Our Peanut-free Journey

Life with a peanut allergic son.

Disney – Food Allergy Tips — November 24, 2015

Disney – Food Allergy Tips

Our fourth Disney trip is in the books. While I am no expert on all things Disney, I have learned some very important things along the way. First and foremost is that Disney is very food-allergy aware and accommodating. It is so nice to be able to take my son to a place where they get it. Food allergies are scary. Disney makes it a little bit easier.

If you go to Guest Services at any Disney park you can ask about their food allergy dining. There is a vast amount of places you can eat if you have a food allergy. Simply tell the person that is taking your order about what you are allergic to and they will be able to help you.

We had one sit-down meal while were there and it was at Whispering Canyon in Wilderness Lodge. In addition to having the chef come out, they also had a menu just for food allergies. Luckily, my son is only allergic to peanuts so we only had to worry about one food. Great food and great fun.

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As far as snacks go we don’t eat that many while we are in the parks. If you have a food allergy, Disney allows you to bring your own food into the park. Honestly, no bag checkers even asked why we had our own snacks, I don’t think they worry about it too much. We did have a Dole Whip float while in the Magic Kingdom. It is pineapple soft serve ice cream with pineapple juice on the bottom. I was assured that it was safe as it only contains sugar, water, and pineapple. Alex didn’t like it anyway but it was a nice treat for me.

Epcot was crazy busy when we were there. It was the second to last day for their Food and Wine festival and it was nuts. No pun intended. We could hardly get through the plethora of people. It was here that my daughter wanted a funnel cake. Right on the window it had a warning that people with food allergies should not eat it. They did not serve any kind of nut products but with a warning like that we decided that Alex shouldn’t take a chance. My daughter was more than happy to have her own funnel cake.

On our last night in Disney we decided to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party. I knew that hot cocoa and cookies were involved but I had read that the cookies were Snickerdoodle and that they had gluten and nut-free cookies for those with allergies. I still wasn’t holding my breath. It turns out that the cocoa is Nestlé’s and that the cookies for Alex were Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies. Totally safe and so good! He was so excited to feel like a part of the group.

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Overall a very positive experience as was our other three trips. We just really enjoy going to Disney. Even if it was crazy crowded. Stay tuned for my next post. I’m going to give tips on things that I have learned over our last four trips.

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Christmas Cookies — December 8, 2012

Christmas Cookies

It started last week with Halloween. The weeks and weeks of holiday food.

What’s a food allergy mom to do? Read, read, read. Labels that is.

What products do I feel are safe? Below is a list. It may be small but when all you need is a little Christmas normalcy it works!

•Ghirardelli chocolate chips in milk chocolate (sinful!) or semisweet
•Hershey’s chocolate chips in milk chocolate, semisweet, or mini chips
•Cake Mate sprinkles – just the sugar, jimmies, and little balls
•Cake Mate icing
•Betty Crocker icing in a tub

Again, this list is small but it’s all we need to have some yummy Christmas treats.

Please, remember to always read labels. What I have listed above works for us. It may not be in the comfort zone of your family.

Happy holidays!

First Scare — September 4, 2012

First Scare

So last week we ate at Olive Garden. Something we’ve done many times. Alex gets buttered spaghetti noodles and doesn’t eat the salad or breadsticks. Not because he can’t but because he chooses not to.

Fast forward to the end of the meal. The mints. Everyone loves the Andes mints you get after your carbohydrate laden meal. Alex especially likes them because they’re safe.

However, after eating the mint he starts to complain that his throat burns. Odd. He’s never complained about this before. We try to ascertain exactly what is going on. Did he drink water after the mint? That would make your throat burn. Nope. No water.

Then he starts to panic. He feels weird. His throat burns. A full on anxiety attack is happening.

If my husband hadn’t been there I would have given him his Epi-pen. But since my husband noted that he had no other symptoms he didn’t want to use them. I ask Alex about other possible anaphylaxis symptoms and he starts to say his stomach hurts. Again, is this real or anxiety?

We decide to head to the ER. He is not in any distress except for the anxiety of a possible reaction.

On the way to the ER he asks to play with my phone. Once his mind is off the incident he is magically better. We stopped at a Walgreen’s and I got some Benadryl and he took a dose while in the parking lot. Crisis averted.
No Epi-pen, no ER.

But did we do the right thing? I don’t know. The allergist would probably say no. I would say no. My husband would say yes. Who’s to know?

Christmas Cookies — December 3, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Tis the season to have sweets everywhere! Last year we ordered chocolate chips from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. It was good knowing that they were peanut-free but the cost plus shipping is crazy. That was definitely a once and done thing. This year I have decided that I will buy a six-pack of Hershey’s chocolate bars, freeze them and then chop them into chunks. Certainly not the same as chocolate chips but definitely ok by my kids. I can even use the Hershey’s Cookies n’ Cream bar for my son. What will you do this year?

No news is good news. — February 22, 2010

No news is good news.

Most of the time anyway. This school year is flying by quickly. I’d like to see it has been flawless but we have had a couple bumps along the way. The two biggest ones involved lunch. My biggest fear.

1. One day Alex’s class was going to have a pizza party. I mistakenly assumed that was their lunch. I know, we should never assume something but it was pizza! Anyway, the principal called saying Alex didn’t have a lunch and wanted to know what he could have from the a-la-carte items. As we talked she informed me that they have a lunch that is cheese stick, fruit, yogurt and juice box. Fantastic! He’ll take that.

