Saturday, February 28, 2009

No Victims Here

Tonight I have been thinking a lot about this blog and I feel like it is important for me to restate a big reason why I am doing this: having food allergies does not mean that your life has to end! In no way do I feel victimized by this situation. As challenging as things can be for us at times, it is so important for me to see this as a learning process. As trite as it might sound, I truly believe that all things happen for a reason. This is not any different. We have been handed a big, heaping bowl of lemons but why not put those lemons to good use? A dear friend of mine always says that the universe has a funny way of giving us what we are capable of handling, even if it seems impossible at first. I like that attitude! There is so much negativity in the world and I want my children to be "glass is half full" people.

Tomorrow, Ella is going to be attending the birthday party of a classmate. Usually we take along a wheat-free cupcake, which I bake in advance and keep in the freezer to grab whenever something comes up. Lately, I try to find out what other foods will be served so that I can also bring along a wheat-free alternative. For some reason, pizza is the go to food for 4 year old birthdays. And tomorrow's party is no different. Thankfully, Glutino has a fabulous pizza that I purchase at Whole Foods and keep in the freezer. It is a cheese pizza with red sauce that rivals any other and looks basically the same. (Having the ability to have convenience foods saves my life at least once a week!) Anyway, we often feel slightly silly carrying a cooler into a party but it saves us a mountain of heartache, believe me! Ella hates it when she is excluded and since we have been doing this, the tantrums have been minimized.
Anyway, the conversations that I have with the hosts/hostesses are sometimes a bit awkward. They always ask me what Ella is allergic to and then I see their eyes spin as I rattle off the lengthy list. Sometimes they very kindly offer to have stuff on hand for Ella to eat. And for that I am most thankful, but knowing how much work it can be to throw a party I would rather that they not have to take on the added stress of finding something for my daughter to eat. (People really are wonderful, truly!) Part of the reason why I dread the conversation so much is because I want to disappear. I do not want to focus attention on our situation. And when we do whip out the snack case, I try to do it in a discreet way. My favorite technique is to pull out her cupcake when everyone is singing. And then when the sliced birthday cake goes around, I grab a piece and scrape off the frosting (trying not to get crumbs) and then spread it all over Ella's cupcake. She loves it. We often get funny looks from Grandparents or people who clearly do not have young children of their own, but I am developing a thicker skin.

What are we supposed to do? Stay indoors and never live all the life that there is to live out there? No way! The only thing that will keep us home is a cold or flu. And when we are healthy... watch out!

**No babies were harmed taking photos for this blog. I promise! The above photo of Ella was taken and sent out to friends to try and coerce them to get out and vote. (As in, "Please Vote so that this baby will stop crying!") My Mother-in-law was concerned that Ella was actually in pain and truly unhappy. She wasn't. We had been taking lots of happy photos right before this. It was lunchtime, the sun was in her eyes, and she was tired. Within seconds her needs were met and she was once again a happy baby!

Time Article about Food Allergies

There is an article in this week's Time magazine that is worth a read. Many people are trying to discern what is hysteria and what is not. But the facts are the facts, food allergies are on the rise. This article mentions a couple of theories on what is causing the increase. There is lots of other valuable info, as well...

Going Nuts Over Nut Allergies

Friday, February 27, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies!

Baking, always baking over here at Casa de Miller. This week I have been whipping up some oatmeal cookies. A friend hosted a CPR class at her home and I decided to bring some cookies. Since two of my friends, who were set to attend, have either wheat or gluten allergies I decided to make two batches: one that contained wheat flour and one that did not. Both are photographed. It is hard to tell which is which. Both recipes have unique ingredients to make them stand out. The gluten-free version had ginger in them. The cookies with wheat flour contained shredded coconut and maple syrup. Both were well received, thankfully. If you are interested in the recipes, I got them from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and Gluten-Free Baking Classics. And don't forget the milk!

What is this?

Anyone seen this before? It is actually cauliflower. I found it at the Santa Monica farmer's market and it is my new favorite food. It has a mellow, slightly peppery flavor. It is best roasted, simply with a little olive oil and a dash or two of salt. It also pairs well with broccoli or rabe. If you happen to see it at your local market or store, grab it and bring it home. You will be happy you did!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Thinking on Early Exposure to Food Allergens

This month's Parents Magazine mentioned a new study that might turn conventional wisdom about early exposure to food allergens, upside-down. Here is a deeper discussion on the theory...

