Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sara Lee Response & Pecan Pie

First off, I got a "no response" response from Sara Lee. It is clearly a form response and does not address any of the concerns in my complaint:

Dear Leigha,

Thank you for contacting Sara Lee. It is always important to hear from our consumers, and we appreciate your comments regarding the Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread.Sara Lee is committed to providing quality products and service to our consumers. Please be assured that all comments are helpful in achieving our goal of customer satisfaction. It is only by meeting the needs of the consumers like you that we can continue to be successful. Your feedback will be shared with our marketing department.Thank you for your business! Should you have any comments or questions in the future, please contact us via our website at www.saralee.com or by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-323-7117. Our representatives are available Monday-Friday between the hours of 7am and 6pm CST.

Sincerely,
Mindy
Sara Lee Consumer Affairs Representative

* * * *

Hopefully my complaint will actually make it to someone who will care enough to send me a real response, but I'm not holding my breath.

In other news, yesterday I ate nuts for the first time in about 2 years. I stopped eating nuts when I got pregnant with my second daughter, Leighton, because our allergist advised that doing that might help prevent her from having allergies. I kept avoiding them throughout her first year because I was nursing her and didn't want to expose her to them through my breastmilk. But since she recently tested negative to all of the common allergens and the doctor said it was okay to expose her to whatever foods I wanted, I have been given the green light to eat peanuts/tree nuts again (and fish and shellfish, the other two things I was avoiding) even though I'm still nursing her.

I'm really not that big of a peanut or tree nut eater. I used to eat a fair amount of peanut butter, but being off of it for so long, I've pretty much lost the taste for it (although every once in a while I still crave a Reese's peanut butter cup). One thing I have not lost the taste for, though, is pecan pie. I am a Louisiana native and it was a staple of my diet growing up. My mom's family makes the best pecan pie in the world. Prior to discovering Ainsley's allergies, either my mom or my aunt would make me an entire pecan pie every Thanksgiving and Christmas (and I would eat the whole thing by myself in about three days).

So last night, my husband and I (sans kids) went out with my best friend and her husband, who were in town from Boston. We went to a dessert place that had - you guessed it - pecan pie. So I ordered a piece. For reasons I can't quite articulate, I felt vaguely guilty in doing this, like nuts are some sort of contraband. But after I got over that, I quite enjoyed the pie. It was not as good as my mom's, for sure, but it still satisfied the craving.

One notable thing about the dessert place we went to was that it was the site of Ainsley's worst allergic reaction, which was almost exactly two years ago. We had gone there for a Mother's Day brunch. This was back when I was still stupid and would allow Ainsley to eat a lot of restaurant food. She ate some chicken fingers for lunch, and did fine, but things turned badly when we gave her some pink meringue cookies for dessert (meringue cookies are the signature dessert of this restaurant). In case you don't know, meringue cookies are made of three things - egg white, sugar, and food coloring.

At this point, I'm sure you're wondering why we would ever give an egg-allergic kid pure egg white (the white being the allergenic part of the egg). The answer is simply that we had no idea she was allergic to eggs. Although my husband loves eggs, I don't and so we never ate a lot of egg dishes at home. The most I would use them for is as an ingredient in a baked good. Since Ainsley had had eggs in baked goods before - and had also eaten things with mayonnaise in them a few times - I assumed she wasn't allergic.

Boy, was I wrong. That day, she took two bites of one of the meringue cookies and put it down. I asked if she wanted more and she looked at me seriously and said no. Shortly after that, she told me her mouth hurt. Getting a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, I hoped she might just have bitten her tongue. But my fears were confirmed when, a minute or two later, she started vomiting. As soon as she stopped throwing up, I gave her Benadryl, knowing she was in the midst of an allergic reaction. Then hives started appearing all over her face - the most I have ever seen. Her eyes swelled almost shut, and she became quiet. We took her out to the car and - seeing that she was becoming somewhat lethargic (but still conscious and talking) - I gave her the Epi-Pen and we quickly drove to the closest hospital. On the way to the hospital, I kept asking her what her name was, what my name was, and what Dave's name was to keep her conscious and talking to me. She was barely whispering the answers. That car ride was, no question, the scariest time in my life as a parent.

