Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Christmas Tree Debate - Real or Artificial?

We buy a real tree every year, and I've always wondered what the greenest option is...real or fake? Last year I did some digging around to find out. I came across this article on the daily green, and it had some great points for consideration.

Most Christmas trees are now raised on established farms, meaning deforestation isn't an issue, but they must be shipped, often from long distances. They do require pesticides and fueled vehicles to maintain, and may end up taking up space in landfills.

On the other hand, most artificial Christmas trees are made in China, typically from oil-derived, pollution-releasing polyvinyl chloride (PVC). A number have been found to contain lead. Once finally disposed of, artificial trees will last for centuries in landfills. These days, roughly 70% of Americans choose artificial.

There is no real definitive answer, but they had some good suggestions for making your choice greener:

Going with an artificial tree?
Then try to find one made in the U.S., which greatly decreases the chances for contamination with lead or other toxins, preserves domestic manufacturing jobs and reduces shipping.

Going with a real tree? Try to choose something locally and organically grown. You'll cut down on CO2 emissions and help prevent the environmental degradation wrought by pesticides on big conventional operations. You can search for local Christmas Tree farms here.

If your kids have asthma and allergies, there are other factors to consider. This year our live tree caused Rowan to have an asthma attack and she had to go to Urgent Care for breathing treatments and steroids. It's not the tree that most kids have problems with, it's the mold that thrives on the branches. Connecticut researchers found that the mold count from a live Christmas tree rose to five times the normal level two weeks after the tree was brought indoors, and that can prove problematic for people with mold allergies. Read the rest of the article: Live Christmas Trees Can Trigger Mold Allergies.

Because we were forced to ditch our real tree and buy an artificial one, I did some more research on artificial trees made in China. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, most fake trees (85%) in the U.S. are imported from China. Almost 10 Million fake trees were sold worldwide in 2003. The potential for lead poisoning is great enough that fake trees made in China are required by California Prop 65 to have a warning label.

I didn't think it would be too hard to find an artificial tree made in the US, but I couldn't find any in local stores, and there were only one or two companies that sold them online. We ended up ordering ours from US Christmas Tree. It was pricey, but it I love that it's made from 100% lead-free recycled plastic. I'll miss the smell of a real tree, but I'll feel better knowing that our girls breathing won't be affected.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Allergic to Thanksgiving

The holidays can be stressful when you have a kid with food allergies. Especially life-threatening food allergies. Rylie's allergies seem pretty easy to deal with, compared with Rowan's. She needs to avoid 9 different types of food/ingredients.

I was thinking about what I needed to prepare for the girls to eat at Thanksgiving, and I realized that Rowan is basically allergic to Thanksgiving.

Rylie will be able to eat Turkey (no butter used when baking) and mashed potatoes made with soy milk instead of cow's milk. She can also have stuffing. But Rowan is allergic to turkey! Her choices for protein are always beef or fish. She loves Organic Prairie hot dogs (made from certified organic, pasture-raised beef...also uncured, with no synthetic nitrites or nitrates.) I'll probably pack one of those for her. She can have mashed potatoes made with rice milk, if I have time to make them ahead. Or she can have the sweet potatoes that my mom is making, with no butter. She can't have stuffing (allergic to eggs and wheat) or pumpkin pie (allergic to dairy, eggs and wheat), so I'll have to pack some side items and a safe treat for dessert. Our favorite allergy-free store-bought cookies are Enjoy Life Chewy Chocolate Chip or Enjoy Life Snickerdoodles. I can usually find them at Kroger and Biggs.

The one thing that makes me a little nervous is the pumpkin pie - eggs and milk are REALLY dangerous for Rowan, and if someone touches her after eating it, her skin will break out into welts. We'll just have to remind all of the adults to be very careful when eating it, and wash hands immediately afterward.

I realize that all of this sounds like such a pain in the ass, but I'm used to preparing food for Rowan whenever we eat away from home. And during the holidays and other family get-togethers, my mom is always on top of it. She calls me ahead of time to talk about the menu and figure out how to modify  some of the food to make it safe. Rowan doesn't even know what's she's missing, and the kids probably won't spend more than 15 minutes at the table. The girls will be excited to play with their cousins, and we'll all get to enjoy time with family.

