Delicious Triple Berry Popicles

Summer is in full force here in Northern Michigan.  Last week my youngest son and I went raspberry picking at one of our  local organic farms, a  tradition we have shared the last couple of summers.  Needless to say, we have more raspberries than we know what to do with.  This afternoon our youngest begged me to help him make homemade popsicles.  He is my berry boy and eats berries like they are going out of style!

This is quick and easy recipe I hope you will enjoy!  It took us less than 15 minutes from start to placing the popsicle molds in the freezer.  By the way, I use BPA- free popsicle molds which are easy to find these days.  Also, you can use any kind of fresh berries you have on hand.

Ingredients:                                                Preparation Time: 15 minutes                           Freeze Time:   4-6 hours

2/3 cup raw organic cane sugar

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

1 cup strawberries

1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

  • Put sugar & 1/3 cup water into a small saucepan.  Over medium heat bring to a boil while continually stirring to make the simple syrup.  Set aside once sugar has dissolved.
  • While simple syrup is cooling, clean and wash berries.
  • Add washed berries to a food processor or blender (your choice.)

 

Squeeze the juice of one lemon, about 1/4 cup lemon juice and pour into food processor and puree mixture until smooth and well combined.

  • Slowly add 1/3 cup simple syrup to berry mixture.  Taste the mixture.  Some people enjoy more tart popsicles and others like theirs’ very sweet.  You can reserve the remaining simple syrup for adult mojitos later!

  • Slowly pour the mixture in your popsicle molds and freeze for approximately 4-6 hours.

  • Now you’ll have delicious and healthy popsicles for the entire family to enjoy!

 

 

 

Allergy Friendly Restaurant List for Northern Michigan this Summer

 

Now that summer in Northern Michigan has kicked into full gear I felt it was important to enhance my local restaurant Allergy Friendly Dining List.  Most restaurants below come highly recommended by myself, my husband and most importantly, our two food allergic boys.   I’ve added a new category this year which includes grocery stores that carry several dairy, nut, and egg free items (gluten free also.)  Please use your own discretion as these reviews are purely based on my opinion and personal experiences.

The reviews below are based on accommodating life-threatening multiple allergies to: dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Please note that most of these restaurants are also more than capable of accommodating gluten, wheat, sesame, soy, and corn allergies.  Please ALWAYS remember to call in advance and ask to speak to the chef or restaurant manager to determine if the particular restaurant can accommodate your special dietary needs.  Additionally, I always provide our server with our 3 x 5 pink restaurant Chef Card that lists all of my boy’s food allergies.  This is an excellent tool to use, as restaurants are very busy during the tourist season/summer months, and verbal allergy communications can get lost in translation between your server and the kitchen staff.

I have tried my best to add these recommendations to the Allergy Eats App, which is not very thorough in Northern Michigan…this is still a work in progress for me however.  Thank you for your patience and Happy Summer!  Whether vacationing in Northern Michigan this summer or if you are a year long resident, I hope this list helps you and your food allergic family enjoy a more pleasurable and safe dining experience.

Here’s the list:

Downtown Petoskey:
1. Chandler’s A Restaurant – The Chef and staff is very knowledgeable and they get it!  Very accommodating!
2. City Park Grill – We dine here all of the time and they are amazing and understand the seriousness!  I commend the staff for always ensuring the food they prep is safe for our boys.  They even bake the chicken fingers for our boys now instead of putting them into the deep fryer.  Steer clear of the delicious biscuits however as they have butter and buttermilk I believe.  My children always ask for a cracker basket with oyster and soda crackers.
3. Twisted Olive Café – Chef Lee is wonderful and has been preparing food for our boys at various restaurants for over 6 yrs!  My boys love the mussels and fish entrees!
4. The Grain Train Natural Food Co-Operative – Lots of Allergen-free options/ready made in food cooler although cross-contam may be present in their prep kitchen

Restaurants to Avoid w/Food Allergies in Petoskey:

1.Mitchell Street Pub – Although this pub has wonderful food, unfortunately they still allow their patrons to throw peanut shells on the floor throughout the entire restaurant.  AVOID at all costs if someone in your family has a PEANUT or TREE NUT ALLERGY.   SCARY!

