Category Archives: Nut Allergy Friendly

Teaching your Child’s Class about Nut Allergies

I remember the moment that I realized that my son would never have nuts again.

It hurt so much that it made my toes curl. I felt like someone sucker-punched me in the stomach and I cried so much that my sockets looked like enormous peanuts. My first reaction was denial.

Maybe there was a mistake. Maybe he moved too much during the allergy test. Doing an allergy test on a two year old is virtually impossible anyway. He must have fidgeted too much and he really must be allergic to some kind of vegetable that nobody wants to eat like peas (by chance he is allergic to those too).

I realize that this was a bit melodramatic of me. The kid is healthy. It isn’t a deadly disease and nuts can be avoided. I had just finished writing my book, the Food Lovers Guide to Seattle and he had nuts many times throughout the research. There was no reaction that I had noticed until the one night. I was at my own party when his neck started to swell and he started talking funny. And there it was, he was on his way to anaphylaxis land, where people stop breathing because of a damn hazelnut, a cute innocent hazelnut. But we were lucky that Benadryl stopped the swelling. His first scary reaction was stopped by the Benadryl. I have heard that this first reaction is the free pass. The one where you know but you don’t really know. Nobody wants to really know.

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My son will never have these beautiful macarons made with almond flour. Photo credit: Jackie Donnely Baisa

I made the mistake of overgoogling. I saw horrendous photos of other kids with blotches everywhere. I read stories about moms who didn’t have play dates because they didn’t want their kids exposed. I read about people who don’t go into bakeries or restaurants or basically never leave the house. I am a food writer. How could I do this? How could I live my life in fear. Would I ever fly again? Could I take my son on an airplane full of people eating nuts around me. I didn’t sleep for a few nights because all I could think about was nuts. I dream that a Nutella jar with hands and feet was chasing us. For real, I did.

My son has a tree nut allergy. That means he can’t have tree nuts or else he can go into anaphylactic shock. He can’t have anything that touches them either. You can’t spoon some nutella in your mouth and leave the spoon on the counter. He can’t have marzipan or pesto or muffins with nuts. He is not allergic to peanuts. I can’t tell you how many times people have offered him a food with nuts in it and said, “there are no peanuts in it”. Peanuts are a legume and he can eat them as much as he wants.

We have learned to live with his allergy and gone past those over-dramatic days. We eat in restaurants, we fly across the world and we have lots of play dates.
He is now 4 and understands it. He won’t eat anything without asking if there are nuts in it. He remembers his Epipen every time we leave the house.

When my son started a new daycare, I wanted to make sure that the kids knew about his allergies and understood them so I put together a small lesson plan and came in to talk to the kids.
I brought ingredients and together we made homemade tortillas. I told the kids about how I like tortillas because they are my favorite type of bread. I like that they are flat and can be rolled up and don’t take up much room in the fridge. We talked about all the different types of bread and why we like them. Then we talked about how all breads are different but so many are still delicious. Then I explained that all kids are different. We talked about how one child might have glasses and one might have an allergy. We are all special in our own way.

We also talked about things that we shouldn’t touch such as medicine or cleaning products. We talked about how parents put these products high up because they can make kids sick. I explained that nuts may be okay for most of the kids in the class but for my son, they make him sick.

I also prepared a list of foods that may contain nuts along with a photo of his to hang at the daycare. This way, any teacher that comes in to help, can see this form. I took the epipen instructions and enlarged them so that they are clear and easy to see.

Being a part of the lesson plan gave my son confidence (I got to come to school with him), it helped his friends understand his allergies and the kids love pretend checking labels to see if nuts are anywhere around. I feel much more at ease now that I can educate his friends and his friends can watch out for him.

Do you have any tips for parents with allergies? How do you deal with allergies?

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Filed under Nut Allergy Friendly

The New Food Processor Bible and Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana is one of my favorite Jewish holidays. Literally, translated into the “head of the new year”, it is the Jewish new year. Now if you know me, then you know that my posts are far from kosher I eat everything and anything around but when it comes to tradition it is a different story, I love tradition and culture and love the holidays for this reason. What I really love is an excuse to get family or friends together and a reason to tear up Challah bread with my hands (yes, no knife required) and eat as much as you want. Usually, a trip to Macrina is all this girl needs to make this challah fantasy complete.

In our family, there is one lady we go to for Jewish recipes and she is Norene Gilletz, the fairy godmother of Jewish cooking, she has them all, in the simple most convenient way. Her books have been passed on from my grandma, to my mom and to all of her friends. Her most recent cookbook is the “The New Food Processor Bible”.
As the busy mom that I am, with an almost 3 year old and twins on the way, on weekdays, her recipes have become my gateway to a home-cooked meal. I am obsessed with my food processor, especially on days when I am in a flurry to get everything done, this one magic machine can chop, grate and mince giving me time for other things.

Her revised and updated version of the Food Processor Bible is an enormous collection of recipes, that you can make every day; basic ingredients and easy dinner options that will feed hungry monsters of all kinds. This book is focused on everything from Food Processor-related tips and how to use it to appetizers, desserts , latkes, kugel and other Jewish favorites. Not necessarily a Jewish cookbook but you can’t take the Jewish mom out of any of her books. This book is a must-have for busy cooks and you can get it here on Amazon.