Have a safe and happy thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Green Cleaning Tips

Because our girls have asthma and allergies, I think it is important to avoid home fragrances and irritating chemicals. Some of my cleaning supplies are green, but some are not. It's hard for me to give up bleach, because it does such a kick-ass job. I try to use it when the kids are asleep, but I think I just need to stop using it all together.

Our homes aren’t safe and clean if the air inside is polluted with chemicals from household cleaners. Follow these 10 simple tips to protect your family’s health while you clean your home.

1. Less is More
Dilute your cleaning supplies according to instructions and use only what’s needed to get the job done.

2. Open the Window
Clean with windows and doors open so you don’t trap air pollution inside your home.

3. Use Gloves and Other Precautions
Cleaning chemicals may harm or penetrate skin and eyes – check warning labels.

4. Keep Kids Away
Children are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals. If they like to help, let them clean with soap and water, not toxic cleaners.

5. Avoid “Antibacterial”
If your family is generally healthy, there’s no need to use potentially toxic “antibacterial” products, according to the American Medical Association. Wash your hands with plain soap and water.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A close call with tomato paste

I was making homemade spaghetti and meat sauce last week, and I thought about adding a can of tomato paste to thicken it up. It turned out that I didn't need it, so I put the can back in the cabinet. I didn't plan on reading the label, because it was made by Contadina and I remembered reading the label at the store.

Thank God I didn't add it into the sauce - I read the label later and it turns out I bought Tomato Paste with Italian Herbs. Sounds harmless, right? I read the ingredients and it contained MILK!

Holy crap, that would have caused Rowan to have an anaphylactic reaction. We would have had to use the epi-pen and call 911. I must have bought a couple cans and grabbed that one by mistake?

This is such a great reminder that you need to read labels and ingredients EVERY TIME, even when you get home from the store.

Tomato Paste Ingredients: Tomatoes

Tomato Paste with Italian Herbs: Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste, Water), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Dried Onions, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Soybean And/Or Cottonseed), Spices, Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten, Soy & Wheat Gluten Proteins, Grated Romano Cheese Made From Cow's Milk (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Garlic, Citric Acid, Yeast, Soy Flour. Contains Soybeans, Wheat, Milk.

All of this got me thinking about possible cross-contamination in the manufacturing process. I emailed Contadina to find out more, and you can read their response after the jump.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pot Roast - easy and delicious!

Fall is here and it's starting to get chilly - it's the perfect time a year to start making pot roast!
This is one of the few meals that our entire family can eat together. The girls love it and it's free of the top 8 allergens. The house smells delicious while it's roasting, and we have leftovers for the next few meals.

Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 4 hours 25 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
1 5-pound beef chuck roast
Salt and pepper
2 cups beef stock or reduced sodium canned beef broth*
3 onions, cut into large wedges
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme   
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 pounds potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

*I use Kitchen Basics Beef Stock. They test for allergens and their beef stock doesn't contain soy, gluten, yeast, or MSG. They also have an allergen statement on the package.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven (or roasting pan), heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle roast all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place in pan, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.

2. Turn meat fat side up. Add stock, onions, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover; put in the oven, and roast for 3 hours. Add carrots and potatoes, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour more.

3. Transfer the roast, carrots, and potatoes to a platter. With a spoon, skim the fat off the surface of the cooking liquid. Cut the roast into thick slices, and serve with the vegetables. Pass the pan juices separately.

Note: Browning the meat makes the whole dish tastier and gives the pan juices an appetizing deep brown color.

Serves 8.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Article - The Truth About Food Allergies

The September issue of Parenting Magazine featured an article about Food Allergies: The Truth About Food Allergies. It mentions a few of the latest therapies that could be on the horizon, and some of the possible causes for the increase in food allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of food allergies rose nearly 20 percent between 1997 and 2007, and it now strikes up to 8 percent of children under the age of 4.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Allergy Reminders for Halloween

Since Halloween is around the corner, I thought I'd repost these reminders I shared last year:

1) Bite-size, individually-wrapped candies may have different ingredients or be processed in different facilities than their regular-size counterparts, so don't assume they are safe just because you have previously used the regular-size candies.