Thankfully, a few minutes after arriving at the hospital, the Benadryl started taking effect, the hives started disappearing, and she was acting like herself again. A few days later, I took her to the allergist, who tested her for egg and confirmed that she was indeed allergic. Very allergic. Her CAP-RAST # to egg was 35 (the higher the number, the more likely the chance of an allergic reaction). For comparison, her number to milk was 14 and to peanuts was 12.

In hindsight, there were earlier signs Ainsley was allergic to eggs (for instance, she had a few minor reactions after my mom and my mother-in-law had given her eggs), but I think I had downplayed those incidents because, in my mind, I didn't want to consider the possibility that Ainsley could be allergic to more than just milk and peanuts. I am just thankful that Ainsley's monster allergic reaction happened while I was there so I could administer Benadryl and an Epi-Pen quickly and take her to the hospital.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Update: Complaint letter to Sara Lee

In case any of you want to complain to the company about its recent (and unannounced) addition of milk to several of its breads, you can do so here. Feel free to use my letter as a template. Here it is:

To whom it may concern:

I am writing because my 4-year-old daughter is severely allergic to milk and, without warning, you recently changed the ingredient labels on several of your breads to say that they now contain milk. Previously, the ingredient labels did not list milk. For years, we (including not only myself, but my mother and mother-in-law) have purchased your bread because it was safe for my milk-allergic daughter. We were loyal customers but, because of the recent change, we have had to switch brands to find a new bread that is safe for her.

Last year, your company began adding milk to its wheat hot dog buns. Prior to this, you notified the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), the leading food allergy group in the U.S., and had it issue a Special Allergy Alert to its members warning that Sara Lee planned to begin adding milk to its wheat hot dog buns. I saw this alert and became aware of the change.

There was no such alert issued before your recent change to add milk to several of your loaf breads, including Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread and Sara Lee Hearty & Delicious Bread (whole wheat, multigrain, and oat varieties). Thankfully, I caught the change yesterday after I picked up a loaf of the bread to put it in my shopping cart. However, another family may not be so lucky - they might feed the bread to their milk-allergic child and the child might suffer a serious allergic reaction.

I am thus writing to complain about two things. First, I ask you to reconsider the decision to put milk in these breads. By doing this, you have eliminated as consumers a very loyal group of families who are dealing with milk allergies and bought your bread because we considered it safe. Second, I ask you to contact FAAN at (703) 691-3179 to notify it that you have added milk to some of your breads so that it can notify its thousands of members, many of whom have milk allergies, of the change to avoid the potential for allergic reactions from eating your bread.

Thank you for your time.

Leigha

Arghhh - ingredient changes in the brands we use

So the big event lately has been that Leighton turned 1! I will post about that soon, after I have a chance to upload some pics from her birthday party.

In other news, yesterday I went grocery shopping and was shocked to find that the Sara Lee bread I usually buy now has milk in it. I am really glad I read the ingredient label before throwing it in my cart. I was so mad. Last summer, Sara Lee started putting milk in its hot dog buns. That was the only brand that my grocery store carried that was milk-free. So we resorted to Sara Lee deli rolls, which are like hot dog buns but the top and the bottom are in two separate pieces (not connected) - the fact that the pieces are separate makes it really difficult to eat a hot dog in them, but we make due.

