Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Organic Chocolate Syrup

I've been using this syrup to make my kids' chocolate milk now for a while.  I've also been known to put it over vanilla ice cream for a quick treat.  It's organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, sodium-free and best of all, peanut-free. And, yes, it's good.

I buy the chocolate syrup at a local store that specializes in organic products, but it's also available for purchase online. Unfortuantely, it's the only product from AH!LASKA that is made in a peanut/tree nut free facility.  They also make cocoa powder for hot drinks and baker's cocoa, but these are made in a facility with other peanut products.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Single Digit IgE Number

In the craziness of moving, preparing for Easter and our trip to the beach (where I'm writing this post), I almost forgot to tell everyone about my latest call with Abigail's doctor at Duke.  Now that Abigail is on the maintenance dose, we only have to drive to the Duke Clinical Trial Unit every 6 months for lab work.  In between those visits, the doctor calls to check in to see how she is doing, and to see if there are any issues or concerns.  I had not heard her IgE lab results from our January trip to Durham so I was anxious to find out what her new numbers were.

Her IgE number is in the single digits!  That's incredible!  Our goal is to get her number to 2 by the end of the study.  We are on our way.  Her number is now 9.28.  With a year still to get there, I quote our doctor, "Abigail has a really good chance of kicking this thing."

Her IgE numbers are following the pattern that they are seeing with the other clinical trial participants.  When Abigail was 18 months old, her number was in the 14 range.  When she entered the study at age 7, her number was 10.4.  During the study, it spiked to 16.7, then down some to 15.5, then 12.9 and a year and a half into the study she's at 9.28.  One of the biggest conclusions the staff at Duke has made is that this process takes time.  They increased the sublingual immunotherapy study length by 6 months for a total of 36 months instead of the original 30.  They've found that the extra time is getting the numbers that they want to see.

While Abigail's IgE numbers were in the teens to start, Duke is still seeing the same trend with children that start with numbers in the 300's, 800's and even 1000's.  The number curve is still the same.  The numbers spike and then drop along the same curve.  I have a friend whose daughter's IgE number was in the 300 range, spiked up over 500, but is now in the 50 range.  It sounds like a long way to go to get to 2, but her percentage change is in line with Abigail's.  Her daughter is just seeing the drastic changes while Abigail's change of 2 to 2 1/2 points is equally a big deal.

Bottom's working!  We are so blessed.  You guys hang in there too.  The latest trial that Duke is doing now is administering the peanut protein via a patch.  I really believe doctors are doing everything they can to make this process of desensitization as easy as possible to administer so that it can be done by allergist and doctors beyond those involved in the trials.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Good Tip for Candy Treats

My youngest son is in preschool with a little girl that has a peanut allergy.  This last Friday, their class had an Easter Egg hunt.  Parents were asked to bring in a dozen plastic eggs filled with treats.  The note home to the parents reminded us that there was a child in the class with a peanut allergy and asked that we be mindful of the type of treats that we put in the eggs.

On the way home, I let my son open the plastic eggs that he had found during the hunt to see what treats they held.  Guess what was in one of the eggs?  A miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  Seriously?? There were several hard candies in some of the eggs, some questionable, but there is no question about the safety of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  Was that a busy mom that just didn't think or an irritated mom that was making a statement.  Given that I know all the parents, I'm going to choose to believe it was a busy mom.  Regardless, I made a call to the mom of the little girl giving her a head's up of what he found in one of his plastic eggs.  I told her I felt her pain.  Abigail is all the time bringing home unsafe treats from school and birthday parties.  As a second grader, she knows that she's not allowed to eat anything until we look at the treats together.

I was reading through a copy of Family Fun yesterday and came across a really good tip that had been submitted by a reader whose son had several severe food allergies.  She found a really large jar and put lines around it at several places.  Each line had a dollar value associated with it.  When her son received treats that he couldn't eat, he'd drop it in the jar.  When the candy reached one of the lines, he could choose to keep saving or turn it into cash to then spend on something he wanted.

