Thursday, December 16, 2010

Two Reminders

Epi Pens

With the cold weather settling in remember that your epi pens are affected by the temperature. Remember do not leave them in the car in the cold or hot weather. It can damage them and they may not be as effective as you need them to be. We have the Epi Pen Jr and there is a little window to check and see if it's still good. Make sure to check them and their expiration dates.

We finally went and got our Christmas tree last week. We didn't need to bring his diaper bag so we left it in the car. The chances of him having an ana reaction while getting a tree are slim but we always carry it with us. I put it in the inside pocket of my jacket to keep it from getting too cold. So remember that when sledding or just playing outside keep it with you where it won't get too cold.

Read it before you eat it!

Another reminder is this. With the holidays almost here we are getting busier and busier. It was the week between Thanksgiving and Cormac's birthday. I was at Costco getting things for his party and was stressing out. They have really yummy premade meals that just need to be heated up. I LOVE their chicken and past alfredo. I scooped it up and was all set for dinner.

We got home and the leaf truck was on our street. We just have to rake our leaves to the curb and the truck sucks them up. So I bundled Cormac up and in a mad rush tried to finish the raking I started the day before. The calvary arrived! My parents pulled up at that moment and even 2 of our neighbors jumped in to help get the yard done. With their help the front got done just as they stared to pick up out leaves.

Well, still without checking I asked my mom to put in the chicken dinner. She did and it smelled so yummy. Then my mom came running out of the house. She was looking at the directions and by chance saw that is was process on the same equipment as peanut and tree nuts. I felt so horrible. In my rush to get a bunch of things done I didn't do the easiest and most important thing done. I didn't read the label! I was just going to give it to him. It really would have been all my fault. My mom thought I checked it so she didn't. We were lucky that she caught it. I beat myself up over it for days.

So my point is, don't let all the craziness get to you so bad you get careless like me. Remember to always check labels and ask people who made dishes what's in them.

And check those EpiPens and other meds, and beware of the cold temperatures.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Take Over Tuesday's Guest Blogger Laura. The Food Challenge

Meet Laura, a mom of a beautiful little boy with multiple food allergies. I've been getting to know her thought this blog and e-mails, and am so happy to have done so. We actually got to meet in person at the FANN Walk for Food Allergy this past October. She has a passion for cooking and a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. She has recently started a blog called Treats 4 Me 2 with some yummy allergen free recipes that she has made for her son.

The Food Challenge

My name is Laura and I am the mom of a 2 year old with multiple food allergies. We first discovered the allergies when I was nursing and had Jack's blood work drawn at 9 months old. Fast forward to July 2010 and we were given the green light to sign up for a soy food challenge at Mt. Sinai's Food and Allergy Center in NYC. I was told that we would receive a call in a couple weeks from the food challenge nurse to schedule. Two weeks passed and I was very anxious so I called and was told it is a 4 month waiting list for food challenges. My initial excitement was followed by short term disappoint by having to wait so long to have our test taken. We scheduled the first available morning appointment on Nov 23rd. 2 days before Thanksgiving! A huge food event in every Americans' home I was hopeful for additional foods to add to our meal plan.

My next "challenge" was to find foods containing soy to bring to the challenge that my picky 2 yr old would eat. I spent countless hours on the internet and in the grocery store aisles looking for things my son might eat. We packed soy chocolate pudding, instant miso soup packet, soy milk carton, soy milk yogurt and I panicked the night before and ran to the health food store and found soynut butter.

Tuesday morning arrived and I packed my soy food and hungry son in the car and we were on our way to the city by 715am. We arrived right on time to the appointment and waited less than 5 minutes before we were ushered into the food challenge room area. There were 3 rooms for challenges from what I could see and 1 nurse appointed to administer the challenges. Each spacious room was equipped with toys, table and chairs, flat screen tv. There was one little girl ahead of us so we had a wait several minutes for the doctor and nurse. I didn't mind because I thought this would make Jack even hungrier for breakfast which he normally has eaten by 730am.

The doctor arrived and asked how Jack was feeling health wise. Has he taken any meds or Benedryl? Everything was good so far. The goal of the challenge was to consume 5 ounces of soy without a reaction. The first food we were going to try was oatmeal mixed with soy milk. It took a little coaxing, but Jack had 2 spoonfuls and then it was time for a 10 minute break to watch for a reaction. The doctor and the nurse left the room and we were to get them if anything happened. The nurse did pop her head in to see how things were going. After the time lapsed the nurse came back and asked Jack to eat some more oatmeal. Again he didn't want to, but I think the hunger helped. 3 more spoonfuls and it was time to watch and wait. Jack coughed a couple times and the nurse asked if he had a cough, I told her no and she decided we should wait a few more minutes before we give some more oatmeal. I agreed and told her next time she could add some more soy milk to change the consistency. This time we asked Jack to finish the bowl and he did. At this point, Jack had had 3 ounces of soy milk without any problem. I really don't think the cough was related, but we will never know for sure.

