Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coconut Trial

I will admit that I have been stymied by fear for a long time, which has kept me from going forward with some of the food trials on my list.  As I have said before, conditions have to be just right for me to have the strength to do food trial.  We have added things like cauliflower, and some gluten-free flours to the list of safe foods, without incident, but I have been meaning to trial things like coconut and sesame, which she has never eaten in isolation, but for which she has a positive blood test value recorded.  Every allergist we have seen agrees that the blood test, alone, does not equal a true allergy, and I understand and agree, but tell that to my nerves!  I know that my daughter's value for coconut (5.89 kUA/L) from a year and a half ago was not very conclusive, but it bothered me that there was any value at all.  She tested negative to "queen palm", but when I researched "queen palm", it turns out it's not even the same tree that produces coconuts. :/

Anyway, since I conquered my fear of administering epinephrine, I figured I needed to translate that conquered fear into lessening my fear of trialing new foods.  So, after having the allergist tell me, again, at my daughter's 4-year appointment, to go ahead and try coconut or sesame, at home (which I still find surprising, but OK!), I decided to try coconut.  (Update: I feel that this comment, right here, needs much more exposition, and I apologize for not giving more back-story on this, so please read my follow-up post.  I don't want to give anyone the impression that they should challenge a known, confirmed food allergy, at home.  This was not an officially diagnosed food allergy that was being challenged.  This was a trial, and I will explain my distinction between the two.  This was a new food that she had never eaten.)

I read that some moms used Nutiva's Coconut Manna, which is pure coconut, and once at the right temperature, it has a smooth, creamy texture.  So, I went to Whole Foods, in search of some:
*I just saw this has a warning that reads, "Bottled in a facility that produces peanut oil."
Peanut oil supposedly has no peanut protein, yet I would not let my daughter eat anything with it as an ingredient, but now I'm wondering about the cross-contamination risk.
I waited until the next morning and gave her just a little taste on the end of the spoon.  She didn't really like the taste or texture, at first.  I didn't push and just gave her a few minutes and went about the task of trying to act cool.  After 10-15 minutes (OK, who am I kidding, it was exactly 10 minutes on the microwave timer!) ;)  I gave her another tiny spoonful of coconut and waited.  

Nothing happened, again, so I decided to wait until after lunch and try a slightly larger "dose".  After lunch, I spread a larger amount on one of her usual cookies (Enjoy Life's Crunchy Sugar Cookies) and she ate it up with no apparent reaction.  She also had another piece of cookie, after dinner.    

This is looking like a success!  This could open up quite a few doors, for us, but since I was working so long on just getting up the nerve to trial it, I really haven't even made up a list of other food items that I want to try, now that coconut looks to be an option.  If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Information about Coconut

From Wikipedia: "The coconut palmCocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only accepted species in the genusCocos.[2] The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which, botanically, is a drupe, not a nut."

There's also this quote from FAAN's website:
Should coconut be avoided by someone with a tree nut allergy?
Discuss this with your doctor. Coconut, the seed of a drupaceous fruit, has typically not been restricted in the diets of people with tree nut allergy. However, in October of 2006, the FDA began identifying coconut as a tree nut. The available medical literature contains documentation of a small number of allergic reactions to coconut; most occurred in people who were not allergic to other tree nuts. Ask your doctor if you need to avoid coconut.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Home Court Advantage

My daughter turned 4 last week!  Unlike past years where I called the party shots, I decided to ask my daughter what kind of party she wanted to have, this year.  The other years, we had done large parties where pretty much everyone who could attend, around her age, was invited.  She is not really a fan of large groups, so this year she opted for a small party, with just a few friends, at our house.  She said she wanted to do some art, so we decided on an "Art Party" theme.

Doing the party at our house, with just a few friends, meant some extra work on my part, versus the Chuck E. Cheese's party from last year, given that I had to come up with all of the activities, entertainment, goody bags, food, etc., but it gave me the glorious benefit of absolute control of the environment, which as my fellow food-allergy moms can probably understand, is simultaneously stressful and relaxing.  I had the stress of getting a bunch of stuff done by the time the party rolled around, but I had the wonderful flexibility of doing everything on my terms, and on our "turf". :)

Normally, I would stress out about a party that spans a meal-time, but this was our party, and I had a menu planned with Alpha Tots and Popcorn Turkey Corn Dogs from Ian's Natural Foods* and some gluten-free corn bread muffins made with the HEB (our local grocery chain) mix.  I also made allergy-friendly "Crispy Rice Treats" using Erewhon*, marshmallows and brown rice syrup.  Since I spent a lot of time on getting other things ready, I went with a box cake mix this time and used King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix.*  Since it calls for 4 eggs and replacing any more than 2 is difficult, the two cakes came out pretty shallow, but my guests were kind of enough to remark that it tasted more like a hybrid of a cake and a cookie, and seemed to like it (or were graciously humoring me). ;)
*--Risk of flax cross-contamination

The week before, my daughter had gone to a party with a piñata, but there was no way she could grab at all the contents, given that it was full of allergy-laden candies.  I decided the solution was to buy a pull-string piñata and fill it with toys!  My daughter just loves little toys and I figured the kids would love to have things they could play with long after the party.  I went to the store and bought a bunch of cool toys that I could fit into the piñata hole.  Some of them did not fit, and those went into another goody bag.

When it came time for the piñata, I told the kids to line up and I said, "This piñata is special - this one is full of TOYS!"  I loved how their faces lit up! :)  They were so excited!  My daughter was so excited, as well, and I was so happy to see her so happy, and I knew I could relax and let her grab at the goodies without any fear.  It was pretty funny, because the pull-string function didn't quite work and we ended up opening the bottom by hand, but they didn't mind and when all the toys came pouring out, it was fun to see them scramble for the goodies.  It was great not having to worry about any pesky allergens!

We did have one asthma-related problem, though, when I cooked the Alpha Tots in oil, since I didn't have time to bake them in the oven.  I used a high quantity of oil in a pan, since I was making so many of the tots at once, and I think the aggravated her poor little lungs, and we had to do a couple of quick puffs of her inhaler, since we couldn't get her cough under control for a while.  However, after I ran the vent for a while, and got her a little fresh air, she was back to enjoying her party.

She had so much fun with her friends, and her Grandma and Grandpa were even there to celebrate with her, so it was a really great day.  I am always so thankful when her birthday celebrations go well.  Having the "home court advantage" made it that much more enjoyable, this time! : )

Having the same lunch as her friends!

Allergy-friendly Rice Crispy Treats
Hello Kitty Pull-String Piñata
Woo-Hoo! Toys!

Comparing loot with her pal...