Food Allergy Education Resources

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month and May 10-16 was Food Allergy Awareness Week. In honor of that, I worked hard over the last couple of months to create some food allergy education resources!

As a food allergy mom, I’ve seen the need for creative ways to explain food allergies to kids. So, I decided to create an educational activity book geared towards kids ages 3-8. It helps explain food allergies through interactive, printable pages that can be used at home or in school! 

If you have a child with food allergies and are looking for a way to educate other kids about those allergies, this if for you! If you are looking for a way to teach your child about food allergies so they can better support their friends, this is also for you!

The activity book is available through my Etsy shop here.

It’s only $5.50 and $1 of every activity book purchased will be donated to Food Allergy Research & Education to support food allergy research!

Each order contains a 6-page activity book that you can print as many times as you’d like once you have purchased it! I used the book with my kindergarten daughter and she loved it! It was great to teach her more about her sister’s allergies but also to teach her about other food allergies as well. I hope it’s as useful for some of you as it is for us!

The second thing I created is a food allergy coloring book just for kids with food allergies! It contains a page specific to each of the top 8 allergies. It covers the very basics of what it means to have a food allergy and gives them coloring pages to talk through it! It’s available to purchase from my Etsy shop here for only $3. 

These were truly a labor of love for me and I would be extremely grateful if you would consider using it with your own children! Every kid who knows about food allergies is a kid that can help keep my daughter safe! ❤️❤️

Super Simple Fried Ice Cream!

Ever wanted friend ice cream but didn’t want to mess with actually having to deep-fry something? Well look no further! Here is a super easy 5 minute recipe! Added bonus – you can even make this vegan!

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla ice cream of your choosing (I used a vegan ice cream to keep it allergy friendly!)
  • Corn flakes (or you can substitute Frosted Flakes or Honey Nut Frosted Flakes)
  • Sugar
  • Margarine or butter (again, I used a vegan margarine to keep it allergy friendly)
  • Honey and/or chocolate syrup

Directions:

  • Scoop out your ice cream and put it in the freezer.
  • Add margarine, corn flakes, and a bit of sugar to a small pan and sauté the corn flakes for a few minutes. If you choose to use Frosted Flakes or Honey Nut Frosted Flakes (like I did here!) you can skip the extra sugar.
  • Lay the corn flakes onto a plate and gently roll your ice cream in the corn flake mixture. You can use your hands to add extra of the corn flake mixture into your ice cream.
  • Drizzle with honey (pictured), chocolate syrup, or any topping of your choice. You could also add whipped cream and a cherry if you want to get extra fancy. 😉

This super simple treat is so yummy! Enjoy!

Safe Alternative to Dyeing Easter Eggs

If you’re like us and have an egg allergy in your house, you may be looking for safe alternatives to dyeing eggs for Easter.

We all know that you can buy plastic eggs for candy, but dyeing eggs was always half the fun when I was growing up. It was something I wanted to do with my kids too, and with my oldest, I didn’t think twice about it. Then my second daughter was diagnosed with an egg allergy and I began wondering what I could do with her to continue the tradition of dyeing eggs. This year I found two great alternatives!

First, I found these fun craft eggs at Target. These can’t be dyed, but they can be decorated with crayons and stickers! They even come with some stickers in the package. Best part, these can be found in their Bullseye spot for only $3!

Second, my husband found these DIY eggs at Walmart and these can be dyed! So cool! They look just like real eggs and can be dyed without having to worry about an egg allergy!

Hope these help you include your food allergy kiddos in the traditions that we’ve all enjoyed throughout the years! Happy dyeing!

*Please note that you can find a lot of things like this online for delivery as well so no need to leave your house during this time! Stay safe everyone!

The Anxiety Returns

My son turned 6 months old about a week ago. He’s the final piece of the puzzle to our little family and has been such an amazing blessing! He’s rolling, laughing, and sleeping in his own crib in his own room. He’s growing up and it’s so fun to watch. Every milestone he hits makes me proud and emotional. But there’s one milestone that I’ve been secretly dreading…

I’m terrified of starting to try foods. Up until this point he’s been solely breastfed. As we begin to try solids, my nerves about food allergies start to rear their ugly heads.

