Saturday, August 23, 2008

Beware Peanut Allergic - Unusual Peanut Foods

After my disturbing discovery of peanut flour, I began to wonder what other sorts of things out there are made from peanuts that I just never knew about. Apparently there are quite a few, and below are two of the most exciting.

Peanut Butter Slices

Is it that yucky processed cheese in a funky brown color. Of course not, it is peanut butter is slice form. Peanut butter in slice form, what will they think up next. I guess I prefer it wrapped up then dripping all over the place out of a jar, but YUCK!!! A company called P.B. Slices now sells peanut butter wrapped up in the same little plastic packets that processed cheese comes in. I wonder what gave the company the great idea to wrap slices of peanut butter in cellophane wrap. And I thought I had too much time on my hands.

Peanut Milk

Yes, just when you thought you had heard of everything, along comes that great milk alternative - peanut milk. Since I too needed to know more about this truly scary substance, I turned to the Internet for research and discovered that Wikipedia had already heard of it.

According to Wikipedia,

"Peanut milk is a non-dairy beverage created using peanuts, water and an additional sweetener. It does not contain any lactose and is therefore suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
Peanut milk is similar to soy milk and rice milk in its production: the substance is ground, soaked, (sometimes heated) and then filtered through a fine filter -- the resulting liquid is considered the "milk".
One commercial brand which originated in San Francisco in 1999 received national attention in 2002, after a local news story reported supposed health benefits.
The manufacturing process involves splitting the peanut into two halves and collecting the moisture also known as the milk from the heart of the peanut."

Yikes!!! Now they are milking peanuts. Cows of the world watch out. And people are claiming this peanut milk has amazing qualities. Supposedly it is a magic peanut elixir. (Peanuts could use a good elixing though) It reportedly not only beefs up sexual stamina but also apparently cures everything from baldness to eczema to helping people who use crutches walk without them.

I don't think it can cure peanut allergies though......

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cocoa Puffs are Making Me Cuckoo - New Flavor of Cocoa Puffs Uses Peanut Flour!

We went to my not so favorite local grocery chain to do some basic shopping yesterday, and made an amazingly disturbing discovery. On occasion, we get Cocoa Puffs, since it is safe and chocolaty, and I sometimes even enjoy it myself. My twins were with me, and spotted this new flavor of Cocoa Puffs - chocolate and vanilla. Excited by a cocoa puff combo, they asked in their sweet whiny little way if we could get it. I agreed, and put it in my cart, quickly glancing at the ingredients out of habit. As I looked down, I thought I saw the word peanut on the ingredients. I looked at the front of the box again, and made sure it was just vanilla and chocolate, and it surely was. As I turned the box on its side to the ingredient panel, my heart fell. One of the ingredients was indeed peanut, and the product contained peanut flour.
My first thought was "they use the flowers from peanuts in their cereal?"

The flower from the peanut plant.

Then I realized they were talking about flour. Like the flour I have in my cupboard that I try and cook with. The flour that is in my yummy egg free cookies, and in my vegan egg free nut free coca cola cake.

Upon further research, I discovered that peanut flour is a dry powder formed after the partial extraction of oil from the roasted peanut seed.

Is this Mr. Peanut's evil plan to take over the world?

I never knew they made flour out of peanuts. Butter yes, but flour?? What is next, peanut sugar, peanut baking soda, or peanut juice, or maybe even peanut water. What is this world comming to??

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Children's Book Review - "The Peanut-Free Cafe"

We went to our local small town library the other day to pick up some books and videos to pass the days. Michael loves sharks, so we cleared the library out of any book with cool pictures of sharks. (Did you know that I leopard shark is a dogfish??) Conor is actually starting to read, but he picks his books based on whether there is red on the cover. Natalie can memorize anything, but gets books with pretty girly stuff and pictures, and if it was up to her she would take out all the issues of Vogue. (When she was 3 she told me she wanted a princess bra. Boy am I in trouble!!)

So while we were at the library perusing our selections I noticed the book, "The Peanut-Free Cafe" on the bookshelf. I have to say this was a wonderful surprise, and I am so glad our local library actually has books for kids on peanut allergies. Of course I checked it out, and took it home to read with everyone.

The book tells the story of a boy named Simon who likes only four foods: grapes, bagels, purple lollipops, and peanut butter, and there's nothing else in his lunch box. One day, Grant comes to Simon's school, the Nutley school and his peanut allergy necessitates his sitting alone during lunch. When offered a bite of peanut butter, Grant explains to his new friends that even a little bit of a peanut can make Grant so sick he has to get a shot or he might not be able to breath. The principal tries to come up with a plan so that kids will join Grant, but it's Simon's idea to turn Grant's table into something fun. Thus the Peanut-Free Cafe is born, complete with movies and crafts. Simon, however, is not among the participants; he doesn't want to give up his peanut butter, the price of admission to the cafe. In the end, of course, Simon extends his menu (to include chili) so he can join the group, and sit with everyone else at the Peanut Free Cafe.

We all really enjoyed this book, and I especially liked that the story is told from the perspective of a non allergic child. My non allergy children really liked this about the book, and I thought it was a clever method of explaining food allergies to a wider audience. I also really liked the way the school situation was reversed, in that everyone wanted to be at the peanut-free cafe, and Simon was excluded, not because he could have peanuts, but because he had to have them.

The best part of this book however was that it really opened the door to a great discussion among my control group of two 5 year olds and one 4 year old. Since Michael and Natalie will be starting kindergarten next week (snif snif my babies are growing up), they were very curious about the way schools handle peanut allergies, and how the people at the school reacted to it.

