Sunday, June 29, 2008

Allergen Free Brownies

We finally got a chance to make the new brownie mix I purchased. It is the Ooey Gooey Chocolaty Brownie Mix from The Cravings Place. They are gluten free, wheat free, egg free, and nut free. It is hard to find gluten free items that do not pose a risk for cross contamination with our other allergens, so I was very excited to find this company. I especially love that the recipe does not even call for eggs, so I do not have to think about how the egg substitute will alter the brownies.

I have to give credit to my husband who actually baked them while I was out. When I came home they smelled wonderful. These brownies are great! Every member of the family loved them. They are light and fluffy - a little cake like. There are chocolate bits in the mix which become melted and gooey. You would never know that they were wheat and egg free. Some of my previous wheat free, egg free baking has come out really dense. I was surprised how light they were!

After the kids went to bed my husband and I ate them with vanilla ice cream. YUM! This will be a great mix to have on hand to take to parties and school functions. I think next time I might make a little frosting to spread on top.

The Cravings place offers several other cake, cookie and muffin mixes. I will definitely be trying more mixes from them. Check it out and let me know if you try any other mixes!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Allergen Free Food to Go

I just heard about this new business in Raleigh NC, and I think it is a great idea! Before we had picky kids with foods allergies I used to request a place called Let's Dish (there is also a similar business called Dinner Done.) If you are not familiar with the concept, it is an industrial style kitchen that supplies all the ingredients to make several meals. The idea is that you prep all your meals ahead and store them in the freezer. Then follow the directions for re heating at home and you have dinner ready in a snap. This is a life saver when you are working full time. However, when confronted with numerous food allergies this is no longer an option.

For people living with allergies in Raleigh, NC there is a new business called Rosie's Plate. They specialize in pre-prepped meals to go. They have built a brand new a gluten free, peanut free, and shellfish free facility just for this purpose. They use all natural and organic ingredients. They have also taken many precautions to assure the cleanliness and purity of their facility and food. More information regarding their practices can be found on their web site.

Rosie's Story is like many of our stories. She is a mom who struggled to feed her family healthy foods that were free of their multiple allergens. I think that it is great that Rosie not only took charge of her families allergies, but she has used her experience as an outlet to start her own business and help other families in similar situations. I love hearing positive stories about women starting businesses and helping other people.

If I lived in the Raleigh area, I would definitely check out Rosie's Plate. Hopefully it will be a success and we will see more allergy friendly food service businesses started around the country.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One of Those Weeks

Have you ever had one of those weeks? I am sure you have. I just feel like I am going off the deep end! School is over and we have not been able to establish a new routine yet. I just found out that some good neigbors of ours are going to move. This is sad because we really like them and our kids play together all the time! The house is a mess and I have become completly disorganised.

I had to leave the house today. It is the 3rd beatiful day in a row we have been cooped up inside due another bout of strep throat. This weekend we missed a swim meet, dinner with friends last night and a day at the pool with another family we have not seen in over a year! It was going to be such a nice weekend. :(

I left the house and came to Panera. My 6 year old was hysterical and begged me not to go. She usually does not react that way and relishes a day with her dad. I just had to get some space. I have been here a while. Long enough to have coffee, work on a project I have been hired for, have some lunch and surf the net a bit. I am way behind on my blogs - have not read or written much for 2 weeks. I would rather stay longer, but the guilt is starting to set in. I really needed this break and it has been rather enjoyable. I think I will have to make this a regular thing.

Just talked to hubby - he wants to go do dinner since he has need home with the kids all day. Ha ah. Try it day after day! I am not really in the mood. Perhaps I will let him take the 2 older kids and I will stay home with the 2 year old.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Food Products

Oh my goodess there is so much going on lately. I have a lot to share, but I am going to have to break it down. First of all I found some new food products that my son C. can eat. (He is allergic to wheat, eggs, peanut, tree nut, peas, banana, sesame and coconut.) It is challanging to find manufacturers that have a wheat free product, which is not cross contaminated with one of his other allergens.

