Saturday, July 31, 2010

There's always hope...

From today's LA Times...

Chelsea Clinton's Wedding Cake

The internet is all abuzz over Chelsea Clinton's wedding this weekend. Now people are trying to speculate which NYC bakery will be baking her cake. Chelsea is gluten intolerant AND Vegan. Here is an article from Aisle Dash that was forwarded to me from Gabe's Aunt. If I were a betting woman, I would say that BabyCakes NYC probably got the job. Guess we will know, soon! Congratulations, Chelsea and Marc!

****UPDATE: It has been reported that the cake came from Lulu Cake Boutique, located in Scarsdale, New York. Read about it on Ecorazzi. That's a pretty cool job to land. Congratulations to the bakers!

Friday, July 30, 2010


The nice thing about having my own blog is the ability to edit out evil and filth. There is now a comment filter in place that allows me to decide if some one's post is acceptable or not. I welcome differing opinions, but if you have something nasty to say or if it comes of as being a threat to someone I love, I will happily delete it. If you are angry and want to pass along that rage, this is absolutely NOT the place to do it. Move along, please. You are not welcome here.

My blog does not advocate taking away the freedoms of others. My purpose is to bring light into what would normally be a dark situation. I am not hosting a pity party, here. Allergies are a real health issue. Just like those who might have gout or arthritis or the common cold, all we want is to know what is causing these issues and to find a cure. We all have things that hold us back in some way. People who have food allergies do not have weak DNA. We are not "inferior" to any one else. We are your mothers, your fathers, your best friends and your children. We are not the enemy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Joel Stein's Mea Culpa

A few of you may remember a little Op-Ed my friend, Joel Stein wrote for The LA Times. It was called, "Nut Allergies- A Yuppie Invention". It made fun of the hysteria surrounding nut allergies with lines like, "Your kid doesn't have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special." He also questioned the rise in food allergies and thought that it is a yuppie created phenomenon. Naturally, many in the allergy community were shocked and appalled. He got a lot of hate mail. There were rebuttals all over the blogosphere. And a doctor named Robert Wood wrote an opposing Op-Ed called, "Food Allergies Are Nothing to Laugh About." I even wrote my own blog post about the whole situation, after I had told him personally about how I was disappointed with his column. He made me promise to not kill him or otherwise cause him bodily harm the next time we ran into one another. I kept my promise.

Last month, Joel contacted my husband and asked if I would be interested in being interviewed for an article that he was doing for Time. It seems, that Joel's son who is just 15 months old has been diagnosed with having nut allergies. Let me be clear, I NEVER would have wished this on them. Although there were many that did. Personally, I like to spread positive energy around the universe and I would be happy if the food allergy well dried up and everyone could have the freedom to eat ANYTHING that they want.

Joel offered to take me out so that he could "eat crow" and we could discuss this whole situation. We met at Joan's, which is one of my favorite LA restaurants. (BTW, totally unrelated, but I saw Michael Voltaggio, Top Chef winner, there. Not a bad sign when you are eating at any dining establishment!) We sat for close to 2 hours, as he told me what had happened the night that they found out that Laszlo is allergic to nuts. And I talked about Ella, gave him my theories about all things related to allergies and we gossiped about mutual friends. He has come full circle on the way he looks at food allergies. Tomorrow, his mea culpa of sorts will appear in Time, called "Aw, Nuts!" It is an entertaining article. Check it out if you get a chance.

I hope that everyone will back off on sending Joel and his family bad vibes. They are good people, truly.

My Other Blog

My other blog, a baking blog was referenced in the Time article. If you would like to check it out it is called Buttercream Buzz.

Children's Books about Food Allergies

It is often difficult for a child to process the circumstances around their food allergy. Especially when that child is really young. When we first learned about Ella's food allergies, she was only 2 1/2. Up until that point, she had been allowed to eat wheat and soy. Most of her favorite foods were pasta, bread, cookies, pizza, soy beans, etc.. One day she could eat these things, the next day she could not. For about it year, it seemed, she angled to get the stuff whenever we turned our backs. It was exhausting. As she has gotten older, this has become much easier. And she has gotten really good at explaining her situation to people. As with many things, books and stories can be great tools to helping children understand the world around them. You can pretty much find a book on every topic.

