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Sunscreen & Epipens – Allergy Girl’s Guide to Being a Happy Camper

Sunscreen & Epipens – Allergy Girl’s Guide to Being a Happy Camper

My name is Olivia. I have food allergies. I am allergic to dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, and peas, and my little brother. I am sixteen years old and live in Boulder, CO. I am passionate about theater and music and spending time with my friends. I have lived with my food allergies my whole life, so I’ve learned a lot about dealing with the realities of being an Allergy Girl.  I carry 2 epipens with me everywhere – had to use them once.  I plan to use this blog to share some of the things I’ve learned, talk about the challenges I face, and maybe just share some thoughts to let you know you’re not the only one out there dealing with all the crap that comes with food allergies.  I mean, I know how much it sucks to watch your friends enjoy ice cream, how awkward it is to order at a restaurant, and how tiring it is to always have to be “on” when there’s food involved (which, by the way, seems like always).

 

I also know that routines are helpful, and when summer comes, and school is finally out for the summer (rejoice), all of the routines of the past nine months go out the window.  Ah, sleeping in, no homework, the pool – I LOVE YOU SUMMERTIME!  Wait, what’s that…camp?  Ah, OK.  Camp is cool, I guess.  I learned to make friendship bracelets at camp.  I sang songs I can’t remember.  I got bug bites, made friends and rode on a smelly bus.  In my younger days, camp meant Day Camp.  That was pretty easy – bring your own lunch, avoid snacks that aren’t safe.  I’m pretty sure Allergy Mom was behind the scenes working the counselors pretty hard, but it seemed to go pretty smoothly, no matter which day camp I did.  I wish I could do s’mores – damn you Hershey’s.  Marshmallows are fine, and most graham crackers too – the chocolate (MILK chocolate) is always the issue for me.  So too are all of the chocolate faces and fingers once everyone else has gorged on the wood-fired gooey goodness.  Ahhh.  Like it doesn’t suck enough to watch that go down, I have to feel like everyone has coodies when it’s all over.

 

Then camp became “sleep away camp”.  For four summers, I did a three-week camp at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and just recently I got into a theatre “intensive” at UCLA, though they made sure I knew that wasn’t “camp” but real college stuff.  Because they are both so far away from home, there was no brown-bagging these places.  I had to eat the food they provide for their students there. At Interlochen, every year before the program started Allergy Mom and I would fly out a day or two early to talk to the chefs beforehand.  It helped to meet with them before they were busy with making three squares for all those happy campers. I would strongly recommend this.  Whether it be your school or a program you are doing outside of school. Talking to the people who are making your food in person is best – but even over email or phone is better than nothing. We always started with a call or an email so they knew what was coming, and then arranged a meeting time that was easiest for them.  It’s a way for you to get to know the chefs and a great way for them to know you and your needs.  At Interlochen, I would go back to the kitchen at breakfast, which I provided for myself, and basically gave the chef my order for lunch and dinner.  It usually was similar to what they were making for the rest of the students and faculty for that meal but with substitutes for what I was allergic to. I actually had a refrigerator where they kept stuff safe for me!  It was a pretty similar situation at UCLA this summer.  I would provide my own breakfast, typically cereal with soy milk, and lunch. I would not recommend eating a turkey sandwich every day for three weeks, but hey, whatever works.  (Seriously, I may not eat another turkey sandwich, like… ever.)  At dinner, it was pretty much the same drill I did at Interlochen, I would go up to the chef and we would discuss what was for dinner for the rest of the students and faculty and what would work for me. I have found that in these situations, and any situation really, takes a lot of prep work on mostly my end but once the prep work is done can be pretty simple.  I admit, I feel a little weird being on a first name basis with Lunch Lady, but altogether I’ve done three meals a day for three weeks for five summers – Holy Wow, that’s over 300 meals!  And thanks to Allergy Mom and the good folks at Interlochen and UCLA, I’m still here to tell you about it.