The next food we were going to try was chocolate pudding. I really thought he would love it and it would be that easy. Forget it, the tears started rolling and the protests began. We begged, bribed with offers for new toys, we ate it ourselves to show him how good it was. I tried to push a spoonful in his mouth and it only made things worse. He took turns crying on my husband's lap and crying on mine. The nurse tried to give him a cracker with the soynut butter and he wouldn't even look at her. She offered him soymilk which looked identical to his ricemilk carton we brought and he wouldn't take a sip. I didn't even bother offering the yogurt if he didn't want the chocolate. It lasted almost an hour when the doctor finally came back in the room to say it was over and she didn't want to upset him any further. He was flushed and exhausted from crying and we wouldn't be able to notice a reaction at that point. The doctor thought the amount of soy consumed was sufficient to continue giving him the 3 ounces and increase it after a couple of weeks at home if there was no reactions. After the challenge finished we still had to sit the room another 45 minutes to make sure there was no reaction. In total we were there almost 2.5 hours. I was so mentally tired after the visit I couldn't imagine how Jack felt. The nurse offered us the opportunity to schedule a challenge in a month for yellow mustard, sunflower or wheat. I passed on all of the choices. If he wouldn't eat pudding there was no way Jack was going to try a teaspoon of yellow mustard or sunflower. I told the doctor Jack has been eating Cheerios with wheat all along and I started giving him saltines with no reaction. She told me I could try a small amount of whole wheat pasta. We haven't tried yet.

That same evening Jack got a fever. I don't think it was related other than the exhaustion and dirty city. I didn't call the doctor and it only bothered him at night. I think it was just an annoying coincidence. I haven't given him anymore soy milk because he barely drinks his rice milk (which is very bland in comparison). I got what I wanted from the soy challenge. Confirmation that we can give Jack foods that contain soy or where processed on equipment with soy.

It will be a very long time before I schedule another challenge for Jack. Our next visit to the Food and Allergy Center is July 2011. Jack will be blood tested for the first time in a year. It will be very stressful for him, but I am hopeful that his scores will come down and there will be a future challenge for dairy or eggs. Nuts will just have to wait and see what research is completed.

Guest Blogger Disclaimer: The information shared by the guest blogger does not represent the opinions and policies of No Nuts For My Peanuts and it's creator. As always seek proper medical attention for any issues, medicine dosage's or questions you have regarding your health and allergies. Always read labels before eating or serving any food to anyone who has food allergies.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Playing Catch Up

I want to apologize for being so behind on my blogging. Bad blogger (hand slap)! It's been pretty busy for us as this time of the year is for most. Cormac's birthday was right after Thanksgiving so we went from party mode one to party mode two in the same breath. I haven't even had time to get stamps for my holiday cards that are still sitting here! So I wanted to do an update post today.


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we truly enjoyed ourselves. My mom made a delicious meal that was safe for Mac. As mentioned, we did have the one unsafe dish but it really wasn't a problem. Everyone knew the risk it posed and was very careful not to cross contaminate anything. We still prepared Cormac's plate before anyone sat down. So everything went according to plan.

We also made an unplanned stop at my husbands Aunts house where his whole family was having dinner. The cousins got to play a bit and we were able to say hello. Since it was unplanned, I was very nervous to stop by knowing there would be food out and they weren't expecting my peanut tree nut allergic kid. But when they found out we were on our way they removed the nuts they had out without us asking. Then we were watching him like a hawk because they still had food out (which is totally ok it's a party). Jim's cousin noticed and she just moved stuff out of his reach again with anyone saying anything. It was so wonderful to see how much this boy is loved by his whole family. We are truly blessed.

Cormac's 2nd Birthday!

Well as most of you read my little man turned two last week. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. Last year we had a huge party which was fun but a big undertaking. I don't know 1st birthday's are so special. This year we keep it to family and God Parents. We have a tiny house so inviting all his friends would have been insane. But he had his cousins and family around. It was so fun. We did appetizers, pizza and cake. Clean up was simple and we got to visit with everyone. Mac was a hoot and sang happy Birthday to himself. We practiced for weeks!

We got the cake for a tree nut and peanut free bakery in my parents home town. My mom usually makes the cake but we weren't sure if she was going to be in town for the party. She was but we had already ordered the cake. It was yummy and we would recommend it, but not as good as my moms. Since it was a Caillou theme party I had to go on a hunt for all the party supplies. We actually found the Caillou edible cake topped. I called to check for allergens even thought their website said it was free of common allergens. It wasn't too specific so a phone call was warranted. They were very nice and answered the phone on a Sunday even thought they were closed.

Since Caillou is a very hard to find I had to think out of the box. I went to ebay and to find what I needed. I LOVE If you are ever looking for handmade unique gifts of any kind this is the place. It's like a up scale, great quality craft fair online. The people are truly creative and talented. There are thousands of shops with items for decorating your home, a baby's room to jewelry and clothes. It's a dangerous place to go, lol but I love it.

Then the following Monday for his regular play date we did cupcakes with his 4 girlfriends. They had fun and so did I! We still have our niece's birthday next week. She's truing one! It's crazy how fast it all goes. My wonderful Sister in-law called to talk food to make sure there was something he could have. She really is great about it. After that it's Christmas and then we are done with the holiday season. I do like the holidays but they are totally exhausting when you add the birthdays and holiday parties to it.

Also watch out for this Months Guest Blogger Laura on Take Over Tuesday! She will be telling us about he son Jack, and his first food trial. He did it a few days before Thanksgiving! She also has a blog Treats 4 me 2 with some great cooking advise. I need it because I HATE cooking!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Today You Turn Two

It was 2 years ago early in morning that I met you for the first time. We waited for a long time for you to arrive, and when they put you in my arms my life changed forever. I watched as your father held you in his and instantly fell in love. You stole our hearts forever.

