Thursday, October 30, 2008
That is why I was shocked on Tuesday night when he grabbed something off the counter while I was cooking dinner and popped it in his mouth. When I got his mouth open, I saw one of the sunflower seeds I had been munching on a few minutes before.
As I wrote nearly a month ago, I bought some sunflower seeds and got nervous before I gave them to Tyler. A quick call to his allergist told me I should hold off on introducing these to him. One might wonder why they are even in the house. Lately blood sugar issues have been plaguing me and resulted in migraines. I'm not diabetic but I seem to very sensitive to blood sugar issues. In the past when I had this issue, I ate cheese or nuts. Nuts, obviously are a "no go" now. Then, in January, I discovered my cholesterol is high. (It runs in the family.) This limits my cheese consumption. So, I tried to find a quick protein boost for snacks when I feel my blood sugar dipping. That is why I decided on sunflower seeds.
Anyway, Tyler really surprised me when he popped one that I must have dropped into his mouth. I got as much as I could out of his mouth and he got a serious lecture from his dad. I was so upset that I felt weak in the knees. There is nothing worse than looking at your child and expecting a reaction at any moment.
What a relief, but I know enough about food allergies to know this does not mean he is not allergic. Sometimes a reaction happens on the second or third exposure.
My husband, rightly so, said we need to get them out of the house. It not only poses a danger to Tyler (which is the real issue), my husband was also concerned about my own anxiety-filled reaction.
So, for now, we will ban one more thing from our house until Tyler's next allergist appointment.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I continued to eat peanut butter (as well as milk and eggs - his other allergies until early this year). I had no idea I was making a bad situation worse.
Tyler suffered for 4 more months until we got the opinion of a dermatologist. (Note: We should have visited an allergist.) By this time, his skin was terribly infected and antibiotics did nothing. The dermatologist told us we were on the road to a staph infection. She gave us some strong steroids that were like a miracle drug. Within 24 hours of using it, he looked like a different child.
Since that time, I have kept his eczema under control. Obviously it is much better now that he is not ingesting foods he is allergic to. We know now so much better how to keep him and his skin healthy.
Yet, a rash appeared early last month that I could never completely get rid of. It was by his mouth. When it first appeared, I was so happy that he had not just eaten something because it looked like hives. Last week, I took him to his pediatrician (a different one than we had when he was a baby). I felt like maybe I should be visiting the allergist but we needed a flu shot anyway. I go to a practice with several doctors and saw one we had never seen before.
This doctor was great and started to question food allergies right away. I realized she must not have noticed his peanut allergy in his file. I then went into a very LONG discussion of his history. I was happy to see a doctor that seemed to really understand the connection of food allergy and eczema.
In the end, the rash on his face was a yeast infection (I know, that's weird). It started out as eczema. Since it is by his mouth, he kept licking it. That created the secondary issue.
The rest of his eczema is also flared up (that happens in the fall) so she switched us to a very strong cream for a week. If this does not go away relatively soon, we will visit the allergist. But this just reminded me how far we have come from three and a half years ago when I had no idea what was happening and he was being exposed repeatedly to peanut butter.
What a difference time makes!!
I would love to hear from some of you. Do you deal with eczema, too? Was it your first sign like ours? Please leave a comment or send an e-mail.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Since Halloween is this weekend, I wanted to re-raise a discussion from this blog in August. You can read what I wrote about it here. The most interesting part, however, are the comments of others. There were 9 insightful other PA moms that contributed to that conversation. I learned a lot from them.
Our Plans This Year
Since we have never gone door to door on Halloween, we will not be doing it this year. Tyler is my oldest and we have never done this due to his multiple food allergies up until earlier this year. Honestly, I don't think it has occurred to him yet that this is a possibility. I will keep it that way as long as I can. I am betting this is my last year with that luxury.
Instead, my two little ones will dress up in their costumes (Tyler will be "Thomas the Train" and Dylan an elephant) and hand out candy to other children. We will have lots of treats at home and safe candy they can indulge in.
In the Coming Years
When Tyler starts wanting to go door to door, I may let him with lots of restrictions. After talking to other PA moms online and off, we will let him take something large like a pillowcase that keeps the candy far from his hands. When we notice something with peanuts, we will refuse it. Once home, I will offer Tyler (and possibly Dylan) the choice of a bag of safe candy or a toy of his choice (within a certain price range). This option allows the boys to participate in Halloween without actually eating (or even touching) potentially harmful candy.