2) The ingredient label on a bag of candy may differ from the ingredient labels on the individual candies inside.

3) Advisory labels such as May Contain, Processed in a Facility, and Processed on Shared Equipment are voluntary. If a candy label lacks these statements, it doesn't mean the candy is safe from potential cross-contamination with an allergen. The only way to know if your Halloween candy is safe from allergens is to contact the manufacturer. (Read "Is Your Food Really Safe?" for more information.)

4) If a product does have an allergen advisory label, the product should be avoided. Studies have shown that many of these products actually *do* contain allergens.

5) Chocolates are commonly cross-contaminated with milk, soy, peanuts or tree nuts.

6) Allowing children to carry candies that contain their allergens can be dangerous. The wrappers can become loose and fall off the candy in their trick-or-treat bag, or children may attempt to eat the candy without you knowing.

7) Halloween dangers don't disappear that night. Be aware that other children may sneak candy to school the following week and attempt to share it. Remind your food-allergic child not to accept candy from anyone but you.

From Kids With Food Allergies eNewsletter

Monday, October 18, 2010

Allergy-free candy for Halloween

Saw some more ideas for safe halloween candy on Cool Mom Picks:

I love the Natural Candy Store for their commitment to helping moms like me who have kids with a food allergy or other food sensitivity.
I especially love how easy they make it to search for treats by particular allergen. Their big Natural Candy Mix is free of all eight major food allergens, is gluten-free and has some of great all-natural treats like gummy bears, lollipops and chewing gum.

Yummy Earth's all-organic lollipops have become so popular, I can find them in my local supermarket any time of the year now. If you aren't so lucky, no worries: Kate's Caring Gifts has them in big 60-pop bags, at a great price.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rylie turns 6

Rylie turned 6 last week! We had a fun family party and I made cupcakes from recipes in Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Free Bakers Handbook. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing, and carrot ginger cupcakes with orange 'buttercream' icing. Both recipes were wheat free, dairy free, soy free, nut free and egg free. Rylie is not allergic to wheat or eggs, but Rowan is - so I always make safe treats that Rowan can have too. The chocolate cupcakes were ok (Rylie and Rowan loved them) and the carrot ginger cupcakes were freakin' delicious! You would never have guessed that they were missing wheat and eggs. The carrot ginger recipe was a little more
Rylie's cupcake tree
complicated - additional steps like shredding carrots, and zesting fresh ginger
and orange rind. But it was worth the effort!

A few nights earlier, on her 'real' birthday,
I made her a safe chocolate cake using Cherrybrook Kitchen cake mix. Having safe cake mix on hand made it really easy to whip something up for our weeknight celebration with just the four of us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Looking for new allergy-free recipes? There's an app for that.

If you have an iPad or iPhone, and a kid with multiple food allergies, you need to get Cook It Allergy Free. I downloaded this app to my iPhone a few months ago, but didn't have the time to really check it out. I finally took a closer look and realized how great it really is! There are 200+ recipes and with a simple tap, trade out your allergen(s) in any of the recipes with safe substitutions. Then save your customized recipes to your category-organized Recipe Box

As Featured in the App Store's "What's Hot" Section in May:
This is the essential tool for anyone dealing with food allergies. If you are allergic to Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, or Nuts, you no longer have to search for a recipe that does not contain your allergens. Cook It Allergy Free will take any of these great gluten free recipes and make them safe for you.

Only $4.99 and totally worth it. I love baking safe treats for my girls and can't wait to try some of these recipes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ideas for safe classroom treats

My friend Lori emailed me this week, with a problem that seems to be pretty common these days. She volunteered to be a room mom for her son's classroom, which mostly entails planning the parties throughout the school year. She received a list of the food allergies in the class. They include: peanut, sesame, dairy, wheat, and green vegetables. (Do you think one of the kids made up the green vegetables allergy?)

Lori's question was 'what the heck kind of snacks can I get with such a limited choice? Here's the kicker, they need to be pre-packaged and individually wrapped!'

