How to be Nutfree, Mom Things, Travel

FABlogCon 2017

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If you love Denver as much as I do, and you have food allergies, or know someone with food allergies, this conference is for you!! Just check out this three day agenda:

FABlogcon 2017

This year’s food allergy bloggers conference has quite the line up – and it’s located in beautiful Stapleton, CO, easy to get to from the airport via rail.

Don’t forget to put out your teal pumpkin this year!

 

xoxo

 

Mom Things, Weeknight Dinners

BRAT Meals for Kids

No, my kids aren’t being brats. We’ve got a tummy bug in our house so we’re sticking to the BRAT diet; banana, rice, applesauce and toast. I had an awesome spaghetti squash meal ready to go for tonight, but at 4:30 this morning, my little guy woke up not feeling well. It’s been a tough morning for him so far, and we’re currently snuggled on the couch watching Looney Tunes and I’ve rescheduled my entire day to be with him.

Luckily, squash has a long shelf life, so I don’t feel bad about not making it tonight.  Being flexible during the week is super important, which is why I typically choose things that can be re-arranged and thrown back onto the shelf for later if need be.

My meatballs from Conscious Carnivore went back into the freezer for next week.  The meatballs are also nut-free (this is the first time I’m trying their meatballs…why not, everything else from Conscious Carnivore is AMAZING.) as is everything else at Conscious Carnivore. For tonight, I’m going to make a batch of this Weeknight Chicken Noodle Soup from a few posts ago, and whatever my little guy would like from his BRAT diet choices 🙂

If you have nut-allergies, BRAT meals can be tricky. Bananas and applesauce are easy, but be sure to check the labels on your rice and bread; especially lentils if you use those, too. We use Country Hearth bread or Angelic which is made in a dedicated nut-free facility.

I’ll post an update when the Spaghetti Squash is live from my IG. Have a great rest of your week and enjoy this beautiful weather this weekend 🙂 Fall is a tad early, so make sure you get some solid leaf peeping in at Devil’s Lake State Park soon!

 

Mom Things, Travel, Uncategorized

Vacation Preparation Tips

Did you know that using hand sanitizer does NOT remove allergens from your hands or any other surface? It basically moves the allergen around. The only way to remove an allergen is by washing it away with soap and water or by using a sanitizing wipe.

I’ve started to think about what we’re going to be doing on our vacation and the types of bags I’ll be carrying around with my kids. For day-time I’m going to be doing a lot of walking with them, so I usually pick a light-weight cross body bag so that my hands are free to hold theirs (awwwwwwwe).

If we’re going to be out all day without any stops, I may use a backpack or light weight tote/catch-all to carry some emergency snacks, books, and a change of clothes for them.

Today, we stocked up on safe snacks that are purse friendly. Here’s a classic stand-by for us that I’ll be using on vacation.

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  1. Epi-Pen twin pack
  2. Chewable Benadryl
  3. Individually wrapped anti-bac hand WIPES (I carry a lot of these)
  4. Luna Bar LemonZest flavor is made on a dedicated nut-free line. It also has a lot of good vitamins in it, so I don’d mind if we sub this for a meal/snack.
  5. Mom essentials, lip gloss, cards, keys + phone. This purse has a separate built-in space for credit cards, etc. It’s one of the reasons I chose this bag, it fits all of my Mom Essentials + Allergy Meds and a snack.

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Our trip starts off with a short car ride, no snacks needed. Then we take a train, which will be super fun for my little guy. For the train, we’ll eat some pre-packed snacks before checking into our hotel. Our hotel is aware of our allergies and is quite accommodating. Since we’ll be in a bigger city, our food options should be OK with allergies, although I never take any chances, and will have a full array of stand-by snacks and alternate restaurants to choose from.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something!

Mom Things, Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Quick Meals

Hey there – it’s been a Monday! Today was full of crazy, but I’ve found the silver lining. I was able to talk to not one, but two of my cousins today. It’s been a while since I’ve talked to them and it was nice to catch up, connect. It’s nice to know family always has your back. Even if it’s been a while since the last time you talked, it’s family, and family is #1.

This week I’m behind.

Of course.

My usual weekend planning didn’t happen since we were out of town so here’s what I’ve come up with for quick meals in the past 15 minutes while I ordered my groceries online. Hy-Vee allows me to do aisles online and pick up the next day for no fee! It’s amazing. I use this service a lot in winter when it’s super cold. But this week is just nuts busy, so I’m using it so that my kids and I are at home having more fun, rather than stomping thru a grocery store wandering aimlessly. Plus, I’m sick of the car cart already! Can school start yet?!

Monday – Today we had Benvenutos. I love this place because THEY DELIVER! and they are cautious about being nut-free for my daughter. Plus, they use all organic, non-hormone based chicken, and we eat a lot of chicken.

Tuesday – Fajitas. We had some chicken thawed and found a Lawry’s Fajita season packet in our spice cabinet + we had some tortillas left over.

