Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Enjoy Life Granola

We just tried Enjoy Life's new and improved granolas, and they were a big hit. As you probably already know, Enjoy Life's products are free of the top eight allergens, and are also free of casein, potato, sesame, and sulfates. Their products are made in a dedicated nut- and gluten-free facility, and they test their ingredients to make sure they are allergen-free.

Most importantly, their foods are good. We tried the Cinnamon Crunch, Cranapple Crunch, and Very Berry Crunch granolas. Although we liked them all, we ranked them for fun.

1. Very Berry
2. Cinnamon Crunch
3. Cranapple

1. Cranapple
2. Cinnamon Crunch/Very Berry--One vote each for second place.

The Cinnamon Crunch is a more "traditional" granola, while the other two have great, fresh fruit flavors. We are not a nut- or gluten-free family, and we enjoyed the granolas just as much as our gluten- and nut-ful granolas. I was alone in thinking they might need a touch more salt, but we all know of my salt addiction. And of my raisin dislike. (Sorry, Cinnamon Crunch.)

There is a downloadable coupon on Enjoy Life's homepage, and Want Not has some info on good Enjoy Life prices at Amazon going on through the end of May if you're interested in stocking up on some of their other products.

Ingredients (all dried fruits are sulfite-free):

Cinnamon Crunch: Brown Rice Flakes; Evaporated Cane Juice; Brown Rice Syrup; Water; Raisins; Rice Crisps (Rice Flour, Rice Bran, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Honey, Salt); Rice Bran; Cinnamon; Natural; Cinnamon Flavor; Ground Flaxseed; Rosemary Extract

Cranapple: Brown Rice Flakes; Brown Rice Syrup; Evaporated Cane Juice; Water; Rice Bran; Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Sugar, Sunflower Oil); Dried Apples; Rice Crisps ( Rice Flour, Rice Bran, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Honey, Salt); Expeller-Pressed Vegetable Oil (Safflower Oil and/or Sunflower Oil); Natural Apple Flavor; Malic Acid; Ground Flaxseed; Rosemary Extract

Very Berry: Brown Rice Flakes; Brown Rice Syrup; Evaporated Cane Juice; Rice Bran; Rice Crisps ( Rice Flour, Rice Bran, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Honey, Salt); Water; Freeze-Dried Raspberries and Strawberries; Expeller-Pressed Vegetable Oil (Safflower Oil and/or Sunflower Oil); Natural Strawberry Flavor; Citric Acid; Ground Flaxseed; Rosemary Extract

I found the granolas at several online stores for @$5/bag.

Images courtesy of Enjoy Life Foods.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Odds and Ends

The crazy got turned up to eleven here this week. Must be Spring Fever.

When I was looking for topic suggestions, Alisa asked, "How about some fun cookies to make with kids?"

I love cake mix cookies, especially these:

Confetti Cookies

Double Chocolate Chewies

And Bisquick cookies are good.

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When Squirrels Attack

Here is my friend's email recap of what happened to me yesterday:

One day, a very conscientious young mother decided to go out and weed her gardens:
Suddenly, there arose a clatter from the wires above. Turning around, the conscientious young mother was shocked to see a squirrel poised in full attack mode. The full story is coming soon to a theater near you:

That's right: a squirrel ran down a telephone pole and straight at my face while I was weeding yesterday. It had its teeth bared and was screeching. I yelled and threw a handful of weeds at it and lived to tell the tale.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Let Her Rip

This email was sent to me by a friend of mine, in regards to a doctor's appointment she and her boyfriend just had.  I have changed/removed their names.

"As you know, Steve has the whey allergy and he's currently working with an allergist and a GI doctor, trying to rule out exactly what is going on. Currently, they think it might be a contact allergy within his actual intestines. Like - consuming the food itself isn't a problem, it's as he's digested and it moves into his intestines that the allergy is triggered and then he has the symptoms.