2. Eagles Club (private club) – We are members at the Eagles club in town.  Many of the chefs have told me over the years that their kitchen suppliers/distributors of food change often to keep food costs low.  They cannot guarantee any safety.  I’m glad they are always honest and they allow us to bring in food for our boys.  Although we rarely go here.  If you’re a member in a different town you can come in as a guest and it’s the best view in town, not to mention, right on the bike path.  Food is marginal at best but cheap drinks and food!

3.Kilwin’s Ice Cream/Fudge Shop– DO NOT EVEN STEP IN if you have a nut allergy!

4. Murdick’s Fudge– Same as above unfortunately

Harbor Springs Area:
1. New York – Chef Matt, and his entire staff are wonderful.  Jerry, a senior server with the New York is amazing.  Nancy too!  Our boys can even eat the bread here safely.  Chef Matt and his staff are extremely knowledgeable about how to safely prepare food-allergy friendly delicious meals!  We love this restaurant and it is a place we frequent with our boys.  The food is always delicious and service goes above and beyond!
2. Crow’s Nest – Chef Bob has been preparing allergen-friendly food for our boys for the last 5 years.  Folks HE GETS IT!  The food is amazing and Chef Bob and his cooks will even use a different flour dusting on his famous pan sautéed perch for our boys.  They cannot have the “Drake’s” batter which contains casein and he will lightly coast the perch in a flour mixture and then sauté it to perfection.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable about food allergies and it is always a pleasant dining experience without worry.
3. Bar Harbor – Although our boys cannot eat the cheese on their burgers the chef and staff understand cross-contamination and always allow me to read ingredient labels.  We bring our own Daiya cheese and my boys LOVE their burgers.  They cannot have the fries due to what goes into the deep fryer but the chips are safe!
4. The Fish – The restaurant owner and staff is very accommodating and have gone out of the way to make delicious healthy food for our kiddos.
5. Country Club of Boyne Seminole Pub – Chef Dean Grill is new to the Country Club of Boyne Team this season.  He is from LA and has quite an outstanding culinary resume!  Both Chef Dean and General Manager Claire are very educated on food allergies and cross-contamination.  There are wonderful!  I have met with Chef several times and he personally ALWAYS cooks my boy’s food.  The fries and homemade potato chips are safe and delicious.  My children have been able to enjoy cheese burgers here that are safe and delicious.  I just bring my own Daiya cheese and buns.  They go the extra mile!
6. Nob’s Nob Cafeteria – We are season pass holders at the Nub’s Nob Ski Resort and every fall the wonderful chef reviews the menu with me.  They are so incredibly accommodating and even take me back into their walk in freezer so I can review ingredients listings.  My children can enjoy the curly and straight French fries there which are popular items, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken and fruit.  Please always double check with the line chefs to make sure they change their gloves after touching cheese.  Also, double check the buns they use as I believe some of the buns my not be ok.
7.  We dined here several times over the winter with our boys.  The 1st time we ate here with our boys we showed our server, who has been with Teddy’s for over 15 year, our Restaurant Chef Card, and she assured us Teddy’s could safely accommodate multiple food allergies.  Allergy Eats has ONE bad review for this restaurant and we have NEVER had  a problem.  We know the owners and staff and they always accommodate us safely!

Bay Harbor:
1. Bay Harbor Yacht Club (Private Club) – The level of service and accommodations are incredible.  They exceed my expectations for safety, allergy safe options, quality of food and level of service.  Bravo!
Restaurants to Avoid w/Food Allergies in Bay Harbor:
2.The Original Pancake House – Unfortunately this restaurant cooks just about everything in PEANUT OIL!  Yes, you heard me- PEANUT OIL.  Perhaps their supplier is the same at Chic-fil-A’s???  I don’t care how refined the oil may be, I’m not testing in with my anaphylactic peanut/tree nut allergic son!  Apparently peanut oil has a higher boiling point and is cheaper than most oils in a restaurant setting.  This restaurant even told me a few years ago that there is possibly peanut oil in the toasters because some of the bread may get brushed with it.  A child went into anaphylactic shock here a few years back before they had the peanut oil allergy statement on their menu.  Now they have allergy statements on every menu I believe.  AVOID AT ALL COSTS IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY

