Category: Uncategorized

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!

 

 

 

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

 

Frito Lay Gold Pretzel Recall Undeclared Peanuts

Travel Update- Delta is the Best Allergy Friendly Airlines

Delta plane

I made a few posts several weeks back regarding various trips we have taken with our food-allergic boys and how well we were accommodated on Delta & United Airlines.

As I have mentioned before, we fly A LOT with our boys! We just returned from a recent trip last Tuesday in which we flew on Delta again.  I have to say that Delta completely understands the safety needs of their food allergic passengers!  On a flight from Fort Meyer’s (RSW) to Detroit (DTW) the head flight attendant made about 4 announcements, the first started as we were boarding the aircraft.  She stated, “There are two passengers with extremely severe peanut allergies.”  She then went on to say, “Out of consideration for the safety of these passengers we will not be serving peanuts on the flight today.”  This announcement was made about 4 times throughout the first portion of the flight.  It was wonderful!

Thank you Delta for yet another very safe flight at 30,000+ feet in the air.  Your company totally understand the severity and safety concerns of food allergic passengers while traveling by air.

I commend you Delta for being our #1 preferred airline and my family will continue to fly with you during our future travels.

Bravo Delta!!!!  We completely endorse your company for making safety of your passengers the priority!

Have a great weekend!

~Erika

Flying United Airlines with Nut Allergies

United

We recently took a family trip to Naples and flew on a new carrier- United Airlines.  Typically, in the past, we have flown on Delta with our food allergic boys and have had no major problems.  And I must add, we travel quite a bit via airlines, with our boys.

Two weeks prior to our departure date I called United customer service and notified them that one of my children had a “life-threatening” peanut and tree nut allergy.  I asked them what their company policy was for food allergic passengers?  The representative on the phone told me she would make a note of the allergy in her system and on our tickets.  She also told me United would not distribute peanuts to passengers on the flights.  She said the safety of their passengers was a high priority.  I thought we were good to go, however part of me thought, and this is a bit pessimistic, that this was too good to be true!

Additionally, a few days before our departure I reached out to United via Twitter and their Facebook page asking them what the company policy was for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers?  Here is the response I received via United Facebook:

“We prioritize safety for all of our passengers. While we do not offer buffer zones on our planes, please notify a flight attendant of your son’s allergies and they will be able to pass on that message to their aircraft. Please use this link for more information: http://bit.ly/1Sk5iQs. Feel free to reach out if you have additional questions.”

The day of our departure during check-in the United representative told me that she would notify the head flight attendant of our son’s nut allergies and to make sure to mention this again to the gate attendant.  She stated that United takes food allergies very seriously.  Upon arriving at the gate I also spoke very politely to the gate attendant about our son’s food allergies and reiterated to her what the check-in attendant had mentioned.

Then, when we lined up to board the aircraft, the gate attendant told  my husband and I, “the crew wiped down everything in our aisle on the plane to take extra precautions.”  That was  music to our ears!  Jason and I were thrilled United “went the extra mile.”

However, upon getting to our seats, we noticed several pistachio shells on the floor in the aisle surrounding our seats and in front of each of our seats throughout the entire row.  My boys were TERRIFIED!  I remained calm and grabbed my bag of antibacterial wipes, re-wiped down everything again and picked up the pistachio shells and handed them to the flight attendant.  I explained our concern to her and she said, “I would be nervous too if I had a serious nut allergy.”

After calming our boys down and assuring them they would be safe (I kept my cool of course).  We were able to get ready for takeoff.  My husband and I reiterated to our 6 & 8 year old boys not to touch their shoes, do not put your fingers in your mouth or close to your mouth, and everything will be okay.

Thankfully we survived the flight without any accidental exposures to the nut residues!  No Benadryl or Epi-Pens were needed!  THANK GOD!

United, on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give you a 5.  The process seems to be there but the implementation of the food allergy process is poor, based on our recent experience.  There is lots of room for improvement.

Thankfully, we didn’t experience any additional concerns on the other 3 United flights during our entire travel process.  United- we will fly your carrier again.  In the future, hopefully you will improve your processes for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers which will improve their safety during the flight.

 

Please Follow Me!

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I just transferred my blog domain name to a new host site.During this challenging transition, I did not retain all of my BLOG followers.Please click on the link and FOLLOW ME to receive updates from Small Town Allergy Mom™ on social media.

I sincerely appreciate your support and I promise to keep adding useful content!

~Erika

First Friday for Foodies: Small Town Allergy Mom™ Presenting Friday March 4th

I will be presenting this Friday at 11am at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, MI.  Small Town Allergy Mom™ will discuss how to prepare your kitchen to entertain guests with food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.  I will cover important topics like cross contamination and how to avoid it during food preparations.  Additionally, I will give a brief cooking demonstration on how to prepare my Dairy Free Lasagna Florentine and sampling my famous Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes.  Please join me to support food allergy awareness locally.  More information is available at the Crooked Tree Arts Center link here: https://www.crookedtree.org/event/first-fridays-for-foodies-small-town-allergy-mom-erika-keiswetter/?instance_id=3123

Thank you,

~Erika

Chocolate Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes- By Popular Demand Here is my Recipe Finally!

 

 

 

Taking Advantage of Winter

  
We live in a small Northern Michigan town with short beautiful Lake Michigan summers and LONG cold winters!  Thankfully, we have raised our boys to love the outdoors and embrace the cold snowy winters!

Food allergies aside, it is very important as a parent to teach your children about living a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise and admiring the beauty of nature.  Most importantly, combining the two with fun outdoor activities as a family!

We are a downhill ski family and love to ski together frequently. However, it’s great to mix up the winter outdoor activities with our boys and enjoy a fun experience snowshoeing from time to time. Our boys not only love snowshoeing in the outdoors, but it’s good quality time well spent with our boys, and our dog Scout gets to run freely and it keeps him in shape also.

So if you live in a winter wonderland like we do, don’t forget to include your children in your fun outdoor activities this winter! Enjoy the snow and have a great weekend!