We didn’t discover his big sister’s food allergies until she was almost a year old. (To see how we discovered her allergies, click here.) She had also been exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and she had a hard time learning to eat solids at the beginning. She was a little behind physically for awhile which made eating harder for her. (We got PT for that and it was AMAZING! But that’s a different story…) Because of that, we didn’t introduce allergens super early on. I also had basically no understanding of food allergies at the time so I had no idea about the research about how introducing early can help prevent allergies.

This time, I’m a little more well-informed. There is a lot of research about the benefits to introducing top allergens like peanut and egg earlier rather than later. (For some great links and articles, check out this page of the Food Allergy Research and Education’s website.) When we took Ezra to his 6 month appointment this week, his doctor recommended that we try peanut butter soon.

On one hand, I’m thankful for a progressive doctor that is trying to watch out for him! On the other hand, I’m terrified. I know that we need to do it. And in some ways, I feel more prepared this time around, but I can’t shake the anxiety and fear that comes with it. I’ve wondered since I was pregnant if he would end up with food allergies just like his sister. I’ve wondered what it would be like to have to worry about BOTH of them daily. I’ve wondered what we would do if he ended up with different allergens than Asa and we had to change our lifestyles once again.

Food allergies are one of those things that you don’t really understand until you’re faced with them. As least, I know I didn’t. I knew about them, but only in a hypothetical way. I didn’t know the reality of them. And the reality is plagued with lots of fear, frustration, inconvenience, and sometimes even anger. You wonder why this is happening to your child. You deal with the fact that not many people will understand the daily struggles you face. You pray that one day your child with grow out of their allergies or that a cure will be found.

I will most definitely update after we begin to try foods with him, but in the meantime, please be praying for us as we face a fear!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

People often think that cooking with food allergies is daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! I have a super yummy banana bread muffin recipe that I love to spruce up with things like chocolate chips or blueberries! Today I’m going to share the chocolate chip banana bread muffin recipe that is totally vegan! (So it’s perfect for dairy and egg allergies!)

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Nestle Simply Delicious semi-sweet morsels this time!)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately (minus the chocolate chips)
  • Combine the two bowls together
  • Add in chocolate chips
  • Put batter into baking cups in a muffin/cupcake pan. Bake for 23-25 minutes. (You can also make as a banana bread loaf for 55-60 minutes, but I think the muffins cook a little more evenly!)

Like I mentioned above, I love to make these with blueberries as well (this is how my husband prefers them), but my oldest daughter and I LOVE the chocolate ones for a sweet treat 🙂

I wanted to highlight the vegan chocolate chips we used! They are Nestle Simply Delicious Semi-Sweet Morsels. We bought these at Target. There are a wide variety of dairy-free chocolates out there now so I encourage you to go seek them out! I highlighted another one of them on a different blog here. You seriously can’t tell the difference between “real” chocolate chips and these!

If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it!

The BugaBees – A Children’s Book About Food Allergies

At one of Asa’s first allergist appointments, I noticed a book they had in the room. It was called “The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies” by Amy Recob, and after giving it a quick glance, I jotted it down in my notes on my phone. We had just learned about her food allergies and I was still pretty overwhelmed (as if that’s gone away now… ha!). I thought to myself, “maybe this could be helpful later” and then I kind of forgot about it for several months.

When I was making Asa’s Christmas at the request of family last month, I remembered the book. Thankfully, her great grandma got it for her and we’ve loved reading it already!

The book focuses on the top 8 allergens: peanut, egg, milk, soy, fish, wheat, shellfish, and tree nuts. In Asa’a case, she has three of the top 8 (milk, egg, and peanut). These 8 foods account for 90% of all allergic reactions. In the book, each BugaBee has a different allergen. They talk about their allergy and focus on the fact that they can enjoy other foods even though they have an allergy. At the end of the book, there is a cool little section that has a page for every allergy where it really tries to help the child understand the individual allergen, identify foods that contain the allergen, and learn ways to tell people that they have the food allergy and need to avoid that food.