Now I find that Sara Lee has started putting milk in the regular bread that I buy. I checked and I couldn't find any Sara Lee loaves that didn't contain milk. After looking at other brands, I finally found one - Earthgrains - that only contained soy and wheat. It did not have a "May contain nuts" or similar warning so I bought it. Ainsley had a piece this morning and did fine, but I hate having to switch brands. We food allergy families become so dependent on certain brands that when this type of thing happens, it is really unnerving. Lately I have been baking a lot of bread so one day I might just stop buying bread altogether and just make all the bread that we eat (I guess I could even figure out how to make hot dog buns). It tastes better, that's for sure.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Food desensitization studies and multiple food allergies

Today the LA Times featured an interesting story on food allergy research; you can read it here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-peanut16-2009mar16,0,3911635.story .

Many, if not most, parents of severely food allergic children are aware of and have been following the study described in this article for some time. The results are encouraging, but some parents have expressed (understandable) skepticism at both the method used in the study (feeding your child tiny amounts of a food that might hurt her) and the projected outcome (do we really know the long-term effects of this? Wouldn't it be better to wait to see if the child naturally outgrows it?).

Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while know that, several months ago, I investigated a treatment option like this that's offered in my city, but ultimately decided not to do it after our allergist advised that it was too early for anyone to be providing this therapy in a clinical (as opposed to research) setting.

I had another hang-up with this treatment ... even if it works as it should, it is still not a quick and easy cure for those like Ainsley who have multiple food allergies. There are research trials like this going on for other foods besides peanuts - including milk and eggs, two of the other foods to which Ainsley is allergic. Aside from those foods, she's also severely allergic to most tree nuts (she is more minorly allergic to sesame and coconut, so we'll leave those aside for the moment).

If we decided to participate in a food desensitization program, she would have to go through it for each allergen ... one at a time. For each allergen, the program would require a hefty time commitment for the first six months (8 hours in the doctor's office on the first day, then 3 hours a week in the office for the next six months or so, and also the time it takes to administer the "maintenance doses" at home 3 times a day on the days you're not in the office). Each program would also cost a lot of money and insurance would not cover all of the charges.

So, as great as this food allergy research is, there are many cons when it comes to applying it to a kid like mine. Ainsley is not only allergic to peanuts, eggs, and milk, but also to about 10 different kinds of tree nuts. I really just can't picture us going through a lengthy and expensive food desensitization protocol for all of those allergens. Don't get me wrong - eliminating even one of them would be great. But since it wouldn't really be able to eliminate all of her food allergies (particularly to the tree nuts), this form of treatment would not give her a life in which we will be able to forego reading ingredient lists and approaching restaurant and banquet foods - particularly desserts - with caution. For that, we will have to keep hoping that she will naturally outgrow all of her allergies and/or that a better option will become available in the next several years.

A final note about the LA Times article ... it states:

"According to reports at the allergy meeting, the stress of managing a child's peanut allergy weighs most heavily upon mothers, imposes a heavy financial burden on families and limits family vacations.

Among the findings: 68% of families with a food-allergic child limit where they will go on vacation, with most refusing to travel outside the U.S.... Compared with the general population, those who care for children with food allergies were more likely to stop working, reduce work hours and incur financial problems."

I can certainly attest that "the stress of managing a child's [food] allergy weighs most heavily upon mothers." With all due respect to her dad (love you, Dave), I wonder about all the things that would fall through the cracks with regard to Ainsley's food allergy management if I weren't around. Sometimes it feels like I am constantly communicating with her teachers about safe foods for school projects or parties, talking with our family members and close friends about what foods are safe for her to eat at their houses, or checking Epi-Pens and Benadryl to make sure the have not expired and are with her whereever she is. I am also so very thankful that we can afford for me to work part-time so that I can have time to do all of these things. Even if it hadn't been in my plan to reduce my work hours, I think Ainsley's condition would have forced me to do so.

Also, on the vacation front, I am glad to know I'm not the only food-allergy parent who doesn't consider a vacation outside of the U.S. to be a realistic possibility for us. Dave and I have talked about it and it just seems next to impossible because we would not be able to figure out what Ainsley could eat that was safe (especially since most other countries don't have the same food allergy labeling laws). As it is, even our domestic vacations require a lot of pre-planning and coordination.

