My New Allergy Friendly Toy…An Ice Cream Maker

Summer is here and the time is right for…eating ice cream.

A summertime staple…however, when some of one’s food allergies include dairy, egg, peanut/tree nut’s…ice cream is hard to come by.

My son used to enjoy Natur-a’s Soy Frozen Dessert…but unfortunately, they seem to have disappeared from the frozen food section as well as on their website.

I have always dreamed of making my own ice cream…now that I cannot find a single solitary ice cream that is dairy and peanut/tree nut freeI am heading out today to purchase my own ice cream maker.

Apparently, it was meant to be…they go on sale today at Sears!

Super excited to bring one home and get the insert in the freezer so I can start making some dairy and peanut/tree nut free ice cream over the weekend!

My purchasing an ice cream maker is perfect timing with the Summer 2013 Edition of my Allergic Living MagazineSenior Editor Alisa Fleming, author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living wrote an entire article on Dairy, Gluten and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Ice Cream!

I will ‘play’ with my new ‘toy’ this weekend…I will report back my results next week.

As the summer holidays have started…my postings may start to become a bit irregular.

I wish you all a fun, allergy friendly summer! 🙂

Do you make Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Ice Cream? What is your favourite flavour? What ice cream maker do you use?

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As Parents With Allergic Youth…How Do We Relate To Life Experiences We Have Never Experienced?

Tip # 30’s Tips For Parents from Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel  at Why Risk It?
Click here for the entire list.

“Ideally we would love to learn more about food allergies by meeting/speaking with older kids with food allergies and not always from our parents.”

I totally agree!

No matter what age you are…nothing feels better than to hear from someone, in or around the same age, tell you something about their life experiences that makes you feel less alone.

In fact, it is one of the main reasons for which I started writing this blog…I wanted to reach out to parents with children living with food allergies because I was living that life…feeling very alone.

As my boys with food allergies move into their teens, the above statement from allergic youth made me stop and think…my life experiences do not involve food allergies or eczema, therefore, how, in my boys’ eyes, can I relate?

I thought back to a few instances where my husband’s friends have discussed their life experiences with eczema and food allergies to my boys…

Growing up…a couple of my husband’s friends experienced severe eczema on parts of their bodies.  Michael had always looked up to them, however, after hearing them discuss their eczema related stories…they achieved a ‘pedestal status’.

I am forever grateful to them for sharing their life experiences with eczema from that time in their lives…it gave hope to Michael that he would someday ‘outgrow’ his eczema like them.

As Michael entered his early teens…that is just what happened.

When Michael was young, another one of my husband’s friends alerted me to his eczema-like reaction when he ate McIntosh apples…I put two and two together and realized that the same thing might be happening to Michael.

After explaining this friend’s experience with Michael, he switched to picking apples with gloves on. Over the years, he has also learned to limit his intake of apples…he, himself, has discovered a link between eating too many apples, oranges and cantelope…his skin becomes inflamed.

This same friend has a fish allergy…yet he loves to fish. In fact, my husband and he just came back from a 4 day fishing trip this past weekend. The fishing was phenomenal! His friend just makes sure he brings his own food to eat and is careful about handling the fish when he has reeled one in.

Learning from the life experiences of my husband’s friends with eczema and food allergies gave my boys role models…best of all, they gave them hope.

I like to think that working towards controlling my asthma through running, continues to encourage the boys to stay active in their lives. Both boys play hockey in the winter, Michael has just joined a gym and Matthew will be joining a swim team for the summer.

Asthma need not be an excuse for an inactive life.

Do your children with food allergies/eczema/asthma have role models to learn from their life experiences?

Are you a role model yourself?

P.S.  Chelsea Vineyard won Miss Teen Ottawa Worldshe is allergic to peanuts. She has chosen anaphylaxis as her platform in the hopes to raise allergy awareness.

“I also want to be a role model for children and show them that they can follow their dreams no matter no matter what life challenge they have.”

Chelsea was interviewed by Why Risk It? Click here for the full interview.

Press Pause…And Enjoy All The Beauty Around You

One of my favourite methods of de-stressing is my run first thing in the morning. Monday and yesterday were no exception…yes, it was raining.

