November 22, 2006

Extra Baking with Food Allergies for the Holidays

As I sit and write this, my wife and daughter are downstairs filling our home with the wonderful aroma of homemade pumpkin and apple pie. There may even be a spice bread in the works. The smell reminds me of how lucky I am to have a wife who cares so much for the family that just about everything that comes out of the oven in our house is food allergy friendly. I say just about everything because we have different allergies to manage and, even though one of our daughters cannot have eggs, there is an occasional omelet or cake that includes eggs.

Now, when there is a special treat such as a cake, there is always an egg-free version as well. In our home, treats are served with great care to make sure no one feels left out. This means either serving everyone the egg-free cake or baking two different cakes. I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of egg free cakes (I've learned that if you eat them right after they cool down, they are much more palatable). When it comes to cake, I'm not too picky but when my sweetie is willing to put in twice the effort, I am thankful.

I hope your Thanksgiving Holiday is food-allergy-reaction-free and fun!

p.s. I am in charge of the sweet potatoes tomorrow. Let's hope I don't make any rookie mistakes!

Posted by David at 6:20 PM | Comments (2)

November 2, 2006

Another Safe Halloween for Peanut Allergic Kids

Halloween night was a lot of fun. Despite two of our kids having food allergies, we look forward to Halloween. Our kids trick or treat just like every other kid out there. At the end of the night, they dump out there loot and trade with their friends. The trading actually adds to the excitement.

One of our young neighbors asked our oldest (10 yrs old) daughter, "Why do you have so many candies you can't eat?" She replied like a champ by explaining how her body doesn't like those candies and it makes her very sick. The explaination worked for him and they just kept on trading.

So, for those of you who are newly diagnosed and wonder how you will ever get through Halloween with child food allergies, hang in there. You can have as much fun as anyone else.

Posted by David at 8:05 AM | Comments (2)

October 4, 2006

The Treats are the Scariest Part of Halloween

'Treats' Scariest Part of All for Children With Food Allergies on Halloween

Thursday September 28, 5:06 am ET

Nationwide Coin Collection Campaign Raises Funds for Food Allergy Research

FAIRFAX, Va., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Ghosts and goblins are not as scary to the more than 3 million American children with food allergies as a hidden peanut, or milk in candy. Just one bite of the wrong food can be life- threatening.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is launching the fourth annual Trick-or-Treat for Food Allergy Coin Collection Campaign, a fun and safe program for children with food allergies, to join in the Halloween festivities. Instead of trick-or-treats, millions of children with food allergies nationwide will be collecting pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters for food allergies.

"Many of us can fondly recall our days of trick-or-treating, feeling left out would have been traumatic," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, Founder and CEO of FAAN. "The coin collection campaign is a fun alternative that allows children to tell their story of food allergy in a positive way. It makes them feel special but not different."

Prizes will be awarded to children who raise a certain level of funds. Incentives for participation include a multi voice changer mega phone, MP3 player, X-Style Kaleidoscope, and an Icebar Radio with headphones. Proceeds will go toward food allergy education and research programs.

Participants from the past two years will receive their boxes in the mail by the beginning of October. Others interested in participating should contact FAAN at 1-800-929-4040 or visit their Web site.

Abbott's Ross Products Division, makers of EleCare®, is the proud sponsor of the 2006 Trick-or-Treat for Food Allergy Halloween Coin Collection Campaign.

To request an interview with Anne Munoz-Furlong, Founder and CEO of FAAN, please contact Lauren Lawson at 703.563.3052 or at

For more information about The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, please visit

Source: Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Posted by David at 2:02 PM

March 18, 2006

Decorating Easter eggs the allergy free way

How do you keep the tradition of decorating Easter eggs alive if you have a child who is allergic to eggs? For the first several years it bummed me out so much I couldn’t even think about an alternative. Do I let the other kids color eggs so they get to experience the smell of vinegar and the magic of swirling colors? I concluded that it would make my daughter feel horribly left out. So, could she dye eggs too? Would it give her hives or a worse reaction? I felt sad for my child who has to live with an egg allergy. I felt angry that she even has allergies. I felt uncertain if I was being overly protective or cautiously safe. And I was mad at myself for having so many feelings! With all of these overwhelming emotions, I chose to skip this tradition. And each Easter, thinking of my childhood, I felt a little pang of sadness. Then, over the years, I chilled out and wised up!