From that day on I tell you every day how much I love you, even when your not at your best. You make me laugh so much sometimes it hurts, but it's a good hurt. When you cry it breaks my heart. I kiss your boo boo's and wipe you tears in the hope that it will fix everything.

I am your momma bear and will always fight for you and do my best to keep you safe. I hope to teach you how to use your head and make good decisions, but if you don't I will still love you, because that's what mommas do.

These past two years you have grown so much and you are a little boy now. You talk to us, and make jokes, dance, run and laugh. I love you little voice and footsteps which are now my favorite sounds. I love you hugs, kisses and cuddles, and wouldn't change a thing about you (well maybe your tantrums).

Today you turn two and oh how how I love you. My life is so much better simply because of you.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Besides all the food, Thanksgiving always reminds me of all the things we should be thankful for. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful family. My beautiful little boy has brought so much joy to our lives. I am thankful that he is a healthy thriving little boy. He may have food allergies but in the grand scheme of things that's nothing compared to what other parents have to go through with their children. So as tough as it may seem at times, remember that they are here with us, living their lives, laughing and smiling with us everyday. We are among the lucky.

I am thankful for my husband, who is not only my best friend and confidant, but an amazing partner to have in this life. His love, support and understanding keep me going everyday. Not only is he a fantastic husband, he is an even better father. His love and devotion for our son only makes me love him more.

I am thankful for our families. Grandparents, Aunt's and Uncles. All have been so supportive this past year (and always). Thanks mom for going out of your way and making this Thanksgiving safe for Mac. It's a lot of extra work but means the world to us.

To my dear friends, you have been my rock. Thank you for the hours of listening, support and advise you give. Thanks for loving my son, and taking the time to learn how to keep him safe. You make life so much easier for us.

And to all of you who take the time to read all the crazy things I have to say, thank you. You have given me an outlet to get my thoughts, fears, triumphs, and even anger out. Your advise, and ideas mean so much. I never thought anyone would ever read this blog. I am so grateful for your support, and kind words. I love reading your e-mails, comments on here and facebook. Thanks for letting me know we are not alone.

So from our family to yours, have a safe, fun and Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Take Over Tuesday's: Meet Tricia & Her Nut and Dairy Free Maple Sweet Potatoes

Tricia Barry Biagi is a freelance graphic designer who works from home and a mother of two. Her 7 year old son has food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and dairy. She enjoys creating healthy, delicious, food allergy friendly recipes that their whole family can enjoy. You can check out her blog at

One of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes from childhood was sweet potatoes with lightly toasted marshmallows on top. What other time of year did your parents encourage you to eat vegetables with marshmallows? However, our family recipe included lots of butter and pecans, which were out of the question now that my son had food allergies to dairy and tree nuts. So, in order to have a traditional recipe we ALL could enjoy, I developed this super easy dairy and nut free version. While the turkey is occupying the oven, the sweet potatoes can cook in the microwave. This quickly steams them in their own moisture resulting in soft, tender potatoes. Using real maple syrup is a bit pricey, but worth the splurge. The maple, cinnamon combination create such a luscious flavor that you’ll never miss the butter or pecans.

Nut and Dairy Free Maple Sweet Potatoes

serves 6

4 pounds sweet potatoes or yams (approximately 3 large potatoes)

1/2 cup of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread*

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup of real maple syrup

one to two bags of small marshmallows

1. Wash the sweet potatoes well and prick all over with the tines of a fork. This lets the pressure escape while cooking in microwave and keeps the sweet potatoes from exploding.

2. Place the sweet potatoes on a microwave safe dish (I used a pyrex pie plate) and cook on high for 12 minutes. Turn the sweet potatoes over, so the softer side is up, and cook in the microwave for an additional 9 minutes, or until the sweet potato feels a squishy all over.

3. Set the sweet potatoes aside for about 10 minutes until they’re cool enough to handle.

4. Slice the sweet potato in half, length wise, and scrape the potato from the skin with a spoon into a large mixing bowl.

5. Add Earth Balance, cinnamon and maple syrup.

6. Mash with a potato masher until combined. They don’t need to be whipped smooth like mash potatoes, a lumpy texture is fine.

7. Spread in a 8.5" x 11" baking dish greased with Earth Balance to prevent sticking and ease with cleaning.

8. Top with marshmallows and BROIL on HI for a couple of minutes, or until marshmallows look puffy and toasted. This happens fast so watch it carefully.

* Earth Balance can be substituted with other dairy free spreads like Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine.

©2010 tricia barry biagi

Guest Blogger Disclaimer: The information shared by the guest blogger does not represent the opinions and policies of No Nuts For My Peanuts and it's creator. As always seek proper medical attention for any issues, medicine dosage's or questions you have regarding your health and allergies. Always read labels before eating or serving any food to anyone who has food allergies.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Plan

With 3 days left until thanksgiving I'm hoping we all have our "plan" ready. This will be our first Thanksgiving with food allergies. Surprisingly I'm not freaking out. I think it's because my mom is hosting. She has jumped right into our food allergy world, and is so amazing about it. Our other family members get it too. We do have it easier since Cormac only has the two allergies. For that I am thankful. I feel so lucky that there are no battles over this meal. I know that's not true for everyone.

