Our Allergy Story: Update

Five years ago today our sweet Finnegan was born. This little nugget changed my world!

Baby Finn

Before his first birthday, we knew there were some food concerns.  He reacted when certain food even touched his skin…

Rashes

… sometimes in places that made no sense…

Rashes 2

And then, of course, there were the times he consumed foods to which we later realized he was allergic.

Halloween

After a RAST blood test with our pediatric allergist, it was confirmed Finn was allergic to dairy, eggs (whites and yokes), and peanuts. Read more of his allergy story and our food philosophy.

From that moment on we did everything we could to teach Finn about how food can make us strong and healthy. We also now talk about how food can make us sick.

Our annual trip to the allergist last year had us skipping a follow-up blood test. We knew Finn still showed a reaction to small amounts of eggs and dairy, and as the allergist asked, “what will it change if we draw blood and realize he’s one point different than before?” The answer was of course – nothing – so we saved all our sanity and didn’t do a blood draw. (The first blood draw took myself and two nurses holding Finn down. He was 15 months. Not awesome.)

Over the last year, things have started to change with his allergies.

Eggs
Eggs are a main breakfast for both Justin and I. We’ve routinely made a different breakfast for the kids because of Finn’s allergies. However, we’ve had major success with eggs in the last year.

We started giving Finn one bite of cooked egg every day we made eggs. No reaction. A few weeks later we would add another bite. No reaction. A few weeks later, another bite. We continued this for several months until he was up to 6 or 7 bites without a reaction. From there we made him an entire egg. He devoured it and, lo and behold, no reaction!

Now, Finn’s favorite breakfast is sausage and eggs. He LOVES them! We love being able to make one meal for all 4 of us in the morning, and he loves being able to eat the same breakfast.

This is a huge win!

Dairy
At different times in the last year, Finn has been given dairy, sometimes unknowingly.

The first time was during a children’s church service we don’t normally attend. Unbeknownst to us, he was given a cup of yogurt. I think he was so used to his school teachers knowing his allergies and what is safe/not for him, he assumed it was safe. He does have coconut yogurt from time to time, so again he assumed “yogurt” was ok.

His eyes were a little red and puffy when we picked him up and he was uncharacteristically quiet on the drive home, but I never suspected dairy as crackers are usually the only item served. He wasn’t interested in lunch. Instead he laid on the couch. He told us he didn’t feel well and that it was probably what he ate.  It took a little digging and detective work to figure out what he’d actually ate. After a long nap, his eyes were back to normal and he felt better.

It showed me dairy is still a concern; however, this time there was no red, welted rash. A change.

We started the same process with dairy as we have eggs. If we had anything with dairy, mainly a little butter, we give him a bite. We even started using ghee or a little Kerry Gold to make eggs without a reaction.

That said, we offered him a little organic shredded cheese one time for tacos. He took a small bite, spit it out, and said it was disgusting. This does not make me sad!!

Peanuts
He hasn’t been exposed to peanuts. We will wait for the blood test next year (before entering Kindergarten in the public schools) to determine his level.

What Does This Mean?
When it comes to eggs, this means freedom! This is the one allergy I’ve really hoped would subside for convenience sake.

The dairy piece is where I have mixed emotions. I’m glad he can consume small amount of dairy in items. It makes me feel better when it comes to what he might be offered or get into when Justin and I are not around. However, I still want him labelled as “allergic.” I do not want him served a piece of string cheese or a glass of cow’s milk or a bowl of cow’s milk ice cream. I have no idea how we would react to that much direct dairy exposure.

I also don’t think it will change what we buy or eat in our house or what we offer him.  I won’t go out of my way to buy cow’s milk products we don’t normally have now. Justin and I consume such little dairy now, and are used to (and like) the way we feel without it.

I know we are not at the place where Finn has “free reign” in the dairy department, but it has me thinking what it looks like when that day comes. I know as he gets older, he will make plenty of food choices without us helping me pick a “better” option. I fully admit sometimes I’m slightly neurotic about the junk severed everywhere and the snacks and treats offered for every occasion whether it’s a birthday, Flag Day, or the 5th Thursday of the month. (Seriously – daily junk!) I don’t know what that will look like, but I know we will have to trust the kids to make good choices, knowing there will be plenty of times they don’t… and they need to learn that on their own. I just am being totally honest when I say I have no idea how to do that.

