26 Weeks of Muffins: Week 1

It’s been just over a week since E’s failed baked milk challenge at the allergist’s office. For the next six months, we’ve been instructed to give E half a muffin three times a week in order to help her build up a tolerance for baked milk.  The muffins need to be fresh, so I’ll be baking a new batch every week.  Did you do the math?  That’s 26 batches of muffins before E’s next blood testing.

B is thrilled because he usually buys a package of fresh-baked muffins at the grocery store each week to eat for breakfast.  He’s really, really into muffins.  Out of every dozen muffins I make, E only gets one and a half–so B gets the rest because this mama is trying to ditch her sweet tooth.

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I’m also keeping a log of each muffin I give to E so I can discuss reactions/non-reactions with the allergist.

  • 7/23/2017:  Dime-sized rash on one cheek
  • 7/25/2017:  Quarter-sized light pink rashes on each cheek several hours after consuming
  • 7/28/2017:  No reaction
  • 7/30/2017:  [Jeopardy music]

Of course, I have to share all of the recipes I’m trying.  Most of them will require modifications for E’s other allergies, so I’ll link to the recipe and note what I did differently to accommodate little miss.

This week:  Amish Cinnamon Muffins

THESE ARE SO GOOD.  The muffin tops are incredible–super fluffy and just slightly crispy on the edges.  Oh em eff gee.

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Modifications:  subbed egg with flax egg, and subbed butter with Smart Balance (Original).  I still struggle with flax eggs in certain recipes–especially meatloaf/meatballs/etc.–but for muffins I’ve been successful so far by using a little less water than most flax egg recipes call for.  Typically the flax meal to water ratio is 1 TBSP:3 TBSP, but I’ve found doing about 2.5 TBSP of water is perfect.

Also, this recipe called for buttermilk, regular milk with vinegar, or just regular milk.  I used plain whole milk.

I’m drooling as I write this post.

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If you have a favorite muffin recipe, please feel free to share!  I might as well take this opportunity to try some new things and add as much variety as I can to E’s bland-ish diet.

Baked Milk Challenge

Last week we had E retested for her dairy, egg, and peanut allergies.  It’s been six months since her last blood test when her allergist was hopeful she was starting to outgrow her dairy allergy.

I already knew the peanut allergy was still going strong.  A month ago E had a reaction from cross contamination.  I gave her a piece of toast with cashew butter that was fresh ground in a machine right next to a peanut grinder.  Never again.  This pic was taken about six hours after exposure:

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I also expected we were still dealing with an egg allergy since we’ve had some suspected cross contamination reactions there as well.  I was correct in both of my suspicions–egg and peanut are both too high to do anything but retest again in six months and see if the IgE numbers have decreased any.

E’s milk numbers dipped low enough, though, that her allergist allowed us to try a baked milk challenge in the office.  They gave me a recipe for muffins (we still had to use an egg substitute) and we set up an appointment to monitor E after she ate them to see if she had any reactions.

Our appointment was at 8:45, almost an hour later than E’s normal breakfast time.  She would have to eat two muffins for the challenge, so I had to starve the poor child until we got to the allergist’s office.  By the time the challenge began, she was so excited to be presented with the 1/4 of a muffin she was allowed to start out with.  When she finished, we waited 20 minutes and monitored for a reaction.  There wasn’t one.

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Next she got half of a muffin and we watched her for 20 more minutes.  There was still no reaction.  I texted updates to B about every 15 minutes.  The last leg of the challenge was for E to eat a whole muffin, and we would monitor her for 45 minutes.  After the whole muffin, I texted B and we were both so thrilled that E wasn’t reacting.

No sooner had I texted him that last update than I noticed it:  all of my excitement and hope and optimism melting away as a rash appeared on her left cheek.

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I stepped into the hallway and summoned the allergist, who came in and examined E’s face.  He noted the rash and asked me to step out and let him know if it spread or got worse.

Over the next 20 minutes, the rash began to fade, but then more began to appear on other parts of her face–the other cheek, below her eye, in between the eyebrows.  I knew what this all meant but I refused to believe it until the allergist said the words himself: that E hadn’t passed the challenge.

What this means:  despite E’s super low IgE numbers for dairy, she can’t completely tolerate baked milk.  What this doesn’t mean:  that there’s no hope and we’re not making progress.  Though E reacted, it was mild enough that her allergist wants to continue exposing her to very small amounts of baked milk regularly in the hopes of building up a tolerance.  For the next six months, we’ll give E half a muffin, three times per week.  When we retest at her second birthday, the hope is that her numbers will have come down significantly and we can redo the challenge and pass with flying colors.

What THIS means:  I’ll be baking.  A lot.  Every single week.  The muffins need to be fresh, so there’s no batch baking and freezing here.