I decided to make a new family tradition, including both the tried and true favorite of coloring eggs and the avoidance of the dreaded protein. We first tired coloring fabric eggs. It certainly was a fun activity, but the end result didn’t give ME that family tradition feeling that I was looking for. Instead of sitting them out in a basket, we ended up playing football and shooting hoops with them. The ceramic eggs were out because I had 4 kids under the age of 6! I wanted to decorate as a family. Enough said. I finally found plain wooden eggs at our local craft store. We had fun as a family painting our eggs with marvelous colors and patterns! We all signed and dated our creations. Now each year, I put out our special basket, fill it with fake grass, and carefully place each egg in one at a time. To every other eye, it looks like a cute Easter decoration made by little kids. But for me, it’s so much more. It marks my passage from a world where food allergies controlled my feelings (and life, I guess) into a world where I feel more in charge, more confident and more at peace with living with food allergies.

It may seem really obvious to decorate “fake” eggs instead of real ones. I guess I needed to YET AGAIN experience that emotional rollercoaster of parenting-a-child-with-food-allergies. Then I come to that peaceful, “it’s really not that bad” state, and all seems happy again. It’s not only Easter eggs that have thrown my emotions into a whirlwind, it’s the everyday things too; a classmate bringing in donuts unannounced, a party invitation involving something your child can’t do without A LOT footwork by you, a friend at the park eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with lots of peanut butter smeared across their face. The list goes on and on.

I guess this part of our lives won’t change until there is a cure for food allergies. But with each trip on the rollercoaster, I am learning that I am a strong person and I do have the knowledge and confidence to raise my children safely in a world filled with allergens. I realize that I can create our own family traditions that have as much meaning for my children as my childhood traditions have for me.

Posted by Ann Marie at 11:19 AM | Comments (1)

December 24, 2005

There are food allergy clues out there - look for them!

I will start by apologizing to some who may be offended by the tone of this entry regarding food allergies. Holiday parties involve lots of foods we don't see at other times of the year, so please forgive me if this is a bit over the edge.

Sometimes I hear or read stories about food allergy reactions and ask myself, "What were they thinking?" Here's one of them from ...

Simmons reports that at one Christmas party she attended she innocently helped lay out a few bowls of chicken flavored chips. Believe it or not, it transpired that those chips actually contained real chicken flavoring. As a result one party reveler, who suffered from a severe allergy to all things poultry, ended up being admitted to accident and emergency.

Ok, so you have a poultry allergy (pretty unique) and you say, "Hey, look at these delicious looking 'Chicken Chips,' I think I will try one!" How big a surprise should it be that there is real chicken flavoring in the chips? And, by the way, who ever heard of chicken chips???

Sometimes you have all the information you need right in front of you - you just have to use it.

Happy Holidays to all our readers!

Posted by David at 7:42 AM

December 7, 2005

Holidays with Child Food Allergies

I know the holidays are different for those of us who are parenting children with food allergies. Take for instance, a simple invitation to a gingerbread house making party. My 4th grader of course wants to go with all of her friends. We know the girl who is hosting the party, in fact, my daughter went to her birthday party a couple of years ago. The family is more than willing to "do whatever it takes" to keep my daughter safe. I know they'll listen carefully as I review how to use an Epi-pen and what to do in case of an emergency. But does it mean that they won't have candies containing nuts or traces of peanuts? Even the ever popular holiday M & M's and chocolate bells? Does it mean they'll forgo the egg-containing frosting for something more likely to fall apart? I want my daughter to be independent. But my gut is a little bit afraid.

My daughter is more than ready for this. We have taught her to read ingredients diligently. She's not one to take chances or to do something "just to fit in." I trust her. But it'll still take some forward planning. I have the first phone call into the parents hosting the party. My daughter knows there will be candies and frosting there that she won't be able to eat. I am prepared to send a bag of safe candies she can use to decorate the gingerbread house. And I trust that she will use only those decorations at the party that she feels comfortable with. I wish I could volunteer to bring enough peanut-free candy for all 12 girls, but then hey, that's like hosting the party!

I know in the end she will come home from the party with a huge smile, fun stories and a great gingerbread house decoration. And I know together, we will again grow, her with her independence and me with my letting go. Hey, isn't that what parenting is all about anyway?

Posted by Ann Marie at 5:32 PM

November 29, 2005

Food Allergy Holiday Cookbook Available

Helping Children of All Ages Enjoy Delicious,Allergy-Free Holiday Treats!

