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Our family’s allergies are complex enough that there is very little pre-packaged foods we can eat. We buy mostly raw and then make our own foods weekly/daily. We make all of our own baked goods. Pancakes, breads, muffins, cookies, crackers, etc.

 

This means we go through a lot of flour. We cannot  have wheat. This leaves other flours as our only options. My daughter and husband can have oat and almond flour. My son cannot have either of those. He can have rice and coconut flour. My husband and daughter cannot have those…You see the issue?

 

We’ve settled on using rice and oat flours as our staple flours and the adding the others in to augment, get better textures, etc. We were elated to find this 25lb bag of rice flour for $22 at a local Winco. (The other local Winco doesn’t carry it, but I haven’t asked them to either since the other store is so close.) We did not have as much luck finding cheap oat flour. It ranges around $5 – $10 per 22 oz bag.

 

My husband had a brilliant idea. He’d been really wanting a Vitamix or a BlendTec blender. He wondered if we could take oats and grind our own flour. We tried it first with a borrowed coffee grinder. It worked! So we got a deal on a BlendTec from B&P Restaurant Equipment Co. in WA and have been making our own oat flour since. We get the 25lb bag of oats and use them or grind them as we go. The oats are around $1/lb.

 

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combi-training-chopsticks-1So our son has (probably) a Systemic Nickel Allergy. Nickel is in the soil, so it is in food. Some foods have higher levels than others based on the food, the soil, etc. Nickel is in most metals found around the house and  stores and businesses in the US. Nickel is in stainless steal. Nickel is everywhere.

 

When we came to strongly suspect our son’s probable diagnosis, we bought new pots and pans (nickel free), new knives (ceramic), and started the search for nickel free flatware. We finally found some flatware. We only have 4 forks and 4 spoons. This leads to a shortage of flatware regularily.

 

We’d really rather avoid plastic when we can (harder and harder to do with a toddler). So right now, we reduce exposure to nickel as our first priority and then to plastics as the secondary priority. As a solution to this flatware shortage in our house, I learned to use chopsticks! They are cheaper, portable, and so I’m much less worried about losing or breaking a set.

 

I think this is the best solution for our son. He’ll use the forks and spoons we have when he’s able, and will use chopsticks when they are available. If we decide that the allergy is severe enough, maybe we’ll start carrying chop sticks in the car with us too.

 

So now I’m on a quest to learn how to teach a toddler to use chop sticks. I’ve only just taught myself, so I’m quite unsure how to do this with a toddler. I’ve looked on line. I have a message in to a parent who might be able to teach me to teach him. In the mean time, we have some “training” chop sticks from Daiso. I’ve seen another style with finger holes that I think I’d also like to try.

 

Any experienced parents out there who know how to teach  young children to use chop sticks?

Please excuse the poor etiquette of chop sticks sticking out of my bowl in the back ground.

UPDATE: We found another style of trainer chop sticks at Daiso yesterday.

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We’ve been feeling pretty good about how we are handling our food allergies. We even have a variety of foods both shared and individually! This is quite the improvement from a year ago. Then my husband decided to try something…

 

My husband is allergic to corn. We’ve learned that his life long depression and anger are from eating corn and legumes. He’s gotten a pretty good handle on what foods are safe, which are not, where he can eat out and when he needs to abstain. He recently has been trying to make better and more complicated bread or baked products for the family. This led to the use of xantham gum. Then we heard (or read) that xamtham gum is made from corn.

 

He decided to test it. He thought that since it’s in such small amounts in baking, maybe his system could handle it. He was smart. First, he put a couple teaspoons mixed with water onto his hand. That was it. He thought that wouldn’t provoke much (if any) reaction. He would experiment with actually ingesting it from there. He was wrong. He had a VERY STRONG reaction to the xantham gum paste on his hand. He was grumpy that evening, and was so grumpy the next morning that I took the kids and left the house 45mins early!

 

This revelation led to a new thought. Our daughter seems to have the same reactions to corn and legumes as he does. Does this mean that their moods could possibly improve even more if we ensure corn does not touch their skin as well!? This is both an exciting and a daunting thought. Exciting, because while they are doing very well, it could just be that much better, right? Daunting because corn is in EVERYTHING! This means we’re looking at toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, body soap, laundry detergent, dish detergent…

 

I’ve done some Internet searching and found huge lists of “hidden” corn names. Then (thankfully this brain can still be taught) I realized it would be easier to look up “corn free” products rather than look at every single toothpaste label in the grocery store.

 

I’ve narrowed it down to 3 toothpaste choices, 1 or 2 deodorant choices (depends on how “manly” he feels he needs to smell), have a message in to a manufacturer to see if all my soap woes can be taken care of with one base product…

 

All this has led me to think (many many many time over the past year), “What in the world did people do before the internet?!” I am overwhelmed with the thinks I didn’t know and have learned (via ineternet) and by the information I need to access safe foods and products for  my family. I actually have thanked God for Amazon.com. I ask again, what in the world did people do before the internet? I have immediate access to information, I have immediate contact with people. I don’t know how I would do this without the internet and my smart phone.

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Yay we made it through a whole month of food allergy elimination dieting! Gwen has done an amazing job and continues to eat whatever I can come up with for her. Some days she likes it, other days not so much. So I am still learning. One thing I need to work on is keeping snacks available in the car and in my purse for weekends and unplanned shopping trips etc. She also hasn’t seemed to like any of the snack cracker/chips that I pack for her at school. They keep sending them home with notes saying she didn’t like them.

 

I got the March meal calendar for her school. There was much copying and pasting from this month and even some things duplicated throughout the week. I haven’t looked at her final printed version but when she emailed it to me, the cook had pizza scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday next week, and chicken noodle soup for 2 days the following week. If she didn’t correct this, then at least it will be easy meal planning for me! Just make double batches this weekend and I’ll be set!

 

Gwen has been liking to help me in the kitchen alot. Usually just stirring or pouring things for me. It doesn’t seem to get her any more or less excited about her food. She just likes to help!

 

Her rash continues to look about the same,which is still much better than it was a month ago.

 

My lesson learned from last week is to stay away from gluten at the very least. It appears I can have some chocolate if there’s no gluten in it, and some ice cream and some cream in my coffee. Let’s face it, I’m almost 8 months pregnant and there were some theories I desperately needed to test when Gwen wasn’t around! I’m ok with just keeping the portions of these things small just to satisfy a craving for a while. I had some girlscout cookies last week and after just 3 got a bad headache. Then I continued to eat them and added on a pizza later. The headache only got worse and turned into a 3 day long migraine that I could not get rid of. I will stay away from those things and from eating large portions of food that might possibly give me a problem. It may taste good momentarily but the side effects last much longer than the gratification. If only everyone on a diet experienced bad side effects when they ate the bad food, it would be so easy for everyone to lose weight!

 

My doctor said I only gained 2oz in the last two weeks, even after my pizza and cookie bender last weekend. That was exciting. I’m positive I’m gaining all the appropriate baby weight while possibly shedding some excess fat from eating all this healthy food.

 

Here’s to a great and healthy March for all!