What THAT means:  I picked a good time to get back into running.  Mmmmmmmm muffinsssssss.

I had a nice little cry after we left the allergist’s office.  It’s a step in the right direction and for that I’m grateful.  But it’s tough, knowing that on your child’s second birthday she will still be unable to tolerate so many foods in a world that is awfully insensitive to dietary needs.  It’s a hard thing to accept.  But we will keep fighting and I will continue to hope.

Awareness

Let’s take a break from my usual E shenanigans to get real.

Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 14-20.  Before I had a child with food allergies, I never understood just how serious food allergies can be or how difficult they are to accommodate.

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Part of spreading awareness of food allergies is to help people who don’t deal with them, to learn about the seriousness and the risks involved.  The other part of it is something different and a little harder to explain.

Yesterday at work I was discussing an upcoming company picnic with some colleagues.  After asking if I can bring my own food for the cooks to grill for my daughter, a few people asked about E’s allergies.  I explained and one of them scoffed and said, “Oh my god, she is going to HATE life!”

Wait, what?  Is that the stigma attached to food allergies?  That the people who have them are suffering not from the effects of the allergens but from the fact that they can’t have cheese or peanut butter or wheat?

E is one of the happiest babies I know.  She loves food.  More importantly, she loves the food she can have.  She’s never had cheese or eggs or peanut butter.  She doesn’t know she’s “missing out” on any of these things.  But she does know that her almond milk yogurt and her pea protein milk and her Daiya “cheese” and her cashew butter are all delicious.  My husband and I don’t often snack on things she can’t have, but when we do and she wants to try some, we walk her to the pantry and find one of her snacks and she’s totally satisfied with it.  She doesn’t dwell on that food she didn’t get to try.

I know it won’t always be this way.  One day she’ll be old enough that we’ll have to explain to her why she can’t have things that other people are having.  We’ll have to make sure she is aware, just like I’m hoping to make others more aware.  But by the time that day comes, I’m hoping I’ve done a good enough job as a mother to ensure that she doesn’t hate her life because of food she doesn’t get to eat.

If you don’t know anyone with food allergies now, chances are you will meet one soon enough.  Today, one in 13 children is affected by a food allergy, and 15 million Americans have a food allergy (source:  FARE).  If there is anything you take away from this post, please let it be that people with food allergies are not miserable because of the foods they can’t eat.  It’s actually just the opposite:  they’re NOT miserable because they steer clear of the foods they can’t eat.  Every three minutes, a food allergy sends someone to the ER.  Would that be worth it for a bite of ice cream or a PB&J sandwich?  No.  Definitely not.

There is no substitute for milk

We’ve finished up a week of incorporating hemp milk into E’s diet, and let’s face it:  it’s not ideal.  By replacing just five ounces of E’s daily formula intake with hemp milk, the girl has been beyond ravenous.  We have to find another option.

badchoiceLet’s recap:  Cow’s milk is out.  Goat’s milk is out.  Hemp milk is out.  Soy milk is an option but I have my reservations about soy being a major source of E’s nutrition. Hypoallergenic toddler formula is an option but I have equal reservations about “corn syrup solids” being a major source of E’s nutrition.

So what do we do?

Since E drinks the hemp milk with no issues, I started researching methods of adding protein to nut milk.  What I found was a natural, brown rice-based toddler “protein powder.”  In a nutshell, it’s formula.  That’s not what it’s called, but that’s what it is.  You mix it with “your beverage of choice,” and it contains tons of protein as well as a whole plethora of vitamins and nutrients.  But unlike hypoallergenic formula, its ingredients are plant-based and they’re not scary words that give me nightmares about what I’m feeding to my daughter.

It’s on order (arriving today), so we haven’t tried it yet.  I’ll be back with updates, but until then, my fingers are crossed.  There is no substitute for milk.  I’m just reaching into my bag of tricks to see if I can find something that will work for E.

One Year Old!

E turned a year old on Thursday!  Here’s what life for E looks like at 12 months:

  • She is 20 pounds, 13 ounces, and she’s 29 1/2 inches tall.
  • She sleeps from 7:30-7, with two naps totaling 2-3 hours.
  • She eats three meals a day with two or three snacks; she still has three small bottles of formula each day.
  • She can say “mama,” “dada,” “kitty,” “that,” and “more.”
  • She has ten teeth, if you count the three that are currently on their way out – eight in front, and two molars.
  • Her favorite foods are yogurt (almond or coconut milk), all types of meat, wheat bread, pineapple, zucchini noodles, cereal, and graham crackers.
  • Her bedtime routine is a bath, a bottle, and a book.
  • She loves to drink water, but only through a straw.
  • She can wave, clap, high five, and dance.
  • She’s not walking yet, but she cruises on the furniture like nobody’s business.
  • She’s in size 12 month clothing, size two shoes (come on feet, groowwwww), and size 3 diapers.
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Happy birthday!  E’s (vegan) cake smash.

