Welcome

 

Welcome to AlertWear.com!  It is my mission to make living with food allergies a little bit easier for my kiddos.  Along the way, I hope to be able to create some products that would help others as well.  As I am creating, I’ll be blogging about my creations,  living with life-threatening food allergies, asthma, our amazing allergy alert service dog and so much more.  I know there are many kids and adults out there with other disabilities.  If you have an idea for something that would make your life easier, please let me know.   Maybe I can help create the perfect thing for you too.  Thanks!  Ann


Allergy-Mom Approved Halloween Treats


100 Dairy, Egg, Tree Nut and Peanut-Free Lunch Items

I made this list for my daughter’s classmates who would like to eat with her outside of the cafeteria.  I thought it might help others as well.  Keep in mind that manufacturers use regional bakers.  So what might be safe in my area might not be safe elsewhere.  Always read the labels!  ; )  If you have anything to add to the list, please comment below!  Thanks!

 1. Raisins / Craisins

2. Apple Sauce

3. Rice Cakes (Plain)

4. Hummus (Roasted Red Pepper from Tribe – there may be others just check the labels)

5. Guacamole and Tortilla chips (or Salsa) (Homemade with plain salsa; Plain Tostidos)

6. Celery and Soy Butter (Wow Butter or IM Healthy brands – found at Butera or online)

7. Ham, Bologna, Turkey or Soy Butter Sandwiches or roll-ups (no butter or mayo – Smart Balance Light is ok)

8. Diced Chicken

9. Cheese-less Pizza Mama ?? single pizza crusts from Walmart, Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce, Hormel Pepperoni, black olives, pineapple, bell peppers or other veggies.

10. Mandarin Oranges

11. Bananas

12. Green Beans

13. Noodles (non-egg noodles) – (Barilla, Prince – you won’t find any that are not made in a facility with but, these are fine)

14. Rold Gold Pretzels

15. Honeywell Graham Crackers

16. Saltines (Premium)

17. Grapes

18. Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Chocolate Chip .. maybe others)

19. Apples

20. Peaches

21. Pears

22. Thomas Bagels (Plain, Blueberry, Cinnamon and Raisin)

23. Plain Sun Chips

24. Carrots

25. Black Olives

26. Cherry Tomatoes

27. Mashed Potatoes in Thermos (made with Smart Balance Light or Earth Balance Light margarines)

28. Plums

29. Spaghetti in Thermos

30. Fresh or steamed Broccoli

31. Bell Peppers

32. Strawberries

33. Blueberries

34. OJ cartons

35. Enjoy Life Chocolate Bar (for special treats), cookies

36. Enjoy Life Cookies (in the allergy/ gluten free section at WalMart)

37. To go boxes of rice milk or soy milk

38. Apple Juice

39. Bottled Water

40. Capri-Sun

41. Cucumber Slices

42. Plain Ritz Crackers

43. Country Hearth Breads

44. Sunbutter

45. Orville Redenbacher’s Natural Simply Salted Popcorn – I think Skinny Pop is safe too.

46. Cereal (Plain Cheerios, Frosted Mini Wheats, Chex, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms)

47. Soy Yogurt

48. Vegan Cheese Slices from Tofutti

49. Hunt’s Lemon or Lemon Meringue Pudding Cups

50. Fruit Snacks

51. Tofutti Cream Cheese

52. Dried fruit

53. Florida natural fruit nuggets

54. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (no egg)

55. Oreos (original, mint, chocolate – not peanut butter or Oreo Cakes)

56. Sensible Foods – Fruit Chips & Veggie Chips

57. Rice

58. Jello Cups

59. Marshmellows

60. Hillshire Farms plain sausage

61. Hormel Pepperoni

62. Duncan Hines Yellow cake mix made with a can of soda or a cup of apple sauce instead of other ingredients

63. Mission Tortilla Wraps 64. Refried Beans

65. Plain Lays Potato Chips

66.  Plain Fritos 67. Cherry Tomatoes

68. Pickles

69. Watermelon 70. Cantaloupe

71. “trail mix” I make ours with mini marshmallows, Enjoy Life chocolate chunks from Woodmans, Corn or Rice Chex, Gimbals Jelly Beans and Rold Gold Pretzels

72. Most plain pitas

73. Baby Pickles

 