One of the saddest things about her food allergies is that I am afraid it will keep her from exploring the world. Everytime I have one of those thoughts, I make myself take a step back and repeat the mantra I have used ever since we first discovered her food allergies - "One day at a time." Don't worry about whether she'll be able to go away to college and eat in a college dormitory, or about whether I might have to make her wedding cake myself. Just take things as they come and don't try to predict the future.

Thankfully, at this stage of the game, Ainsley doesn't want to go to Paris; she wants to go to Disneyworld, and that's a trip food allergies won't stop us from taking.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fun food allergy finds - rice cheese & Cherrybrook mini-cookies

We went shopping at Whole Foods today. I try to go at least once a month. I don't go much more often than that because I always spend wayyyyy more money than I expect to. But, whenever I go, I have such a fun time walking down each aisle looking for any new products we might want to try, and I always seem to find at least a couple of new things.

This time I found two. The first is vegan rice cheese made by Galazy Nutritional Foods, the same company that makes the "Vegan" label soy slices. I had seen rice cheese before, of course, but it had casein (milk protein) in it so I never bought any. The package advertises this rice cheese as "new" so I'm assuming the company just recently made the rice cheese vegan. I got the cheddar flavor because that's the only flavor WF had. I am excited to try it - we are always looking for a better cheese substitute.

The other exciting find was boxes of Cherrybook Kitchen mini-cookies. I am familiar with the Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes, which are allergen-free, but have never seen the mini-cookies before (this is not a mix; it's boxes of actual cookies). WF had snickerdoodle, chocolate chip, and fudge brownie flavors; we snagged a box of the brownie cookies.

The only downsides to these cookies is that (a) a box costs $3.99 and (b) the allergen warning says that the cookies "share equipment with products containing dairy and egg" but that "we have strict manufacturing and cleaning protocols and test for the presence of peanuts, dairy, and eggs." The fact that Cherrybrook markets specifically to those suffering from food allergies and has implemented strict protocols for the factory gave me enough assurance to buy a box for Ainsley (also, she has never really had a reaction to milk and egg when they have been baked in something like a cake or cookies).

We haven't tasted either yet but will post the results when we do.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Could my daughter's milk allergy have caused my husband to become lactose intolerant?

Funny thing about food allergies ... it causes you to look at your own diet, and your body's reactions to certain foods, much more closely. For instance, after we discovered Ainsley's food allergies, I discovered that I was actually slightly allergic to sunflower seeds (I found this out after I tried some Sunbutter for the first time and my mouth got very itchy. The last time I ate sunflower seeds I got the itchiness plus a bad stomach-ache). I also developed an intolerance to chickpeas/garbanzo beans - I started getting terrible stomach cramps after eating them (my reaction to them grew worse over time, probably because I had really never eaten them until I started cooking with them to give Ainsley more protein; once I started ingesting a lot of them, I started feeling worse and worse each time I ate them).

Now we have discovered another potential food issue in our family: Dave might be lactose-intolerant. He has noticed that, over the past few months, he would suddenly get nauseous and, at times, throw up after eating a meal. He had no idea what was causing it, so he decided to monitor what he ate. He just called to tell me what he thinks the culprit is: cheese. He doesn't ever drink milk or eat ice cream; the only real dairy he consumes these days is cheese, and it's not that often because we eat dairy-free at home. Today he ate a cheeseburger for lunch and felt ill. Lately, he's felt the same way after going to Mexican restaurants, where he loves to order queso. He is going to visit his doctor soon to discuss this possibility and, if it is lactose intolerance, find out how to deal with it.