What are we doing to make this a safe meal? Well first all appetizer will be safe. Anything he can get his grubby little hands on, has to be peanut and tree nut free. My mom likes to put out appetizers in the living room, perfect for him to get. So I'm in charge of two appetizers (the ones I would question if I didn't put out). She has asked about the other to make sure they are ok.

All but one dish will be free of his allergens (peanuts & tree nuts). My mom even contacted the company that makes the seasoning she uses for the stuffing. We couldn't get a 100% grantee that it was safe. Their facility is peanut and tree nut free, but they could not confirm if the plant were they get some of their ingredients from is. This was a tough decision. We said ok because the company explained their cleaning practices as well as their allergen testing policies. They seem pretty thorough, to my satisfaction anyway.

Our family has a love of sweet potato casserole. This is the one unsafe dish. Unfortunately our family recipe is topped with pecans. It is so delicious that I can't imagine not having it. The family offered not to have it, or to make it without the pecans, but Jim and I decided we were ok with it. My aunt will be making it at her house so we can avoid the possibility of loose nuts in the house, or the residue it may leave on the counters, cutting boards and such. What we will be doing is making up Cormac's plate and left over Tupperware before anyone even sites down. This way we reduce the risk of cross contamination of utensils and if he wants seconds (which I doubt), it will be all be on the side waiting for him.

As far as Jim and I eating the forbidden casserole, were not sure. We have the bad habit of sharing our food with him. We were thinking of having a separate plate and fork for it, but I don't know if I trust myself. We'll see.

We are lucky enough to have a peanut and tree nut free bakery in my parents town, Carmine's Village Bakery. To be safe she ordered all the rolls, pies and cakes from there. So he will have some options. I'm not sure if anyone is bringing anything else. If so, we will just have to watch him like at any other party.

With all that in place I'm feeling good and grateful to have such a wonderful family. However not all families are so cooperative. If you fall in this category (I'm sorry if you do), make sure you have a plan. He are some thing to think about.

1. When you sit down and think about it, does the meal have to be completely allergen free? For us not completely but the majority does. For some with multiple allergies it can be a must. If so, you may want to host. If your family refuse to make any concessions regarding the meal you may want to say, "We would love to join you but it really is too dangerous for so and so." I know this is not what most people want to do and it sucks, but it may be the only way for people to take you seriously or to keep you little one safe.

2. If you can handle a few unsafe dishes consider a seating arrangement and serving your allergic family member first. Even make up the left over Tupperware ahead of time.

3. Make your allergic family member one of their favorite dishes. In time this will become a part of your usual holiday dinner. Make enough for everyone. This way your little one won't feel like they are the only one eating it. As a kid I hated everything. Our parents use to include a pan of baked ziti at every holiday. It has become a must have over the years, even though it wasn't a holiday staple. Even as adults my cousins and I love having it.

4. Bring all you own food for your little one. Ask you host what they are serving and make as close to an identical meal as possible. Make extra too so they have left overs when they get home that you can all eat together. It's seems like a lot of work, but if it make your little one feel include, I say it's worth it.

Well since it's out first FA Thanksgiving I don't have much more advise. If you have more advise to add please do. Sharing ideas and ways to keep out kiddos safe is very important.

I hope you all have a safe, fun and wonderful Thanksgiving. Oh and check out tomorrows Take Over Tuesday, with Tricia who will share her nut free recipe for a sweet potato pie!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Mr. Dumb Ass:

I woke up in a good mood this morning, and I had a really nice uplifting post ready for today. I really try to keep it positive since it's hard at times. Then I got into my car and turned on the radio. BIG mistake! Normally I avoid articles, interviews and the comments people post about them that talk food allergies. It is just so upsetting to me. I will sit and stew over it for days, having arguments in my head with strangers when I should be sleeping. It just isn't good for me.

Today on 101.9 rxp a famous dumb ass comedian went on a rant about his child's God given right to eat PB&J (not in a funny joke telling kind of manner). I was really surprised and disappointed they aired it. I get it, really. It is a staple food here in the US (even though it's not the healthiest choice). It's easy, cheap, and kids like it. As I've said before I don't always think a peanut free school, or table is the solution. In fact I don't have a solution but that's another topic. But really, if your child eats 21 meals a week (not including snacks), and they go to a peanut free school, that's 5 meals they can't eat peanut butter. So the other 16 meals in that week they can. Why are those 5 meals such a big issue if not eating the stuff will keep all kids safe. Seriously 5 meals and some snacks. No one is saying you can never have peanuts again, so stop acting like it's Prohibition on peanuts. You can still eat them, and buy them. Oh but I forgot your wants (not your kids even), are more import than a life.

He called FA parents hypochondriacs. Oh I'm sorry my son has a CONFIRMED life threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. That's right it could kill him. He could eat something and suffocate to death if he doesn't get help right away. Help for him is jabbing a needle into his leg and holding it there for 10 seconds, just so he can have 20 minutes to get to the hospital in time for further treatment. Heck after your kid eats his God given right PB&J are you going to be there to make sure he washes his hands? Because if they don't, they may be putting other kids lives at risk. But I'm over reacting. What if it was your child who was at risk? I bet you'd be the first to ban whatever it is that is life threatening.

Last I checked all kids in this country have a right to a free education, and all kids have to right to be safe receiving that education. FYI parents don't make school policy, the schools do. They may have influence but in the end it's the districts decision. They do it for many reasons, one being keeping it safe for all. So stop blaming the kids and the parents for a choice they don't make. Some like me don't even want the ban because they don't want to deal with people like you!