Our family’s favorite recipe has become the tuna patties. My son calls them tuna pancakes and will ask for them every time. We top them with sour cream or truffle honey. Recipe is below.

And before you start making these. I must post her recipe for sweet and sour meatballs because I post it yearly and these are favorites of kids all over the world. And they are fast, freeze well and can be made a couple days in advance. For more about Norene Gilletz, here is a link to her site.

If you are on a hunt for Jewish recipes, you will also want to check out some other favorites of mine. There is Chef Paula Shoyer for Jewish Baking and for Jewish cooking with a twist of Indian cooking, check out Food Wanderings.

Tuna Patties (Recipe Permission/ Whitecap Books)

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 carrot, cut in chunks
3 cans (6 oz/170 g each) tuna, drained
4 eggs (or 2 eggs plus 4 egg whites)
½ cup dried bread crumbs or matzo meal
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp oil for frying

Steel blade: Process onion and carrot until minced, about 8 seconds. Add tuna, eggs, bread crumbs or matzo meal, salt and pepper. Process until mixed, about 10 seconds. Shape into patties or 1-inch balls.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Brown on medium heat on both sides, until golden. Drain well on paper towels.

117 calories per patty, 4.6 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g fiber, 13 g protein, 4.7 g fat (0.9 g saturated fat), 83 mg cholesterol, 174 mg sodium, 150 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 24 mg calcium, 107 mg phosphorus

Yield: 6 servings (12 patties). Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Freezes well.

Variation:
Mixture can also be shaped into a loaf and baked at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes or fill muffin tins two-thirds full and bake for 25 minutes, until golden. Makes 10 to 12. May be sliced and used for sandwiches.

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Filed under Appetizers, Cookbooks and Books, Nut Allergy Friendly, Quick Dinners, Recipes

A Vacation in Seattle with Kids

I really needed a break. I really needed some sun and most of all, I wanted some time with the family, unplugged, away from it all. Things are a little too busy to fly anywhere but I truly believe that life is what you make of it. And you can definitely find the simple pleasures in life, even in your own backyard. Literally.

So we decided to find a hotel downtown, and the weather man promised some sun and we were ready to go enjoy what Seattle has to offer (note: I live in Queen Anne, a very quick sprint to downtown but there is nothing like walking out your door and stepping into Pike Place Market)

We packed our bags for two nights at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Here is where it all started. No worries, the pool is heated. And they have lots of towels and you get comfy robes so all that you need to do is get yourself in the water and you will never want to get out.

Wait, let me tell you about the hotel room. It was beautiful and had the most comfortable bed. I just wanted to lie down all the time. Luckily, they have movies for kids that you can borrow for free, and a few for the big kids too. We had lots of entertainment for the after pool wind down.

I am a bath kind of girl, let me sit in the bath all day with a book and I may never get out. Needles to say, lots of my day was spent relaxing in baths of bubbles.

If you are a parent, do not assume that relaxing means without the kids because those smiles and giggles in the pool, the little touches like the water with strawberry slices, the snacks in the lobby and the view of the water from the window will keep even the most rambunctious two year old happy. Everyone knows that a happy child means an ecstatic parent.

They had a little game with letters ready for our little boy to play with in our room.

Art attached to the hotel. Chef Kerry Sear highlights Northwest Ingredients from the Pike Place Market with creative takes on flavor. The food was wonderful. Here are just some of the dishes that we had.

Note: They were very accommodating with our son’s nut allergy and with our son in general. They gave him a colorful kids plate, crayons and a picture to color as well as a kids meal with his favorites, sliders and fries.

This is the sunchoke bisque with goat cheese spring rolls and chive purée.

The flavors in this dish worked so well together. We discussed how we would recreate this dish at home.
Slow Poached Wild Salmon with olive oil, meyer lemon and fennel salad.

We loved the play on flavors, the incredible service and the whole experience.

The next day, we woke up and did some Pike Place research. First we read a book that we borrowed from the concierge. Salt & Pepper at the Pike Place Market.. I also brought a book called “Fruit”, by local author Sara Anderson. We learned about all the fruit for a fruit hunting game we later played in the market. Every time we spotted a piece of fruit from the book, we shouted ” I found it’.

Then we went to the Pike Place Market to look at the flying fish. If you live here, then you know all about this but there are no words to describe the joy on your little child’s face when fish are thrown mid-air in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the market.

We got a balloon airplane and continued to count all the “Tawberries” and then headed for lunch to Seattle Art Museum’s Taste restaurant because little E wanted to see the Seattle Art Museum statue that he had been admiring from our window. They have a great happy hour and make delicious comfort food with seasonal ingredients. This time we came for the kids menu with items priced at $5. They were great with his allergy too.
Our weekend went by, a lot of the time, I got to read in bed and little E spent most of the time, admiring downtown out the window.

It was a weekend of relaxation, bonding and enjoying just what Seattle has to offer.

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Filed under Kids Stuff in Seattle, Nut Allergy Friendly, Seattle Tips