Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vacation update

Only 2 hours after I came home from work on my first day of vacation, the boy vomited all over himself, my husband and I. This was our first experience with him throwing up, so I’ll leave it at that! This was not the quality boy time I was hoping for. I spent an entire night with his feet kicking my face while he tossed and turned. I woke up cranky and nauseous myself.

At breakfast, he refused to eat anything, every time I suggested a new food, his response was ‘cookie’. Since I took pity on the fact he had vommitted the previous night, and I had visions of his empty tummy, I gave in, and kept handing him arrowroot cookies until he stopped asking. I didn't want to give him milk, just in case it would upset his stomach, and he wasn’t at the point of needing pedialyte. I spiked his water with apple juice but I’m a bit of a sugarphobe, and this was the first time I have ever given him apple juice. He was devouring it...screaming for apple juice all day long, even trying to open the fridge himself at one point!

For our vacation, we planned to go to my in-laws country house that day, but instead we kept him home for the next 48 hours to avoid bringing any form of sickness to the house which was filled with my husband’s entire family including my 1,3 and 5 year old nephews, and my pregnant sister in law. The last thing I wanted was to be responsible for a gastro outbreak in Ivry. On Sunday, we went to the country, but after the first night, his nose started running, and the wheezing kicked in. I thought we were doomed, but I wasn’t going to let a little wheeze and cough keep him from having fun. We played outside, played inside, went sledding, went skating for the first time, watched movies, went for dinner, went to the indoor playground and had quality family time. If my husband had his way, the boy would be skiing as well! I have been able to relax a bit, which is not something I usually get to do. Since returning to work from maternity leave 9 months ago, any boy time is valuable time to me. Taking a step back from the demands of my everyday life has allowed me to focus on my family and realize how lucky I am. I still have a few more days left of vacation so maybe I’ll even be lucky enough to ski!



Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vacation, Vacation

7 more days… I am looking forward to a full 13 days of boy time! Though we celebrated Hanukkah last week, over the vacation, we will spend lots of time with our nieces, nephews, and family. My husband grew up skiing, so we plan to put the boy on skies this winter. He’s young but very steady. He’s been walking for close to a year now, and I think he’ll be just fine being pulled around on a flat surface. For me, I prefer the real thing. I started skiing when I was dating my husband. A few months after we met, I invested in an entire new ski wardrobe, everything from the boots to the helmet. I took to it quite easily, and really enjoyed it. I complain a lot about the cold, but overall, I love skiing. We went on a family ski trip during our second winter together and I braved the slopes of Aspen, Snowmass and Vail quite well. It was the following year, just a few weeks after our wedding that I fell on the ‘fuddle duddle’, a green circle (beginner trail), and tore ligaments in my knee requiring surgery and a missed ski season. I fully recovered, but stayed off the slopes the following season for fear of falling again. The following winter I was pregnant, and last year I was breastfeeding, so being away for too many hours just made me uncomfortable (literally). All to say, that for the holidays I am looking forward to skiing, boy time, and relaxing. I have decided on all the activities we will do with the boy, and I am counting down the days. And yes, I realize this post has nothing to do with mine or the boy’s allergy!

Happy holiday’s to my 8 loyal followers (and anyone else who reads this!)



Monday, December 6, 2010

Google It

I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of google, and I google everything. When I type peanut allergy into the search box, it says there are 767 000 results. Sites like medic alert, press releases, and other reputable organizations around peanut, nut or food allergies are listed first, But scrolling through the pages, I found blogs and other resources that I never knew existed. The internet is a tremendously valuable resource to most people on both a personal and professional level. I have been a member of for years. This website allows me to reach out to others when I have a simple question about a restaurant, product, travel etc... As you know from a recent post, I am also subscribed to anaphylaxis canada’s network, where I receive regular emails on peanut, nut and other food related recalls. There are so many helpful sites out there, and I can only speak for myself, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone. It’s amazing how the internet has changed the way I handle my allergy. I regularly contact companies to double check their products before I try something new. In fact, on the FAQ page, there is often a statement on how the company handles allergies. All to say, if you need more info, just ‘google it!’.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

Latkes- For those of you who don’t know what a Latke is, it is a Fried Potato Pancake. Latkes are a Hanukkah treat that are delicious. Usually they are accompanied by sour cream and/or apple sauce.

A few years ago I made homemade latkes for the first time, and they are so much better than store bought. Most people say that hand grating the potato’s is better, but I use the grater setting on my Cuisinart, and they always turn out to be a success. I often make 2 batches, sweet potato and regular. Of course there are risks associated with frying at home, but I use my biggest stock pot and filled the oil only about an inch deep and am very careful. I keep the fire extinguisher under my sink, so I am well prepared in the event of an accident. In perusing recipes, I have noticed that many call for peanut oil. It has been said that peanut oil is the ideal frying oil due to it’s capacity to reach a high smoke point, and it apparently makes the food crispier. Considering this is not an option, I use Canola oil, and it is just fine!

This is the recipe I’ve used over the past few years.


2 Cups peeled, grated potato’s (Yukon, OR Sweet)-about 6 potato's
1 Med grated onion
2 eggs
4 tbsp Flour
1 tbsp salt
½ cup canola oil
Drop about 2 tablespoons into the oil and let fry until golden brown on both sides.