Running in the rain brings out the kid in me. Why avoid the puddles and fret about getting wet…half the fun is the pure joy of throwing worry aside. Besides…there is a warm shower awaiting my arrival at home.

The greens of nature have never looked so green…the air is filled with an earthy aroma mixed with fragrant hues, birds are chirping, bunnies dash about here and there and the few people I see…other runners and dog walkers…acknowledge my presence with a smile and a wave…pleased to see they are not alone in the joy of being out in the rain.

It is the little things in life that bring the most pleasure to me…I hope you take the time to pause…and enjoy all the beauty that is around you today.

Here is one to start you off.

Beautiful Peony from my husband's grandmother's garden

My treasured peony from my husband’s grandmother’s garden is now in bloom.

Enjoy!

P.S. Check out this ‘good feel’ article that ran in the Toronto Star yesterday. Click here.

I am always looking for ‘good news stories’ in the newspaper as my boys complain there is too much reporting of all the ‘bad news stories’.

Well ,’Chalkboard Guy’ was a hit in our house!

“1 Smile could change Everything”…”life’s short break some rules”…”Make (picture of a heart) Not War”…”Let’s Party House Warming Fri 9…”…”Grace Trumps Karma”…”Chalk $5 black-board $20 Making u Smile PRICELESS”…”Read the News or Make the News”…It’s not to late to be a ROCKSTAR”…and…”Need: -Chalk -Wife Soon”.

Imagine, how wonderful it would be to wake up every morning to a new positive message written on a chalkboard and displayed in your neighbours window for all to embrace.

How do you stop and smell the roses in your day? What little treasures have you paused to enjoy this week?

How Do You Handle People Who Don’t Take Food Allergies Seriously?

Tip # 29 for parents of allergic youth from Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel. Click here for the entire list.

“Prepare us to handle people who don’t take allergies seriously.  These situations unfortunately happen and are frustrating and difficult to deal with.”

A sad reality…no matter how prepared one is…a lack of compassion from the community can still come as a shock.

In my experience, it’s not just total strangers…friends, acquaintances, even family members can have moments when they ‘just don’t get it’.

When a total stranger or acquaintance makes a comment…I can usually dismiss it as ignorance and gently educate them on food allergies.

However, over the years, I have educated family members and friends about my boys’ food allergies so it does come as a shock when a family member or friend blatantly defies, disregards, and/or challenges us on the boys’ food allergies.  I find I become extremely protective, my guard goes up and my trust in them is challenged.

As disconcerting as it is to be centred you out over food allergies…I try to remember our food allergy lifestyle governs us to be vigilant at all times. Whereas, someone who does not live with food allergies may not fully understand all the complexities that a food allergy lifestyle entails.

A food allergy lifestyle is not a diet…it is a commitment.

A food allergy lifestyle is not a choice…it is necessary way of life.

A food allergy lifestyle is not to be taken as a personal insult…rather, it is a personal prescription that should be respected.

My advice to my boys’ with multiple food allergies when confronted by someone who does not fully comprehend food allergies:

1.  Trust yourselves.
2.  Trust your gut…do not worry about offending someone by not eating what they feel is free of your allergens.
3.  Trust the food allergy community’s research, statistics and educational support is there ready to back you up.
4.  Someone not willing to take your food allergies seriously…is someone not to take too seriously themselves.

How do you handle people who do not take food allergies seriously?

Resources from associations that support those of us living with food allergies:

Anaphylaxis Canada’s Resources
Why Risk It? Resources
Allergy Asthma and Information Association Links

How Do You Control Your Allergy Related Anxiety?

Tip # 7 from Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel. Click here for the entire list.

“Be careful showing allergy related anxiety around us. We pick up on it and may start to become anxious ourselves”

This one really got me to thinking…

How do we balance our own fears of our children’s food allergies…while at the same time, educating those around our children about the seriousness nature of anaphylaxis without being an alarmist?

