Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A happy Valentine's Day thanks to Ener-G

This weekend I wanted to make cupcakes for the boys for Valentine's Day and I didn't have a box of my favorite cake mix from Cherrybrook Kitchen. I also had a bunch of errands to run and didn't have the energy to make an extra stop to pick up a new box.

So, I decided it was time to experiment with a regular cake mix and the Ener-G egg replacer. I picked up a box of mix at Target and headed home.  I think it was Betty Crocker, but I'm not 100% sure. I did look at the ingredients and it said it might contain milk in it. I had no idea how the cake would turn out without real eggs, but I was game to see what would happen.  Great news!  The cupcakes turned out great. They rose up like you would expect and tasted good.

I was online trying to see what other people's experiences are with "regular" cake mixes and found this posting about Duncan Hines mixes that do NOT have dairy in them. So, next time I'll give that mix a try.

I am SO relieved to have other options for making treats for the kids. By they way, here's a tip fo other moms out there: When you make a batch of cupcakes,  keep a couple unfrosted cupcakes aside and throw them in the freezer ... this way you have one to grab the next time your allergy kid is invited to a birthday party.

P.S. Little Guy's school Valentine's Day party was interesting ... had to bring bread and popcorn for the party for him.  Ugh.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Update on Miracle Margarine

One of my original posts on this blog had to do with finding Fleischmann's unsalted margarine -- which has no dairy in it. This post has been one of my most popular with 16 comments on it.

Since I first posted it there have been some questions as to whether UNSALTED Fleischmann's margarine is free of dairy. Some people have posted that there is whey in it and I should "Make sure you know all the facts before you post something like that."

First of all, YES, we all should always check the labels of our kids' food. I posted this in Oct. 2006 -- 3 years ago!!! Things change ... always check your labels. I'm just a mom out here sharing what I have seen and what has worked for my family. And I touched on that in one of my very first posts.

That said, I am looking at the ingredients for the margarine in front of me and it says: Liquid soybean oil, water, hydrogenated soybean oil, contains less than 2% of the following: vegetable mono-and diglycerides and soy lecithin (emulsifiers), potassium sorbate and calcium disodium edta* (to preserve freshness), phosphoric acid (acidulant), natural and artificial flavor, vitamin A palmitate, colored with beta carotene (source of Vitamin A), Vitamin D3. CONTAINS: Soy

So, there you have it. I don't see a reference to whey. At least in the kind I get at my local store. I don't know enough about ConAgra Foods (who produces the product). Perhaps the ingredients differ by geographic location.

I certainly would not want the person who posted the comment to this blog to give it to her daughter who has a severe dairy allergy if the package she is looking at says there is whey in it. It would be terrible for that little girl to get sick. I know, my son can't eat whey either or casein.

This blog was meant as a way to share information and find other people dealing with the same issues. We are all stressed as we try to navigate through this experience .... let's try to support one another.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

B&S -- your latest show is BS

Why? I asked myself this question several times the other night when I finally watched the most recent episode (Episode 319 "Spring Broken) of the ABC drama "Brothers & Sisters." Why include that line? What did it REALLY do to help the storyline? Not much. But it DID condone lying, being deceptive and putting other people in danger ..... great attributes to teach our children.

What am I talking about? If you didn't catch it, in the beginning of the show the harried, overworked single mother Sarah was making lunch for her kids and told her daughter Paige (who is around 13 years old) that she ran out of turkey, so instead she was giving them peanut butter sandwiches. Paige responds with "MOM! We are a peanut-free school!" And Sarah tells her, "Just tell them it's soy butter."


Seriously. WHY?

As I suspected, other viewers picked up on how stupid this was and are talking about it on the ABC message board and so are some columnists.

It is so surprising to me that this liberal show would include this exchange. It's not like peanut allergies aren't well known these days (case in point -- the recent news story on the potential peanut allergy cure). So what dumb-ass wrote this ?!? Oh, I guess it was Brian Studler (according to the B&S writers blog). Well, he is not much a of "stud" to me; he is an idiot. (And evidently, not much of a writer since he couldn't write his own blog entry! Okay, I digress.)

I am fortunate, my boys can be around peanuts, they just can't ingest them, so this faux soy butter sandwich would not be an issue for them. But regardless of if your kids have peanut allergies, we all should find this dialogue shameful because it teaches the child that she is above the rules, should lie to get what she needs, and to not show sympathy and compassion for those with allergies.

Okay, I think I got it all out. Getting down off soapbox now. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The outcome of the social experiment

Okay, it was a pretty anti-climactic outcome from my social experiment at Big Guy's school with the cake walk. I asked the mom in charge and she said she didn't stay for the whole thing, so she didn't see if anyone took the allergen-free treats. Oh well!

