Monday February 20, 2012 is Family Day here in Ontario, Canada.
What better way to spend this extended weekend than with family…so we are off on another adventure to visit my brother and his family in beautiful Ottawa!
Our plans involve an assortment of winter activities: watching my nephew play hockey, some back yard pick up ice hockey, skiing at a local ski hill and skating on the Rideau Canal…it is also the last weekend of Winterlude. Beaver Tails will be all the rage! Not sure if they are allergy friendly for my boys…but we will find out.
For the past week, my boys have been glued to their I Pods on ‘face time’ with their cousins. Top priority…getting the low down on my nephew’s hockey games…if the team gets 5 points by the end of their Friday game, then they don’t have a practice on Sunday. Rack em up boys…since we hope to go skiing that day! So far they have 4 points…one more to go…a win or a tie will do it! Thank goodness we will be there to cheer them on!
A few things we must consider on our weekend getaway with the family: My eldest son, Michael, has food allergies to dairy, beef, egg, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry. My second son, Matthew, has a peanut/tree nut allergy.
Travelling anywhere with multiple food allergies takes a little extra planning…but it can be done.
A simple allergy friendly weekend away visiting family involves some preplanning: deciding on allergy friendly meals, what allergy friendly products to bring and what kitchen items to bring to limit any cross-contamination issues in the kitchen.
In my experience, my destination helps me to determine what to offer to bring allergy friendly meal wise, allergy friendly product wise and if I need to bring any allergy friendly kitchen items to use.
It’s a personal choice. One you need to make in order to keep your sanity while visiting family.
Do you offer to bring an entire allergy friendly meal, parts of an allergy friendly meal or offer to make the allergy friendly meal.?
Do you bring your own allergy friendly kitchen supplies, some allergy friendly kitchen supplies or use your family’s kitchen supplies?
Personally, if I am going for the weekend or up to a week, I do all my baking at home.
For this weekend away I will be bringing: ‘safe bread’ ie. Dairy, Egg, Sesame and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sub Buns, French Stick and Allergen Friendly Pita Chips. I like to bring ‘safe treats’ ie. Dairy Free Rice Krispie Squares and Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are two of my boys’ favourites. Perhaps a ‘safe dessert’ ie. Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Pie, I have one in the freezer ready to bake in the oven or Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bundt Cake. Plenty of over ripe bananas sitting on my counter begging to be baked into something scrumptious! If I have time this afternoon, I will bake one.
I will also be bringing a box of Smart Pasta Penne and Maple Leaf Natural Selections Black Forest Ham. Can’t forget Guardian Angel Cocoa and Natura Soy Milk to make Dairy Free hot chocolate to bring in a thermos to the hills and skating!
For a weekend or up to a week away, I also like to check and see if I can offer to bring an allergy friendly meal or at least provide for one when I am there.
Cooking in someone else’s kitchen can also bring up cross-contamination issues.
Personally, I try to help out in the kitchen, especially if one of my boys food allergens is part of the menu. Assisting with the prep work, the cooking and the clean up to keep an eye out for any cross-contamination.
Depending on where I am visiting, I will bring some of my own kitchen supplies: a bread knife, cutting board, paring knife, or a small pot for cooking pasta/rice/oatmeal.
As I tend to stay for longer periods at my mother’s house in the summer, I have left certain baking items there such as: a rolling-pin, silicone baking pads to put over her baking sheets, a brownie pan, bundt pan, muffin tin and pan for making my Dairy Free Rice Krispie Squares.
I have to be honest, some family members have had a hard time adjusting to my sons’ food allergies. Even after 15 years, we encounter issues of misunderstanding. As stressful as that can be, we try to do the best we can to keep our children safe and keep the family ties in tack.
I am always on high alert when food is involved around my children. Some may describe my behaviour as ‘obsessed’, ‘over the top’ or ‘crazy’! However, I like to think if I had more people on my ‘team’ I wouldn’t have to feel like I was the only one looking out for their safety…as they say, it takes ‘a village to raise a child’.
Finding a balance is key…not always easy…but then such is life!
Visiting family is very important to me. I only have my mother and my brother’s family here in Canada. The rest lives in Scotland and in the United States. My husband has his parents and sister, that live within an hours drive, that we also like to visit.
Bottom Line: Working as a ‘team’ to keep cross-contamination at bay while visiting family works better when everyone is on the same page. Preplanning is essential.
I don’t claim to be an expert in this area…everyone’s situation will be unique and need to be thought out on an individual basis.
I only hope that by describing how I go about planning for my visits will be somewhat helpful to others thinking about how they might be able to best plan their own allergy friendly family visits.
Wishing you and your families all a safe and fun Allergy Friendly Family Day Weekend!
Tip: I have to give another shout out to the book Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller. Her real life experiences give light to many questions you may have in dealing with family and friends on your own journey with food allergies. I highly recommend it as your ‘go to guide’. I know I do! Click here to check out my book review.
Question: How do you go about planning for a weekend away at a family members house? What works for you and your family? Please share your tips and experiences so as we all can learn from each other.