When I think back to when my boys were younger and very impressionable…I tried to deliver their medical history in a ‘matter-of-fact’ manner. I discovered this to be the most effective way, due to the fact, that as soon as I would mention Michael’s long list of food allergens (dairy, egg, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, sesame, mustard and raspberries), along with his eczema and asthma issues…the reaction on the face of the person receiving the information would be one of complete shock…they would seem completely overwhelmed.

My calm delivery was to meant to offset the reaction so my boys did not feel they were being left in the hands of someone who seemed ‘anxious themselves’.

I often found myself reassuring the recipient of the information that with a few simple measures set in place (no sharing of food, my boys were only to eat food from home, washing hands before eating, and at school, my boys kept the same desk all year which the custodian cleaned daily)…the chance of an anaphylactic reaction could be minimized.

Reviewing the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and the administration of an auto-injector and having my boys carry an auto-injector, as well as, having one in the classroom and in the office…relieved some of the anxiety.

Maintaining a sense of calm, assurance and control is not always easy…how do you control your allergy related anxiety around your children with food allergies?

Food Allergies And The Classroom: Tips for Parents

My two teenaged boys with multiple food allergies (dairy, egg, beef, lamb, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberries) are both in high school…grades 9 and 11.

Adapting to food allergies in the classroom has been a learning experience for myself and both their primary school and high school.

Patience, team work and tons of communication have been the key ingredients to the success of my boys’ journey thus far.

My focus has always been about building a support team to ensure the safety of my boys within the school. My boys’ support team includes…students, classmates, teachers, secretaries, principals, vice-principals, custodians, supply teachers, and parents.

How does one successfully build a support team for their child with food allergies?

I think Tip #15 for parents with allergic youth by Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel makes a good point. It states, ” Make sure the information you give is 100 % accurate and not exaggerated to appear more serious. This information will stay with us for a long time and influence our thoughts and actions.”

I think this not only applies to our children with food allergies but also to anyone that we educate on their behalf.

If you come on too strongly or appear ‘wishy washy’…you risk not being taken seriously. Finding that ‘happy medium’, in my experience, will garner you a better chance of building the team you will need to ensure the safety of your child within their school.

Having worked within the school system, I gained experience dealing with overprotective parents of children with special needs. Ironically, I found myself ‘sitting in the other seat’...my two children with food allergies set them apart from the norm.

As a parent with children with food allergies, I say to myself, “What do I know?…What do I want/need?…What is the bottom line?”

“I know that my boys have life threatening food allergies, I know Sabrina’s Law (in Ontario) has been passed to protect my children with anaphylaxis, I know there is an Individual Student Plan (in Ontario) to fill out to protect students with anaphylaxis, I know I need the support from the school to keep my boys safe…I know I need the school on my team.

“I want to work with the school, I want the school on my team, I want the school backing me, I want the school to take me seriously, I want all teachers, substitute teachers and school staff trained in the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and the administration of an auto-injector (EpiPen, Twinject or Allerject)…I want all these things so my children will be safe at school.”

The bottom line:   I want the entire school staff and students to know that if they see one of my boys with food allergies showing any signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis they will all know to get the auto-injector, administer it and call 911.

The following are tips I have used to help me build a support team for a safe environment for my children at their school:

1)  Approach the school with an open mind…a demanding stance will only put the school in a defensive mode.
2)  Be prepared to volunteer your time in the classroom, on field trips or whenever volunteers are required…this is the perfect opportunity to spread food allergy awareness and to meet other parents, students and school staff.
3)  Maintain an approachable nature…be open to questions from parents, students and staff…great opportunity for food allergy awareness.
4)  Understand that not everyone understands anaphylaxis…some comments you may hear should be taken with ‘a grain of salt’…count to ten, then use your discretion to gently educate them.
5)  Offer great sites for information and educational material…Anaphylaxis Canada, Allergy/Asthma Information Association, Medic-AlertAllergic Living Magazine and Why Risk It?  Click here for more resources from Anaphylaxis Canada.
6)  Our children with food allergies are their best advocates…in the words of an allergic youth from Tip #17, “Encourage us to tell others about our allergies, try not to always be the one telling our story.”
7)  Change takes time, patience, and persistence…as trailblazers ourselves, I know only too well the ‘deer in headlights’ look when I mention my eldest son’s list of food allergies. As overwhelming as the situation may be…taking it one step at a time…change will come.

