June 27, 2012

There's a new market in town...Fresh & Easy

In my perfect world, there is a mall a few blocks away from my house with about 5 different markets, each one with the few essentials I want and need every week.  As it is, I am running between Trader Joe's, Safeway, and Fresh & Easy.  With limited time during the week, it's frustrating that there isn't just one place that stocks everything I need.  

I got a one year anniversary flier in the mail yesterday for a new chain of markets that moved to our neighborhood.  I was excited about something moving in within walking distance of our house, but it takes a while to get acclimated to a new market, especially when you have food allergic children.  After a year and several visits, I am pleased to say that I am impressed by the efforts that Fresh & Easy has made to cater to a clientele with an ever growing list of dietary restrictions and food allergies.

The first thing I like about Fresh & Easy is their coupons.  They are plentiful, and although I know they are a marketing ploy, I appreciate them nonetheless.  They come in the mail and they come with the newspaper.  They're everywhere.

On top of that, the store is always impeccably clean and bright with ample parking and a few spaces earmarked for customers with children.  

Next, the bread.  Sandwiches for 3 kids at least 3 to 4 times a week and toast for breakfast means I buy a ton of bread.  You see that crazy lady buying two loaves of bread at a time?  That's me.  Rainbo bread used to be my go-to for sandwiches.  But since they changed their recipe a few years back to include dairy, we can't buy it anymore.  I am constantly checking ingredient labels on breads at every market I visit, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Fresh & Easy carries their own brand of white bread without dairy.  Soft and fresh tasting too.  Yippee!

After a bit more searching, I found a number of items that I cannot find at my local TJ's, including a variety of So Delicious frozen treats made with coconut milk instead of dairy.  Our favorites are the dairy free Minis vanilla sandwiches and the Minis vanilla bars.

Other Trader Joe's-less items found at Fresh & Easy include Vegenaise vegan mayonnaise, Daiya dairy-free mozzarella cheese shreds, Aidell's chicken apple sausage, and IM Healthy Soy Nut Butter.

Now, for my biggest con: there are no employees to help you check out.  It's all self-service.  I mean, minus the one who inevitably comes around when your machine stalls.  Which drives me nuts with the number of glitches those machines have yet to work out.

I still fill my cart to the brim at TJ's, and need to make my Safeway stop, but I know that my Fresh & Easy visits are definitely worthwhile too.

Now even though it does require a bit of effort, a new environment can inspire new meal ideas.  Here is my latest inspiration from shopping at Fresh & Easy: chicken salad sandwiches.  An oldie but goodie, one of the things I made pre-allergic children.  Now that I've started regularly stocking Vegenaise in our fridge, I can add these sandwiches to my weekly lunch rotation.  My version includes canned or rotisserie chicken, Vegenaise mayonnaise, chopped celery, chopped green onions, a squeeze of lemon, thawed frozen petite peas, chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add chopped apple or raisins for a touch of sweet if that's what you like.  My hubby and I love having a bowl of chicken salad stocked in the fridge.  Enjoy!

June 25, 2012

On the trail: in search of allergy-friendly granola bars

Our family had a blast camping over the weekend.  There's just nothing like a warm fire, S'mores, homemade scones, and seeing kids involved in endless fun activities that only involve trees, sticks, a few wheeled toys, a couple of hills, and an endless supply of dirt.  It's totally worth the five loads of laundry!
It is confirmed: a hill of dirt is even more engaging than a cardboard box!
Camping gave me the motivation to test-drive and tweak some more granola bar recipes.  While I really liked the last year's granola bars, a substantial portion of the ingredients was wheat-based.  I have been trying to cut down on my gluten/wheat intake.  I get bloated from eating pasta and a few months back suffered debilitating abdominal pain after eating foccaccia so I've been careful to add other healthy gluten-free grains into the mix.  Instead of trying to figure out substitutions for last year's granola recipe, I figured why not explore some new alternatives?

Granola bars without the dried cranberries
I found a very handy granola recipe on the fAnnetastic food blog, a nice site for recipes and tips for a healthy lifestyle.  Blogger Anne's recipe was already vegan and gluten-free.  I tweaked it a little to make it nut-free and reduced the amount of dried cranberries, which I found to be overwhelmingly sweet.  I used quinoa flour instead of the suggested garbanzo flour since that is what was in the pantry.  Quinoa flour added a nice slightly nutty (without the nuts!) taste which was nice for the earthly, natural taste of granola bars.  Both quinoa and garbanzo flours are protein-rich so whichever option you choose will be a nice addition to your bar.

