Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Wonderful Support System and Easier Grocery Shopping

I have been such a blessed woman since becoming an allergy-aware parent.  My daughter was diagnosed in July and while I was in need of a support system; there was none.  In September, I started a support group in my area with a total of 3 members.  Now, our facebook family of Gluten & Allergy Free KY has a total of 56 members.  How grateful am I?  I have met individuals and parents of children facing the allergy aware challenges that I have just begun to encounter.  We have shared laughs, tears, our stories, recipes, ideas, and lots of encouragement.  I have, literally, been in tears two hours into grocery shopping and called one of our members to help calm me down.  It is only shopping after all, but to a mother of a child with food allergies it can be a horrific experience.  For this reason, I have included a beginner’s shopping list.

Below is a list of allergy-friendly grocery goodies listed as faves from our Gluten & Allergy Free KY support group as well as some of my twitter friends.  These are just a guideline for beginners to the allergy world.  All of these are gluten free, some are nut and soy free as well. 

Anne's sticky rice bowls,
 tortilla chips and cheese,
Udi's bread,
 dried plantains
Boost protien drinks
Udi’s muffins and bagels.
Applegate Farms GF chicken nuggets,
 GF Bisquick,
 Annie's GF mac -n- cheese (that one's for me since my son is also casein free),
 McCormick spices,
 Gorilla Munch cereal,
 Larabars (Apple Pie is our fave)
 Applegate Farms bacon and hot dogs
Pamela's baking mix is the best thing we have found. You really can convert your old recipes!
 General Mills is really stepping up and producing some great products as well.
 Rice Chex makes excellent rice krispie bars. Instead of 6 cups of cereal, use 7.
 They also now have fruity pebbles and cocoa pebbles cereal bars!!
we love quinoa,
 corn crackers,
my kids love dry fruit for snacks
basmati rice (better aroma and taste)
craisins,(regular, cherry, blueberry)
fresh fruit
cinnamon rice chex
Amy’s Organics microwave meals are a great way to start
Enjoy Life brand snack bars
EnerG bread crumbs
Bob’s Red Mill AP flour (it is soy free)
Glutino Cereal Bars (the strawberry is soy free)
Lucky Charms Cereal
Captain Crunch Cereal
Udi’s brand frozen pizza crust
Rudi’s multi-grain bread
Whole Foods Bakehouse GF breads (cheaper than Rudi’s and Udi’s)
Trader Joe’s brownie mix
Beans, beans, and more beans.  In the beginning I prepared a bag of beans once a week and froze in smaller meal-friendly bags.
EnviroKids brand

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Little Food Allergy Consideration, PLEASE!

We went to the Allergist last week to get our lab results.  Fun finds included a YES, we are still allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  And a NO, we are not allergic via lab results to wheat and soy.  But, YES, her body is still rejecting the wheat and soy.  We did a one time attempt to reintroduce; she was sick to her stomach with the half hour and she had urticaria within 24 hours.  Needless to say, we are still a household that is free of wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  All the better for me, because our family has never been healthier.  The little one was visually upset due to her need to feel included by her peers- which is another story in itself.
Our family started off the week with a bang!  Last week, our daughter came home with the news of a class party to be held this past Friday.  An ice cream party via Dairy Queen for good behavior.  No note sent home, mind you.  But I did my job and looked online and found that she could have the fudge bar without an issue.  It is prepackaged and I wouldn’t have to worry about contamination.  So, Friday morning my husband walks her to class and mentions the upcoming ice cream party after lunch.  The teacher explained that the party would not be taking place until Monday and they would not be having ice cream any longer.  The teacher mentioned nothing else; no other ideas, did not mention any food or her allergies.  Monday afternoon, something told me to stop by the school and check on things.  Thank goodness I did.  Her entire classroom was eating their lunches in the room, having a party, and eating ice cream.  Yes, ice cream.  I immediately left the school and bought her a treat to take back.  She was so excited.  She said, “Mom, you know EVERYTHING”.  Her teacher didn’t even bother apologizing.  No email sent, no warning, nothing.  By the time I left the school, I was in tears.  I was so mad!  I was upset that no one even cared enough to acknowledge her.  Her teacher had given every child in that classroom ice cream except for my daughter.  Why?  I would jump through fire for my children, so I sure as hell would buy a popsicle.  Just shoot me an email, call me, text me, I promise I won’t bite.  I can’t fix it if I don’t know about it.  Why can’t a little bit of commonsense come into play?Food Allergies For Dummies

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Update and Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have been gone from the blogosphere for a while now.  Not by choice, granted.  It has been nutso in my neck of the woods.  Snow storms, tornadoes, kids, chores, farm, etc.  You get the idea.  I’ve been having a hard time with recipes, lately.  I seem to be stuck in a rut and when I do try to think “outside the box”, it’s been pretty gross.  Does that happen to anyone else?  I guess I need to get back to basics.  My family and I recently took a trip to Nashville, TN for a weekend; it was great!  We found lots of restaurants that we could eat at.  There is a bakery called Fiddlecakes that made us a batch of brownies when I called ahead and alerted of particular allergies.  They make their own gluten free bread and fresh sandwiches that made for a yummy lunch.  We also encountered Mellow Mushroom for the first time.  It was such a treat for all of us to enjoy pizzas together as a family.  We ended our trip with a visit to The Whole Foods Market to store up favorites that are unattainable in our area.  Lots of pastas, panko bread crumbs, snack bars, you get the idea.  Needless to say that we had our Expedition loaded for our trip back home to Kentucky.  My daughter also had her Immunocaps drawn for an upcoming appointment with her allergist.  We’re not sure what, if anything will come of that.  Did I mention that my baking has been a bit “different” for the past couple of weeks?  I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different flour combinations trying to find a “fit”.  Up to this point I have been splurging on Bob’s Red Mill AP flour but I really want to make my own mixes.  What I have accomplished is the best vanilla extract.  We started it before Christmas and are currently enjoying homemade vanilla extract.  Super easy to make, I plan on gifting it for the holidays in the future.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

1 jam jar
2 vanilla beans split

Place the vanilla beans in the jar and cover with vodka until filled.  Place top on jar and let it rest in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks; shaking occasionally.  I currently have mine located on my counter top to use at my whim.  Nothing tastes as good as homemade vanilla extract when a vanilla bean cannot be used.  Keep it natural.