soy and fish free stir-fry sauce

IMG_20130217_173245_284I finally figured out a way to make stir-fry! I’ve been on the lookout for a good soy free stir-fry sauce (Oh, how I miss teryaki!) and found that a lot of alternatives are either fish based (another JT allergy) or seem too complicated. I finally found an alternative that works for us. This recipe is sort of a mix between this one and this one. I thought it was a great alternative and I can’t wait to make more stir-fry!

Stir Fry Sauce
1 Cup red wine
3/4 Cup brown sugar (not packed)
about 3/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 Cup orange juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
(I didn’t have any, but I think some orange zest would have been really nice at the very end)

IMG_20130217_173338_956

So, I’m not going to write a really complicated recipe here…
I put it all in a sauce pan and cooked it down for about 20 minutes. Then I cooked up my stir fry as I normally would, using this as the sauce. My stir fry had chicken, carrots and broccoli served over white rice. I think pea-pods and onions would have been a great addition. I think you could use any veggies that do well paired with sweeter flavors. Enjoy!!

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New dairy and soy free butter

For years we have been on the search for the perfect dairy and soy free “butter”. We have tried many along the way and while they work for the purpose needed we often find that they are too artificial tasting. By we, I mean my husband and I, as JT has never tasted real butter in his life and Molly is too little still to really recognize a difference.  But my M-I-L, Jan, just recently discovered a new alternative, and in the regular old grocery store! coconut_02

New Olivio Coconut spread.

Ingredients : : Organic Tropical Oil Blend (Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Sustainable Palm Oil), Filtered Water, sea salt, organic canola lecithin, organic guar gum.

We tried it this morning and it does not taste like fake butter at all! It’s really light and delicious. Neither kid batted an eye at the change on their toast and I was very pleasantly surprised. Not sure how it would be in baking, but I will be trying it next time.

Flying with food allergies

Just recently my little family took a quick trip to Florida. It was so nice and warm and sunshine-y and we were able to have a really nice visit with family. Also, we timed it just right and got to miss the messy blizzard that dumped 24 inches of snow in my neck of the woods!
This vacation was our second time flying with the kids. Flying really freaks me out, flying with kids even more so and flying with a kid with severe food allergies and asthma puts me right over the top. I’m always a stressed-out-mess at the airport. But, despite my freaking out, it has always gone incredibly well. I wanted to share some tips with you for flying with a child with severe allergies. It can be frightening but I have found that doing lots of research and being really well prepared have helped things to go smoothly.

1. Talk with your Doctor – Before flying with JT the first time we made a quick call to his allergist. We just wanted to be sure that he didn’t have any major concerns with us flying, which he didn’t. JT’s peanut allergy is not his most severe, but if he comes into contact with it, even on his skin, he will have a reaction. For us that was nerve-racking enough, I imagine if your child would have an anaphylactic reaction just from breathing in air that has peanut particles in it, it would be even more nerve-racking and your Doctor may have different advice for you.
2. Research your airline – We have flown JetBlue both times we traveled with the kids. This is because after a lot of research I found that I was most comfortable with their peanut allergy policy. (Although peanuts are not JT’s most severe allergy, they are the most widely recognized. They are also the one most likely to be served on a plane.) I also found that JetBlue seemed to have pretty happy customer reviews regarding food allergies. Some airlines may want you to call and inform them of the allergies ahead of time, some will have you wait and inform an employee as soon as you get to the gate. It’s best to know what is expected of you as a passenger.
3. Pack a lot of snacks– If you have a child with food allergies this is probably second nature to you. You just can’t count on airport snack stands or airlines to have safe snacks for your kids. So pack enough for the airport and the flight, with the possibility for delays.
4. Be prepared with medications – For JT it is essential that we always have his Epi-pen, Albuterol and Benadryl. I make sure I have the original packaging with his name on it for these medications (this may mean re-ordering from the pharmacy) and put them all together in a quart sized zip lock bag. Any other medications we need to bring I to put in the checked luggage. Here are the actual TSA regulations.
5. If your airline will not create a peanut free buffer zone around your child, create your own – This is something that JetBlue normally does for you. They alert the passengers in front of and behind you of the allergy and ask them to refrain from eating nut products. On one particular flight the attendants did not follow through on this and I was getting impatient so I just kindly explained our situation, introduced JT and asked that they not eat nuts. Everyone was super understanding and sweet and agreed without as much as an eye roll! I found introducing JT to be especially effective, he’s very cute!
6. Ask to board early and disinfect your area – Whether this is part of  your airline’s policy or not it can’t hurt to ask. As soon as we board I break out the Lysol wipes and clean our armrests, seats, belts, tray tables and window area. I do everyone’s seat because the kids sometimes want to switch up their spot mid-flight.
7. Clean hands often – This is something everyone traveling should do but is especially important for allergies. When you can’t get to a sink your best bet is to start with antibacterial gel followed by a wet wipe.

8. Wear a medical ID – If your allergic child doesn’t already have some sort of medical ID, it’s time to get one. JT has a wristband that he wears to school or when we are out in public. He doesn’t mind wearing it at all. I even had his little sister wear an ID bracelet (not medical) this trip just in case she were ever seperated from us.

