Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reflections on an Allergy-Free School Year

My son just finished Kindergarten.  I had been apprehensive about sending him to school because of his allergies and asthma.

On the first day of school I sent a box of non-perishable snacks for him to have access to during their snack time.  This worked really well and I just made sure it was well-stocked throughout the year.

Sometimes I would send snacks for the whole class and my son was always excited about getting to be the snack helper.

For each holiday party I made sure I sent a treat bag just for him if I wasn't able to be at the party to supervise.  I also sent him with his own cake or cookie to eat during the party.  This worked very well.

After the first day of school when my son was offered some cheese puffs by another student, he never ate anyone else's food at lunch.  I packed his lunch every day and my son never questioned why he couldn't eat the school tray lunch.

We did have two incidents that were cause for concern.  The school gives each child a prepackaged cupcake one day during the month of their birthday.  My son's name was on the list for December so he was given a cupcake.  No one seemed to remember he had food allergies.  My son assumed that since an adult gave him the cupcake that it was safe to eat.

While he didn't have an immediate reaction he did complain of a stomach ache, had some small skin colored bumps on his chest, and needed a breathing treatment that night.  Thankfully, the reaction wasn't severe, but I did talk to the school about being more diligent.

One other time he was given some pizza that another class brought to my son's class to share.  The teacher must have asked if he ate pizza at home and he said yes.  He was given a piece, but only ate a couple of bites because it didn't taste like his pizza.  He had a similar response as when he ate the cupcake.

Those were the only times he was given the wrong foods.  I thought it would be simpler to just tell the school not to let him eat anything I don't send, but apparently it wasn't a fool-proof idea.

I also had to make sure that I was informed about special events.  For example, on the hundredth day of school everyone got ice cream.  I brought my son's ice cream so that he wouldn't be left out.  Also, on that day my son's class counted out 100 fruit loops and strung them on a necklace.  I sent cereal for my son and he was able to have fun, too.

It was a lot of work to be so diligent for my son, but he is worth it.  We are looking into the option of having a 504 Plan for next school year.

How do you handle your child's food allergies while they are at school?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Using a Blender as a Grinder

Did you know that you can use your blender to grind flax seeds, oats and possibly other grains?

A couple of years ago I found this out and was so happy. I purchase golden flax seed to make egg replacers and thought I would try grinding them in my blender.  It worked very well.

To grind the flax seed I use a pint sized, regular mouth canning jar and fill it half full. Then I put the blender parts on it and put it on my blender base. I use the ice crush setting and in a minute or two I have freshly ground flax meal.

By using the canning jar, I can put an old peanut butter jar lid on top and store it in my refrigerator.

I also use my blender to grind gluten free oats for use in my oat chocolate chip cookie recipe. Millet would work well with this process. I am not sure that rice would be fine enough with the blender, but then again I have never tried it.

Have you ever used your blender as a grinder?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gluten Free Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been making this cookie recipe for almost two years and just realized I have never shared it here.  These are a soft and tasty cookie that my whole family enjoys.

This recipe is free of dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.

Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 Cups Gluten Free Oat Flour*
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp. Ground Flax*
1/4 Cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
1/3 Cup Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 Cup Rice Milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine oat flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, sugar, ground flax and chocolate chips in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine oil, milk and vanilla.  Pour liquid mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and mix well.  Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

*To make oat flour and/or ground flax simply grind them in your blender.  When choosing oats make sure they are gluten free like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain, Rolled Oats.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Homemade Pancake Mix

I have been debating about whether to keep this blog going or not. It has been six months since I even posted anything. (Is anyone even still out there?)  I have two other blogs and keeping this blog going hasn't been a priority. However, I decided to give it another try and see how things go. I will try to post once a week and go from there.

I recently did something that has saved me a lot of time on Saturday mornings (our pancake morning).  I have started making homemade pancake mixes.  When Saturday morning comes all I have to do is measure out the wet ingredients and then add the contents of my mix.  This has been working very well.

Here is how I make my pancake mixes using my pancake recipe

In a zip-top plastic bag I place:

1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tbsp. Ground Flax Seed 
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

I write the following on each bag: 

Allergy Free Pancake Mix - Add 1 1/2 cups of dairy-free milk, 2 Tbsp. oil, and egg replacer to equal 1 egg.  

When I am ready to make the pancakes I place all of the wet ingredients into a bowl and stir.  Then I empty the contents of my bag into the bowl and stir until blended.  I let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while my griddle is preheating.  

Then I pour the pancake batter on the griddle in  approximately 1/4 cup increments. Turn them over when bubbles have formed on the top. Cook them on the other side until golden brown. Remove from heat and repeat until all batter has been cooked.

Now I am going to try to figure out what other recipes I can turn into mixes to save time. Have you ever done this?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Snacks at School for Kids with Food Allergies

My son who has allergies started Kindergarten this year.  I knew he would see the other kids eating lots of things he couldn't have at both lunch and snack time.  His teacher was well-informed and thankfully kept an eye on him the first week any time he ate.  She saw a child give him something he shouldn't have two days in a a row and stopped him before it went further.  After several discussions about those foods making his tummy hurt my son hasn't had a problem since.

I pack his lunch every day so I know that he is getting foods that are safe for him at lunch time.  I also placed a small shoe box sized lidded plastic box in his classroom with individually packaged snacks that he could eat during snack time.  He has done so well with this and hasn't been upset when the other kids eat something different for snack time.

The picture above shows some chocolate cupcakes I made to keep in the freezer at school.  The purpose of this is to allow my son to have something similar to the other children for parties or if a child brings in cupcakes for a birthday.  The teacher can just take one out in the morning and it will be ready by snack time.

I did pack my son a special treat bag on the day of his class Halloween party.  I didn't want him to feel left out when other children got a treat bag. 

So far things have worked out really well for my son this school year.  I am finding that dealing with my son's food allergies while he is at school can be manageable through good communication with the school and through sending foods and snacks that are safe for him.

Do you have a child in school who has food allergies?  What are some things that have worked for you?
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