Here were a few of my suggestions, that might help some other room moms out there! Please keep in mind, you should still read the ingredient list every time. Ingredients can change without warning and cross-contamination statements are not mandatory. (Bold items below are links to ingredient info)

The following snacks are free of the top 8 allergens:
Dum Dum lollipops
Snack-sized packs of Skittles
Kelloggs Fruit Flavored Snacks
Snack-sized bags of Lays Classic Potato Chips (be careful of other brands that use peanut oil)
Snack-sized bags of Frito's (original flavor)
Snack-sized bags of Tostitos Natural corn/tortilla chips
Popsicles (read ingredients)

Healthier Options:
small boxes of raisins
individual apple-sauce cups
fruit (apples, bananas) if allowed?

Sun Chips (original flavor) and Rold Gold pretzels would be good if none of the kids in the class had a wheat allergy. Do not buy Snyder's pretzels due to cross-contamination issues. They make peanut-butter pretzels in their plant.

There are some great companies that make allergy-free cookies and treats on dedicated equipment.  Home Free is one of those companies, and they make good chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-chocolate chip, and oatmeal cookies that you can buy individually wrapped, in a case of 12.
Surf Sweets makes allergy-free 8 oz snack size packages of jelly beans, sour berry bears, and gummy bears.

I told Lori that even if she provides safe treats, some of the kids with allergies might say no because they are trained not to eat anything that they're unsure of. Our school district requires that parents are given a 3-day advance notice of a classroom treat or party, so the parents of kids with allergies have time to provide an alternative safe treat.

Thanks, Lori – for being so kind and considering safe snacks! There are a lot of people out there that would have blown it off and bought treats without giving it a second thought. In our case, if our girls accidentally ate a treat that wasn't safe, it would likely result in an anaphylactic reaction.
And even if they don't eat the unsafe food, the residue left on other kids hands and desks from these treats can cause their skin to break out in welts or hives. If they touch the food and rub their eyes or face, it can get bad.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'Natural Flavoring' can contain food allergens

Natural flavoring is a "catch all" term used on food labels and merits special scrutiny for those of us reading labels for a food allergic child.

According to the current U.S. F.D.A. food labeling regulations:
"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

The new labeling law effective in 2006, The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), requires manufacturers to declare if one or more of the 8 major food allergens are contained in a natural flavoring. The top 8 major food allergens are defined as: milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans.

If you are managing food allergies other than the top 8 major food allergens, however, the new law will not be of assistance to you in identifying the sources in any natural flavoring stated on a label.

In conclusion:
  • Natural flavoring can be derived from just about anything made from a natural source! Major allergens like peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish and seafood can hide in natural flavorings as can countless other food-derived flavorings derived from other "natural" sources.
  • New product labeling after 2006 will help with products that contain natural flavoring derived from the top 8 major allergens, but some old packages may still be on the shelves from 2005 and will not contain the updated labeling requirements.
  • For allergens other than the top 8 major food allergens, don't make any assumptions about the safety of natural flavoring; be sure to check with the manufacturer to be sure it is safe for your child's unique allergy issues.
From Kids with Food Allergies.
Reference: Food and Drug Administration. (2004). Foods; labeling of spices, flavorings, colorings and chemical preservatives. In Food Labeling. (21CFR101.22). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access. Retrieved June 7, 2005 from: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/12feb20041500/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/aprqtr/21cfr101.22.htm

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cross Contamination Warnings are Voluntary

I was at a birthday party today, and we were discussing food allergies and school.
Now that Ohio has passed House Bill 1, our school district has a new rule: all treats that are sent into classrooms have to be individually wrapped, with nutrition and ingredients listed on the package. I happened to mention that this was a Catch-22, because now foods being sent in will be from a bakery, where there is a higher chance of cross-contamination. Someone else said 'yeah, but that would be listed on the label'. Well, that's where it gets tricky.
Did you know that cross contamination warnings are voluntary? Even if a company makes cupcakes on shared equipment with cookies that contain nuts (or other allergens), they are not required to state this on their packaging.
So how can you tell if a product is safe for your child with food allergies? Please read Is Your Food Really Allergy Safe? from the Kids with Food Allergies website. And when in doubt, call the manufacturer!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Nut Allergy Skeptic Learns the Hard Way

Joel Stein wrote this article about food allergies for the Los Angeles Times in 2009. The article started with: “Your kid doesn’t have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special. Your kid also spends recess running and screaming, “No! Stop! Don’t rub my head with peanut butter!”

