Monday, August 31, 2009

Tomorrow, we shall have answers. Hopefully...

Ella and I are going in to have our allergy skin testing done, tomorrow. This is Ella's first time as we have only blood tested up until this point. Her doctor thinks that it will help us get a better picture of what she is really allergic to. The last time we did a blood test for allergies was over a year ago. I have decided to take the test with her to ease her stress. I have had this done, myself, several times and do not enjoy it what so ever. But I want to make it seem less scary, if possible. It would be great to see an improvement in her allergen responses. Fingers are crossed. I will blog as soon as I have more info...

60% of Adults Cannot Drink Milk

This is an article from USA Today. It is pretty strange that we rely so heavily on the milk of another animal to nourish us. No wonder so many HUMANS cannot process cow's milk...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gluten-Free Pizza at LA's Farmer's Market

Here is a little more info about the restaurant that is now offering gluten/wheat free pizzas and pastas at the LA Farmer's Market. We have not yet eaten there, but are excited for the opportunity!

If you want to find them, they are on the Western side, near Dupar's and across from the Gumbo Pot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review: Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Cookie Mix

Just picked up a box of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix at the store. I found it just in time for Ella's afternoon play date. Even though the child that was visiting us does not have food allergies, I thought it would be worth trying the mix. After all, what kid doesn't like a warm chocolate chip cookie and a tall glass of milk? (Yes, I am sure there are some out there who are not interested.)

The mix was simple to make. In about 15 minutes (including prep time) we had 24 delicious cookies. Their texture was similar to that of regular chocolate chip cookies. The flavor was pretty close, too. The vanilla helped mask the flavor of the rice flour. They tasted good warm (and gooey) and were also delicious at room temperature (slightly crunchy). They look identical to the ones we grew up with. And the verdict from the children was that they were, "Yummy!" No one noticed that they were different. Our guest even asked for seconds.

Here is the list of ingredients. For some reason I had a hard time locating this information when I did a search on the Internet. Ingredients: Rice Flour, Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), Brown Sugar, Sugar, Potato Starch, Potato Flour, Leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), salt. To this you are to add 1 stick butter, 1 teaspoon of GF vanilla and 1 egg.

If you eat 2 cookies you will consume 150 calories, 7 grams of fat (4 g of saturated fat), 25 mg of cholesterol, 160 mg of sodium, 23 g of carbohydrate, and 1 gram of protein.

We will surly be making them again. I loved that I did not have to spend an extra 10 minutes mixing together a flour mix. The work was already done! So happy these products are coming out on the market. We REALLY appreciate it!

MMR Booster Update: GREAT News!!!

We just got back the results from the Titer's test that Ella took recently. She is immune to the Measles, Mumps & Rubella! So she will not need to get the MMR booster shot after all! The doctor said that her immunity to Rubella is the weakest and suggested taking another Titer's test when she is 10 (in about 6 years). Maybe by that time the drug companies will come around and offer individual vaccines again. Hopefully she will not need it. This is the best news that I have gotten all week and am over the moon! Linda, you are a life saver! Thank you, a million times for your Titer's test suggestion in the first place!!!!

Now I can begin stressing over Milo's MMR shot. He needs to get it before October. Argggghh!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Real Cost of Cheap Food

There is a lot of dialog going on about health care right now. But the one thing that seems to get left out of the debate is how the foods we eat affect our health. And I am not just talking about fast foods, here. Foods in the USA barely resemble the ones that our grandparents ate. They are genetically modified, processed, vitamin fortified and on and on. I have a hunch that the rise in food allergies might have something to do with this.

I am not a vegetarian. But I do admire those who choose not to eat animal protein. I am just a foodie, through and through. And I prefer to get my proteins from meat, as opposed to beans. But I am very much a supporter of free-range, organic meats. It really is quite disturbing to hear about the realities of the animal farming industry; what the animals are fed, their housing, how they are slaughtered. Animals that are eaten were once living, breathing beings. Their lives are important. Personally, I would rather eat an animal that lived happily and healthily, eating the foods that animals are supposed to eat. To me, that is worth the extra cost. And if I am not willing to pay that price I pick something that is not meat to eat.

As a person who shops for the family, I am well aware of the high costs of putting dinner on the table these days. And for those of us with food allergies, the grocery bill is even higher. But all the more important to make sure that your body is nourished the right way. What is good for the body is good for the soul. Correct?