Makes about a dozen latkes (to make more just double the recipe)

Happy Hanukkah!



Saturday, November 27, 2010


This is a press release from Quaker Canada dated November 26, 2010 that I received via the Anaphylaxis Canada Newtwork:

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Nov. 26 /CNW/ - Quaker Canada, a division of PepsiCo Foods Canada, urges Canadians who have purchased 14 count Quaker Chewy Granola Bars Value Pack cartons to be mindful and check the UPC bar code in light of a possible allergic reaction that occurred this week. No other packages of Quaker bars or Quaker products are affected.

Quaker Canada is investigating how the cartons were mis-labeled and is focused on actions to alert consumers and recover the product from the marketplace.

The recall was announced on November 24. Today, Quaker Canada is:

•Working with customers nationally to retrieve the affected product from store shelves as quickly as possible;
•Working with Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency;
•Working with Anaphylaxis Canada and other health groups to reach Canadians with peanut and tree nut allergies;
•Notifying school boards across Canada;
•Taking out newspaper advertisements advising of the recall to further raise awareness;
•Conducting a thorough investigation to understand how the mis-labeling took place.
"We are recovering these products as quickly as possible. We immediately halted our packaging operations at the location where this error occurred. Following our investigation of what took place, we will put an action plan in place to ensure this doesn't happen again," said Kathryn Matheson, Vice President, Quaker Canada.

The 14 count Quaker Chewy Granola Bars Value Pack cartons that were mis-labeled carry the UPC Bar Code 55577 10742. Consumers with the product should inspect the contents of the carton to ensure it contains the correct product - Chewy Chocolate Chip and Chewy S'mores bars. No other packages of Quaker bars or Quaker products are affected.

The company has recalled the 14 count Quaker Chewy Granola Bars Value Packs because the outside packaging erroneously states that the boxes should contain Chewy Chocolate Chip and Chewy S'mores bars, both of which are made in a peanut free facility. If the carton contains Dipps Chocolate Chip and Dipps Caramel Nut bars and a consumer has a peanut or tree nut allergy, they should return it to the retailer where it was purchased for a refund. There is no health risk associated with handling the mis-labeled carton for disposal or return, however this product should not be consumed by those in a peanut or tree nut-allergic household.

The company received a report of a consumer experiencing an anaphylactic reaction after consuming a granola bar that potentially came from a mis-labeled 14 count Quaker Chewy Granola Bars Value Pack. The individual was treated in hospital and is now recovering at home.

"We are relieved and glad to hear the consumer is stable. We urge Canadians to consider the seriousness of this recall and to make extra effort to check product labels every single time, something Quaker Canada wants to emphasize, particularly for those consumers who may have this product in their home," said Matheson.

Consumers with questions may contact Quaker Canada by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-267-6287.

For more information, please visit

So obviously this is a MAJOR mistake, but as someone who is allergic to peanuts, and has a boy allergic to tree nuts mistakes like this can be fatal. I have always made it a habit to read labels each and every time. If I buy 2 boxes of the exact same cereal that I've been eating for 15 years, I’ll re-read both boxes before they go into the cart. Despite my efforts, I can sort of understand how a parent would buy the same product repeatedly and just open the box and place a bar in the child's lunch box without necessarily looking at the package. When we place our trust in reputable manufacturers there is an inherent assumption that if it states 'peanut free', that the product is in fact peanut free. I have always been a big fan of the Quaker granola bars, they seem to be doing their best at handling the situation. Unfortunately there has been one reported reaction. This has taught me to NEVER let my guard down.




Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good Food, Good Friends

It seems I’ve been blogging a lot lately about new products, new places and my reviews. The world of peanut/nut allergies is evolving and it’s great to see all these companies following suit.

Tonight we had my husbands BF B, his wife M, and their 2 kids over for dinner. It was the first dinner we have had with them in a long time where we were all able to have a glass of wine. They have a 2 ½ year old and a 9 month old, so watching the kids play was nothing short of adorable. In fact B had allergies as a kid, and their son had a dairy intolerance for a long time that he has since outgrown, so they are all too familiar with the whole allergy routine.

They are always finding cool new products, and it’s so nice that they are often checking labels on my behalf. In fact it was M who first introduced me to Quinoa after having found a company that guaranteed no traces of nuts/peanuts. B and M always bring goodies whenever they come over. Along with some other stuff, tonight they brought 2 packages of delicious peanut free, dairy free, egg free, kosher (pareve) cookies. Chocolate Chip, and Double Chocolate. Of course I assumed they would taste like cardboard given the lack of ingredients, but I was fooled. They also brought an individual chocolate fudge cake and an Oatmeal Raison Cookie for me that I will try tomorrow as I’m all sugared out right now. The company is called ‘Sweets from the Earth’. The motto- Sweet, natural, simply delicious desserts. You know the old saying, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, we’ll in this case the packaging is quite nice and appealing but I still had my doubts. After tasting the cookies I felt like a total food snob for having judged them before even tasting them. It goes to show that anything is possible. I’ve had my fair share of cookies in the past, and I’m impressed. Now I’m really looking forward to trying the cheesecake!

P.s… they have a gluten free bakery as well!



Thursday, November 11, 2010


Finally Peanut Free Hanukkah Gelt! Chocolate coins for those who don’t know what I’m talking about. After years of may contain warnings, and having to eat extra latkes while the other's had the coins they finally came to their senses!