Boyne City:
1. Café Sante – Amazing and the really get cross-contamination and food allergies!  We dine here regularly & one of the restaurant manager’s worked for Disney in which they had several levels of food allergy education that were necessary for all employees.  During our most recent dining experience our server explained to us that the staff had just been trained extensively on food allergies and cross-contamination.  The serving staff here is even required to add food allergies into their computer system upon originally greeting their guests.   Thank you to the new Michigan Restaurant Law!  My youngest son LOVES the mules!  My boys can eat their homemade bread safely also which is amazing, safe and usually not the case in most restaurants.  The owners, managers and chefs here GET IT!  Thank you!

Boyne Falls:
1. Mountain Grand Lodge – Although we did not dine here during our last visit I inquired with the restaurant manager and they suggested they were fully capable of accommodating multiple food allergies to ensure the safety of our children.

Charlevoix (We have not explored too many restaurants here with our boys)
1. Terry’s Place – We attempted to eat here with our boys on the way home from the Traverse City airport during May 2016.  I called and spoke to the gatekeeper who answered the telephone.  I mentioned that our 2 boys have life-threatening food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts & tree nuts.  She stated that “It would be very difficult to accommodate you here because we use peanut oil to sautee all of our fish in and there is dairy in many of the entrée sauces.”  She did state that their sister restaurant next door (The Villager Pub) could prepare our boy’s food and run it over.  I asked if the chef could simply prepare fish (ie white fish or salmon) for our boys and she said it would not be possible to bake, broil or grill it safely with olive oil as a substitute for the peanut oil.  This is really too bad they cannot accommodate food allergies at all.  Perhaps the person I spoke with was not educated well on how to accommodate all customers with special diets.  Oh, and did I mention this was a Sunday night during April, which is the off season in Charlevoix?  A perfect evening to try a new restaurant because the town was literally dead!  Eat here at your own risk!

Traverse City & Surrounding Area:

1. Siren Hall (Elk Rapids) – We recently had a late lunch here with our boys.  We sat at the bar and requested the bar tender review our Chef Allergy Card with the chef and offer recommendations.  Our boys decided on the grilled chicken with broccolini and muscles in a white wine, garlic and tomato broth.  Both were delicious and our boys were happy.  They have root beer on tap too which made the stop especially worthwhile because our boys love root beer!

2.  Red Ginger (downtown Traverse City) – This is a family favorite in our house.  If we’re in Traverse City with our boys we have to dine here according to them!  When you make a reservation the host will make a note in their computer system of your allergies.  The head chef here has a son who is on a strict gluten-free diet.  He completely understands the concept of safety and avoiding cross-contamination.  My children usually order vegetable sushi rolls and the chef prepares delicious panko crusted chicken fingers for them with a side of steamed green vegetables.  The food is delicious and their sushi is fresh and yummy!  This is definitely one of our favorite Northern Michigan restaurants and I hope you will try it also!  Thanks Red Ginger!

3.Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City– we did a staycation here with our boys last fall and I have to say their main restaurant is very accommodating for food allergies.  The manager and chef both came to our table and assured us they would make a safe amazing meal for our boys.  They completely DELIVERED and the chef brought the food to the table.  It was made separately, delicious and healthy!

4.Poppycocks (downtown Traverse City)- We ate here with our boys during the Film Festival a few summers ago and they did an amazing job accommodating us.  I think my boys had broiled whitefish and grilled chicken.  They each loved their entrees!

Local Grocery Stores with Allergen Friendly Foods:

1.Grain Train Petoskey/Boyne City- Both have many GF, DF & EF items…a little light on the nut free items.  No soynut butter of sunflower see butter options here but you can find these items: Daiya, Daiya pizza, Veganaise, Just Mayo, Earth Balance Cheesy Puffs, Dairy free milks, Follow Your Heart, Everything is also Cert Organic etc.