I have a really bad allergy to penicillin that started in my teens and part of my reaction during that was really, really bad hives. Ever since then, I seem to get hives really easily. I had a TERRIBLE outbreak in Nov. or Dec. on my face (I have pictures and it's like something from a horror movie). They ended up putting me on 2 different types of steroids and Rx benedryl. Since then I've gotten smaller outbreaks 2 or 3 times and now this week another bigger one. Also, the past two summers I've been having bad seasonal allergies with swollen eyes and can't wear my contacts.

Today we went to the doctor[ed: general practitioner, not allergist] (me for the hives, Steve for the flu) and after hearing both of our stories of allergies, he said some stuff that's really been eating at me.

He got into this big speech about allergies and that Steve and I should go to a gene doctor and allergic and seriously consider having kids if we decide to become more serious and start a family. It just came across like any kids Steve and I would have would be like a selfish decision of ours, and not in the best interest of a child.

He said that the worst of both parents can manifest in the child, and we might have a child with all kinds of asthma and allergy problems, and not being able to eat a lot of foods, etc. That a neighbor of his has a child with 6 different types of severe food allergies and is on a really restricted diet. [Ed: The doctor also admitted to them that he isn't sure if allergies are hereditary.]

I don't know .. maybe I'm just being silly and he's just overly cautious, but it really just seemed like grim news to me. It's allergies - which yes, are serious, but they can also be dealt with. It's not like you would ever decide to NOT have Katherine b/c she can't have dairy! You just educate yourself, educate her, and make changes to let her life be as healthy and danger-free as possible!

Haha, well I guess that really isn't a question after all. More like venting and asking your opinion or advice. You're really the only person I know (more than just reading another's blog) that has a child with severe allergies, so I thought I'd get your take on it b/c I really like your approach to allergies and K's safety."

Well! I have already responded, and you can probably guess the content of my reply, what with Scott and me having had TWO MORE children after giving birth to an allergic child. But the writer of this email graciously agreed to letting me share this with you. I want her to hear from other parents--whether you have an allergic child or not. What are your thoughts?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Holy Advice, Batman!

To wrap up Food Allergy Awareness Week, here's the rest of the Q and A.

LoriD asks, "When hosting a party where an allergic child will be present (in this case it's a peanut allergy), what should the party host look out for? The party is at a bowling alley and I already asked if there are any peanut issues with the menu items I chose. What kinds of questions should I ask? What precautions should I take?"

I always start with the parents of the allergic child. Make sure they feel welcome to stay at the party, and let them know what is being served. Provide labels for them to read if possible, and be understanding if they choose to bring separate foods for the allergic child. If they choose not to stay at the party, make sure you know where the child's medications are and how to contact the parents. Call them if you are unsure about anything. They won't mind.

I would also wipe down the area with wet wipes, wipe off the bowling ball the child is going to use, etc., just in case.

Jennifer asks, "I would love to read tips about allergies and summer activities such as half-day programs at museums or churches or parks/zoos. I find it a tough line to walk. When I call ahead of time, I can talk to the director and feel all reassured, but it's usually teens or college students who staff these programs and actually serve up the snacks. I know at 6 he's getting old enough that if I go in the first day and make a big point of talking to the staff, he's going to be embarrassed and singled out. Really he does a pretty good job of watching out for himself at this point. So hmm. What do others do?"

Personally, I think you can never be too careful. For example, a child may think that the pretzels (or whatever) being served are safe, but actually they are a different, unsafe brand. I know it's embarrassing to kids when you talk to the staff, but I'd much rather my child be embarrassed then have a life-threatening reaction. I also wrote about this topic in these posts:
Amusing? Sometimes
The Greek Chorus
On Cupcakes and Parties

Not Your Aunt Bea asks, "Summer fun with food allergies- fun recipes the kids can help make that are yummy and summery OR summer travel trips with food allergies. With it being in the 90's already here, it is hard to pack stuff that won't spoil.
Anyone? Anyone?"

Here are some posts that might help:
Eating Out
Rhubarb Dump Cake
Zucchini Brownies
Star Wars Party
Wizard of Oz Party
(They don't have to be birthday parties.)

Please join in here with your thoughts, and/or at the Food Allergy Twitter Party tonight at 10:30 pm EST. #foodallergy

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Looking Back

Sara asked about our allergy story, which you can read about in this interview with Karen.