 

I know that it can be intimidating to go away to sleep away camp all by itself, and it is even more nerve-wracking with food allergies.  But, I want to personally tell you that it is been worth it. Some of the best memories I have are from going away from home and being on my own.  I still stay in touch with friends from Interlochen, and I facetime with my new friends from UCLA who are around the world.  I can’t imagine not meeting them, not experiencing the fun, and having spontaneous dance parties.  The amount of work that goes into making you safe is worth it.

 

[If you’re an Allergy Mom, it sure makes us feel safe (and a whole lot less awkward) to have your help in talking with kitchen staffs and cooks.  Trust me, Allergy Girl already has plenty of stuff to worry about, dealing with that part… well, thanks for doing all that.  I mean, really thanks.]

 

So, what are you waiting for?  Pack up your epipens, your sunscreen and go get mosquito bitten.  Make new friends, tell ghost stories and HAVE A GREAT TIME!

– Allergy Girl

Egg-free Owl French Toast

Ingredients:

1 C. Rice Milk

1 Tbsp. Ground Flax Seeds

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

½ tsp. Cinnamon

Dash of Nutmeg

Dash of Clove

Vegan butter

6 Slices Gluten-free Bread

 

Toppings:

Sunbutter

Sliced Fruit: Oranges, Bananas, Kiwi, Strawberries and Blueberries

Free2b Foods Sun Cups

Crispy Rice

Pepitas

 

Instructions:

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes until thickened.

2. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegan butter in a skillet.

3. Pour the milk mixture into a shallow dish.

4. One by one, coat each slice of bread evenly with the milk mixture and drop into the skillet. Crisp on both sides.

5. Spread each piece of French toast with Sunbutter. Slice fruit and arrange on the surface to create owl features. Make ears, wings and beaks out of circular and/or triangular shapes. Make eyes out of Sun Cups and more fruit. Pepitas and crispy rice cereal make great feathers!

Dark Chocolate Drizzled Blood Orange Popsicles

Popsicle Ingredients:

  • ½ C. 2:1 Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
  • 2 ¼ C. Fresh Blood Orange Juice, strained
  • Blood Orange Slices
  • 2 Packages Free2b Dark Chocolate Sun Cups, melted

Instructions:

  1. Melt Dark Chocolate Sun Cups in a double boiler.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together simple syrup and blood orange juice.
  3. Add 2 blood orange slices to each mold.
  4. Pour the juice mixture into molds and insert sticks. Freeze for 2-3 hours or overnight.
  5. To remove from molds, run the molds under warm water for a few seconds.
  6. Lay the popsicles on parchment and drizzle with melted Dark Chocolate.

Simple Syrup Recipe:

  • Blood Orange Twist
  • 2 C. Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 C. Water

Instructions for Simple Syrup:

  1. Stirring occasionally, gently simmer orange twist, turbinado sugar and water until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Strain through a fine sieve and chill for 30 minutes.

Preparing Kids with Food Allergies for Summer Camp

The hustle and bustle of the school year has finally come to a halt and the sun is rising earlier, reminding us all that summer is near. With summer on the horizon, there’s lots to think about, especially preparing your kids with food allergies for camp. In between getting batteries for the flashlight and writing your child’s name on every article of clothing it can be a challenge to think about the many ways to help the camp staff keep your little one safe and healthy.

When it comes to the safety and health of your child, over-communication can be a great thing! Some of the topics we recommend covering are:

• Have a chat with the camp director. Discuss the camp’s food allergy policy as well as how the camp staffers and volunteers monitor and communicate information about food allergies.

• If the camp has a nurse or healthcare person on staff, ask about their credentials as well as who handles their duties when they are off.

• Review the camp’s emergency protocol/procedures for handling different situations and emergencies. If the camp has off site excursions be sure that the traveling counselors are aware and have a plan for the safe transport of your child’s medication, particularly since some medications are temperature sensitive.

• If your child has a medical kit be sure to include written instructions for how to administer them, as well as include their full name and picture on the outside (for quick identification). A list of allergies and the specific symptoms your child typically displays can also be extremely helpful.