2.Meijer Lears Rd- They have a HUGE selection of allergen friendly items, they DO carry Soynut butter and Sunflower seed butter.  They also carry NadaMoo Dairy, Nut and Egg free ice cream in multiple flavors!  Additionally, they carry the SoDelicious brand!  They also have the largest selection of non-dairy milks, ie. soy, pea protein (Ripple our fav!), rice, etc.

3.Aldi’s in Petoskey

4. Family Fare in Petoskey- they have the largest selection of non-dairy cheeses, salad dressings, Tofutti cream cheese, etc…located in the cooler by the organic foods.  They also sell Enjoy Life Products (including their chocolate bars which are excellent for making summertime s’mores!), Sunbutter and sunflower seed butter.  Plus, they carry sustainable seafood and organic meats.

5.Walmart- believe it or not, they have a huge selection of Allergen Friendly items in the Gluten Free Aisle…they also carry Enjoy Life

6. Meijer and Oryana Organic Co-Op (both in Traverse City)

Please remember these comments are based solely on our personal experiences and are opinion based.  Feel free to message me if you have additional questions/comments regarding any of the restaurants mentioned above.
~Erika

Update to my “Generic Epi-Pen Post”

A few weeks ago I posted a full article that compared the generic “Adrenaclick Auto Injector” to the Mylan Epi-Pen.  I mentioned that our insurance company automatically filled this generic auto injector in lieu of the mainstream Epi-Pen as of January 1st, 2017 when all of the insurance companies changed their RX coverage plans for the new year.  I discussed in quite length the pros and cons, and noted that I did not have any confidence in this product because I have not had to use it.

As a follow up here is what I have found:

  • It took 6 weeks for me to receive the several “Trainer” pens I ordered online from the website I discussed.  To my dismay, the trainer pen when pushed into the thigh, does not make a “click” sound and the spring in the device does not budge at all.  It didn’t make me feel like this was the reality of how this pen would actually work if I was using this in an emergency situation.
  • I realized the actual auto injectors when dispensed, will not retract the needle once you remove the injector from the thigh after the medicine is administered.  I think this is dangerous and how does one dispose of this?
  • Although I’m not pleased with either of the two points I mentioned above, this pen was still a $0 co-pay and although not easy to use, I’m sure it would work well if need be.

Again, these thoughts are 100% my opinion.  After all of my research and actually trying to practice using this generic Adrenaclick trainer product, we have decided not to let our boys carry these pens.  Additionally, we have not taken them to our son’s school either.  I just don’t feel confident with this product.    This is because it’s so vastly different from Mylan’s Epi-Pen and Auvi-Q, and my concern is that a caregiver of school employee may not know how to properly use this product in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence.

Last week was my boy’s annual food allergy appointment at the University of Michigan where they have been receiving amazing food allergy treatment for the last 6 years!  Our doctor wrote new scripts for each boy and stated on the script “Generic for Mylan 0.3mg Epi-Pen.”  I then filled these scripts at the pharmacy and the cost was only $35.00 for 2 two packs!  The generic Mylan Epi-Pen is actually the same auto injector but significantly less in price.  In addition, I have used Auvi-Q’s Patient Affordability Program to order the new injectors for each of my boys!  This is paid for 100% by Auvi-Q and is a home delivery prescription service.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about this program!  We have always be a HUGE fan of Auvi-Q and we’re thrilled they are back on the market!  As a mother of 2 boys, the Auvi-Q’s are small enough to fit in their pant or jacket pockets.

At the end of the day, every family needs to do what is best for them specifically.  Personally, I don’t feel comfortable carrying a life-saving device that I’m not 120% confident with which is to be used as the first line of defense during an allergic reaction.  I encourage everyone to do their own research and make an educated decision.  The bottom line is that it’s wonderful that we, as food allergy families, now have more choices when it comes to epinephrine.

Have a great weekend!

~Erika

 

Mylan Expands Voluntary Recall of More Epi-Pens & Epi-Pen Jr. in United States

Mylan Pharmaceuticals expanded its’ Epi-Pen Recall over the weekend to include the Epi-Pen Jr. and several more lot numbers below.  Many of us experienced a similar recall with the Auvi-Q Auto Injectors just over one year ago…this is all too familiar and extremely frustrating!  Please click here for the full article on Mylan’s website regarding the recall.

