Tag Archives: Living with Food Allergies

Food Allergy Awareness Week- May 12-18, 2019

This week is food allergy awareness week. It is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about food allergies and anaphylaxis, and help remove the isolation that can be associated with having an allergy.

Food allergies like many diagnosis in life have the ability to isolate, ONLY if we let it…

The first step in eliminating ignorance is to EDUCATE! So here it goes…

  • 1 in every 13 children in America has a food allergy. That is two in every classroom!
  • Food allergies can be life threatening and need to be taken seriously.
  • Strict avoidance of the allergen is the ONLY way to prevent a reaction.
  • 35% of children with allergies have been bullied due to their allergy. That. Is. Not. Okay. Bullying is NEVER okay!
  • People can be allergic to ANYTHING! However, 90% of children are allergic to the top 8 allergens:
  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts (all nuts other than peanuts)
  5. Fish
  6. Shellfish
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans
  9. Sesame (which still does not yet have to be labels on food packaging)
  • The top 8 allergens must be labeled on packaging.
  • However, more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions.

The symptoms can range from mild to moderate ones like hives and stomach pain to severe ones like anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). Reactions are NOT all the same. Symptoms can change from reaction to reaction. Just because someone didn’t have an anaphylactic reaction the first time, doesn’t mean they can’t the next. Also, just because you were not born with an allergy, does not mean you can not develop one.

* These facts are not to provoke fear, but instead to spark awareness and instill understanding. Once we have the facts, we combat the fear that tries to associate itself with it all … with faith.

“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/isa.43.1.niv


What is important for us all to know?

  • Reactions DO NOT just happen when someone ingests the allergen itself.

    • They can happen due to cross contact (the presence of unintended allergens), inhaling it, and from saliva (sharing utensils, instruments, chapstick, drinks, kissing).

    • My son’s last reaction at the age of 2.5 was this type of reaction. He had tried a new oat milk and while the company did not have the container labeled for it, the production lines were not thoroughly cleaned from his other allergens. Thus, it caused a reaction that was less severe and very different from his initial one, but still needed epinephrine and a trip to the ER.

    • Cross contact issues and food allergies in general take diligence. Just because the product dues not have the cross contact information labeled doesn’t mean we don’t need to call the companies or do more researching and double checking on line. Also, even products that we have used for years, we still must double check their labels as companies sometimes change the makeup and ingredients in their products. It is not a burden; it is a way of life that ensures safety.

  • Many of these people must carry EpiPens (Epinephrine) with them everywhere they go. It’s beneficial for everyone to know how to use an EpiPen. So reach out to someone who is trained in it and ask to learn. It does not take long to learn, but it also does not take long to react and need assistance. So spend the time now. It is greatly appreciated.

What can we all do? – nationwide initiatives to get involved with

Join the Teal Pumpkin Project

  • Halloween can be a difficult time for those with allergies.
  • This project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies.

How can you participate?

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters (see FARE website for suggestions)
  • Place a teal pumpkin (the color of food allergy awareness) in front of your home to indicate you have non-food treats available
  • Spread the word! Tell your families, friends and neighbors about this initiative.

Snack Safely

  1. Check out the Snack Safely website.
  2. This is a site that has safe snacks and foods for those with allergies.  
  3. Schools use this. We all should use this. 
  4. When you are planning an event or party, check it out to ensure everyone is safe and included. It’s not always easy or convenient to “think outside of the box.” But, that’s often where the difference is made. What may seem small to one person is huge to another.  “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”Aesop

Turn It Teal

  • Teal is the color that represents food allergy awareness.
  • This initiative started in 2014 and now their mission has expanded into going throughout the country, lighting up buildings, bridges, and attractions in teal everywhere.
  • You don’t need to light up a building to spread awareness. You can do this at your school, work or church, by setting a day in May to “turn it teal” and encourage everyone to wear teal! We are doing this at my work this Friday!
  • For more information: Turn it Teal

What can we do? – ways to help everyday

Be Mindful

  1. Wash your hands after eating.
  2. Wipe down surfaces after eating an allergen.
  3. Don’t share food or utensils.

Empathy/Ask

  1. Get the specifics. Find out which foods your friends, family members, classmates, co workers, church members, etc. are allergic to and what the symptoms of a reaction are.
  2. Simply be aware and have an open mind to it. Empathy goes a long way.
  3. If hosting an event, ask what products and foods are safe.
  4. Take it seriously. It is not a joking matter.