As I was shopping at a toy store today for Hanukkah gifts I noticed that they had the Paskesz Chocolate coins with a Peanut Free logo. I did some googling and saw these coins listed on, where it also says they are dairy free. So for anyone out there looking for a little gift topper for the allergic person in your life, this is it!



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"For Halloween i'm going as a peanut allergy"

That statement was posted as the status for one of my Facebook friends this morning. When I saw it I was triggered and felt as though it was my responsibility to address this ridiculous statement with her. I was consumed with how to respond in the nicest possible way almost to educate her rather than making her feel stupid. I called my husband first. He suggested asking her what a peanut allergy looks like. I called my sister next, she suggested I confront her immediately. I called a friend next, she told me this was just a quote from last night’s Glee episode! Since I am not a Glee fan, or a gleek I don’t know the character that actually made this statement or the context it was made in. I do know that I hold no animosity towards my FB friend, and I also know that sometimes I need to lighten up about all things peanut related!



Monday, October 18, 2010

Stay Home!

At the beginning of almost every season, I declare my excitement about the things I love about that particular season. I love spring for the fresh blooms, summer for the warm weather and long days, fall for the inspiration to cook comfort food and winter for the skiing. That being said, I also have things about each season that I hate. The potholes in spring, the bugs during the summer, the messy leaves in fall, and despite the fact that I love to ski, there are too many things about winter that I hate. Most notable is the fact that winter translates to being cooped up inside, and ongoing runny noses.

Yesterday, as my husband and I prepared our house for the winter I felt a sense of sadness looking at my naked backyard. The boy’s play house, water table, and slide are all packed away. The table and chairs are also stored, and all the flowers have been cut down. Instead of stocking up on swim diapers, I will have to buy Kleenex to wipe the boy’s runny nose that will soon start and probably last all winter long.

As a mom of an allergic child I am not alone, friends of mine who are parents of otherwise healthy kids also complain about the winter runny nose. The difference being, to me and anyone else who has a child with asthma, we all know that when a runny nose turns into a full blown cold, we have a big problem. I recognize that I can take some precautions, but the inevitable is going to come. He will get a cold, it will probably settle in his chest and we will probably make several trips to our pediatrician throughout the next few months.

I’ve noticed some kids already have the runny nose and I recognize that it does not necessarily mean the child is sick. Surprisingly, I am not the type to care about the boy hanging out with other kids and their runny noses, but I am the type to care when parents send their kids to school sick. As a mom, I can now appreciate the frustration. It’s unfair for the child, and for everyone else’s children, not to mention the parents and teachers involved. I know that I am considerate when it comes to that, so I can only hope that the other parents are as well. With that being said, if your kid is sick, keep him/her home, also if your kid’s nose is runny, wipe it!



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arachis Hypogaea

This past weekend I was in Toronto for my friends wedding. Since I was a bridesmaid, I was having my makeup done for the occasion. I don’t wear a lot of makeup to begin with, and when I do I like the ‘natural’ look. Over the years I have accumulated a collection of lipsticks that I buy every time I have my makeup done professionally. This is because I would never share a lipstick with anyone, not even when it has only been used with a lip brush. My fear is beyond the germs that can accumulate on those sample lipsticks used by everyone and anyone. I also fear that peanut residue from someone else’s lips may be trapped on the lipstick. When I explained my allergy to the makeup artist, she was completely understanding. I used my own lipstick, and only products that I am familiar with. I did however forget to bring a moisturizer so I was going to use a sample. I was reading the ingredients on one of them, and I noticed an ingredient ‘Arachis Hypogaea’. In French, peanuts are known as ‘arachides’, so the word arachis luckily made me realize that I shouldn’t use that product. When I googled arachis hypogaea, I learned that it was in fact from a peanut. I always knew that almond oil is a common ingredient is beauty products, but I thought it was rare for peanut derivatives to be used.

For anyone with a peanut allergy, keep this in mind, because makeup will not have the same disclaimer that food products do. Peanuts are also known by the following names: earthnuts, ground nuts, goober peas, monkey nuts, pygmy nuts and pig nuts.



Monday, September 27, 2010

The Allergic Boy

I took the boy for allergy tests a few weeks after his honeydew incident, and the allergist suggested only testing for the honeydew, cantaloupe and strawberries. He had no reaction to any of the fruit, but I wanted a second opinion. I made an appointment with another pediatric allergist, and she re-did those tests, but also tested for peanuts, tree nuts and other allergens. He was all clear for the fruit and peanuts, but it appears as though he is allergic to tree nuts, as he had a slight reaction from the skin test. So what does this mean? Since he’s never been exposed to an actual tree-nut (cashew, pistachio, almond etc…), we have to go back in a year, re-test, and also stay away from them until then.

Everyone handles “bad news” differently, but for some reason I was not surprised by this. I was told that given the family history, he has a significantly higher chance of developing an allergy. I have been carrying an Epipen Jr. and a bottle of Benadryl since the fruit incident. The only thing that is hard to handle is the fact that I now have this additional responsibility towards the boy that most parents don’t have. I recognize the impact an allergy can have on day-to-day life, and until I have the all-clear, I plan to live life as though he is allergic. For me, this is not a transition because this is how I live my own life. For parents with no history of allergies I can imagine the difficulty assosciated in managing this. The responsibility of becoming a parent is overwhelming enough, but to be told that your child has an allergy can make life scary. For us, in the meantime, while waiting to determine if he is in fact allergic, I will bring his own cupcake to birthday parties, brown bag his lunch at play dates, and like his mom he won’t be able to eat at Ben and Jerry’s or Baskin & Robbins. I’ll have to teach him that sharing food is a no, and that he can’t go around kissing the girls in his class! My mother and mother in law both keep peanut/nut free homes as it is, so the educational piece for family members is simple.

