Jan
31
2014

Desensitizing Peanut Allergies

Another New Study Offers Hope

Desensitizing Peanut Allergies

the end of peanut allergies?

Last month, there was news of a study that demonstrated a marked decrease in peanut allergies in children who underwent a gradual desensitization process. What huge news! This week, British researchers say they've successfully decreased reactions in their study of 90 children who suffer from peanut allergies. 

After six months of gradually giving the children increased amounts of the peanut protein, they were able to tolerate exposure to the equivalent of about five peanutsthis is incredibly reassuring news, because, as parents, we worry constantly about slight accidental exposure. If a child can tolerate this much, accidental ingestion in small amounts wouldn't strike so much fear into our hearts. From not being able to tolerate even a lick of a peanut to being able to ingest five nuts? This is monumental for us!

There's more great news from Dr. Susan Waserman of McMaster University in her ongoing clinical trial, wherein she's also having great success in desensitizing patients. 

This is such amazing news for peanut allergy sufferers, and I can only hope that it leads to similar solutions for those with other life-threatening allergies. 

Can I get a WOOHOO?

WOOHOO!

Jan
19
2014

6 Sweet-not-Scary Allergy-Friendly Valentine's Day Recipes

Bonus: None of these Taste Like Cardboard!

6 Sweet-not-Scary Allergy-Friendly Valentine's Day Recipes

The day of loooooove is soon upon us, and although a simple Valentine is sufficient, sometimes we (okay, I) like to go a little further and offer up some treats for the kiddies, as well. Problem is, there are about a zillion allergies out there, so we have to be careful with what we give them. My son is allergic to nuts, and some of his friends are allergic to dairy and eggs, as well, so we always find out what is safe for them before sending anything in to school for them to bring home.

Here are a few allergy-friendly ideas for fun Valentine's Day treats that may work for you, too. Remember that many of your favourite recipes can also be altered to be allergy-friendly by following some of the ideas I posted HERE, as well. Always ask about specific allergies, though, just in case these don't apply. We know one little girl who's allergic to red food colouring, so obviously some of these ideas would be altered to be safe for her. If you ever need ideas on how to accommodate certain allergies, just ask me, I'm happy to help.

Chocolate Soy Butter Cups 



(photo and recipe source here, altered recipe to be allergy-friendly.

Ingredients

1 1/2 C dairy-free chocolate chips
1/2 C soy butter
3 tbs powdered sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Mini muffin pan
24 mini liners

 Melt chocolate in double-boiler or in microwave (using short, 30-second bursts, stirring in between until smooth).

 Combine soy butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl until the consistency is right for rolling it into small balls.

 Put liners into the muffin pan.

 Spoon 1tsp of chocolate into each liner.

 Using 1tsp of the soy butter mixture, roll it into a ball and place in the muffin cups.

 Cover with another teaspoon of chocolate.

 Place in fridge until set.

 

Rice Krispie Pops


(my original recipe here)

Ingredients

6 C Rice Krispies cereal
40 regular-sized marshmallows
4 tbs dairy-free margarine
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 C Merckens pink chocolate melts (Merckens are nut- and gluten-free) or dairy-free chocolate chips (they won't be coloured)
1 tbs virgin coconut oil
Valentine-themed quins/sprinkles (ensure the ones you buy are nut-free) 

1 heart-shaped cookie cutter
10 candy sticks
13x9x12" pan, greased with dairy-free margarine

First, make your Rice Krispie treats.

 Melt the margarine in the microwave or on the stove, and add the vanilla.

 Add the marshmallows. If you’re using the microwave, melt in short, 30-second bursts, stirring in between each melting session. If on the stove, continually stir.

 Once melted, add the Rice Krispies and stir until combined.

 Spread into an even layer in your greased pan and set aside to firm up (even better—stick the pan in the fridge).

 Once firmed up, you can use your heart-shaped cookie cutter. Set aside the hearts and make sure you eat all the leftover bits, because obviously they’re calorie-free, right?

 Next, melt the chocolate. I melt mine in the microwave, so I put them in a safe dish and add the coconut oil. In 30-second bursts, I melt them, stirring in between. You can, of course, use a double-boiler to do this.

 Once smooth, you can dip the Rice Krispie treats into the chocolate in whatever pattern you choose, then immediately sprinkle the decorative candies onto the wet chocolate.

 Set aside to cool, and once hardened, you can poke the stick in and voilà, adorable heart-shaped Rice Krispie treats for one and all!

Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-free Brownies


(recipe source and photo found here)

Ingredients

1/2 C dairy-free shortening
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C silken tofu
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 C all purpose flour
1/2 C cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C dairy free mini chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray an 8-inch square baking dish with dairy-free baking spray.

 In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine shortening, sugar, tofu, and vanilla thoroughly.

 In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk. Add to the shortening mixture and mix until just combined.

 Stir in chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

 Spread batter into prepared baking pan and bake 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

 Cool completely and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

(Yield: 16 bars)

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

(source)

I used Merckens again for these, but you can actually use any nut-free and/or dairy-free chocolate, and if you temper it, they'll look perfect! (I don't temper. They don't usually last long enough to worry about that step.)