I would love to hear what the plans of other PA kids are. Will your child be trick or treating or some other alternative? Leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.
Friday, October 24, 2008
As seems to be the theme around here this week, these videos really can help raise the awareness of others who are not directly affected by this. If you enjoy these videos, please forward this post to others who need more education in this area. These videos really provide a real glimpse into the lives we all live.
Here are the links:
Part 1: Allergy moms face fear and guilt
Part 2: Coping with diagnosis
Part 3: Convincing Others
Part 4: School, special events
Part 5: Guilt and hurt
Part 6: The bright side
Thursday, October 23, 2008
If you are not familiar with Rocks in My Dryer, it is a mom blog that reaches thousands and thousands of people everyday. I often link to it on my other blog. Each week, the author, Shannon, has a segment where she allows other mothers to write a post educating moms on a particular topic from her own personal life. What better thing for a PA mom to write on than what it's like to have a child with a life threatening peanut allergy?
Hop over and read Jane Anne's post. You will see so much of what you, as a PA mom, encounters each day. Then, remember how many thousands of non-PA moms are reading it and leaving much more educated. Thanks so much Jane Anne. We all thank you for educating so many moms out there!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Author Linda Coss is currently trying to raise awareness on a national level. She e-mailed me yesterday and asked my readers to help her do this. She is hoping to appear on Oprah, Rachel Ray, or Martha Stewart to talk about life threatening food allergies. While this would be an excellent place to promote her wonderful books, I think we can all see the issue has much further reaching goals: to raise awareness of food allergies.
Would you watch if she were on talking about her son's peanut allergy (and other life threatening food allergies)? I know I would! So would many of your PA kid's current and future classmates' parents. These shows reach a wide audience, including those very uneducated in the food allergy arena. Sometimes all it takes is hearing about it from a mom to help open their mind.
Here is what Linda said:
I’m asking you, your readers, and anyone else you can get to participate to go online to the shows’ “suggest a topic” pages and recommend that the program does a segment on life-threatening food allergies, with Food Allergy Author Linda Coss as the guest expert. You can say something from your heart about why they should cover this topic, and then say something about why you’re recommending Linda Coss as the guest expert. Possibilities here include the facts that I’m the articulate author of 3 food allergy books, a former support group leader with over 13 years of experience, the parent of a college-age child with multiple life-threatening allergies, and one of the “pioneers” in the food allergy world.
Here is how you can help: (Click on the link of the show name to contact them)
Oprah (fill out the form to contact the producers)
Rachael Ray (Scroll down to the bottom to the “Anything Goes” section and then click on “Hey you…what’s on your mind?” Be sure to click on the “pass it on” button and give them her email, Linda@FoodAllergyBooks.com)
Martha Stewart (Click on “Email Martha” on the left-hand side of the page)
I know that if we band together in this, we can raise awareness on this issue and educate others our child may come into contact with. Thanks for all your help!!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
That night, however, I had a bad dream that I think was partly inspired by our little furnace outage. In the dream, we had lost our power and were forced to go to a shelter. (We have family and friends all over the place so that would never happen!!) I don't remember much about the dream until I walked in and saw Tyler surronded by children eating giant peanut butter cookies. Thankfully he was not but it still scared me enough that I woke up.
As I lay in bed, I wondered what Tyler would in fact eat if we lost our power. He could survive for a day or so without much protein, I suppose, but I think at some point his body would need it. In the past when I was unable to cook meat, peanut butter was a great substitute.
Canned meat like tuna would be a great option but he doesn't like it. Of course, if he was very hungry, I suppose that he would eat it.
There are so many things that cross your mind as a parent of a peant alleric child. While this issue might be a remote one (or is it?), there are so many things to consider...and avoid.
I would love to hear suggestions from others about emergency foods you have on hand for your peanut allergic child in the case of power loss.
Monday, October 20, 2008
A few months ago, shortly after Tyler's reaction in the allergist's office, I was speaking with a fellow food allergy mom at church. She's a bit of an inspiration to me. Her son, who is allergic to eggs and tree nuts, is now a teenager. He leads a very normal life and is very involved in sports. Tyler doesn't really understand this boy's allergies (since they are not to peanuts) but has always looked up to him because the kid is just "cool."
