This post was originally published November 24, 2008. It is so timely this time of year, I am reposting for my new readers who may be entering their first Thanksgiving with a peanut allergy.
Robyn, Any Thanksgiving words of wisdom for a PA newbie? Thanks!
In our family, I am very lucky that Tyler has always had me or my mother in law cook him Thanksgiving. My MIL has two other grandchildren that are 11 with tree nut allergy so she knows all about cooking and cross contamination issues. She knows what I trust. She usually lets me read ingredients, too, just so I feel even better.But I realize many when many others have a child diagnosed with PA, it is entirely new to the whole family. Here a few suggestions I would offer.
Stay simple. I don't know why Thanksgiving is so notorious for casseroles but it is. It's amazing how many ingredients can be in one casserole!! So, unless you can read every label and feel totally comfortable, I would avoid casseroles unless you cooked them yourself. It's my MIL's turn this year. She gave me the menu Friday night. We will only do one safe casserole. The rest will be Stove top stuffing, veggies, rolls, and turkey. We will only have a few safe desserts. Probably a pie and cookies. Nothing elaborate.
Bring your own food. This can be a little embarrassing, I admit. Particularly if your family thinks your child only needs to stay away from the actual peanut and has no clue about cross contamination. I'm a terrible people pleaser but had to get over it when Tyler was diagnosed with 3 food allergies. (Thankfully he outgrew milk and eggs earlier this year so we have a lot more "safe" foods this year.) I used to be notorious for bringing little bowls of safe food (and still do sometimes) in an insulated carrier. Most people (even if they didn't understand) were very nice about it.
If you're not cooking, talk to who is now. If you explain cross contamination to the cook (can't have anything processed in the same facility where there are peanuts,etc), they will hopefully be understanding. The earlier you address the issue, the better. You don't want to wait until the night before when the cook is stressed out.
Offer to bring things. If Thanksgiving is elaborate in your family, just offer to bring safe elaborate things. Plus, the cook will probably love the help.
Keep your child close at your side. I have a friend with a PA kid that has to watch her son like a hawk at family gatherings on her side of the family (her in-laws are much better). She said she has caught uncles and grandparents who know about her son's PA sneaking him cookies and other desserts with a "Don't tell mom" warning. The desserts are free of peanuts but not cross contamination issues! She has to watch him (he just turned 3) closely just in case someone does this.
If any of you other peanut allergy newbies have questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to ask. I still get a little nervous and this is our third holiday season with PA. Chances are, if you have the question, others do too!
If you have survived other holidays awith PA nd have tips I have missed, please share them in the comments.
Photo courtesy of flickr