I would like to echo the sentiments posted on Kids Food Allergies Blog. It would be great for more food manufacturers to take notice of food allergies. Especially multiple food allergies. It is very disapointing to find a new product you could use only to find that there is a cross contamination issue. I am grateful for Cherrybrook Kitchens and Enjoy Life Foods - we love their products. I am sure it is very difficult to make foods that are tasty, will ship well and are allergy friendly. I am sympathetic to the challanges - but there is a market for these products!

Anyway here is what I found:
  1. Grahahm Crackers by JO-SEF - gluten free and egg free. Made is a dedicated gluten, casein, peanut and tree nut facility. They are very tasty and C. loves them. They are also the right size to make smores. Yay!!!
  2. The Cravings Place Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chewy Brownie Mix. They also make other mixes that are gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free and nut free!!!! I am so excited! We are going to make them this weekend, and I will post the results.
  3. Miss. Roben's Mock Graham Cracker Mix. I have only seen Miss. Roben's products online and was glad to find something on the shelf that I did not have to order. I am going to attempt to make cut out cookies and will post the results.
  4. 1-2-3 Gluten Free - baking mixes that are Gluten -free, wheat-free, Corn-free, Dairy-free, Nut-Free, Peanut-free, Soy-free. I did not buy any on this trip. They are a little expensive, but I will give them a try at some point. Check out their web site.

Over all it was sucessful trip, although I spent more than I intended. When I find something new I just can't resist.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Need Help Cooking Without Eggs

I am not one to bake from scratch. I always felt that cake mixes were better than anything I could do from scratch, so why bother? Well now with all the allergies we have, I guess I have to become more adventurous. I will admit I am resistant, and not patient enough to make the same thing over and over again until I get it right.

Tomorrow I take C. in for a food challenge to oat and peas. I need to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (with gluten free oats.) I should be doing that now, but the health food store left my safe chocolate chips out of the bag! UGH - I was ready to cry when I discovered that. C. is sleeping now so I have to wait to go back and get them. In between swimming lessons, swim team practice for my oldest and my physical therapy. I know I will not be baking these until 9:00 tonight.

Anyway here is my question for you daring bakers out there. There are so many ways to replace eggs (applesauce, flax seed, Ener G egg replacer etc.) What works best when? Is there a cheat sheet out there somewhere? I have also read more than once that when using the Ener G egg replacer it is better to double the powder used. I also was going to buy a safe brownie mix that called for 4 eggs. I hesitated because I thought when replacing that many eggs there is no way it would come out right. Someone at the health food store suggested using purred prunes. For a $10 box of brownies I was not willing to take a chance. It is a little confusing for us non bakers. I would love any help!!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Emergency Preparedness

I recently read Allergy Mom's blog entry regarding Hurricane preparation. I found the information interesting and useful.I especially found the tidbit about putting your computer in the dishwasher amusing, yet practical. We do not live in hurricane territory, so I did not think I would need to use any of the information.

Well, last Wednesday we had severe thunderstorms with extremely high winds, and at least 3 tornadoes in the area. Now they were not huge, like you see in the mid west, but in Virginia they do not have to be, to cause a panic. I was in a restaurant when people started getting text alerts that the schools were going to hold the kids until the storms passed through. This was fine with me, that last thing we need is a bunch of school buses on the road with tornadoes in the area.

The high drama was over in about 20 minutes, and the buses showed up about 45 minutes later. In the meantime, we had lost power in our neighborhood. Usually this does not concern me at all. Our power outages are normally short so I do not worry about the food in my freezer or the lack of AC. Businesses in the area still had power so we were able to pick up some burgers and wings for dinner. However, poor Collin's food all needs to be reheated or cooked, so he has to make due with cereal.

