My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to school

Going back to school is often exactly what mothers are looking forward to at the end of a busy summer and kids are dreading.  For some parents though, it is a scary and hectic time of year.  New teacher, new issues, new explaining  and hoping that your child's teacher can take care of them the way you would if they have a physical disability, health concern or food allergy. Yesterday I sent my two high schoolers off to the beginning of their junior and sophmore first days and was able to attend and meet most of their teachers. I flashed back to their first days of preschool and all of the subsequent years after when I had to go in and speak to Lana's teacher about her heart defect and go into detail about every little thing she could, or could not do.  I actually had a letter on my computer that I updated and printed off each year for them and the PE coach to keep in the classroom.  Well, this was the first year I did not have to explain anything about her or her heart condition.  Last year I was still going around and explaining that she had just had a heart transplant and would be absent quite a bit and so forth. This year, she has a parking spot and a car and a full class load preparing her for college.  WOW!

This year it also starts all over for me, Isabelle starts big girl preschool.  No more, Mother's Day Out where her teacher was a celiac and understood everything.  This year we go three days a week in a new school, with new teachers.  Preparing mentally is half the battle.  What I have learned through dealing with teachers the last 15 years is that, they err on the side of caution.  It is rare to not get a teacher that will stop and call you before they give your child something.  Gluten is a tricky one because although it is gaining in awareness, it's still misunderstood.  People do not understand all the things that contain gluten nor do they understand the impact of celiac's disease.  Most people are not anaphylactic but it doesn't mean it isn't serious.  SO, #1 prepare yourself mentally (meet the teacher, talk with the school and know you've done all you can and feel confident that you've taught them and YOUR CHILD well) , #2 talk to the teacher about the allergy in detail/educate her on the disease or allergy, what it means, write a letter if necessary with a list of things that have hidden gluten in it and #3 be prepared.  I've ordered Gfree animal cookies and graham crackers, cereals, crackers, anything that they might be serving for snacktime and I will bring that into the classroom the first day for the teacher to keep on hand.  I also will ask for a list of the birthdays in the classroom and stock the freezer with cupcakes so when there is a birthday celebration in the classroom, I will defrost the cupcake and decorate and bring it to class so that Isabelle can celebrate along with her classmates.  At this stage I still pack her lunch so that is all in my control.  I've also bought moon dough and gfree glue so that she can participate safely with crafts without becoming sick.  I've researched and bought gfree hand sanitzer for the classroom.  Yes there is an expense that goes along with being prepared but to keep her safe and help with the learning process it is well worth it for our family.

These are just some ideas to help you through the start of the school year.  I hope this helps with the little ones. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Read The Fine Print...

One thing many mom's of children with food allergies and people WITH food allergies learn to do very well and very quickly is read food labels.  But do you really know what you are reading?  For instance, did you know that things that read Autolyzed Yeast Extract and Modified Food Starch can both contain traces of wheat?  Yep they sure can....and there is nothing other than research or knowledge, or flat out a bad experience that would let you know that just by reading the label

Also, with the Gluten Free diet becoming a "trend setter" in the news and on more labels, it's getting more attention.  This is usually a good thing to raise awareness of things people don't even think about normally.  I mean, eveyone knows what having a peanut allergy if like these days and it can be a very good thing to raise awareness for all these life threatening allergies our children and other adults have but Gluten seems to be a puzzling thing.  People look at you as if they have no idea what you are talking about.  Oh, you mean seasoning can have Gluten in it?  Pudding, Candy, Chocolate, and so on.....No it's not just your everyday bread, crackers and pasta so the new awareness is a positive for the most part.  BUT there are also dangers to this new awareness.  For instance, many of the new pizza places like Dominos and Maggio's are advertising a Gluten Free Pizza Crust.  Great, that's awesome.  Glad to have another product in the community like this that naturally raises awareness but have you ever read the fine print on their commericals or adds?  They make their Gfree crust in the same kitchen as the other regular glutenous crust and put it in the same oven and on the same pans.  So their fine print states that if you have an allergy, verses living a gfree lifestyle/diet, you should NOT eat their gfree pizza.  To me, it means it truly isn't Gfree and doesn't help our lifestyle at all because Isabelle can get sick from standing in a facility that has flour in the air, much less something that has touched a pan that has had regular pizza crust on it.  So please, for those with celiac's or the more severe form of Gluten intolerance, stay away.

And whatever you do, READ THE FINE PRINT. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Smart Flour Foods and a yummy, healthy chicken salad recipe

Ok, I have one heck of a chicken salad recipe for you guys that is healthy and omits mayo altogether!  What's that you say?  How can you have chicken salad without mayo?  Listen here my friends:)...

I have been quite obsessed with Pinterest and I've seen alot of pins that have been subbing avocado puree for mayo.  Even though we LOVE avocado and I can see the similarity in the textures I was still unsure of this.  Well no longer my friend!  I had 3/4 of a leftover rotisserrie chicken from a recipe I made earlier in the week and I shredded all the meat into a bowl, added 1/2 C of celery and if you like raw onion, 1/2 cup sweet onion both diced or for a little twist you could add 2 minced shallots.  In my food processor I put two HAAS avocados, seed and skin removed, 1 TBSP organic sour cream and a pinch of salt, garlic powder and cumin.  Combine in the food processor and stir into the chicken, celery and onion if using.  It was FANTASTIC!  I added some halved grape tomatoes and put it in a lettuce cup and had it like a lettuce wrap but you could also stuff it inside a gfree pita half or a Gfree tortilla with some arugula and cheese. 

Happy eating!

Now for some Gfree talk about a new company, ok well it's not new but it's new to me and this is ONE HAPPY MOMMA.  I found them by accident when I followed a gfree recipe link that ended me on their website and the opening line reads, " Many gluten free products lack essential vitamins & minerals. Smart Flour™ is a unique gluten free flour blend of ancient grains created by Smart Flour Foods." OK, you definately have my attention.  The whole website was filled with great information on their products and ancient grains.  They have products from their flour blends for bread, pizza, all purpose baking  to actual cookie dough and brownies, premade pizza crusts and so on.  The price of the products themselves were very reasonable, the shipping however was almost a deal breaker.  BUT, they offer if you have a $100 in products the shipping is THAT'S what I'm talking about.  It didn't take me long to rack up a $100 in products to try! I ordered a sampler pack as well as some other things and let me tell you, we love it ALL.  Everything we've tried, all I have made with their flour, it is amazingly good.  So here's a small plug for a wonderful Gfree company!