Soup is for suckers.

I miss eggs.

Not so much as a food, but as a concept.

I miss their convenience. I miss the nutritional bang for your buck. I miss having something that can be prepared and ready to consume in a 10-minute window of time (without having to spend an hour prepping and freezing it ahead of time).

Scrambled eggs are friggin’ delicious and fast and kids will eat them when you throw them on a plate with some toast and baby carrots.  They are SO easy.

We did not have scrambled eggs tonight.

We had soup. It was made from scratch, from wholesome ingredients. It was lovingly simmered over several hours and then frozen in reasonable portions for a quick weekday reheat.

Obviously, nobody ate it.

They ate toast and pickles and we had cereal an hour later before bed time.  Sigh.

We rolled in late from work/school/daycare pick up with low blood sugar and quick tempers. After a weekend full of ear infection fun and a blistering fever virus (that two doctors said was NOT hand foot and mouth disease, but almost definitely WAS hand foot and mouth disease), meal prep did not happen.  Consequently, the delicate juggling act of using what we have and making sure food gets ON the table that won’t be thrown OFF the table, kinda fell apart.

On the way home, with two whiney kids, I would have given almost anything to just cruise through a drive thru for deliciously terrible burgers and fries. People would have shoved food in their face and maybe felt gassy and bloated later, but for 20 minutes or so, everyone would have been happy and quiet and eaten something at the same time. If it came with a toy, I’d have another 5-10 minutes of peace to eat my own slop.

Alas, that could not happen.  My daughter is old enough now to know when she’s getting the shit end of the stick, and it’s no fun to watch everyone else get the goods while you get apple juice.  I’d still have to make her food anyway, AND do the toxic cleanup protocol to purge the kitchen of allergens after everyone else ate theirs.

So, we went home, and I heated up the stupid soup. There were tears (and semi-silent mom cursing) before the bowls even hit the place mats.

Eggs would have hit the spot, but since they’re off the table, I ran through my fast dinner options:

  • If anyone liked baked beans, I’m sure beans on toast would work, but nobody likes them, including me.
  • I know I can scramble tofu with turmeric or something, but my kids can detect tofu a mile away and that would go over even worse than soup.
  • Mac and cheese is deadly for my daughter and my son absolutely rejects all forms of non-tomato sauces anyway. My daughter, of course, won’t eat any tomato-based sauces, so spaghetti is no help.
  • Hot dogs…hot dogs work…but they didn’t make it back onto the grocery list.

As a parent, you make a lot of choices that are purely based on getting through the moment…so, toast and pickles and cereal it was. The soup was kind of gross anyway.

Next Tuesday, I’m leading with Cheerios.

bowl of cheerios
Definitely not soup.

It’s like that.

I wasn’t prepared, sitting at my desk at work, eating left-over  shepherd’s pie and scarfing cold coffee…to start crying.

I WAS going to suck up my lunch break watching trailers for movies I don’t get around to seeing until they’re on Netflix.  Instead, I fake sneezed and withdrew to the ladies to try and de-blotch my eyes.

I’d come across this video  from www.foodallergy.org.

I’m not connected with them in anyway, but for obvious reasons, when I fall into a research/panic hole about all this stuff, I often end up on a path that leads to their resources.

This video wrecked me.  This is it. This is what it’s like and will be like for my kid and my family. These kids are my kid at various stages of development, and these parents have the same fears and necessary protocols and feelings of guilt and anxiety that we do.

I used to be a pretty chill parent (relatively speaking), but it’s hard not to let the type-A terror demon loose when half of what the food guide recommends your kid to eat, could kill her.  I cried because these families get it, and we don’t really know anyone in our circle who really does. It’s not a lack of empathy or interest. It’s just a lot to take in and work into your life, and like many other conditions, it’s hard to fully grasp unless you’re in it. I know I never did.

If you want a little slice of what it’s like to be in the head space of a parent with a kid who has life-threatening allergies, this is it.  The creepy stranger that lurks in the back yard where your kid plays, the boogey man that’s hiding behind every corner…Parents and kids have different ways of describing the feeling where everything is suspect. I can usually roll with the notion that “it could be worse”, but it’s always possible that it couldn’t be, and that’s what makes it hard.

To those who’ve shared their experiences in this video and others like it, thanks! It always helps to know you’re not the only ones.

NOTE: FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) has a whole “Food for Thought” video series that’s worth checking out.

The Game of Scones

Ok, this is more bread/muffin-related, but the pun really works better with scones. Let’s just call it a brilliant play on baked good words and move on.

There’s a game I play, as a parent of an allergic kid.  When I pull a recipe, I skip right to the ingredients list.  If I have to substitute any more than three ingredients to make it edible, it’s exiled.

If it’s really good and there are maybe four substitutions, but I KNOW they’re going to work, I’m willing to negotiate.

Let’s just say that in the past couple years, my kingdom has become very exclusive.

However, there’s a thing in my family with this cookbook. Some of you may be familiar with it. It’s called “The New Purity Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Canadian Cooking.” (Insert joke about Canadians and maple syrup/poutine/blah blah blah…)

Purity Cookbook Cover

The version we’ve always worked from is from 1945. I’m not sure where exactly it came from or what made it so influential in my family, but my Grandma had it and now I have it, and there are so many things I love about it.

It features awful gelatin-based monstrosities and pineapple glazed things that ought not be pineapple glazed. Typical stuff for the era. I have major issues with the texture of things and there are a lot of recipes that both repulse and fascinate me in there.