One day we were at the library and we stumbled upon a great book called The Peanut-Free Cafe by Gloria Koster. It tells the story of a boy named Simon who only loves four foods, one of them being peanut butter. One day a new student, named Grant comes to his school. Grant is allergic to peanuts and has to sit at a peanut-free table during lunch. At first, Grant sits alone because no one is willing to give up their peanut filled lunches. The principal feels sorry for Grant, and she and the other children come up with the idea of having a "Peanut-Free Cafe" with snacks, arts and crafts and entertainment. Gradually, all of the children begin to bring in different types of foods in their lunches, allowing them to enter the cafe. Simon is the last hold out, until he is the only one sitting at his table. He decides to try a new food, chilli. And then he is admitted. What is wonderful about this book is that it is told from Simon's perspective. It would be a great tool to use with a child who has had to give up a beloved food (PB&Js) due to a change in school policy. And it is also a wonderful book for a child WITH allergies. It is entertaining without seeming preachy. The illustrations are wonderful. (I say this, because I have read a bunch of allergy related children's books and often, the illustrations seem less than professional.) It is a hard bound book that is well written. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Another book that I discovered is called The BugaBees: Friends with Food Allergies by Amy Recob. This has quickly become one of Ella's favorite books. It is a story of eight BugaBees, a group of friends who each have a different food allergy. It is a brightly colored, lyrically written book. "They always have fun and they never feel blue, unless they eat foods they're allergic to." The allergies are to peanuts, milk, fish, wheat, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts and soy... the 8 most common food allergies. There is a phrase that is repeated throughout the book, '"No thank you," he says. "It's really okay. I can still have lots of fun without (one of the allergies) anyway."' The illustrations are beautiful. Everyone is smiling and upbeat. It takes a very positive approach to dealing with food allergies. The cup is definitely half full. Additionally, there is a section at the end of the book that features activities and talking points. There are questions like, "Cricket is allergic to peanuts. Cricket should ask and Cricket should tell: What's in my food? Is it
safe for me? I have a food allergy, and I want to stay well!" And then there are 5 pictures of different foods. It opens up a dialog with you and your child to help them understand what is safe for them to eat. And what should be avoided. It also presents it in a way that encourages them to look out for their friends who may have another food allergy. As it happens, the one thing that Ella CAN eat in the book is dairy. But everything else is a problem for her. Needless to say, it is a perfect book for us. But I like it because it empowers her and gets her thinking about her food choices. When she is away from me, I want to feel secure that she understands her situation. And the more she knows, the better. This book is a gem and I would encourage you to check it out.

In all honesty, I wish that there were more books out there for me to review. There are a few other options, but they just don't hold water to the two I just mentioned. But if you are looking for a gift for a child who might be affected by food allergies, think about getting these. They are really special.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MasterChef Starts Tonight!

When I am not blogging about food allergies and being a Mommy, I work as a Set Decorator for TV and Film. One of the shows that I decorated recently is called MasterChef and it begins airing on Fox tonight. I am supremely proud of the sets that we created and I think that this will be a show worth watching. It is an international phenomenon and is one of Australia's most successful TV shows. Our version will feature celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, as one of three judges. It is a cooking competition show, but with people who are not professional chefs. Most of the other cooking shows, a la Top Chef, have professional chefs competing against one another. You will get to see the softer, gentler side of Gordon who is known for his abrasive yelling in the kitchen. MasterChef is produced by the same people who do "Biggest Loser". It has a lot of heart and we have been receiving favorable reviews all over the place. Here is one from the Hollywood Reporter which had this to say about the show...

"Bottom Line: Top-notch production and unpredictable judges are the main ingredients in this tasty series."