FAIRFAX, Va., Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has launched its Food Allergy News Holiday Cookbook to ensure that children of all ages with food allergies and their families can enjoy a delicious and allergy-free holiday season.

Stuffed with more than 150 tempting recipes, the cookbook features popular holiday recipes for special occasions throughout the year, made without common allergens that cause 90 percent of allergic reactions to foods. "The holidays are very much about food and children!" said Anne Munoz-Furlong, FAAN founder and CEO. "We want families with food allergy considerations to have a holiday season filled with delicious things to eat just like everyone else. We hope that our cookbook will encourage families to cook and bake together, and that children with food allergies will discover that they too can have and share delicious holiday treats."

The Food Allergy News Holiday Cookbook includes traditional holiday favorites such as gingerbread cookies, holiday sugar cookies, raisin and spice cupcakes, Yule bars, taffy candy canes and of course, cookies for Santa. It encourages cooks to bring their children into the kitchen to help.

While all of the recipes in the cookbook are family friendly, there is a special section devoted to kid-friendly recipes that parents can use to cook with their children year-round. To assist cooks who are just entering the world of allergy-free cooking, the cookbook provides directions on how to read food labels. Holiday facts and cooking tips are also listed throughout the cookbook, and all recipes are marked to indicate which of the major food allergens are excluded.

The cookbook also offers recipes for foods that are popular to serve during other special times in the year, to include Super Bowl Sunday, Easter, Independence Day, Jewish holidays, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

To order a copy of the Food Allergy News Holiday Cookbook, please call 1-800-929-4040 or visit Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Posted by David at 9:52 AM

November 25, 2005

Managing the Holiday Season with Allergies

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology suggests the following 12 tips to help you manage the season:

1. Before decorating a live Christmas tree, allow it to dry out on an enclosed porch or garage. You also may want to explore whether the tree retailer has a shaking machine, which will physically remove some allergens from the tree.

2. Clean artificial Christmas trees outside before decorating. They can gather mold and dust in storage.

3. Wash fabric decorations in hot, soapy water before displaying.

4. Use plastic, metal or glass decorations that cannot trap dust mites.

5. When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.

6. When attending holiday parties, inform the host about your food allergy and ask about the ingredients used to prepare the meal.

7. Carry self-injectable epinephrine in case you accidentally eat a food to which you are allergic. Homemade items do not have ingredient lists and can be contaminated with trace amounts of allergenic foods through contact with storage containers, baking sheets and utensils.

8. Remind family members and friends that strict avoidance is the only way to manage food allergies and even one little bite can hurt.

9. If visiting relatives' homes who have pets, take medication before arriving to minimize a possible reaction.

10. The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. Pay attention to your stress level, which can sometimes lead to an asthma attack.

11. Ask your relatives and friends to avoid burning wood in the fireplace. The smoke can trigger an asthma attack.

12. Dust mites can be especially troubling when traveling away from home, take your own pillow with an allergen-proof cover and request down-free pillows if staying in a hotel.

Following simple preventative measures can help avoid potential allergy and asthma symptoms. Being prepared to treat your symptoms if they occur is also important. If your symptoms persist, consult with an allergist/immunologist who is specially trained in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.

Posted by David at 9:30 AM

October 12, 2005

Boo! Halloween with food allergies... Scarey!

Halloween is upon us once again, so how does our family deal with the food allergy issue? Well, let's start by saying, we live in a warm weather climate, so that affects our approach somewhat (not too much protective clothing like gloves and long sleeves).

Here are some things we do to keep our kids safe this time of year:

1) Stay with them the entire time (our oldest is only 9 yrs old). This is just good advice for all parents. Letting your child walk around in the dark without you just isn't a smart thing to do.

2) Have the kids wear light gloves. They can still handle all the candy and drop into their bag safely. Long sleeve shirts might help as well.

3) Trade up. Right when they get home, have them trade a piece of non-safe candy for a safe one. (Simply buy a couple bags of safe candy ahead of time.)

4) Just say no. Its okay to say "no thank you" to a peanut butter cup and the likes.

5) No eating on the run. When its dark out, you wouldn't want to make a mistake on which candy the child was snacking on.

6) Most of all - Be prepared. EpiPen, cell phone, flashlight. Ask yourself, "What if...?"

There are some good resources on the FAAN site on this topic too. Take a look and develop your own customized management plan.

Posted by David at 4:52 PM