 

Shoulder Season

Although we just got dumped with 18″ of fresh powder yesterday, the planner that I am, is already thinking about what we call the “Shoulder Season” here in Northern Michigan.  The “Shoulder Season” to Northern Michiganders is known as the season in between ski season and the warm weather of spring…aka rainy mud season!  Most people that live in mountain towns can relate to the “in-between” season where the snow turns brown, everything is melting, the trails are wet and basically everything is wet and very muddy!  The worst part about the shoulder season is that our dog Scout is always a muddy, wet, stinky mess!

Ski racing for our two boys is slowly coming to an end, and if we’re lucky we’ll still have another 3 weeks left of decent skiing up here.  Typically, it’s still too wet and cold to mountain bike with our kiddos on the trails in March/April.  Our boys are a bit too young for road biking and the paved bike trails are still heavily covered with snow.  Soccer doesn’t really start up here till mid-April because it’s still too cold.

As a mom of two very active 7 and 9 year old boys I’m always looking for new ways to keep them active after school and on the weekends.  Here are our activity options: afterschool indoor golf, swim lessons, and indoor tennis…other than that we are a bit limited.  It’s nice to be outside on the sunny days even if it’s a bit chilly.  This is a good time of year to travel and get out of dodge for spring break!

Any suggestions Midwestern residents?  What do you do to keep your kids active during the shoulder season?  I would appreciate any thoughts/feedback/suggestions.

As always, thank you!

~Erika

Generic vs. Milan’s Epi-Pen

A few days ago I picked up a refilled prescription for my oldest son of what I thought was going to be Mylan’s  Epi-Pen 0.3 mg twin auto injectors.  This is what we’ve been accustomed to using since the big recall happened with the Auvi-Q auto injectors fall of 2015.  Despite all of the controversy with Mylan, and the increase in pricing for the Epi-Pens, we have unfortunately had to stick to this prescription, as our insurance RX program never filled a generic option in the past.

To my surprise, when I arrived home and opened up the bag from the pharmacy, I receive 2 twin packs of the Authorized Generic form of the Adrenaclick, 4 auto injectors 0.3mg manufactured by Lineage Therapeutics.  This generic version was apparently introduced to the market back in June of 2013.  It boggles my mind why it was not available to me as an option until now???

At first, I was really UPSET because the pharmacy didn’t notify me that my prescription for Mylan’s Epi-Pen had been replaced by the Adrenaclick generic.  After a few minutes and once I cooled down, I realized it was exciting to finally see a “generic form of the life saving auto-injectors!”

My excitement quickly turned to ANGER again when I realized that the devices did not come with any type of training device!  What???  The box that contains the twin injectors has a spot for a trainer, but NO trainer was included in the box!  I was LIVED to say the least!

I quickly went to my laptop and typed in the manufacturer’s website which is http://www.epinephrineautoinject.com/contact_lineage.php.  The site contains a link which allows you to order ONLY 1 training pen at a time!  There is a 1-800 number you can call to order more than one training pen at a time.  Of course, I called it right away thinking about all of the people in our lives that we would need to train how to use these generic auto injectors- school staff, coaches, kid sitters, our boys of course, myself and my husband, friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc…the list goes on and on.

After being on hold for approximately 5 minutes, a nice customer service lady answered my call, and when I told her that I would need to order at least 4-5 trainers, she mentioned they were backordered by 4-6 weeks!  She suggested I go to the website and individually order 1 trainer at a time.  This is what I did…I ordered 2 in my parents names, 1 in my name and 1 in my husband’s name, 1 in my sister’s name, and 1 in my brother-in-law’s name…WHAT A PAIN IN THE BUTT!  Needless to say, we’ll see when these trainers actually arrive!