I believe working with schools as a team, giving our children with food allergies the opportunity to advocate on behalf of themselves and supplying as many resources as possible providing food allergy awareness to my boys’ schools has given me the piece of mind that I need to send my boys with multiple food allergies off to school every day. This has been my norm.

Questions:  What are some of your tips for navigating the school system with your child/children’s food allergies? What has worked for you? What are your stories?

Thank You Evan and Eric Edwards…My Boys Have Their Allerjects

In 1998, my eldest son, Michael was 2 years old…suffering from severe eczema, multiple food allergies, sensitivities and asthma. At the end of the year, I gave birth to my second son, Matthew…only to discover, years later, he also had food allergies, eczema and asthma.

Who knew, that same year, 18 year old twin brothers, Evan and Eric Edwards, (allergies include peanut/tree nuts, shellfish, fish and antibiotics), had sketched on a napkin...a design for an auto-injector that would fit inside their blue jeans pocket.

An activity that ultimately…determined the brothers’ educational paths (pharmaceutical science/medicine and engineering)…career paths (founded a specialty pharmaceutical company named Intelliject)…business decision (Sanofi bought the North American licensing rights to the new auto-injector)…and created, some 15 years later, the first voice-prompted auto-injectorAllerject.

The boys' first Allerject auto-injector

Click here for a link to their site. Take note of their offer for a free Allerject trainer and Allerject carrying case per household.

I first learned of Allerject from my Winter 2013 Allergic Living Magazinethere was an Allerject advertisement plus…a fantastic article written by Mary Esselman titled, “The Auto-Injector That Talks”. (The information for this post derives mostly from this article.)

I received my copy (December 2012) just days before heading out for the boys’ annual allergy testing at the allergist…I brought it along. My allergist was surprised to see that Allerject was almost ready to ‘hit the shelves’…at this point, Allerject was awaiting approval from Health Canada…hopefully becoming available in early 2013.

The allergist wrote a prescription for both the boys for Epi Pens and Allerjects…thus becoming the allergist’s very first written prescription for Allerject.

As the boys’ Epi Pens expired this month…I was eager to get to the pharmacy to fill their prescriptions for Allerject. I was pleased to discover…not only was Allerject available but the pharmacy had an Allerject trainer.

I have to say…I think the pharmacist and her assistant were just as eager to try out the Allerject trainer as I was…it was very cool.

My favourite quote from Mary Esselman’s article:

” ‘When I see it come in front of me in a pharmacy bag, that’s when reality will set in,’ said Eric. ‘Wow, we finally did something. We did something that we originally set out to do that one day when we were sketching a credit card thing with a retractable needle on a napkin. That’s when I think I’ll be most excited.’ “

Surprising my boys with the Edward twins ‘dream come true’…their very own Allerject…priceless!

Allerject fits in the palm of your hand.

Allerject fits in the palm of your hand

Michael just loves it…perfect for a teen that is uncomfortable carrying around a bulky auto-injector. Allerject has fit into his life at an ideal time.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you for dreaming big…thank you for following your dream…thank you for proving that taking what you know (I need to carry an auto-injector because I have anaphylaxis) to solve that which you don’t know (how can I improve this auto-injector so it is easy to carry around, easy to use and teen friendly) is do-able…that dreams really can come true no matter how big.

P.S. I have just received my free Allerject trainer to practice with my boys, family members, friends and staff at my boys’ high school. Yippee!

Allerject trainer to the left and an actual Allerject auto-injector

The Allerject trainer is well marked and a totally different colour than the actual Allerject.

I will be heading to the high-school today with a letter outlining the boys’ new auto-injector…Allerject. I will be speaking to the Vice-Principal to discuss the best method of training for the administration of the Allerject to the boys’ immediate teachers and overall high-school staff. I hope they are excited about this opportunity as I am!

P.P.S. The United States equivalent to the Allerject is called the Auvi-Q. Click here for a link to their site.