About two weeks later we were really scrounging for lunch and I asked Alex if he wanted to buy the cheese stick lunch, he did. When I asked him that night how he liked his meal he said it was good and he even got a roll and mashed potatoes. What? I guess because the principal walked him throught he lunch line the first time she only let him get the things I mentioned. I explained to him that he can only get what was in the first meal and then we decided it was just better to pack every day.

2. He has his own table in the cafeteria. It’s a small table and no one sits there at any other lunch. His teacher is kind enough to check lunches and see if any children have peanuts in their lunch, if they don’t then they can sit with Alex. Thankfully there are plenty of kids who want to sit with my little man so he has never eaten alone.  One day he was with two of his good buddies and popsicles were given out at lunch. The cafeteria lady (she walks around and helps kids open things etc.) looked at the popsicle and told Alex he could have it. Now I’m sure she read the ingredients but since there is no law for “may contains” I don’t know for sure that it was safe. He had no problems so it was fine but I had to explain to Alex, again, that he can’t eat anything at school that I haven’t said is ok. His teacher buys their snacks off the list I provided so I know that snack time is ok but I never thought the cafeteria lady would let Alex eat something. I explained the best that I could that sometimes adults mean well but it isn’t always safe. Ugh.

Hopefully the rest of the year will go without incident. This journey can be exhausting sometimes! 😉

Hershey’s and I need to have a talk. — November 22, 2009

Hershey’s and I need to have a talk.

Every year I count on Hershey’s chocolate chips for my holiday baking. Now I am thinking that perhaps I will need to buy them from a safe peanut-free internet site. You see, Hershey’s has decided that Mexico is a wonderful place to manufacture some of their products. I do not know the conditions of these factories and I do not know how well they adhere to the food allergy guidelines.  

If a Hershey product says “Mfd. by The Hershey Co.” on the back near the ingredients, I know that it was made in Hershey, Pa. If it says “Distributed by The Hershey Co.” it did not come from Hershey. In fact, we don’t know where it came from. They’re tricky like that.  

And if you haven’t figured it out yet, the chocolate chips now say Distributed by. I’m very upset. I will more than likely be buying my baking chips from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. I am not thrilled about this as I hate that I can’t just buy my chips when they are on sale for $2.00 at the store. I am now paying considerably more plus shipping. Yes, my son will be safe but why did Hershey’s have to sell out and take away jobs from us Americans. It’s disgraceful.

Necco All Natural Candy Wafers — October 31, 2009

Necco All Natural Candy Wafers

Through TwitterMoms.com I was able to participate in receiving a free bag of Necco wafers. As one of the first 50 people you had to send an email to Necco with your address. When I did so, I asked if the wafers were peanut-allergy friendly. If they weren’t I simply said to disregard my email.

A week or so later I got an email stating that I was one of the first to respond and that the wafers were peanut-allergy safe! Yay!

When we got home from Disney our bag of Necco’s were waiting for us. Neither of my kids liked the Clove flavor but I kind of expected that, the orange and lime however were big hits! We also got a few rolls of the chocolate wafers and they were very tasty!

Pick up a bag the next time you see them, the rolls are small so they fit nicely in a diaper bag or purse. It’s great when you need that quick treat for the kids so you can get through the grocery store! 😉

Halloween or in other words “Food Allergy Nightmare Night” — October 14, 2009

Halloween or in other words “Food Allergy Nightmare Night”

Halloween has always been a source of worry for me. To trick-or-treat or not to trick-or-treat, that has always been the question.

When Alex was first diagnosed Boscov’s department store would give children with diabetes a $10.00 gift card to their store. I approached them about Alex’s peanut allergy and they let him participate also. All you had to do was give your candy bag to the customer service desk and they give you the card. Awesome! That worked until Alex was about 4. When he turned five he wanted to TOT and not give away his candy. Hmmmm. That’s a problem.

So we tried TOT’ing and denying candy with nuts. That left very few houses to receive candy from. It also got old telling people “he’s allergic to peanuts but thanks anyway”. Several times I got the “but this one doesn’t have peanuts” and then I would have to quickly explain that he still can’t have it.

This year we are getting home from Disney the night of TOT’ing. I’m hoping that is my saving grace. I have explained to Alex that he can dress up and give out candy while enjoying candy that is safe for him. Then the following night they can dress up and go to our parents’ homes and TOT there. As of now he seems ok with this. Whether that still holds true on the 30th remains to be seen. Fingers crossed!

The Peanut-Free Birthday Treat — February 11, 2009

The Peanut-Free Birthday Treat

This was a great idea for a birthday treat. It was cute and as peanut-free as I could make it while still buying mainstream ingredients.

Nilla Wafer Hamburgers

Two Nilla Wafers
One Snack Size Peppermint Patty
Vanilla Icing tinted red and some tinted yellow
Sesame Seeds

No need for a description, I’ll just show the picture:

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A Peanut-Free Birthday Treat — January 24, 2009

A Peanut-Free Birthday Treat

February 2. Groundhog’s Day. Alex’s birthday.

I am trying to come up with a cute birthday treat for Alex’s kindergarten class that is peanut-free, not boring and still utilizes the snack sheet that I gave at the beginning of the year.

I haven’t come up with anything yet. I thought about buying the Keebler fudge stripe cookies and putting a little icing face on them but that seems kind of dumb. Baked goods are out. Although cookies aren’t exactly healthy, they would be quicker to eat than say a box of Nerds. Alex first requested Lucky Charms cereal. I was trying to figure out if I could make little pots of gold to put the cereal in but I haven’t spent enough time searching the net for ideas.

I guess if all else fails, I’ll just send in a couple boxes of Lucky Charms and they can enjoy that snack for several days. We shall see. I’ll update when I come to a decision.