So, all in all, it’s absolutely wonderful that my insurance RX program finally gave me a generic option!  It appears that consumers dealing with anaphylaxis do have more prescription options available now. Here are the PROS & CONS broken down for you:

PROS:

  • Price- my out of pocket expense for 1 pack of twin injectors was approximately $15.00 compared to hundreds for Mylan’s Epi-Pens
  • Size- generic packaging of auto-injector is approximately a 60% reduction in size compared to Mylan’s Epi-Pen.  Since we have 2 boys and they do not carry a purse, it will be easier for them to carry these in their pockets

CONS:

  • Trainers do not come with auto-injector prescription
  • Trainers must be ordered separately on manufacturer’s website
  • Only 1 trainer can be ordered online at a time, for more you must call customer service hotline
  • If you want more than 1 trainer, these orders are on back order for 4-6 weeks!  Unacceptable!
  • It took the pharmacy over 5 business days to fill the script…I’m assuming because Meijer does not keep this generic version on their shelves.  This was frustrating and thank god I had extras and didn’t need it immediately!
  • Trust- I don’t trust the generic as I have not had to use it yet
  • Quality- I do not know the quality of the generic
  • Learning Curve – it is cumbersome to re-train everyone in our life with new auto-injectors- cannot train them until trainers arrive
  • I have 4 new generic auto-injectors that cannot be used since we do not have the trainers…our boys will need to practice on trainers 1st before we feel comfortable with them carrying these devices

While there are currently more CONS than PROS at this juncture, I’m confident once we have an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with this generic, the PROS will begin to outweigh the CONS.

If you have any experience using these Lineage Generic devices I would love to hear your feedback!  Please contact me or leave feedback in the “comments” section of my post.

Once the trainers arrive in the mail I will update this post with feedback regarding re-training everyone/ease of use.

~Erika

 

The Little Things about Food Allergies Most People Don’t Even Realize

I was chatting with a few of my girlfriends yesterday over coffee about how our dog had recently been sick.  As unfortunate as it is, our two year old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Scout is a sock eater.  Yes!  He loves to eat our boy’s stinky socks when left on the floor!  No matter how often I remind the boys to put their dirty socks in the laundry bin, they still end up on their bedroom floor from time to time.  It’s been a challenge since Scout was a puppy.

Recently, Scout ingested something…we’re not sure what it was but he started acting peculiar last week and was not eating like normal.  I took Scout to the vet on Tuesday and thankfully after X-rays, he didn’t have an obstruction.  However, he did have lots of inflammation and irritation in his gut from whatever it was that he ate and then passed.

Long story short, our vet recommended we feed Scout canned dog food for the next couple of days since it’s more easily digestible.  The canned dog food at the vet’s office contained dairy and eggs so I had to take a pass.

I went to our local feed store and explained to the staff that I was looking for a canned dog food that didn’t contain dairy, eggs, or nuts.  We had about 3 people, including myself, reading every canned dog food label in the entire store.  Finally, we found a grain-free lamb dog food that was dairy, nut, and egg free.  To top it off, Scout loved it thank God!  And yes, Scout’s normal dried dog food is dairy, egg, nut and grain free too just in case you are wondering!  He’s on basically the same diet the rest of the family is on and he never complains!

My girlfriends couldn’t believe that I have to read the ingredient listings on the dog food labels.  Reason being, if Scout ate dog food that contained milk, eggs or nuts and then licked either of our boys it could mean TROUBLE!  Allergic reaction!  My friends said to me, “Challenges that you face on a daily basis with kids that have food allergies are not even on our radar, such as reading the ingredients on the dog food bag.”  For once, I felt like my friends actually understood what it was like to walk in my shoes.

This recent conversation with my closest friends struck a chord for me…my brain went into overdrive as I started thinking about all of the labels I have to read on a daily basis on all of the products in our home and when I’m grocery shopping.  For example, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, body lotion, makeup, chapstick, sunscreen, prescription medications, hand soap, kleenex, deodorant, cleaning supplies, dog treats (most of which contain eggs, nuts, and dairy), etc.  The list goes on and on….now I have a HEADACHE!  These are not even food items mind you!

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that parents of children of food allergies obviously have to be diligent with food labels.   That diligence extends beyond to so many more products that we come into contact with daily.  Most people would have a permanent headache if they had to continually check everything the way that we do.  I wouldn’t change it for the world…I’m just trying to help people gain awareness about the challenges parents of children with food allergies face encounter regularly.