Like with anything in life, listening wholeheartedly and empathetically goes a long way. So while our messy counter top may not have everything others have on it, we all deserve to feel included, safe and loved.

For more information, visit: FARE website

 

 


“Peace requires everyone to be in the circle – wholeness, inclusion.” – Isabel Allende

 “When everyone is included, everyone wins.” – Jesse Jackson

 “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

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Our Party Cake

Over the years, we have experimented with a lot of different types of recipes in order to find the best cake for our taste buds.   We use this recipe for birthday parties, play dates, or any kind of event or day that we need extra sweetness. This led to this beauty of a creation:

 

Peanut, dairy, egg and sesame free

But every bite more delicious 

for at home or any kind of party. 

 

Ingredients: 

2.5 cups of flour

1.5 cups of sugar

2 TBSP  baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 c + 1/8 c oil (we typically use coconut)

1 c milk (coconut or our preferred protein nut milk if tree allergies are not an issue)

2 TBSP vanilla extract

1 C organic, unsweetened applesauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and oil in a bowl.
  3. Mix in milk, applesauce, and vanilla.
  4. Pour batter into a greased cake pan or greased cupcake liners/  (use oil for greasing or a butter alternative like Earth’s Balance.
  5. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes or cake for 35 minutes.
  6. Test will a toothpick.
  7. Cool.
  8. Decorate as you wish!

 

We promise to not lick the spoon … but we can’t promise to not eat any before the party...

Two years later, we are still using the recipe. Just mixing it up a bit…

Can you tell we love Legos?!?!

Stay tuned for our favorite crumb cake … a classic everyone should have… no allergies attached!

And here’s a sneak peek…

Scripture Strength

One of my favorite scriptures that hangs above my daughter’s crib since before she was born is Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” 

 

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Every night before bed, we have prayed this scripture over Madison since birth. Interestingly enough, it fits her little, but big personality perfectly.

Isn’t it what we all hope for our daughters!? For our youth!? For our future?!

To be strong and respectable in a world that often tries to strip that from us…

To laugh through life not allowing worldly fears to steal that from us in an attempt to hold us back from who we are meant to become…

To stand confident in how we are beautiful just the way we are no matter what makeup and filters lie to us about …

And those imperfections that make is human, are perfectly designed to make us just that, beautifully and wonderfully made…

At only two, Madison is already so strong-willed and decisive, which makes some moments quite challenging. And she is quite fearless and independent too (The sprained foot, giant knot on her forehead and slight bruise under her eye, all within a month and a half of each other, were proof of that.) So as we continue to guide her and maybe even lead her down the stairs for now, we are confident that she will continue to be just that: strong, confident and of course, kind. For those qualities define true beauty and what we want for her.

Interestingly enough in reciting this over Madi, I didn’t realize at the time the overwhelming and uplifting effect all of this was also having over me. It’s amazing to see how much change can happen over 2.5 years. How much I’ve changed! And I’m not talking about those few added pounds that came and made a home in my hips over that time. Instead, I’m talking about learning the beauty of them. I’m talking about the beauty and strength that comes from having a daughter.

But that strength doesn’t just come from having kids, it truly comes from having a purpose. It comes from praying and asking God to reveal and confirm that purpose. It comes when we are walking in that purpose, His purpose for our lives.

So on the days when I am feeling worn down and like I need a break and more time, it is nice to know I still have the strength to get me through. And it’s even more empowering to know, she has it too.

 

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*It’s also on my phone case too, thanks to my thoughtful husband.

 

Unchained Candy Crush

I played Candy Crush for five years.

Yup.

Five years.

And while I do admit I loved it and how it made my mind turn off any worry or stress for those minutes each day of playing …

.. and do not judge anyone who plays it…

 

_Embrace the storm before it ends and learn to dance in the rain, even if it tracks in some mud along the way. (7).png

let me share why I finally stopped playing cold turkey.

 

I have goals. Many of these dreams have been deeply rooted in me since I was a child. One goal this year is that I want to live in the present. Others include wanting to start this blog again, to write and publish my poetry, to write and publish a book or two, to make a difference according to God’s will, to develop a deep connection with my husband and children, to be more in-tune with family and friend relationships, to be my best self…

Back in the fall, one night as we were spending time with my son before bed, he asked to play on my phone. Finding Candy Crush, he then begged me to show him how to play. It was only for a few minutes that night … but soon turned into a few minutes every night that week… a few minutes every night that took away from conversation and soon could turn into hours or even days of valuable time taken away.

