I took the kids to Coastal Cone at the Ventura Harbor today to celebrate being free of food allergies. Bean and Sprout had fun eating and making a mess of their first ice cream cone.
I took the kids to Coastal Cone at the Ventura Harbor today to celebrate being free of food allergies. Bean and Sprout had fun eating and making a mess of their first ice cream cone.
…is the face of my daughter this morning documenting the fact that we are allergy free.
The past couple weeks I’ve been letting the kids eat whatever, eat what we eat, sharing food with them when we go out to eat with a few more tightly controlled and closely watched experiments. The last of those experiments was this morning when I fed her French toast with real egg and bread.
We’ve had no reactions that I can tell.
I am so very happy. This makes my life so much easier. It’s one of the best days ever!
I have been thinking a lot more about my kids, my family and food allergies lately.
My thoughts feel sort of jumbled and there is so much information to wade through.
I guess the beginning of this was a few months ago when I was just tired and dealing with morning sickness, not that bad mind you, but bad enough that I didn’t want to do anything.
And that despite how careful we are with our kids and their diets, they still have eczema and runny #2 diapers and poor growth on the growth charts sometimes. So not a giant difference in their supposed allergy “symptoms”.
And I have talked to other moms and read them too (Emery and Olive Oil come specifically to mind) about how they tried to make the same changes that we had, didn’t notice much in the way of symptom changes, did notice it was a lot of work and did notice that it was really hard to get their kids to eat that way.
I’ll admit that part of me got a little high and mighty. Part of me said, “Well, I am doing it and there is SOME difference and HOW can you just DO that to your child knowing what you know?” And part of me felt their pain and burden and frustration. Part of me understood the high rate of false positives in these allergy tests. Part of me saw the conflicting advice out there. Part of me heard about continual exposure eventually helping people to overcome their allergies instead of complete avoidance.
So anyway, back on track with the story. A couple months ago when I was tired and not feeling like it, I let my kids have regular old oatmeal at a bagelry. And a few other times I let them have blueberry muffins because Bean saw the muffins in the display case and really wanted one.
And nothing happened. The oatmeal was probably mostly fine. Oats can become contaminated by wheat fields and mills so that is why you have to buy the special gluten-free kind. But they are probably mostly fine, most of the time. The muffins were likely a triple threat cocktail for Bean. I am sure they had butter (dairy), wheat and eggs.
And like I said, nothing happened. I noticed no difference in skin or output. There was no throwing up, no diarrhea no rash. Just nothing.
But then I felt terrible.
Plus, Sprout’s last few appointments the doctor has been increasingly alarmist with regards to his status on the growth charts. Did those muffins and oatmeal lazy moments cause it? Was I really a terrible mother?
So then I read more stuff about allergy testing and how some fringe doctors believe the most standard blood test that Bean had is not enough and how there are other bodily reactors we can test against that can show a wider spectrum of food sensitivity and intolerance. But then how other doctors think these tests aren’t accurate either and have way too many false positives.
Then there are others who say that the best way to figure out food sensitivities is thru elimination diets or by introducing them back one at a time. Still others say this too is inaccurate because a lot of times food sensitivities and allergies don’t have super noticeable side effects like rashes, skin disorders, or gastrointestinal function problems and yet there are still insidious things going on in the body because of these foods.
And basically the medical community, as usual, can’t get their act together and agree on anything and just make things a little easier for us parents.
Fast forward to last week and I fed my kids and I a plate of vegetarian nachos from Baja Fresh because I just didn’t feel like having a bunch of leftovers from all of us to cart around and I also can’t bring myself to throw away that much food. Plus, I knew that Bean was coming up on the magic age when children for some reason outgrow their food allergies and that as an introduction to dairy, cheese was probably one of the safe bets because it is easier to digest than whole milk.
And again, nothing happened.
And again I felt huge amounts of guilt and questioning of myself.
Because really is this just me being selfish? I don’t have to tell those of you that have to deal with even one food allergy how much easier my life would be if I didn’t have to deal with food allergies. Even just eliminating one of Bean’s would be so incredibly helpful to me and a bit easier for me.
And for those of you that don’t know this life, imagine all of the typical toddler foods being eliminated. Imagine every time you eat out as a family being a big worry fest as to whether your kids will be inadvertently exposed to a poison. Imagine dinners and potlucks with friends often being incredibly awkward because you can’t find anything your child can eat. Or imagine telling that child that no, they really can’t enjoy all the other yummy foods that their friends are enjoying. Other kids’ birthday parties with no cake or treats for your kids. Having to make everything on your own from scratch all the time because usually even if you can find something that doesn’t have one of their allergens, it has one or two of the others. Having to pay so much money for alternative foods and supplements. The list could go on and on.
And then I start reading this book on the 4-A epidemic in children: autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies. And once again I am freaking out and thinking that maybe there is more that my kids are up against. And I need thousands of dollars in testing to be sure. And how maybe that explains how small my kids are or any other host of little things I can pick up on in my kids.
So then the kids have a check up today and I talk to my doctor about some of it. The good news is that Sprout is growing again and Bean is doing pretty good too. We’ve avoided a trip to UCLA with “ten thousand dollars worth of testing all day long” (as he put it), for now.