The original recipe called for 2/3 cup of dried cranberries.  In my recipe below I reduced the amount of dried cranberries that the original recipe called for because I found the granola bars overly sweet.  Many of my camping friends didn't mind the full 2/3 cup of cranberries though!  In a second batch of granola bars I omitted the cranberries although and just used roasted pumpkin seeds and semisweet chocolate chips.  This was just right for me.  :)

GFCF Vegan Nut-free Granola  Bars
Adapted from the recipe for vegan & gluten free granola bars from fAnnetastic foods. 

2 Tbsp flaxmeal + 6 Tbsp warm water, mixed
1 3/4 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds or pepitas
1/3 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips  (I like Trader Joe's.  For soy-free, use Enjoy Life chips, mega chunks, or mini-chips.)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup maple syrup  

  1. Mix flaxmeal and warm water together.  Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, toss together all the dry ingredients
  3. Add sunflower seed butter and maple syrup to dry ingredients.  Combine well.  Then flatten mixture into a 13"x9" rectangular pan using a nonstick cooking utensil.  (I use a rice paddle -- perfect!)  I actually do not fully cover the pan, achieving an 11"x9" or 12"x9" rectangle-shape instead.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Let the pan cool completely before using a sharp knife to cut into bars.  Makes about 12-15 bars.

I also tried fAnnetastic's no-bake granola bar recipe.  Mine didn't hold together -- it could have been because I used maple syrup and sun butter in place of brown rice syrup and peanut butter -- but the resulting granola hash is a really tasty breakfast cereal or yogurt companion.  I saw a lot of other healthy, not-overly-hard recipes on the fAnnetastic blog that piqued my interest.  I will definitely be back to the site to try out more!

June 20, 2012

Oven baked pancakes

Pancakes are a favorite of mine.  I think I love them because of their contrasts: sweet but a little salty, soft on the inside but slightly crispy on the outside.  I also love the smell they leave in the kitchen after I've made a batch.  Awwww.....breakfast heaven in the air!

I love pan-fried pancakes but the daily chaos of our house makes the making of pancakes less attractive.  In the mornings, I am often trying to do way too many things already... enjoy my own breakfast in peace, exercise, put away dishes, make the kids lunch, finish a blog post (heh heh, totally true).  Anyway, the last thing I can afford to do is stay in front of the stove long enough to prevent burnt cakes!  And on the weekends, if we want to do a full fruit, eggs, bacon, pancakes extravaganza, it can be tricky to multitask. 

Last year I experimented and started to use the oven for pancakes instead of the stove.  Truth be told, they aren't as crispy or salty as pan-fried pancakes (no burn marks at all).  Baked pancakes do have their advantages, though.  Baking churns out evenly cooked pancakes and reduces clean-up.  Baking is probably less fattening because I don't have to grease up a skillet for each new cake.  And I can make square pancakes!

Below are directions for dairy-free, egg-free oven-baked pancakes.  If you are avoiding nuts or soy, feel free to use a milk alternative that suits you.  I have used Soy Dream Original and Trader Joe's Almond Milk with success.

Dairy-free, Egg-free Pancakes
Adapted from DeborahAM's 5 Minute Vegan Pancakes recipe on Food.com
2 cups white whole wheat flour
4 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar (I use organic sugar but turbinado or granulated sugar should work just as well)
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of cinnamon
2 cups safe milk substitute (I like Soy Dream Original.  We sometimes use almond milk, the one nut that my kids aren't allergic to!)
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

*Optional add-ins: frozen blueberries, sliced bananas, semisweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life and Trader Joe's both sell milk-free semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Earth Balance vegan margarine 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a 15"x10"x1" jelly pan with aluminum foil making sure the pan is also lined up the edges.  Grease foil.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together milk substitute, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add half of wet mixture to dry mixture and try to break down lumps.  Gently mix in the rest of the wet mixture. Some lumps are okay but try to break down all big lumps in the batter.  It's important not to overmix so that the batter doesn't get tough.
  5. After most large lumps are gone, pour batter into foiled, greased pan.  Spread batter evenly.
  6. You can gently top pancake batter with berries, sliced bananas, and/or chocolate chips.  Sometimes I offer a variety so I make a section of each!
  7. Cook in preheated oven for about 18-20 minutes or until the pancake is lightly browned and springy.  A toothpick poked in the center should come out clean.
  8. Take out pan and cool.  While the pan is cooling on the stovetop, you can take out a tablespoon of vegan Earth Balance and evenly spread it on the whole pancake to give it a richer color and flavor.
  9. The pancakes can be easily cut into attractive squares.  Or get creative and use cookie cutters!  Serve with syrup, fresh fruit, and all of your usual fixings.