He recently apologized in his Time Magazine column after finding out that his one-year old son Laszlo has a nut allergy. Check out the column here.

I'm glad that he apologized, but it's disheartening to know that there are so many people out there that think food allergies are made up by parents wanting attention. I've seen both of our kids have anaphylactic reactions, and for someone to say that allergies are 'mass hysteria' is just ridiculous. I try not to let negative or ignorant comments affect me, but sometimes it's hard not to get angry!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chinese herbal therapy and food allergies

A Chinese herbal therapy that may prevent life-threatening reactions to food allergies will enter the next stage of the FDA approval process. This looks to be be very promising! Learn more about this research here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chicago Sun Times - Wrigley's first peanut-free zone and the efforts to make it happen

Article in Chicago Sun Times today: Allergic Cubs fans cheer peanut-free zone at ballpark

I'm so thrilled for Joyce Davis (and all the other allergy parents) that made this happen!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great News for Cubs Fans with Allergies - Peanut Free section!

The Chicago Cubs are hosting their 1st ever PEANUT-FREE SECTION for Cubs fans with peanut allergies! This is fantastic - I know many Chicago-area parents have been working on this for some time.

Mon, August 30, The Batter's Eye Skybox
(an enclosed Skybox with private bathrooms)
$50 per ticket, contact: Samantha, 773-388-8273 or e-mail fanservicesassistant@cubs.com.

Please visit Chicago Cubs Fans for Peanut-Free Baseball on facebook for more info. 

I'm hoping the Reds can offer something similar next season.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rowan turns 3!

Rowan turns 3 next week, so we're having a family party over the weekend. I'll be baking a wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I know, it sounds like it couldn't possibly taste good. But it's actually delicious! I have a really good recipe from Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Free Bakers Handbook.
I made this cake a few weeks ago, and my Dad liked it so much that he requested it for his birthday. And he doesn't have food allergies!

The secret to making a chocolate cake without milk is using Cocoa Powder and Enjoy Life chocolate chips (allergy-free).

If you have kids with multiple food allergies, you really need to get this cookbook. It's hard to bake good treats without wheat - but Cybele has figured it out.

Happy Birthday Rowan!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free Mommy Cards at Kodak Gallery

Right now Kodak Gallery is offering a set of 50 Mommy Cards for free! What is a 'Mommy Card' you ask? Whether you're a stay-at-home parent or a working parent, Mommy Cards are unique business cards for the business of parenting. Regardless of what you call them, they are essentially a beautifully designed card with your name, your children's names and your contact information. There are so many ways you could use them:
  • Give a new friend your info.
  • Set up play-dates and communicate availability.
  • At-a-glance reference for childcare, teacher, instructor or coach: list food allergies, nicknames, bedtime routines, medical info, emergency contact info and more.
  • A handy resource in kids’ backpacks, just in case.
  • Introduction to new neighbors.
  • For existing friends….they’re just too cute not to share with everyone. 
I like the idea of listing food allergies – for teachers, babysitters or new friends. Most people forget after you tell them, and they have to ask again later. (Unfortunately, Rowan's list is so long, I don't think it would fit on a card!)

The designs are pretty boring, but hey, they're free! You only pay for shipping.

If you're looking for something a little more upscale and well-designed, visit Moca Paper or Tiny Prints.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Skip Hop Zoo Packs (again!)

Last July, I featured Zoo Packs from Skip Hop. I bought 2 for my nephews at Christmas (penguin and dog), and 2 for my girls (mouse and penguin). People always ask where we got them.

Skip Hop recently added 2 new designs to the collection - a bee and an owl. I think these are so freakin' cute! I want the owl for myself. Added bonus: they are all BPA-free, Phthalate-Free and PVC-Free. They also have lunch packs with the same cute designs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Food Allergy Guidelines for Illinois Schools Now Available

Illinois lawmakers recently passed legislation regarding required guidelines for dealing with food allergies in all Illinois schools. The great news is that these guidelines are already available online.

Most schools in the various districts around the state will most likely adopt these policies and tailor them, if necessary, to their schools' needs.

Many people worked tirelessly to get this passed and also to create the food allergy guidelines documents. This is big progress!