School

Labels
There’s a growing trend of parents telling teachers their child has food allergies when they do not.  They are doing so in an effort to keep the junk offered to a minimum or restrict certain items (or food groups) they do not want their child to have. While I fully understand the battle (we have it, too, believe me), it is a grave disservice to kids who are truly allergic. I’ve heard of teachers finding out certain kids really don’t have allergies and making assumptions that other families are also lying about allergic reactions. As such, it has put truly allergic kids at risk to exposure of foods they might have life-threatning reactions to. It also minimizes the seriousness of food allergies as a whole.

I share this to say that when the day comes when Finn can freely have all food, we will no longer label him as such.  We will deal with the “system” like everyone else, and work our hardest to teach our kids how to be the healthiest little person possible.

No matter what Finn can or cannot eat, the focus of this blog will always be an allergy-friendly, GMO-free, real-food community. I will never forget the overwhelming confusion and helplessness when Finn was first diagnosed with food allergies. If I can help some of you going through the same thing, I’m honored.

Tonight we will celebrate Finn’s birthday with his favorite cheese-less pizza and dairy-free cupcakes. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Do you or your kids have food allergies? I’d love to hear how they have changed over the years.

100 Days of Real Food: Cookbook Review

When we first started changing the way we eat, the 100 Days of Real Food blog was one of the first blogs I read that made me feel normal. Finally, I thought, another mom who is fed up with junk everywhere and doing something about it! Lisa Leake was this real-life hero to me who was DOING what we were ready to DO. She was raising a clean-food family in an unclean-food world.

Lisa Leake

In 2010, Lisa, her husband Jason, and two daughters, went 100 days without eating a single ounce of processed food or refined ingredients. She realized how difficult it was to implement this lifestyle in a world swarming with processed food, so her blog began! If you haven’t checked it out, you’ll find real-food recipes, great kids lunch ideas, real-food meal plans, and product reviews.

Leake family at farmers market

Recently, Lisa has gone through the labor intensive world of book writing. From Justin’s book, we know what a process this can be. But after 2 years of hard work, Lisa birthed her first cookbook, and let me tell you – it’s amazing!

100 Days of Real Food cookbook

I’m not really a cookbook gal. After the world of food bloggers and recipes won my heart, after Finn’s allergies, and after we started getting very particular about the ingredients used in our kitchen, cookbooks became a foreign tool. In fact, I gave most of mine away. The 100 Days of Real Food cookbook is different. It’s actually filled with recipes with REAL FOOD that we would make at our house.

Here’s what you can expect…

  • No white flour or any refined grains are used
  • No sugar or any refined (or artificial) sweeteners are used
  • No recipes call for packaged foods containing more than 5 ingredients
  • Familiar and easy-to-find ingredients are used
  • 71 recipes are (or can easily be) Gluten-Free
  • 79 recipes are (or can easily be) Vegetarian
  • 49 recipes are (or can easily be) Dairy-Free
  • 42 recipes are Freezer Friendly 
  • A beautiful color photo is included with each and every recipe
  • 70% new recipes – not previously published on Lisa’s blog

One of the things I love most about the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook is the school lunch ideas. I know that is one of the biggest concerns I have with Finn going off to school next year and one of the biggest stressors I hear from mom’s about kids who bring lunches. You want your child to eat healthy, but you also want them to EAT… not just throw it all away! Lisa takes the guess work out of ways to not only make things taste good, but also look good.  And we all know we eat with our eyes :)

Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread Photo

The recipes range from sweet treats…

Frozen Yogurt Pops on steps… to delicious dinners.

Shortcut Eggplant Parm2

Many of these recipes are easily made allergy-friendly with a few swaps. Do yourself a favor and add the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook to your stack. This will be one you actually use!

Send Me Gluten Free Review + Giveaway

For any family that deals with food allergies, you are aware that once “food allergy-friendly” food starts to fill your cart, you tend to open your wallet a little wider.  I remember when Finn was first diagnosed I bought a plethora of “dairy-free” items I later found out were: 1) insanely unhealthy and 2) insanely disgusting. And there I was with $4 left of a box of junk that a hungry puppy wouldn’t touch. It was maddening.

The more familiar I’ve become with the allergy world, the more I turn away from any “box deals” as they tend to be filled with sugary, processed items that truly aren’t helpful when you are trying to find real food. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the box from Send Me Gluten Free which included a handful of organic and GMO-free products. (By the way, the box comes from the same team who brought us Find Me Gluten-free, the app that helps you find gluten-free businesses.)

We were eager for the little orange box to arrive!