Wednesday – One Pot Pasta. I’ll be blogging about this one. It’s a first-time recipe for me, and it uses gobs of fresh basil, which I have on my porch, and Italian sausage, onion and spaghetti. These are those pretty pictures you see on Pinterest where the pasta, and all the ingredients look so nice all in one Le Creuset!

Thursday – Cilantro Lime Chicken Nachos. This is a make ahead, slow-cooker meal. I’m so happy I found it on my favorite blog, Damn Delicious. I’ll post this recipe and pic too.

Friday – Doug’s Birthday! WOOT. I think we’re going out to dinner. Family fun night.

Saturday – Date night, pizza for the kiddies + Gigi.

Sunday – My little guys birthday – dinner will be Mushroom Ravioli (pre-made, store bought) with Classico Alfredo (totally nut-free) sauce and roasted broccoli.

Here is the food bloggers conference I was talking about a few weeks ago: fablogcon

Thinking about checking out the forum for new food allergy information and samples of non nut-based butters. Some great speakers on the panel this year for sure. We shall see!

Have a great week – and enjoy the sunshine!

Mom Things, Uncategorized

Summer with a 6 + 3 year old

Somehow, my dreamy way of thinking, I thought I’d have MORE time, not less, to dedicate to my food blog this summer. Clearly, I was mistaken.

Summer for our family officially started on June 7, and the past month has flown by in record time. Trust me, I have plenty of pictures, food pictures, recipes and words of advice to offer, but it will have to wait.

Nope. I’m not quitting my blog. I’m just taking the summer at a slower pace than expected. Quality time with my 6 and 3 year old has been amazing and I am enjoying being “in” the moment.

Instead, I’ll share some fun stuff we’ve done so far:

  1. Joined not 1, but 2 public library summer reading programs. I love these because it encourages my already strong readers to read even more, and challenge themselves with tougher books. They also earn some pretty sweet prizes. In Madison, they earn pizza, subs and passes to museums, etc. In Milwaukee, they’ve already earned a family pass to Milwaukee Art Museum, tattoos, ice cream and on their way to free Milwaukee County Zoo pass, brewer baseball and a few other cool prizes. Adding up all of these passes, it’s worth a few hundred.
  2. Tennis and Soccer: The kids are at that dreamy age where they can participate in sports together. For pick up and drop off times, this is amazing. Plus, I know they have each others backs while participating. They do love each other. Tennis is twice weekly and soccer is every Tuesday morning.
  3. Splash Pads + Pools: we’ve done a fair amount of swimming here and lots of time at McKee Farms Dream Park, both splash pad and playground.
  4. Movie: We visit the movies and enjoy pop corn popped with vegetable oil, not peanut oil.
  5. Backyard: our swing-set and slide has been used more than I thought. The kids love playing make-believe and “fort” on our set. Lucky it came with the house!
  6. Strawberry picking + lunch with Daddy at work.
  7. Multiple trips to Milwaukee for family time.
  8. Olbrich Rhapsody in Bloom + visiting the gardens (for chocolate rocks!).
  9. Themed educational weeks: I don’t like the educational drop off that kids have during summer. Their brains are sponges at this point in life and I believe you can still have fun while learning. We’ve had two weeks of “themed” learning + activities, books and meals together. The first was Dinosaur Discovery and the second was Mayan Culture (Princess Elena). This week we’re learning about the water cycle.

I take my job so seriously. Probably too seriously. But I only get this one chance to be a positive role model for my kids. There is no user manual for being a good parent. Just trial and error. And just when you think you have it all figured out, it changes. Stages of life change, friends change, kids change, etc. Life is always changing. So cheers to you and your summer, whatever you do, make it fun!

I’ll be back blogging 100% August 20 to get you school-safe ready as we head into another exciting school year and as I transition into my new roles: vice president of home + school (PTA) and assistant girl scout troop leader for my daughter’s school. And room-parent for my son’s school.

 

Mom Things, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

Nut-free Ice Cream + 1 Year Anniversary of Anaphylactic Episode

Well duh, most ice creams without nuts are nut-free, right?

Wrong.

If you have looked at the ingredient label of your ice cream lately, you’ve probably noticed a change in the label. All labels have to clearly state if an allergen is present. The top 8 allergens are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
  • Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

There are MANY other allergies besides these, but these are the most common. What manufacturers do NOT HAVE TO STATE is whether or not the facility in which the ice cream is made contains nuts. This is a big deal for anyone who is very sensitive to allergens, like peanut dust, that may come into contact with an otherwise safe product.

Today is our ONE YEAR ANAPHYLACTIC EPISODE ANNIVERSARY with my daughter. Last May 19, she ate a Roundy’s Brand Fudge Popsicle that sent her to the ER after EPI-PEN was administered by her school principal. The packaging on the Popsicle did not disclose any allergy information, and I was not made aware that this Popsicle was going to be given out at school. However, when I called the Roundy’s facility, the manufacturer stated that the facility the Popsicles were made in also processed peanuts and tree nuts. This is how cross contact can happen, at the facility, not necessarily IN the product directly, but around it, then on to it.