June 18, 2012

Sushi anyone?

It hit 75 degrees in San Francisco Saturday--clearly, a beach day.  Once it hits 70, my kids melt right into puddles on the pavement.  I'm not sure how our suburban neighbors in 100 plus degree summer weather tolerate the heat.  So what's for dinner when it's so hot that no one feels like eating much?

The other day we had the perfect solution--sushi!  My kids love making and eating sushi, and there's no oven required.  Allow extra time for kids to help.

I am not going to claim to be a sushi expert--I'm far from it.  But the basic sushi roll recipe is fairly simple, and best of all, free of the top 8 allergens. 

If you've never tried sushi at home, it's helpful to have a rice cooker and bamboo rolling mat.  Buy Japanese short grain rice, nori (roasted seaweed) sheets, and a sushi seasoning, like Mizkan Sushi Seasoning.

Step 1: Wash and cook sushi rice according to the directions. 

Step 2:  While the rice is cooking, prepare any fillings.  I like to cook veggies like carrots, spinach, or asparagus, meats, or fish for the kids.  Or better yet, use whatever leftovers you've got in the fridge for fillings to decrease prep time.  Slice avocados, cucumbers, lettuce, baked tofu, or other favorites in preparation for rolling.

Kids can help cut, trim, or wash veggies or other fillers.
Step 3:  Once the rice is cooked, scoop the rice into a big bowl and mix in sushi seasoning according to directions on the bottle.  I usually add about half of the specified amount so it's not too sour for the kids, and maybe a bit of added sugar (for 5 T. of seasoning, I also added 2 T. sugar).  Spread the rice out along the inside of the bowl and wait for it to cool to room temperature.  To speed up the process, fan the rice.

Step 4: Cut a sheet of seaweed in two, and place it shiny side down on a bamboo roller.  Wet hands and scoop about a cup of rice onto the nori.  Spread gently and carefully, leaving about 1/2 inch at the far end of the nori to seal the roll.  Wet the exposed strip of nori with water or rice seasoning to help seal the roll.

Step 5: Add fillings the length of the roll.  If you want wasabi, put some on your finger and smear onto the rice from left to right in a straight line.

Here we used a whole sheet because I like a lot of seaweed.  But if you used a half sheet, you'd have a lot less exposed nori.
Step 6: Roll sushi by pressing down firmly on the mat.  Slice with a moistened sharp knife.

Most of the sushi disappears before it makes it onto the table, the kids have a blast making it, and the adults can have their sashimi if they want it. 

Happy sushi rolling! 

June 13, 2012

Chocolate Lava Cake -- a dairy-free, egg-free way to molten magic

Chocolate lava cake is one of those special desserts for me.  Part brownie, part pudding, it's a more dressy dessert than cookies but not as formal as decorated cakes and cupcakes.  It's definitely not something I crave everyday but when I see it on a menu, I cannot pry my thoughts away from it!  And for the chocolate-loving dad in my life (that would be my husband), a warm lava cake is just right.

I found this dairy-free, egg-free recipe on the Compassionate Action for Animals website.  Not only does it recreate the textures and tastes of traditional lava cake but it is also fairly easy to make.  It can also be made soy-free simply by using oil and water as the original recipe calls for or by using a soy-free milk alternative such as rice milk, almond milk, or flax milk.

I made this recipes three different ways, trying two different cocoas, with oil versus vegan margarine, and water versus a milk substitute.  Switching from Trader Joe's cocoa to Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa was a serious upgrade!  I am once again reminded that not all cocoa powders are created equal.  I used a vegan Earth Balance for a little added richness.  They also have a soy-free version which is a little harder to find in stores.  Always double check ingredient labels, especially since Earth Balance has at least five different varieties, not all dairy- or soy-free.

