Is an Epinephrine auto injector safe in the car?

As a policy, my approach to handling food allergies is – ‘Take a deep breath…it is not the end of life! All it requires is a slightly modified lifestyle.’ I rarely let my paranoia show in social/ public situations. This attitude has reaped rich dividends in a couple of very important ways:

1) My son has learnt to be careful without feeling that he has a severe disability. He has a very matter of fact attitude towards his food allergies though he is just 6 ūüôā

2)¬†Other parents do not feel that their child’s enjoyment has been compromised because of my son’s allergies.

However, this does not mean that I am ever careless. I keep an epinephrine auto-injector everywhere – at home, my pocket book, at school, my husband’s laptop bag and more! My son though very young already knows all about it and how it will be used if he ever needs it! The reason is simple – an epinephrine auto-injector (brand names: EpiPen, EpiPen Jr., Adrenaclick, Twinject, Adrenaline, Epi E-Z Pen, Primatene) can reverse the severe side effects of a massive food allergy attack – most importantly anaphylaxis and save a person’s life!

Storing the epinephrine auto-injector carefully plays a big role in ensuring that it is effective when needed. it is very tempting to keep the injector in the car because we are most likely to be closest to it when needed and yet we should not. Loved a CNN blog post on this issue so, sharing the same…

New Fountain of Vitality

A few months back – I had to bid good bye to one of my favorite health food stores in New Jersey, ‚ÄėFountain of Vitality‚Äô. With 3 branches across the state, this chain boasted a great selection of allergy friendly foods. Despite being much smaller than a Whole Foods or Wegman‚Äôs, I could always find things for my son that I would not find anywhere else. Imagine my dismay when the owners declared bankruptcy and the bank took over all the stores. Yes – I did shed a few tears that day as did many of their fans on Facebook ūüôā
Aah –¬†the joy when¬†a few weeks back I saw the doors of the Warren, NJ branch of ‚ÄėFountain of Vitality‚Äô open again. Ridiculously excited – I ran in and what a pleasant surprise to see the same sales person with her ever-smiling face and helpful attitude. We smiled like long-lost buddies as she introduced me to the new owner, Mr. Farooq of the now aptly named store, ‚ÄėNew Fountain of Vitality‚Äô! Here is how the story unfolded…Mr. Farooq was associated with one of the Fountain of Vitality stores. When the owners declared bankruptcy, Mr. Farouq realising the value of such a valuable chain bought the Warren store from the bank and brought back some of the original sales staff. Smart move because the staff of this chain were one of its greater assets. They were very well informed and on-top of things if I made any special requests like ordering out of stock items. What a joy it was to shop again at my favorite haunt and I again made great allergy-friendly finds for my soon to be, 6-year old bundle of vitality.
Thank you Mr. Farooq for keeping the Fountain flowing…

Store Address:

New Fountain of Vitality
Pheasant Run Mall
100  Mountain Blvd. Ext.
Warren, NJ 07059
(732) 469-0088

Food allergies – social dilemma?!

Methinks,¬†a¬†tongue in cheek approach to one’s food allergies makes it way easier to handle social stresses. Aah – those moments when I am subjected to annoyed stares if I¬†make the severe faux pas of asking more than once if a slice of cake has nuts in it or request for special food arrangements for my son so he can be safe. The challenge becomes bigger when we travel abroad to places where food allergies are unheard of. Case in point – India! In such places people have a bemused, indulgent approach ūüôā Many¬†look at me…’the overprotective mom from the overly sanitary US environment’. Hard to¬† explain to them that food allergies¬†are as real as any other physical ailment even though the symptoms manifest themselves only when one ingests something the body cannot handle. That means, food allergy sufferers have to be careful 24/7. Telling people that the wrong food might cause anaphylactic shock and sure death if a dose of epinephrine is not given with 5 minutes just makes me look ‘paranoid’ and I¬†must add¬†– most people don’t even believe me. For most a food allergy is still just a rash or an itch which¬†food allergy sufferers should learn to tolerate rather than make a hue and cry about it – oh yes!

