Archive for the ‘allergies’ Category

Posterous is closing, and I’m moving back in!

I just got the news that Posterous is closing on April 30, and so I thought that it might be just nice to move things over here. While Posterous was nice to have a completely private website, it did tend to make me neglect it a bit, and so I’d rather share with more people. You’ll see a bunch of new older posts appearing as I import what was on posterous over here, and hopefully it won’t make too much of a mess!

This site is going to be my family catch all, and one of the new things I’ll be adding is photos in my “read the label” series, which will document ingredients labels of all the foods that monkey is not allergic to. So look for some of those new posts to hit this space shortly.

I’ll also be posting more updates about parenting and food allergies, so there will still be lots of those kinds of articles.

In any case, welcome back, and thanks for reading.

P.S. if you are interested in gaming at all, I have a blog called gamerparent where I write about how gaming and parenting go together. Check it out! Thanks!

Wheat, dairy, egg free prepackaged Beef Gravy

Look what we found at the grocery store today!


wheat allergies and crafts

So our oldest just came home from school, and said, “Daddy! Guess what! we did paper mache today!” She held out the front of her dress, which was covered in white stuff.

“Oh cool! Wait, does paper mache have wheat? Did you use flour?”

She nodded.

I ordered her to the laundry room to take off her clothes and go change, and to not touch or hug her sister or anything until she was done. You see, her younger sister is allergic to wheat. She doesn’t have celiac disease, she isn’t gluten intolerant, she is allergic to wheat. She doesn’t have to eat it to have a reaction, it’s enough to just touch it on her skin, and in the case of flour, it’s easy to breathe it in as well.

That has some implications for school and any craft activities that occur there. It means that her classroom cannot have Play-Doh in it, as that’s made with flour and contains wheat. Other forms of play clay are ok. And now I guess it means paper mache will have to be made without wheat flour.

Boy, her Grade 1 teacher is gonna looove me…

A new idea for slicing crusty bread

Tonight I had a baking tray around and I decided to put my cutting board on it and sliced the bread inside it, neatly containing the crumbs inside it, and not all over the counter. Yay!

The Halloween Allergy Sorting Ritual

It happens every year. The bags of candy are dumped on the table, and the Great Halloween Sorting Ritual begins.

“Is this safe?” “What can I eat?” “Can I have this?”
“Wait, let me check. What is it called?”
Frantic Googling of ingredients and allergy information ensues.
“Oh, wait, it’s processed in a facility that also processes wheat.”
Take that one out of the pile.
“Are Tootsie Rolls ok?”
“Um… let’s see. Nope, Tootsie Rolls have milk. So do Tootsie Pops.”
Out of the pile.
“What about this lollipop?”
“What is this? I’ve never heard of this. A Dum Dum? Let’s see… Oh, those are ok. Oh wait, does this one have gum inside? “This allergen info DOES NOT APPLY to Dum Dum’s with gum inside”… nope, that one is out.”
Out of the pile.

By the end we have whittled down the pile to chips, a few lollipops, Swedish Berries and Fruit gummies, and that’s about it for the little one. Her big sister gets the bulk of the chocolate and other candies.

Both are allergic to nuts so Mom and I get those. 🙂

adventures in eating out

Question: Where do you take a kid that is allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs for dinner?

Well, the answer is: not that many places… but thankfully that list of places is expanding.

Normal places that are safe*:
– Swiss Chalet (a Canadian rotisserie chicken restaurant): where she can eat the chicken, the sauce, and the fries (although they are a risk because they don’t use dedicated oil for the fries)
– McDonald’s: where she can eat the fries and the hamburger patty without the bun
– Japanese for sushi and maki/rolls (but nothing that has tempura or is fried with soy sauce, and she’s not a big fan of the wasabi either)
– we can also go to Chinese restaurants and order steamed rice and ‘plain stir fry’ veggies with garlic (aka ‘ching chow’ in chinglish… LOL)

As you might gather, it’s not the greatest variety. I should also mention that my daughter is just shy of 5 years old, and she doesn’t like lettuce that much (nor raw tomatoes or peppers), so ordering the Garden salad is not an option.

I will be starting a new series on places that we have eaten out where we were able to order something that was wheat/dairy/egg free**. Items off the menu, even! Tonight we’re trying a new place, Grace Restaurant on College. Check my twitter for pics of dinner at:

* Allergy information and complete ingredient lists for many restaurants can be found online at the restaurant’s own site, usually. McDonald’s is pretty good about it, as is Swiss Chalet.
**I should start a new acronym, like GF (for gluten free). WF/DF/EF? WDE-free?

setbacks in “growing out of” food allergies

Today we went out for lunch after church. To Vietnamese, where you can get rice noodles, and grilled meat, and if you ask they’ll leave off the peanuts on the order.