He says he doesn’t put much faith in the allergy tests. Too many false positives and negatives. He did say that Bean’s original tests back when she was a year old showed only a mild allergy to wheat and dairy and a moderate allergy to egg. He said that low on the spectrum he usually sees kids grow out of and that she may have grown out of them by now. Plus, he said over half the things she was tested for were a complete waste since she hadn’t even been introduced to them and they would have had a false negative. Since he doesn’t really put much into the allergy testing he thinks we should just start trying to reintroduce stuff.
So I don’t know. I still feel confused. Like what if I reintroduce this stuff and maybe there isn’t noticeable eczema or yucky poops. Does that really mean everything is OK? Am I just being paranoid? A hypochondriac? But oh gosh would life be easier and less expensive if we could eliminate some of these things!
Prior to Finding out about Bean’s food allergies and also changing our diets to have drastically less processed food, TJs orange chicken or orange chicken from a favorite Chinese restaurant was a staple in our diet. We love orange chicken, even if it isn’t “real” Chinese food.
Problem is that most recipes have wheat and egg in them for the crispy battered pieces. I have been craving this dish and decided I would attempt a version our whole family could enjoy.
I was successful. Sort of. Bean is in a really picky phase again so she didn’t eat much. Boo! Everyone else loved it though.
I will note that my orange chicken is very orange flavored. I think the TJs version has a different ratio of soy sauce to orange. So if you make this and think my version is too orange, reduce the orange and up the soy.
This is the second recipe I have mentioned gluten free flour mix. I am not using a specific brand. I just recently decided to combine all my gluten free flours because I was tired if pulling a little from each bag. If you typically use a mix like Pamela’s, I am sure that would work fine.
I looked at a few different recipes yesterday before experimenting with this one last night. Most recipes called for dipping the chicken in egg before coating it in a mixture of flour and spices. If you can have wheat and eggs, you might try that. Another trick I used to use when making fried chicken was the self rising flour which I believe has baking powder and baking soda in it. The combination of eggs and this will probably produce a more crispy chicken if that is what you are going for.
• 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 3 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
• zest of one orange
• 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
• crushed red pepper flakes
• Chinese five spice powder
• 1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
• 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
• 1 cup gluten free flour mix
• salt and pepper
• 2 green onions, chopped
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp sesame oil
• oil for frying
• rice and green beans to serve with
So first thing I did last night was throw my rice with the amount of water the package said in the rice cooker. Then I trimmed up my green beans and put them in the steam pan that goes on top.
Then I made the sauce. I opened up the orange juice concentrate and scooped approximately three tablespoons into a small saucepan. Then I added the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, a couple dashes of red pepper flakes, lemon juice, a couple dashes of Chinese Five Spice powder (that’s a Jamie Oliver trick right there) and about a teaspoon of the orange zest (reserve the rest). Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally.
Note to mom: we all know how you feel about spicy food, and since you were one of the people that specifically asked for this recipe, to reduce the spice in this dish, skip or reduce the ginger, the red pepper, and the Chinese Five Spice powder. Note to everyone else: if you like your orange chicken on the spicy side, increase all those things.
While that was simmering, I cut up my two chicken breasts into bite sized cubes. Then in a ziplock bag I combined the flour, remaining orange zest, a few dashes of Chinese Five Spice powder, and a few cracks from my salt and pepper grinders.
The sauce was looking pretty good at this point so I turned off the heat and set the pan aside to cool and thicken.
I tossed the chicken in the zip lock bag, sealed it and then shook it up to coat in the flour mixture.
Then I got out my wok and put about a half inch of vegetable oil (which if you look at the label is just soy bean oil, probably not the best stuff for you) and then I also added about a quarter teaspoon of Sesame oil. I turned my heat up to medium high and when it got fragrant I added in the chicken in small batches turning each piece once until they were gold and crispy on the outside and firm. I did not cut them open to see if they were no longer still pink. I just knew, but if you are paranoid about that sort of thing or don’t just know, you may want to employ that test. You can drain the chicken on paper towels or flour sack cloths if you want.
I put all the cooked chicken in a bowl. Then I added in the green onions and the sauce. I stirred it all up until it was evenly coated.
At this point the rice and green beans were done. In another bowl I dressed the green beans with some olive oil and salt.
Then I plated everything together in one big pile. It was super yum.
This made enough for all four of us, but Stephen and I had large portions and the kids did not.
I think I care too much.
Really I do.
I started reading The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien and I am about halfway through. The book isn’t necessarily anything new for me. It’s all stuff I knew by reading other books or watching Food Inc. I knew that our government, particularly when it comes to the food regulatory agencies, was corrupt and that a revolving door for former industry executives exists and major conflicts of interest exist.
I guess I just didn’t connect the dots into making it human. Putting a human face on the matter. Maybe it’s because O’Brien’s story also involves food allergies and that is something that I deal with every day. Maybe it’s because Bean’s been having really awful eczema behind her knees that cracks and oozes puss lately. Maybe it’s because we got food poisoning when we ate at a fairly reputable restaurant this weekend.