While speaking with this mom and lamenting about Tyler's peanut allergy, she said something that comforted me then and still comforts today. She said "Kids with food allergies are more responsible than kids who don't have food allergies. They have to be."
When you think about it, that really should be true. These kids eventually will begin managing their allergies on their own. Each bite they take must be carefully analyzed or it could mean death. I don't know about you but my biggest concern as a young person was if I would be able to meet my favorite rock star some day!
The responsibility these kids are carying around, whether they realize it or not, is enourmous. It's life and death for them. Their life depends on their ability to be responsible.
As parents, we must raise our PA kids to be responsible. For our family, that means we protect and educate Tyler as much as possible. It also means that we try to give him as normal of a childhood as possible. If my husband and I help Tyler manage his allergy in a way that makes it an easy transition later rather than a rebellion issue, I think we are nearly there.
I don't pretend to have all of the answers on how to acheive this. I think it starts with a deep love for you child but also an understanding that this is their allergy and we are not acting as the food Nazi, but as an "educating protector." We are protecting our child, all while educating them in a way that helps them ultimately become resonsible enough to do it on their own some day.
At some moments it terrifies me to think I will not be the one reading the labels someday. Or the one talking to the chef. But, again, this is not my allergy. I'm protecting Tyler until he can do it himself.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
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Friday, October 17, 2008
When you are first diagnosed (as I'm sure many of these viewers are), you think there are so many things you child cannot eat. While this is true, once you settle into a routine with a peanut allergy, you actually find there are a ton of things they can eat.
I compiled a list that is certainly not exhaustive. It is just a few of the fun snacks I allow Tyler to eat.
Ice Cream & Frozen Treats
Breyer's (simple flavors like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry)
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (double check these labels because some are processed with peanuts -Tyler likes "Cherry Garcia")
Flavor Ice popsicles
Lorna Doone (Nabisco)
Rice Crispy Treats (plain variety)
Vanilla Wafers (Great Value Brand)
Graham crackers (Keebler, Honey Maid or Great Value brand)
Gold Fish (Cheese flavored)
Jelly Beans (Gimbal's or Starburst brand)
Fruit Snacks (Kellog's)
Air-popped popcorn (plain or with butter)
Fresh fruits and vegetables (obviously the best choice for any snack!!)
Pop-Tarts (Kellog's or Great Value brand)
Yogurt (Breyer's or Yoplait's fruit-flavored children's variety)
Fruit Snacks (Kellog's brand)
Doritos's (all varieties I have found are safe)
Pringles (all varieties I have found are safe)
Lay's or Great Value Potato Chips (all varieties I have found are safe)
Rold Gold Pretzels
Frosted Mini Wheats (Kellog's or Malt o Meal brand)
Raisin Bran (Post brand)
You may have noticed that I use the "Great Value" brand a lot. That is Wal-Mart's generic brand and they have excellent labeling. Many things that not safe for PA but those that are a great in taste and price! I love generics when they are safe.
Always, always double check labels. Many foods are made in different facilities around the country under different conditions.
These are the foods that fit into our comfort zone. We try to have a pretty tight comfort zone. I know that not everyone will agree for a variety of reasons but I think having some sort of list for those new to PA is important.
For those of you new to the PA life, I hope this gives you a starting point as you seek to find some safe foods for your child.
If you have a safe snack that your child love, leave a comment so that other will know that it is another option.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The teachers quickly scrambled to create a craft where they made bracelets. Of course, these had Bible verses on them, rather than medical information. By the end of class, one of the teachers had found some cloth bracelets that were very similar to Tyler's only with sayings like "WWJD." She handed those out, as well.
Who knew a three year old could make bracelets cool?
I could tell that Tyler was excited that he got attention for his special bracelet. He has been so good to wear it, only removing it for baths. Now I have a feeling, he will be even more proud to wear it!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I was so excited last week to learn about EpiCard!! This really put my mind at ease about his carrying it discreetly when he gets older. It is the size of a credit card and about as thick as an iPod. It also offers step by step voice instructions and visual cues that will make it easy to use. The thing is small enough to fit in a pocket and makes it even easier for someone else to use if Tyler is unable to. I can't think of anything better (except for a cure for PA)!
The EpiCard is still being developed. Intelliject, the company that is making it, plans to file a new drug application with the FDA in 2009. The company says (and I have to agree) that this is the first significant innovation in the epinephrine auto-injector market in over 25 years.
