Baked Egg Challenge

This week we went back to the allergist, after my daughter had her 6 months food allergies follow-up appointment last month. At that visit, it was determined by the blood test that my daughter would be able to have a baked egg challenge. Also determined by the blood and skin tests, she is still highly allergic to cow’s milk, all nuts (except coconuts), and seafood (however, she is able to eat shrimp, but still gets itchy and redness).

I was very happy that we qualified for the baked egg challenge. And it was fun to bake the allergist’s “Baked Egg Challenge muffins”. The recipe yielded 6 muffins, but I ended up making 7 muffins even though I filled each muffin cup with batter. Before the challenge, the allergist commented that they looked so fluffy and moist!

It was interesting to me that the recipe called for corn oil. I think that attributed to the moistness of the muffins and also taste similar to cornbread. In this receipt, it called for 2 eggs. I made sure I measured everything precisely so that my daughter’s challenge will go well the next day! 

We arrived a few minutes before our 8:30am appointment and I made sure we brought my daughter’s tablet, coloring books, and crayons. I told it was going to be about a 4 hour appointment so I wanted to make sure my daughter would be entertained during the challenge.

 The challenge started promptly on time and my daughter did well after eating a 1/8 piece of the muffin. Then, a 1/4 of the muffin. And then, a 1/2 of a muffin.

And then, she was given one whole muffin, which we cut into 1/4 pieces so she can easily eat it.

My daughter ate almost 1/4 of the whole muffin, but then started getting irritated, itchy, and red on her face and her arms. The allergist examined her and said that she did great! The goal of the challenge was to eat 2 whole muffins and my daughter ate about 1.5 muffins, which is her tolerance for baked egg.

 To soothe the redness and irritation, the allergist gave my daughter some Benadryl and Zyrtec. She even applied some vanicream on the redness spots on my daughter.

Then, we waited for another hour in the office to make sure my daughter did not have any other reactions.

I was pleased at the end of the baked egg challenge. Now, I make sure to give my daughter at least 1 whole muffin a day, just so she is exposed to baked egg. And in 6 months when she gets her blood and skin tested again for food allergies, she will hopefully not have an egg allergy anymore!

After the challenge I tasted the muffins and they actually tasted really delicious. Don’t worry! I plan to share the recipe in a future recipe post. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the Thanksgiving holiday this year, my brother and I made our traditional American Thanksgiving lunch at our parents’ home in Central Florida.

I made a fresh green salad with fresh pear strips and calamansi (Filipino tiny oranges) vinaigrette, vegan cornbread stuffing (see the product post) and vegan sweet potato casserole (see recipe post). And my brother cooked an organic turkey and lechon kawali (Filipino fried pork belly). All dishes were safe for my daughter with food allergies, minus the desserts. She actually had a yummy slice of a vegan gingerbread loaf for her dessert.

Then, the next day my family went to my in-laws’ house, which is about an hour away. 

This feast was not all allergy-friendly, so I had to make sure my daughter didn’t grab something she shouldn’t eat. But, her grandmother is well aware of this, so she made my daughter’s favorites: homemade Filipino eggrolls (no eggs though in the wrapper), Filipino pancit (noodles), white rice, and sweet potato casserole. Also, our uncle made coconut milk-based desserts which she also enjoyed.

Overall, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday in Florida this year as always. We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as well!

 

Preschool & Food Allergies

This year, my daughter started her second year in preschool.

Last August 2018, she started at the local Primrose School. My friends in Florida praised the Primrose School franchises there and the excellent curriculum they provide. I was excited when my daughter got off the waitlist so she can also start preschool at Primrose. But within two months of attending there, we realized that our local Primrose School did not take her food allergies seriously, despite providing the school with her allergist’s signed food allergy action plan and having many discussions with the teachers and administration about her severe food allergies.

As mentioned in the previous “Food Allergy” category post, my daughter has went to the children’s emergency department for a total of 3 times as of date due to a food allergy reaction. During this particular incident, the teacher accidentally gave my daughter a “vegetarian lasagna” which had dairy in it (cheese and possibly eggs). I was livid and scared to say the least when this incident happened! My daughter could have died…that’s how serious food allergies are! We decided to pull her out of that school. The Primrose School franchise was reported to the state, was investigated, and paid a fine for the negligence.

Also on my daughter’s last day at Primrose, apparently a staff member who had the key to the cabinet that stored the medications was out of the office that day. This upset me because how about if another allergic reaction incident occurred again to my daughter or another child needing emergent medication from that locked cabinet? The staff finally located the key and we took my daughter’s Auvi-Q injectors home with us. In the end, I was relieved that my daughter was no longer at that school.

Thankfully, my daughter got off the waitlist for a non-franchised preschool located literally down the road from our house. And we found this school to be more compassionate and caring towards our daughter. She really loves attending school there and has learned so much in little time! And we have not had experienced any problems, especially with the management of her food allergies. She is on the dairy-free menu for the daily meals and snacks. And we provide weekly her non-dairy milk to go with her breakfast and lunch, in which we switch between oat and rice milks. The preschool really understands how to manage my daughter’s food allergies and they make sure to moisturize her skin as necessary. And we are very thankful for them!

In mid-March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we decided for our daughter to stay home with us for her safety because no one knew about the infectious novel COVID-19 virus. My daughter stayed home with my husband and I as we worked from home even before the pandemic.