Now that E is a year old, we talked to her pediatrician about her source of milk since she can’t have…well, milk. I have concerns about soy milk and estrogen, but E’s doctor reassured me that he finds it no worse than cow’s milk when looking at the risk of tampering with hormones. Because of E’s allergies, we can consider keeping her on formula and also giving her soy milk and almond milk, while supplementing with a multivitamin. I’ve done some reading and have also decided to see how she does with hemp milk.

We’re still very much experimenting with meals. This is what E’s normal meal schedule looks like:

  • Breakfast: 6 oz bottle of formula
  • Snack: Fruit and Cheerios
  • Lunch: Some type of seasoned meat, a fruit or veggie, and either half a slice of bread or half a container of almond/coconut milk yogurt
  • “Snack”: 3-4 oz bottle of formula

I posted recently about the things we have tried for dinner. Since then, we’ve had tacos (E’s were deconstructed, and she LOVED it), a vegan Creamy Garlic Pasta that we ALL hated, and turkey breakfast burgers made from scratch, which were fantastic.

I’m really trying to mix things up and expose E to a wider variety of foods, but it is so hard when there are still a lot of things she can’t eat (choking hazards and such) and when we’re dealing with three major food allergies.  B is out of town for work right now and he’s a supremely picky eater. So while it’s just me and E for a few days, we’re going to try some recipes B would refuse to eat. I’m looking forward to posting updates!

Walk Hard

E will be a year old in just over two weeks.  She only started to pull up and cruise on the furniture about a month ago, and she refuses to let us hold her hands and try to help her walk.  I’ve been saying for a couple of months now that I think she’ll be 14 or 15 months old before she’s walking.

Boy, did I eat my words.

Last week, E discovered she can pull herself up on her high chair and the kitchen chairs and push them around the kitchen.  She walks this way like nobody’s business, and she’s extremely proud of herself for doing so.

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She thinks it looks much better over here in the corner.

A few nights ago, E was standing up while holding on to the recliner in the living room.  I was sitting on the floor a couple of feet away.  E let go and wobbled slightly before taking one step toward me.  When she lifted her other foot for the second step, she tumbled to the ground–but SHE TOOK A BLEEPING STEP!  At 11 months!

She hasn’t taken any steps since then but she has tried.  She’s consistently letting go of the furniture now and standing as long as she can on her own (record is a whopping five seconds, woop woop).  I don’t think this girl is going to take 2-3 more months before she’s actually walking.

Now I have to figure out what to do with her footwear.  She’s still in size 2 shoes and the shoes they make for 3-6 month olds don’t cut it for walking.  Time to do some research and find her a good pair of beginner walking shoes!

Eight months

I’m making a promise to myself to set down the stupid Candy Crush game when E is sleeping and actually do some damn blogging.

Speaking of the word “damn,” E is starting to try forming real words, so I’ve also made a promise to myself to quit swearing in her presence.  I told my coworkers to expect me to cuss a lot more at work from now on because it’s my designated swearing time.  In all seriousness, E’s favorite word right now is “gaga” and B is convinced she’s saying “dada.”  So naturally I’m on a mission to get her to say “mama” first.  I read somewhere once that more babies say “dada” first because it’s easier for them to make the D sound than the M sound, but…B and I are very competitive.

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E turned eight months old this week.  She’s crawling now and it’s still 75% an army crawl but she’s starting to figure out she can get around on her hands and knees.  Even army crawling she’s too fast for me sometimes.  I can’t leave her in a room unattended for more than ten seconds at a time now.  I’ve found myself feeling grateful for her exersaucer because it’s the one and only place I can put her down when I’m trying to get all of our stuff ready to head out the door in the morning.

E has always been really easygoing with new people, but in the past few weeks stranger anxiety has kicked in.  It used to be that E would always light up when she met someone new but now she stares at them skeptically, frowns, and then turns to me and starts to cry.  It’s so out of character for her that it’s been a strange adjustment for me, but I know it’s just her age and that eventually it will pass.  In the meantime, I’ve started warning new people that they might make her cry and it’s nothing personal.

It’s been three months since E’s first two teeth came in on the bottom, and the top two have finally broken through her gums.  The process has been long, painful, and full of sleepless nights.  Oof.

The best news of all is that E’s eczema is almost nonexistent these days!  We switched from breastmilk to hypoallergenic formula almost two months ago, and for the past month E has not had any eczema issues.  I feel certain that the daily peanut butter I’d been eating hadn’t had time to filter out of my system when I was still pumping.  I’m so glad we had the allergy testing done!

Lastly, I’m happy to report that E is finally growing some hair!  It took seven months but I no longer have a 90% bald baby girl.  HA!