I always try to keep things in perspective, and in the grand scheme of things this is not so terrible. On another note, since the all-clear on strawberries, honeydew and cantaloupe the boy is loooving his new fruit choices!



Monday, September 20, 2010


I have always said that having a peanut allergy keeps me slim because I was never able to just stop somewhere and grab a muffin, cupcake, ice-cream etc. In the past few years this has changed and I find myself falling victim to my sweet tooth all over town!

Cho’cola Bake Shop on Monkland is perfect for a morning muffin, or afternoon cupcake. One of the reason’s I love Cho’cola is because the shop itself is so pretty. The pink/white d├ęcor, marble counters, and beautiful cupcakes with that delicious buttercream make the whole experience worthwhile even with the high price-tag of each cupcake.

Since my work requires me to be in my car a lot, I have found myself making stops at Snowdon bakery for their delicious chocolate danish. This has been my lunch at least twice in the past few weeks and every calorie was worth it!

I work in Westmount, so on my way to the office, I often stop by Cavallaro for their bread. Their multi-grain baguette is a true find, but get there early because they sell out fast.

Last week while taking the boy on a drive, we stopped at Swurl, the new Frozen Yogurt place downtown on Cresent. I had high expectations and psyched myself up for this experience, but was ultimately underwhelmed. It was a rainy evening, so not the best for Frozen yogurt. That alone dampened the experience, but I found the Vanilla to be grainy and icier than fro-yo should be. I was however very impressed by the topping selection, especially considering everything is peanut free. To name a few, pop tarts, junior mints and graham crackers are toppings I never thought to put on ice cream or yogurt but have so much potential. Maybe next-time, I decided to play it simple for my first try. The OCD in me kicked in and I asked the cashier to get some ‘untouched’ Oreo from the back. It is a great concept to pour your own yogurt, scoop your own topping, weigh it, and pay for it. Maybe the vanilla was having a bad day, so I do promise to give it another try.

Yesterday, I found a new reason to go to TMR, as I discovered Mimi-Melon. It is in the industrial part of TMR, but a hop, skip and jump from Wal-Mart which is definitely a stop I make regularly. Overall, the cupcakes were moist and tasty. I was pleasantly surprised to bite into what I thought was a chocolate one only to discover it was marble, making it the perfect combination of chocolate/vanilla deliciousness!

I don’t own a scale, which is probably a good thing, but I did rejoin the gym to burn off these delicious calories. Montreal is certainly allergy aware, and it is nice to see these places popping up around town which allow me and all the allergic people around here to indulge every so often.



Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to School!

We had a wonderful summer and over the past few months we watched the boy develop into a toddler. I have been so busy that I have not made the time to blog, so I apologize for that and will do my best to post regularly.

It’s hard to believe that summer is over and school has started. I say it all the time, but time flies! The boy is 16 months, my husband just turned 35, my 30th is in a few weeks, and this year marks our 5 year anniversary! All good things, but sometimes I just want to freeze time and enjoy the moment.

This week, as my niece in Montreal and nephew in NJ head to their first day of grade one I am reminded by my own back to school experience. As a kid, every year the night before the first day of school, I used to sleep in my mother’s bed. I would to talk about how I felt about returning to school after what was always a great summer. I re-hashed the previous year, and declared my commitment to try my best. I literally spent the night before the first day of school in my mother’s bed until I went for a Master’s degree!

While some parents may not agree that back to school is a big deal, it certainly is for the kids. I know my sister spent the evening in her daughters bed the other night giving her a pep talk and hearing her daughter’s excitement about going into grade school, and the little one got so jealous she started to cry begging for her parents to come to her bed to talk about her school. Since she only starts tomorrow, they promised her that tonight would be her night!

For many parents, starting a new school year means having to re-explain your child’s allergies and developing a level of trust with the school. Depending on the situation, this can be easy or extremely difficult for parents. My mother obviously spoke with the teachers about my allergy, but another part of my her routine was to write up what she called the ‘encyclopedia’. This was basically a handbook she wrote of how to handle my asthma and my allergies. It detailed the signs and symptoms, the medications, how to administer the Epipen, the activities I was allowed to do (weather depending), and the emergency contact list. The office and my teachers got a copy. This was a very helpful tool that was given to the school every year.

In a few weeks, the sandals and bathing suits will be put away, the new routine will settle in, and all kids will be talking about is their teachers, friends, after school activities, and homework. So for all the parents out there, I wish your children nothing but a safe, successful school year!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


For me travelling is not as simple as deciding on a place to go, booking a flight, packing my bags and heading off. It is a research project that can takes weeks, if not months.

