Monthly Archives: June 2013

Preparing for the Worst

It’s been a few days since I’ve blogged, but there’s certainly good reason. First, an update – I’m in South Carolina! My family took our annual summer vacation early this year, so I’m soaking it up at the beach until Saturday. For the rest of the week, expect posts on great car snacks, how to deal with eating out and maybe even some local restaurant suggestions.

Eating out and being away from home are pretty scary for an allergy kid like you or me. But to add to that fear, I had an allergic reaction at a restaurant at home only a day before my family and I left for our trip. While the raised levels of histamines and not-so-far-off memories of the reaction made it pretty scary to leave, I decided to take things into my own hands, and to prepare, rather than wallow in fear.

Here are some easy tips and tricks that can help YOU prepare for the worst (and, of course, hope for the best).

1. Always (always always!) carry your Epi-pen, Twinject or Auvi-Q. 

This one feels like a no-brainer, but sometimes you can be scattered or forget. Nobody’s perfect, but it’s important for your own health and safety to be close to perfect on this one. I always order extra auto-injectors, that way I can carry one in my purse, one in my backpack and one in my work bag. I never leave the house without at least one of these, so I never forget my Auvi-Q.

2. Bring backup.

The meaning of this differs for everyone. For me, backup is albuterol and a cell phone. For others, it may be benedryl, a special app on your phone, a printed out allergy plan or even just a buddy. These are the things that, in event of a reaction, will be the tools that help you stay safe. Your doctor can help you figure out what your backup is, and once you do, this backup should be treated just like an auto-injector.

3. Know your own health.

My first reaction away from home was terrifying, mostly because I did not know my way around an emergency room. I barely knew how to talk to doctors, and as for my social security number or insurance plan? I had no idea!

In order to expedite your treatment, it is important to know your own health history, social security number and insurance provider because you are expected to rattle these things off in the ambulance, upon your arrival and when you are checked into the hospital, all while you are less than healthy. Being prepared can help you to have faster treatment, and thus a less severe reaction.

4. Don’t be nervous!

Did you know that when you have an allergic reaction, chemicals in the brain are released that make you sense impending doom? And that the chemicals in your auto-injector can cause anxiety and fear?

With all of these extra fear chemicals floating around in your body, it would be hard to say don’t be scared. But in order to be treated properly, you’ll have to stay calm. If you are afraid of needles, hospital germs or maybe are just a bit of a control freak, you’re going to have to prepare yourself. The hospital will be germy. The doctor may have to give you an IV or an extra shot of epinephrine. People will be wheeling you around, instead of you telling them where to go. Preparing for these things – knowing that they will inevitably happen, is often a huge help for patients.

Allergic reactions are scary. You can, however, be prepared for the worst with these tips. How do you prepare for a reaction? What keeps you the safest?

 

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Ultimate Granola (Father’s Day Edition)

Yesterday was father’s day. In my house, that means delicious food and a lot of it. You see, my dad loves to eat. We always marvel at how well he fits in with my mother’s Italian side of the family despite his Irish roots. He loves good quality food, and for any event, he’ll make a ton of it. It’s the Italian way. When my dad was diagnosed with Celiac disease about five years ago, though, his world was totally changed.

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My dad and me, pre-celiac years. He’s blissfully unaware.

By now, though, we have been able to figure some recipes out that suit all of my family’s needs. Our big brunch for father’s day included a variety of our favorite dishes, including mimosas, deviled eggs, vanilla bean scones, some treats from a local gluten free bakery and yogurt and granola parfaits.

The full brunch spread!

The full brunch spread!

My favorite dish from this meal was by far the parfait. Nut-free granola is extremely difficult to find, as many of you know, because even those without nuts are often cross-contaminated. While there are more gluten free brands, the price is oftentimes ridiculous.

These factors are what lead me and my mom to create our own granola recipe a few years ago. This recipe is easily adapted, and allows a lot of wiggle room. You can make it crunchy or soft, include dried fruit if you like and even make it lower in fat.

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This ultimate granola can be adapted to be completely allergen free, or you can include an egg or some wheat germ, depending on your needs. The recipe contains no peanuts, tree-nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish or soy, and unless you want a protein boost, no wheat. It also does not include other allergens like seeds, flax and sesame that many other store-bought granolas do.

The best part? This granola keeps for a long time, so you won’t feel pressured to eat it all in a week. Though with a taste this good, you may want to. 😉

Ultimate Granola

6 cups oats (gluten free if need be)

1 cup coconut

1 cup wheat germ (omit if going gluten free)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup oil (use 1/3 for low fat, slightly more for crunchier granola)

1 cup dried fruit (I use cranberries, you can pick your favorite!)

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Mix oats, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon and brown sugar in a medium bowl.

3. Heat honey in a microwave on high for 30 seconds.

4. Mix oil, honey and vanilla in a separate medium-sized bowl.

5. Combine wet and dry ingredients.

6. Place the mixture on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes for best results.

7. Add dried fruit and enjoy!

Note: If you are allergic to ALL of what is classified as a tree nut (including coconut) please omit and add seeds or nuts as desired.

Everybody loves parfait!

Everybody loves parfait!

For Parfaits

Granola

Greek yogurt (your favorite flavor)

Berries (any sort!)

1. Combine all ingredients (in whatever amount suits you) in a cute dish and enjoy!

Revitalizing Breakfast: Tropical Oatmeal

Next to cream of wheat, oatmeal is typically seen as one of the plainest and most drab breakfast foods. And for good reason. Without additions, oatmeal is a warm and creamy lump of mush. But just as we turn lemons into lemonade here at Munchies Just For Me, we can turn oatmeal into an interesting dish that makes you excited to wake up in the morning – even if it’s before ten a.m.

From a food allergy standpoint, oatmeal is hugely adaptable. In its purest form, oatmeal contains NONE of the eight most common allergens (milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts and treenuts). However, finding pure oats for oatmeal can be a little more difficult. Bob’s Red Mill sells oatmeal that is safe for those with allergies to wheat or gluten. If you are not allergic to wheat or gluten, most other brands of plain oatmeal are safe, but as always, be sure to read the label!

While the little kid in me always loves to wake up to the Quaker Dinosaur Oatmeal, I like to spice my breakfast with fresh fruit combinations that leave me feeling satisfied and brighten my morning. My favorite combination? Peaches and coconut!

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Peach Coconut Oatmeal Recipe:

1 package of plain instant oatmeal (or 1 serving of instant oats, per box instructions)

1/2 ripe peach

2 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup rice milk (you can use regular, almond or soy milk interchangeably)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Combine the instant oatmeal and rice milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute (or follow the box instructions).

2. While the oatmeal is heating, slice up your peach into bite-sized pieces. Save the rest for an afternoon snack or for tomorrow morning!

3. Take the oatmeal out of the microwave and stir in the peach slices, coconut and brown sugar. Enjoy!