Jane Anne asked for some food allergy struggles and triumphs.
Some struggles:
Pop Quiz, Hotshot
Not As I Do
Declarative Statements

Some triumphs:
Note From an Allergic Child
Props for Teacher
On Friendship

Also, the Living With Food Allergies Blog Carnival is up at Go Dairy Free.

Edited to add: Some of the links were wrong, but they're fixed now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Easy Way Out

I'm cherry picking the easiest questions to answer first because it's my blog and I can cry if I want to. Or whatever.

OK! Alisa and Janeen want easy recipes, specifically pasta in Alisa's case.

Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta

Mexican Spaghetti
(In the same cookbook, Mel Walsh makes what she calls "Mini Meatloaves." She makes a meatball recipe and shapes it into a square on a sheet pan. She then scores the meat into little squares but leaves them touching and bakes the whole thing in the oven. Meatballs in half the time with none of the fuss! She serves them with spaghetti, of course.)

Rhubarb is growing! I just made rhubarb muffins the other day, and they were so good. I used sour soymilk.

I cannot say enough about Catherine Newman's food column. Somebody just give her a book deal already, so I can quit running back and forth to the computer. Yes, some of the recipes have cheese, but most of them can be adapted to be dairy free. We are going to have her Whole wheat Pasta with Chickpeas and Lemon tonight for dinner, and last night we had her Carrot Salad. It is so. Good. Especially now that we have fresh mint to put in it. And it doesn't have any mayo or anything so it's great for picnics.

Hmmn. That's kind of a gluten-heavy list, Janeen, but you can use GF pasta and make GF rhubarb crisp if you're not feeling up to GF rhubarb muffins. Yes?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Earth Balance Soy Free

Ta da!

Thanks for playing, everyone! I will use all of your ideas. One of the questions I received by email asked me to recommend a dairy- AND soy-free margarine. Until a few weeks ago, I would have been stumped. But now Earth Balance (our favorite margarine company) has a soy free variety. And I've been asked to review it for Go Dairy Free.

"What do they call it when everything intersects?" "The Bermuda Triangle."

What it looks like

Earth Balance Soy Free has a good buttery flavor, just like the other Earth Balance varieties. Tasting it side by side with their Soy Garden, it seems to be a bit saltier and a softer consistency.

Welcome to the family!

I spread it on flatbread, and used it to make popovers and homemade brownies. It has a much lower smoke point than the Soy Garden or regular EB varieties. (Smoke point? Geez, next she'll be talking about the margarine's "mouthfeel.") The popovers bake at a high temperature and the recipe starts with melting the margarine in a muffin tin, so the Soy Garden variety smokes a bit, too, but not nearly as much as the Soy Free variety. The brownie recipe I made begins with melting margarine and baking chocolate over low heat on the stove. Even at a low temperature, the soy-free margarine smoked up the house. I couldn't taste the smoke in either recipe, though.


See the popovers through the smoke?

BUT! It is soy free! And dairy free! And tastes good! And would probably do just fine in muffins or a casserole! And it tastes very, very good spread on bread.

AND! The Allergic Kid's Earth Balance coupon giveaway is still going on, so you could win some for yourself!

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Food Allergy Q and Possibly A

It's Food Allergy Awareness Week!

And I'm fresh out of inspiration. I think my tired old brain cells have been fried by all of the learning going on around here. Riding bikes without training wheels, riding scooters, learning to talk, potty training, moving into a big boy bed, writing, reading, saying the alphabet, counting. Whew.