My husband challenged me, “You still play that game? Why don’t you delete it?

I started my defensive comeback …

It helped me work out in the morning (Yes I’m guilty of being the one running on a treadmill crushing away!) …

It helped me unwind …

It helped me de-stress …

It helped me …

Avoid …

Now, unwinding is one thing … but avoiding is another. I was avoiding my goals and dreams because it makes you extremely vulnerable to acknowledge them, verbalize them, and even more vulnerable to stretch out and reach for them.

Stretch goals are not easy. They are not meant to be easy. However, they will never be reached or even have the possibility of being reached if you avoid them.

“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” – Robert H. Schuller

God-given gifts and those dreams that are placed on our hearts that align with those gifts cannot be avoided. They must be prayed for and used to do good.

So 1,825 days later …

I deleted candy crush.

You see the devil will use distractions in life to keep us from out destiny… and Candy Crush was one of mine.

While I could not get any of that past time back, I needed that time going forward…

Prayer … writing … poetry … close family and friends … all help me unwind, destress, and focus. But they also help me, stretch out for those dreams and give me the time to do so.

And even though as the work week comes to an end, the house is messier than I would like, my mind and heart are aligned in knowing they are working together to do good. They are working together for a greater purpose.

For more information:

  • “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” – Colossians 4:5
  • “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” – John 17:4

© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Judgment

 

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According to the dictionary, to judge is “to form an opinion or conclusion about something or someone.” The reality is judgments, good and bad, are thrown at us every day whether we see, know or admit it. And that’s not going to change, although I’d like to think that most people in this world are really good. Judging is part of human nature. However, it does not need to affect us in a negative manner.

But that’s the tricky part: it’s a two-step equation that starts within.

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Equation:

Rewire + Deflect = PEACE

Rewire your own judgments  + Deflect others at you = PEACE

Peace also includes learning to not compare yourself to others and not taking things to heart which is definitely an area I struggled with for a long time…

Okay, once again, I can’t lie. I’ve always been the hyper-sensitive girl who cried at movies, many songs, at criticism, and even if I got in trouble… (which was rare.) Take for instance that day in Mrs. Fritzinger’s fourth grade science class after I let Anne copy my answers in the bathroom before class and got caught, the tears overflowed like a flood.

Sensitivity plus the fact that I was hyper-aware of those around me and their feelings, created quite a time bomb waiting to explode for years. I can taste the saltiness of those thousands of times when I tried so hard to swallow away the tears, instead of giving in to their currents.

Still, I was always sensitive and I have always wore my heart on my sleeve. The only difference now was I embrace it and use it as my strength. Empathy was a quality I was blessed with and when I could not control it, cursed with. I’d like to think now though after some insights, it’s mostly a blessing…

It is ALL about perspective.

So let’s jump ahead to motherhood…or rather parenthood. Judgments are everywhere! I’ve been guilty of being sleep deprived, overwhelmed and unprepared. Oh  and sometimes, or most times, my kids’ jackets are not zippered as we run into daycare. I see the watching eyes.

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Around when Madison was six months old, I was really at some of my lowest times emotionally. However, my children brought me joy except those days that turned into screaming match after screaming match.

And it had been one of those days, but I needed to hit up the store and get out of the house despite the chaos. In preparation for a party, I was missing one ingredient so I packed up the kids into the car and went for a “quick trip” to Shoprite. Quick was where I was wrong.

As I pulled up, I heard an explosion in the backseat so I set up a changing station in the trunk as my son stood next to me in the parking lot. (It never fails! Why does Mother Nature always call my kids at the store?)  To add to the moment, TJ had been screaming about forgetting his buddies aka army of stuffed animals at home. Bad mama! So lots of yelling and crying commotion as I took Madison out of the car to find out my next “surprise.”

Let’s just say the diaper had not worked.

It. Was. Everywhere.

I striped her of everything. She was naked except from her new diaper. There was a mess everywhere. It was then that I realized I had forgotten a change of clothes aaaaaand had no bags to put everything in.

Bad mom again!