That’s why the recent case of parents in a Florida school staging a protest because the school is taking the required measures to keep children with severe food allergies safe comes as no surprise. CNN has a very compelling report titled ‘Parents fight school’s peanut policy‘. I can only imagine the trauma kids with food allergies and their parents must be going through given such an environment. A must read for all allergy sufferes and care givers. Helps us understand that we not only have to be careful about what we eat, we also have to be prepared for a lot of resentment from some in the larger society.

Makes me wonder – what is¬†the best approach when trying to¬†keep kids with food allergies safe…a gentle, non-confrontational but firm approach or, a strict, up-in-arms approach. Or, does the answer lie somewhere along the curve?!

Rare Allergies: ‘Mustard’…yes, really!

On occasion, I¬†have been¬†accused of ‘helicopter parenting’ and even ‘apache’ helicopter parenting by my husband ūüôā¬†However, I¬†met my match a few years back in a Gymboree class where doting moms across the United States try to lay the foundation for ‘awesome’ adults in clueless toddlers! She had a little one who was allergic to peanuts – the lengths she would go to, to ensure that a food item was safe was scary for someone like me who had a child with far more food allergies. Yes – it did make¬†me wonder if I was being a tad careless. However, the difference was probably – she let her anxiety show! That in my book, as a mom to a child with food allergies is a definite no-no. We have to be careful at all times, but cannot let that paralyze our lives by living in constant fear! But, I digress…one day, she¬†told us that her child was¬†severely allergic to ‘mustard’ – yes that¬†very same condiment that is used across the world in various forms – in sandwiches, curries, soups and so much more. It is a hidden element in many dishes and may not even be listed on the ingredient chart because it is one of the many spices and condiments used in minute quantities in dishes. Initially, even someone as aware as me did not believe her and put it down to her being over-cautious. Then, when she told me that her son broke into hives within seconds of a small splatter on his arm – I knew it was very serious and she was fully justified in her caution. Years later I came across Kytriya through my blog who talked about the very same allergy.

Continue reading “Rare Allergies: ‘Mustard’…yes, really!”

Gluten-Free ‘Play Dough’ – yeah!

Aaah¬†– the joy of getting tiny fists into a mass of play dough and punching it into any shape their young hearts desire – priceless! Alas – a forbidden pleasure for children severely allergic to wheat/gluten. When my little one reached the age that he could enjoy play dough, it would break my heart to see him look longingly at other kids in Gymboree play with ‘Play Doh’ in Art class. Equally important was the fine motor skill development that play doh helps with. That’s when I started researching alternative ways of making play dough and one of the recipes that worked was this one…

Gluten-Free Wonder Playdough recipe:

1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup hot water

1 tsp. cooking oil

food coloring

1) Mix all ingredients together in saucepan, cook on low heat, stirring occassionally for at least 5 minutes or until it forms a ball.

2) Remove from heat, let cool for 10 minutes. Scoop into a large bowl, add at least 1/2 cup more rice flour, and 1/2 cup more corn starch, knead until well mixed and no longer sticky. Store in airtight container.

3) If it gets to dry, add a few drops of water, If it’s too sticky add more rice flour and corn starch in equal amounts.

If making gluten-free play dough is not your cup of tea, try ‘Coloration Wheat & Gluten-Free Dough’

Gluten-Free Play Dough (picture taken from

Enjoy seeing your little ones discover the joys of pliant dough ūüôā

Birthday Cakes – a pictoblog :-)