Like I said it's not the kids that are the problem. It's the adults that think this is how it should be. I hear "what's a birthday without cupcakes in the classroom to celebrate?' It's still a birthday just choose a different special treat. Yes other food can be special. Are cupcakes the only way to celebrate a birthday? If they get a treat and don't have to do school work for a few minutes they are happy with whatever it is.

So Mr. Dumb Ass, please think before you open you mouth and spout you uneducated, ignorant opinions. You get to speak on a public platform, and have a wonderful opportunity that most people don't to reach millions of people. Do your research and know your facts before talking about policies and health.

OK rant over. I just need to get this one out. Sorry for the angry post. I guess it's just been building up.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Play doh!

Recently I picked up some play doh for Cormac and his little friends to play with. I would say it's a childhood staple here in the US. It's cheap, keeps the kids occupied, gets their little hands and imaginations working. I really enjoyed watching the five 2 year olds play with it this week.

Later that day Mac insisted on playing with it again (and has for the past 3 days). When Jim came home, he started reading the ingredients and was surprised that there was wheat in it. Actually he was shocked. I did know that, but didn't think about it when I bought it, because Mac nor any of his friends have a wheat or gluten allergy.

There are a ton of home made play doh recipes out there you can make. Just do a goggle search to find one that fits your needs. Here's a page of links for the search I did for wheat free play doh recipes.

I'm sure parents of kids with wheat or gluten allergies know this, but I wanted to put it out there for all parents who have play dates. Just something to think about.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Over!

The weeks before Halloween my anxiety levels increased more each day. The last few nights before the main event I didn't sleep very much. I really didn't know what to expect for our first trick or treating (he had the flu last year). I have to say I was pleasantly surprised how well it all went.

We gave out peanut and tree nut safe candy and two kids actually commented and were happy. Most people let Cormac pick out his own candy. So we were able to stay clear of the unsafe stuff. I was surprised at how much safe candy people gave out this year. Also if he did go for a snickers, I would ask if he could have something else. Most people didn't think anything of it. Some even asked why. When I told them about his allergies they were great about it. One woman even told me that a few of the kids were asking what had peanut in it and what didn't. I guess my town has more kids with food allergies than I thought.

We went trick or treating with two of his little friends (and my mommy friends). It was so fun watching these three 2 year old' s (Mac is almost 2), go door to door and hear them say trick or treat. The moms were great to. They saved the peanut candy to eat later when they got home. I did make some adult hot chocolate (with Bailey's) since it was pretty cold.

Over all it was a great experience. He got safe candy, no panic attacks for me or the hubby, and we all had a good time. Plus since he doesn't really eat candy anyway, we get 99% of it! So how was your Halloween?

One last thing. I'm looking for this months Guest Blogger. If you interested please let me know. I still have lots to learn and would love to hear what you have to say.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween & What Not

The hubby and I just got back from our short little getaway to Newport. We had an amazing time. Cormac had a wonderful time with his grandparents here at home. I can't believe what a difference traveling without him is. Specifically the food issue. It's become such a part of our every day lives that it was hard to turn off the worry when eating out, but we managed. I have to say I am so guilty. Every chance I had, I ate something with nuts or peanuts in it. It was almost comical. I really enjoyed a chocolate chip pie that had walnuts in it. Since it's been so long since I had them, I had asked the waitress after finishing the dessert if they were indeed walnuts. Her face turned as white as a ghost! Poor thing, she thought I had an allergy and started to panic. I quickly assured her there was nothing to worry about, and that I was just so happy to have the nuts. I know sounds crazy.

When we got home we had to get right back into the swing of things. One of those things on my to do list was, to make a treat for Cormac's first school Halloween party. We go to a Mommy & Me class once a week. It's more like a pre preschool. We do a craft, have story time, and play games. All the kids are within 2 months of age with each other. The other moms are really nice too. When the sign up sheet went up for who would bring what to the parties I jumped on the snack assignment, and my good friend signed up for the next party snack. What a relief that was. That's 2 parties where he gets to have the same snack as the other kids. Though I think the other moms in this class understand. They ask me lots of questions about his allergy.

Ok so I made cup cakes. These are my first Halloween cupcakes. They aren't the best, but I think they came out ok. I have a feeling over the years I will get better at them.
I used all Betty Crocker products since I only had to worry about the peanut and tree nut allergy. Mac is the only one in the class with food allergies. The kids loved them, and the moms seemed to like them too. FYI when you use black frosting it leaves a mess on their face. I didn't get a good photo of Mac without the other kids so I can't post it. But take my word for it, because their faces were all covered in black icing.

We are gearing up for more Halloween festivities. There will be 2 days of trick or treating in my town. Tomorrow the town hosts a trick or treat event in downtown where all the kids get dressed up and go from store to store. We are going to attend with friends but may skip the store to store part and just hang out. Then of course is Halloween day trick or treating. We are going to attempt that too. This is our first time, but I don't think it's going to be a big deal since he's still little. I will carry some safe candy so if he get the urge to eat something, I'll be prepared with candy in the "safe" bag.

