Today I (sort of) spent a day in the life of a family ridden with food allergies. I have a friend, J, who's 8 month old baby girl has been diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis and allergies to gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, and eggs. Since J's breastfeeding she can't eat those things, either. And because this is going to be a problem for P's whole life the entire family has switched their diet to be allergy free. Our husbands work together and Matt told me that J's husband has been bringing his lunch to work and eating there. He isn't straying from the diet even when he could be. I told Matt that I was really impressed because there is no way I'd expect that of him.
Anyway, all those restrictions pretty much wipes out my entire repertiore. Anyone want a hunk of meat? No marinade or condiments! (Actually, I guess I could whip up a marinade, but that takes away the fun of being dramatic.)
Tomorrow is Adrienne's 8th birthday and my darling girl (obviously) wants a party with her friends. I invited a few families, including the Allergy Family. And, because I like to think I am a conscientious hostess, I'll be damned if I'm going to leave my guest with nothing to eat but a naked hamburger patty. There's nothing I can do about the birthday cake, my girl wants chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and she's getting it, but I am putting plenty of other options out there.
Because I am OBVIOUSLY not an allergy free cook I washed and re-washed all my utensils and bowls before I prepared any of her food in them. I double checked my baked beans to make sure they were allergy free. I googled which brands are gluten free. I bought potato chips that are safe (no soy or peanut oils). I even made sure my ketchup didn't have soy in it. I made buns that are allergy free--they are dense and really different from what you'd normally imagine plopping a burger on, but they aren't bad (they were actually really good with butter and jam but, since she can't have butter, I'm not going to tell her that). I made vegan rice milk ice cream and a gluten free apple pie. Girl can't have cake but she's getting her dessert!
Now, to get to the real point. I didn't go through all that to toot my own horn about what a great friend I am. I busted my ass and I'm exhausted. It gave me a new appreciation for how EASY I have it that I don't have to do this every day. I am in awe of women like J. She once told me that one of her favorite things to eat is a fried egg sandwich. I know for fact that she loves dairy. I'm pretty sure she can't eat fake vegan cheese because (I think) it's made with soy. Options are slim, but she is SO positive and has given up so much for her child. It definitely puts my minor issues into perspective. Even when Genevieve's eczema was at it's worst all I had to do was switch to scent free soaps and detergents. When she had her Pavlik harness it looked funny but it didn't make anything harder, it fixed her.
I might (forget might, I DO) complain a lot about piddly things like my house not being clean enough, but at least our lifestyle is EASY. I can order pizza and eat off paper plates and not worry about my child getting seriously ill from it. So, God, thank you for that. And for all the other bazillion blessings in my life. Also, thanks for the reminders that it could be a lot tougher.
If any random readers out there have any recipes that fit the "allergy free" criteria listed above feel free to share them in the comments or post them at the Payton's World website: http://paytonsworld.us/Home_Page.html She has a forum and a guestbook, so if you don't feel like registering for the forum I think you can post it in the guestbook. (I haven't tried so I don't know if there is a character limit).