Back to School Checklist for Kids With Food Allergies

Back to School Checklist for Kids With Food Allergies

School Lunch with Leah


It’s easy to take care of your kids when they are under your constant supervision.

But, at some point, we have to let them go out into the world and learn to manage their allergies for themselves.

Here is a back to school checklist of things that you can take to help your child as they head back to school or off to camp this year.

  1. Learn to inject epinephrine. Speak with your child’s doctor about training your child to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Younger kids will need adults to do this at first, but as they grow older and more responsible, children need to learn how to administer the life-saving medication themselves.  You can even let them inject an orange when your current stash expires so they understand exactly what to do.  Practicing will help make the proper response more automatic in a crisis situation.
  2. Don’t share food. Though they may have the best intentions, your child’s friends can accidentally hurt your child when they share their snacks or lunch.
  3. Wear your allergy bracelets. The choices of bracelets, necklaces and even shoe tags are as numerous as the children who need to wear them.  Be sure to find one that your kid loves and is not embarrassed to wear.
  4. Introduce yourself to adults. Teach your child to greet adults and explain their allergies when going to a new place. This includes school. Even though you may talk with your child’s teachers about the allergies, it helps if the educator can put a face to your child’s name.
  5. Recognize the symptoms of a reaction—and tell someone. Severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention. Help your child learn to recognize the early symptoms of an allergic reaction. These symptoms may include itching, coughing, chest discomfort or tightness, difficulty breathing, and nausea or vomiting. If these symptoms occur, your child should speak with an adult immediately.

How To Throw An Allergy Friendly Backyard BBQ

Texas - Driftwood: The Salt Lick BBQ - Barbecue pit

What’s more fun in the warm months than grilling out? It’s grilling out with friends.

Host your own allergy friendly backyard BBQ and invite all your buddies over for a tasty meal and some backyard fun. Here are some tips to get that party started right.

When dealing with food allergies, there is more to think about to make sure that everyone stays safe.  Be sure to have your supplies ready and available to protect your food allergic kids (or guests).  I like to keep small foil sheets on hand.  This lets me prevent cross-contamination on the grill itself.  Also, if other people are bringing dishes be sure to communicate any special needs that should be considered.  And, be prepared to have a back up plan in case they “just don’t get it.”

The biggest complaint I have about throwing a barbeque party is that the I end up doing more cooking than enjoying the company. Last minute preparations mean that the food is not ready when the guests arrive. It is hard to entertain and fix the appetizers at the same time. People seem to eat in shifts as the food gets ready.

Let’s avoid that bit of that nonsense this year. If you are going to have an allergy friendly backyard BBQ get-together, plan ahead so that it is easy on the guests and the hosts.

  • Know your menu. Decide the week before what you will serve for the meal. Appetizers or finger foods of some sort allow guests to munch while they wait for the main course to finish on the grill.
  • Appetizers should be small especially if you plan on serving a variety of grilled meats and vegetables. Try a veggie or fruit tray with some low calorie, allergy-friendly dip. This is easy to make—you go to the store and pick one up! Okay, you can get the veggie part pre-made and just whip up a yummy dip!  The name of the game here is to have fun and to do as much as you can ahead of time.
  • Sweet iced tea is a good idea for a party where there will be children as well as grown ups. You could also serve punch.  If your punch is meant to be sparkling (adding soda), chill the punch first without the soda and add it just before the guests arrive. That way, the punch won’t lose it’s kick while in the fridge.
  • If the guests were told to bring their appetites, you may want to eliminate grilled chicken from the menu. Chicken takes a long time to cook depending on the parts of the bird you are grilling. This alone will cause some people to get their food ahead of others. So no guest is left with an empty plate, choose other meats or pre-bake your chicken before grilling to reduce cooking time.
  • Remember to always preheat the grill. When people come in and see smoke rising from the grill they expect that you have already put food on it. Don’t surprise them with the smell of smoldering charcoal. Forty-five minutes before the party, start the gas or charcoal grill so that the coals get hot and are ready for grilling once the guests arrive.
  • As for the side dishes and cold salads, prepare those at least an hour (for the side dishes) or two (for the salads) before the party. This cuts down on the work of the host and hostess. You can sit with your friends and await the goodies from the grill. Better still, everyone can watch the grill master at work and nibble on appetizers.

The allergy friendly backyard BBQ should flow smoothly when you take the time to prepare. When the work is done early, the fun can begin as soon as the guests arrive.

So get out and enjoy your summer allergy friendly backyard BBQ season!  And, tell me what else you do to keep everyone safe when you barbecue…

Milk-free, Soy-free Buttermilk Substitute


Read ThisIt’s time to get started thinking about all those Christmas cookies and other goodies we eat this time of year.  Do you know how to make milk-free, soy-free buttermilk?

I found this great substitute on the Kids with Food Allergies website.  It’s simple, and it works great!  In fact, I have used this same trick with regular milk before we were dairy free!