That’s it…Now try to relax so you can enjoy your trip! I always find that being well prepared, even overly prepared, is my best defense against my own nerves. What other advice would you add for families travleing with food allergies?

Changes

After JT’s stay in the ICU at Children’s Hospital (read about it here) we had to make a lot of changes. We didn’t know for sure what had caused his “status asthmaticus” but we knew that we would do anything within our power to keep it from happening again. The list of changes was long, but necessary…

  •  We met with a new allergist. We had seen an allergist previously who wasn’t willing to do any testing on JT because his skin was so covered in rashes he felt like he wouldn’t be able to decipher the results. He also told me that JT was more likely to die on the way home from that appointment in a car crash than to die from a food allergy. Maybe so…but still. And that was the only info he gave us. So, we found a new, much more competent and knowledgable allergist. He’s wonderful and helpful and listens. He did some tests and we learned of some new allergies to add to the list. These included beef and some environmental allergies (mice droppings, dust mites and we learned just how severe his cat allergy was)
  • We met with a pulmonary DR. Just one time, actually. Between his pediatrician and allergist we pretty much had covered what needed to be covered, but it did take one appointment to be sure.
  •  We now had an asthma action plan. We knew exactly what to do in any possible breathing scenario.
  • JT was prescribed Flovent. I think it’s a life saver. Since being on it we hardly ever have to use his rescue meds. We also have been able to reduce the amount of Flovent he takes by half! Yay! A possible sign he is outgrowing the asthma?
  • We upgraded from a nebulizer to an inhaler with a chamber. The sheer convenience of this was amazing. Not lugging around a huge nebulizer and feeling like we couldn’t go places without electricity (ie…the beach) was so freeing!!! Also breathing treatment sessions going from 20 minutes to 45 seconds was awesome!
  • Because of his severe dust mite allergy we started encasing all of JT’s pillows and even his mattress in special dust mite covers (get a good one that totally encases the mattress). It’s gross, but unfortunately no matter how clean you are, everyone has dust mites. ugh. This helped a ton! We also wash anything that isn’t encased (sheets, blankets, stuffed animals) in a hot water wash once a week.
  • Fortunately we already had hardwood floors, had we had carpets, they would have come up.
  • Here is the big one…ready? It was the hardest and made the BIGGEST difference. It was so, so, so hard. We gave away our two precious, much-loved cats 😦 I had asked many DR’s “Do you think the cats are causing any of this?” and they would hem and haw or say “maybe” because we didn’t know the severity of the cat allergy. I loved my kitties and felt like I couldn’t abandon them like that and if I had to,  it couldn’t be MY decision. So, when the allergist finally said “you have 2 months to get rid of your cats” they were gone in two weeks. I sobbed driving each of them to their new home. I am so fortunate that they were able to stay with family members (Thank you Mom and Keith!!). I was one of those people who would have told you that her cats were her “babies” but when you have a real baby and that baby is hooked up to what feels like a hundred machines and a DR. tells you that some kids don’t make it through what he is going through, that goes out the window. Yes, I loved my cats…still doesn’t compare.

In the end something (more likely a combination of everything) worked. JT is a much healthier kid. He went from wheezing and needing his rescue medicine several times DAILY to hardly needing it at all! We went from visiting the ER every couple of months to not needing to go at all in the past 4 years!! And although he still develops rashes it’s nothing compared to what his skin used to look like. We are all so much happier and healthier and calmer!!

The substitute

I got a call from JT’s school yesterday.  JT had been brought to the nurses office by his teacher. This happens quite a bit. He gets “bellyaches” or there is a question about his snack (sometimes JT likes to freak everyone out by claiming he can’t eat something) . They always err on the side of caution, which Chris and I really appreciate. His school nurse and I know each other pretty well at this point!

This time it was a substitute nurse who called because JT was developing a rash on his face. Surprisingly this was the first time that they have ever had to call for a rash, pretty impressive since when we are out “in public” he gets them all the time. The substitute nurse seemed a little nervous about his rash and his allergies in general and said she would feel most comfortable if someone came to get him so we could keep an eye on him at home. We were more comfortable that way too so going to get him was no big deal. When I saw him I knew right away he was fine but was still OK with him coming home, especially with his regular nurse not being available for the day.

The thing that really bothered me, that I am still kind of upset about is that she asked me if he had an epipen. I know it’s not possible for her to know every issue with every student but it is a tiny school and I felt like she should have known that he has an epipen. She said she was looking at the list of his allergies in his file so why wasn’t there a big bright note that said “This kid has an epipen!!”. I thought that part of our health plan was that every employee in the building was to be notified of his allergies. I just looked it up and it specifically says that the school nurse will inform them, and I believe she does/has but I guess I should have clarified what would happen if she wasn’t there. I know realisticly that maybe not every substitutie knows about his epipen but the nurse seems to be the one person who HAS to know, especially when the epipen is not stored in the classroom. It makes me think that if he were having an anaphylactic reaction that he wouldn’t have received his epinephrine immediately, which is so, so important. And then I start thinking about other scenarios like :what if his teacher and the nurse were both absent on the same day”…who would I be counting on to know then? Am I being unreasonable thinking that she should have known?