Food Allergies ARE on the Rise...

Statistics are beginning to prove what we all know to be true... food allergies ARE on the rise. This article lists some possible sources of the epidemic. My fingers are crossed that we can figure this stuff out, and soon. The story of the 3 year old hits a little close to home, but worth the read...

Dreaming of Peanuts...

There have been rumors of a vaccine to combat peanut allergies for years. Here is a clip that a friend sent to me about a new study on peanut allergies. Interesting and hopeful. Maybe someday there will be something that can make all of our lives a little easier! And perhaps, this research can extend beyond just peanut allergies!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Ella's class has been learning about dinosaurs and she is completely hooked. Often, her teacher will let me know if they are going to do a project involving food. They were going to make and decorate dinosaur cookies and wondered if I wouldn't mind bringing in some special ones for Ella to eat. So I drove all over town looking for dinosaur shaped cookie cutters. None of my usual places had them, but thankfully, Gloria's did! They also had special dinosaur shaped sprinkles. I am always happy to be living in a big city in these circumstances!

It was Sunday and raining outside, so I decided to have an afternoon of cooking and crafting with Ella. We made cookie dough, chilled it and baked the shaped cookies. While the cookies were baking we printed out some dinosaur coloring pages.
Ella sat and colored as we waited.
Then it was time to get down to business. Naturally, Ella wanted her frosting to be purple. And so were the decorations. The hardest part was trying to convince her to not eat the decorations before putting them on a cookie. Ya, right!

The initial assignment to make cookies turned into a lot more. But it was a lot of fun. We ended up saving some of the cookies to be decorated. The rest, we decorated and ate. All of us ate them. The recipe that I used was the same sugar cookie that I used to make Christmas cookies. See recipe listing to the right, if you are interested!
The cookies were not the prettiest in the world. But they tasted good and were purple. What else matters?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why kids should drink organic milk (and adults, for that matter!)

It occurred to me that I forgot to mention how important it is to drink organic dairy when I blogged about fruits and vegetables. This is so important for many reasons. The biggest for us is the mounting studies that link girls going into puberty earlier and earlier to the hormones in commercially produced milk. We refuse to give the children anything other than organic milk. If the store we are at does not have it, they drink water.

Why kids should drink organic milk...

The debate about milk hormones rages, here is a great article that states pros and cons on either side. We are happy to play it safe...

Pros & Cons

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stomach Bugs & BRAT Diets

Well, we have had a doozy of a week over here. The stomach bug has paid each of us a visit. First Milo went down, then Gabe, then Ella and finally, moi. It has been horrible! The hardest part has been coming up with foods for the kids to eat and still keep them nourished. We have been following the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce & toast) diet, for Ella especially, as she has had the hardest time shaking this one. Thankfully, my bread machine arrived in the nick of time. I have been making a loaf of wheat-free bread, every other day for the past week. And since I have also been working through all of this madness, my slow cooker has also been in heavy rotation cranking out all kinds of soup concoctions. If you have a little one who has had stomach bugs recently or if you, yourself have been sick, you may want to check out the article below. There are a few things that I have been doing wrong (like serving the kids watered down juice). Ella's doctor also suggested chamomile tea, which she loves drinking iced. Another home remedy is a warm compress applied to the outside of the tummy. We have some lavender slippers that heat up in the microwave which have worked perfectly for this purpose.

FYI... I have been taking Chinese herbs to boost my immune system, as well as drinking Green Vibrance Super food. Not to mention, endless hand washing. And I still got this thing. This seems to be a bad cold/flu season. Please stay healthy, everyone!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mercury Levels in Fish

Since we are a family that eats fish at least 2 times a week, it it important to know what fish are safe. This is the place to go for the most current information...

Print this card to keep with you in your wallet, for easy reference while shopping...

A little dirt is GOOD for you!

The case for having a little dirt around seems to be building. Here is a great article from the New York Times that a friend sent to me...