Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our Favorite Bread Recipe

As you may know from previous posts, Bethany was off wheat for some time. During this time I hunted high and low for a gluten-free, "everything" free bread recipe that was a hit. While I enjoyed some of them - one I copied in a previous post - none of them were a huge hit with the girls (my second daughter so far has no known allergies but is a willing guinea pig in my cooking experiments). When we were allowed to have wheat again, I started looking for another bread recipe to try. I found one that sounded good for my husband and I, but didn't think it would be a hit with the kids - I was hunting for one that was like the super dark steakhouse bread. Lo and behold it was a huge hit with everybody, and now I can give my girls peanut butter & jelly sandwiches! For some reason it is a huge emotional salve to be able to feed my daughter a "normal" kid food like PB&J.

For those who are interested in making it, the recipe is below. I made a couple of changes: it calls for warm water & instant coffee granules, I just put in warm coffee. Bethany is allergic to honey so we use agave nectar - both work well. I make it in my mini-loaf bread maker and it works great. You can make it either in a regular bread maker or the traditional way of making bread. I put the ingredients in the bread machine in the order they are listed, then do it on the light crust setting for basic bread:

1 c. bread flour (I use a 100% wheat all-purpose flour)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. sugar
1 T. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t. salt
1 T. softened butter
1/4 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. warm coffee (I use decaf just in case it doesn't cook out!)
2 t. yeast


Monday, November 29, 2010

I love my girl!

I seriously love this little girl that Bethany has become since we have cut her allergen foods. We have seen even more of a difference after cutting seed oils. It's always fun to see people who haven't seen her in a long time, and hear their comments about how much she has changed.

(And thankfully, Pirate's Booty is still a safe food - woohoo! It has sunflower oil in the ingredients, but the rep I spoke to said they haven't used sunflower oil in ages)

The other day at the doctor's office, he offered a "sucker" to both of my girls. Needing them to be distracted for a few minutes more I said sure. All lollipops so far have been safe. Well, he brought in a Tootsie pop. As Bethany had the thing unwrapped by her mouth, I'm reading the tiny tiny print on the wrapper. Sure enough, it has soy. In a fit of desperation, though, I'm assuming it is the tootsie center that has the soy, so I tell her she can just lick the outside. If worse comes to worse, her only reaction would be she would be a snot for a few days. She just gave me this look and wouldn't lick it. The doctor kept telling her to go ahead, just don't eat the middle. Finally I said, "Honey, you don't have to eat it if you don't want to," and she gratefully handed me the lollipop and went back to her coloring. No regrets about not getting one - and here I was prepared to tell her she could have one when we got home (I have an emergency stash for bribes). She amazes me - she knows how it makes her feel and would much rather go without than get that treat and feel awful! It never seems to bug her that she can't have what other people are having. If I ever have a day where I am stressed about it, I just need to look at her and her attitude towards it all.

And my picky eater is feeling adventurous! She has been talking for ages about trying to make a pizza that she can eat. And yesterday I was eating some potstickers and she wanted to try them. When I explained all the things in them that she can't have she said, "Maybe you can try to make me some that don't have all of those things in it?" This is the child who NEVER wanted to try anything new, ever!

We just took a trip cross-country and I kept thinking of how much harder it would have been to have taken it last year. She was content and happy throughout the whole trip. People ask me how I manage to deal with her diet with so many restrictions, and all I can say is I'd do anything to keep this little girl around...managing her diet is worth it a thousand times over!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Really, who is allergic to barley??

Apparently my daughter is. Barley was one of the allergens she tested in the "low" category. The doctor believes a lot of these low allergens are cross-reactions to things she is more allergic to. So, she might test positive for barley but it is merely a cross reaction from her higher allergy to oats. We've been slowly reintroducing the low allergens and seeing if she has a reaction.

Lately, though, I've been enjoying her so much (and not enjoying my third pregnancy) that I haven't been very diligent in testing new foods. So I was a little blindsided when she started having behavior problems again.

We spent Thanksgiving on the opposite coast at my parents' house. They had the big name-brand raisin bran and Bethany wanted to try it. I couldn't see anything in the ingredients that she couldn't have, so we let her try it. She loved it and ate it the whole trip with no problems.