Check out their website where you can see a picture of the EpiCard. I don't know if filing an application with the FDA means it will be available soon after. Whatever the case, I'm excited about this new invention.
I often moan about Tyler's peanut allergy but I have to remind myself how truly lucky he is to have been born in the generation that he was. If he was born 50 or 100 years ago, I don't want to think about how hard this allergy would be to manage. To think he can have a life saving device the size of a credit card!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I told myself I was being silly to take it away from him (it was plastic, of course!). Then my husband, who is usually not as uptight about Tyler's allergy (he takes it seriously just doesn't worry like I do), came home and asked what in the world Tyler was playing with. I explained the situation and he didn't like him playing with the silly thing either. After Tyler went to bed that night, I confiscated it and tucked it away in the basement.
I'm not sure why I even saved the thing. I thought about giving it to my niece who doesn't have a peanut allergy. Nevertheless, the thing has been hiding down in our storage room for over a year now.
Last week, in a desperate attempt to restore order in our storage room, I pulled everything out and went through it all. Guess who was waiting for me. Mr. Peanut!! Unfortunately Tyler was there when he made is ugly return.
Unlike last year when he received the thing, he fully understands his allergy now. Yet, he loves that thing! I tried reasoning with him. He kept saying, "But Mommy I love him!" Finally, the newness wore off and I put him back in the storage room. I hate throwing things away but this thing has to go! I know it sounds absurd that an inflatable toy freaks me out, but it does. My loathing of peanuts goes much deeper than the nut itself. It's anything that reminds me of it!
Who knew there could be so many silly things that can bring about anxiety of the mother of a peanut allergic child. No matter how many times I tell myself it's just a toy, it scares me to see him playing with it.
So, goodbye Mr. Peanut!! We don't want to ever see your face around here again!!
Photo courtesy of flickr
Monday, October 13, 2008
Allie has wonderful people in her life. Many of the people in her life like to eat peanuts. Unfortunately, peanuts make Allie very sick because she is allergic to them. Because of her peanut allergy, Allie wears a special bracelet and eats at a special table at school. Allie's friends feel bad that she can't eat peanuts and really would like to share. But if she eats peanuts, she gets hives, swollen lips, red eyes, an itchy nose, and a cough. Instead of eating peanuts, Allie wants to stay healthy. She tells her friends, "No thank you" when they offer her peanuts. She has many other things she can eat instead.
I absolutely adored this book! This is the first book that I have reviewed that I think is acceptable for children as young as two. It is written on a very simple level that helps any peanut allergic child understand their allergy without feeling like they have something very scary.
The book has pictures that are not scary (unlike "The Peanut Butter Jam"). I think it really hits the balance of being a cute, entertaining story for a young child while also imparting the life-saving information their young minds need to understand.
One thing I particularly appreciated about the book is that it even gives a little cross contamination education at the end. In fact, it mentions plain M&M's as being somewhere peanuts can hide. How many adults need this information?
This book is excellent for any young child. It would be great to send to school as a book for the teacher to read to the class. I would not use the book, however, as the only source of education for an adult as it gives no mention of the life-threatening nature of peanut allergy. (This would be too intense for a book for young children but it is something every adult in your PA kid's life needs to fully understand).
While I will continue to review many of the other PA books on the market, I have a feeling this one will be at the top of my list of favorites for a long time. It really is the textbook on PA to help educate young kids.
Friday, October 10, 2008
One nightmare I will never forget back then was our family at a baseball game. For some reason, Tyler was sitting with someone else. I could see him and noticed the person he was sitting next to was handing him a peanut. Before I could get to him, he popped it in his mouth. I woke up in a cold sweat.
Other nightmares came and went over the next two and a half years but they started back up in their intensity after his June 30 reaction. I had a few but the one that sticks out in my mind the most was about a month ago. For some reason my husband (who is very aware of Tyler's allergy and is super careful) gave him a tree nut in my dream. We still don't know if he is allergic to tree nuts (long story on that one) but we avoid them like the plague. In the dream, he started to react and I, of course, grabbed the Epi and jabbed it in him.
The problem with this dream (other than being very scary)? When I awoke, I was over my husband jabbing him in the side! Once I became aware that it was only a nightmare, I was so relieved and tried explaining what was going on. My husband, who is normally a wonderful man unless you wake him from a deep sleep by jabbing him in the side, was oddly enough not extremely understanding at that moment.