Ingredients

1 1/2 C Merckens pink chocolate melts (Merckens are nut- and gluten-free)
1 tbs virgin coconut oil
Valentine-themed quins/sprinkles (ensure the ones you buy are nut-free) 
parchment-paper lined baking sheet

 Melt the chocolate. You can melt it in the microwave in a safe dish and add the coconut oil. In 30-second bursts, melt them, stirring in between. You can, of course, use a double-boiler to do this, also stirring while it melts.

 Once smooth, dip the strawberries in, and then immediately dip them in candies or quins that you've chosen. 

 Lay on parchment paper till hardened.

These look adorable served in mini muffin cups.

Chocolate and Candy-Coated Marshmallow Pops

(source)

Ingredients

20 candy sticks
60 regular-sized marshmallows (3 per stick)
2 C Merckens melting wafers or dairy-free chocolate chips
Quins or candies to decorate the pops (be sure to choose allergy-safe ones)
1 tbs coconut oil
parchment paper-lined baking sheet

 Melt the chocolate. You can melt it in the microwave in a safe dish and add the coconut oil. In 30-second bursts, melt them, stirring in between. You can, of course, use a double-boiler to do this, also stirring while it melts.
 
 Put three marshmallows on each candy stick.
 
 Once smooth, dip the marshmallows in. You may need to spoon the chocolate over them to get good coverage. Once covered, immediately dip into quins, or place candies on the chocolate before it hardens.

 Lay on parchment paper to harden.
 

Chocolate-Covered Potato Chips

(source)

Ingredients

Ridged potato chips (quantity depends on how many you'd like to make)
Dairy-free chocolate chips (1 C goes a long way!)
1 tbs coconut oil

Parchment paper-lined baking sheet

 Melt the chocolate. You can melt it in the microwave in a safe dish and add the coconut oil. In 30-second bursts, melt them, stirring in between. You can, of course, use a double-boiler to do this, also stirring while it melts.

 Once smooth, dip the chips into the chocolate and lay on parchment paper to set. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

 

Whether you embrace the romance of or refuse to partake in forced declarations of love, our Valentine’s Day page is filled with articles, crafts, activities, and food to fit your mood.

Jan
15
2014

This Mom Says School Failed To Keep Her Daughter Safe

Mother Files Human Rights Complaint

This Mom Says School Failed To Keep Her Daughter Safe

Lynne Glover and her daugher Elodie

When accommodating life-threatening allergies, is there a point at which we have to draw the line? How far should we go, in a school setting, to protect kids with these allergies? A Hamilton mother has filed a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, stating that her daughter's school discriminated against her daughter and failed to protect her from life-threatening allergens.

As you probably are aware by now, I’m a supporter of food bans in classrooms to protect those with life-threatening allergies. And I certainly appreciate that there is a full nut-ban in my son’s school (in all Ontario schools, actually), because it gives me more confidence that my son won’t mistakenly consume anything he’s allergic to, but how far can we really go? Can we remove allergens from entire schools for one child? Could this case be the start of a new reality for schools?

Time and again, I hear people question what “these kids” will do in the “real world,” and, you know, that’s a good point. I can’t protect my son against the entire world’s love of peanut butter. I can’t be absolutely sure that the doorknob he touches at the mall isn’t contaminated. And I don’t expect the world to restrict foods for our sake.

Lynne Glover, mother to Elodie, told the National Post she is “not looking for a guaranteed allergy-free environment, because I know it’s not possible. But reasonable accommodations that fall in line with our doctor’s diagnosis is just plain common sense.” So what exactly are “reasonable accommodations”? Well, to Glover that means removing all dairy and eggs from the school, and sending the staff for human rights training. According to her, “anything short of that is discrimination.”

Hm. I tend to disagree with Ms. Glover. I feel like we have to draw the line somewhere with our expectations, and completely eliminating dairy, eggs, and nuts from the entire school is an impossible feat. It's barely manageable to remove nuts (it's shocking how many people don't realize almonds are nuts) from schools. 

In my son’s class, there is a child with severe dairy and eggs allergies, too, and his classroom is not dairy- or egg-free, but the child is closely supervised and kept away from kids eating those foods. Hygiene is monitored closely and surfaces are cleaned multiple times during the daythese are accommodations approved by the child’s parents. I'm not sure I could be so confident, but the child's parents worked with the teachers and this is their plan. In my son’s case, he often misses out on eating at events when we’re unable to feel confident something is nut-freethis is just reality for most allergic people. In nursery school, my son was still allergic to dairy, eggs, and nuts, and we provided his snacks and he was kept away from kids who consumed those products until they could be washed up. It didn’t scar my son emotionally. It kept him safe, though.

To build a human rights complaint case around a child feeling isolated and discriminated against does the kid no good at all. We explain to my son that not everyone is allergic, but he is, so we have to take precautions. It means no ice cream shops or baked goods from friends. It means a lot of limitations, but it also means he’s fairly safe. And if framed differently for Elodie, I feel she could attend her school and feel safe instead of having her mother paint her as a victim.

I’d love to hear your take on how far schools should be expected to go to accommodate allergies in the classrooms (or entire schools).