Vinegar + Non-dairy milk = buttermilk!  For the exact ratio, be sure to check out this post!

Allergen Free Halloween Treats: Enjoy Halloween Safely With These Tricks

Halloween 2013

Halloween is coming!

A child is brought to the emergency room for an allergic reaction to food every 3 minutes.  Every 6 minutes someone is treated for anaphylaxis because of exposure to a food allergen.  And that is just a normal night.

On Halloween, food allergens are EVERYWHERE.  It’s the one night of the year when we encourage our children to accept candy from strangers.  Like every other night, 80 children will be taken to the emergency room for a food allergy reaction, and 40 of them will have an anaphylactic reaction.  And that is just based on my calculation of approximately 4 hours of trick or treat time.  That does not include that we are pushing our kids into a dangerous situation where they are given treats that are not allergen free.  And, it doesn’t include milder reactions that are treated at home.

This year the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network is launching the Teal Pumpkin Project.  It’s a great way to help all children have a Happy Halloween this year.  To participate simply print out on of these posters to display and/or display a teal pumpkin near your door.  Then, stock your treat stash with allergen free Halloween treats. (You can provide allergenic treats, as well, just be sure to keep it all separate!)


Here are some great allergen-free Halloween treat ideas:

Non food treats

Here is some ideas that I found on Amazon:

  • bounce balls
  • friendship bracelets
  • Halloween party favors
  • stickers
  • bat rings
  • mini magic springs

For the whole list, click here to go to the Amazon website.

And here are some more fun ideas from Oriental Trading Company

  • glow necklace
  • glow bracelet
  • glow sticks
  • mini stuffed animals
  • pencils
  • Halloween themed figurines and bendables
  • and mixed sets…one even in a Halloween treasure box!

For the whole list, click here to go to the Oriental Trading Company website

Food treats

Food treats can be, well, tricky!  Every child is different and when you are trying to make sure everyone stays safe, you have to eliminate a lot of things.  But, if you want to provide an allergen-free edible treat, these are what I recommend.

Enjoy Life Grab and Go Packs

YumEarth candies

No one wants to see kids in the hospital, especially on Halloween.  So, let’s ALL do our part to keeps kids with food allergies safe this year!

Download your Teal Pumpkin Project Poster, post it and go shopping!

How are you helping to keep kids safe this Halloween?

Dairy-Free Ice Cream Options

Milk-free Ice Cream

Do you have a child who can’t have milk?  Are you wondering what you can give them as an alternative that will still look and taste at least close to the original?  Do your kids get upset at birthday parties and other celebrations when they bring out the ice cream?
It’s frustrating…

Almost every birthday party my children attend includes cake and ice cream.  So, what do we do?  We find an alternative that our kids love and then watch them enjoy it without getting sick!

Did you know that July 18th is National Ice Cream Day?  I can’t think of a better reason to try out a new treat!

Here is a list of dairy-free ice cream options for you to explore!

  1. Banana “Cream”

    Take your peeled banana and freeze it.  Once frozen put it in a food processor or powerful blender and let it run until if fluffs up and looks creamy.  It will have a consistency similar to soft serve.  You can add some vanilla extract or cocoa powder or frozen strawberries to create your favorite flavor.

  2. Coconut Milk Ice Cream

    You can buy this in the freezer section at most stores.  I haven’t tried this one because most still have soy.  I am still working on a recipe for this, and will hopefully post it here soon.

  3. Fruit Sorbet

    This is another great option and we have been able to buy some brands at the store, but remember to watch out for other allergens if you need to avoid them.  Or you can make your own!

How to Find Hidden Allergens…Peanuts & Tree Nuts


Are you struggling with a child that can’t seem to eat anything?  Are you trying to eliminate allergens from your diet?

When we were figuring out why my daughter kept getting sick every time I fed her, we went through a tedious process of food journaling.  In order to be successful we had to completely eliminate all of the top 8 allergens from her diet.  I can tell you that the easiest way to do this is to prepare all your food from scratch and skip all processed foods.  But, I also know that sometimes, those foods are really convenient!

So, for those weeks when we were eliminating what felt like everything, I carried cheat sheet cards with me everytime I went shopping.  I read every label.  Thankfully, we were able to reintroduce most of these into our diet, but not everyone can.

So, today, I am giving you all of the top peanut & tree nut allergens in card format.  Just click on the links below to download and print your own copies!

How to Avoid Milk

How to Avoid Soy

How to Avoid Tree Nuts

How to Avoid Peanuts

How to Find Hidden Allergens…Soy

canstockphoto1725754Have you recently discovered that your child cannot safely consume soy?  Are you trying to figure out why certain foods, especially processed foods are making your child sick?

