Is it just me or did life just speed up in the past couple of weeks? It seems as soon as kids are back in school, calendars are filled with activities and schedules that keep everyone running.
While I don't have a "school-ager" quite yet, my son did start preschool this fall which has given me a taste of what it is like. In my limited experience, I have learned that food allergies add a couple of extra "to do's" when getting ready for back-to-school. If you've got kids in school, you know what I'm talking about. From medication authorization forms granting teachers permission to administer epinephrine in the classroom to an updated food allergy action plan to a brand new Epi-Pen, we were racing to get everything on the list done (I admit, I can be a bit of a procrastinator).
One thing I hadn't completed by the time school started was the "safe" snack list. Even though my son's teacher and I had agreed that I would bring his snack everyday, she requested a list of things he could have just for curiosity's sake.
I have been meaning to make such a list but hadn't gotten around to it. Finally, I have started one and want to share it with you. The list contains foods that have become staples at our house. To the best of my knowledge, they are free of the top 8 allergens. As always, be sure to check labels for yourself as products can change or differ from region to region.
Also, I am sure there are more snacks than what are listed here so I want to encourage you to e-mail me with other top 8 free snack ideas! I'll add them to the list posted on the site.
This month's newsletter is all about back to school. The Food Finds this month are resources rather than foods. One is a teaching tool to help raise awareness in classrooms and the other is a new cookbook filled with recipes that are quick and easy to prepare - perfect for the busy evenings that back-to-school brings. The recipe of the month, from the featured cookbook "What Else to Eat?" by Linda Coss, is a hearty soup recipe for the slow cooker - it is true comfort food that makes dinner as effortless as it can be (short of getting take-out!)
Have a great September!
Food Finds of the Month
Last month, I added a Food Finds page to the website that includes Food Finds from past newsletters. I hope to add to this page as I try new products and hope that you will do the same. On the page, is an invitation to build your own page highlighting a favorite Food Find. So, if you've tried an "allergy free" food (free of the top 8 allergens) recently and loved it, please share it! Building a page is really, really simple but if you aren't up for it but still want to share a Food Find, just e-mail me with it!
Now, on to this month's "Finds"....
Food Allergy Lessons in a Flash
Have you ever wondered how you will teach your child about food allergies and what he or she can and cannot eat? Have you ever gotten a blank stare when explaining why candy processed on the same line as peanuts are a risk to your peanut allergic child? It seems you aren't alone and one parent of two children with food allergies, Dina Clifford, decided to create a product to help.
Beyond a Peanut: Is This Safe? is a product of Mind Flight LLC and is a set of flashcards that are designed to teach children and those who provide care for them how to stay safe with peanut and tree nut allergies. These cards teach children, their extended families, friends, coaches, camp counselors, schools, and childcare providers that staying safe with nut allergies goes beyond nut products.
The flashcards introduce cross contamination, the importance of label reading and always carrying emergency medication. This education generates a greater understanding of the safety challenges around the allergy, and why vigilance is necessary to create a safe environment. While the flashcards are geared toward peanut and tree nut allergies, they teach basic principles of managing food allergies and help raise awareness as well.
As you probably know, eating with food allergies means eating fewer "convenience foods" like take-out and pre-packaged dinners from the grocery store and cooking more foods from scratch. This can be a daunting task for those who aren't crazy about cooking or who lack the time to do so. One way to cope is to have a few good cookbooks that are filled with easy to prepare recipes that require minimal special ingredients.
“What Else is to Eat?” features recipes for main dishes, side dishes, breakfast foods and baked goods. The recipes are foods that everyone - not just those with food allergies - can enjoy. While the cookbook is geared to those with dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut allergies, many of the recipes are free of the "top 8" allergens. Most of those that are not "top 8 free" could be easily modified using simple ingredient substitutions.
The best part about this book is that there is an emphasis on fast and easy recipes that use easy-to-find ingredients. This book truly was designed for our busy lifestyles!
There's nothing like a bowl of soup on a cold winter day. Here's a satisfying version of that old favorite - chicken and vegetable - for your slow cooker. If you prefer more of a stew consistency, you can eliminate 1 can of chicken broth.
1 large russet potato (about 14 to 16 ounces)
1 medium brown onion
1 stalk celery
3/4 cup peeled baby-cut carrots
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced and peeled tomatoes in tomato juice, not drained
1 (8.5 ounce) can "no salt added" whole kernel corn
2 (14.5 ounce) cans dairy- and egg-free fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth (3-1/2 cups broth)
2 tablespoons dairy- and egg-free Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Peel potato and chop into small pieces. Peel and chop onion. Thinly slice celery. Slice carrots into thin rounds. Place prepared potato, onion, celery, and carrots into a 5-quart slow cooker.
Trim fat off of chicken and then cut chicken into approximately 1-inch pieces; place on top of vegetables in slow cooker. Pour canned tomatoes and corn, with their liquids, on top of chicken.
Pour about 1 cup of chicken broth into a small bowl or measuring cup. Add mustard, paprika, garlic salt, sage, and pepper; mix well. Add this seasoned broth, as well as the remaining broth, to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 hours.
Congratulations to this month's Wildtree sample drawing winner! The winner got to choose one of several Wildtree dips and culinary blends (all free of the top 8 allergens!) To enter the drawing for next month, visit the Wildtree Page in the Food Allergy Store.
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