I digress…Namaste and have a wonderful weekend

~Erika

 

Update on Food Allergic Reaction Yesterday

 

Many of my reader’s saw my post yesterday on my Facebook page about our son’s recent food allergic reaction.  This past Tuesday night I made a new vegan type of soba noodles for our family as a side dish.  The label read “vegan” and the only allergens on the ingredient label were “soy and wheat.”  Our youngest son Christopher ate his entire bowl of Soba noodles and 10 minutes after dinner he said to my husband and I that his stomach was really itchy.  My husband and I believe there were most likely trace amounts of eggs and/or dairy in the new product I had just cooked.  There is really no way to tell however and I’m researching 3rd party companies to test the ingredients of the noodles that were consumed.

We lifted up his shirt and he was LITERALLY covered in hives on his stomach and back.  I’ve never seen so many hives on a little guy!  What was strange about this reaction was that is was just topical hives.  In the past, when Christopher has accidentally been exposed to eggs or dairy he has unfortunately experienced more serious anaphylactic symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, itchy/scratchy throat, etc.  Not to discount all of these hives but as an asthmatic it was clear that he was not having any breathing difficulties and we treated immediately with 25mg of Benadryl.  We continued to monitor Christopher throughout the night, and although it took about 5 hours for the hives to dissipate, thankfully he was not showing any signs of anaphylactic shock.  In addition to the Benadryl every 6 hours I also had so Prednisone on hand and I gave him 10mL of that in addition to half of an adult dosage of Zantac which also acts as a histamine blocker.

After a long night, Wednesday morning arrived and Christopher seemed to be in the clear.  He was receiving dosages of Benadryl every 6 hours and I had consulted not only a nurse on staff at U of M where is treated specifically for food allergy, but also his local pediatrician.  At about 9am yesterday the hives started reappearing FULL force over the course of 2 hours and at that point we made the decision to drive him to the hospital.  I just want to stress that he was not showing any signs/symptoms of anaphylactic shock.  We decided to take him to the ER because we couldn’t get an appointment with his pediatrician until 4:15pm and we were concerned that the Benadryl was not property controlling the histamines.  We feared that the hives may eventually lead to additional symptoms such as pulmonary and other anaphylactic symptoms.  On the way to the hospital I spoke to my friend on the phone who was an ER doc and he suggested we administer the Epi-pen which we did prior to reaching the ER.

I believe the details of this experience are critical in helping others understand how to properly react during an allergic reaction, hence the long length of this blog post.  And again, this reaction was completely different from all others before.  Upon arriving at the ER we were taken back to a room almost right away given the nature of having administered Epi-Pen.  At the ER Christopher was given 50mg of Prednisone, 25 mg of Benadryl, and Zantac (1/2 adult dosage I think 10mg)…his vitals were good and he did not need an IV.  Christopher was an amazing trooper and a BRAVE little boy despite his discomfort.  After being in the ER for about 20 minutes his hives began swelling all over his face again (right eye started to swell up a bit), hives on back, chest, arms, buttocks, legs, etc. began to get worse.  After consult again with ER doc we decided to administer another Epi-Pen.  Our AMAZING nurse administered the Epinephrine through a syringe and Christopher said it “wasn’t as bad as the Epi-Pen.”  He was really in good spirits.

The 2nd dosage of Epi decreased the topical symptoms and swelling and we were discharged from the hospital after about 4 hours since his symptoms were under control and we live less than 2 miles from the hospital.  Needless to say, about 2 hours post-discharge hives began to appear again but not like before.  Our ER doc who was wonderful as well stated that we should expect the hives to come and go on and off for days…closely monitor him and continue prednisone, Benadryl and Zantac to taper drugs off for the next 3 days.

Last night was another long night as Christopher was covered in itchy red bumps, some of which were swollen, and others were just dots on his body and face.  Poor little guy.  Cortisone didn’t really help with the itchiness unfortunately.  We’re now on day three of the reaction and he’s in good spirits and I would imagine today will be more of the same…onset of hives followed by them coming and going as his body continues to flush out the histamines.