During my support group meeting on Monday, one mother shared how she had a nightmare where both of her tree nut allergic daughters were having a reaction and she only had one EpiPen! How terrible!
Have you had a nightmare you would like to share? Post a comment (or send me an e-mail if you don't want everyone to see). This could be a fun discussion!!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I feel like the snack situation is working out great. There is a list in his classroom of the things he can and cannot eat. On the days they serve something he cannot eat, his cubby is full of alternatives for him to choose from. There is a giant baggie with cookies and fruit snacks that he is always happy to eat from. He has never, ever complained about not being able to eat what the other children eat. I am so thankful for that!
After the pink cupcake incident last month, I was nervous about birthday celebrations. To not make him feel completely deprived when the other kids get to indulge in cupcakes, I made him some that they keep in the freezer. When I walked in a couple of weeks ago and saw a big box of Spiderman cupcakes on the table, I reminded his teacher of this. She told they were just waiting to make sure he came that day before they pulled one out.
Last Tuesday when I arrived, one of the directors approached me with a scared look in her eyes. She started sputtering something about donuts. I wasn't sure what all she was saying and I could tell she was very upset. I knew they didn't allow nuts in the building so that wasn't an issue. I told her that Tyler has his special snacks if they eat donuts. She then explained that someone had eaten a donut in his class right before we arrived and that they had disinfected the table after. I asked if the donut had nuts and she said "No, but it was processed in a facility with them!" I assured her that did not worry me. I just would not want him to eat them. She said she was just concerned there could be a peanut speck that got on the table.
I told her how much I appreciated her concern. I told her my biggest concern is keeping him totally away from nuts. I know it impossible for me to keep him away from things processed around them. That night, I told my husband I thought they might be being a little too cautious but I wasn't going to discourage it a bit!
Late last week, signs appeared all over the building reminding people they are a nut-free environment. This week there were even more of them. I'm not sure what prompted it but I bet someone in the older class brought something in. I didn't ask but I'm just thankful they take peanut allergies so seriously.
Next month, I'll post another update. Hopefully I will feel as good as I do right now...
What about the rest of you that just started preschool when Tyler did? Any problems? Any concerns? What issues are you dealing with? Are you more or less scared than you were a month ago? I'd love to hear from you!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
While there wasn't anything earth-shattering in the content that most of us don't already know, I was thrilled to see that our paper is taking peanut allergy serious enough to run such a big article on it. I can only hope that the parents of some of Tyler's future schoolmates (and current preschoolmates) read the article and have a sense of the gravity of his allergy.
I love to celebrate the small victories that I see when it comes to food allergies and, for our community, this article certainly was one for me.
Since many of you are new to PA or youmight just want some fun recipes to try, here are the ones our paper printed. I didn't try them so if you do, you'll have to let me know what you think.
No Bake Cookies
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup cocoa
1⁄4 cup margarine or butter
1⁄4 cup milk or cream
1⁄4 cup chunky sesame seed butter
1 3⁄4 cup oatmeal
Melt together sugar, cocoa, margarine or butter and milk or cream. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and mix in chunky sesame seed butter and oatmeal.
Drop by rounded tablespoons on parchment paper or cookie sheet. Let cool. Store in airtight container once fully cooled.
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.
SoyNut Butter Cookies
1⁄2 cup margarine or butter
1⁄2 cup white sugar
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1-11⁄2 cups flour
1 cup SoyNut Butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Cream butter. Add sugars and mix until well blended. Beat in egg. Add soynut butter. Add vanilla, baking soda and salt. Blend in flour (use 11⁄2 cups if nut butter is very oily). Drop by rounded tablespoons on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 11-15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
Mandarin Orange Cake
(This one is free of several allergens, see below for which ones)
1 package (181⁄4 ounces) white, yellow or lemon cake mix
4 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
4 cans (11 ounces) mandarin oranges
12 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla or lemon pudding mix
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 13-by-9 baking pan, two 8-inch cake pans or two 9-inch cake pans.
Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and 1 can mandarin oranges with juice and 1 can drained. Beat until smooth and pour into desired baking pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan(s) and let cool completely on wire rack. In mixing bowl, combine whipped topping, pudding mix and 1 can mandarin oranges with juice and 1 can drained. Beat until smooth. Frost as desired and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
This recipe for Cherry-Cranberry Pie is courtesy of Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). The organization says the filling is milk-free, egg-free, wheat-free, peanut-free, soy-free and nut-free while the crust is milk-free, egg-free, peanut-free and nut-free.
