My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

IHP, 504 and more.....oh my!

Well yesterday was the meet and greet/ orientation for Kindergarten.  All I can say is wow. Sometimes all of the preparation in the world is not enough and you get caught off-guard.  I'm very excited about being in this new school and having the kids on a year round schedule but apparently they had not received our records from the traditional school and had no idea about Izzy's allergies and as her teacher said to me, "I have no idea what celiacs is, I look forward to reading your letter".  My scariest moment was talking with the school nurse about lunchtime and listening to her say she could eat with everyone else.  But do not be discouraged.  Remember that you are your child's advocate and because things did not go as planned does not mean that they are not going to work the way they should.  I sent the school nurse and teacher an email with my letter attached and received great feedback same day.  They have already started the process of IHP with her doctors and are looking into a 504 plan for her in the future. 

IHP- Individualized Healthcare Plan is a plan put in place between the doctors, educators, parents and the school nurse to ensure your child is in a safe environment. An IHP will detail what measures the school team will take to reduce the risk of allergen exposure, recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction and how to treat symptoms of exposure (Izzy reacts differently than an anaphylactic child but it will be recognizable just the same) .  For instance, Isabelle will eat at the "allergy table" at lunchtime so that she will limit her exposure to gluten.  She will also have a designated area of the classroom where she will be able to play without worry of playdough or some other form of gluten coming into contact with her. 

504 Plans are a little more extensive. It gets its name from the 504 section of the ADAA regarding disabilities.  It's purpose is very similar to an IHP but can allow for things such as extended absences due to a gluten exposure.  It also would benefit her if her auto immune symptoms worsen in the coming years for other accommodations that I don't expect we will need but are there as a safety net if they are.

No  matter which plan is instituted, make sure all of your concerns are in writing. It is so important for the school staff to understand their role in keeping your child safe.  Make sure the plan addresses key issues that require attention in the classroom (like Izzy needing a playdough/food free zone to play) as well as other areas (like the lunchroom). 

Stay excited, prepare your child like I said earlier in the week, make the new line of communication in a new school a positive one.  Izzy already feels comfortable knowing I've spoken to the teacher and the school nurse and is excited to go to school on her first day.  School is supposed to be the most amazing experience and journey, allow that. 

On our celiac journey I also wanted to note that there are some key things your immunologist/doctor should be looking at, that I was unaware of.  So, whether you are gluten sensitive and/or have celiacs or are just on a strict g-free diet your doctor should be testing some levels regularly.  Iron, Niacin, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin D (We got plenty of Vitamin D this summer in FL;)).  I don't like my sweet girl getting stuck but it's important with most celiacs absorption not at a level it should be. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to square 1 and back to school

Life can be so funny sometimes.  Two years ago our trip home left me feeling like I couldn't wait to leave and get back to the Midwest.  This summer's trip left me feeling like all I wanted to do is be home again for good.  Izzy's food allergies have been a very similar circle as well.  Two years ago we were certain of celiacs, then another allergist introduced a another possibility(FPIES) as well as another food allergy (egg), now on our way home from Florida we had an appointment with a pediatric GI specialist that brought us right back to celiacs.   The auto-immune affects that go along with that were suddenly overwhelming me all over again as if we had a new diagnosis. Suddenly my writers block of the last year or more is free flowing again. It's as if I was waiting on confirmation of something I already knew.  All in all, my sweet angel who seemed so tiny when I started this blog for her and Lana, is starting school on Friday and that just introduces a whole other set of crazy emotions.  My oldest graduated high school as my youngest graduated preschool and heads to a whole new world in a whole new school.  It reminds me of all the hidden dangers for her, new people to train on her allergies and not wanting her to feel different.  It hit me today, my best defense is a good offense so just as I did 13 years ago with Lana, I'm writing the teacher a letter to educate her a little more on Izzy's allergies and what it means to have her in her class. It occurred to me there are a lot of us dealing with the back to school blues (or celebrations;)) right now and I have a few tips to keep yourself organized and keep our allergy kids safe. 

First off, the letter.  The teacher is just as overwhelmed at meeting all the new kids as well as parents as we are sending them off.  She doesn't really have time to listen to all you have to say about the allergies while you are in orientation or on the first day.  So a letter is perfect.  She'll know exactly the hidden dangers in the classroom and can ask you questions via email as needed. Secondly, ask her for a list of the kids birthdays in the class so that you can send in a safe treat for your child and they don't feel left out.  Keep "safe snacks" in the classroom as a back up, labeled with your child's name. Find out the schools policy for lunchtime on where your child sits (allergy table or in classroom, etc) and prepare your child so they aren't surprised the first day.  As with celiacs, Izzy can't even play with playdough so the teacher needs to be aware of that and I'll either make a batch of safe playdough or send in moon sand for her to be able to manipulate in the classroom safely.  Forming a relationship and partnership with the teacher as well as the school nurse and other school administrators is key. The best thing though is preparing your child.  "No food sharing/trading" should be a rule no matter where you are but especially in the school setting.