• Check expiration dates of all medications in advance of drop-off day.

If you are aware that there will be meals or snacks that your child needs to steer clear of, let the camp and your child know. Perhaps, send your child with something special so they don’t feel left out. Our yummy allergy-friendly snacks are the perfect treat if your child can’t have what the camp provides.

Discussions and reminders with your child about safe eating as well as how and when to tell an adult about a possible allergic reaction is extremely important. After all, your child is the last line of defense.

We know these conversations can be challenging, but the more you have them, the more comfortable you and your child will be when camp or another fun event rolls around. Do you have any other tips to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Continue reading our related post on preparing your child with food allergies for a slumber party or browse our selection of award-winning treats now!

Fruit Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

Dark Chocolate Fruit Tarts

Ingredients
2 C. Gluten Free Graham Crackers, finely ground
½ C. Soy Free Vegan Butter, melted
3 free2b Dark Chocolate Cherry Bars, divided
Sliced Fruit: Bananas, Berries, Peaches
Mint for garnish

Directions
In a mixing bowl, combine the finely ground graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Press firmly into four mini tart pans. Refrigerate.
Melt Chocolate Cherry Bars over a double boiler. Pour 2/3 into the formed crusts.
Top the tarts with sliced fruit as desired and drizzle with remaining chocolate. Serve chilled.

Chocolate Crunch Nice Cream

Chocolate Crunch Nice Cream

Ingredients
3 bananas
1/8 cup of rice milk
3 tablespoons of cocoa
1 tablespoon of SunButter
1 free2b chocolate crunch bar, chopped up

Directions
In a blender, bananas, rice milk, cocoa and Sunbutter until smooth
Use a spatula to pour all the mixture into a bread pan
Fold in chopped free2b rice chocolate crunch bar
Freeze for at least two hours. Right before eating, remove from freezer and scoop into bowls! Enjoy!

Serves 4

5 Unique Mother’s Day Ideas to Celebrate Mom

With Mother’s day just around the corner our minds have been bubbling and brimming with fun and unique Mother’s day ideas. We recognize that Moms are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. With that in mind we wanted to be sure to come up with an array of Mother’s Day ideas so you can celebrate Mom the perfect way this year!

1.) Thank her: Create a memory jar and get ready to write your heart out. You can use stationary or ordinary paper cut into small slips or fun shapes. This is an awesome way to capture some memorable moments that mean the world to you. It’s also a great way to thank & honor Mom for all the wonderful things she does. Kids may enjoy drawing pictures or brainstorming about fun things they look forward to doing with Mom when school gets out.

2.) Go on a scenic adventure together: Soaking up Vitamin D isn’t the only reason to venture into the great outdoors this Mother’s day. Nature is well known to help reduce stress, make us happy, and increase brain function. Investigate what’s in bloom at your local botanic gardens or what birds are flying through during their spring migration (be sure to pack those binoculars!)

3.) Create a photo collage: Ask your family members and family friends to share their favorite pics with Mom. Kids will have fun helping you choose and arrange photos. Who knows, they may even want to create a drawing to add to the mix. If Mom is tech savvy email her the collage or post to her Social Media. Other fun options would be to have the collage printed on something she uses frequently (like a reusable bag or travel mug).

4.) Make Mom something sweet: Whip up our Sun Cup™ Volcano Pancakes for an unforgettable breakfast in bed, or present her with a Chocolate Cup and fruit bouquet (all you need is a cookie cutter and skewers). Check out our blog for an array of delicious ideas to brighten Mom’s day.

5.) Volunteer together: Spend an afternoon supporting a local group or organization. Volunteering is great for so many reasons. Studies have shown that it is linked not only to better physical health but also mental, and emotional health. Take a look at your local volunteer boards and find an event that Mom would be excited to support.