I have not yet tried this but I think this dessert could be made gluten-free by substituting in 1 cup of your favorite gluten-free flour blend plus 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum in place of the flour.  Be sure to check that your vanilla and baking powder are certified gluten-free, too.  Wheat-allergic/gluten-intolerant readers, please let us know if you are successful with the flour substitution.

Chocolate Lava Cake
Adapted from Compassionate Action for Animals lava cake recipe

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar (I have used granulated, organic, and turbinado raw sugar all with success)
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup milk substitute (I used Soy Dream Original but almond milk, rice milk, or flax milk should work)
2 Tbsp melted vegan margarine or vegan shortening (try Spectrum Organic Shortening), or vegetable or coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk substitute
3/4 cup water

Confectioner's (aka powdered) sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa, and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add milk substitute, vegan margarine and extract. Mix until well combined.  
  4. Spread cake batter in 9"x9" round pan or distribute evenly among six 6-ounce ramekins.  I have used a CorningWare 9-inch oval casserole dish with good results.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup cocoa with 1 cup of brown sugar.  Sprinkle over but do not mix into cake batter.  If you're using ramekins, use a 1/4 measuring cup to help with equal distribution.
  6. Combine 1 cup milk substitute and 3/4 cup water in microwave-safe bowl.  Heat until almost boiling. This was about 2 to 3 minutes on high for me.
  7. Slowly add hot milk-water mixture into cake pan.  Do not stir.  If you're using ramekins, use a 1/4 measuring cup to help with equal distribution.
  8. Bake at 350F.  Bake without stirring until cake is set (it will lose its sheen and puff up a bit), about 35-40 minutes for 9-inch pans or 15-20 minutes for ramekins, depending on how gooey you want the middle to be.  I like gooey so I favor a shorter cooking time.
  9. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Sprinkle powdered sugar in top and serve warm. 
One problem I had using six 6-ounce ramekins is that the recipe was just a little more than what the ramekins could hold.  Some of the liquid bubbled over in the baking process.  It's a good idea to put a baking pan or a sheet of aluminum foil underneath the ramekins to catch any drippings or use an additional ramekin if you have one.

June 11, 2012

Logan's Peanut Challenge

Last week, Addi and I went to see her allergist for a peanut challenge.  It went so smoothly, we couldn't have asked for anything more!  I was hoping, praying, wanting so much to have the same experience with Logan.  And although he didn't have a severe reaction to peanuts, it was disappointing.

Let me start from the beginning.  We had known from an early reaction that Logan is egg-allergic (he vomited immediately after having a bite of a scrambled egg when he was around one).  He had also had an early reaction to penicillin at around 2 years old (broke out in a rash on day 8 of a dose of penicillin for an infection).  When he was about 3, I noticed that his taste aversion to shrimp was probably more than that, when a bite of dim sum containing shrimp immediately caused "itchy tongue," as he called it.  Gradually, Logan became an more of an allergy enigma than I had originally thought. 

And so, about a year ago, Logan tested negative for peanuts on his very first skin test.  It was encouraging, but, like with Addison, I couldn't muster up the courage to challenge him with his first taste of peanut butter in our previously nut-free home.  I requested an in-office peanut challenge.

With Addi paving the way for Logan, he entered the allergist's office self-assured and happy.  He spoke to the doctor, got along like old buddies, and had his first bite of peanut butter. 

Logan was in a happy mood at the allergist's office

Part of the challenge is trying to get your child to describe how the food tastes in as clear a way as humanly possible for a five-year-old.  Words with negative connotations for kids like "spicy" could be an indication of an allergic response.  Sometimes the tongue will feel "prickly" or "itchy," or even sting or hurt.  So the first child's first response to the food is important.

Unlike Addi, who loved peanut butter after the first lick, Logan made a face.

Doctor: Do you like it?
Logan: No.
Doctor: Why?  How does it taste?
Logan: It tastes like salad.  Smirk.
Doctor: You don't like salad?
Logan: I do. 
Doctor: Then why don't you like this?
Logan: (Very matter-of-factly) It's not salad.

Unfortunately, the words that come out of my five-year-old's mouth are completely unpredictable.  He was in a bit of a silly mood, and the doctor and I kind of looked at each other with amusement, with a bit of frustration (at least on my part).

