Eat Simple

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Simplify your weekly MENU ROUTINE!


Gathering for dinner is challenging in this age of quick and easy convenience options, demanding schedules, and food restrictions.  It requires planning and routine.  If mealtimes have become overwhelming and you don’t have time to re-invent the pasta wheel–  simplify.

Assign certain foods for certain nights!
Establish a weekly menu routine for one part of your nightly meal.  If this is new for your kids, have them assist with creating choices for the one food group.   Give everyone input and do what works for your family.  The key is to assign certain foods for certain nights of the week for as long it takes (or until you are bored and need a change!).  It works because it establishes a routine in the midst of what can be a chaotic time of day.  This example is built around the STARCH :
Sunday – pasta
Monday – potato
Tuesday – rice /couscous
Wednesday – tortilla
Thursday – bread
Friday – eat out
Saturday – eat out
Young children can cut pictures from magazines to represent the various options.  You can write the word below the picture to help teach reading!  Tweens can be responsible for preparing the starch, as able.  DO what works for you.  Great for working within the boundaries of a food allergy, or a simplified schedule used by a family member with special needs!
“Food should be a source of nourishment for children, not entitlement,
entertainment, or empowerment.” ~ Simplicity Parenting.

The Gifts of Food Allergy

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I want to share an excerpt from our recently culled FAAN newsletter binder of recipes.  It is an uplifting message from 2003 that my almost-not-a-tween found, highlighted with happy orange marker, and posted on the fridge. It speaks to the value of living with food allergies and we live it every day.

Article as it appeared in 2003:
The Gifts of Food Allergy

Raising a child who has food allergies brings many unexpected challenges into our lives.  Life would be much easier without having to deal with food allergies.  However, think of all you have learned and the positive ways food allergy has affected your life.

Nothing is all bad or good, and food allergy is no exception.  Listed below are some of the positive ways food allergy has enriched the lives of families just like yours.

* Your family is aware of what they eat, and is likely to make healthy food choices.
* You are active in your child’s academic life; the administration, nurse, and teachers all know you.
* You’ve become more than you were (stronger, wiser, more assertive) to keep your child healthy and happy.
* Your child knows what it feels like to be different and has learned to be compassionate to others.
* Your family has learned to “look out for each other,” allowing children to learn true caring.
* Your child has learned that his or her actions can have extreme consequences and has learned to make responsible decisions.
* Food allergy teaches patience, safety, and restraint as opposed to immediate gratification (e.g., the label must be read before eating an item, food cannot be shared, etc.)
* Your child grows up focusing on activities rather than snacks and meals.

These are only a few ways that food allergy can affect our lives in positive ways.  There are many, many others.  Feel free to share some of yours with us.  We’d love to hear from you.

Tween and I would love to hear from you too!
Eat happy 🙂

Food Allergy Cookbook

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Read with interest the simple “How To Organize Your Loose Recipes” post on Wikihow from fellow NAPO-Chicago member, Barb Tischler.  My multiple food-allergic tween and I have been collecting recipes from magazines, on-line searches, and FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) newsletters (from back in the day when newsletters were of the snail-mail variety) for several years.  Inspired, we piled our collection and got to work.

My almost-not-a-tween spent her own time culling and sorting, so I stepped aside.  Adapting the binder idea, she re-used an accordian-style folder from school.  The result is a file of sheets of recipe options she has used, will use, or will adapt to use.  The plan is to collect the most successful recipes from the collection and start a new binder with the plastic protectors per Barb’s suggestion.  It will be her very own Milk-free, Egg-free, Nut-free (except almonds!), and Sesame-free cookbook!

The Travels of a Food Allergic Tween

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Vera Bradley Crossbody

What does it take for a tween living with severe food allergies to travel?  Realistically, it means the responsible adult must be ready for anything.  Even with a responsible, well-adjusted, kid…

     1.  Be prepared!  Never allow your young child with food allergies to travel without an allergy pack (containing medical information, snacks, and just-in-case medications.)  This makes a HUGE difference down the road when your now tween balks and does not want to draw attention to being different.  Our tween has a collection of purses – most recently a Vera Bradley crossbody which helps somewhat.  Always carry.  No exceptions.  

     2. Be Proactive!  My tween headed to Portland with extended family and packed extra milk-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free treats and snacks – just in case.  Sure enough, she reported those little extras – Cliff Organic Twisted Fruit helped make mornings special.

     3.  Be Open!  While in Portland, my tween reportedly tried different food options (fresh salmon, deconstructed mango salad, vegan strawberry cream cheese, crab) she knew were safe. She was thrilled and sent pictures to me via her cell phone (which, by the way, is NOT a substitute for carrying allergy pack).

You never know…At one of the vegan bakeries, an employee stuck a peanut donut in with an assortment.  Tween had a bite (not of the peanut one – thank goodness!) and her throat started to feel itchy.  Not wanting to make a scene, she mentioned it in passing to present adult.  The adult did not pick-up on the cue.

     The story ends without blame (ALWAYS!), but with a sober reminder and Benadryl.

Smart Balance

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While raising a child with severe food allergies, our family has developed intense brand loyalty.  One staple in our fridge is a dairy-free butter substitute called, Smart Balance.  We knife our way through about two containers of the stuff per week.

Somewhere along the way, we began to keep and reuse the containers.  They hold up nicely in the top rack of the dishwasher and the petite size comes in handy for a variety of mini storage needs.  Our tween draws the line at using them in her school lunch, but they are our “go to” containers for snacks on the run.

The lids deserve a mention as they are secure, yet easy enough for little hands to manipulate.  Lids for traditional small-sized plastic containers can be cumbersome to remove, resulting in orange Cheddar Bunnies explosions.  Yikes!

Smart Balance

Life is a Balance. Stack Smart.

When the color on the Smart Balance containers begin to fade, they are used for non-food purposes.  Most recently, we used them during Junior Great Books to hold crayons.  Eventually, they find their way to the recycle bin.