When we came home, I promptly restocked my pantry and bought some raisin bran - same brand. Bethany started having behavior issues that day, but since we had just spent a week in a time zone with a 3 hour time difference, and had several late nights and skipped naps, I just assumed she was worn out. By the 3rd or 4th day of nonstop whining and a few crying jags where she would tell me things like, "I'm just so sad, I don't know why," a red flag went up. She also started refusing to do things herself, like get dressed or use the restroom. The only thing I knew that she had that was not part of her normal diet was the raisin bran, but she had had it the entire week of Thanksgiving with no problems. I was stumped. In any case, I checked the ingredients again and noticed one ingredient I knew nothing about: malt flavoring. When I googled it, I noticed it was most often made from barley. We took her off the raisin bran right away and I contacted the company to see what they used in their malt flavoring.

A few days later, with my daughter's demeanor restored, I received a reply that said they sometimes used barley and sometimes used corn for their malt flavoring. So, that might explain why one box was ok and the next box caused problems. And now I know she can't have barley. Or malt flavoring.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coconut & My First Public Complaint

So...one question I had with the new coconut allergy was if palm oil is included in that, and how is coconut oil processed & is it safe? I didn't find any answers to those questions online, mostly because people that have a coconut allergy have a topical allergy. Which never occurred to me. Obviously she hasn't had any skin reactions, so should I not worry or is it one of those things you want to avoid just so she doesn't have constant exposure to it? Because honestly, it is in EVERYTHING. Soaps, toothpaste, lotions, etc. Here is a list of coconut product derivatives:

1,2 Octanediol
2 Phenoxyethanol
Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate
Capryl Glycol
Caprylic Acid
Caprylic Glycol
Caprylyl Glycol
Cetearyl Alcohol
Cetearyl Glucoside
Ceteth-20 Phosphate
Cetyl Alcohol
Cetyl Esters
Cocamide MEA
Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Cocomide DEA
Coconut Oil
Disodium Cocamphodiprop
Emusifying Wax
Glyceryl Caprylate
Hexyl Laurate
Isopropyl Myristate
Olefin Sulfonate
Organic Sodium Cocoate
PEG - 7 Glyceryl Cocoate
PEG -100
Polysorbate 20
Sodium Cocoate
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
Sucrose Stearate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinat
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Stearate
Sorbitan Stearate
Stearyl Alcohol
Vegetable Cetearyl Glucos
Vegetable Glycerine

Yeah, good luck memorizing that one! I looked at all the soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, etc. that we use and they ALL have some sort of coconut derivative! Basically you have to find a list of products that is known to NOT have coconut in it and go with that. So I'll call the allergist with my above questions. Sheesh, I sure hope I don't have to cut out topicals.

My other item is I am going to have to post a complaint in our neighborhood newsletter. Somebody has been smearing some unknown substance on our jungle gyms at our neighborhood park. From what I can tell, it is chocolate icing...but a lot of icing has eggs. What if she touched it and had a severe reaction? I also know people in our neighborhood put out whole peanuts for the wildlife. Which means animals drag peanut shells all over the place. Luckily we don't have to worry about that but I have a friend who is moving into our neighborhood who does! People just need to be more aware of the consequences to actions like this. Unfortunately, there is still a population out there that thinks this food allergy stuff is all bogus and we are neurotic mothers getting our panties in a twist over nothing. Maybe I'll send them the hospital bill if we ever have to go to the ER! :-)

Catch up!

Holy Moly! I've never been able to keep a journal for more than a week or two in my entire life. Apparently that applies to blogs as well. But I'm going to keep trying!

What has happened in the past several months?

The Sniffles: The allergist was very interested in her constant sniffling. We had to endure two different nasal swabs, a sinus x-ray, and 3 different medications. The third medication did the trick and no more sniffles - although it REALLY affected her behavior so fingers crossed we don't have to go through that again! Who knows what the cause was, but we'll keep an eye on it.

Food changes: As I am learning, food allergies are an ever changing and evolving entity as you discover what does and doesn't work. We noticed Bethany's behavior was still being affected by something but we weren't sure what. One theory I had was she was sensitive to annatto - which is used as a food coloring but is derived from a seed. With her watermelon weird thing and the questionable latex issues, we went back in July for more testing. What we learned: watermelon is ok. Annatto is ok. Latex is ok. Cumin is not. So not only seeds but spices that are made from seeds are out. But what is still affecting her behavior?