My daughter is only 2, so explaining her food allergies to her has been hard. I feel like this book is a great introduction for her and helps up explain the food allergies in a simple, yet effective way. It also tries to focus on the fact that food allergies don’t ruin all of your fun, which I think is really important as kids learn their allergies and start to see other kids eating things that they can’t. On their website, thebugabees.com, it says that the books “are intended to inspire confidence and camaraderie among the millions of children all around the world living with food allergies.” What a beautiful thing!

If you have a child with food allergies or you know a child with food allergies, this could be a really thoughtful and cute gift idea for them! I know we will read it more and more as Asa gets a little older and starts to understand her food allergies better.

Becoming a Food Allergy Mom

On November 27, 2018, we found out that my 11-month-old daughter was allergic to dairy. I suspected she might be after two strange incidents. The first incident involved vomiting violently after eating a new baby puree. When I checked the ingredients of the tub of baby food, I saw that it had pineapple and milk – two things she had never had before. I wondered if that could be a cause but I quickly dismissed the thought and returned to life as normal. A month or so later while eating out at a restaurant, my daughter got ahold of a butter packet on the table. She chewed on it, busted it open, and made a mess. I didn’t think much of it – after all, my kids have done much worse before. But about 10 minuted later, I noticed that she had a swollen upper lip.

At first I thought she must have hit it when the packet exploded. Then my mom brain kicked in – what if this was the milk in the butter? Could she be having an allergic reaction? Again, I sort of dismissed my thought but her lip was only getting worse so we decided to be safe and head to urgent care.

The doctor said that it did, indeed, look like an allergic reaction. My head started spinning. There’s no way she’s allergic to milk, right? Not my kid. We made a follow up with our pediatrician who referred us to an allergist just in case. Two weeks before my daughter’s first birthday (you know… the one where they are start drinking whole cow’s milk…) we found out that she had a dairy allergy. What did this mean??? They ordered us an epipen, quickly taught us how to use it, gave us about 20 sheets of information about allergies, asked if we had any questions and sent us on our way. Did I have any questions? Um… yeah… about a thousand. I couldn’t even wrap my head around this food allergy. No one else in my family or my husband’s family had ever had a food allergy. I had no idea what it really meant. But boy, was I about to find out.

Within a couple months, our allergist had us try a few other foods – soy, egg, peanut. Soy didn’t produce an allergy. Thank God! One down! When my husband tried peanut butter one day while I was at work, he thought we had made it through that one as well. She was acting fine. But the moment I walked in the front door after work, I saw a tiny spot on her skin. We started checking her and the hives literally started spreading before our eyes. We called 911. I had to give the epipen. My daughter was crying hysterically. I was putting on a brave face but inside I was terrified. We went to the hospital to be monitored. Thankfully, the epipen worked and we were discharged within a few hours.

Another month went by and we introduced egg. This time, we were both home when we did it – we were scared to do it alone. Her reaction to the egg was scarier than anything we had ever experienced. She broke out in hives. BAD hives. So bad that they spread to every inch of her body. I called 911 to be safe. I wanted them to check her lungs. While on the phone with them, my daughter started wheezing. My husband and I looked at each other and knew that the epipen was needed. I once again slammed the needle into my daughter’s leg. She once again cried. We were once again terrified. We went to the hospital, as you always should after administering an epipen. But this time was worse.

The hives started spreading again. She was crying and lethargic. She was laying on me and not letting go. I was praying – literally. The doctor said they were going to have to do another round of epi. They went to place the order. I was filled with fear. Why wasn’t this working? Why was she so lethargic? Was she going to be ok? I prayed again – literally. Right before the doctor came back in the room, her hives started subsiding. She started acting more like herself. Thankfully, we escaped having to administer more medicine, but the fear remained.

My husband and I went home that day more scared than ever. It was the first time we had REALLY seen the potential danger of her food allergies. This was more than hives. This had effected her breathing, and that’s something you never want to see your child go through. From that moment on, we became more vigilant than ever. Throughout the past year, we’ve learned a ton. We still mess up. Food allergies are really difficult to navigate. And out of that, this blog/site was born. My goal is help provide support, educate others, and share some tips and tricks along the way! Like it or not, I’m a food allergies mom. I hope this will help some others out there like me!