Anyhow, the last 2 days have been a whirlwind of emotions for us as parents and for both of our little boys.  Christopher has been such a brave little boy and so tough and strong!  I’m so impressed with his positive attitude through this entire ordeal and his eloquence during such a scary situation.

I’ll continue to post updates on my Facebook page as the days continue….I apologize for the rambling and any possible typos in this post as I rushed to get this post out in between caring for our little guy.   Additionally, I placed a complaint with the FDA regarding the product I fed the boys for the possibility of undeclared allergens…the verdict is still out on this until we receive the results of the chemical tests of the product.  I didn’t want to mention the name of the manufacturer of the product that I believe caused the allergic reaction until more facts are discovered relating to the ingredients.  Furthermore, I do want to state there is always the possibility that Christopher is allergic to another ingredient in the noodles that we have not been aware of.  Ie. perhaps he developed or has a new allergy that we do not know about…

Vegan Hot Cocoa – Perfect for this Time of Year

hot cocoa

It’s snowy and cold here in Northern Michigan.  Today is the first day of our downhill ski season  and I thought it would be timely to post my delicious hot cocoa recipe.  Many children that ski often look forward to hot cocoa breaks in the lodge to warm up from being out in the elements.  Obviously, our boys cannot drink the hot cocoa from the vending machine in the cafeteria since it contains “milk” as one of the main ingredients. 

Over the years I have been making my own dairy free version of powdered hot cocoa mix.  I make several individual servings for my boys to use throughout the ski season. They simply put the zip lock baggie in one of their ski jacket pockets, add hot water from the cafeteria “hot water” machine, stir, and they are the happiest kids in the lodge.  It’s creamy, warm and delicious!

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Small Town Allergy Mom™

 

Here’s my recipe which has taken a few years to really perfect:

Dairy Free Hot Cocoa Mix

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hersey’s)

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. powdered soy milk (I use Better Than Milk Vanilla Soy Powder purchased in bulk from amazon.com- it’s the creamiest!)

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients together with a wire whisk in a bowl.  I will often double or even triple the recipe making a huge batch that I store in an air tight container for the winter.  I will then scoop about 3 Tablespoons of the mix into several small ziplock bags for my boys to take skiing each day.  It stores well and is easy for them to grab out of the pantry in individual servings.

You can also add dehydrated or mini marshmallows to the individual baggies.  I usually add these since my boys love marshmallows with their hot cocoa like most children.

Just add hot water to the mix, stir and enjoy!  This powdered hot cocoa is not only Dairy Free but it’s creamy and delicious as well!  Not to mention, easy to take on the go whether it’s skiing, sledding or ice skating!

 

Safe Halloween Candy List

Halloween Picture

Well it’s that time of year where people start asking me for a comprehensive “Allergen-Friendly” Halloween List.  Over the years my list has grown quite a bit which is amazing for parents with children that have multiple food allergies.  There are so many wonderful options nowadays that we can buy for our children and ensure they will have an amazing SAFE Halloween!  Please Note: ALWAYS check ingredients!  This list is only meant to be used as a guide.

Additionally, if you are supporting FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project this year as we always do, please have a several non-candy treat items for children that may not be able to have candy at all.  Typically, I have a bowl of pencils, erasers, stickers, temporary tattoos, small toys, etc.  These can all be purchased at your local dollar store.

ENJOY!  ~Erika

  • DIVVIES Chocolates
  • Amanda’s Own Confections
  • No Whey Chocolate
  • Enjoy Life chocolate bars
  • Peeps (some flavors have “Milk” double check ingredients)
  • Swedish Fish
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Surf Sweets Natural Gummies & Jelly Beans
  • Starburst Tropical Candy Corn (the only candy corn brand I have found to be egg-free)
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Smarties
  • Lifesaver Gummies
  • Sour Patch Kids (most varieties I believe)
  • Dum Dum Lollipops
  • Hot Tamales
  • Starburst fruit chews, lollipops, & jelly beans
  • Jolly Rancher hard candy (lollipops are made on shared equipment so I do not purchase them)
  • Kraft Marshmallows (and most marshmallow brands)
  • Twizzlers
  • Skittles (most flavors I believe)
  • PASCHA Chocolate bars
  • Airheads (most flavors)
  • Pez