I searched around. Dozens of people walked by me. I would say, “Excuse me.” All I wanted was a bag from someone’s double bagged groceries.

No one stopped.

No one looked.

And I’m pretty sure even though I’d hate to judge …

everyone heard.

On the verge of tears, I remembered that I had a blanket in the back seat and decided it was warm enough to use the blanket and diaper to wrap up my daughter and go into the store. My son was hysterically laughing now, talking about how his sister was naked under the blanket at the store. I wanted to laugh too but my anxiety was sky high.

To say the least, I got a lot of looks.   Right as we were going to the self check-out line, one person commented on how adorable they both were.  Instead of thanking her,  I quickly jumped to defend myself...

…from what?

“Adorable and naked. We had an accident in the car and I had to run in for one item. Mother of the year over here.” I made a joke about it which she laughed at as she walked away smiling.

(TMI on my part but I feel like parenthood unleashes a lack of filter or at least, it did with me.)

Had she even been judging? Had anyone been throwing negative stares? Or was it my own perception? Did it even matter?

Then, let’s flashback into time when TJ was 7.5 months old and diagnosed with 21 possible allergies. Due to his severe anaphylactic reaction to yogurt, he was required to eliminate all of them. I had been a new mom and strongly committed to breastfeeding him for many reasons. So I quickly decided that I would give up those foods too so that I could continue nursing him. It was what I knew in my heart was best for him. I wanted to at least try out the diet to see if it would work. I have never been one to dismiss something before I tried it. While the diet free of gluten, oats, tomatoes, nuts, peanuts, eggs, sesame, and dairy was difficult enough, the hardest part of it all were the judgments and isolation that came with it for those six months.

During those months, TJ was always sick so we cancelled on a lot of plans.  And when he wasn’t ill, I didn’t want to go to weddings or parties anyways. It was too hard to try to defend why I was doing what I was doing.

At that time, I had it all wrong though.

I had no one to defend myself to.

No one to answer to.

I knew that it was the right thing for TJ and knew it would benefit him in the long run. So why did I find it so hard to let go of what others thought and just live in the moment…

happily…

You would think most people would have been supportive.  Yet, do you know how many people would come to me and make comments about it like …

– I would never do that…

– I must be selfish because I would it consider it…

– Why are you doing this to yourself?…

The questions and comments came from so many people. And those were the ones, I actually heard. The Lord only knows the ones that were said behind my back.  It was such a sensitive time for me and I had the totally wrong perspective.

Looking back, I think many of these people were trying to be supportive but it was not the type of encouragement that I needed…

Not judging or at least I’d like to think so…

One person who always supported me was my husband. He knew my heart but he also always reminded me that it was always going to be my choice when I wanted to stop nursing and the diet. Yet, I still felt isolated at any social events I attended as I felt that people were judging what I was eating and what I was not eating, saying why they would never do what I was doing. It was an isolating cycle that I just kept running into. It was easier to isolate myself than face people’s opinions…

until I realized …

none of those judgments matter …

None! …

only God’s …

Food is everywhere! Socially, it is such a huge part of our culture. Through the elimination diet, I learned a feeling, an emptiness that no one deserves to feel because I allowed it to become like that. I learned what I never wanted my son to feel regardless of 50 allergies, 3 or none. It made me learn and devise strategies, recipes, and a lifestyle that would foster the complete opposite for son, future daughter, students, etc. It made me embrace inclusion, acceptance and advocacy in a way that protected every individual.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover but the reality is … they are… so accept it (deflect it) … but remember YOU write(rewire/renew) the story within… so make it good!

The best part is … no one judgment matters other than God’s, so embrace the stares as compliments, the questions as encouragement ….and smile back, letting your Mama/Dada strength shine through. I promise it will change you forever…

 

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Chocolate Covered Heart Cookies

I have always loved to bake and experiment with recipes out there. However after TJ’s anaphylactic reaction, I became paralyzed in many aspects of my life including my passion for baking. Like I’ve stated in previous posts, I spent the next two years, avoiding… avoiding and avoiding, paralyzed by that fear. For most of my life, I was the person who would enthusiastically volunteer to bake for events,.  However, I avoided this at all costs now. It was easier…

it was safer …

it was what I did to handle the fear the world of allergies brought.

I mean they do say FEAR = false evidence appearing real.

However, soon I started to learn that I didn’t need to do this and that in fact, parties and events that set up an incredible challenge for us…

…were really bringing us an incredible opportunity.