Food trials: we successfully added peanuts back into her diet. The first day I gave her peanut butter she wanted to put it on everything! We also successfully got wheat back in her diet again. That is a huge relief: things like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, etc. were added back in. I am still holding off on annatto because I'm not 100% convinced but we'll add it back in eventually. We are currently adding green peas back in her diet (she is SO excited to eat them again, atta girl!) and so far, so good. It looks like all of the things in the "low" category may be just fine. Fingers crossed.

There were still some behavior issues - usually after snack products like chips or popcorn - so on a whim I tried eliminating seed oils. Within a couple of days her behavior improved. So...even though the doc says they should be fine, I'm going without for now.

We had another big reaction to a dessert I made the other night - fresh peach pie with local peaches with coconut ice cream (since I am dairy intolerant). Big reaction for her - no epi pen needed, but it was out and ready to go! The Benadryl luckily did the trick. But back we go for more testing. It was the coconut (not the peaches, cinnamon, or nutmeg) - HUGE reaction to coconut and coconut milk!

I also asked about the seed oils, and the doctor said if it is a major company, it should be ok because they have to pasteurize the giant vats of oil. If it's a more "natural" product, it may have expeller pressed or cold-pressed seed oils which means the protein allergen is still in the oil. I can't believe the learning curve for all of this! So for now we will be trying one product at a time to see if it elicits any behavior issues.

Looking back on my old posts, I do have to say we've come a long way! Bethany is more likely to try new things than she ever has in the past - although it's taking me a while to catch up to this idea...I still assume anything new on her plate will constitute a global meltdown. She is much more likely to eat what I put in front of her instead of having me cajole her into eating through the entire meal. Her behavior is also much more predictable and what you would expect from her age. Life seems much more "normal" with her now!

She also started pre-K in September. I take a snack for her everyday instead of her eating what is supplied. Bless her heart - even if the teacher offers her what the other kids are having, like apples, Bethany tells her she has to eat HER snack because the other things might have eggs in them. :-) Also, the class moms know to call me if there is going to be any sort of special snack for birthdays or holidays. I want her to have as normal as a childhood as possible, and I can just see it now, "Mom! All the kids had cupcakes and I had to eat carrots!"

Again, I am so lucky that she is not as sensitive to some of these foods as other kids are that you hear about in the news and such. It means she can be around these other foods without too much fear of a major reaction.

That's all my brain can regurgitate for now from the past few months. I'm off to see if I can figure out how to make "sticky" posts so I can make one that keeps her allergy list current...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I hate hives.

Seriously. I hate hives with a passion.

We were having dinner the other night and Bethany was eating a watermelon slice. She had juice all over her face, and then I started noticing it wasn't just juice. I tried to wipe it off and she had little pinpoint hives all over her face. Argh. Who knows what it was...watermelon? Or reacting to the fact that Matt & I were eating mustard even though we were being super-duper careful?

I was convincing myself it was watermelon, since that is a common one. But we gave her some more yesterday and no hives. BUT...I had just given her Benadryl because she got one big hive while playing at a friend's house and then 30mins later had a bunch of little ones all over her face...so who knows if the Benadryl was masking a reaction to the watermelon?

This stuff really makes one mental some days.

So we have another allergist appointment. Not until July because 1) the doctor is booked out far and 2) I promised her no doctor appointments on this month's calendar.

The allergist wanted us back in, anyway, because she has a constant nasal drip. There were no white blood cells in her nasal mucosa (which I believe would indicate an inhalant allergy??) so we tried a steroid nasal spray for two weeks. She still has the sniffles so back we go. Until then I have a food journal to see if we can figure out these mysterious hives.

No Wheat. I think.

Well, we started off with adding wheat to her diet successfully, I thought. Then I had a couple of days where I wasn't 100% positive. Then I had a couple of days where I caught myself thinking, "Maybe she's just tired," or "Maybe her blood sugar is getting a little low." So we decided to go off wheat and see what happens. Lo and behold she was a darling child again. It's bizarre - she really doesn't have horrible behavior per se, it's just when you take her off wheat it is VERY noticeable how different she is!

So no wheat for now. But wait, there's more...we started tree nuts at the same time as wheat so it could be that instead. I have a book that goes in depth into elimination diets, and even breaks it out to single food elimination diets versus multiple food elimination diets versus rotation diets (whatever that is). So I will read up on that and then try wheat and tree nuts separately.