If you would like to read the article in my local paper (its more than just recipes), visit "The Oakland Press."
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
After Tyler had his reaction on June 30, I began looking for any support groups in my area so I could connect with other parents. Even though food allergies are in our family and I'm not completely alone in this journey, I knew I needed as much support as I could get.
After a summer hiatus and a canceled meeting, the group in my area met last night. There were seven of us. It was so wonderful to talk with other moms and even a dad who live with the fears I do everyday. We talked about everything from cross contaminations issues to eczema that many of us dealt with before we knew our children had food allergies.
I'm normally the kind of person who doesn't like to go to things where I don't know anybody. The two people I know that usually attend were not able to go. Still, I knew there was a common bond that would unite all of us that would make any shyness I might feel disappear. I was right. It was almost as if I had known these people for years.
I can't tell you how refreshing it was to be in a room of people that all carry Epi Pen's everywhere and are as paranoid about food away from home as I am.
Do you attend a support group? If not, visit this link to find one in your area. Even if you have to drive a little bit, I think the feeling of community you will gain in your food allergy journey will make it worth, even with the price of gas these days!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Then I got smart and visited a different Target. And there it was!! It was promising to fulfill the PB cravings that I have been harboring deep in my soul. As I reached out to pick it up, I felt a little guilty buying anything that was next to the real stuff. (A few weeks later, I saw it at Whole Foods, too. )
I brought the jar of potential goodness home. Tyler was napping. So my husband and I opened it. It smelled just like peanut butter!! I grabbed a knife and put a big glob on a saltine cracker. It tasted just like peanut butter!! My husband, a former PB&J junkie, got very excited. He said this event called for something special. Out came the grape jelly and a slice of Wonder bread.
We both sat there eating like little kids saying, "Oh, this tastes so good!" and "This is awesome!" We felt like little kids and, heck, we even ruined our dinner as a result of little snack!
The verdict of this amazing spread? G-R-E-A-T (just like Tony the Tiger says). It really did taste almost identical to PB (keep in mind its been nearly 3 years since I tasted the real stuff, though). The only complaint I have and have (and this was very minor to me) is that it leaves a slight aftertaste of sunflower seeds. Funny enough, that is the only time I taste the sunflower seeds. While eating it, it truly does taste just like PB.
Just a note about how we are handling this with Tyler. He is petrified of peanut butter. Really, I don't mind that a bit. Giving him Sunbutter (if we determine he is not allergic to sunflower seeds) would only confuse him at this point. If we eat it while he is around, he gets a scared look in his eyes. So, we usually eat it while he is in bed.
My husband and I are so happy about my little discovery. Hubby asked me to order it by the case...and he was not kidding. Amazon carries them from time to time. Right now, they have it by the jar instead. If you can't find it near your home, it really is worth a try.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Naturally, I ran into a problem when it came to nuts. Peanuts and tree nuts aren't even allowed in our house. I can't break my own rule. So, I decided to try soy nuts and sunflower seeds as subsitutes. (If you've never tried roasted soy nuts, they taste a lot like peanuts. I love them!!) I found both of these that I thought would be safe for Tyler at Whole Foods.
Then I got looking at the sunflower seed. Tyler has never tried them. I bought the shelled kind but I kept seeing the shell and thinking how, in my own mind, they grew in a similar way to peanuts.
So, I called the allergist for his advice.
I love our allergist. He's very cautious, unlike our last allergist who gave Tyler peanut butter in June without doing a skin test. (I shudder just typing that...).
Within thirty minutes of me expressing my concerns to the allergist's receptionist, the doctor called me back personally. I expressed my concerns and he agreed with me. We decided to test him at his February appointment before he tries any sunflower seeds. He told me there is not a commercial serum for this but I can just bring Sunbutter and he will make his own.
How wonderful is this doctor?
Unfortunately, the soy nuts have sunflower oil on them so Tyler can't have them right now either. I'm not scared to have these things in the house and I still plan to make a trail mix out of them. I just can't share it with Tyler...yet.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Since I am cross posting today with my other blog, I will post the pictures first since I know my readers over there don't care about all of the labor that is involved in researching ingredients for Tyler's safety. You guys are lucky! The rest of my PA Kid readers and I envy you!