I am wondering if the fact that we've seriously reduced our dairy intake in the past few years might have caused Dave to lose the ability to digest milk. I know you need a special enzyme to digest dairy; could he have lost it from not eating dairy on a regular basis? I am curious whether, for instance, vegans who decide to reincorporate dairy into their diets have these problems? I will definitely be looking into this further.

Update - okay, I've done a little research on the internet, and it suggests that cutting dairy out of your diet probably won't cause lactose intolerance. But the older one gets, the more likely he is to lose his ability to digest lactose, so it might just be that Dave has reached the end of the road in terms of his ability to digest dairy.

Took the non-food-allergic kid out for a test drive ...

and she performed as advertised. Meaning, I fed her a food that would have made Ainsley have a monster allergic reaction, and she was absolutely fine. While Ainsley was at ballet yesterday, my dad and I went to eat at a Chinese food restaurant nearby. As those of you with food-allergic children know, ethnic restaurants (like Chinese, Thai, and Indian) are definite no-no's because they cook with basically all of the major allergens and there is a high probability of cross-contamination even if you order something that does not contain an allergen as an ingredient.

Despite my trepidation, I let Leighton eat some veggies from the fried rice I had ordered. I literally held my breath as I gave her the first few bites. After a few minutes, when it was obvious she was having no problem with the food, I started to relax, and began to fully realize what a difference it is to have a non-food-allergic child. It is just so ... easy. No that raising any type of kid - allergic or not - is that easy. Parenting is tough business for anyone. But still, the thought that I can feed one of my children basically anything is so liberating, emotionally and logistically. I don't have to watch her cautiously any time she eats something I didn't prepare, and I don't have to take special food for her when we go out. When she gets into grade school, she will be able to eat cafeteria food without me negotiating with the principal, the counselor, the teacher, and the cafeteria staff!

Please don't interpret my rejoicing at this to be whining about all I have to do with my food-allergic child. It is what it is, and we are more than happy to do whatever it takes to keep Ainsley safe because she is our wonderful, wonderful daughter and we love her more than life. It's just that I've never had the typical parenting experience when it comes to food, and now I'm starting to get a taste of it with Leighton. And it is fantastic to know that I don't have to be anxious, food-allergy-wise, about both of my children.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mystery hives

Last night something happened that seems to be really common among those with food allergies ... hives started appearing on Ainsley and we had no idea what had caused them. This happens a few times a year with her. All of a sudden, she will start itching - sometimes it's her stomach, sometimes her arms or legs, and sometimes her face - and little hives will pop up. The last several times it has happened, we have had no idea what the cause was, either because she didn't eat anything around the time the hives started to appear or what she ate was something she's had before or something we're 99.9% sure wouldn't have anything she's allergic to in it (barring the ever-present possibility of cross-contamination).

Last night, while at my in-laws', she ate dinner (brisket, green beans, carrots, and a baked potato) and then my mother-in-law gave her a bath in their big garden tub. After the bath, Ainsley ate some chocolate cake that my mother-in-law had made the night before - it was from a Duncan Hines mix but the only allergen listed in the ingredient list was wheat and Ainsley had eaten some of it the day before without incident.

About 20-30 minutes after the bath and about 15-20 minutes after eating the cake, Ainsley started scratching at her stomach. I looked and saw some red splotchy areas and a little hive, so I put some hydrocortisone on it. I kept checking the area and saw that, over the next few minutes, a few more tiny hives had formed and the red spotchy area had spread to more of her stomach. So we broke out the Benadryl and after about a half-hour or so, Ainsley stopped complaining of the itching and the hives went away.

I wasn't really worried during this time - when Ainsley has had a serious allergic reaction to something she's ingested, the first sign has always been vomiting, and she had no problems like that last night. In fact, she said she felt completely fine except for the itching. The fact that she had no internal symptoms (such as itching in her mouth or vomiting) makes me think that it might have been something from the bath; perhaps residue from a cleaning product that had been used to clean the bathtub. With regard to baths, we are always careful about what soaps we use on Ainsley (nothing with dairy or nut ingredients, which are so common in soaps and lotions); the only thing my mom-in-law used on Ainsley was a very plain Johnson & Johnson soap and, right after the bath, some Eucerin lotion.