Will you be choosing the Allerject/Auvi-Q for your next auto-injector for yourself or your child? How will the Allerject/Auvi-Q make a difference in your life? If you have one already…what do you think?

Knitting…A Fun Outlet For Stress

Since January 2013, I began a new journey of stress relief…although, at times, my husband would beg to differ…knitting.

Basket full of wool for my knitting projects

A gift certificate from The Kniterary from my mother at Christmas was the start of my journey.

I struggled through my first set of lessons…learning to cast on, knit, pearl and cast off…my scarf/cowl.

Wearing the knitted hat and unfinished scarf/cowl

Still a work in progress….note the dangling piece of yarn…would like it to go around my neck at least twice.

My second set of knitting lessons at The Kniterary…learning to read a pattern, knitting in the round, increasing, decreasing…finally lead to a finished product…a hat!

Wearing the hat I knitted

I just love this hat…want one in every colour now! Note the addition of the little flower I stitched on the edge.

My third set of knitting lessons at The Kniterary…learning to follow a more complicated pattern (intermediate) involving knitting with a second colour, sleeves, neck shaping, I-Cord trim, sewing seams, blocking…led to my second completed project…a baby sweater!

Baby sweater I knitted

Note the cute ‘flower button’ I knitted to represent a ‘violet’.

Many trips to my avid knitting neighbour, Anna Mae, has led to a new friendship…many trips to The Kniterary for Martina’s calming instructionals has led to a new mentor…many sets of lessons with the lovely ladies in my knitting classes has led to many new friendships…priceless!

All in all I have found a new community of friendships…a kinship in knitting…another outlet for stress!

Knitting is certainly something I never saw myself ever attempting let alone accomplishing. Even though knitting, for me, may appear to those around me as stress inducing… overall, it has given me a great deal of satisfaction.

The creative side of me loves the challenges…not to mention all the gorgeous coloured wool…the social side of me loves the interaction with the other knitters and the loner in me loves the solitude of knitting.

Knitting may have started as another escape from the food allergies, eczema and asthma issues at home…but in the end, it has introduced me to others whose lives have been touched by the many medical conditions that are out there now…it has made me feel so much less alone.

I need to remind myself…although it seems that the grass is ‘always greener on the other side’…it may seem that way until you actually get there.

I have since knitted another hat and taken a ‘cable’ course…gifts for my Secret Sister Swap hosted by My 1/2 Dozen Daily.

Hat and mug warmer I knitted for my Secret Sister

I loved the ‘cable mug warmer’ so much…I bought myself a portable mug so I can knit myself one. It will be perfect to take to the boys’ hockey games next season…the flowers and buttons were my own personal touch.

As for the gorgeous baby sweater…

Baby sweater gift for Violet

…it was given as a special gift for a little girl named Violet.

Click here to meet Violet.

P.S. I am looking forward to my next set of lessons…stripy socks!

P.P.S  Family members will be receiving something extra special in their stockings this year…I have almost finished my first gift.

More Inspiring Food Allergy, Eczema and Asthma Bloggers

I have put together a list of inspirational food allergy, eczema and asthma bloggers compiled from skin and food allergy bloggerThe Allergista and food allergy blogger, Dairy-Egg-Nut.

I have written a little about each, in the hopes of spreading their stories and inspiring many!

I want to thank The Allergista and Dairy-Egg-Nut for posting and sharing their ‘Very Inspiring Blogger’ Award lists. It is a great opportunity to widen our network of allergy related bloggers…get ready to be inspired!

1.  ‘The Other Courtney’…Courtney is an eczema and allergy sufferer…I love her post titled, ‘You Might Have Eczema if…’, totally relatable…it made me smile. 🙂

2.  ‘Linda Sepp Life with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: The importance of safe housing’…Linda’s life is an eye-opener…Linda is a Canadian, ‘disabled and housebound from severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Environmental Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, and Electromagnetic HyperSensitivity.’ Read all about her journey by clicking here. The information she has researched will have you re-evaluating what you injest, breathe in and put next to your skin. I had no idea this existed…Linda’s life is inspiring to say the least!

