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.