On paper, the dishes seemed safe.

According to the waitress, the dishes should be safe.

Unfortunately, just an hour and a half after eating, she started to complain that her nose was itchy. Then her underarms. Then her elbows. Then she started crying that she was itchy all over.

Time to get the Benadryl.

Then it was into the bathtub for a cool water bath.

Then it was no end of trying to distract her from scratching herself raw by letting her play with my Blackberry. Eventually she fell asleep with me holding her. At least then she wasn’t scratching anymore! Kind of heavy, though. And as we were sitting at the kitchen table, on a somewhat uncomfortable chair… sigh.

On a side note, if you want the kids to be knocked out, Benadryl will definitely do it… not that I am advocating that you should use it for any reason other than its intended purpose… 🙂

When your food allergic child is having a reaction, it’s a bad feeling as a parent. Bad because you know that it was your job to make sure that she doesn’t eat anything that she’s allergic to, and bad because YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER, and bad because your child is crawling out of their skin with itchiness, and bad because you just may have caused her to be allergic to whatever it is for the rest of her life because of your carelessness. “Aaugh!!” as Charlie Brown used to say.

The prevailing thought is that how a child ‘grows out’ of an allergy is through complete non-exposure, and given that a child’s immune system is not fully mature until around age 5, if the child has not been exposed and has not had a reaction, when the body’s immune system does ‘set’ itself, it will do so with a reduced reaction or possibly no reaction to that particular allergen.

You can see how our anxiety is pretty high about these accidental exposures, and how disappointing it is when she does get exposed. I kind of view each one as a sort of setback, and it’s painful because you don’t know if this will be just a setback, or the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As I write this our daughter is sleeping peacefully, the bedtime dose of Benadryl having its effect. Hopefully the symptoms will stay away. I guess I can’t dwell on it too much. We just have to try our best.

Food and Allergies:

Food and Allergies:

“Eating isn’t too complicated for most us, but for kids with sometimes life-threatening allergies, mealtime can be a minefield. Here are the best websites for managing allergies.”

Thanks to H. Davidson for the reference and check out her excellent site Gluten-Free Guidebook.

We Love Tofutti

It’s hard not to love a company that makes dairy-free alternatives to difficult to substitute things like Cream Cheese, or Sour Cream. Tofutti is one of those companies whose items consistently top our shopping list. Not only are they dairy-free, but they also taste quite good, both in consistency and flavour.

But what really seals the deal, and what we first knew Tofutti for, were these:

pp-vanilla-bg.jpg (JPEG Image, 907x409 pixels)
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

That’s right, Vanilla Premium Frozen Dessert. Sounds pretty boring, but this pint sized tub of frozen treat was the thing that allowed our daughter to feel included when everyone else was having ice cream after dinner. It was what saved us when we went out to dinner parties at friends’ houses. So it means a lot to us to have this product available.

As I alluded to, Tofutti also makes “Better Than Cream Cheese”, and “Sour Supreme”, excellent substitutes for Cream Cheese and Sour Cream, respectively. A more recent product which we also love, is their Soy-Cheese Slices. Having bought and tried a number of different soy and rice based cheeses, usually sold in blocks, and invariably having them either taste extremely foul or going bad before our daughter could finish all of it, these individually wrapped cheese slices were amazing. Normally we don’t get processed cheese slices, but I can’t argue with the sheer convenience and the long lasting nature of this product. It comes in two flavours, Mozzarella and “American”, and looks and feels just like a regular processed cheese slice. It’s great in sandwiches made with wheat-free, egg-free, diary-free bread, AND yes, it melts like cheese should melt. Awesome for grilled cheese. Or putting on vegetables.

cheese-amer-bg.jpg (JPEG Image, 907x409 pixels)
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

The company has a quirky sense of humour too, calling one of its ice cream bars “Marry Me!” bars:

“Tofutti’s Marry Me bars are a match made in flavor Heaven. Fine, full-bodied vanilla made with organic sugar partnered with a rich, deep organic chocolate coating create a classic love story that will leave you feeling happily ever after.
For a healthy, long lasting relationship.”

Hard to argue with that. I think I might just go have one myself. Excuse me… 🙂

Note: Not suitable for those with an allergy to soy.

Wheat Free Oyster Sauce

Oh, boy, I’m excited about this one! We just discovered a big brand oyster sauce that doesn’t have wheat in it! Here are the details:

Lee Kum Kee
Panda Brand Lo Mein Oyster Flavoured Sauce
UPC 078895134964

I must say I’m relieved to find this, because the previous brand of oyster sauce that we were using was a vegetarian oyster sauce, which kind of looked like corn syrup. Not only that, but we have had trouble sourcing it at our local Asian supermarkets, so we were going to run out.

Note: This product does contain oyster extract, so it’s not good if you have a shellfish allergy.