Time Magazine has a great cover story in this week's issue that raises the issue of how much eating cheap foods is actually costing us. Please check it out if you get a chance, it is quite thought provoking...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Van's Pancake Recall

There is a new recall, this time from Van's. It seems that there wheat and gluten free pancakes might actually contain those ingredients, after all. Here is the info...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pinenuts & Pistachio Shells

Well it has been quite a week for getting my blood pressure soaring through the roof. It seems that we have been having one scare after the other, unfortunately.

We were playing at one of Ella's favorite play date spots which features a ball pit. Usually, I steer clear of these places as they are a mecca for all germy things that are horrible. But throwing caution to the wind, I encouraged my darling daughter to jump into the pit. She had been playing for 20 minutes or so, when she reached down and pulled up something and said, "Mommy, what is this?" It was an empty pistachio shell. I almost croaked right there. There is nothing in this world that Ella is more allergic to than pistachios. And we have been warned to avoid them at all costs. So I quickly snatched the offending object and checked her up and down for a response. The sun was shining on us that day, because Ella had no reaction. PHEW! Crisis averted.

We are now staying with my Mom for a little summer break. I always take all kind of snacks and foods to prepare while we are away from home. My Mom is a fabulous cook and also likes to cook for us. She is normally very attentive to all of Ella's allergies, so I feel quite relaxed when I am here. Until last night. She made us turkey medallions wrapped in bacon. As she prepared the grill, I saw her rubbing what I thought was a garlic and spice sauce on top of them. By the time the meat was ready, Ella was starving. I quickly grabbed the meat and sliced it up and placed it onto her plate. I then prepared Milo's meal as Ella began to eat. And then I sat down with my own plate. As I dug in, I realized that the sauce the was on the turkey was actually made out of pine nuts. (Cue: Screams). I freaked. I said, "Um, Mom. This has pine nuts in it!" She seemed confused and said that she didn't realize that as she had not been the one to prepare the dish (it was from Dream Dinners). And then she said, "Well, there aren't any nuts on Ella's plate so she should be fine." Not so much. Thankfully she had only had a few bites (delicious as they were.) Small itchy hives began to appear on her arms almost immediately. Not a serious reaction but enough for me to reach for her meds. She and I happen to be sharing a bed. Around midnight she awoke, itching like a mad woman. Her ankles, knees and abdomen were all welting up. Thankfully, she was able to go back to sleep and the reaction subsided. A very scary few hours for this mommy. But by morning she seemed to be back to normal.

So I am happy to say that I am counting my lucky stars. But all of this is a powerful reminder that caution must not be thrown to the wind when we are talking about severe food allergies. Things COULD have been a lot worse and I am happy to report that they were not. I am now shadowing Ella more than ever. And hopefully it will pay off...

Julie & Julia

Saw "Julie & Julia" last night and it was everything that I had hoped it would be. Truly wonderful. There were many things that I connected to in the film, the food was at the top of the list, naturally. But I also really felt close to the Julie character, as she was writing her blog in NYC at the very same time that I was living there in 2002. Many themes overlapped my life, loneliness, isolation, a lack of direction and a need to advance my life in a certain direction. But she had/has a husband who was a rock and a driving force, much like my Gabe. My husband got a job writing for David Letterman (which moved us out to NYC in the first place) and worked long hours. I had recently moved out from LA, after having wrapped a show and was not sure if I was going to try an build contacts and reform my career in NYC. There were several months were I bounced around, with thoughts of trying to interview for a job at Martha Stewart Living and feeling torn between my "new life" and the career that I had worked hard to achieve in LA. All of my East coast friends were insanely busy and I never got to see them. I walked all over the city, day after day. I went to every museum, ate at tons of restaurants, shopped at the great food markets and made a point of walking through Central Park, almost every single day. It was marvelous, magical but also really sad in a weird way. It was also a year after 9/11 and the city was still recovering which was like a cloud that was hard to escape, particularly in the fall. I tried my hand at volunteer work and was quite unsuccessful. There were waiting lists for people to WORK the soup kitchens. Talk about not feeling wanted!

And then I got a call from a friend back in LA offering me a job that I could not refuse. It was something that I could research in NYC before beginning it a few months later in LA. I left my husband and returned to our home on the West Coast. We somehow managed a long distance relationship for the first 2 years of our marriage. It was madness, zig zagging back and forth across the country twice a month. As hard as it was, it was an experience that I would never trade for the world and I am eternally grateful for the love and support of those closest to me.