If you are able to, please tune in or set your DVRs. If the show is anything like what I saw during filming, standing in the control room, it is going to be really fun to watch.

Are Kid's ER Visits for Food Allergies on the Rise?

From today...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gluten & Wheat Free Green Chile Ebelskivers

After retiring my non-stick Ebelskiver pan, I decided to get a new one that is cast iron. It works SO much better than the other one did and I no longer have to worry about scratching off the non-stick coating. If you have ever made Ebelskivers you will know that the best way to flip them is by using 2 skewers, making it almost impossible to NOT scratch the surface of the pan. Since I made this new investment, I thought it would be fun to play around with different recipes. Our favorite sweet version is still the GF Banana Ebelskiver (see recipe guide on the right hand side of this page). And I wanted to come up with a savory recipe that we could have along with dinner. A friend of mine likes to make an Ebelskiver with Green Chiles and Cheese. So I thought I would make my own GF version. Here is what I came up with. These Ebelskivers are very much like a mini corn, griddle cake. Or cornbread. They are delicious with Gazpacho (see recipe to the right).

GF Green Chile Ebelskivers

1 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup your favorite wheat/GF flour blend (like Bette's Featherlight Flour Blend)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
shortening for pan
1 large can of diced green chiles , drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large bowl mix together the cornmeal, flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and garlic powder. Using a whisk, blend well. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add milk, butter, oil and sugar. Mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients. Mix until blended. The dough should be thick, like cornbread batter. If you want you may add a bit more milk or olive oil to thin out the dough.

Heat the Ebelskiver pan over medium heat for several minutes, until it is nice and hot. While the pan is heating, put the chiles in a bowl and the cheese in another bowl. Set them next to where you will be working on the stove.

Use a knife and place approx. 1/4 teaspoon of shortening into each well of the pan. Use a small ice cream scoop (#50, 1 tablespoon measure) and scoop the dough into the pan. Then put a teaspoon of the chiles on top of the dough in each well. Sprinkle cheese on top of that and then top with a bit more of the dough. Once the edges have browned lightly, begin to turn the Ebelskivers with 2 wood skewers. Gradually flip them until all sides are cooked. Remove to a plate covered in paper towels. Dust with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Serve warm.

Makes approx. 20 Ebelskivers

Allergy Testing Time Again

Well, we have just returned from Ella's five year check-up. Thankfully, all looks good. But we were reminded that she will be due soon to have her yearly allergy testing. I asked the doctor what I should do about my son who is now 2 1/2 and has never been fed nuts. Originally, everyone advised us to wait until his third birthday before introducing any sort of nut into his diet. But many of the articles that I read about food allergies suggest that it is BETTER to introduce nuts sooner, than later. Knowing that research is mixed on this issue, I still want to do what is best for him. Our doctor suggested that we also have him tested when Ella is tested. I am going to request that he receive a blood test, rather than a skin test because he has the most sensitive epidermis of anyone, ever. Holding my gigantic, freakishly strong boy down to stick a needle in his arm certainly will be no trip to the candy store. But I would rather know the truth about his chemistry, than have to go through what we did with Ella. One nightmare trip to the ER with a child covered in hives, throat closing, is more than enough for a lifetime. I will post more, once we see our doctor. For the meantime, prayers are being said and fingers are crossed!

Is Coconut a Tree Nut?

This is a question that seems to get a different response, depending on who you ask. According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)...
"Coconut, the seed of a drupaceous fruit, has typically not been restricted in the diets of people with tree nut allergy. However, in October of 2006, the FDA began identifying coconut as a tree nut. The available medical literature contains documentation of a small number of allergic reactions to coconut; most occurred in people who were not allergic to other tree nuts. Ask your doctor if you need to avoid coconut."
And according to
"Whether coconut should be considered a tree nut is a matter of some controversy. The FDA
mandates that coconut be considered a tree nut for labeling purposes; however, as the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network notes, coconut allergies are exceedingly rare, with fewer than 10 reported cases. A June 2007 study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunologyindicated cross-reactivity between coconuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts in one patient. Your allergist can advise you on the suitability of coconut for your diet."