I just feel so frustrated and helpless on this matter. Overwhelmed and angry. It’s been all I can think about the last two days or so.
People, children just like my precious two little ones, are getting so sick and harmed because our food system is not safe. And it isn’t safe because the people who are supposed to be keeping it safe aren’t doing their jobs. Instead they are looking out for the corporations.
People like me are having their kids develop food allergies because of pollutants and toxins in our environment, genetically modified foods, factory farming, and overuse of antibiotics in the animals in our food supply as well as in ourselves.
People like me are then told by their pediatricians (not the one I currently go to anymore) that when their kid develops a dairy allergy that the best thing to do is to have them guzzle soy milk instead. Something that is so unhealthful and harmful.
I count myself lucky that six months after I was told this I did my own research and found out that this wasn’t a good idea at all. How many other parents, though, are just following their pediatrician’s advice because they are supposed to be the expert on nutrition and health for children?
Some say personal responsibility is the answer and I should just worry about my own family and make the food decisions I want to make for them and I should be the one to do all the research and own up to what we consume. Yeah, maybe that is partly true.
But for me, I just can’t stop there. I can’t sit by while other people and other people’s children suffer. I care about my friend’s kids. I care about my friends. I care about those that aren’t my friends and their kids. I care about our future. I care about our planet. I care.
So what am I supposed to do now? I want to make a bigger difference than just my own family.
Remember in preschool when you would get peanut butter on apples? Well, I guess I must be doing something wrong because I can never get the nut butter to stick to the apples when I try to recreate this at home. Anyway yogurt, almond butter and honey happen to be some of my most favorite things right now and I combined them into this yummy treat that can be had as breakfast or a snack. Unlike a thick nut butter, the apple slices can scoop and dip into this easily. And unlike the apple dippers you see in fast food restaurants and grocery stores with carmel (pure sugar) as an attempted healthy alternative to things like chips or fries, these actually are healthy. *Bean loves it.
-1/2 cup homemade crockpot yogurt (I like to use 1/2 gallon raw milk + 1 quart raw cream + yogurt starter and then I strain about half of it using a seive lined with muslin then I mix it back with the unstrained half for optimum consistency)
-2 tbsp almond butter with sea salt
-1/2 tsp raw unfiltered wildflower honey
-1 tsp flax meal
-1 apple, sliced
Mix all ingredients together except apple. Use apples to dip in yogurt mixture.
*But Bean is allergic to dairy, right? Well, I’ve been doing some reading and researching about casein allergies. I’ve found a few places that talk about raw milk and yogurt helping to cure them. A few places also said that it made them worse. So we’re trying it out and watching carefully for any problems or reactions. I also read that there are different kinds of casein. Humans and certain breeds of cows (Frisians, Guernseys), sheep and goats produce milk that has type A2 casein and most other breeds of cows produce milk with either type A1 only or a mixture of A1 and A2. So, she may just be allergic to type A1 casein. I think it’s all very facinating. Facination is good, it keeps me from being frustrated with food allergies.
I kind of get on kicks where I try to make everything from scratch at home because the food industry scares me. This is one of those kicks. And I haven’t even seen Food, Inc. yet, imagine what will happen to me after that.
A lot of granola in the stores has so much crap in it that I can’t even pronounce. And a lot of it has either wheat or egg whites in it, two things Bean can’t have.
Inspired by the Weelicious Wee Granola, I decided to try my hand at making a gluten-free version of this recipe. My recipe is really similar to hers, but I’ve changed things where I needed to accommodate Bean’s food allergies.
-2 cups certified gluten-free rolled oats
-1 1/2 cups soy nuts (She has a mix of several nuts in her recipe, but since soy is the only “nuts” Bean has had, I decided to use those. I am not planning on introducing other nuts until after she’s two)
-3/4 cup dried fruit(s) of your choice (Again she has a mix adding up to this, but I just had dried apricots on hand so that is what I used, you can check out her recipe for more ideas)
-2 tbsp flax meal (She uses wheat germ, but Bean can’t have that so I Googled wheat germ substitute and this is what it said to use)
-1 tsp cinnamon (I really like the taste of cinnamon so I doubled her amount)
-1 tbsp molasses (Molasses are a really good source of iron and since our little gal isn’t a big fan of meat I’m always looking for ways to get more iron into her)
-1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp honey (between this and the molasses this adds up to the 1/2 cup honey she suggests in her recipe)
-1/2 cup Earth Balance with olive oil, melted (I didn’t have any vegetable oil on hand)
Preheat oven to 275.
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir until completely combined.
Place mixture on a parchment lined cookie sheet (please trust me and do this, you will thank me later when you don’t have granola stuck to your cookie sheet).
Bake for 40 minutes (OK her recipe has you bake for 30 minutes and then another 40, I tried this the first time and wound up with burnt granola, so I just did 40 minutes total and it turned out great). Remove from oven and let it remain on the sheet until it’s completely cooled so it can harden.
Serve with milk like cereal, with yogurt and fresh fruit, or you can put it in trail mix to munch on as a snack. She has a recipe for chewy granola balls that I may try as well.