Two years ago, my eldest son, Michael was in Grade 8. I was stopping by his school to pick him up for a doctor’s appointment when I bumped into his teacher. It was then that I was made aware of the fact that Michael would be missing out on the cake to celebrate the Grade 8’s Confirmation the night before.
I think at the same time Michael’s teacher spoke the words, it dawned on him…Michael is allergic to dairy, eggs, sesame and peanut/tree nuts…bakery cakes are off-limits.
I asked to see the cake…a Chocolate Sheet Cake. I thought to myself, “I could make that”. The wheels started churning.
As graduation was on the horizon, I enquired as to whether there would be a Graduation Cake. Sure enough, a cake would be ordered, along with a luncheon for the Grade 8’s on Graduation Day.
My head was spinning…I quickly offered to bake the Graduation Cake and started thinking about a plan for the luncheon…Caesar Salad, Lasagna, and Garlic Bread. All three dishes Michael would not be able to eat due to his food allergies.
I created Garlic Bread by toasting my homemade sub buns with olive oil, fresh garlic and salt. The lasagna was made by layering Turkey Spaghetti Meat Sauce and lasagna noodles and baking. As Michael was not fond of salads at this time, I took a pass on recreating a Caesar Salad. I also baked two sheets cakes…Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Chocolate and Vanilla.
I was crazy busy…but it was all worth it! Everything went off without a hitch!
Fast forward 2 years…my second son, Matthew, is currently in Grade 8. Matthew has a peanut/tree nut allergy so bakery cakes are off-limits for him too. Especially since it was a bakery cake that led him to have his first allergic reaction!
This time I made sure to offer to bake the Confirmation Cake early on in the year!
This Wednesday night was Matthew’s Grade 8 Confirmation Night. Thursday was my baking/icing day and today I am delivering the cakes to the school.
Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Sheet Cake
Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Sheet Cake
The students will enjoy a piece of cake after receiving their Confirmation certificates in a school ceremony.
Update: A couple of lovely students volunteered to take a piece of cake to the principal
and the secretary. A big thank you to my lovely hand models! Check out the funky nail polish and bright blue hand gloves! Love it!
All but two pieces were eaten…although I am sure they will not last long!
As a parent of children with multiple food allergies, as much as I try to stay on top of all the upcoming food related events at the school, I have had my share of ‘mess ups’.
I am thankful for my understanding boys who have never let it show whether or not they are affected by all the food related activities they have attended without something ‘safe’ for them to eat. I like to think all my insistence that activities are never about the food but about the activity itself deflected some of the isolation they may have felt. I can only hope…a mother’s guilt runs deep.
I have learned ongoing communication throughout the school year is key! Keeping the communication open between the school and home has helped me to stay on top of all those food related events…not all, but most. Volunteering in the classroom, on field trips and writing reminders in my boys’ agendas on any upcoming food related events have all strengthened my relationship with all my boys’ teachers.
Matthew will be graduating this year and off to highschool where Michael is finishing his second year. Communication is still a key factor. Keeping the lines of communication open continues to play a pivotal role in building relationships with the teachers and staff at such a large school.
For the most part, Michael is a trailblazer…we seem to throw people off when they hear of his list of food allergies…dairy, egg, beef, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberries. Keeping this in mind, communication once again becomes all the more relevant to creating a safe learning environment for Michael and all those students who follow in his footsteps!
Our journey is a constant learning experience!
Staying positive, getting involved, keeping informed, being non-judgemental, and maintaining an open mind have fared me well on my journey with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma in the school system.
How do you cope with food allergies in the school system?
P.S. Click here for the recipe for my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cake recipe and click here for the recipe for my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cake recipe. To bake a 13 by 19 inch sheet cake, double the cake recipes and bake at 325 F for 40 – 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
P.P.S. My last creative endeavour for this Grade 8 class will be their Graduation Surprise! Stay tuned!
Tip: For a gluten-free version I would try using Namaste Perfect Flour Blend to replace the unbleached all-purpose flour.