Because manufacturers do not have to disclose facility information (although more and more are doing this due to the sheer volume of phone calls of nut-allergic kids and worried moms and dads) it is up to the consumer to find out how safe a product actually is.

I learned a lot about ice cream today.  Ice cream is tricky.

Many manufacturers make many different types of ice cream from Butter Pecan, Caramel Cashew, plain Vanilla and delicious Chocolate. It is up to the manufacturer to clean, sanitize and properly flush all the ice cream making lines before making the next flavor. However, it’s difficult to clearly state that the lines are 100% free of certain allergens, so makers of Blue Bunny, Hy-Vee, Sam’s Club, etc are not able to ensure that their products are safe for people with allergies. The difference in these manufacturers though is that Blue Bunny CLEARLY STATES information about their facility and manufacturing process, whereas the others DO NOT state this information.

After my daughter’s teacher asked me about Hy-Vee brand ice cream today, I approved it after reading the label. The label said “Contains: Milk” and I automatically assumed that it was safe for my daughters ice cream party.

While I was driving my son to school, I decided to call Hy-Vee because we rarely have ice cream and Hy-Vee answers my questions so very quickly. While I was on the phone, the woman told me that anything made by Hy-Vee has the potential risk of cross contact due to the facility that it’s made in; it’s made in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. My heart sank. I’m driving and trying not to panic.

I call the school and get the message to her teacher asap.

At this point, I’m having Dejavu. But I’m prepared and so is her school. Deep breaths.

After dropping my son off at school, I decide to head over to Hy-Vee to see what kind of allergy free ice cream I can find.

Hy-Vee was over the top helpful. I had not 1, not 2, but 3 people helping me in the frozen food section trying to find a safe, nut-free ice cream for my daughter. All three guys had their phones out researching safe ice creams, manufacturers and calling around trying to find one that would be acceptable.

My heart was overflowing with gratitude.

We decided to try Breyer’s Ice Cream and we finally find a winner. Not only did they disclose all the allergy information, they have a designated allergy line to call for more information. After hearing that and then calling customer service to confirm, I know that Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream is made in a nut free, gluten free facility and only contains the allergen: milk. Breyers will be my go-to ice cream this summer. Luckily, we dont eat much ice cream, just popsicles.

Have a great weekend – I am grateful for all the help I received today and will be even better when I pick my little lady up from school today to celebrate 1 year of epi-pen free. I’m thinking tonight will be a movie and popcorn type of Friday. Thank goodness.

Hugs to you and yours.

 

Mom Things, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

Two Nutty Moms

What do two nut-free Mom’s do on their night out together?

We eat whatever the hell we want.

Seriously.

A good friend of mine shares the same food restrictions that I do when it comes to feeding kiddos. No nuts allowed!

Her son has nut allergies too, so we lean on each other for support and ideas all things food and holiday related; and life in general, too. We have a lot in common, conversation and humor come easy.

That being said, we had a ball last night on our “girls night out” together. We enjoyed pedicures, dumplings (not a “safe place to eat”), specialty chocolates (also, never safe), and lots of shopping. Ironically, the stores all closed at 9pm, and we ended up at the far end of this mall inside a grocery store. I thought I was just going to pick up some produce for the weekend, when the two of us started reading labels and researching companies on our phones to determine what baked goods were safe. We ended up finding some great new items to share with our kids. Too funny. Mom’s at work, gotta read those labels, find safe snacks. Actually, easier to do when we don’t have our kids at the store with us. These items were found at Metcalfe’s Sentry

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If you’re at the grocery store and want a quick baked treat for your child’s class or next get-together, look for Lofthouse Bakery and Clyde’s Donuts.

I’m grateful for these companies that CLEARLY state that these products are made in a dedicated nut-free facility. Not peanuts, no tree-nuts.  Not everything that Lofthouse Bakery makes is nut-free, so be sure to check the label. The nut-free label is red and says it right above their logo, you can’t miss it.

Both items have been tested and approved by my loving 3 and 6 year olds. I also have to say that both items taste amazing. Donuts have been on our list for a while now, we cannot have them anywhere – they all “may contain nuts” – so when my friend texted me a photo of the label from Woodman’s (grocery store) last week, I was excited! We are so pumped to have these on Sunday with our breakfast and coffee.

I’m so grateful for my friend who has supported our family through so much. She truly understands the ups and downs of the nut-free lifestyle. She’s an amazing Mother, wife, friend, and listener. She gives freely of her time to others for good causes and bakes up a storm to ensure everyone can enjoy safe, nut-free treats at school, home and work. I’m so happy to call her my friend. I would be lost in this nutty world without her.

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms! Enjoy this beautiful weekend!