5.25.2013

Safe Play Dough {Dairy & Gluten Free}

A week or two ago, I stumbled across a box of food coloring at Mason's preschool and read the label out of curiosity (I do that in my free time...I know I'm obsessive) ...which (of course) said "May contain traces of milk..." 

I mentioned it to the teacher and was told they use it to color homemade play dough and for other art projects. When I suggested that another brand of food coloring that doesn't contain traces of our allergen be used, I didn't receive the response I was hoping for. Instead, it was suggested that I bring Mason his own play dough, safe for him to use, if I don't want him using the community play dough. I have found sometimes you have to pick your battles wisely, so off I went in search of homemade play dough recipes. 

I found that Heidi at OneCreativeMommy.com had already done the difficult task of testing multiple recipes and judging her favorites. The recipes she used are also gluten-free, which isn't a necessity for Mason, but I like a good challenge and figured it wouldn't hurt. 

The recipe I decided to try was the Easiest Gluten Free Playdough Recipe from Celiac Family. (<---Check out the original recipe there or see below!)

Easy Gluten Free Play Dough  

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch 
1/2 cup salt
1 Tbsp cream of tartar 
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil and it worked fine) 
1 cup water (hot but not boiling)
Food coloring, as desired

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium pot. Add oil, then water and mix until thoroughly combined. 

Heat on low for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides, turn out onto parchment paper or a Silpat liner.

Allow to cool enough to handle. Knead the food coloring in until it reaches the desired color. 

*Note: my dough was pretty sticky once I began kneading, so I alternated adding more flour and cornstarch until it became the consistency I wanted. 

Mason chose lime green for the color of this batch. It makes enough that you could probably split it up and do multiple colors.




5.19.2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies {gluten free + vegan}

More recipes to use up excess cooked quinoa! The original recipe can be found here at 366 Days of Pinterest. Only I adapted it for our needs:

5.09.2013

Hidden Allergens: reading labels on everyday products, even if they are not edible!

As parents of food allergic kiddos, we are told to read the labels of all food items before feeding them to our child. When you think of food allergies, you probably think of the "Top 8" allergens that are the most well-known as ingredients in food items. Milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish are the most common allergens (although anything could potentially be an allergen).

What about non-food products though? Do we ever stop to think about them? It seems strange to think you need to look at the labels of your shampoo, hand soap and toothpaste, but allergens are there...seemingly hidden within the list of nearly-impossible-to-pronounce ingredients.


I made a trip to the grocery store today just to see how common this really is. In a matter of about 15 minutes of label-reading, I found 7 products (in just one personal care aisle):

Shampoo and conditioner containing milk protein, egg (albumen) and coconut;



hand soaps containing milk protein;

and body washes containing soy, coconut, milk protein and almond. I am positive that there are many, many more of these products out there that my little experiment didn't even come close to touching on.

These days, out of curiosity, I read labels on everything because I have OCD, even if I'm not planning to buy it. Reading food labels can be difficult at first, but with some practice it becomes second nature. Now add in the difficulty of remembering to check hygiene products, art supplies, even pet foods. It can be exhausting!

Thankfully, there are helpful resources that can make it easier. Kids with Food Allergies, Inc. has a really great chart of items to think about when it comes to products used in school and child care centers. I like to print the list and give it to our providers to refer back to.

Here is a detailed list of possible food allergens in non-food products by Michele A. Fagan from an article in RDH Magazine (read that article here).

"Another point of awareness is for products that are nonfoods, but that may contain food allergens. Be sure to read labels on everyday products even if they are not edible."

• Soaps and hand sanitizers - may contain soy, milk, and nut oils
• Shampoos and other hair care products and dyes - can contain wheat, almond, and other nut oils and soy protein
• Hand and body lotions - may contain milk, soy, coconut, tree nut, or sesame and arachis (which is derived from peanut)
• Suntan lotion - can contain arachidyl glucoside and arachidyl alcohol (arachis refers to peanut)
• Makeup - also may include wheat and sesame oil
• Medications and supplements - gel cap formulations may contain soy, peanut oil, or canola oil
• Play-Doh - contains wheat
• Fruit and vegetable rinses - many contain starch, which can come from wheat, potato, corn, and rice
• Stuffed toys or chairs - some of the stuffing in bean bag chairs or stuffed animals can include the shells of ground peanuts or tree nuts
• Pet food and bird seed - can contain wheat, peanut, milk, and eggs
• Landscaping soil - may contain peanut hulls
• Rolling pins - some may have been treated with nut oil

There may also be food allergens in the dental products we use. You can always refer to websites, or call the manufacturer if you have any questions about ingredients. Here are some examples:

• Recaldent is a milk derivative (may be listed as casein) - found in GC America's MI paste, toothpastes, and some forms of Trident gum.


