and not the mouth, most of the medicine is breathed directly into the lungs.  Therefore, a spacer ensures that the maximum amount of medicine enters the lungs.

So, in our little Epi Pen bags we have an inhaler and a spacer for when we need to use that inhaler.  Now I don't have to worry about whether Bee is getting the proper amount of medicine. 

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