If you don't live in Illinois and are having trouble getting food allergy guidelines in your state, send this link along to your state government reps as a model of how to implement these policies.

If you do live in Illinois and are having trouble with your school, please refer them to this new food allergy guidelines link for direction and help.

In Ohio, the board of education of each city, local and vocational school district, along with the governing authority of each charter school, will be establishing a written food allergy management policy. The provision states that the policy is to be developed in consultation with parents, school nurses, other school employees, school volunteers, students, and community members.

Illinois School Info courtesy of The Nut-Free Mom.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Food Allergies Take a Toll on Families and Finances

Just read an article in the NY Times that talks about food allergies and how it affects families. I can relate! I've never added up all of the extra money we spend on organic and specialty foods, Rowan's formula (EleCare), epi-pens, asthma inhalers, doctors visits, and trips to urgent care...but I know we spend a lot. And these are things we have to do. It's not a lifestyle choice. And while I wouldn't wish this on anyone, it's nice to know that there are other families out there dealing with these stresses.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Peanut allergies aren't the only ones that are life-threatening

Saw this post on The Food Allergy Mama. Like our girls, her son has a life threatening allergy to dairy, along with peanuts. How nice that her son's classroom celebrates birthdays in a food-free manner, and precautions are being taken to make his environment as safe as possible.

Severe food allergies are extremely stressful. I can't say this enough. I constantly have to be on guard, and there are so many challenging situations that make my heart race. Having a safe classroom would be such a relief. Rylie will be in kindergarten in the fall, and thankfully they don't have snacks. Elementary school will be a whole different story...with lunches, snacks and treats. How does your child's school handle food allergies?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bring on the peas!

My friend Sarah found this awesome food face dinner plate at perpetual kid. It cracks me up!

Everybody remembers Dapper Dan The Magnetic Man - that bald little fellow with all the iron filings that you could drag into really bad hairdos!

Well we've given Dan a new home on our Food Face Dinner Plate, made from hotel-quality, food-safe, high-fire ceramics. So now you can play with your food and give Dan a whole new look. Bring on the mashed potatoes and peas... the possibilities are endless!

Boxed with lots of inspirational food art. Wouldn't YOU have loved this when you were a kid?
Plate measures 8.5 inches in diameter. Ceramic.

One plate is $11.99

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cincinnati Reds respond to peanut-free request

The Reds responded to my inquiry regarding a peanut-free (or peanut-controlled) section during one of their games. They basically said no...but they did send the girls a really cool package! They were so excited when it came in the mail. It contained kid-sized Reds Snuggies, baseball cards, book covers, magnets, and stuffed monkeys with Reds and Chiquita banana logos. I really appreciated that they took the time to send us something.

Here is the response I received:

Ms. H,
As you already know, we do not have a pean
ut free zone at Great American Ball Park. We have previously looked into this idea, but even if we are able to create a peanut free suite, we cannot guarantee a peanut free path to the suite, nor could we guarantee that our ventilation system was free of any peanut dust. The same issues would arise if we established a seating area as peanut free. Even if we could guarantee a path into the ballpark, we could not keep a breeze from off the river from blowing peanut dust into the established peanut free zone. I know other teams have established “Peanut Free” areas, but in talking with some of these teams, I would consider them “peanut sensitive” areas. I would consider the Padres a “peanut sensitive” area.

It is unfortunate we are unable to accommodate those with a peanut allergy. I know that this can be a very sensitive allergy for many and we do not want to put anyone in harms way. If we do decide we are able to offer a peanut free or peanut sensitive zone in the future, I will keep your information on file and will be sure to contact you directly. I can assure you that you are not alone. If you could let me know your address, I would like to send your child a care package to keep him a Reds fan until we can find a solution to our peanut allergy dilemma.

Sean Brown - Director of Ballpark Operations

Sean and I have continued to exchange emails about this, and I hope we can eventually come up with a 'peanut-controlled' area for one or two games.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Peanut-Free Baseball

It's opening day here in Cincinnati! Our kids are 5 and 2 and still haven't been to a Reds game. Both girls are severely allergic to peanuts, and we'd have to wipe down the seats and worry about them touching or stepping on peanuts and peanut shells. Their skin would react to the residue, so we wouldn't want to drag it home on our shoes. Rowan is still at the age where she'll pick food up from the ground and put it in her mouth, and most games have been past their bedtimes anyway. At this point it's just not worth the stress.

