Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Unexpected peanut exposure

After reviewing a few great allergy books, I had to write about one that's not so friendly.

Andrew had a meltdown at storytime tonight because Tony had to take his book away from him.

The book was My Big Busy Body Activity Book. It's a great book, with photos of different body parts, and talks about your skeleton, muscles, skin, breathing, and all sorts of other body parts.
Well, when they got to the smelling page, there were 4 scratch-and-sniff envelopes, containing different scents: lemon, chocolate, spearmint, and peanut butter. Ack!

So Tony took the book away, and Andrew got really upset, because he'd been enjoying the book. He's in a phase where he really wants to know more about how his body works -- we just returned another "skeleton" book to the library last week.

The scent is on a piece of paper in a wee envelope on the page, so it's going into the garbage tonight. It doesn't actually even smell like anything any more (the book is about two years old), and I wonder if it ever actually had any peanut protein on the paper at all. I've seen lots of scratch-and-sniff books, including a firefighters one which had the smell of smoke (yucky!). And Andrew has a scratch-and-sniff Memory game. But this is the first time I've ever seen a peanut scent.

So, for you other peanut allergic parents out there -- would you have let your kid sniff the peanut-scented card?

(I am tempted to keep it to show to my severely allergic friend, to see if it makes her "spidey sense" tingle. She can smell an open jar of peanuts in the house, when she comes in the front door. If she's willing to sniff it, and can't detect anything, that might mean that there's no peanut protein on the card.)

An allergy-free Halloween

Alison over at Sure Foods Living just posted a great list on How to Have an Allergy Free Halloween.

I had to blog it here because it's an incredibly comprehensive list, including ideas on how to substitute toys for candy.

Andrew wants to be a Transformer for Halloween. And not just any easy Transformer -- he wants to be Swoop, a jet plane! I think we'll be painting and colouring cardboard boxes and paper for the next couple of weeks to get him into his costume!

Hopefully he'll be enjoying his costume so much that he won't care about what or how much candy he'll be getting. That, or we'll be "buying" his candy from him with money that he can then take to the store to buy himself a toy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

More super kids books about allergies

Nicole over at Allergicchild.com has published three fabulous allergy storybooks for kids:
She sent over review copies for Andrew, and I received them yesterday, and read them to him all in a row.

He really enjoyed them, and made a point of bringing them out for his playdate this morning, for our friend Ann, who's allergic to peanuts and nuts. She thought they were great, too. They certainly didn't have anything like this when she was a kid, and in fact, the cafeteria ladies simply didn't believe her when she told them she had a nut allergy.

I'm also going to send these books to preschool for the teachers to read at storytime. They're very attractive, and frame the allergy in a friendly way, while dealing with hazards like your friends wanting to share their un-safe snacks with you. (Plus, there are about 10 allergic kids in the preschool's various sessions this year, out of about 80 kids, so I think they'll welcome something that will also help lots of other kids.)

I think I'll eventually be donating them to Andrew's elementary school library. Just in our neighbourhood, I know of one other anaphylactic-to-peanuts kid, another who's severely allergic to mangos & pistachios, and her brother, who's allergic to dairy, and loves getting safe snacks at our house. So the books will eventually be used by tons of people. (So thanks, Nicole, for the review copies!)

If you've got a kid who's about to start school, I would absolutely recommend these books. (Or get your school librarian to order them in.) They're great for helping kids figure out how to deal with social situations where there will be food that's not safe for them. They're also great for reading to non-allergic kids who are friends of allergic kids, so that they know how to help their friends by not bringing un-safe snacks.

Pumpkin pie recipe -- dairy free, nut free

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and it was our turn to host the big family dinner. I was glad to do it, despite the huge amount of work, because then we could make it as allergen-free as possible.

I love pumpkin pie, especially this time of year, but all the pumpkin pies that they sell in the grocery stores have dairy ingredients. So I went on a quest to make a good homemade pumpkin pie. Here's my recipe. It's dairy-free (uses rice dream), nut-free, but does contain eggs because Andrew has outgrown his egg allergy.

Crust: Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. (Contains wheat ingredients, does not have soy or dairy.) The other pie crusts that we looked at in the freezer section contained milk ingredients, so weren't safe for Andrew. And I'm not confident enough to make my own crusts, plus Geoff is at a clingy stage, so I can't spend too much time in the kitchen.

The pumpkin filling was based on the pumpkin pie recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, and I've copied it below.

16 ounce can pumpkin (I used a 14 ounce can of organic pumpkin)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (and I did look it up, and nutmeg is not a nut)
3 slightly beaten eggs
2/3 cup rice milk (substituted for the original 2/3 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup milk)

1. Put the pie crust into a pie dish. Put into oven to bake for 10 minutes or so, just to brown the crust.

2. Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Add eggs. Beat until just combined. Gradually stir in rice milk.

3. Pour filling into pie crust.

4. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. (The original recipe says 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. That was about 35 minutes for me, but my oven runs hot.) If you're worried about over-browning the crust, cover the edge of the pie with foil for the first 25 minutes of the baking time.

5. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate within 2 hours, cover for longer storage.

This was the tastiest dairy-free pumpkin pie that I've managed to make, and I'll definitely be doing more of these! The last 3-4 pumpkin pies I've tried to make have all been too runny or tasted a little bit "off.")

Hopefully this will help out some of you in time for the US Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I'm stoked

I've added another allergic mom's blog to my sidebar: Allergy Free in Loudoun. She's doing a great job of keeping on top of what's happening with allergies in the news -- give her a visit!

Also, I'm riding a great high after tonight's knit night. I helped out another knitter with a tough pattern, and then an hour later, we got to talking about allergies. Well, it turns out that her son was allergic to the entire world when he was a kid -- dairy, peanuts, dustmites, baby tylenol, the works. She even used to wash down the walls every night just to minimize his exposure to dustmites.

And now, as an adult, he's not allergic to anything at all. (She's probably in her 50s or 60s, so I imagine that her son is probably in his 30s.)


I have nightmares all the time about Andrew's future, especially as he starts school next year and begins to live his own life. Her story just gives me so much hope.

And there are so many more options for Andrew than her son had. She used to give him cereal with water, because there was no such thing as rice milk back then. And nothing was labelled as it is today, so it would have been a nightmare to figure out what was safe for him to eat. And she didn't have nearly as huge a network as exists now, to help with ideas on what our kids might be willing to eat.