Sometimes, it can be very difficult to discern product labels. If you read all of the ingredients and you do not see any nuts listed and then the statement that follows the list reads, "Contains Tree Nuts." If you are like me, you probably put the product back on the shelf and scratched your head. Well, it most likely contained a coconut product.

Last time we visited with our allergist she said that Ella is safe to eat coconut. And just because she is allergic to every nut under the sun, it doesn't mean that she will be allergic to coconut. Which is a big relief, because she loves it like an Islander. And thankfully, it has never given her a problem. But I continue to be confused by the contoversy surrounding its FDA classification. I guess we all have to discuss the matter with our doctors and go with what feels right. And last night, I felt like making a coconut cake and covering it with loads of toasted coconut.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Home Garden

Le Jardin Miller

We just moved into a new home that has a backyard with lots of sun. Previously, our home was on a slope in the Hollywood Hills and there wasn't much room to plant anything other than a few potted plants scattered about. Recently, many people have taken to growing their own gardens at home for a variety of reasons. It's inexpensive, organic (if you chose), rewarding and educational. I have never had a green thumb. My five year old is very interested in the process of how things grow. And both my Mother and my Mother-in-law are master gardeners. Good people to have around. If Ella asks me a question about a plant or flower I always say, "Let's ask Grandma."

My Mom came down to help us after my sinus surgery. And while I was recuperating, she took Ella to our neighborhood nursery. They picked up sunflower, pumpkin and carrot seeds. Then they planted them is a flower bed in our backyard. The children have been watering the sprouts, each day. And the plants have been growing rapidly. Before long, we might actually have something to harvest. Since this little experiment seems to be successful we are considering growing a few more things like tomatoes and strawberries. And my friend just brought us some lavender as a housewarming gift. This could get interesting. Maybe Ella will be able to teach me a thing or two about what it is like to have a green thumb.

She's already talking about what kind of salad she is going to make for Christmas dinner. A five year old, thinking about Christmas in July? She is definitely my kid!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Anonymous Comments are Firing Me Up, Yet Again

Today I was reading an article about a park in Virginia where someone had slathered peanut butter all over the playground equipment, as a prank. The vandalism sparked outrage from parents with kids who have peanut allergies. The good news is, they were able to clean up the park and absolutely no one was injured. After I read the article in the Washington Post, I happened to glance down at the "comments" section and could not believe some of the hate filled venom that people were spewing. Things like...

"Ridiculous! Parents w/ kids w/ peanut allergy should be issued a citation for not feeding their kids enough of the yummy stuff as babies, to produce anti-bodies for it. Instead they want to throw the books at kids doing what kids do. Instead of a public park, would they perhaps their holmes be directly targeted, by being tp'd? Even if the kids had used grape jelly, folks would STILL be equally appauled. Gimme a break, spoiled-over priveleged-parents of Asburn, VA. SHAME ON YOU. Now go get a REAL life. One that includes peanut butter. WORD."


"I am just sick of these parents and kids with their dang peanut allergies. It's your kids problem not everyone elses! You can't even send peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school anymore because their little brats might touch it. It was a prank, not a felony. It's washed off so get over it or don't go to the park. Are you going to tell a kid they can't eat a pb&j sandwich at the park because they may get on the slide next?"

and my personal favorite...

"If kids are so defective that they can't be in the same city block as a peanut, they need to be aborted."

As you can imagine, smoke was streaming from my ears at this point. And I had to stop reading. There were far more ignorant and vicious comments than there were positive, educated ones. It just reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place. The mountain we must climb is great and I chose to ignore this sort of hideous energy; the darkest side of humanity. A child with a peanut allergy is that frightening to you? That you would have them aborted? WOW.

For the record, I happen to believe that this prank was probably done by a bunch of bored preteens, a la a modern day toilet papering or forking. I want to believe that they were ignorant and did not mean to harm anyone. And the fact that they were able to clean it up and move on makes me feel like the outrage from the parents was a bit of an over-reaction. Again, no one was injured, thank God.