We were so not prepared to be without power. It was not until it started to become dark that we thought we should look for some flashlights - we found a couple with enough battery power to last a while. I knew from reading Allergy Mom's blog that if I did not open the refrigerator and freezer, my food would last until morning at least. When morning came with no power I though I should get some supplies.

I spent the morning gathering up some non perishable food, ice, an extra cooler and some underwear (I was already behind on laundry.) I figured that if I did all this, then the power would come back, and I would not need it. No such luck. I emptied the ice maker so it would not leak all over the freezer as the ice started to melt. I had to throw away the ice cream and a couple other soft things, but the meats and hard frozen items were still frozen.

After lunch it was starting to get a little hot (this was the first day we had over 90). We decided to head over to a friends house who still had power and AC. As I was literally walking out the door I heard a click and the power came back on! Yeah!

Overall it was not really that bad at all - it could have been so much worse. It just set me back a couple of days - I still have some catching up to do around the house.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What has Happened to Tolerance and Compassion?

I came across this article today on -,0,5213082.story Apparently American Airlines is being sued for allegedly endangering a boy with a nut allergy. The mother in the suit claims that despite all the precautions she took in advance to work with the airline to prevent peanuts from being served on the plane, the flight attendants served them anyway. I would be very upset if an airline seemingly ignored my requests as well, but I doubt that I would sue. Fortunately her son did not have a reaction on this, but I am sure it was a very stressful flight for the family.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the flaw in this case is that fortunately her child did not suffer a reaction or worse. It is sad to say, but it will probably take a tragedy for the airline industry to really step up and take notice. I have not flown with my children yet, but when I do I will do my research and be very selective on the airline I choose. I have heard that Jet Blue is great to work with.

I also took a few minutes to scroll through the comments following this article. I have to say that I was shocked and saddened by how flat out mean and inconsiderate a lot of the comments were. The comments being flung about were just hateful. People really think that we are going to ruin their lives by requesting that they go a few hours without a peanut! I know most of this stems from ignorance, but I can not help but get mad at how insensitive people are to others situations.
I want to make it clear – I am not looking to go around banning foods. I am not even convinced that we should ban peanuts from schools. I am trying to teach my kids that they need to learn to take care of themselves in a world where they are surrounded by allergens. This includes surrounding themselves with a supportive network of friends, family members, teachers and colleagues.

But what has happened to being tolerant and compassionate? I have never really understood what motivates a person to be so hateful. What else can we do to communicate the dangers of food allergies without creating barriers?

If you want to raise your blood pressure a few notches – check it out. If not , just take this entry as a reminder that our society is self centered and most people do not give a lick about anyone but themselves. The best thing that we, as allergy moms, can do is stick together to help each other out.

Monday, June 2, 2008

RAST Test Can be a Good Way to Track Progress of Allergy

I am currently awaiting the RAST results for C. Hopefully I will get a call in the next day or so. In the meantime I have been thinking about the importance of having this done on a yearly basis. When R. was first diagnosed with a peanut allergy we did not have a RAST done. I really did not know anything about them. Since we did a good job of avoiding nuts, we went through 2 1/2 years not really knowing the severity to R's allergy. I did not really worry that much about his allergy. Our pre school was already peanut free and the nanny at the time totally "got it."

Looking back I think I have been a little too liberal in allowing him to have some baked goods. He has never had never suspicious cookies or brownies ,as they often can hide nuts. But I let him have birthday cake and sugar cookies. I guess we are lucky we have not had any accidents.

After my baby was diagnosed with number of allergies I started to really educate myself. When R. turned 4 I decided to have a check up with the allergist and get a RAST test. That is when we found out that his peanut allergy is a 99.8 . The only problem is that I have no previous test to compare. I wish I had - so I would know if it is the same or has gotten worse.

I would advise anyone to get the RAST test done in addition to the scratch test. It is a good way to track the progression of their allergy from year to year. This information will not necessarily tell you what will happen if there is an accidental exposure. Every child is different and reactions can vary each time. We need to be prepared for everything from eczema and hives to full blown anaphylaxis.