The candy we give out will be safe for Mac. I bought 2 bags of tootsie pop and rolls candy. I was going to try and get some fun little plastic toys or glow sticks to give out instead, but haven't had the chance to get them. I may also give some safe candy to the neighbors to give him so he can still have something. Here is a link to a list of safe peanut and tree nut free candy (and remember to still check the ingredients before eating or giving to a food allergic person). A few people sent me this specific link (thanks guys). Just google and you can find all kinds of safe candy lists. When he gets older my plan is to weed out the bad candy and trade it for a toy or something. Fortunately this year we won't have to do that. Jim and I will just bring it to work.

Since this is a hot topic right now there are tons of blog posts out there with tips for an allergy safe Halloween. Check out some of them that I have listed on the right of this post.

I hope you all enjoy and have a Happy & Safe Halloween!


Friday, October 22, 2010

I've been slacking!

I know it's been over a week without a new post. It's just been hectic. I have a lovely cold and I'm just plain tired! Fall is my favorite time of year and October is my favorite month. We've been trying to do a lot, but this month has had us down for the count so far. Cormac has been sick twice as well as myself with four different things.

With what little free time I have, I've been trying to find a safe food coloring. Yep you heard me food coloring. With the holiday's upon us and treats everywhere, it times to start researching. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about food coloring until a friend asked which one was safe to make her sons birthday cake with. Cormac was going to be a guest at the party and they wanted him to be able to eat the cake (I have some great friends)! So the search started.

I've been e-mailing a few different companies and am still waiting for most to respond. The front runner looks like Betty Crocker, though I'm still waiting for a clarification from them. The actual company which makes Betty Crocker's food coloring and sprinkles is Signature Brands LLC. When I hear back from them I will update you. What they have told me so far is that the following products are NOT SAFE:

Marble Mixins (NOT SAFE)
Parlor Perfect (NOT SAFE)
Cake Mate Fruit Flavored Decors (NOT SAFE)
Cake Mate 26 OZ Rainbow Sprinkles - upc 52100 32626 (NOT SAFE)
Cake Mate 26 OZ Chocolate Sprinkles - upc 5210030247 (NOT SAFE)

Unfortunately Wilton is now on the no list for food coloring for us. They are made in a facility that has peanut nuts and tree nuts. I asked if they had dedicated lines that were peanut and tree nut free and they could not confirm. However they did say to call them while shopping and they could tell me about the specific product I am looking for. Here is the phone number if you want to check 1 800 794-5866. I did find them very helpful, quick to respond and forthcoming with the information. So in my book Wilton seems to be a responsible company.

I have other inquires out and will update with a full list. An amazing Baker friend of mine had made some calls too. I will be including those companies as well when I can get myself together. I know I'm behind on the Halloween topic but I hope to have my thoughts on it out soon. And yes we will be trick or treating!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Take Over Tuesday Guest Blogger Nicole: Schools and Food Allergy Awareness

Nicole Smith is the author of Allie the Allergic Elephant: A Children’s Story of Peanut Allergies and Cody the Allergic Cow: A Children’s Story of Milk Allergies and Chad the Allergic Chipmunk: A Children’s Story of Nut Allergies. She became interested in writing a children’s book on peanut allergies after discovering her son, Morgan, has life threatening peanut allergies.

Nicole was raised on several military bases, but has called Colorado Springs home for many years. She graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D. C. and went on to work in the field of finance for several years.

She and her husband, Bob, own Allergic Child Publishing Group, the publishing company for Allie, Cody and Chad.

Nicole served as Treasurer for the non-profit organization, Kids With Food Allergies, Inc. and has helped school districts across the United States manage food allergies and create safe environments for food allergic children.

In Colorado, Nicole was the driving force to get Senate Bill 09-226 introduced and passed into law requiring all school districts to have a policy to keep food allergic children safe at school. Two years of meeting with senators, representatives and board members of the department of education culminated in the bill being signed into law by Governor Bill Ritter during Food Allergy Awareness Week in 2009.

Nicole is currently serving on the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) Advocacy Steering Committee to help build a strong nationwide presence for the food allergy community in the public policy arena, and to actively seek to increase federal funding for food allergy research.

What can be done within your school district to raise awareness?

Some schools and school districts have yet to experience their first student with severe food allergies. Other schools have had tragedies of a child dying from a food allergic reaction. In each case, education and awareness is needed. You, being the parent of a food allergic child, are armed with the most important information about your child, allergic reactions and care that is needed. Make sure to share your child’s allergy information and reaction history with your child’s school and district officials. We have found that keeping our son’s allergy information secret is a recipe for disaster. We don’t want him to be known as ‘allergy boy’ but we also don’t want to withhold the information from the people who can help circumvent a reaction.

For those schools with experience with food allergic children, some feel they have all the information they need. The problem with this, we have found, is that not all parents live a life of vigilance around food allergies. For example, other parents may not have a problem with their child touching peanuts, and believe that a severe reaction can occur only if their child ingests the food. Schools can be complacent when the next allergic child enters school, and can’t understand why a different set of rules now apply.

We have found that participation in the school is vitally important. Participating in classroom volunteer projects, school parties and field trips allows you, the parent, to know how frequently food is being used in the classroom. It also gives you the opportunity to get to know the children and especially the teacher. Giving of your time to the school makes for a better partnership when you are asking for extra accommodations and allergy awareness for your child, regardless of whether the law is on our side!