Order Shipped

And arrive it did!  The kids and I sprawled out on the floor and broke open the box…

Box

Box Open

Before we dig in, I guess I should tell you WHAT this box is all about.

Each month Send Me Gluten Free will send you 8-12 new gluten free products to try that will include at least 1 full-sized item. You’ll get full-size and sample size food, personal care items, supplements and household products that support your gluten-free lifestyle. You can join for $20-$30/month (free shipping), depending on the length of the subscription you choose. Each month the box includes new items.

Send Me Gluten Free requires all brand partners be certified gluten free, or tested to the FDA standard of less than 20 parts per million.

Curious what was in the box? Let me fill you in….

All

The box included a variety of full-sized items, sample sizes and coupons.

I love the Organic Mung Bean Fettuccine from Organic Asian, so I was excited to see a full-size package of Organic Black Bean Spaghetti included. I’ve been looking for the right recipe to use with these noodles (classic red sauce just seemed so wrong), and I found a recipe with Red Curry Sauce that looks worth a try. 

I was not familiar with Sevierly Good baking mixes until this box. Sevierly Good describes their company as a “home grown organic gluten-free baking mix company dedicated to using certified organic, local, and non-gmo materials that specializes in meeting your gluten free baking needs.” Their mixes are free of: gluten, dairy, soy, bean, nut and corn. I’m saving this mix for Finn’s birthday party when we will have two gluten-free guests. We will have a gluten-free and gluten option for guests to choose.

Cake Noodles

I tried Raw Revolution bars last year at the Gluten and Allergen-free Expo. Loved them then and love them now! This bar was Coconut Bliss. A few years ago I wouldn’t have touched anything with coconut. Now, I love it. So much yum! These bars are raw, organic, GMO-free, and dairy-free. Also included was a 50 cent coupon.

Another company with which I wasn’t familiar is Red Apple Lipstick. There are so many people with a severe enough allergy to gluten that even their skin and beauty care products need to be gluten-free.  I’ve seen many of these products and tried several skin care items, but I’ve never tried gluten-free make-up. I was sent Rallye Balm and really liked it! I’m more of a balm/gloss girl, so it was perfect. Also included in the kit was a code for 30% off your purchase.

Lip and Raw

A few yummy items in the box included Surf Sweets which I’ve shared my love with you before. This little package was simply not enough for the 4 members in this family :)

I’m honestly not sure if Juice Plus+ items are suppose to be a supplement or a sweet treat, but either way – they are good. These probably aren’t something I would buy on a regular basis, but it was nice to try.

Sweets

Ummm…. yum. Just yum. Surf Sweets FTW.

Yummy!

There were a few tea and coffee items, as well. The Better off Red from Now Foods was good, very flavorful. The other sample sent was the Teeccino dandelion and dark roast. I’ll have Justin try this one as he’s the coffee snob. A 50 cent coupon was also included for a box of Teeccino tea bags.

Tea

Many soy sauces do contain gluten. San-J not only makes a gluten-free, organic soy sauce, but also one that is verified GMO-free. This should be a non-negotiable for anything with soy. A 55 cent coupon is also included.

Teeccino also makes a gluten-free instant oatmeal. Included in my box was the Blueberry Date variety. There are no refined sugars in the pack and it is verified GMO-free. I thought it was delicious and Evie agreed… she ate 90% of it.

TeeChia and Tamari

Also included in the box was a coupon for one full-sized FREE PRODUCT from Dr. Praeger’s. I have never bought from this brand before so I will need to see what is available at our local stores. From what I see online there is canola oil in many products and they aren’t GMO-free.  I will be interested to see what we find!

Also included was a code for a free digital copy of Delight Gluten-free.

Send Me Gluten free follows up with an email that includes additional codes and discounts on the products included in the box. Followup

Interested in receiving Send Me Gluten Free and want to get started now? Use discount code BLOG20 at checkout and receive 20% off any subscription length.

And now it’s time for one of YOU to try Send Me Gluten free at no cost!

SMGF_Giveaway

The winner box will be filled with completely new and amazing gluten-free goodies. Curious what you might see? Rumor has it Lovely Candy Co. might be making an appearance! I’ve had their caramels – they are amazing!

Send Me Gluten Free will be sending one lucky continental US reader a new box of gluten-free products. To enter, write a comment on this post telling me which allergy-friendly product you’ve tried recently and loved… or a product from this batch you’re interested in trying now.

Entries/comments must be posted by noon (CST) Thursday, August 28. I will post the winner Friday morning, August 29.

Good Luck!