So when I saw this movie, it brought so much back to life for me and it meant so much. As a side note, there is a clock that is used as set dressing in the film (next to Julie's bed). It is from Pottery Barn and we had the exact same one next to our bed. We also visited the Smithsonian in Washington D. C. that same year and saw Julia Child's kitchen.

And now that I have embraced blogging, it had added meaning. And Nora Ephron? Come on! She is so talented and fabulous! Totally worth a watch! Check it out if you get a chance...

Friday, August 14, 2009

MMR Booster Update: The Saga Continues

As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I have very anxious about Ella's 4 year old MMR booster. Since she had a horrific reaction to the first shot, around 18 months, I have been on the fence about the booster. Her doctor has tried to put my mind at ease by telling me that kids who react to it the first time almost never react to the booster. Not good enough. And after Linda from New Jersey suggested that we try a Titer's test to see if she even needs it, I requested that we explore that route. The doctor warned me that it is a very real possibility that she will need the booster, regardless, based on the test results. (It is a blood test that registers the amount of immunity in a person's body to a particular disease). If she is immune, she is immune for life, at least for Measles, Mumps & Rubella. I told her that I would discuss with my husband and then we decided that maybe she should get the booster after all. Since then I have been coming up with every excuse I can think of to postpone the doctor's visit. Something has been stopping me. And then we had to go to the doctor this week because Ella was having a separate issue. Her regular doctor was out of the office, so I thought I would get a second opinion about the booster. And I am glad that I did.

Because I am not a medical professional I have a lot to learn when it comes to the ins and outs of immunization. When doctors mention a "booster" what they are really talking about is a 2nd FULL dosage, exactly the same as the initial shot. This SHOCKED me! I for some reason thought that the "booster" was a SMALLER dose that would support the one that she had already gotten. WRONG! So I decided, on the spot, that whatever we could do to avoid the shot, we should. The doctor suggested the Titer's test (without me asking for it or even mentioning it) and I whole heartily agreed that it was the best way to go. Ella had her blood drawn. She was not happy about it and it was very traumatic for Milo as he is protective of his sister and thought that the nurses were really hurting her. But nothing a couple of lollipops could not cure. (Thank God I keep a stash with me at all times!)

So now we are awaiting the results, anxiously. If the test shows that she does not have immunity for either of the 3 diseases, the doctor suggests that we give her the shot. Rubella, in particular, can cause a lot of fertility problems for girls and women. And all three diseases frequently have outbreaks in the Los Angeles area. Ugh. And as icing on the cake, the drug company that makes the MMR no longer makes separate vaccines for the diseases. It is all or nothing. (Completely ridiculous, if you ask me!)

I will post more info when I have it. Thanks again, Linda, for your valuable info and support!

Could it be? New offerings at the LA Farmer's Market

Gluten-free/Wheat-free pizza and pasta at the LA Farmer's Market? I just discovered today that an Italian restaurant there is now offering this on their menu! This is really exciting stuff, as Ella LOVES pizza and jumps at any opportunity to eat out. I tried to speak to the manager to make sure that the pizza dough does not contain almond meal (some do) and unfortunately was not able to grill him before Milo melted down and we had to leave. But be sure that I will look into it. And if the dough is free of nuts, we will eat there as fast as you can say PIZZA!!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top Chef Masters: Dietary Challenge

Cannot wait to watch last night's Top Chef Masters, via Tivo this evening. I have heard that the chefs have to cook a meal that is gluten and soy free, as well as Vegan. It should be really interesting to see what these master chefs are able to do. Here is a blurb from the LA Times about it, I chose not to read the whole thing as I think it gives away the winner.

It is my favorite show on TV and if you want to check it out, I am sure that it will be re-airing all week!

UPDATE: I saw the episode and it was GREAT! Nice to know that cooking within specific parameters is even challenging for the world's best cooks. And the foods that they made gave me some ideas for things to make at home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Seattle, here we come!

Looks like we might have to pay my friend, Shannon a visit, like we have been promising her for what seems like forever. This is an article about a bakery in Seattle that serves goodies that are wheat and gluten free, as well as Vegan! Love it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to School Food Allergy Planning

Kids with Food Allergies just posted this note to help parents plan for the new school year. It is a great time to make sure you have your allergy bracelets and labels up to date. Sometimes it can take a week or two to get this stuff in the mail after an order has been placed. There are so many companies providing these services. Get shopping and protect those little ones...

If your school does not have an emergency contact sheet for you to fill out, (can't imagine why, but you never know) here is one that you can complete.