Cookie Time

Baking allergy-free is easy to do, thanks to all the recipes out there. It took me a while to get the hang of baking, but the kids were happy to help me practice. Here are the kids making red velvet cookies without any dairy, egg, peanut or tree nut.


Food Allergies Get A Mascot This Halloween

Our kids spend most of October in their Halloween costumes. Sometimes, they pretend to be their characters (Transformers, this year) and other times, they pretend they are trick-or-treating. We make pumpkin-shaped, peanut/tree nut/milk/egg-free cookies. They paint pumpkins. (No carving them, after seeing what they did to Charlie’s arms.) They draw ghosts and jack-o’-lanterns, bring us spooky books to read, and look for Halloween decorations when we walk around the neighborhood. As Max says: “Halloween? Thumbs up.”

Image courtesy: FARE

Image courtesy: FARE

They hardly mention candy, though. Sure, they get loads of it when they hit the streets on Halloween, but the treats they look forward to are plastic spider rings, pencils, tiny rubber snakes, and other random goodies. That’s what they get when they turn in their bags of trick-or-treat candy at the end of the night. They also get a few candies that we have personally bought and vetted, but it’s not the highlight of the evening. The kids have a good time and Charlie is safe. It rocks.


Image courtesy: FARE

This year, we’re adding a new tradition, thanks to FARE and FACET. We’re painting a pumpkin teal and putting out a sign that will let parents know we have non-food treats available. It will also help get the word out about food allergies. We only hand out non-food treats, but many families who are taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project will be handing out candy and offering non-food treats to trick-or-treaters who request them.

What makes the teal pumpkin useful is that when we see one, we’ll know that we can ask for non-food treats. That means that more of the treats Charlie and Max collect will be treats they can enjoy. It adds to the fun for them and doesn’t change anything for kids who don’t have food allergies – especially at homes that offer candy and non-food treats (from separate bowls).

I really like this idea and I’m glad it’s getting so much love from the press. When it comes to educating people about food allergies,there’s still a long way to go, so some of the comments on these news pieces are a little disheartening, but most people seem to think the teal pumpkin project is a great plan. Hopefully, those who think it’s an attack on an American tradition will see that no kids are being excluded – they’re being included. Everybody gets to have good, safe, fun.


Food Allergy Challenge: Strawberries

Charlie is not allergic to strawberries anymore

Fruit salads are about to get even better.

Charlie is no longer allergic to strawberries! His allergy doc suggested we test him at home for strawberries, so we went to a park and the kids played between small bites of some fresh strawberries. Charlie LOVED them, and didn’t have any symptoms.

So, we’re down to four: dairy, egg, peanut, and tree nut. And possibly something we don’t know about – remember that reaction he had in the back yard a couple weeks ago? We sure do. And the ensuing tree pollen test turned up nothing. That’s good news for our birch tree. I was ready to yank that thing out myself if it was the problem.

It’s tempting to think, “If he’s outgrown bananas, strawberries, and legumes, maybe he’s outgrown the rest, too.” But the bloodwork numbers are still high on dairy and egg for Charlie. The only one that the doctor has suggested putting to a food challenge is peanut. We’ll have that challenge this summer, when it’s safe for Charlie to go off antihistamines.

FARE’s Updated Walk For Food Allergy Website


The new FARE Walk for Food Allergy site is polished and easy to use.

My family really enjoyed the FAAN walk here in Lincoln, Neb. last year. It was a great chance to raise money for an important food allergy organization and it was also an opportunity to raise awareness of food allergies in Lincoln. And, it was nice to see that we are not alone – there are many, many families in our city going through the same thing. Now, there’s exciting news about this year’s walks, which will take place across the country. FARE, (formerly FAAN & FAI), now has a new website. I’ve checked it out, and I love it.

Food Allergy T-shirts

Charlie and Max at last year’s walk, sporting their T-shirts.

Lincoln’s walk isn’t up on the site yet, but FARE’s midwest regional development coordinator just sent out an email pegging the date as October 19th, at Holmes Lake Park. That’s where it was held last year, and it’s a great, scenic spot with plenty of parking.

Everyone meets up at a big tent and checks out the latest from Mylan, (maker of EpiPen and EpiPen Jr) and there are plenty of activities for the kids (balloon animals, face-painting, etc.). The activities are followed by the walk itself. If you’re thinking of going, I recommend raising money via the FARE walk site. If you’re not planning to go, I’d like to point out that last year Darth Vader showed up.