As I said before, given how hectic it was in the room with the cake walk and given the lack of visibility to these treats (both in where they were placed amongst the other treats and the knowledge that they even existed), I think they weren't taken by kids with food allergies.

But I did get a survey for the overall fun fair and in the suggestions section, I recommended that next year they have an allergen-free section of treats and advertise their existence prior to the fun fair. So, we'll just have to wait and see.

Also, my friend gave me a great idea for an alternate to the cake walk, which would also address the allergy issue ... a Book Walk. Same idea as the cake walk, where you walk around and when the music stops there is one winner, but the winner gets to pick a book instead of a treat. This requires more upfront work since the parents have to get the book donations, but I think it is a terrific idea. It promotes literacy, instead of sugary treats and also helps out the kids with food allergies. Not to mention, the parents who aren't that keen on taking homemade treats from unknown bakers who may not be as diligent as they are in keeping a clean kitchen ... if you get my drift. So, I might try to float that idea out there next year too. Just call me a rabble rauser!! (how do you spell that??)

Any one have any other ideas???

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Update on the social experiment

Well, we checked out the Cake Walk** on Friday to see how my mini-social experiment was coming along. As I said, I hadn't taken Big Guy to the cake walk last year because I knew he couldn't eat anything that he might win, so I didn't know what exactly to expect.

When we got in the room, I couldn't believe how many treats were stacked up for people to choose from. And when the kid wins the cake walk, he/she just runs up and grabs whatever looks good. The winner didn't get much time to pick. So, it was nearly impossible for the winner to find my labeled treats.

I quickly realized the problem with my experiment .... lack of visibility. The winner couldn't find my treats and no one knew that non-allergen treats were going to be there. For labeled treats to work people have to know they are there. So, I think next year I would try to work with the parents who organize this part of the fun fair and suggest that 2-5 of us make allergen-free treats (like I did this year), label them and announce the availability of the treats to all parents via the fun fair info sheets that are sent home 2-4 weeks before the fun fair. We would basically have a separate table for those treats and then kids with allergies would know there is something there they can eat if they do win the cake walk.

What do you all think? Would you allow your child to eat something at an event like this? Is it worth it???

** (For those of you who aren't sure what a cake walk is at a fun fair/carnival, here you go. There are a bunch of numbered sheets of paper taped to the floor in a circle. Then a bunch of kids (around 15) walk in a circle while music is playing. When the music stops, you stop on a number and the leader draws a number from a hat, if your number is drawn you win and get to pick a "cake" (in this case, a plate with 2-3 portions of a treat on it).

Friday, February 20, 2009

A new member of the family

Tada! I had a baby!! He was born on Jan. 21 and is a "cutie-pie" (according to Little Guy).

Hanging out today with mom.

Hmmm, now that the baby is here I guess I can't use the term Little Guy for my second son. But it would be confusing to change his nickname now. I guess I'll stick with Little Guy for him and call the baby Littlest Guy (which I'm sure he will LOVE when he is older).

Anyway, it will be interesting to see if he has any food allergies. I've talked to other moms with 3 kids and there are at least 2 families where one of the 3 kids dodged the food allergy bullet. Time will tell for Littlest Guy.

My mini-social experiment

Tonight is the Fun Fair at Big Guy's school. I decided that since I have some more time (being home on maternity leave) I would bake some allergen-free treats for the cake walk.

I made the Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate cupcakes with Pillsbury frosting (which only contains soy) ....

and dairy-free rice krispie treats with the Miracle Margarine (aka Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine, which has no dairy in it.)

As you can see, the treats are clearly marked regarding what allergens they do and do not contain. I am interested to see if ...

(1) parents with kids with food allergies even go to the cake walk (I know I didn't last year because I assumed there would be nothing there that Big Guy could eat)
(2) parents with kids with food allergies are comfortable taking food another parent made
(3) kids without allergies will NOT eat these because they think they will taste gross (which they don't, they are yummy).

So that is why I consider this donation to be a mini-social experiment. The mom running the cake walk has two kids with food allergies, so she'll be paying attention to how this all goes down.

Stay tuned!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A nod to the difficulties of eating out

I'm a little late posting this, but I thought it was really cool to see a local restaurant acknowledging the difficulties eating out with food allergies. I've blogged about this before and I know other people have too.

I don't think a 5 year old and 3 year old would really dig this posh restaurant, so I hope family-style restaurants consider doing the same thing. It would be so cool to be able to order ANYTHING off the menu at a restaurant, or at least have it CLEARLY marked so we'd know what we could get AND actually have the food contain what the server says it does (or does not).

Here is another idea .... Can you imagine how cool it would be if underneath the description of the food on a menu there was a list of allergens (like we get on food labels) ... for example:

Chicken Fingers Allergens: wheat, soy, egg, dairy

Oh, and it should be in plain English, like that, not "casein, whey, etc."

Is that really so hard??

Wow, what a dream!!