Of course it was a difficult decision to send her back to preschool during the pandemic and with her ongoing food allergies. However, during the past months we have noticed that our Baby Girl was growing bored at home. And I could tell that she really missed being around people her age!

I work in public health, so I did my own research and heavily debated if we should send our daughter back to school. Before her re-enrollment to the same preschool, we made sure that the school adhered to the CDC guidelines, like lots of hand washing, installation of a new air filtering system, and all school staff are required to wear masks. Also, since she was attending the preschool since late November 2018, her new toddler classroom teachers were aware of her severe food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and seafood. The school really informs all staff of any students with food allergies- another reason why we love this school! And my daughter’s  two Auvi-Q injectors , benadryl, and an allergist signed food allergy action plan are kept in a safe, accessible location at the school. I even met with her teachers last week to ensure that they know how to use the Auvi-Q injector.

At morning drop-off today, my husband observed that the school had a great process of taking the kids’ and staff’s temperatures  before going into the building and the masked staff walk the children to their assigned classrooms. No parents are allowed in the building. And throughout the day we receive updates and pictures about her day on the school’s app.

When I picked up Baby Girl in the afternoon, she seemed happy and it was reassuring that one of her teachers said she had a great first day of school!

Once at home, we gave her a bath right away as an extra precaution (we used to wait until after dinner because that can get messy!). I can tell Baby Girl had a busy day so I am predicting that she will be going to bed early tonight!

My daughter will have weekly music, PE, and Spanish lessons (in place of sign language that she was learning last year). We are very excited for her school year. We are hoping she will have more happy days at preschool this year!

I also hear people debating if they should send their children to daycare and/or preschool. If you are able to, I will definitely do it! Especially if both parents are working or you just need childcare while you are working. And please make sure to do thorough research on the childcare facility, especially if your child has food allergies.

 

 

Food Allergies – Something I Didn’t Think About During Pregnancy

When I was pregnant in 2017, I made sure I did everything I was able to so that my first baby would be healthy and safe due to my “advanced maternal age“. I ate healthy and I ingested the correct calories per day. I also stayed physically active and taught group fitness classes until I was about 32 weeks into my pregnancy. The only thing I didn’t consider were allergies, particularly food allergies, because I didn’t grow up with them nor did I know anyone who struggled with them. My husband actually has a food allergy to blue crabs, but I really didn’t think that would affect our daughter.

In late January 2018, my daughter was born a few days before my 40 weeks expected date. After 3 hours of active labor, my daughter was vaginally delivered at 8 lbs. & 1 oz, and 20 inches.

After 3 months of exclusive breastfeeding, I remember when my daughter’s pediatrician told me that I had to stop breastfeeding my daughter. It was Friday, May 11, 2018, right before Mother’s Day. Since I already gave up dairy, my daughter was still reacting to something in my milk. Also, her skin had severe eczema and she wasn’t gaining any weight. Thankfully, my daughter started gaining more weight when she started drinking the soy formula that the pediatrician recommended.

Here are some pictures from Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018. My mother was staying with us so she spend some time and help out with her first grandchild. It was a special weekend for all of us!

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When we finally went to the doctor’s appointment with her allergist after a two month wait, my husband and I have learned so much about food allergies. And my daughter’s allergist informed me that she had a 50% chance of developing allergies when one parent has a family history of hay fever or allergies. So that is how my daughter ended up with her food allergies to dairy, peanuts, eggs, and now some fish. 

The good thing is that we now know how to manage the food allergies and her eczema. I won’t post any pictures of my daughter when she started developing allergies during the 3-5 months of her life. Her skin looked pretty bad and I would sometimes cry to myself because I had no clue what to do to help my daughter! But nowadays, you would not believe me that she suffered with severe infantile ezcema, even if you saw my daughter’s Before and After pictures! Her skin in now flawless! She does occasionally experience some dry eczema spots, which pop up during when the weather changes, but overall, her skin is healthy!

Now we keep learning about food allergies as we get her tested every six months through skin pricks and blood serum testing. My daughter’s allergist is confident that she will outgrow the dairy and eggs allergies in a few years. This is a huge relief because do you know how many foods contain milk and eggs? Or, did you know that people who have severe food allergies can still experience anaphylaxis if the allergen has been manufactured on the same equipment? My daughter sometimes reacts to these foods manufactured on the same equipment that has processed ingredients with dairy, eggs, and peanuts.

It has been a struggle, but I have learned how to check food labels even more now. Also, I am THAT MOM, who asks millions of questions when we eat out, because she has had a food allergy reaction that occurred after the server did not disclose a milk ingredient in a dish. My daughter has been to the local children’s emergency department for a total of three times as of date, and one of the incidences was from eating out! So we are definitely careful when we go out to eat or order take-out. We usually order vegan dishes for her, inform the server about her severe food allergies to note for the chef, and I ask all the questions!

 

Starting Our Brand On Social Media

My name is @JulieJEWELES and I am the curator of this blog and Instagram (IG) page, @FeastWithFoodAllergies

I will have a post up soon about how my husband and I discovered my daughter’s food allergies and where we are today in our food allergy journey. Stay tuned!

The Instagram page and this blog will mostly share allergy friendly (some vegan) recipes, reviews of products with PAL (Precautionary Allergen Labeling), and recommendations of allergy safe places to eat, specifically to my daughter’s food allergies. But, other food allergies may be accommodated. On the IG page, you can view some pictures during the last 2.5 years so check it out at @FeastWithFoodAllergies