• Polishing paste - contains gluten (causes gastrointestinal disorder)
• Fluorides - can contain gluten or nut oils
• Topical anesthesia - contains fruit flavorings
• Propofol - general anesthesia that contains egg protein
• Cements - eugenol is derived from oil of cloves
• Nitrous oxide - does not specifically contain egg, but it has a substance that has a similar molecular structure to eggs and reactions have been reported

5.08.2013

Different is Perfect. {A post about removing the voice of negativity.}

The past few weeks have been filled with some situations that are difficult for me to understand, and even more difficult conversations. While I won't go into great detail in this post, I want to describe a little bit of the happenings recently. Personally, I know that if we keep our troubles inside, they fester and become even bigger issues. I also know that by sharing our experiences, we share knowledge and education.

I try to be open-minded in all the facets of my life. By nature, I expect others to do the same. But that isn't always the case. If you have food allergies or are the parent of a child with food allergies, I'm sure you may have experienced some push-back from people who just don't understand your situation. Even though managing a life-threatening food allergy has been my life for almost four years, I have been blessed to encounter very open-minded, caring people. (I even wrote a post about this not long ago...)

Although I felt as though I had provided a vast array of resources and information, the past few weeks have shown me that even when we think it is "enough," it is never really enough.

One day last week, I noticed something that may have been there for months or longer. Something most people probably wouldn't think to look at. I surely didn't think about it, I just happened to stumble upon it. And when I did, I reacted. Maybe it was warranted, maybe it wasn't. I brought it to the attention of the necessary people and tried (in my own way) to explain why it wasn't okay. I tried to provide more education and resources. I tried to open the lines of communication as best I could, in spite of my state of frustration. I tried to change the way I relay information and remember that not everyone has the same level of experience with this. I can't honestly say that I didn't come across as being demanding. (I probably did, although it wasn't my intention.)

As a parent, it is our job, our calling, to advocate for our children. Whether they have specific challenges in their lives (physical, mental, emotional) or not, or even just food allergies. You see, I believe with every fiber of my being that my son is EXACTLY the person God intended. He is my miracle. My reason for living. He is what my heart beats for every day. And his allergy is a part of him.

When I tell people he has a food allergy, they ask all kinds of questions, from "Will he outgrow it?" to "What does he even eat?" Then there are the comments, "Wow, you should just put him in a bubble!" Or this week's favorite, "You could just home school him."  I understand... I really do. If you don't live with it, day in and day out, I can't and don't expect you to know all the ins and outs.

But do you know how hard it is to not take offense to those questions and comments at times? It is HARD. Not everyone will read into this comment the same connotations I did. Not everyone will take offense to it, or even understand why I did.

I responded by stating (as calmly as I could), "He deserves the same level of education as each and every other child, regardless of what he is allergic to. It would be absolutely no different than if he were in a wheelchair, or had a learning disability. "

His allergy, while it is a hidden disability, is manageable. Our situation could be much more challenging than it is. Thankfully, there are laws in place to protect people from the discrimination that would otherwise run rampant.

I've spent hours upon hours this week contemplating whether my reaction to this comment was justified or not. I've spent countless minutes standing in the doorway of my son's bedroom, watching him sleep, just wondering....

During one of those moments, I finally had a moment of clarity. I will not give the negativity the voice it wants. I will not dwell on the frustration. I will move on and focus on the positive.

First, this post is my apology... to anyone in my life whom I have ever offended with my comments, my lack of understanding, my lack of sincerity. Sometimes we don't realize how much we hurt other people with our words, our looks and our judgments...even when it may be completely unintentional. Until someone hurts us. I am truly sorry.

Second, this is a suggestion... if you know someone who may be struggling with an issue, someone who may be managing a disability, advocating for their family, or just trying to make it through this whirlwind we call life, THINK. Think about what you say and how they may perceive it. Be supportive, be helpful, be thoughtful. Maybe they are just a second away from bursting into tears from the pressure of it all. As a mom, what I want most is support.

I don't know if my son will outgrow his allergies or not. Frankly, it doesn't really matter. It's an intangible thing that I won't know how to handle unless/until it happens. His diet is diverse and healthy and great. More so than it would be otherwise. I would love to see a day when no one has to "manage" food allergies. But until then, this is our life. This is my son. Allergies and all. He is absolutely perfect, just the way he is. 

For now, I will advocate for my son as if his life depends on it. Because it does. I will teach him to advocate for himself. I will do everything in my power to teach him to be strong, supportive, kind, helpful, understanding, open-minded, and careful with his words.

When he is old enough to understand that he is "different" than other kids, I will teach him that EVERYONE is different and it is normal. When he feels singled out or excluded, I will teach him to stand proud of who he is and use this platform for good. To share his thoughts and feelings and his life with others, so that they may also learn that it is okay to be different. And different is perfect.


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