I think it's really exciting that more and more Major League teams are starting to offer peanut-free sections on certain nights. The San Diego Padres are offering 1 game, the St. Louis Cardinals are offering 3 games, the Seattle Mariners are offering 4 games, and the Red Sox have 2 games. For more info, visit peanutfreebaseball.com

To prepare for the event, the Padres will power wash the seating section, have trained emergency responders aware of the sections needs, remove peanut items from the vendors in the immediate concourse area above the section, post "No Peanut Zone" signs around the section, and staff the section with ushers to help insure compliance.

As far as I know, the Cincinnati Reds do not offer peanut-free sections for games. I contacted them today to see how we could make this happen. I would love to take our girls to a game without worrying about a reaction! I'll post more info here if we actually work something out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peanut Allergy Makes Asthma Worse

If your child has a peanut allergy in addition to asthma, it’s likely that their asthma attacks are worse, according to a new study.

In a study of 160 children between the ages of 5 and 18, children with peanut allergies had both more hospitalizations for asthma and a higher rate of corticosteroid usage.

However, when treating children with asthma, most doctors want to avoid both hospitalization and corticosteroid use. Corticosteroids can have side effects that are detrimental to growing bodies.

The lead researcher on the study, Dr Alyson Simpson, recommends that parents with children who have both peanut allergies and asthma work carefully with their child’s doctors to ensure that asthma is well-controlled. This will mean careful avoidance of asthma triggers as well as allergy triggers.

Source: Reuters

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Will Peanut Allergies Soon Be Treatable?

Two studies presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) examine the use of oral immunotherapy in peanut allergic children and continue to add hope that a treatment may be on the horizon. See the news release here. This gives me some hope for my girls - even if we can just eliminate one allergy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix

I thought I'd pass along this Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix courtesy of Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook:

'The key to the very best gluten-free baked goods is Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour; it is the Cadillac, or cashmere, of brown rice flours and is worth its weight in gold. It is not grainy like other rice flours, and bakes the most fantastic cookies, cakes, pie crusts, and so on. If you can’t find it at your local natural foods market or Whole Foods, order it online. Both Ener-G and Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flours will also work in these recipes, but they won’t turn out quite as well. I do not recommend Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour, which I find too gritty. The brands of potato starch and tapioca flour or starch are not important; I find them all interchangeable. (Please see Resources, page 177, for more information.)'

4 cups superfine brown rice flour
1 1⁄3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
2⁄3 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

1. To measure flour, use a large spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the back of a knife or straightedge. Do not use the measuring cup itself to scoop your flour when measuring! It will compact the flour and you will wind up with too much for the recipe.

2. Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size zipper-top bag. Shake until well blended. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Makes 6 cups

All recipes reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook: How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, and Sesame. Copyright © 2009 by Cybele Pascal, Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook

Cybele Pascal is my hero. We own her Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook and love it. Due to Rowan's allergy to chicken and turkey, we haven't tried many of the dinner recipes...but we use the muffin recipes almost every week. They're super healthy - made with whole grains and no refined sugar. And most importantly, no allergens.

I am really excited about her new cookbook, dedicated to allergy-free baking. The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook is available on Amazon and I can't wait to try some of the recipes. Our girls can never have store-bought bakery items, so I love being able to bake safe treats for them at home. The red velvet cake looks delicious.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Bugabees: Friends With Food Allergies

I love the concept of this book. I'll probably buy it for our girls and also give a copy to Rylie's preschool classroom. 'A whimsical tale of eight friends with food allergies. Food allergies are never fun, but best friends always are! This light-hearted story explores the daily routines of eight best buggy friends such as Beetle, Cricket and Butterfly, as they face their respective food allergies with positivity and poise.' Available on Amazon for $12.20. Hardcover, 32 pages.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

AllerMates Wristbands

I found these great AllerMates wristbands and I think my girls would really like wearing them. The character illustrations are pretty cute and they have humorous profiles for each character. They have wristbands for peanut, egg, tree nut and dairy. $7.99 each, for kids ages 2 and up.