3.  Lifewithfa Life with Food Allergies: A Mom’s Perspective…Alice is a mother of two young boys with multiple food allergies…a combination of 18+ between them! (peanuts/tree nuts, wheat, egg, milk, fish, shellfish, soy, barley, rye, lentils, buckwheat, peas, chickpeas, chicken, turkey, celery and sesame seeds) Like myself, she is often asked, “So, What Do You Eat?”  I can totally relate to her life as a mom faced with the challenges of every day life living with multiple food allergies.

4. Photosensitivity & Solar Urticaria Blog…since February/March 2011, this blogger has been diagnosed with a rare form of Solar Urticaria…she needs to avoid sunlight. Again, I had no idea this existed! Talk about an inspiring girl!

5.  My Food Intolerance Journey: This WordPress.com site is following my road back to full health…Dean suffers from food and chemical sensitivities. Dean is currently taking low dose immunotherapy…click here to read.more.. and trying to heal a leaky gut…click here to read more. I remember when my eldest son was young, I felt he had a leaky gut…I also started him on probiotics (a dairy free version) and EFA’s (evening primrose oil and flax oil)…he is still on them to this day.

6.  Surviving Seattle With Allergies enjoying food to the fullest:  Adrienne writes to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining one’s personal health…her blog is full of her recipes.

7.  Food Allergy Experience: Dainty is a mother of two. Her son has multiple food allergies to…dairy, soy, wheat , eggs, peanut/tree nuts, mango and shellfish. He also suffers from eczema and asthma. To read about her journey, just click here. Dainty posts her son’s weekly menus, shares her experiences of living with food allergies and posts allergy friendly recipes.

8.  PINKLIKEABEACON Topical period Withdrawl-Taking it one day at a time:  at Day 175- 25 weeks off steriods…this blogger’s skin would be a bit of a shock for anyone not familiar with eczema. Reminds me very much of Michael’s skin. It breaks my heart to see these pictures as I know exactly what she is going through. I had no idea, at the time, that there was such a thing as ‘topical steroid withdrawl’. I am now starting to believe that perhaps Michael went through this phase as we weaned him off his steroid creams. If your child is on any steroid cream for eczema…you should check this out.

9.  Allergictolifemybattle Life Can Change in an Instant:  Severe mold in the workplace changed the life of this mother of two…immune system dysfunction, severe depression and near financial ruin. In 2003, she started her book on how devastating mold can be…‘Allergic to Life’ will be available Summer 2013. Click here for her post on her book update…I love the poem she wrote.

10.  Adventures of an Allergic Foodie Don’t let celiac disease and allergies hold you back:  Allergic to asparagus, capers, cashews, corn, dairy, guar flour , kefir, nutmeg, pineapple, rennet, soy, vanilla and yeast..this blogger also lives with celiac disease and Eosinoplhilic Esophagatis (EoE)…she is a girl who in her words, “struggles to eat”. With an autoimmune system that has gone ‘haywire’, I love her mantra, “I don’t believe in whining. I do believe obstacles are put in our lifepaths for a reason-and I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to let food allergies hold me back!”

11.  adaptingtoallergies adapting our lives and recipes to live safely with severe food allergies:  Melanie is mother to two children…her son JT has severe food allergies and has asthma. Melanie tells her family’s story…she states, ” I have adapted to live safely with food allergies without turning our lives upside down.”

12. The Crunchy Cook Learning to love food again, one allergen/gluten-free recipe at a time. The blogger has a long list of food allergens…gluten(wheat, barley, rye,spelt), dairy, eggs, soy, peaches, pork, shrimp, mushrooms, strawberries, tomatoes, tuna, aspartame, peanuts(life-threatening/airborne level), honeydew, beef, annato, apples, and a sugar, honey and molasses sensitivity. With all these food allergens, I love The Crunchy Cooks attitude…she states, “when I look at all the tasty things that are still options, it makes life-or at least the putting-food-in-my-mouth-part seem more manageable.” Click here for her list of foods she enjoys to eat.

13.  Please Don’t Pass The Nuts (TM) Just because you have a restricted diet, doesn;t mean you have a restricted life. Sloane Miller, aka. Allergic Girl, is my idol! She is the author of the book that anyone with food allergies should read…Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies. I did a reveiw on her book awhile back…click here to read. Her book made me feel better about all that I was trying to do for my boys and inspired me to ‘step out of my box’…something I continue to strive to do.