Although the discussion started from the book was one of the best parts of it, this discussion also brought up some interesting issues about the story that bothered me a bit. I wish Simon had given up peanut butter for lunch not because he wanted to be included with all the other kids at the fun table, but instead because he had really leaned something about how dangerous food allergies could be to others, and how his actions in just eating peanut butter could cause someone else serious harm. I would have liked if he could have some how learned compassion for a friend, and that had motivated him to do without one of his favorite foods. Sometimes I feel annoyed at peoples concept of what it is that involves helping others. People donate money or goods, to help people they have never met, but won't do something as simple as not eat peanut butter for one meal a day to help keep a child at their school safe.

The other thing that bothered me and my control group of 3 was that all Simon needed to do to sit with the other kids was to give up peanut products. It was a choice he could make to be included. In the usual situation the peanut allergic child sits separated at a different peanut free table. He does not have the option of being able to be around peanuts in order to be included at the other tables.

I do have to say however, that if the Nutley School opens a campus in the San Francisco Bay Area, we will be the first students waiting outside to attend.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Three Cool Things Conor Reacted to While We Were on Vacation

OK, I am feeling kind of sorry for myself today. I think I have post vacation let down. We just moved up to the bay area about 6 months ago, and just got back from the first real visit to the area where we used to live. I like it better up here, but there are just some things and people I miss from down there. School does not start until next week, and we are just hanging around in a holding pattern........
Ok, so to cheer myself up, lets list off 3 cool things Conor has reacted to while we were on vacation.

The offending green cup. (Napkin not included)

The first was a green plastic cup we brought with us to the camping site on vacation. Anytime Conor drank from it, it left red welts where it touched his face. He was walking around for quite a while looking like the joker from Batman until the benedryl kicked in. (much cuter though)
He had the whole deal, red all around his mouth, and extending up the sides of his face. He even got an extra spot on his forehead where the cup hit it. We immediately threw away all the green cups, said a little prayer that we would not have to find the local hospital or holiday inn. Thankfully benedryl kicked in, he had no other symptoms except for a Joker face, and we all had a great time.


The Hotel Room

Since the unfortunate cat incident on our last trip, C0nor can not set foot into Grandma and Grampoo's house, and we stay in a local hotel room. We always bring our own air mattress, sheets and pillows for Conor, and it has not been too big a problem in prior hotel rooms. The first morning in the room, we got wheezing, hives and eye swelling. Thankfully I packed the pharmacy, and after his doses of benedryl, allegra, singulair, flovent and albuteral he was doing great. He tried to refuse his medicines later in the day because he claimed he felt great now, but Mommy knows best. Mick got a new camera, and experimented taking pictures of the hives. He wanted me to share his great photography here, but the pictures did not come out well. Only we would have vacation photos of hives.


The Pet Store

Since we were unable to find someone to take care of our extremely cute pug dog,


we were forced to check him into the PetsMart Pet Hotel. For those of you that have not experienced the PetsMart Pet Hotel, I highly recommend checking it out for yourself, simply for the amusement factor. Your dog can have a regular room or you can upgrade to a suite furnished with a Poochy Cot, hypoallergenic lambskin blanket and a TV tuned to pet themed shows. Meals and daily walks are of course included with the stay. Your dog can have Treat Time featuring dog-safe soft serve ice cream with a side of crunchy dog biscuits. You can even call your dog to talk to them while you are out of town.

When dropping Buster off at first I politely requested that they please not feed him any peanut products. The woman at the check in area looked at me with great concern, and said that they knew how serious peanut allergies were, and of course would not feed Buster any peanut snacks. I was so relieved she did not look at me like I was crazy, and understood how dangerous peanut allergies were to my child. At this point she informed me that she was so sorry my DOG had a peanut allergy, but they were trained to deal with all sorts of dangerous food allergies, and had all sorts of protocol in place to ensure his safety. At this point I contemplated whether I should tell her it was my son who had the allergy, and not my dog, but decided not to bother. I was not sure she would care if it was only my son who had the allergy. So, if anyone wants a safe day care or hotel to send their peanut allergic dog to, I think I found one.

Anyways, the pet hotel is at the back of the pet store. Conor has the amazing ability to break out in hives just from being in the pet store. The first time it happened we did not figure out what was going on and where the hives came from. After the cat incident, it kind of made sense, and this time I was watching to see how long it took for hives to develop. It took exactly 1 minute 23 seconds.

This has gone on way longer then I expected, but has definitely worked to cheer me up. I think I am off now to go and cover up those four inches of grey roots I have growing on my head. Natalie nicely pointed out "wow Mommy, your hair is really grey at the bottom" Gee thanks.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Food Allergy Cookbook

Are you tired of your same tried and true recipes, and are looking for something new to spice up your life. Linda Coss, author of one of my absolutely favorite Oh My God My Child Has Food Allergies What Do I Do Books, "How to Manage Your Child's Life Threatening Food Allergies" (see my insightful review here) has published her second cookbook, "What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook,".

"What Else is to Eat?" features recipes for foods that everyone can enjoy, whether they have food allergies or not. Main dishes, side dishes, breakfast foods, and baked goods are all included. With an emphasis on fast and easy recipes that use "normal," easy-to-find ingredients, this book is designed for today's busy lifestyles.

And even more exciting - anyone who order by August 31, 2008 will get FREE Priority Mail shipping to U.S. addresses! Just go to and use coupon code CB2B at check out. "What Else is to Eat?" will not be available elsewhere until the official publication date of September 15th.

I ran and excitedly told Mick that there was a new food allergy cook book out, and he laughed at me, and not so kindly reminded me that I am probably the only person alive who can burn pasta and is unable to boil water. Maybe Linda's next cookbook will be how to boil water for the allergy set.