74. Enjoy Life snack bars

75. Jello or Hunt’s jello packs

76. Banquet orTysons Chicken Nuggets

77. Rosen Hot Dog & Hamburger Buns

78. Premium Brand Oyster Crackers 79. Plain Wheat Thins 80. Plain Triscuits

81. Smiley Face French Fried 82. Sunflower Seeds 83. Condiments: Hershey’s syrup, most jellies, mustard, ketchup, salsa, blue bonnet light margarine sticks, relish, plain French salad dressing

84. Olives

85. Tator Tots 86. Hot Dogs (Plain Oscar Mayer, Ball Park or Apple Gate Farms) 87. Green Beans

88. Kiwi 89. Hormel Pre-Made Roast Beef or pork roast

90. Quaker Oatmeal (not the weight loss or nut varieties)

91. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

92. Corn (no butter)

93. Dairy-Free Mac N Cheese (found at the back of Wal-Mart near the cooler section on the shelves near crackers)  *It does not taste like Mac n Cheese to me!

94. Bacon 

95. Lettuce

96. Teddy Graham’s Soft Paws

97. Prunes or plums

98. Tangerines

99. Fruit Juice or Koolaid

100. Sunny D


Allergy-Mom Approved Halloween Treats

I created a great print out with Halloween graphics and basic allergy info for non-allergy families to give to schools but, I can’t create a PDF with it for some reason.  If you would like me to email you a copy, just add a comment below with your contact info.  Comments have to be approved by me so, they won’t go public.  It just sends me an email.  These treats are free of the Top 8 Allergens:

Applesauce / Fruit Cups**
Plain Raisins**
Most Fruit Snacks **
Fritos Original Corn Chips
Fruit Gushers **
Fruit Roll Ups**
Jell-O Gelatin**
Lay’s Plain Potato Chips
Ruffles Plain Potato Chips
Tostidos Tortilla Chips
Fresh Fruit
Candy Buttons by Necco
Smarties Candy Necklace and Bracelets +
Smarties (US Version) +
Haribo Gold Bear Gummies
Gimbal’s Jelly Beans
Swedish Fish
Big League Chew*
Fun Dip +
Dots by Tootsie Rolls
Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy by Tootsie Roll
Dum Dums *
Saf-T-Pops *
Surf Sweets
Spangler Chewy Pops *
Spangler Candy Canes *
Hot Tamales by Just Born+
Mike and Ikes by Just Born+
Pez
Skittles+
Double Lolli’s by Smarties +(UPC begins with 011206)
Sour Patch Kids (except xplodez)
Necco Wafers

Specialty Treats

St Claire’s Candies
Sensible Foods fruit chips and snacks
FruitaBu Organic Flat Fruit
CherryBerry Crunch Dried Snacks
AllerEnergy Chocolate Chips Bars
Ener-G Pretzels
NoNuttin Bars*
Sharkies Organic Fruit Snacks
Let’s Go Organic Gummi Candies
Entire line from Enjoy Life Foods
YummyEarth Organic Lollipops
Dakota Gourmet Salted Sunflower Seeds
Pure Fun Candy
Home Free Treats

+Packaged alone—not in a variety pack
*May contain Soy Lecithin (safe for most with a soy allergy)
** Please double check labels—as
manufacturer’s often change ingredients and manufacturing procedures.  As a
general rule, many allergy parents will not purchase items made outside of the US and Canada due to differences in manufacturing requirements.


Breathing Easy

My “day job” requires that I do a lot of researching and writing for our clients.  I recently had the opportunity to share my experience with asthma and ways we have helped our daughter breath a little easier.  I know many people in our food allergy community also deal with asthma and may find some of this information useful.

Air Filtration

We have gone through many air filtration products. We would love to install a whole house air purifier and humidifier but, have not been able to do that just yet. Our allergist advised us not to use portable humidifiers in the winter because of the bacteria that can grow in the units. He recommended a whole house humidifier since it uses fresh water. During the winter months, we have been boiling water in an open pot on the stove and running the shower in the evenings on the hottest setting for 20 – 30 minutes. Currently we are using Fresh Air by Eco Quest. It is a very compact, yet a powerful air purifier that uses an electrostatic precipitator to purify the air. This unit was actually given to us, however, I believe they cost between $700 – $800. Be aware that some of these types of units can actually create an ozone layer in your home. Ozone gasses in your home can actually be irritating to the lungs and hinder the body from healing from respiratory infections.