My allergy has prevented me from experiencing many once in a lifetime opportunities. While I like to try and see the positive aspects of being allergic to peanuts, I also resent it at times. I was not able to join 90% of my grade on an Israel trip in grade nine, I also didn’t go on a free trip to Israel offered through the community to young adults when I was 21, I was the one who never went on an all inclusive with my girlfriends in College, I couldn’t go backpacking through Europe with my friends in University, I even had to rearrange my honeymoon.

My allergy has certainly put up road blocks with respect to travel, but it has also taught me how to handle disappointment and to face reality. The fun in planning a trip becomes slightly more stressful for me, and more of a challenge. Everything from the airline, restaurants, and even hotel choice come into question. The airline must be peanut free, the restaurant must be peanut free, and the hotel must be close to a hospital.

I have come to terms with the fact that I will likely never travel to any part of Asia, and that I will probably never go on an all inclusive. I am certainly not a jet setter, but I have been to many places in Europe, Canada, the US and South Pacific and I will continue to travel in the future.

Have these situations changed who I am as a person…I think so. I have experienced enough disappointment related to my allergy that I am now able to accept it for what it is. My attitude as a teenager was completely different then from what it is now as an adult and a mother. As a teenager, I tried to convince my mother to let me go on these trips and she never budged. She literally threw out the mail that arrived for the free Israel trip so I wouldn’t see it and want to go. Now that I am a mother, I will probably do the same if I had to. At the time, I was so caught up with the fact that I wasn’t able to go on these trips that I lost sight of the safety issues involved. Now, I accept the fact that the allergy can hold me back from travelling the world. Of course everyone handle’s their respective allergies differently, and while some people may not agree with my decisions, I respect the decisions other people make around travel. I realize that I have a responsibility to myself, my husband and the boy to do my absolute best to be as careful as possible so I don’t have a reaction.



Saturday, June 5, 2010

The pro's of a peanut allergy

If you grew up eating PB and J every day then it would likely be hard to live my life. Even though it takes some getting used to, life with an allergy is not so terrible.

Considering this is my reality and I don’t know any different, I decided to come up with the following list of the pro’s of having a peanut allergy.

1. Saves money on eating lunch out
2. Not eating desserts at restaurants keeps me slim
3. I don’t feel guilty when I do eat a peanut free cupcake (or 2)
4. An excuse to not kiss people at social events
5. I always have an excuse to not impulse buy the pastries at coffee shops
6. I get to choose the restaurant when I go out with friends
7. A good excuse to leave a classroom
8. Peanut free mars bars

1. Way too many to list!

Please comment if you think I missed something!



Thursday, May 20, 2010

The ants go marching one by one...

So it’s ant season in Montreal and it seems everyone I know has been dealing with an ant problem. Including myself. I was so happy to have made it to my 3rd summer in our house without a problem. My neighbour kept telling me… just wait, your turn will come, and it did last week. If you don’t know me, or if you don’t know me well I have OCD (undiagnosed by a medical professional, but diagnosed by everyone who does know me well). I don’t do well with untidiness, uncleanliness and BUGS!

I saw the first ant at about 8:45p.m, so we still had 15 minutes to make it to the store to buy ant traps and raid to cover the situation overnight until I called an exterminator in the morning. Well… it seems these little traps have peanut butter in them to attract the ants. The peanut butter is contained in the package, but of course I would not have them in the house. This begs the question, would it be possible that an ant gets some of the peanut butter, marches around with it, spits it out and somehow I touch, AND ingest it? Unlikely… but I just was not comfortable with the idea. We used a raid spray… way too much of it because we were practically suffocating from the artificial flowery smell in emitted. It did do the trick though. The following day the exterminator came and sprayed in and out. I spent a lot more than the $5 traps would have cost, but the ants are officially gone and my house is safe. (I did speak to the exterminator about the ingredients in his spray and whether it's safe in a house with a baby. O.K for both).

Note to allergic people- read labels on EVERYTHING because peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter can be found in the strangest places.

Have a happy long weekend everyone!



Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Allergic Mom-Redefined

I recently posted about the boy not having any allergies, however I was slightly premature in publicizing that statement. Two days before his actual birthday he was eating honeydew for the first time and immediately after he developed hives all over his legs. I gave him Benadryl (I highly recommend every parent keeps a bottle for situations like this). Aside from the hives he appeared to be fine, but I trusted my instincts and threw him in the car and off we went to the hospital. They took him in immediately, found that his breathing was compromised, so they hooked him up to wires and gave him meds and we stayed for a few hours until we got the all clear to go home. It could be the honeydew, but it could also be the strawberries he ate during dinner (even though it was his 6th day on strawberries). We will be seeing an allergist soon and hopefully we will figure out exactly what happened and whether this is in fact an allergy. I am just hoping that it was an isolated incident, and that I won’t have to start a new blog titled “The Allergic Boy”!

Since then, we have officially become a honeydew, strawberry and peanut free home. The ER doctor prescribed an Epipen which we carry everywhere we go and we were told to avoid strawberries and honeydew. I spoke with the daycare teacher at length about this, and she seemed to understand the situation (no sharing food, spoons, epipen use etc..).

For obvious reasons, I was not ready to post about this sooner. For so many parents this is their reality, and having to let their child go off to daycare, school, camp, activities, playdates etc, is frightening. It’s one thing to be in this peanut allergy friendly society, but for the kids and adults allergic to eggs, fish, fruits and so on, there are no egg free, fish free or fruit free establishments. Probably because I am so vigilant about my own allergy, avoiding honeydew and strawberries has taken on a whole life of it’s own. While I do think it’s easier to avoid fruits than peanuts, I think it is easier to avoid peanuts than eggs. I am wondering if you were told that you had an allergy, if given a choice, what you would choose to be allergic to? Please share.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Give It Up!