FEAR = forever embodying amazing revival

That’s when we started to experiment with recipes and began to create our allergy-safe recipe book. Yesterday, I took the day off to prepare a couple items for my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower today. One of those preparations involved creating this very recipe with TJ (who has already eaten 3 of these cookies).

So here you go: the perfect heart cookie drenched in scrumptious chocolate and everlasting love.

Heart Shaped Cookies (dairy, egg, peanut free)

Oven: 350 degrees

Time: An hour (But the dough should sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using.)

  • It makes 24 cookies.  I doubled it to make enough for the event.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy butter (We used Earth’s Balance)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 bag of Enjoy Life chocolate chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Nutiva Shortening
  • sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

  1. Melt the dairy free butter. in a saucepan.
  2. Mix the DF butter with sugar.
  3. Stir in apple sauce.
  4. Then, add vanilla.
  5. Slowly mix in 3 cups of flour.
  6. Place dough in plastic wrap or even a plastic baggie after shaping them into a disc. Place in the refrigerator for at least hour, or up to 24 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or use some of the DF butter and flour to grease the pan.
  8. Roll the dough in a 1/2 thick rectangle and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out as many as you can from the dough.
  9. Repeat until the dough is done.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  11. Have the cookies cool completely.
  12. Use a double boiler or create your own.  I used sauce pot of boiling water and put a mixing bowl on the top of it.  In the mixing bowl on top, add the chocolate chip chunks and shortening. Stir until melted and smooth.
  13. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate, removing excess by tapping it into the bowl.
  14. Place the cookies on a sheet of parchment paper and quickly add the sprinkles onto the west chocolate. Let set completely.
  15. Keep the cookies refrigerated until time to serve or an hour before to ensure no melting chocolate.
  • Final note: If you battle anxiety from anything,…no matter how long…no matter how deep the scars go… I promise you…you can heal.  You can defeat it.  You can overcome it.  I will be doing more posts about this and mental illness because healing happens…prayer and believe…and eat yummy cookies throughout it all!

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And Then There Was Sesame…

Are you kidding me 2019? That was the first thing I thought of when we were leaving the allergist’s office that Monday morning in January. Really… sesame…another allergy to add to the mix.

Like I wrote about in “Some Days Just Stink,”

we had just learned that …

  • TJ’s allergy levels for this year had pretty much remained the same unlike the previous few years.
  • That he would be going into kindergarten with dairy, egg and peanut allergies.
  • Then, Madison had unsuccessfully tried straight milk with her allergist the week before. This was her final step in being able to eat anything!!!

I felt blessed that soon I would have one child who could eat whatever I ate… could eat anything at parties or play dates or restaurants …. but then …

sesame struck …

 

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Now, three times in the summer Madison had tried hummus and loved it. However, all three times her cheeks got a little red and irritated. The third time her mouth got itchy so we knew it was something to avoid and ask the allergist about.

In January, the skin test showed what we expected although we prayed and hoped for the opposite:

She had an allergy to sesame and needed to avoid it until next year when we could retest in skin and blood work.

Are you kidding me 2019? Another allergy added to the mix… and so I allowed myself the next day or two to be bummed and annoyed. But like anything, those 48 hours of sulking was enough. It was time to turn it around.

Sesame is the 9th most common allergy in the United States. However, it is one that is usually not labeled, since only the top 8 need to be. However, sesame can be sneaky.

(Sesame Allergy Post from 2015)

We are no strangers to s sense allergy as TJ once had it too. But since passing his sesame food challenge a couple years ago, he must keep it in his weekly diet 2-3 times a week. (The same protocol is used with all his past allergens.)

While TJ now loves hummus, Madison has her own favorite dip. Sesame free hummus is always an option (look for upcoming post) but also guacamole. We love organic Yucatan guacamole. But here is a simple recipe totally kid-friendly and adaptable to all taste buds.

Ingredients:

2 avocados (mashed)

1/2 of a lime (squeeze out the juice)

1 teaspoon cilentro

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons organic salsa of your choice (amount depends on how large the avocados are)

Directions:

  1. Mix the lime juice with the mashed avocado

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients

  3. For added flavor for adults, add some cayenne and cilantro to the top.

Easy enough to not leave too much of a mess behind and totally not miss sesame one bit.