I have 2 one gallon bags full of candy that my kids have received from various parties and holiday events.  It's not all unsafe, I just limit the amount of candy my kids can eat.  Not only the amount though, but the type.  I'd rather they have something that I've provided that is either organic or that does not contain artificial sweeteners and dyes.  I might try this tip and make a treat trade-in jar for our house as well.  In the meantime, does anybody know what to do with all that candy?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter Treats

I'm having a hard time finding Easter treats that both meet my health standards and that are safe for Abigail's peanut allergy.  I'm sure I could find items to order off the internet, but I feel like those items come at a premium plus the additional shipping charges.  Having had luck at World Market with the Sun Cups in the past, I thought it was worth stopping in to see if they had any Easter candy.  They did.

I found these Marshmallow Easter Eggs made by Rose Manufacturing in Ireland.  The allergen information lists dairy and soy only, and they're labeled gluten free. There was no label for peanut/tree nut cross-contamination which appears to be a World Market requirement, and because they are made in the UK, there was a good chance that they didn't contain GMO ingredients. At $1.99 for a pack of 6 individually wrapped eggs, I thought it was worth the chance.  I couldn't find anything about the product on their website, so I e-mailed the company.  Here's their response:

Thanks for purchasing our products. I hope you enjoy them. Our manufacturing facility is a nut free environment with the exception of Coconut used on site. All raw materials used on site are GMO free. Hope this puts your mind at rest and have a nice Easter.

I haven't had a chance to try them yet so I can't guarantee the taste.  However, considering they each just contain 7 grams of sugar, are made without GMO ingredients, have no artificial colors or flavors, are gluten free and are made in a nut free environment, they're going in the Easter baskets.  I went back today and bought a few more packs.  My sister has Celiac Disease so they're going in her basket as well.

I'll have to do a taste test later this weekend.  I'll add a post note with the results so check back.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

GM Food and Robyn O'Brien

For the first time ever, I reached out to my elected state officials.  I expressed my support of the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.  It's an issue that I feel extremely strong about, and I felt the need to do something. I've gotten one response, which frankly, is more than I expected.  I don't know if it will make a difference, but I feel good for having made the effort.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that I'm a big advocate of eating foods that are either organic or are not made with genetically modified ingredients.  I believe that genetically modified foods are making us sick and also play a huge role in the increase in food allergies.

Here's a link to a YouTube video featuring Robyn O'Brien, author of "The Unhealthy Truth."  That could be me standing up on stage.  Just ask my friends.  Give me an opening, and I'm going to tell you how the food you're eating is making you sick, how we are human guinea pigs, how disgusted I am at how big business is making profits at our well-being and the well-being of our children, grandchildren and future generations to come and how our government is allowing them to do so.  They'd tell you how I'd mention that over 85% of the food in our grocery stores contain GM ingredients and that food manufacturers are not required to tell us.  Like Robyn, I'm trying to make a difference one person at a time.  I get so thrilled when you guys send me e-mails telling me that reading my blog has made you change the way you eat.

So, watch the video, get fired up and help me make some changes!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Finally...another post.  It's been days.  Sorry about that.  We sold our house.  Wanting to wait until the due diligence period was over before we signed a lease on a rental or started packing, we had just 3 1/2 weeks to find a house, pack, load, unload, clean and close.  Now we are in the process of unpacking, at least somewhat.  We only signed a 6 month lease so I had to pack extremely strategically, packing items together that we might need, won't need and need immediately.  I've been both physically and mentally exhausted.  We were in that house for 12 years.  That's lots of time to collect "treasures", i.e., junk, and plenty of time to create memories that saddened the moving process.  What eased the transition is that we moved only 5 miles away in order to allow Abigail to finish her current school year.  We're not yet loosing access to friends, our community or our church.

I've got lots of post ideas.  You great readers are also e-mailing me links to interesting articles and suggesting post topics.  Keep them coming.  Now, I've got to get busy.