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.

 

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!

 

 

Moroccan Oil Hair Products + Nut Allergy

Moroccan Oil is very popular right now – it’s found in Morocco and is currently used to bring life back to dull hair. What is Moroccan oil made of? It’s argan oil.  Argan oil is derived from the nuts of Argania spinosa, a native desert tree in Morocco. In other words, the fruit of the Argania spinosa tree often called “argannuts” are tree nuts. The oil is cold pressed as opposed to heat processed or highly refined, making it more likely to contain allergenic protein.

Tree nuts.

TREE NUTS.

TREE NUTS.

TREE NUTS!!!!

Do you know what I sprayed all over my daughter’s beautiful, special, birthday hair-do yesterday?! Moroccan Oil Hair Spray.

Do you know what happened? She started to break out in a rash around her mouth and nose and chest.

I had no idea WHY she was turning red yesterday, until about 5 minutes ago when I was in the bathroom and started to look at my hairspray can, wondering what the heck is Moroccan Oil anyway?

I’m mad. I’m anxious. I’m upset. Why isn’t there an allergy statement on this can of hairspray?! It contains ONE OF THE TOP 8 ALLERGENS?! Don’t cosmetics follow the same rules as FDA? How are they regulated? If something “contains nuts” it needs to say so!

My daughter is sleeping just fine right now. No other allergy symptoms shown and she’s had the hair spray on for 24+ hours now. I’m sure it’s mostly worn off. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to WASH HER HAIR IMMEDIATELY! I’m thinking about it. Really. I’m not sure I can sleep after finding this out.

End of rant.

In conclusion, if you sell Moroccan Oil, if you use Moroccan Oil, if you know someone who is allergic to nuts, tell them about Moroccan Oil. Maybe I’m the one who missed the boat on this by not knowing what Moroccan Oil was. Did you know what Moroccan Oil was before reading this?

If anyone wants the rest of my Moroccan Oil hairspray (I LOVE THE SMELL! OMG) please let me know – it’s yours. Can’t keep it here anymore. Back to WELLA!

 

First Hot Lunch

Wow – this is huge! After talking with Chloe’s principal, teacher and touring the cafeteria and wipe-down process, I was finally comfortable with the idea of hot lunch.  Chloe had been asking to do it, and I was hesitant.  She hadn’t had a school meal (except for the snacks in her classroom) since her cross-contamination incident last May. That story is also on the blog under “Mom Stuff” and it sent her to the ER for anaphalaxis symptoms.

Hot lunch at her school is great. It’s 100% organized and run by a parent committee. There is a designated nut-free table, which she has some great friends at, and never eats alone. All of the hot lunch items are 100% nut-free and most of them are made right up the hill at the high school cafeteria. On Mondays and Thursdays, the meals come from a sub shop and pizza place – both of which we frequent and know they are 100% safe. I decided to choose the sub sandwich day to “try out” hot lunch for her. She was OVER THE MOON excited to eat like the big kids. I hid my anxiety on Monday and just checked my cell phone every 5 minutes over the lunch hour. My phone never rang, and when I picked her up, I could breathe again. She did it. She’s safe. WE DID IT. This was a victory for everyone, especially ME who has seen her have two awful anaphylactic episodes.

This tiny moment was HUGE for her. Excitedly, with hair bouncing and voice squealing, she told me all about it – every thing on her sandwich, how she walked through the line, and where she ended up sitting. She didn’t know if there was going to be chips served with the sandwich (like we do at home) or a dessert, so she told me she would ONLY stick to the sandwich, no extra stuff incase it was offered.

What a smart cookie she is. I’m so proud of her, and I told her what a big, responsible girl she was being by managing her own allergy.

Baby steps. It’s hard. It’s hard to let go just a little bit. Hard not to control every environmental factor that could possibly lead to danger. But what brings me peace of mind is her school and how well Chloe has handled herself. She’s older now. She’s aware. She knows the consequences, and she knows what she can have and not have. It’s OK for me to let her do these things, and let go a little bit and still be cautious. These things are good and she is safe. There are epi-pens in the cafeteria if something accidentally happens, and hopefully we will never have to use them. But they are there, just in case. And I need to have faith in her school and the amazing professionals that are there with her each and every day.

It will never be easy, but it’s getting better. And now she wants to try the pizza hot lunch. I’m totally OK with that.

Nut-free at Kalahari

This week, my husband had some work stuff going on at the Kalahari Convention Center and Waterpark and we decided to tag along. As with any over-night stay, my main priority is keeping the kids safe when it comes to food and snacks. The day before we left, I packed a small cooler bag with:

  • mini-bags of Boom Chicka Pop
  • snack size bags of grapes
  • smart water
  • graham crackers
  • honest juice boxes
  • beef jerkey

We arrived at night and immediately took advantage of the arcade and had a delicious meal at Wisconsin Brew Pub.  The staff at the Wisconsin Brew Pub was very attentive to our food allergies. We had:

  • fish + chips
  • macaroni and cheese with fruit
  • the pork pull
  • baked cavatappi

The arcade was amazing – games for all of us. I was a little blown away with how much there was to do, inside as well!  The weather was cold, so having everything indoors was great. Some fun things to enjoy:

  • giant ferris wheel
  • climbing wall
  • ropes course
  • bowling alley (with couches at every lane, YAAAS!)
  • mini-golf
  • big kid arcade games
  • little kid arcade games
  • Carousel
  • bumper boats
  • Race track / go carts
  • WATERPARK!

