Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holiday Time --Again

Food Allergy, Holiday Meals and Family!

You’re doing the final shopping for ______________(insert a Holiday here )and your –mother—aunt—cousin-- calls and says “I’m making strudel for the holiday dessert and I know that Johnny is allergic to nuts, but it really doesn’t taste good without them, so I just wanted you to know.”
You hang up the phone –and (circle one)
A. Scream  B. Cry  C. Laugh D. Shake your head E. All of the above

All of the above is the correct answer – and then you get the baking mix from the cupboard and read about how to make a strudel.

      This is a typical holiday conversation for a food allergic family. We’ve all been there, and we all know what it feels like to NOT be able to make that special family recipe for a holiday meal. Well, as Loretta famously told Ronny in Moonstruck “Snap out of it!”
This is our life.
      And this is especially true around holiday celebrations when ritual meals, steeped in tradition, are the standard fare. Food allergies can cut us off those traditions, memories—whatever you want to call those remembered moments from our past-- and not allow us to make those dishes.
But we can’t make them.  And neither can my mother or my Aunt Sadie. Instead, I can make a menu that does not include allergens—and no one will know the difference. I can ask Cousin Pesky to bring a green salad—since that would be ‘easier’ for her—and ditch the strudel altogether. I may feel a pinch at giving up a family tradition, but what really makes the meal a tradition is that we gather our family and close friends to share it. That part doesn’t change.
    As parents we must smooth the way for a happy holiday. People may mean well, but don’t have as much practice at keeping our children safe—or people may not want to change their habits. Whichever the case, your child will have a happy and safe holiday because you –and possibly only you—make the effort to prepare and bring a special meal or host a worry-free fete. That you must think ahead, prepare, and possibly reorganize tradition—that is a given in the food allergic household.

But, above all, we must remember that --while the menu may need to change-- the message of these holiday meals does not. What we are eating should not be as important as who we are eating it with— as well as the laughter and gusto we bring to the table—no matter if it’s ravioli or rice cakes and jam.
The love, the sharing, the connection are what truly matters and there is no substitute for that.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chicken a lá Easy!

One of my New year's resolution-- to use a little less oil and a lot more chicken. So yesterday I got a cut up chicken, put it in a pan. Got canned diced tomatoes and spooned them all over the chicken-- don't use a lot of the liquid. Then I diced garlic, sprinkled that garlic and lots of pepper over it and popped it in a 400 oven with tin foil. After about a 40 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 30-40 minutes until nice and bubbly. 
   I served with rice and, since the oven was on, I roasted Brussel sprouts (halved with a tablespoon of oil and some water. )
  Easy and delicious. And a pretty healthy way to start the new year. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Teen Summit!

The Teen Summit weekend was awesome. So many people and so many memories. A huge shout out to the FARE organizers who did such a good job for us with great speakers, scheduling, and sweatshirts. 
I found friends from years past and made new ones. 
  It's such an amazing feeling to be in a room-- a very big grand ballroom in this case--with over 300 people who "get it." Who have walked in your shoes. 
  People who have made eggless cakes, read countless labels, collaborated with many many teachers and school nurses and packed a 1000 lunches. Just like you. 
  That's who we are-- and we're good at this, really good. And proud of it. We  exchanged information and experiences. Our kids hung out with new friends, sharing stories and texts. 
  And, our "village" -- our food allergy village-- once again empowered its villagers and made us laugh and cry and say goodbye stronger than we arrived. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Teen Summit here we come!

Off to Washington DC for the FARE Teen Summit. This weekend, We'll scale the heights and grapple with the lows of everything teen-aged and food allergy. 
  Restaurants. Dating. Travel. Sports. College. Parents. Epi-pens and risk taking. 
 And we'll laugh and I'll cry-- I always do-- and we'll make new friends and catch up with old ones. And we'll watch as our strong, brave, and wonderful kids have a blast. 
Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Teen Summit: 10 years and counting

I'm going to be at the Teen Summit in DC next weekend-- hope to see you there!
 It's a great event for kids to meet, greet, gripe, and grin. It's empowering and informative and fun. 
Note: my little recipe book : College Cooking: Allergy-Free will be available on Amazon very soon. Easy recipes for college kids or anyone who wants easy delicious  meals -- allergy-free. 

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