I am much more disturbed by the way people react to these things. The parents of allergic children only have the best of intentions in protecting their kids. What is the angle in saying something like this?

"Kids that would die from touching peanut butter shouldn't be living, for evolution's sake.'

(Cue the fight soundtrack, Mama is about to make a speech...) We need to fight the fight, people. In our cities, communities, work places and schools. We need to stand together to protect our children in a war that has two enemies: ignorance, as well as the allergies themselves. I feel blessed to be surrounded my support and love in my life. God help me if I should ever encounter one of these anonymous freaks who post this rubbish. I believe in the freedom of speech but your words are toxic. You may feel powerful behind your keyboard, but you are evil and need to be stopped.

Where you live can influence food allergies

Studies are proving that your place of birth can influence childhood allergies. People who live in Asia tend to have more allergies to shellfish, whereas, Westerners have a greater risk of being allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.

The question is, why? As always, there are more questions than answers. But I find this study to be very interesting.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Thinking on Flu Shots & Egg Allergies

Traditionally, people with egg allergies have been advised against getting a Flu shot. It may not no longer be necessary for people with these allergies to avoid the vaccine, according to this report from the Food Allergy Initiative.

"Over the years, several vaccine manufacturers have begun to label the vaccines with the amount of egg that they contain, and it appears that some have much less egg protein than they had many years ago. Additionally, studies have emerged showing that the vast majority of children with egg allergy, even those with “severe” egg allergy, tolerate the vaccines."

Read the whole article, for more information...

As always, consult with your doctor before receiving any vaccinations.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicken Pox?

We just returned from a lovely trip up the California coast. The second one in as many weeks. The weather was heating up and I decided to take the kids on a road trip to see my folks. This is never a difficult decision for me, as I am happiest when I am "home". And as the kids get older, it is getting easier to travel with them. That, plus a minivan that has a DVD player. We have a membership to the Santa Barbara Zoo and almost every time we head north we stop there. (Santa Barbara is half-way between LA and San Luis Obispo.) Lately, the kids have been begging me to go to the beach. So we passed on the zoo and heading straight for the ocean. It was a blissful way to spend the day. There was a playground on the sand, the water was not a huge walk, restrooms, and a grill that offered all kinds of kid friendly fare. I was able to manage both children by myself... no one drowned, broke anything or was stung by a jelly fish. In my world, this was a major triumph. We got back on the road, both kids napped, and arrived at my Mom's house in record time.

We had loads of fun over the course of two days. Our plan was to hit the local Renaissance Fair on Saturday. (Normally, this is not my "thing" but I thought that Ella would love seeing people dressed in costume, acting wacky.) As I was putting her into her princess dress (the closest thing we had) I noticed a bunch of bumps all over her back. They looked a lot like acne... or worse, chicken pox. Because I am a mother who can deal with all things in a calm, rational way, UNLESS we are talking about questionable skin rashes or vomit... I panicked. I decided to cancel our plans. My Mom was working at a scrapbooking clinic and as luck would have it, there was a nurse there. So we had her look at Ella's back and she thought that the bumps were without question, chicken pox. Ella has been vaccinated against CP, as has Milo. Since I am always on Facebook, I had not heard any rumblings of an outbreak in our area. I was perplexed but figured that she was experiencing a minor reaction due to the immunization. The spots were primarily on her back and sides, with a few scattered onto her legs and arms. We called the doctor who was skeptical but told us to use anti-itch cream for the spots and to "up" her allergy meds to help her with the discomfort. After a day or so, the bumps were still there but no more had appeared. She also did not have a fever.

Before we alerted (and freaked out) our entire circle of friends, we wanted confirmation that what she had was indeed chicken pox. So I packed the kids up and headed back to LA. The morning we were supposed to see the the doctor, Milo started vomiting and developed a 103 fever. (Oh how when it rains, it pours.) So I took BOTH kids in.