Beyond the school, participation at the district level is even more important. Meeting the school district 504 officer will allow him/her to put a face with your child’s name. Gaining understanding of your school district’s process for creating accommodation plans allows you to get exactly what is needed for your child to be safe. Additionally, if you are willing to assist your school district to better understand food allergies, volunteer on district-wide committees and bring up the topic of food allergies.

I did exactly this several years ago, and was able to get a requirement added to the accreditation process for all schools in our district. The requirement is for every school to have training on 504 plans and health care plans and to receive training on how to respond to students undergoing an allergic reaction. It was a small step toward safety for all food allergic students.

In the spring of 2007, I participated in a Food Allergy Task Force for our school district along with 15 other parents, district administrators, principals, district school nurse and others to create guidelines for our school district’s severely food allergic children. This task force came about because so many parents were attempting to teach their individual school about food allergies and felt they were reinventing the wheel at each school. Some schools in the district had experience, while others had none. We wanted to create a standard set of guidelines and procedures for all schools in the district to follow so that a food allergic child enjoys awareness of food allergies and prevention of allergic reactions regardless of which school he/she attended. It was a tall order!

You can view these guidelines here.

You will see that peanuts and peanut products aren't served in the cafeterias of schools with peanut allergic students if the parents and principal request it. We don't ask other children to not bring in peanuts. Instead we create nut free zones at specific cafeteria tables. The monitoring of a "peanut ban" creates a nightmare for everyone, we felt, and is virtually impossible to guarantee.

We also agreed that while peanuts are a very serious allergy, there are students with equally severe allergies to milk, fish or many other foods. In fact, our school district of 21,000 students had 275 students with life threatening food allergies. It would be impossible to remove all the different foods from the schools without banning food entirely.

There are some school districts that have banned peanuts entirely such as Aspen School District in Colorado. Anaphylaxis can and has still occurred at schools such as this because a child ate a food he assumed was safe, yet other non-food allergic parents don't always completely understand the ingredient label.

We prefer “food allergy aware” to food bans in schools!

If you’d like more information about food allergies and schools, please visit

Nicole can be reached as follows:

425 W. Rockrimmon Blvd, Suite 202

Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Guest Blogger Disclaimer: The information shared by the guest blogger does not represent the opinions and policies of No Nuts For My Peanuts and it's creator. As always seek proper medical attention for any issues, medicine dosage's or questions you have regarding your health and allergies. Always read labels before eating or serving any food to anyone who has food allergies.


Family Happenings

We've had a really long week, and I can't believe a new one is starting. We had play dates, Mommy and Me class, got our flu shots, had our first trip to the dentist, and went pumpkin picking. We did all this with no naps! Seriously the kid has not taken a nap in 5 days! I'm not ready to have a no napping toddler.

At Mommy and Me class we are starting to talk about party food. This of course makes me nervous. But the school is peanut free so that helps I guess. I found the moms in the class to be understanding. We even started talking about safe foods and what brands have good labeling practices. I'm trying to come up with a list, but it so time consuming. Do you have favorite brands you buy because of good labeling policies? I like General Mills so far. I believe Frito Lay is good too, but I need to investigate that more.

After our Mommy & Me class, I noticed Mac had stepped in something. I figured dog poop, gross. Well it turned out to be a snickers! I'm serious, somewhere between our house and class he stepped on a snickers bar, peanuts and all! I'm just glad I found it. Cormac likes to pick out his own shoes now, and his red Converse are his favorite. So I scrubbed them down. But what if I missed it and he got a hold of them? I'm not freaking out or anything, it just reminded that peanuts show up in the most unexpected places.

The flu shot didn't go so well. He did great getting the shot, but got a nasty fever for a few days. He seems to be back to normal. We took him to get some pumpkins and see some animals and he wasn't too happy. He wasn't feeling 100% yet. So I guess we will make another trip. Momma needs some good photos!

I wasn't at the dentist appointment and it's one first I'm happy to miss. He did well, just got a check up. There was a problem with insurance (shocker), so there was that to deal with. I hope this week is calmer. He has a birthday party today and another on Saturday. Today's party is at a little boys house who also has a peanut allergy. There will another kid there with a milk allergy. Both parents are coworkers of my husband. How crazy is it that 3 kids in this group of friends have food allergies. It's not like we met though a group or anything. Anyway, this kid has more of a social life than us!

This Tuesday is Takeover Tuesday! Our Guest Blogger is Nicole from The Allergic Child. She is also Morgan's mom (last months amazing Guest Blogger). Be sure to check it out. She has some good info. to share.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just a quick note.

If you haven't already seen it on facebook, I'll post it here! One of the interviews I did on Saturday at the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy made the PATCH New Rochelle Article, and so did a photo of our team walking! I was quoted and a link to my blog was added. Also an excerpt from one of my posts made in there too. I know it's only local but we're really excited!


Monday, October 4, 2010

What's Next?

I am so proud to say that our team of family and friends raised over $1,900.00 for the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy. That's $400.00 more than we had hoped for. This was the first fundraising walk I ever did, and I feel like we made a difference. We were 13 people in a group of 1500. That's a lot of people making a difference. Now I'm thinking, what's next?

I have a couple ideas that I am playing around with. The first one is a food allergy support group here in Rockland County, NY. There may already be one, but I haven't found it yet. I was lucky enough to briefly talk with one of the organizers of a Westchester group. I have her contact info. so I hope she's ready for me to ask a million and one questions. I also spoke with the staff at Cormac's Dr.'s office, and they think it would be a great idea, and gave me some helpful tips and are already spreading the word! Free PR how great is that.