Logan passed the time between peanut butter tastes by pulling out superhero books and figures from his pack.
Right before the doctor came out with the second taste of peanut butter, Logan started scratching his arm.  He had irritated the skin, and although there weren't any hives, there were about 4 or 5 small bumps resembling a heat rash, and it was red and itchy.  Not unbearably so, but I showed the doctor before he gave him the peanut butter.  He took note of it but didn't seem too concerned.  He looked inside Logan's mouth, at his tongue and lips, and asked him if his mouth hurt in any way.  Logan said it didn't.

Doctor: So Logan, are you ready for some more?
Logan: It tastes like poop.
Doctor: (Without skipping a beat) So do you want some more poop?
Logan smiles, opens his mouth, and eats the peanut butter.
Logan: Tastes like poop.

(I have three young kids so it takes a lot to faze me, but Logan was doing a pretty good job).

At this point, the doctor explained to Logan that even though he might not love peanut butter, it's important that we have him taste it a few times so we'll know whether he could have peanut butter if he ever wanted it.  Magically, logic prevailed and Logan seemed satisfied with this explanation.

More itchy red arm before the next dose, so the doctor decided to scratch the challenge.  He put some cold water on Logan's arm, and applied cortisone.  Logan felt much better and was ready for some fresh air, but I was disappointed over an inconclusive test.  We will try again another day.

Through the ups and downs of being an allergy mom, we must remember that keeping our kids safe is our number one priority.  And even after forgetting to bring an allergy-safe treat to a birthday party, unsuccessfully trying out a new allergy-safe recipe to a less than enthusiastic brood, or going through an inconclusive peanut challenge, life is still pretty darn good.

June 6, 2012

Product review: Good Karma Flax Milk

For those with dairy allergies, lactose intolerance, or a preference for avoiding animal products, there are many options in the market for milk-like beverages.  The amount of new products is awe-inspiring and encouraging. 

I recently found a new kind of milk in the dairy case of Sprouts Farmers Market:  flax milk.  I was really excited to see a new type of milk, especially one that attempted to harness the health benefits of flax seed.
For those readers who are unfamiliar, flax seed is touted as a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3s are the "good fats", or the essential acids that promote brain function and reduce the risk of heart disease.  In addition, flax seeds are high in fiber and in lignans which scientists believe play a critical role in preventing cancer.

My milk-allergic son, Ryken, is content just to drink soy milk.  I, on the other hand, have been on a continuous journey to lower our family's overall consumption of soy after learning of research on the effects of excessive amounts of isoflavones on hormones and the implications on reproductive development.  If we can eliminate some highly processed soy products from our diet, my worries will be somewhat allayed.  After confirming that Callan was not allergic to almonds, we integrated almond milk into our family's diet with Ryken being the last holdout in the conversion.  Ryken hates almond milk and continues to drink his beloved Soy Dream.  We as a family also eat tofu, soy yogurt, occasional Tofutti products, and sometimes use soy milk in recipes as a substitute for cow's milk.  So overall, Ryken is eating a big dose of soy every week.

Good Karma, the company behind this new flax-based beverage, offers three varieties: original, vanilla, and unsweetened.  Our family tried out the original-flavor flax milk.  Everyone seems to like it, especially Ryken who has been the toughest to wean from soy milk.  The flax milk has a creamy taste -- not as rich as soy milk but fuller than Rice Dream milk.  This is probably due to the fact that soy milk has a little more fat per 1 cup serving than flax milk.  The flax milk had a slight, salty aftertaste much like almond milk.  This might give someone pause if they were drinking flax milk straight up from a glass.  However, for our family's purposes, the slight mineral taste of flax milk didn't affect our enjoyment.  We have had flax milk in cereal and in dessert recipes and it's been a pretty good alternative.

The original flavor has 7 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving.  (Editor's note:  When I first posted this, I had incorrectly stated the original flavor as having 11 grams of sugar,) Although Good Karma original flax milk does have more sugar than Soy Dream Original (4 grams), it is the same as Trader Joe's or Silk almond milks (around 7 grams of sugar).  Good Karma original flax milk has 60 calories per serving while Rice Dream Original has 120 calories per serving.  Interesting to me because I thought the bigger flavor of Good Karma would naturally mean it was higher in calories, which is not the case.  The vanilla flavor has 11 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving, which is on par with Horizon Organic cow's milks. 