One time a couple of years ago she had hives on her legs and the tops of her feet after a bath, but we had also eaten at a restaurant shortly before that and let her have some corn chips that we had ordered, so we were never sure if it was something about the bath or something that had gotten on the corn chip, perhaps when it was in the fryer with other foods.

The frustrating thing about mystery hives is that it so hard to pinpoint their source. You can try to narrow it down but, really, it's impossible unless it happens again and you can see a pattern. I guess I am just glad this doesn't happen very often with her. But when it does, it is a reminder that, even though she's been free of a serious allergic reaction for almost two years, she still has allergies and we have to continue being very careful with her.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Big news: Leighton appears not to have food allergies!

Because Leighton is almost one, we took her to Ainsley's allergist yesterday for skin testing to determine whether she has food allergies. The allergist told us that siblings of severely food allergic children have 10 times the risk of having food allergies as kids without a food-allergic brother or sister, so we were nervous but still optimistic because she has shown no signs of having food allergies other than her bout with eczema a few weeks ago. He tested her for egg, milk, soy, peanut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, walnut, fish (aka "fish mix"), & shellfish ("shellfish mix"). If you're not familiar with skin testing, the allergist takes a large area of the body - usually the arm, leg, or back (in both my girls' cases, the doctor tested for a lot of things so he used their backs), writes identification numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) on different parts of the back, and applies a tiny pinprick's worth of the designated allergen next to the appropriate number. Leighton's back looked like this:

1 (prick with egg) 5 (prick with almond)

2 (prick with milk) 6 (prick with cashew)

3 (prick with soy) 7 (prick with hazelnut)

4 (prick with peanut)

Aside from these substances, the child gets two more pricks. Below the numbers, the allergist writes an "H", which stands for histamine, and a "C", which stands for control, spaced several inches apart. By the "H", the allergist pricks the skin with a substance that would cause a hive on everyone. By the "C", the child is pricked with something that would not cause a hive on anyone. These are just to ensure that the child's skin prick tests, in general, are accurate.

So after the kid's skin is pricked with these various substances, you have to sit in the exam room for another 15-20 minutes to see if any hives develop where the pricks are. When we had this done with Ainsley (last August), the pricks and the waiting were a completely miserable experience because she developed large hives to practically all of the ~20 substances (mostly different kinds of tree nuts) she was tested for. She was crying and complaining the entire time about how itchy her back was and how much the pricks hurt. I was so traumatized by the skin testing we did with Ainsley that I made Dave come with me yesterday so I wouldn't have to endure 20 minutes of a screaming baby by myself.

Well, I am thankful to say that with Leighton, it was a completely different experience. She barely noticed the pricks themselves (whereas Ainsley started screaming when the nurse did the pricks, probably because the substances actually did cause pain since her skin is very sensitive to them). She played happily for the next 15 minutes until the allergist and nurse came back in. Her back looked amazing - there was no hive except by the "H", where there was supposed to be one. Everyone was so relieved to see that she had no hive to any of the foods they had put on her. (Had she had a hive to anything, they would have measured the size of it - predictably, the bigger the hive, the more allergic one usually is to something. She would have then had a blood test to determine what her "CAP-RAST" number, a number between 0 - 100, was to the allergen. Generally, the higher the number, the higher risk that she would have a serious allergic reaction to the substance if she ingested it.)