I want to create a place for parents like me to meet other parents to learn from and support each other. Make lists of local restaurants willing to work with people who have food allergies. Find out how to deal with schools to keep our kids safe but also keep the community happy. Basically I want to create a resource for people who have food allergies in Rockland County. I would also like to set up safe play dates for the kids and let them know they are not the only one with these challenges. So if you live in the Rockland County area and are interested please e-mail me at I have no idea how to do this but am willing to try.

The other thing I want to mention today is what you can do in your community. Start small and simple. I was at the grocery store today and asked the manager if they carried the Enjoy Life products. They have products that are safe for people who are allergic to the most common allergens. For many people, these are some of the only packaged foods they can have due to a variety of allergies. When I asked her, we went to the computer to see if they had any, and of course they didn't have them. She asked me why I was interested. After explaining about kids and food allergies, and that we have to travel to other stores or order these products online, she offered to look into getting some in our store. I was grateful, but wasn't sure if she was serious. I thanked her and continued my shopping.

I ran into her again and she told me she had already e-mail their grocer to find out what they could get in the store. I was thrilled! She said to check in with her to see what happens. I think they will stock something there. They stock a bunch of specialty Irish items that you can't find in other places (we live in a large Irish community with strong ties to Ireland). If there are enough customers who know about and will buy these products, I think we may see them on the shelves.

So start small and ask your local grocery store to stock the allergy safe products you like. It helps to bring up other stores that have them, you know the competition. If they say no, nothing lost. If they say yes, well that makes your life better and easier.

If you have any ideas on how to make you community more food allergy aware, share here. One person can make a difference.


Saturday, October 2, 2010


Today was the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy. We had an amzing time. I was really surprised how many people were there. It was nice to see and just be around some many people who understand. The kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and so did the parents. Here are just a few photos from today that I would like to share.

Team No Nuts For My Peanut
Me Cormac & Jim

And the walk begins!
Old Friends

New Friends Jack, Laura, Me & Mac

Divvies Chocolate Cookie Face (So Yummy)

Mac, Michelle & Mike



Friday, October 1, 2010

FAAN Walk Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is our first FAAN Food Allergy Walk. We are walking in Westchester New York. Our team of family and friends did a great job raising money. We met our team goal and a little more. I am so thankful and gratefully for all the support we have received. Cormac is truly loved, and that fills my heart.

If you live in the area and are not already walking come down and join in the family fun. There will be entertainment, vendors and activities for the kids. The Z100 Party Patrol bus will be there to get things started! Following the walk, Suzi Shelton a rising star in the children's music scene, will be performing her catchy and upbeat folk/pop-rock music. Groove Performing Arts, a family favorite in Westchester County, will perform songs from it's award-winning music program for kids, Music for Aardvarks. In addition to the free concerts, enjoy a fun-filled day of activities such as arts & crafts, obstacle course, jumpy castles, gaga court, raffle and more.

Well I'm off to get everything ready for tomorrow. The t-shirts are done ( I figured it out with your help of course), and our walking shoes are ready. I hope to see you there!

Thanks again for all your support!
Diane, Jim & Cormac


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Food Allergy Bully's

At least once a week I have the same nightmare that Cormac is on the school bus and another kid is chasing him with a PB&J sandwich. He's pinned in the corner with no way to escape, and no help because the bus driver doesn't see it or doesn't care. He's not even two yet and I'm having anxiety about this! On Monday night I had this dream again. I wake up the next day to two articles (one from CNN the other from MSMBC) about about food allergies and bullying.

It's been the talk of the allergy websites, blogs and online support groups, so I won't be surprised if you've read them. I actually posted the CNN article on our Facebook page as soon as I read it yesterday. We had some great sharing going on there. Since Mac is sick, this is the 1st chance I've had to sit down and write about it.

I was in tears off and on all day yesterday. I even called my husband crying because I couldn't believe how bad this really is. It has justified my dreaming fears, and brought them to life. I hate this! With everything these kids will have to go through, they have to fear that other kids will assault them with food! Not a gun or a knife, but with food. It's strange for me to say that food is a real weapon, but it is. What's worse is that there are teachers and school officials out there who tease these kids or don't take these threats seriously. I m not saying all teachers or even the majority are this ignorant. I know some amazing teachers out there who do every thing for their kids. They go above and beyond everyday.

My next question is why do these kids think this is ok? Are they learning this at home, at school or what? Why aren't the adults in their lives more aware, and educated? Little kids may not understand but the older ones know. There needs to be consequences for these acts no matter what the age. Of course they should be age appropriate. You're not going to arrest a 5 year old for assault. But a lesson needs to be learned. The question is how do you teach it and make it real to people who don't know or get it?

Like most food allergy advocates and parents say, we need to start with education. We need to stand up for our children and teach them how to stand up for themselves. We need to teach their peers about the seriousness of this, as well as educate the other parents, and teachers.

I feel really lucky that Cormac already has a group of friends who he will be going to school with, as well as other friends he may not share a school with but will share his life with. They will be growing up together with my son and his allergies. They will be educated and so will their parents. Their parents already take care to make sure he is safe. The more people in your community that understand, the safer our kids are. Don't pass up the opportunity to talk to people. Get involved with your child's school as much as possible. Most important be there for your kids. They may not always be able to handle this no matter how old they are.