It’s food allergy awareness week in the USA, and the FAI (Food Allergy Initiative) has a campaign called “Give It Up”. The "Give It Up" campaign encourages children, parents, families and friends to show their support for the millions of people out there with food allergies by abstaining from eating a favorite food during the week.

It’s already Wednesday, so the week is almost over. I challenge all you readers to give up peanuts for the rest of the week. Next week, please comment on how this went, and what steps you took to remove peanuts from your diet.

This is a very informative website that I highly recommend.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to The Boy!

So the boy will be one this week and this has truly been the most fantastic year of my life. I love being a mother and everything that comes with it. My husband and I are lucky to have such a wonderful boy. I have no other children of my own to compare him to, but he is what people call an easy baby. He is happy as can be and so much fun to play with and be around.

Over the course of the past year, My husband and I have changed over 2000 diapers, buckled him in and out of the car at least 1000 times, and given 365 baths, yet it feels like he was born yesterday. Everyone says that time flies and they grow up so fast, but unless you live it, you cannot quite believe it. There are times I would love to rewind to the first few days of his life to re-experience those moments, and times that I would love to fast forward to his twenties just to see what he will be like. I enjoy every second we spend together and words cannot describe how much we love him.

I am most thankful that he was born healthy, and I am grateful that no allergies have presented thus far. As I prepared for his first birthday party today, I couldn’t help but think about all the children with allergies who cannot eat cake at other people’s parties. Having been in that situation many times myself, I know that it never really bothered me too much, probably because I have never been allowed desserts unless my mother made it. I think it’s probably harder for the parent than it is for the child. Now that I am a parent, I can’t imagine being in the position of having to explain to the boy that he can’t have something everyone else is having. It would break my heart. I know there are thousands of mother’s out there who do have to go through this for so many allergies (i.e nuts, eggs, milk, gluten etc…) and I wonder how you do this. Please comment and share your experiences.

For the boy’s party today, I ordered a peanut/nut free cake from TBCY and it tasted delicious and looked adorable in the boy’s hair after he got his hands on it. As requested by my youngest niece, I had also made her favourite chocolate cake, but it didn’t make it to the party because the cake broke on it’s way out of the pan (I ran out of parchment paper!). For his actual birthday (Wednesday), I plan to make my favourite Vanilla flavoured cake, with Vanilla buttercream frosting.

So here are the 2 recipes, and of course both are completely nut free, and the Chocolate one is also dairy free. I have also included my favourite buttercream recipe which works with both cakes but is obviously not dairy free. Just remember to always read the ingredients of the products you are using. Note- Fry’s cocoa for the chocolate cake can be purchased at regular grocery stores and at Costco. The one from Costco has a may contain label and the other does not. I called the company and the one for Costco is made in a different facility which is why it has the may contain label.

Chocolaty Chocolate Cake (Peanut/Nut Free AND Dairy Free)

• 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• 3/4 cup baking cocoa
• 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup Vegetable oil
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 3/4 cup boiling water
• 1 c. Hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line two 9 inch pans with parchment paper, grease and flour the pans. (For those who are new to the kitchen, cut parchment paper into circle the size of the pan and then grease the paper and the sides of the pan, this makes it MUCH easier to remove the cake from the pan and prevents the cake from breaking).

Combine the dry ingredients in large bowl, then add the remaining ingredients except for the boiling water. Beat well with an electric mixer or hand mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add the boiling water. The batter will be thin, ignore this. Pour evenly into the two pans.

Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pan completely and then remove the cakes from the pan before frosting(Discard the parchment paper).

Again for those new to the kitchen (you know who you are!)- To frost- put one layer on the actual cake stand you plan to use, frost the top, then put the second layer on top and frost the top and sides using an offset spatula.

Best Ever Vanilla Birthday Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line two 9 inch pans with parchment paper, grease and flour the pans.

• 3 ¼ cups cake flour (Make sure you use cake flour-it really makes a difference)
• 1tbs. baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 3/4 cups milk
• 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup unsalted butter (cut into chunks at room temperature)
• 2 cups sugar

Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside in a bowl.

Mix the milk and vanilla in a glass and set aside

With an electric mixer, or a hand mixer, beat the butter for approx 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix for another 3-4 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time, ensuring each one is incorporated before adding another.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 of the milk mixture. Add another 1/3 flour, and another 1/3 milk, do this until both are finished.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pan completely and then remove the cakes from the pan before frosting. (Discard the parchment paper)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

• ½ cup buter (1 stick) at room temperature
• 5 cups Icing Sugar
• 2 tsp Pure Vanilla extract
• 2 tbsp milk

With an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth and fluffy (approx 2 minutes). Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Continue mixing for approx 1 minute on low speed. If it is not the desired consistency add more sugar (to make it thicker), or more milk (to make it thinner).

This can be made ahead and refrigerated. Take it out at least an hour before use.