The allergist told us that, based on these results, Leighton can basically eat anything we want to feed her. Interestingly, he even gave us clearance to feed her fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts. He said that there is so much evidence now that delaying introduction of an allergen does not prevent a child from having an allergy to it, and may actually increase the chances of the child being allergic to it, that he no longer recommends avoiding food allergens until a child is older. He did warn, however, that if we choose to introduce something like peanut butter into her diet, it is a good idea to try and get her to consume the food regularly so her body will stay tolerant of it. Since we told him it's near impossible to guarantee we can feed her peanuts/tree nuts on a regular basis because we don't have it at home and her preschool is nut-free, he said we can just not worry about the nuts right now and she can be introduced to them later, whenever we feel comfortable doing so.

The allergist then talked with us about the logistics of managing a home with a child who is severely allergic to so many things and with a child who appears to be allergic to nothing. To maintain Ainsley's safety, he suggested continuing with our current arrangement of not eating anything at home that she is allergic to, and instead sending foods that contain dairy and eggs to preschool for Leighton so she can eat them away from Ainsley. We will also allow Leighton to eat these foods at restaurants (we can actually feed her off of our plate!) and at birthday parties.

Because Ainsley was our first child, we have never known what it is like to have a kid who is able to eat anything she wants. It is a whole new world and I am very nervous, especially about whether Ainsley will feel jealous that Leighton can eat anything while we have to feed her special food. The two scenarios I am most worried about at this point are (a) when we eat at a restaurant and Leighton wants something Ainsley can't have, and (b) when we're at a birthday party and Leighton can eat what is being served while Ainsley has to have her homemade cupcake. But, on the other hand, I can't imagine denying Leighton these things in the name of protecting Ainsley's feelings, because it is also important for Leighton to have as normal of a childhood as possible and I think that includes allowing her to eat normal foods. If anyone has any advice on juggling food-allergic and non-food-allergic kids, I am all ears.

Despite my worries, I am still over the moon about this news!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Easter candy molds

I just ordered several different types of chocolate bunny molds from this site. I picked out a large bunny mold, some bite-sized bunny molds, and some chocolate lollipop bunny-head molds. I am so excited to get them (you know you are a mom when things like this excite you). I will show you the finished products soon. Ainsley has been begging for a chocolate Easter bunny and I am so happy she will get one this year!

To make the chocolate, I usually use the recipe from the Kid-Pleasing Cookbook (see sidebar), which includes melting baking chocolate and mixing it with some shortening and powdered sugar (not a difficult recipe at all). However, this time I might be really lazy and just microwave some safe chocolate chips and pour the melted chocolate in the molds.

Storytime take II

Well, another nut sighting at the library. We went to storytime again today and the same lady brought peanut products for her kids again. This time she gave them peanut butter crackers and trail mix with peanuts and M&Ms to carry around. Like last time, her younger daughter was captivated by Leighton so I had to spend a good part of the program trying to keep the girl from touching the baby or kissing her with her peanut-butter-covered mouth. I was so close to saying something to the mom, but in the end I didn't, because I didn't want to look like the food police.

Then I began to wonder if I was a hypocrite, because I gave Ainsley and Leighton Ritz crackers to eat while we were there. The mother of a child with a serious wheat allergy could understandibly have a problem with that. Now, whenever I give my kids anything that has any allergen in it, I try to make sure they don't drop crumbs everywhere or get it all over some other kid, but it's not like I don't feed them any allergen-containing food in these types of public places. Maybe I should stop. I could always make sure to bring something like Enjoy Life bars that don't contain any of the top 8 allergens. I think I'm going to resolve to do this, because, knowing what I do about food allergies, I don't ever want to make another family feel uncomfortable or unsafe based on what my kids are eating.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Yummy snack/meal: Soy butter & banana crackers

We are having the yummiest lunch right now and it is so easy: take a reduced fat Wheat Thin, smear some soy nut butter (creamy or chunky) on it, and put a banana slice on top. This is seriously yummy - the flavors really go well together. Tastes even better when you drink chocolate soy or rice milk along with it! This time, Ainsley and I are having a few (okay, I'm trying to stop myself from eating 100 of them) before we go see Sleeping Beauty at a local puppet theater.