I have just returned home from a house-hunting trip to San Antonio.  While there, I went to a new grocery store to buy food I could prepare in the hotel room. Many of our favorite go to brands are local products that simply aren’t available in a new state.  As I wandered through the unfamiliar store, I remembered just how hard it was when I was first learning to spot hidden allergens in the food we normally consume without thinking.

So, remember, READ THE LABEL!!!!!  Every single time.

And, to make things easier for you, here is a list of all the hidden code words that mean “there is soy in this product!”

  • Bean curd
  • lecithin (unless it specifies a source other than soy)
  • soya beans
  • tamari
  • hydroyzed proteins
  • soy
  • soy sauce
  • textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • black bean sauce
  • miso
  • edamame
  • soy oil
  • tofu
  • MSG
  • yeast extract
  • autolyzed yeast extract
  • flavor/flavorings
  • natural flavor/flavorings
  • seasonings

I know this list feels really long, especially if you are avoiding multiple allergens.  So, I created a guide that will print on a 3 x 5 index card.  That way you can print it out and carry it with you in your purse or a pocket for easy reference.  These also come in handy when communicating with chefs in restaurants.  So, click here to access the handy-dandy Soy Guide PDF.  And, if you need to avoid milk, too, check out last week’s post on hidden milk!

How to Find Hidden Allergens…Milk

canstockphoto1725754Have you recently discovered that your child cannot safely consume milk and other products made from milk?  Are you trying to figure out why certain foods, especially processed foods are making your child sick?

Right now, I am sitting in a hotel room in San Antonio.  We are in the middle of moving here from Colorado.  As I went to a brand new grocery store this morning to get some food for the girls to eat, I remembered just how hard it was when I was first learning to spot hidden allergens in the food we normally consume without thinking.

So, remember, READ THE LABEL!!!!!  Every single time.

And, to make things easier for you, here is a list of all the hidden code words that mean “there is milk in this product!”

  • Anhydrous milk fat
  • butter
  • buttermilk
  • cream
  • curds
  • dairy whitener
  • ice cream
  • lacto acidophilus
  • lactose
  • milk chocolate
  • sour cream
  • caseinates
  • hydrolysates
  • lactalbumin phosphate
  • milk
  • artificial butter flavor
  • butter fat
  • casein
  • dairy
  • imitation milk
  • yogurt
  • butter oil
  • cheese
  • ghee
  • rennet
  • whey

I know this list feels really long, especially if you haven’t been shopping this way for very long.  So, I created a guide that will print on a 3 x 5 index card.  That way you can print it out and carry it with you in your purse or a pocket for easy reference.  These also come in handy when communicating with chefs in restaurants.  So, click here to access the handy-dandy PDF Milk Guide.

Allergy-Free Versions of Your Favorite Recipes

Are you wondering what you can make for your food intolerant/allergic child?  Do you feel like a short order cook when it comes time to prepare meals?  Do you miss eating family favorites because you don’t want to have to cook more than one meal?

When we finally determined that K. C. was reacting to milk and soy, I had to learn a new way of cooking.  With a lot of research and some time experimenting, we have found that almost all of our family favorites can be made just as good with out using milk or soy.  Sure, we had to endure some interesting creations in the process, but once I had my substitutions figured out, it just became the new normal.

Here’s how I do it, in 3 easy steps!

  1. First, get out your recipe and read it.

    Identify all of the ingredients that need to be changed or removed.  Make a note of things like whether or not it is liquid or solid when adding it to the recipe.

  2. Identify a possible replacement.

    I’m making this easy for you because I have created a Substitutions printable cheat sheet for you!

  3. Try out your recipe and see if you like it!

    Sometimes you will need to repeat these steps several times to get the outcome that you want, but keep playing with things and making notes of what worked and what didn’t.  After a few attempts you should have something very similar to what you are used to eating.  Who knows, you might even like it better!

Have you tried to recreate your family favorites?  What recipes do you want to recreate for your family?

I Can’t Find Safe Food!

It can be very frustrating the first few times you go shopping to find food that does not include the allergens you are trying to avoid.  Here are some tips that I have found useful:

  1. Shop the perimeter.

    On the perimeter of the grocery store you will find the less processed (and therefore, more healthy) foods.  Stick to whole fresh veggies, whole grains, and clean protein.

  2. Ask the manager.

    This is particularly helpful if you know of a brand that you have used in the past.  If you ask them to carry a specific item, they will often add it to their shelves.  If not, they may be willing to special order it in for you.

  3. Shop Amazon.

       Amazon has a good selection of shelf-stable products available that can be shipped right to your door.  They also list their nutrition facts labels and ingredients on the listing.  I usually like to get a smaller package to try first so I don’t end up with a whole case of something that doesn’t really work.

  4. Find a Local Co-op.

       Local Co-ops are a great place to find healthy, clean food at great prices. 

  5. Check out my resources page.

       I will be updating it as I find suppliers and companies that are producing clean foods that our family likes and uses.  Maybe you will find something helpful there as well!