Arjun’s birthday celebrations have transformed my kitchen into a fun cake bake lab – more power to all us moms who have taken on food allergies as a way to explore alterntives! As his 6th birthday draws close, I reflected on the many hits and misses with his birthday cakes through the years…from rock solid, hard to eat cakes to pretty darn amazing ūüôā
1 Month old: Wonder why exhausted, severely sleep-deprived first time moms find intense pleasure in celebrating  the birth of their angel every month?! That I dint know the first thing about bakinig and even less about cake decorating did not deter me Рgo figure! A pretty decent regular yellow cake resulted the first month of which a month old Arjun could obviously not take a bite. My monthly celebrations soon came to a grinding halt because Arjun was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and I was yet to figure out alternatives.
1st Month Birthday – a regular yellow cake!
1st Birthday: A cake that he could not eat but surrounded by the love of his grandparents and cousins in India. Lucky for me – he still thought his fingers tasted infinitely better ūüėõ
Regular White Cake with vanilla frosting and Winnie the Pooh ūüôā
2nd Birthday: Now my little one was old enough to want a bite of his own birthday cake ūüôā An “Allergy friendly Chocolate cake with strawberry filling and vanilla frosting” resulted.¬† It was CherryBrook Kitchen ¬†that came to the rescue with their range of dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, gluten-free cake mixes! 2 layers of gluten free chocolate cake with a layer of strawberry jam in the center. Talk about taking the easy route but hey – it works! Now for the icing on the cake¬†– frost it with store bought vanilla frosting like Duncan Hines vanilla frosting¬†or Cherrybrook Kitchen vanilla frosting or an allergy-friendly home-grown recipe! For the extra touch to personalize the cake with your little one’s favorite theme – balls, cars, trains…fondant is the way to go! Fondant is essentially sugar and coloring hence,¬†allergy friendly with a professional touch. I used readymade fondant made by Kitchen Krafts.
Remember: Even if you bake the cake a day earlier, do not refrigerate else the cake made from this mix becomes scarily hard and crumbly – eww!¬† Something that our guests and I discovered as we tried hard to cut through the cake ūüėČ
¬†Beautiful looking chocolate cake but tad too hard to slice through ūüôā
3rd Birthday:¬†¬†“Allergy friendly Chocolate Brownie Train cake decorated with gummy bears and rolled fondant”. Thanks to The Cravings Place¬†¬†Ooey Gooey Chocolatey Chewy Brownie Mix. Yummilcious and yes…dairy, egg, nut, soy and gluten-free ūüôā Make it your own and very fancy by using an appropriate cake pan that your child loves – at 3, Arjun was all about freight trains. His birthday cake was complete with gummy bear freight and fondant tracks ūüėÄ Allergies does not mean that food should look unappetizing!
Chocolate Brownie Train cake…¬†

¬†4th Birthday: ¬†Vanilla and Chocolate Brownie sandwich cake with fresh strawberries and vanilla frosting – ‘Cars’. Yet again The Cravings Place create-your-own cake mix¬†and Cherry Brook Kitchen gluten-free chocolate cake mix came to the rescue. Sprinkles and my little’s one’s favorite ‘Cars’ movie characters, McQueen and Sheriff completed the effect ūüôā

Vanilla and Chcolate sandwich cake with fresh strawberries in the center!


5th Birthday: This year wheat was included in his diet so he got to have a customized dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free but made from regular¬†wheat¬†flour!¬†Was he excited to¬†have his very first store¬†made birthday cake ¬†just like other kids or what?! So much for homemade!!! All kids want is what other kids seem to be getting and not something unique ūüėÄ So, it was¬†a vanilla sponge cake with Spongebob plonked right in the center for good effect…


eggless, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free sponge cake

With his 6th birthday right around the corner wonder what surprises this year will bring…but, we are sure of one thing – it will be tasty, fun and exciting!

Allergic Girl – A review

One of my favorite food allergy blogs has got to be Allergic Girl . Sloane Miller offers¬†useful, practical and fun ways of leading a full life with food allergies. Her book¬†¬†‘Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies ‘ is just what the allergist ordered ūüėČ The book trailer is a must watch, fun preview…

Her blog is a gold mine of informations but one article taught me a life lesson. When dealing with food allergies, doctors, nurses and parents are always talking about anaphylactic shock, epipen, benadryl et al but I have never heard anyone heard anyone talk about PTSD associated with anaphylactic shock. I am one parent who is guilty of it too Рhow can such a traumatic event as being 5 minutes away from death not result in PTSD?!? Allergic Girl was the first website I found that talked about this РPTSD . Thank you Ms. Sloan Miller for making me that much more of an informed parent.