Our night was full of laughs, games lots of tokens and some really fun prizes at the end of the night.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about being a parent is that “it gets easier” and it doesn’t. Every age, every stage will come with its own set of challenges. Granted, a 5 year old is pretty self sufficient and needs a lot less care than a 3 year old. Our kiddos thought it would be fun to snuggle Mom and Dad, meaning we each shared a bed with one of our kids. This was a horrible idea and the reason why I ALWAYS book a suite, or two rooms so that we all have our own beds. The kids were windmills and my hubs and I got kicked all night long!!!  Needless to say, it was a LOOOONG night of barely any sleep.  The kids were up at the crack of dawn, yes, of course! There was a waterpark that needed us! I wasn’t ready to get up, but sharing one hotel room, I don’t have many options. We loaded up the car and got a swim bag ready.
We decided to have breakfast in the room, I had brought some travel size safe cereal boxes.

The waterpark rocked and the kids were eager to dry up and go check out another arcade, playhouse and Kalahari Kids Craft area.

It was lunch time when we decided to attempt a meal at another resort restaurant. We visited Ingraffia’s Pizza Kitchen. We learned that the pizza is made 100% in-house and nut-free. In fact, there are no nuts in this restaurant. They also had Enjoy Life brand (top 8 allergy free) cookies, chocolate bars, chips, and trail mixes available for purchase. The beverage option was impressive, and the kids enjoyed their very first ICEE smoothies.

We had a great time and we can’t wait to go back!

I thought this was interesting:

Believe it or not, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions all started with pizza.

In 1983, Owners Todd and Shari Nelson opened what would soon become an icon within their hometown of Wisconsin Dells, WI:Pizza Pub. With a work ethic second to none, they quickly became the largest producer of quality pizza as well as the number one pizza delivery service in the community. Hard work, determination, high-quality ingredients, and an impeccable attention to detail became the foundation for the family’s success. From Pizza Pub, to the first Indoor Waterpark Resort in the Country, The RainTree Resort, and ultimately Kalahari Resorts & Conventions – It truly all started with pizza! We invite you to try this delicious pizza here that feature patented sauce and cooking process only available on the award-winning Pizza Pub Pizza. Enjoy a slice of history.

First Independent Play Date

When you have a child with life-threatening food allergies, leaving your child alone, for any amount of time, is anxiety provoking. Luckily for us, Chloe’s friends and their families have all been amazing and over the top careful about her food allergies. Here’s what we did to prepare for this HUGE step of independence for her:

  1.  We decided to invite her new friend over to our home first. This allowed us to talk as a family with her friend and her family about our serious food allergies. This conversation was a great ice breaker and allowed us to talk openly about many things parents have concerns about.
  2. After the first play date at our home, Chloe had her first play date at her friends house.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon. Chloe was over the moon excited. I was trying to stay optimistic the entire time – she was so happy to see her friend. Suddenly, I remembered the conversation that I had wanted to have with her before we left regarding nuts. She had NO IDEA what nuts actually looked like – she definitely knew the names of the nuts that she’s allergic to, but she’d never actually seen a walnut, pistachio, shelled peanut, cashew. We jumped online and saw a few pictures together before packing her purse with a safe snack, EpiPen and Benadryl.

Once I dropped her off, I didn’t go home. I couldn’t. It felt to far. Instead, I opted to do some grocery shopping nearby and check my phone every 5 minutes. It’s hard. It’s hard knowing your child has this life-threatening allergy and leave them in the care of someone else, even though I trust them immensely. I have seen my daughter have two episodes of anaphylaxis. We know for a fact that her allergies are serious. Life-threatening. She swells up and is unable to breathe if she comes in contact with these foods.

Cross-contamination happens so easily and if you’re not “in it” — in the allergy world, reading all the labels, communicating with the manufacturers, realizing that not all labels are created equal and peanut free does not mean nut free, just knowing all these silly allergy rules! I’d much rather spend my time reading ANYTHING other than damn food labels and websites! But for now, my daughter depends on me to know these things in order to keep her safe. And I will. Forever, even when she’s grown, help her understand her allergy and manage it as safely and effectively as possible.

She rocked her first independent play date, like I knew she would. She had fun with her friend, and that’s what mattered.

Safe Buns at Metro Market

Good Morning!

Bakery items are almost always a no-go in our house. Unless we can get a 100% confirmation from the manufacturer on cross contamination, we do not buy it.

How do we find out about these details? Emails and phone calls, and keeping in touch with our nut community of friends which we share lots of information! We average about 3 calls/emails a month in our house, so not too bad. Holiday time , it will be about 3 calls per day!!!🎄⛄🎁

Here is a sample email that my husband wrote this morning while he was at the grocery store picking up supplies:

Hello,

My daughter has allergy to nuts.  Are nuts used on your line that makes the sliced French rolls?

Thanks and kind regards,

Doug 
——

Doug,

Our production plant where the French rolls are made is a nut-free facility. There are no nuts allowed in the building at all at this time.

Please let us know if you have any further questions. Thank you.

Tim Lotesto
Alpha Baking Company, Inc.

The baking company returned our email within one hour, Doug was able to buy the rolls for our slow cooker dinner.

If you’re looking for a great tasting French roll, check out Alpha Baking Co!

Enjoy your weekend. Fall is right out our window. Loving the colors!🎃