Milo has a stomach bug which will hopefully go away in a day or two. The doctor was a little uncertain about Ella's rash. She was absolutely positive that it is not chicken pox. Her theory is that she as bitten en masse by a bunch of Santa Barbara sand fleas. Ewwwww. The odd thing about that, if that IS the source is that it took a day and a half for Ella to have a reaction to the bites. Our doctor said that she, herself, is dreadfully allergic to mosquito bites and it often takes 48 hours for their bites to show up on her. So maybe it was the fleas. She also theorized that Ella might be allergic to my Mom's dogs. But she has been around them her entire life and has never gotten so much as a hive from them. (They are Bichon Frise, which do not shed. My Mom says they are "hypoallergenic" but my sister swears that she is allergic to them). So who knows?

It has now been 4 days, and the bumps are still present on my darling daughter's back. They have not spread. Many of them have formed scabs but are still itchy. Poor kid. Thankfully, Milo and I are bump free. But since Milo is still sick with the stomach flu, I am guessing he would rather have those spots right about now.

Ah, the joys of parenting...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Restaurants that we LOVE: Mee Heng Low

I grew up in San Luis Obispo, California. A small town. When my family wanted to go out and enjoy "international" cuisine we had three choices... "Italian", "Mexican" and Mee Heng Low/"Chinese". As far as I knew, this is all there was. Mee Heng Low was my favorite. It was smack dab in the middle of "Chinatown" a block of Palm Street, that was the hub of Chinese culture beginning in the late 1800's. Our family loved going to Mee Heng Low, our favorite dishes were the egg foo young and the chop suey. We always dined upstairs and we always made sure to order enough food so that there were plenty of leftovers to take home.

Sometime after I moved to LA, I heard that the Mee Heng Low that I knew, the one that had been in business since 1957, had closed its doors. When I was pregnant with my son, I almost went insane craving their egg foo young. I searched Southern California high and low and found nothing that was even close to the delicious vegetable and egg pancakes that were drenched in gravy. Last year, I begin to hear rumors that it had reopened and had been reinvented as a noodle house. Many of my Facebook friends have been mentioning it in their status updates. It was all praise, so I vowed that I would swing by on my next trip. But I was not able to get there until last week. And boy, was I ever happy! Even though my beloved egg foo young is now only a memory, they do have a chop suey on the menu that fulfilled my cravings. Made with simple and crunchy vegetables, but packed with loads of flavor and soaked in a sauce that was layered in flavor.

The menu is simple, you fill out an order sheet at the counter and you can either sit in their dining room or take-out. One of the options is for a noodle soup where you can chose your type of noodle and have it with meat or vegetable or tofu. But the biggest surprise for us was that one of the noodles that they offer is a glass noodle that is made from mung beans. Rejoice! It is wheat and gluten free. Ella was ecstatic. She happily drank as much soup as she could, only breaking to sing, "I LOVE this place! Thank you for bringing me here, Mommy!" Milo and my husband shared a plate of noodles (low mein) with chicken and black bean sauce. Everything that I tried was delicious. And guess what? There were leftovers.

Some people that I have spoken to are a little too nostalgic to give the new place a try. But if you are in the area, I would highly recommend it. You are sure to have a satisfying, delicious meal. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the BBQ that you can get at almost every joint in town. But this place is a stand-out, in a very quiet way.

Not sure if it is the soup calling to us or not, but we are headed back up there this week. Ella has already made me promise that we will get lunch there. And I will be more than happy to oblige.