15.  The Allergy Eats Blog Your Allergy Friendly Restaurant Blog: This site is a “user-friendly guide to allergy-friendly restaurants across the United States. It is a peer-reviewed directory of restaurants – rated by people with food allergies, for people with food allergies.” written by a father of five with three of his children with food allergies. Click here to read more. I love the post he wrote on, “The  Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains in America”…click here for the post.

16.  It’s A Hard Nut Life is written by a fellow with nut allergies and has a condition called Dermatographia…”too much Histamine in your blood and when your skin gets irritated or scratched, it rises to the surface and causes a little bump.” Apparently, this condition is quite common with people with allergies. Click here to read his post on this condition and check out the interesting artwork he has drawn on his skin.

17.  Ingredients all about cosmetics, chemistry and fashion: Louise has always loved fashion…when she was finishing her Ph.d, she experienced a bad allergic reaction to a skin care product.  The bio chemist in her was determined to learn more about cosmetic products…she obtained a post-graduate certificate in cosmetic science from the U.K. Society of Cosmetic Scientists. Louise’s blog, Ingredients, is all about combining her love of fashion, chemistry and cosmetics…in her words, “My goal is to provide balanced, objective information and product reviews, based on real science and my knowledge of organic chemistry, skin anatomy and biochemistry.”

18.  Allergy Warriors and Gluten-Free Gal For people with a food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity:  Allergy Warrior Annie is a mother of two…her eldest has a peanut and egg allergy. Allergy Warrior Annie chose her name “because anyone who has a food allergy knows how much of a battle it is to be safe!” Gluten-Free Gal Lizzie shares her recipes, tips and tricks “about living gf in a world where gluten seems to be everywhere.”

I know I must be missing some…please let me know in the comments, of any inspiring allergy, eczema and asthma bloggers that you feel should be highlighted.

Who inspires you?

The Food Allergy Chronicles Visits Lone Star Texas Grill

Dairy-Egg-Nut has inspired our family to ‘step outside the box’ this March Break. After much deliberation over restaurant ‘Allergy Guides’…one restaurant was chosen…The Lone Star Texas Grill.

Our family's trip to Lone Star Texas Grill

Quite surprisingly, Lone Star Texa Grill does not officially have a breakdown of food allergens for their menu listed in their ‘Allergen Guide’. However, what they do have is a very inviting message to those with food allergies who would like to eat at the Lone Star Texas Grill.

The Lone Star Texas Grill ‘s ‘Allergy Guide’ states, “At Lone Star, Guest food safety is number one. If you have any special food allergies, sensitivities or dietary needs, please speak to your server before you order. All our servers are well versed in the ingredients of our menu items.”

“While we cannot guarantee the absence of any allergen, due to the potential for cross-contaminationand potential traces of allergens in sauces, marinades, cooking processes and menu adaptations we will do our best to accomodate your requests.”

Click here to view Lone Star Texas Grill’s Allergy Guide.

Right away, after reading the above ‘Allergy Guide’, I felt inclined to call the restaurant to speak with the manager about Michael’s food allergies…dairy, egg, beef, lamb, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry…and Matthew’s food allergies…peanut/tree nuts.

The manager was very helpful and understanding of my boys’ combined food allergies…he assured us that the Lone Star Texas Grill would be able to meet our food allergy requirements. Adding, that many of their food allergy customers are repeat customers…very reassuring indeed!

Questions for Michael’s meal:

Is there a separate fryer for the french fries? Apparantly, there is a separate fryer that just fries the corn chips that are served complimentary. Michael’s fries would be fried in that oil. (corn chips were free of his allergens)

Is there mustard in their Original Texas Barbecue Sauce?   Yes…ribs are not allergen free.

Is there mustard in the seasoning of their chicken fingers? No, they would toss real chicken in a flour, salt and pepper mixture and would fry them in the same oil as his french fries.

Perfect…just what Micheal was hoping for…Chicken Fingers with fries…done.