Prep breakfasts and freeze extras for easy mornings (muffins, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches or wraps are all easy to freeze and reheat).  Look for fun alternatives for lunch boxes so not only does everyone else want what they have but they don't get bored with the same old thing. 

These are just a few tips, as the week progresses I'll post more and some recipes too.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lunch Bunch - Mommy and Me

So tomorrow a fantastic friend, Stella, and her sweet, adorable kiddos are coming for a playdate and lunch.  For some people this can be stressful...DO NOT WORRY, feeding friends can be easy and less time consuming that you think.  We're talking 30 minutes or less.  What's on the menu?  Sweet and Smoky Pork Tenderloin and sweet pea salad for the adults and homemade "lunchables" for the kiddos.  For me, it's always important for me to have something a little more elegant for the adults and a little more kid friendly for the kids when I have people over for playdates and lunches....this does not mean twice the work.  I will prep this meal while I cook breakfast in the morning and it will take no time at all. 

Let's get started:
Sweet and Smoky Pork, Sweet Pea Salad

1 lb pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 16 oz frozen sweet peas
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
half a red onion thinly sliced
1 red pepper chopped
1/2 organic baby carrots chopped
1/4 c feta crumbled
3Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tsbp olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. remove pork tenderloin from packaging and rinse, pat dry.  Combine the next 6 ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine then rub all over the outside of the tenderloin.  Put the pork tenderloin in a lightly greased baking dish and cook 20-30 minutes.  Pull out and let rest.  Meanwhile  steam the sweet peas according to package directions in steamer or microwave and let cool, I love to add a dash of garlic and onion powder and salt while they steam for flavor.  Chop lettuce and add the next 5 ingredients and toss plus the green peas.  Combine the Red wine, oil and salt/pepper in a small bowl and toss at the last minute.  Slice the pork on the biase and plate salad putting the pork across the top in bite sized pieces and serve.

Homemade Lunchables:

sliced gfree deli meat of choice or variety (ham/turley/salami), cut in cookie cutter rounds that will fit on crackers
sliced cheese of choice (our fav is munster but cheddar or swiss also works) cut out for crackers as well
2 pkgs gfree glutino crackers (multi grain, chddar or veggie)
cucumber thinkly sliced
cherry tomatoes halved
1Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice
8 oz strawberries, hulled and halved

Take a 1 inch  cookie cutter and cut the meats and cheeses into rounds that will fit on the crackers.
One a plate take a mi of meats, cheeses and crackers. Combine the cucumber and tomatoes along with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Add a side of strawberries as well. I love to add a frozen tube of organic frozen yogurt as a "dessert"

Perfect mommy/daughter lunch with friends!!!!!!

Product Praise #1

I'd like to start a Product Praise portion of my blog to help you guys love some wonderful companies making amazing allergy friendly but specifically gfree products that help us and are good for us.  So I want to hear from you!  What is your favorite Gfree product that you CANNOT live without? 

Today's products are all about hair care, body wash and make up:

Izzy has always had issues with soaps and laundry deteregents and anything coming in contact with her skin that is perfumy or unnatural.  In the last year she started having major issues with her scalp and eczema.  It was severe and she itched ALL the time.  As I started to do research on this I learned that it was likely her shampoo and conditioner but even more so her detangler.  Almost every detangler on the planet has a gluten ingredient in it. Not sure why but it must have something to do with the way it works.  If you've seen Izzy's pictures you know she has VERY curly hair and a detangler and good conditioner is a must.  There are several grocery store brands like Suave, Dove and Garnier Fruictis who are supposedly Gfree but as we tried some of these they had either perfume that irritated or something in them that just did not work.  I called my amazing hair stylist who started researching, I called one of my BFF and celiac friends who has issues with relaxers that are not Gfree, Henrietta, and I then started searching myself.  Henrietta found my answer.  Jennifer Esposito wrote a blog about a shampoo and conditioner line that was not only gfree, paraben free, cruelty free, sulfate free but also was color safe (not that Izzy needs that now but maybe someday) and has no synthetic fragrance.  BINGO!!!! DING< DING< DING, we have a winner! They have shampoo, conditioner and DETANGLER.  The winnnig award for this amazing product of praise is ACURE. You can buy it at Whole Foods, Amazon and several natural food stores. It is pricier than the Dove, etc. brand but it is worth every cent in my book.  We've been using it for 6 months and it has been the very best thing for her.  It smells good and has Keratin, Moroccon Argan oil and stem cells as well as CoQ10 + Omega 7.  AMAZING.