Dairy-free, egg-free chocolate pudding made with flax milk.  Not too shabby!

Good Karma has come up with a solid line of milk alternatives.  Overall, I still like the creamy, mild taste of Soy Dream Original best for cooking in sweet or savory dishes.  But if you have to avoid soy due to allergies or intolerance or simply want to like our family, Good Karma flax milks are very good alternatives full of health benefits.  I definitely plan to integrate flax milk more into all areas of our foods (baked goods, sauces, drinks) although for savory dishes, I will opt for the unsweetened variety.

Good Karma's product line includes rice milks and frozen desserts much like its competitor Taste The Dream.  For more information about Good Karma products and where to find them, check out their website.  You'll also find a handy coupon there to enjoy.

June 4, 2012

Addi's Peanut Challenge

Our family has been avoiding peanuts (and all nuts, for that matter) for so long that I was terrified when the allergist suggested I challenge Addi with peanuts at home after a negative skin test.  As much as I wanted to believe she wasn't allergic to peanuts, I couldn't get myself to sit her down and feed her peanut butter.  The scenario of an anaphylactic reaction, Epipen injection, and frantically tossing three kids in the car to get to the ER ran through my mind, over and over again.  Finally, I requested an in-office challenge.

Considering my neurosis over peanuts, you can only imagine Addi's response when I told her we would be going to the allergist to try some peanut butter.  She cried and screamed.  I held her and reassured her, and told her what would happen.  I explained how lucky she was to try peanut butter as it tastes just like soy nut butter--one of her all time favorite things to lick off her plate, her spoon, her fingers, a celery stick...

On the way to the office, she seemed confident, and so did I:
"We're seeing the doctor and I'm going to have peanut butter, just like soy butter.  Right, mom?" 
"Right sweetie.  Lucky you."

We sat down with the allergist for a few minutes so he could explain to her about the challenge.  Here's how it went:

1:14 pm Dr. gave Addi a crumb-sized portion of peanut butter.  She held it stuck to the back of her teeth for a few seconds before licking her teeth and lips, and swallowing.  Big smile.  Proceeded to dress her ballerina magnets and sing the theme song to "Little Einsteins" while she awaited the next dose.  No allergic signs.

1:35 pm Allergist came into the waiting room to greet Addi who had run out of lyrics to "Little Einsteins" minutes ago, and was starting to get bored.  Jar of peanut butter, double crumb portion = another big smile.  Some jumping around, drawing "potato people" and scribbling of "words" with my pen and piece of scratch paper for another 20 minutes.  Some whining that naturally comes from skipping a much needed afternoon nap.  But still no allergic reaction.

1:55 pm Big smear portion.  Happy girl.  Realizes she loves peanut butter.  Finds a friend in the waiting room to be silly with.  Some jumping and twirling, giggling.  Still no reaction. 

2:15 pm  Last check by allergist.  All clear.  Mom and daughter go home with one less suspected allergy, a little bit lighter, a new confidence to slowly introduce tree nuts into her diet. 

Addi after her peanut challenge--all smiles!

 It was a good day.  A great day.  A happy day.  Happy Monday everyone!

June 1, 2012

Take and go placemat tutorial by Michelle T.

Summer is around the corner and there will undoubtedly be some perfect picnic days ahead.  In lieu of eating out in restaurants, which can be risky for food allergic children, we are big picnic people.  And isn't it just a little more fun to spread out a blanket wherever you are and start digging in?

I challenged Get Allergy Wise contributor and awesome seamstress extraordinaire Michelle T. to make a travel placemat, perfect for food allergic children or anyone eating on the go! 

I found oilcloth at Fabrix on Clement St. for $2.39 a yard, gave some to Michelle, and here's what she came up with.  Awesome.  (I especially like the use of binder clips to hold the oilcloth together for sewing!).  Happy picnicking!


This placemat will hold your utensils and napkin and roll up in a nice, convenient bundle.  It's not hard to make, but some sewing experience would be helpful.

You'll need
1/2 yard oilcloth
22 inches of ribbon
sewing machine

Here, you'll want to sew from the top arrow to the bottom one, starting
1/4 inch from the top of the pocket piece and stopping 1/4 inch from the bottom 
of the pocket piece.