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.