No matter what path you choose this Mother’s Day your Mom is sure to be grateful and appreciative. Do you have any other tips or ideas to make this Mother’s day fun and memorable? Let us know in the comments below!

Mexican Mocha Mousse

Ingredients:

• 1 (2 oz.) free2B Chocolate & Crispy Rice Crunch bar, grated
• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• ¼ cup margarine (look for a vegan, dairy-free, or soy-free version)
• 2/3 cup chickpea flour
• ½ cup tapioca starch
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 ½ cup rice milk
• 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
free2b Blueberry Crunch Snack Breaks, for garnish

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine the grated Chocolate Crunch Bar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the margarine over medium heat.
3. Sift together the chickpea flour and tapioca starch. Whisking constantly, gradually add the flour mixture to the saucepan.
Cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the sugar to the pan and whisk to combine.
5. Whisking constantly, gradually add the rice milk and vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat until thickened and just bubbly.
6. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Immediately whisk the chocolate mixture into the saucepan until melted and smooth.
7. Pour the mousse into small bowls or glasses and allow them to cool. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Garnish with Blueberry Crunch Snack Breaks.

Fun & Safe Easter Craft For Kids: Make an Easter Garland!

With Easter comes excitement and lots of traditions to people the world over. In Greece, for example, “pot throwing” takes place on the island of Corfu to welcome spring. In France, nearly 12,000 eggs are cracked and cooked to create one giant omelet. In Poland, the master of the house isn’t allowed to partake in making the traditional Easter bread as it’s believed that his mustache will turn gray and the dough will fail to rise. Here in the U.S. Easter egg rolls and hunts have been taking place on the White House lawn for well over 100 years.

This Easter season we’re excited to offer our spring variety pack with you and your loved ones in mind. Navigating the store aisles for dairy, gluten, and peanut free Easter candy can be time-consuming and frustrating. It’s our mission to make sure that everyone is able to enjoy a safe and happy Easter this year and every year! Our variety pack includes two bags of our new snacking chocolates, as well as four of our single cups.

Like many of the holidays that include tradition around food, Easter can be challenging to come up with ways to make sure our kiddos feel included and loved when they aren’t able to participate because of an allergy. So, with both Easter and Earth Day drawing near we thought why not share an allergen friendly craft that upcycles something you likely have around the house. Drum roll, please… paint swatches! We will use these to make our very own Easter garland. Additionally, we created a fun printable Easter craft coloring page to keep your kiddo busy while you get all that Easter prep done!

With traditions and values going hand in hand, why not encourage creativity while bringing awareness to earth friendliness? In a culture of “use and replace,” finding new ways to utilize that which would otherwise be discarded can be a fun and challenging thing to explore as a family. It also helps reframe ideas and expectations. For example, Easter craft ideas such as decorating eggs are synonymous with the holiday, though not safe for those with egg allergies.

To get you and your kids started, we recommend grabbing the following items for your Easter garland:

• Leftover paint swatches (if you don’t have these at home, head to your local hardware store and ask if they have any paint
swatches they are recycling!)
• Kid friendly scissors
• A hole punch
• Twine for stringing up your Easter cutouts

Instructions:

1. Trace different Easter shapes that your kiddo is excited about on the pack of the paint swatches (we did bunny heads and
carrots).
2. Let your kiddo cut out the shapes.
3. Put a hole punch in the top of the shape and string the twine through the cutouts, securing them a little knot on the back.
4. Hang in a doorway or on the wall to bring extra Easter joy to your house!

We’d love to see you and your kiddos creations, so please feel free to tag us on your social media posts!

Chocolate Rice Cake Snacks

Ingredients
2 cinnamon flavored rice cakes
Sun Butter
2 free2b chocolate cups, melted
Raspberries or your favorite fruit for topping

Directions
1. Spread Sun Butter on each rice cake
2. Melt the chocolate cups in a microwave safe dish for 1 minute, remove from microwave and mix until smooth.
3. Drizzle the chocolate over the cakes and add raspberries or your favorite fruit for a delicious and easy snack!