According to Consumer Reports, the best models for room air purifiers are the Whirlpool AP51030K (costs about $300) and Hunter 30547 (costs about $260). Things to look for with room purifiers are noise levels, HEPA filters, filter replacement indicators and and obviously performance. For whole house air purification, Consumer Reports recommended the Lennox Healthy climate HC16 which must be professionally installed. It costs about $350 plus the cost of installation. They also recommend the

3M Filtrete Elite Allergen 2200 MPR filter which costs about $25 and does not require professional installation. I believe this is the filter that we use as well.

Indoor Air Quality

We have banned cigarette smoking, candles, chemical cleaners, most paints and solvents, pesticides, air fresheners and for our little canary, many foods from our home. You might consider testing your home for radon (a cancer causing natural gas), mold and carbon monoxide. To prevent the growth of mold, we use fans and dehumidifiers year round in the basement and bathrooms. It would definitely be a good idea to have the air ducts cleaned as well.

Vacuum Cleaners

We use a bag-less vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. My husband actually dislikes the bag-less part of the vacuum because he has difficulty with emptying the container of dust. He wears a filtered mask when he does clean it out. When I clean it out, I use a plastic grocery bag and hold it tight around the top of the container and flip it over then tie it off quickly to minimize the amount of airborne dust.

Consumer Reports recommend the Kenmore Intuition 28014 canister, HEPA filtered bagged vacuum (approximate retail $569) and the Kenmore Intuition 31100 upright, HEPA filtered bag vacuum (approximate retail $249). If you would prefer a bag-less vacuum cleaner, Consumer Reports recommends Eureka AirSpeed AS1000A upright vacuum (approximate retail $100) which has HEPA filtration as well.

Cleaning Products

For the most part, we only use a mix of 50/50 vinegar and water or Shaklee Get Clean products. For the toilet bowl, we use Stanley Home Products Silent Maid dispenser (http://www.stanley-home-products.com/item/Bowl-Refresher-Dispenser-8) filled with straight white vinegar. It drips a small amount of vinegar in the water with each flush and in our home needs to be refilled every three months or so. No bowl scrubbing is required! For grime around the sink faucets, white vinegar left to sit for an hour or so will loosen the grime so that it can be wiped away easily. Shaklee’s Heavy Duty Scour Off (http://www.shaklee.com/products.php?sku=00430) is a great product for tough clean ups with not only pots and pans but, even crayon on a wall. Basic H cleaner is super all purpose cleaner (http://www.shaklee.com/products.php?sku=00015) that lasts a long time! We are still using our original bottle from November 2008 because it only requires 2 drops to make a 16 oz bottle of window cleaner and a 1/4th teaspoon for an all purpose cleaner!

Pets

Ideally, we try to bath our dog  once a week and brush him down before coming back in from outside during peak pollen months. Sometimes,  I also use unscented, natural baby wet wipes to remove pollen and dust from outside. We have found that the Wal-Mart generic unscented wipes to be the least irritating and the strongest material.

Clothing

We use “free and clear” detergents, avoid perfumes and scented body products. You can add vinegar to the rinse water for softness and to remove excess soap. It is a natural fabric softner and helps to prevent static. We also buy gently used clothing to avoid off gassing from new clothing or we wash new clothing several times through before using. We also air dry clothes that we can’t dry in the dryer inside instead of outside to prevent pollen from collecting in our clothing.

Furniture

Our allergist recommends using as few cloth products in the home as possible (curtains, fabric furniture, throw pillows, throw rugs, carpeting, etc…). Leather and solid wood (not pressed wood) furniture is ideal. Blinds are better than curtains to help contain dust. Before bringing new furniture in your home, let it air out in the garage for a few days.

