Hi, my name is Wanda and I have been working for Coborn’s for nearly 3 years. I am a mother of three, wife of one and I live in a self-proclaimed “Peanut-Free Zone”. I am happy to share with you my experiences regarding having a child who has many food allergies. I know it can be difficult to start, but I hope that I can be a good resource for you if you ever have to deal with food allergies in your home, or have friends or family that have food allergies. There are some things that we can’t do, such as going to baseball games or flying on most airlines. We have learned how to work through things like school, sleepovers, parades, weddings and other events. At the end of the summer I’ll write about going to the State Fair. We live in the “PEANUT-FREE ZONE”.
In the beginning
Once upon a time, long, long ago, my family and I lived a normal life with no food restrictions. During that time in our lives, a note came home from my oldest daughter’s school. It read something to the effect of “We have a student in our classroom with a peanut allergy and we ask that you do not send your child with any of the following foods…” I remember asking my husband, “Why can’t that kid sit somewhere else. Why do they have to sit at the same table as our daughter?” I felt it was a nuisance to our routine of the occasional PB&J’s, and some of the snack foods that we ate and packed in the lunch bag.
Looking back I realize that I was not educated on food allergies and how severe and dangerous they could be. Several years later, we found ourselves at an allergy clinic having our youngest child tested for food allergies after he had massive out breaks of hives on his face, neck and chest after having regular milk for the first time. I asked the allergist to test for the foods I thought he may have reacted to in the recent past, and I also asked that he be tested for a peanut allergy. He had just turned one year of age. They said the test would take about 20 minutes and they would come and check on us every few minutes. The first knock on the door was at the 5-minute mark. The nurse took one look at my son and his eyes widened and he said in startled voice “I will be right back with the doctor. We have to end the test”. Even though they did the skin test on his back, the reaction to the peanut caused hives up his back, neck and his face. We had a lot to learn.
We became a peanut-free family in September of 2008. Our son had other food allergies as well (milk, dairy, tomatoes, spinach and brussel sprouts). While our journey avoiding foods began, we sought out knowledge. We learned so much. One of the most important things that we learned is that oil from a peanut can only breakdown by time. While washing may help to take some of it away, it can take up to 48 hours for the oils from a peanut to breakdown. Peanuts (and other nuts) are so dangerous because you can’t always see your allergen. Another VERY important thing we learned is that someone who is allergic (to any food) may have a very minimal reaction to their allergen one time but a different time it could be so severe that it could be deadly.
School & Daycare
Our two youngest children were in a home-based daycare at the time. We decided we should look into a Montessori School. We found one in our town. When I went to take a tour and interview the director, I asked if they were peanut/tree-nut free. They were not. I explained the severity of my son’s reaction to nuts and they decided right then and there to become a peanut/tree-nut free school. They gained our family as clients. We helped educate them on how to handle an allergic reaction and the steps to take. It was a good move for all. I have just recently had to sign him up for Kindergarten. My husband and I decided to put him in a private school that is also peanut/tree-nut free. My son is far too sensitive to go to a school that allows nuts of any kind through their doors. Even though we have to pay for his education, it is worth it for him to be safe and not secluded away from other kids.
I have so much that I want to share about being a peanut-free family. You’ll have to follow my blog posts to learn more. I will include a tip with each post along with a recipe. As much as I want to share everything I have learned and experienced, I know if I don’t pace myself I could find myself writing a book.
Finding a substitute for peanut butter was interesting to say the least. Our family decided we REALLY like “SunButter” It is made with sunflower seeds (which is not a nut). All SunButter products are peanut-free, tree-nut free and gluten free.
- 1 Cup Dry Oatmeal
- ⅔ Cup Toasted Coconut Flakes
- ½ Cup SunButter
- ½ Cup Ground Flaxseed
- ½ Cup Chocolate Chips
- ⅓ Cup Honey
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.
- Let chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1" in diameter.)
- Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
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