As for body wash and lotion, since she is still little, not sure it will matter to those of you older than she is... but we are using an amazing body wash called CACOON BABY.  Also Gfree, paraben free, sulfate free. It is so mild and helps skin conditions like eczema with it's natural oils.  Her skin immediately cleared up and has stayed clear even through the winter months which is pretty awesome now that we live in a climate that it is dry. 

The last and final thing to talk about is make up. Although we have not yet crossed that bridge with Izzy, I would like to promote another company that has some amazing products as well. Red Apple Lipstick out of Houston has a wide range of natural make up that is in a dedicated gfree facility.  They are gfree, paraben free, cruetly free and vegan. They are mineral based with a wide range of colors. I have enjoyed sampling some of the things they offer and I know Izzy will be a fan far sooner than I'm ready for her to be:)...

SO, I want you guys to tell me ALL about your favorite gfree product that you can't live without.  I will try the product and review it and you will be entered into a GFREE giveaway.  More details to follow!

The great thing about dreaming is it's always allergy friendly;)

Let's talk turkey....uh I mean Italian

So those of you that know me and follow me frequently know that somewhere in our heritage there is Italian or at least Mediterraean lineage and I cook it alot, not the typical heavy pastas all the time but light, fresh and lovely.  Well, sometimes you just have to have Spaghetti and meatsauce and sometimes you just need Mozerella sticks. I make my own sauce (or gravy as some northern Italians like to call it) and I love to lighten it up with ground turkey.  Some traditional sauces use lean ground beef or full fat ground beef, lamb or even italian sausage but this is how we eat our sauce lightened up MOST of the time when we eat red sauce.  Also, I'm including our low fat, gluten free and now EGG FREE Mozerella sticks recipe, for the marinara sauce to dip it in just scoop a little out before you add your meat.

Stringfellow Spaghetti:

1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 finely diced carrot
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I buy the fire roasted, organic and /or San Marzano whenever I can)
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp Italian dried seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
fresh grated parmesan to taste
vegetables of preference (optional)
(some italian families use a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity but I do not, if you prefer you can add)
(for a "drunken sauce" add a 1/4 C Chianti or other favorite red wine to pan after sauteing the onion and garlic and tomato paste - for this sauce we also add kalamata olives or capers)
1 12 oz gfree spaghetti or 1 halved, roasted with olive oil spaghetti squash that you turn over and run a fork down long ways for spaghetti type noodles

Warm the olive oil in a heavy pan or dutch oven, add carrot and saute onion until translucent then add garlic and stir until fragrant.  I like to add my tomato paste at this point and run it around the pan to warm it.  If you are adding wine you would now, otherwise add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add seasoning and reduce to low.  I typically put my sauce on in the morning and let it cook on low, developing flavors all day.  You can scoop some out at this point for marinara or add vegetables like mushrooms, olives, zuchinni, whatever your preference.  Just before dinner I will boil a large pot of salted water and throw in the gfree pasta (if using spaghetti squash I typically roast it while I make the sauce so it has some time to cool before shredding it into the "noodles"). To a nonstick fry pan I brown the turkey or whatever meat I am using, drain and add to sauce. I will then wipe the nonstick pan, add enough of the meat sauce to coat the spaghetti and add the cooked noodles to the pan to soak up the sauce.  I then freeze the rest of the sauce for a later date.  Add sauce about 1 cup at a time until desired coating. Serve hot and top with Parmesan and fresh basil if you like.

Low Fat - Allergy friendly Mozzerella Sticks

12 sticks weight watchers mozerella sticks or other reduced fat mozerella sticks, cut in half and frozen
1 c gfree all purpose flour of choice
1 c unsweetend almond milk (or coconut milk)
1 c very fine gfree breadcrumbs of choice (there are some available in stores or you can take your leftover gfree bread and make breadcrumbs OR Glutino has some yummy crostini now available that you can grind finely in your food processor for instant breadcrumbs)
1 tsp Italian seasoning

It is very important for you to know that the mozerella sticks MUST be frozen prior to making this recipe or you will have one big mess on your hands.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Have 3 shallow bowl or pans ready with flour, milk and breadcrumbs with italian seasoning mixed in. Take the frozen sticks out of the freezer and working quickly dredge them in the gfree flour, then allow them to soak up the milk a little and roll them in the bread crumbs and place on the cookie sheet.  once you get all 24 sticks rolled and on the sheet place in the oven for 5-8 minutes watching carefully for a sign they will bust.  You should be able to turn them at this point and let them go another 3-5 minutes, just watch them closely.  They should end up golden brown and beautiful.  Take them out and allow to cool and enjoy with marinara sauce as a great appetizer before the spaghetti OR as an after school snack. 

