Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I officially have the best pediatrician. In my time zone it is 9:00 pm and he just called to clarify why I needed a paper prescription for a medication. I had refills, and the message he got did not include my note that said the paper scrip was for Campus Meds which fulfills the everyday medications (not Epi-pens) for students attending a particular summer program. So my pediatrician called, asked me to clarify and then said sure--pick it up tomorrow.
It's 9:00 at night... that's overtime in anyone's book.
This is the pediatrician who, at two weeks, took one look at my baby and said--food allergies. The baby had eczema (atopic dermatitis, excuse me) and the Dr. said--the baby's nursing--what else could it be but what you're eating-- so no more: eggs, soy, corn, peanuts, oranges, and not too much milk and cheese. Guess what--eczema cleared up. and the Dr. who suggested RAST testing and plenty of other smart moves too.
I officially have the best pediatrician.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This weekend went to the fabulous FAAN conference (www.foodallergy.org) and heard Hugh Sampson speak on new research toward tolerating foods; a nutrionist that made me certain I need to do a food diary for my child and a wonderful speech by a dad who has been there, done that and gotten the t-shirt!
All in all a great day to network with other parents about socializing, about how to do a food challenge--about how our kids are dealing with new foods and how they are willing to step in and take charge situations all across their lives because they know how to advocate for themselves about their allergies.
Pretty heady stuff-- and seeing old friends and watching the kids gravitate to each other like magnets. It was great-- everyone there is one of us-- with Epi-pens in one hand and a lunchpack in the other-- and it's easy to share the good and the bad and the everyday. I met a woman who has a 2 year old with the same allergies as my 16 year old. Well seeing me--having made it this far--and seeing my kid standing tall next to me, obviously in find health and welfare very nearly overwhelmed her. She was ready to go home and know that all would be OK. very moving.
check out the next conference in your neck of the woods.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

this is the second week my oven is broken. I shouldn't say broken--crippled. I can turn it on for about twenty minutes before it beeps and flashes a code that means I have to turn it off...or it turns itself (!) off...like some alien robot. I never knew I used my oven so much--of course the burners work--otherwise I'd be crippled-- but the oven. What about roasted zucchini and peppers; what about a roast chicken (FYI I forgot and started one, then when *F3* started flashing, I turned off oven and put chicken in huge stockpot with carrots and onions. I turned the flame up pretty high and tilted the pot top so air escaped--and cooked that chicken. Before serving I put in the oven again for about twenty minutes...just the time it took for my alien robot oven to shut off again. The chicken was browned and nicely juicy and cooked....but I was worn out!
so I continue to be ovenless--for anything over twenty minutes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Did You Know?

  • Egg substitutes may contain egg whites; egg replacers do not. (Always read those labels.)
  • Baby food in jars can make excellent snacks: They pack /travel well and can be eaten with a straw if necessary. (The sweet potatoes were a big favorite at my house.)
  • Sometimes shipping dry foodstuffs to your destination can relieve some of the anxiety of trying to find what you need once you arrive. Most hotel front desks are very nice about holding packages. Note, however, always take what you need for your travel day-plus extra in case of delays or the unexpected.
  • When at a restaurant and served a meal that is incorrect--like cheese on the burger--keep the plate and ask for a replacement, as the meal is still as dangerous if only doctored--like the cheese is scraped off the top.
  • A stainless steel thermos--though it has to be heated up by filling with boiling water for a few minutes--keeps foods much hotter than the plastic version.
  • You can often buy direct from a manufacturer on those items your household uses frequently--can be less expensive than the specialty store, and more convenient. Fruit leathers, rice milks, baking mixes, and candy are all items we buy direct.

Cooking . Cooking . Cooking.

Sometimes it seems that all I do is cook. Not only breakfast lunch and dinner, but many breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Every day. All day. I figure--conservatively--I have cooked over 6600 meals in the last 15 years. That’s only counting two meals a day for 10 months a year--I’ve shaved a number of meals for ordering in, going out, dinner at Mom’s, vacations …

All that cooking can be tiring. Not just the banging pots and pans around, but the thinking of what to make and when and how. The planning, the shopping, the putting meat to fire–-all of it ends up being too much sometimes.

To make matters worse, I’m getting to be a boring cook. I make chicken and pot roast. Broccolli and roasted carrots. I make a pork roast and applesauce and a salad--when I was growing up, that was Thursday night dinner. I’m that boring.

But what can I do--I have to cook for my food allergic kid. Dinner has to come from somewhere and that’s usually from me. As college looms, I know I’ll miss it, but right now I’m stuck in the boring middle. So what to do?

The first trick I tried was pull all the vegetables out of the refrigerator and line them up on the counter. Then group the compatible ones--like onions and potatoes or carrots and zucchini. When I got a grouping together I figured out how to cook them: sautee in oil and garlic? Roast? Boil (no!) And then I tried it--and I added chicken breast sliced, or leftover rice and a healthy dose of cilantro.

OK--some of the combinations were odd: ground veal with carrots, onions and diced potatoes. Some were great: fresh spinach wilted in a little oil and lots of garlic. (Note though that a huge bag of spinach melts down to a serving for two, barely--who knew.)

But mission accomplished: I stopped looking at the food in the same old boring way. Butternut squash could be mashed and used as the filling for a vegetable lasagne with strips of onion, carrot and zucchini. Chicken thighs could be sautéed with hot sausage slices and served over rice. Cutlets could be breaded with potato pancake mix and flash fried with parsley. And my piece de resistance: zeppole without wheat.
I had a mix that promised Pizza Crust or Sandwich Bread--well neither of those ever worked without eggs. But mix a little salt, water and--wow -–I got zeppole when I dropped those handrolled balls into hot hot oil. With a little powdered sugar, they could pass at the St Jerome’s Italian Festival in Long Branch New Jersey!

So I’m still cooking, cooking, cooking. But, for the time being, I’m dazzling my family with allergy –free delights.