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The List

Being allergic to peanuts completely restricts the number of restaurants I can eat at. Every time I eat at a new restaurant it’s like doing a research project. I google the menu, if it appears to have nothing with peanuts, I then call and speak with the manager, explain my situation, and ask him or her to check with the chef on the type of oil and flour they use, ask whether they have any peanut butter or peanut products in their kitchen and inquire whether the bread and desserts are made on site. Even if it is a restaurant I have been to 50 times, I ask the exact same questions every time just to be sure they haven’t changed their recipes, oil, or menu items. FYI, the dessert menu is usually the deal breaker.

When I am lucky enough to find a restaurant that is 100% safe, and the food is good, it goes on my list. Before the boy was born my list was much longer than it is today.
My husband and I love good food. When we lived downtown (the good old days!), we used to go out every weekend. We had our list of safe restaurants, and enjoyed Saturday nights to their fullest. Despite my allergy, my list had some great places to eat. I am fortunate enough to live in a big city full of fantastic restaurants. Since having the boy … our lives have changed! We rarely go out anymore. Many of those restaurants on my list have not seen us in over a year now. I wonder if they remember us?

I love to cook so during the week I have always been one to make a homemade dinner daily. Now that we live in the burbs (hardly, but it’s not downtown) we stay in Saturdays instead of hitting the town, and I usually whip up a nice dinner, we uncork our favorite bottle of red wine and watch PVR’d shows from the week. We are not complete losers, we do go out, but for the times we do go out we are always looking for new ideas . So if anyone knows of any 100% peanut free restaurants, please share!



Friday, April 16, 2010

Moving Forward

About 8 years ago headlines were made when Nestle Canada announced that Kit Kat, Aero, Coffee Crisp and Smarties would all be manufactured in a peanut free facility. For several years before that, these chocolate bars all had the “may contain traces of peanuts” disclaimer. Children and adults with a peanut allergy all over Canada where thrilled that these treats would now be safe as there were really no other chocolate bars on the market without the disclaimer. It was only a few months later after they were already manufacturing in a “peanut free” facility that Nestle reneged on this decision and announced the chocolate bars would soon be manufactured back in a facility where peanuts are used and thus the products would again be unsafe for allergic people. People in the allergy world, including myself started writing emails and letters expressing their wish for them to continue using the peanut free facility. Despite the fact that I am not a huge chocolate lover, I still wrote an email on behalf of the thousands of children out there. I remember the email clearly. I highlighted the fact that many of these children may have difficulty understanding the mixed messages Nestle has given around these products, and I stressed that these children may still pick up a familiar chocolate bar months later despite the fact there is a warning because their parents have already told them it’s safe. While I am well aware that it was not just my email that got their attention, it was shortly after that there was a press release stating these products would remain in the peanut free facility. This made us allergic people very happy, but I think it made the mom’s of allergic kids happier.

I really think that Nestle paved the way for other major companies to make changes and now there are many peanut free choices out there. I don’t pack school lunches yet, but from the feedback I hear from my sister who is obviously very allergy aware, she tells me that she prefers to buy the products with the big symbol on the box indicating it’s peanut free for her kids lunch boxes so she knows it’s 100% safe and that she is following the school policy. Despite having the restrictions of only sending peanut free snacks, my nieces can go at least 2 weeks with a different snack everyday. Peanut free Granola bars, breakfast bars, rice cakes, crackers, cookies and ice cream all live in my house right now. As a mom, it’s great to know that there are so many choices available for the boy when he goes to school. It’s changes like these that make me optimistic that more companies will follow and move forward towards becomming peanut free, because us allergic people really do take a risk every time we put food into our mouth.



Monday, April 5, 2010

Introducing............ Food!

Nothing describes the excitement of feeding your baby for the first time. I will never forget the boys first spoonful of rice cereal in front of my entire family, captured on video while at the same time the flash going off in his face from the camera…. A very relaxing first meal!

I am a firm believer of following the doctor’s guidelines on when and how to introduce new food. I, along with every mother I’ve met with 1 child or 5, have their own opinion on food introduction. Some parents will go against the doctor’s recommendations and start solids at 4 months because they say their kids were “starving”. Many parents will give their kids nuts, strawberries, fish, milk and eggs all before one, and these kids will have no allergies. Other parents follow their doctor’s recommendations and the kids will still have allergies. I have found this topic to be a huge bone of contention among many mothers, especially first time parents. Mother’s are comparing notes, and it can even cause tension among some friendships when there are strong differences of opinion on how and when to introduce certain foods. In the past few months I have learned that every parent must do what works for them, and what they feel comfortable with for their little eaters.

Introducing food has been a great experience for the boy and I. He is lucky I like to cook, so everything is homemade. I try to add as much variety into his diet as possible, and I have been creative in the process. The best part of introducing food has been watching the progress he’s made from gobbling down purees to real food. I know I am lucky that he has been an easy subject in this task, as I have heard countless stories of babies who don’t like to eat. Likely because I am so fearful that the boy may develop an allergy, every time I introduce a new food I worry and watch him intently to ensure he does not show any signs of a reaction. Every scratch or red spot, my husband and I examine to ensure it’s nothing more. So far, so good. In a few weeks he will be starting cow’s milk which will certainly be nerve racking.

Obviously if he does develop an allergy to something we will deal with it, but how? Will I be better at managing it because I have an allergy and can relate, or will I cocoon him in a bubble? Knowing me, I will use the cocooning approach until he’s old enough to fend for himself! Seriously though, I hope none of you ever have to deal with an allergic child, but free to add your comments on how you would deal with it if you had to.