Isabelle has had issue with dairy in the passed and is not a fan of cheese usually BUT she loves these sticks and asks for them regularly.  You could also use this method to make fish sticks with strips of tilapia or your favorite white fish.

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Skinny Bang Bang Cauliflower and oriental night

We're trying to get back on schedule after the holidays and each week something seems to come up that throws us all off again...Lana's testing in Little Rock, this week is Shelby's gym meet in Dallas.  For the next 9 weeks we will be traveling to gym meets almost every weekend!  As I was meal planning for the week I thought I'd try something different and ask each of the kids what they wanted for dinner this week "theme wise mainly".  This week we're making Irish, Oriental, Mexican and Italian meals plus a few other things.  Tonight was Lana's choice to pick and we are having an oritenal night.  For after school snack/appetizer I made Skinny Bang Bang Cauliflower.  You can google or search Pinterest and end up with about 200 recipes for buffalo cauliflower or some varition.  All of the recipes are pretty much the same but this one I followed several recipes closely but decided on this one in the end. 

Skinny Bang Bang Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 Gfree flour blend
1/2 water
1 TBSP + 1/4 C Frank's buffalo sauce, divided
1/4C olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.  Mix the flour, water and 1 TBSP of Buffalo sauce until combined.  Dip each floret into the batter and place on the cookie sheet.  Cook 10-15 minutes or until the batter has become firm.  Meanwhile mix together the remaining buffalo sauce and olive oil and brush onto the cauliflower after the batter firms up.  Place the cookie sheet back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until crisped. Cool and enjoy! I used Skinnytaste's low-fat blur cheese for dipping with the cauliflower and celery - here's the link to that:

The rest of our menu entails Chicken Stir Fry and Asian Lettuce Wraps:

Chicken Stir Fry

1 lb chicken tenderloins, sliced on the biase
1 16 oz package Deluxe Stir Fry Frozen vegetables, thawed
1 Tsp sesame oil or olive oil if your allergic to sesame
1/4 C San-J Gfree Orange Sauce

Warm oil of choice in Wok or large fry pan.  Salt and Pepper the tenderloins and brown in oil until chicken is cooked.  Add Veggies and stir til warmed through completely then add Orange sauce.  Reduce heat and simmer until most of the Sauce has absorbed and thickened.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

1 head butter lettuce (also known as Boston lettuce)
1 lb ground turkey
1 16 oz package Stiry Fry Vegetables of choice, thawed
1 tsp sesame or olive oil
1/4 C San-J Stir Fry Sauce
1 TBSP San-J Tamari gfree soy sauce

Brown the turkey in a fry pan with a little olive oil, add veggies and warm through.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Place mixture, in batches in the food processor and pulse until desired consistancy, returning to the same pan when finished.  Heat over medium heat and add stiry fry sauce and soy sauce until the sauce has warmed and thickened.  Meanwhile peel each butter lettuce leaf off the head and serve like a cup with about 1/4 of turkey mixture in each leaf.

Hope you enjoy these recipes!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Update on Lana

Lana had her 2 year biopsy this passed Friday.  Although we were nervous about some new testing they were doing, it ended up being more than fine.  She achieved her lowest rejection level ever! Her beautiful gift and miracle continues to shine bright and work hard.  We were at Arkansas Children's for about 12 hours but she did amazing and we were released and spent another night with amazing friends.  As I walked out of the outpatient surgery room and into the waiting room I noticed right away a family with three fantastic looking boys about Noah's age.  I had to plug my phone in and as I sat down near them to use the wall plug one of the twins came to sit with me and started talking.  They were adopted and this sweet boy in particular was absolutely involved and interested in architecture and was thumbing through a log cabin magazine.  For several hours that family took my mind off of my nerves and put a big smile on my face.   I have spent a large majority of my adult life in hospital waiting rooms: worrying, listening to other's stories, reading magazines, texting, checking my phone, worrying some more. I've never had a distraction quite like this and it was a welcomed one.  I learned all about this family and their journey that was somewhat similar to ours.  They left Chicago for Arkansas for a job with two teenage children.  Their journey though was not about a job, it was about finding three more members of their family.  The twin boys joined them when they were 3 and then a couple of years later they adopted  their two year older, autistic brother. These boys had a light in their eyes you can't explain.  I was happy to sit with them and hear their story and listen to Trent, who was in love with Marvel comics and Trey, who told me all there was to know about architecture and ceiling fans and asked me more times than I can count how many bedrooms and bathrooms our house had and how many ceiling fans we have and which rooms were they in:).  They were just amazing.