Mee Heng Low
815 Palm Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 543-6627

Monday, July 12, 2010

Companies We LOVE: Udi's Gluten-Free

Our local Whole Foods just started carrying some new GF products in their freezer section from a company called Udi's. (Cue the choir of angels, as I open the glass door!) Bagels and what was that? Cinnamon Rolls? Naturally, I got some. Best decision I made all week. The rolls were soft and delicious. The drippy, gooey frosting didn't hurt the experience either. And the bagels were really exceptional. We will be buying them again. In fact, I might have to stock up on them as the GF products (at least the good ones) never seem to stay on the shelves. You can also order from them online, if you are interested. Their products are dairy free, soy free, and nut free, as well as gluten free.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it is that so many wonderful allergy conscious products are entering the marketplace. It makes my life so much easier. And it allows me a little extra time to hang with the kids. (Recently, I overheard, read: snooped on a conversation that Ella was having with a friend of hers. Her friend said, "All my Mommy ever does is clip coupons." And Ella's response was, "All my Mommy ever does is cook, cook, cook!" Pretty hard to win, isn't it?)

Red Ants on a Log

Since discovering Ella's allergies, we are constantly trying to find new things that help her to feel like any other 5 year old. Most kids her age are very familiar with peanut butter. They eat it on almost everything. One of the classics is peanut butter on celery sticks. (Something I am pretty crazy about... the perfect mid afternoon snack). When Ella got her skin test last year, I asked if they could test sunflower seeds, as I was not sure if she was also allergic to them or not. Thankfully, she is not. Even still, I have resisted offering them to her because most of the labels that I read state that their product has been processed by equipment that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. But I happened to notice that Trader Joe's carries a sunflower butter that is "safe". So I grabbed a jar, figuring that if nothing else, I will have something new to snack on.

I spend a LOT of my time spinning my wheels trying to find things Ella MIGHT like to eat. I know that I am no different that any other parent of a five year old, let alone one with so many allergies. It just seems like I often spend tons of time and/or money "experimenting". Sometimes, she goes for it, tries it, loves it. Other times, not so much. But I thought I would try making "Ants on a log" traditionally made with celery sticks, peanut butter and raisins. Since my gal prefers Craisins, I used them on top of the sunflower butter. Verdict: twisted facial expression and silence. But I LOVED them. Oh, well...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bento Box Lunches

We have a new favorite gadget at our house, a bento box. Ella has recently discovered Japanese food and it seems like a cuisine that works well with her food limitations. When I pack her lunch in the morning, I am always sure to include at least one fresh fruit and one vegetable. Today, I asked her what she wanted to put in her bento box and we began to build what looked like a fabulous meal. She made her own roll out of leftover rice, a sheet of seaweed, sliced cucumber and carrots. After she rolled it, I sliced it into five sections ("Because I am five!") and placed it inside the box. Then I chopped up some smoked salmon and put that in the section, adjacent. In the lower compartment we put steamed broccoli rabe and mango slices. Not too shabby. Ella insisted on carrying the box to school, sans bag. My husband called me from school and said that Ella accidentally dropped her lunch in the stairwell. She was hysterical. Thankfully, we had more ingredients so I quickly whipped up a new version and hand delivered it to her at school. This time I carried it in a sturdy bag with handles, just in case.

If anyone is looking for a way to shake up their or their kid's lunch routine, I would highly suggest getting a bento box. There is something really special about it. You can pack pretty much any kind of food and go crazy with the creativity. And because the box, itself, is a bit of a novelty it is sure to spark some lunch time conversation. It was really special preparing the meal with my daughter and seeing how excited she was to take it to school. She also requested that I go online and look up information about Japanese bento boxes so that she could tell her friends about it. (Has anyone ever heard of the Dewey Decimal System... okay, dating myself). Thankfully, our printer was having issues otherwise a bunch of 5 year olds would have been handed a sheet telling them everything they ever wanted to know about a bento box. (Ella is quite the motivated educator).

When researching bento boxes on the internet, I found this cool website called Laptop Lunches.
Another bonus to packing a bento box, besides healthier eating, is the fact that they are eco-friendly. Their store has some that are BPA free. But if that doesn't float your boat, there are hundreds of other websites out there that carry a variety of lunch boxes. (Another bento box supplier that I love for all kinds of reasons is Plastica, which can be found online or you can visit their store in LA.)

In any case, we are already looking forward to our next bento meal. Maybe cold rice noodles or soba with a slice of some GF/Wheat Free dessert? Fun!