So, what food allergy topics should I write about? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Poem

by Katherine

Happy Mother's Day
I will help you in every way
But if something goes wrong
Hum or sing a song


Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Lighten Up

Hey, I'm not always grumpy. I can enjoy spring as much as the next person. See?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Food Allergy is a Food Allergy is a Food Allergy

I met with Katherine's principal yesterday about something unrelated to allergies, but Principal brought up food allergies, and we all know I am physically incapable of avoiding a food allergy conversation. Even when it might be appropriate.
Neighbor: "This sure is a heavy snow."
Nowheymama: "Yeah. I remember the last time it snowed like this, I was reading a new research study on food allergies, and it said...."
Neighbor: *runs away*

So for the record, Principal brought up allergies first, in the context of what a good and safe year Katherine has had.
Nowheymama: "Yes, Teacher has done an excellent job. Also, Katherine enjoyed being in a classroom with another allergic child. It was really nice for her to have that support."
Principal: "Yes. Well, next year we're going to have to be REALLY serious about food allergies because there are two Kindergarteners moving up who are REALLY allergic to peanuts."
Nowheymama:*Remembering Principal is retiring in August* "Yes, I've heard that."
Principal: "Yes. This building is going to be peanut free. We're going to have to be REALLY vigilant next year about peanuts. And other allergies."
Nowheymama: *Bradley breathing* "That's just great."
Principal: "Yes because one of these children is REALLY allergic. Like, it's a real life-threatening allergy."
Nowheymama: *head explodes* "Well, all food allergies can be life threatening. You never know which reaction is going to be the one that is severe. Look at Katherine's friend N. Her peanut allergy was considered to be "mild" until she had that reaction AT SCHOOL last year."
Principal: "Yes, but this child's allergy is REALLY serious."
Nowheymama: "...."

I don't mean to get all Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, and I certainly am not trying to get into a "my child's allergy is more severe than yours" discussion. It's inappropriate, and it doesn't matter. The school system should treat all food allergies as if they equally severe. It's just safer that way. Besides, you never know which reaction is going to be the anaphylactic one, so it's best just to avoid reactions altogether.

BUT on the bright side, they will be doing more to handle allergies next year, they are having an in-service day about allergies, and I think we're going to have Katherine's allergy action plan meeting in July! instead of the last week of August.

Small steps forward, right? RIGHT?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Go-To Recipe

Am I posting a Cuban recipe on Cinco de Mayo? Yes. Why? Well, I don't know how things are at your house, but this time of year is crazy around here, what with end-of-school events, end-of-semester stuff at the college, conferences, recitals, etc. This is one of my go-to recipes that I can make very quickly.

Picadillo, adapted from the May 2003 issue of Cooking Light (back when we had money to spend on magazines)

1 t. olive oil
1 c. finely chopped onion
1 lb. ground turkey
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup beef broth or 1 c. water + 1 dairy-free bouillon cube
1/3 c. raisins
1/3 c. coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
3 T. capers
1 T. tomato paste or ketchup
1/4 t. black pepper
salt to taste
rice to serve it on

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion in oil for five minutes. Add turkey and garlic and cook for five minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add broth and next five ingredients, stir well. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes. Salt to taste. Meanwhile, cook rice. Serve picadillo over rice.

What's one of your go-to recipes?

Monday, May 04, 2009

I Got Nothing

It's Monday and I am post-less. So here's a goofy email forward Scott received from at least three people last week.

Critical Swine Flu Prevention Tip: Don't Do This!

Photo credit unknown

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Times, They are A Changin'

Our elementary school principal is retiring at the end of the summer. Will this be a good change for the food allergic kids, or a case of the devil you know...?

I've been invited to be on a panel for May 15th's Food Allergy Twitter Party at, um, 10:30 PM EST. HAHAHAHA!! You should be able to get some pretty amusing answers to your questions from the girl who's bedtime is 9 PM. And who is still learning to use Twitter.

The latest Living With Food Allergies Blog Carnival is up at Sure Foods Living.

My all-time favorite college professor (who is also an alumnus of the college) has been let go from my alma mater due to "budgetary reasons." I just got my alumni newsletter with a photo of the college president cutting the ribbon on a new building named for him (the president). I don't think I'll be sending in my paltry donations anymore since they don't seem to be going to what I consider to be important.

So, May is "nursery month" at our church, which means that this is traditionally when the nursery director asks for donations, diapers, etc. We're in pretty good shape as far as supplies right now, so here's what I want to do: This Sunday I want to stand up in each service with a baby (we have only two regularly-attending babies at each service) and say that what the nursery needs is babies. So start inviting young families to the church because the reason we're not out of supplies is because there aren't enough children in the nursery to use them.

What? Too much?