The first cake I made was really sad looking. I didn't take a picture of it. It was made the night before my knee surgery and I was a bundle of nerves. I kind of regret not taking a picture now.
Last week's cake, however, turned out awesome. Here is the clown cake:
Then, this weeks cake was all about roses. I live with all boys so I'm not sure how many roses I will make. Since my husband is a pastor, I'm hoping to get practice by making some pretty cakes for potlucks and funerals. Here's the rose cake:
(Scroll to the bottom to see a picture after Dylan climbed on the table and attacked it. I caught him before he damaged it too bad.)
For fun, here is a picture of the cake I made Tyler this past January. I've improved a lot!! (I used safe fruit snacks for decorations. Ugh!!)
Much of my first week of my cake decorating class was doing lots of research to see what was safe for me to put in my frosting for my cakes. I thought it would be simple to just make everything from scratch. Of course, nothing is when it comes to Tyler's peanut allergy.
As you saw from my post yesterday, I determined, for me, that Wilton's meringue powder was safe. It's true that it is processed in the same facility with peanuts but not on the same lines and not even near the peanuts. I realize this is a little out of some people's comfort zone. You can make frosting without it, the powder just helps it keep its form.
Before this class, I used food coloring for frosting but the Wilton's gel coloring are much more concentrated and don't affect the texture of the icing at all. They have the same "processed in a facility but not anywhere near peanuts" issue.
They said they are very careful with their products (making them in separate rooms) and if there's any chance of cross contamination they'll put it on the label.
Another reader asked me for my cake recipe. I could post a really complicated one but I'd be fibbing. I trust Pillsbury and Betty Crocker to label for cross contamination. Pillsbury was on sale the day I bought them so that is what all three of my cakes were. The frosting was complicated enough. I didn't need a difficult cake, too!
The last night of class, there were only 5 of the original 8 of us left. Others just stopped showing up. This was not easy so I assume that's why some quit. But I loved the people in my class. One girl made a nutless banana nut cake. She sat 3 people down from me but told me she was too afraid one of her nuts might harm Tyler. Another girl I sat right next to used almond flavoring. She was very paranoid about any of her frosting touching anything that was mine. She also said she worried about hurting Tyler.
I couldn't have asked for a nicer group of ladies. I only wish everyone was this concerned about Tyler's peanut allergy!
On a final note, I've been so paranoid that my 23 month old will destroy one of my cakes. He is into everything and there is hardly any place we can put things anymore that he can't reach. The morning after my class, he climbed up on the table to get a bite of my rose cake. I caught him before he damaged it too much but here is what it looked like after an encounter with Dylan.
(He actually got it on both sides and that was hard to capture. One rose is laying on its side with a misplaced leaf, in addition to portions missing from each side.)
I had to laugh. I'm taking the class for the boys so if one of them wants to destroy my art, it just reminds me how thankful I am to have both of them!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I know many of you probably fear bakery cakes like I do. Some of you may not have the time or money to take a class. While I can't really teach you technique (see some books below for that), I can share with you the products I found to be safe and the icing recipe that our teacher had us use. It works great if you really want to be creative.
Buttercream Icing (taken from Wilton's Course 1: Discover Cake Decorating-see below)
1 cup white vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon flavor (Wilton's are not safe but McCormick's are - I used clear vanilla)
2 tablespoons water
1 lb. pure cane confectioners' sugar (approx. 4 cups)
1 tablespoon meringue powder (I used Wilton's based on this thread.)
Cream shortening, flavoring and water. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been throughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so until creamy.
Makes 3 cups
**This recipe makes a stiff frosting for things like roses. For a medium consistency for things like stars and borders, add one teaspoon of water (or more) per cup o frosting. For a thin consistency for writing, vines and leaves, add two teaspoons of water per cup.**
If you are the creative type that doesn't feel like you have two left thumbs anytime you try to let your creative juices flow, the class might not be entirely necessary. Here is the book I used. It was great and offers great tips to help you really look like a pro.
Here are some other resources you can use to teach yourself at home:
I'm addicted to ebay again since I started Christmas shopping on it this past weekend. So, here is a few things they have to offer:
Tomorrow I will talk about more items that are safe and unsafe in regards to cake decorating. I will also post a couple of pictures of some of the cakes that I have made!