Paint

When possible, paint or refinish items outside with low-VOC or no-VOC products. A baby’s room tends to be the most toxic room in the house because new parents fill the room with new furnishings, paint, carpet and toys that are all off-gassing. This article gives some great suggestions for paints to use: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/green-your-nursery-paint.html Here is another article: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1594/is_n6_v8/ai_20099787/

Flooring

Hard wood or tile floors are much better than carpeting and vinyl flooring due to off-gassing, dust collecting and toxic sealants. I love my Shark Steam mop for cleaning our floors. I only use water, no cleaners are needed! http://www.sharkclean.com/Shark-Steam-Products/

Yard Work

We avoid pesticides and herbicides as much as possible. I have found there are many natural, non-toxic home-made remedies that are just as effective as toxic chemicals. Visit http://www.allpestco.com/ to get some ideas of how to use Borax, baking soda, white vinegar, baby powder and more to take care of many of those needs.

To minimize pollen irritation from cutting grass, where a face mask while mowing, leave your mowing shoes outside, wash clothes and shower as soon as possible after mowing as well.

Travel

For us to travel, I literally have to use spreadsheets to plan ahead. I typically chose a hotel with a kitchenette so that we can prepare our own foods and pet-free, smoke-free hotels. I also call ahead and request that sheets are rinsed twice and that the room is cleaned with vinegar before we arrive. We bring our own hand soap and bath products as well. For rental cars, I request cars with low mileage and smoke-free. I also request that they clean the car with vinegar or baby wipes if possible.

Bath and Body Products

We try to chose products with ingredients that we can read and that are unscented. We use unscented Seventh Generation hand wash and several of Shaklee’s products. At one point, I used a deodorant crystal (http://www.naturallyfreshdeodorantcrystal.com/) but, I did not personally care for it since it does not act as an antiperspirant. I have found the Environmental Working Group a great resource for finding quality, non-toxic products. The Skin-Deep database that they have created has made shopping for bath and body products much easier: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.

If you have tips to add to this, please post a comment!


Extreme Couponing, Extreme Food Allergies, Extreme Living

In this down economy, many food allergy families especially are really having a tough go at it.  Whoever said food allergies are a rich man’s disease has not walked a second in my shoes!  The high costs of alternative “safe” foods, medical expenses (ER trips don’t come cheap!) and in many cases, the loss of income are taking their toll. 

Tonight as I was taking my pre-overnight shift nap, I woke up in a cold sweat from a crazy dream.  I dreamed our family was on the TV show Wife Swap and the poor woman who was assigned to our home was handed two dozen coupons, a grocery list for five different stores, $50 and a lengthy list of food allergies to avoid (including eggs and dairy).  She was given 2 ½ hours to complete the task which included buying ingredients and making “safe” cupcakes for a birthday party.  I woke up as she was sinking in tears in the bakery isle.

Many food allergy families do not anticipate the need to have a parent with their children at all times when they have children, including us.  As much as I did not want to return to work after having my children, I did not have the choice to when our daughter was born.  Most daycare facilities are equipped to handle a peanut or tree nut allergy but, when you talk to them about multiple food allergies, they flat out tell you that they cannot accommodate your child.  I even had one facility tell me: “You would be a fool to leave that child with anyone!”  While I agree with that, what are you supposed to do when you financially need to work?   This is one of those blessings in disguise but, it does create a huge financial burden in this world of two income families.

We have gotten very creative with ways to bring in income and save money while still having one parent with the kids at all times. Here’s a great list of links for legitimate stay at home jobs: http://workathomedesk.com/directory/at-home-customer-care-agents.htm  I am forever grateful for the amazing work at home job that I have!  Nothing quite like working in your Pjs even if it means working overnight.

Now that our kids are school age, we have been able to send them somewhat safely to school although it has been a lot of work.  Had I kept dreaming about the woman who would take my place on Wife Swap, I wonder how she would have responded when she read that she would not be standing at the bus stop waiting for the kids to be whisked away but rather, she would taking the youngest to school early so that she could “sweep” the building with an allergy alert service dog for 20 – 60 minutes so that this child could be there for three hours in relative safety?

I also wonder how she would respond when she read how to act in the kitchen?  No finger licking, no wiping hands on pants or a dish rag, must repeatedly wash hands after handling any allergens and drying with a fresh towel, cannot use the same utensil for anything else, no heating of dairy and every allergen must be consumed in the kitchen with a thorough cleaning of that area and hands and face to follow.  That would be the short list!