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Peanuts vs.Tree Nuts

Being back to reality isn't so bad after all. The boy is doing just fine without me, and our day off together yesterday was fantastic. I am looking forward to another fun day with him tomorrow. My office mate seems really nice. Luckily for me, she doesn't like peanut butter but ... she does like almonds and asked if it would be o.k if she snacked on them in the office when I am not there (don't start hating her yet for asking this question!).

This beings me to the ultimate Peanuts vs. Tree Nuts dilemma. I am allergic to peanuts only, but I stay away from tree nuts in the same way I do with peanuts. I know this doesn't make sense to many people but to me this is what I am comfortable with. So when she asked me if she can snack on almonds when I am not there I initially didn't know what to say. After thinking about it for a few seconds, I said yes. If someone asked me not to eat Watermelon near them because they were allergic to Honeydew I would probably wonder if they are for real! Since I do go about my life as though I am allergic to tree nuts even though I'm not, I almost feel like I should have told her no for the almonds, but I just couldn't justify a reason.

I'm addressing this topic because I am curious what non allergic readers would you do if their office mate had an allergy to their favorite food (ex. office mate allergic to fish and your favorite lunch meal is sushi take out?).



Sunday, March 7, 2010

Back to work

So, my mat leave is officially over. I am heading back to work tomorrow. FYI I am a Social Worker. I keep telling myself that since I am going back part time it will be fine. If I got a dollar for everyone who asks me (in a sympathetic tone), "how are you feeling about going back" I'd be rich!
Now that I have to be at my desk in less than 12 hours, I am starting to freak out. Not in a bad way, I am not worried about the boy at all. He will be well taken care of. I am worried about things other people don't have to worry about. While I was making lunch for tomorrow (because there is no safe place around my office to grab a sandwich from), I was thinking about how my allergy really impacts every aspect of my life. I packed some lysol wipes in my bag because I am going to have to clean my desk, computer and phone, since god knows what the person before me has eaten and touched. I made mental note to buy a new Epipen to leave in my secretary's office as a back up in case I have a reaction at work and people don't know where I keep my purse. I will have to explain my allergy to my office mate who I have never met before (I am hoping PB sandwiches are not her staple lunch food). I will have to remind my teammates of my allergy, AND I will have to actually work for the first time about a year and a half! I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't Take it Personally

One of my “rules” is that I will only eat somewhere when I am 100% comfortable that it is a peanut free environment.

Being a mom with an allergy has led me to be stricter with my rules. This is because one of my biggest fears in life is having a reaction while I am with the boy. Now that I am a mom, I am in more social situations and I find myself explaining my allergy to more and more people and telling them not to take is personally when I don’t eat in their homes.

The boy and I have been in a playgroup with other adorable babies and their moms for about 6 months now. We rotate homes weekly and the hostess is responsible for serving lunch. All my new mom friends have been accommodating and careful in ensuring that their meals are peanut free, but despite these efforts I still bring my own lunch. I trust that they did their best to ensure a peanut free meal, but I still don’t take any chances. I often find myself apologizing for not eating, or making up an excuse of sorts. Sometimes I make myself a plate, don’t touch it and eat a sandwich in the car because I feel so guilty that they tried so hard to accommodate me!

My old friends and my new friends are all completely understanding about my allergy, and I want to thank them and my family for going to such great lengths to make me feel comfortable in their homes. As per this blog entry’s title, I ask everyone out there to not take it personally when I choose to eat my bagged lunch instead!



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hello my name is Jennifer, and I'm allergic to Peanuts.

Sometimes I feel like this is how I should introduce myself. Especially when I am at a social gathering where people are kissing each other hello and goodbye, or when i'm with clients or colleagues who bring snacks into meetings. I always explain that my allergy is the reason I may not shake someone's hand, or kiss someone hello (in case they just ate peanuts of course!). 9 out of 10 times , this leads into a 15 minute discussion about allergies. The same converstaion that I've had over and over again.

Anyways, I am allergic to peanut's, and have been since I was 2 years old. Considering it was 1982 at the time, there was no such thing as "may contain labels", peanut free schools, even Epipens didn't exist. My mother threw out the peanut butter, and life went on. I look back now and seriously wonder how I didn't have a reaction throughout my entire childhood. I consider myself to be very lucky. I ate at ice cream parlors (always asked to wash the scoops), friends houses, restaurants (my mother would always advise the servers), I went to overnight camp, embarked on many plane rides where they served peanuts, I did after school activities and the list goes on. One might read this and thing my parents were irresponsible, they were not. They always looked out for my allergy, but the awareness that is around today did not exist in the 1980's. As time went on, and allergy awareness grew, I became more and more careful.

This brings me to the reason I decided to start this blog. I have searched and found several blogs about Mom's who have children with allergies. Most of these blogs speak of the trials and tribulations these mothers have experienced in raising their allergic children, but none of these blogs speak about what is is like to be allergic and pregnant, or what it is like to be an allergic mom.

So there it is, My name is Jennifer, and I'm allergic to peanuts.

Blogging is very new to me. In fact, I barely even follow any other blogs! Please join me on my journey of becomming the newest member of the blogging community. I will try to post regularly, however I have a 10 month old, and I am going back to work in 2 weeks so please have some understanding!