Questions for Matthew’s meal:

Are the buns free of peanut/tree nuts?  Yes.

Perfect…Matthew would order “Bubba’s” Smoked Brisket.

Overall questions:

The manager reassured me that the manager would oversee the cooking of the boys’s meals, the hostess and waitress would be made aware of the boys’ food allergies, all cutting boards and utensils used in the making of the meals would be separate from the other food…I was sold!

Overall evening:

From the moment we stepped in to the Lone Star Texas Grill, our family was made to feel very welcome indeed.

Our hostess greeted us at the entrance…after a quick introduction, she smiled and reassured us the restaurant was ready for us and seated us near the back of the restaurant, by the kitchen.

The manager then greeted us at the table…he was very patient as I re-relayed the conversation I had had with the manager on duty at the time I had called. I had forgotten to ask about the salsa that is served with the corn chips and the plum sauce for the chicken fingers while on the phone with the other manager…the salsa and plum sauce were free of his food allergens.

The manager then re-reassured me that the kitchen was well experienced in cooking for anyone with food allergies. Relaying that our waitress was also aware of our food allergies.

Next, our smiling waitress arrived…she was equally patient as I re-relayed the specifics of our food allergy requirements. Drinks and our meal were ordered.

The first to arrive were the still warm from the fryer, corn chips and salsa.

Complimentary corn chips and salsa at Lone Star Texas Grill

Michael tried one, smiled and happily dug in to the pile…soon a second order arrived…where were the drinks?

Finely, the drinks arrived to quench the thirst of the ‘corn chip munchers’…soon to be followed by our dinner.

Michael’s Chicken Fingers and Fries with a side order of carrot and celery sticks…which, I might add, he did actually eat!

http://www.michaelpenneystyle.com/2013/03/15/join-us-for-a-floral-class-at-penney-company/

Michael inhaled his meal…happy to report it was delish…although he could have done with a few more of the french fries. (Note: Michael’s fries just had salt on them, whereas, Matthew noted that his fries had a sort of spice on them)

Over the course of the meal…Michael ‘absorbed’ his fair share of Iced Tea!

Michael's trail of Iced Tea drinks at the Lone Star Texas Grill

I imagine the sodium content of his entire meal was the culprit!

Overall…I would rate this meal a huge success!

At the end of the meal…the manager recommended that Michael try the Chicken Fajitas on his next visit. The tortillas, which they bake in house, were safe…the chicken would not be brushed with a garlic butter and would be grilled on a separate grill…the Saddle Beans and Mexican Rice would be safe as would the Salsa.

If Matthew had had room for dessert…he would have been able to have had the ice cream…

For anyone that does not live with multiple food allergies…the notion of going our for dinner may not seem like such a ‘big deal’. But for our family…it will be a moment we will remember for always because it was a ‘big deal’!

The fear is real…the consequences of eating something that one is allergic to is real…the need to be specific and careful about ingredient lists and how food is prepared, cooked and served is real.

Not everyone ‘gets it’…all I know is I’m sure glad the managers, hostess, waitress and cooks at Lone Star Texas Grill did!

Know, that on our next visit to Lone Star Texas Grill…I would still be calling ahead to go through the same food allergen questions to assure myself that the restaurant is prepared for our every visit…never assume!

I would love to hear about your experiences eating out at restaurants with food allergies.

P.S. At ‘The Allergy Eats! Blog Your Allergy Friendly Restaurant Blog“, they have specifically written a post titled, ‘The Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains in America’. Click here to check out their top 5 restaurant chains in the categories of large, medium and small chains.

P.P.S. I was very saddened by an article in Sunday’s edition of the Toronto Star.

Twelve year old Maia Santarelli-Gallo, died a ‘mysterious death’ this March Break while out shopping at Mapleview Centre in Burlington, Ontario. Her parents believe she died from an unknown food allergy…her body may have gone into anaphylactic shock. Maia had some food intolerances…but was never prescribed an Epipen by a doctor.

A sad reminder of how dangerous food allergies can be if not fully investigated.

My thoughts and prayers are with Maia’s family. Click here for the full story.