However, it also features kick-ass cakes, muffins, and quick breads (SCONES!) from a time before people thought butter and lard were bad. Short story…it’s always been my goto for baked goods, waffles, etc.

Unfortunately, the winds have shifted and these days, that shit generally doesn’t fly. The oldies I know and love have to be remixed like dub-hop or trip-metal, or whatever the kids are listening to these days.

Most goods CAN be adapted but often they’re pretty terrible alternatives, or a huge pain in the ass.

The average person without dietary restrictions tends to take this kind of thing for granted, but this is a good one.  It freezes well, and everyone likes it.

This my friends, is how I take an old favourite and bend it to my will.

The Original: Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread

The Non-Deadly Remix:

Three essential substitutions, the quantities are the same, and there’s nothing weird or hard to find.

  • (Optional) Whole grain or wheat flour subs in for all purpose. (Fibre! Fibre!)
  • (Optional) Maple syrup takes the place of sugar. (Ok…Canadian stereotype validated.)
  • Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips replace the nuts. (Who wants nuts in banana bread anyway…really?)
  • Skip the egg and use a flax egg. (The key is to remember to do this before everything else. Logistics! It has to sit a few minutes to hit a good goopy consistency.)
  • Soy milk knocks out the dairy. (Oat milk is good here too, but soy has a closer nutritional profile to dairy so that’s why I use it.)
  • (Optional) Extra banana. (Why? Because my baker sister said to always add more. She’s right! Makes a big difference in texture. Texture can be an issue when you mess with baking ingredients, because chemistry.)

The Result: Nutless Banana Nut Bread

  • 1 flax egg (make 5 min early)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup soy milk
  • 2 very ripe mashed bananas
  • As many dairy free chocolate chips as you like. I won’t judge you.  (Enjoy Life is the brand I find most often)

I dump all the dry in one bowl and mix and then add all the wet in the same bowl and mix. Then I dump that in a glass baking dish with parchment paper in it so I don’t have to work too hard to clean it.  Bake at 350ºF for about 45 minutes (depends how big the dish is). Same mix makes muffins, just bake for shorter time…more like 20 minutes.

Winter is coming…banana bread up bitches!

Food Appreciation: New York Fries

Food Appreciation is a little feature I’ll be doing from time to time about our adventures and misadventures eating out in the world with food allergies. Nothing endorsed or sponsored here. Just our experiences. 

When your kid is allergic to everything, the little things get big. Even small outings require prep.

Everywhere you go you have to anticipate all possible food scenarios and pack accordingly. We have an extensive collection of boxes, bentos, and baggies stuffed with safe options on our person at any given time. If there is any chance an excursion will overlap with meal time, it’s prepared and packed. Meal time not likely? Still packing a crap-ton of snacks.

However, toddlers can be jerks and every effort and option will be ranked, idiosyncratically, on a scale of “That’s awesome, I will happily consume all the healthy options you have so lovingly prepared.” to “Screw you guys, I’m eating exclusively pickles now.” An unfavourable judgment results in a throwdown that escalates quickly and dramatically.

In general, fit or no, it doesn’t matter. There are no other options.

There aren’t, to be honest, many treats either. Especially at the mall.

Fast food service does not generally inspire faith in food handling practices and even when there are options that are supposed to be friendly, franchises take liberties with company protocol and say “nah…just throw that fish fillet in there…”

With our particular combination of allergies, there is but one shining beacon of indulgence at the mall, and that is…New York Fries! We can eat there. All of us!

Thank you New York Fries for using actual potatoes without some weird dairy coating! Thank you for using sunflower oil instead of peanut!  Thank you for putting nothing in the fryer but those delicious dirty (skin on) fries! I will happily disregard the eye rolling from employees while I confirm this with a well-rehearsed series of questions asked in different ways to make sure everyone in this transaction has their facts straight. (Redundancy is important.)

Thank you for being the one place at the mall I can use as a carrot, to get both kids to cooperate, while I drag them through stores and pin their arms down so they don’t touch anything.

We made our purchases. We didn’t break anything. We all stayed calm. We all sat down and ate a giant bucket of hot crispy fries like a normal family. It was magic.


Crying Over Spilt Milk

Crying over spilt milk is what you do when your kid fountain vomits and busts out in hives like she’s been swaddled in poison ivy.  A few stray drops on a table from a friend’s sippy cup or someone’s coffee, and her body explodes. Sometimes it’s ok because she didn’t actually ingest it. But, sometimes you cry…because it’s fucking awful.  Dose her up, grab her bag, be thankful you’re five minutes from a great hospital.  So goes life with food allergies. Never a dull moment.

Two years ago, food allergies became a “thing” in our lives; dairy, egg, peanut, fish, and shellfish. It really could be worse.  As far as these things go, we’re pretty lucky and a lot of people deal with many more complications and many more allergies. But, it’s always there and most days there are ridiculous, or daunting, or scary, or infuriating moments that need to be dealt with.  This blog, admittedly, is part of that process for me.

Like a lot of people, I’m trying to figure this allergy shit out.  I’m far from alone in this, but sometimes you just gotta share.  Fair warning, I’m learning as I go, and learning comes with frustration.  I may get salty.  I like swears. (They’re therapeutic and sometimes nothing else will do.)

I am not, in any way a qualified professional, so please don’t take anything I say as sage advice. I’m a parent, with a toddler who has some scary food allergies.  She has an older brother, who doesn’t.  My partner and I are doing the best we can.  I’ll keep you posted.

cropped-photo-2017-08-27-10-59-50-pm1.jpg

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