Another blessing in disguise over the past few years has been learning how to save money by “super couponing”.  Basically, once every twelve weeks an item will hit its lowest sale price and when it does, you buy in bulk to last for twelve weeks.  In addition to the sale price, you add whatever manufacturer coupons you can find for that item and if the store has coupons too, you stack those on top.  Sure there are many, many items that we have coupons for that we will never use.  A lot of times, we trade those for coupons we will use.  I just received over 50 coupons in the mail from other compassionate “super couponers” for Rice Dream (a major staple in our house).  It typically retails for $3-$5 a box but, I typically pay under $1 a box.  Here are the sites that I use to find the deals: www.hip2save.com and www.jillcataldo.com.  In addition to groceries, we rarely pay anything for sundries (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, lotions, deodorants, etc…) and very little for household items such as laundry detergents, green cleaners, etc…

I wish our extreme living or living on the edge was more about hiking mountains and back packing across Europe but, for this season of life, we will take what we have and treasure the blessings in disguise.


Growing Up with Food Allergies

Please don’t think I am complaining about the cards we’ve been dealt. I am thankful for where we are and I realize that things could be so much worse. As much as I count the hardships, I count the blessings.  I am reflecting on raising my food allergic kids and realizing that these reflections may be a window to understanding for people that are not walking in food allergic shoes.

Emily Hernandez Photography

Before my son could speak, he shrieked the pain he felt in his belly from eating dairy. Before my daughter could recite her ABCs, she was able to recite a grocery list of things she’d never seen but, knew she couldn’t eat. Before she could count to ten, she was able to demonstrate how to administer an Epi-pen and hold it in place for ten seconds. Before my son was able to read a book, he was able to read a food label and know if something was safe to eat or not. Before my daughter was taught by a teacher, she taught her teacher how to safe her life with an Epi-pen trainer and how to set up a nebulizer and administer a breathing treatment. Before my son sold his first school fundraiser, he was selling raffle tickets to raise money for an Allergy Alert Service Dog to protect himself and his sister. Before my daughter had lost her first tooth, she had earned 8 feet of beads from Beads of Courage for her courage during medical procedures.

Life with food allergies is not about toting a box of tissues everywhere and popping a Claritan daily. It is about braving a world with guns drawn against them everyday and knowing that a simple mistake could cost them their life. It’s about never forgetting to wear their life saving medicines or carry a breathing machine and always being prepared. It’s about never letting their guard down and questioning authority about everything. It’s not an easy life but, it’s their lives. They make me so proud with the courage, strength, diligence, perseverance and responsibility that they exhibit far beyond their years.


Dairy, Egg and Nut-free Ice Cream

One of the gift’s that God magically has blessed me with since becoming a mom to two allergic kids is the courage to experiment in the kitchen.  I have never been one to follow a recipe to the T but, this is a whole ‘nother world.  In college, my roommate and I decided to make brownies  and realized we had no eggs.  I  knew nothing about substituting then and added extra oil instead.  We ended up with very thin brownies that had a pool of oil on top.  We ate them anyhow!  Afterwards we headed out to dance and she spent most of the evening revisiting those brownies in the john.  : (

Fast forward 15 years and I am now the proud parent of a daughter who can’t have butter, eggs or nuts.  I have to admit that brownies are very hard to make without eggs even now that I know how to substitute.  I’ll share a few recipes eventually that have worked to my little one’s satisfaction since she’s never had the real  deal.

So, moving on to the ice cream.   I finally decided to break down and buy an ice cream maker in hopes of making her ice cream a bit thicker and creamier.  I did achieve the thickness but, not really the creaminess.  Still working on it.  She loves it but, my son who can eat the real deal says it’s “ok”.

So, here is what I typically use:

1-2 frozen bananas
1 cup of frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup of rice milk
1 cup of melted Marshmallows (optional) – Helps with sweetness and thickness
1/2 cup of dairy free margarine (optional) – Helps with creaminess

Put ingredients in the blender and blend till smooth, add to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions.

Options:

1. Monster Ice Cream—Just add a handful of spinach to make a bright green creation with no spinach flavor : )  Don’t let anyone see you do it though!

2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough—Use Chocolate Rice Milk or Soy Milk and add in Enjoy Life Chocolate chips

3. Strawberry —Just add strawberries and if you’d like non-alcoholic Strawberry Margarita Syrup.

4. Rocky Road—Replace Rice milk with Chocolate Rice milk and add marshmallows and Enjoy Life chocolate chips.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 340 other followers