Monday, December 20, 2010

New wrinkle in our lives

The largest welt is the site for peanuts (7x9mm)

Today we became members of a honestly somewhat undesirable club, Ceci was diagnosed with an allergy to peanuts today.  She tested positive to a scratch test, with a sizable welt to peanuts, but also reacted mildly to Cashew, Pistachio, Pecan, and Hazelnuts.  I now understand entirely why she has always turned her cute little button nose up at my delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Honestly I have to laugh at myself a little though, keeping her gluten free was the easiest move, while the thought of becoming a nut free household has me a little anxious.  I seriously love peanut butter, I would and have eaten it everyday when left unchecked, but its the health of my child in question, so out it goes, without a second thought.  My anxiety is based in being able to thoroughly check all her food and keep a vigilant watch for any thing that could hurt her.  The doctor tells me that I don't have to worry about her reacting to it if it's in the house, that she can survive that, and the decision to go nut free is mine to make.

It all became clear last Wednesday after I gave Ceci two Reese's pieces and told her they were M&M's, not thinking anything of it until she had already eaten them.  I was eating a couple of Milk Duds and she asked for one, I knew that was a bad idea, so I reached into the bag of Reese's pieces for her.  She loves M&M's so I just oversimplified the situation and told her what she wanted to hear.  Moments after she ate them it hits me that she has actively avoided peanut butter her whole short life and I got worried.  I tried to assess her as the evening wore on, she started in with "my teeth hurt" almost immediately, which was odd, but she is getting her two year molars so I thought maybe she was right.  For the next hour and a half she made a horrible whimpering noise, was extra clingy, lethargic, and kept complaining her teeth hurt.  It wasn't until Tim got home that she finally told him her mouth hurt, then went to the bathroom where I thought she needed to pee.  I put her on the potty, where she proceeded to projectile vomit across the bathroom floor.  I regret having fed her a smoothie that afternoon.  It was everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  We acted quickly and efficiently and got everything cleaned including Ceci, and as I scrubbed fuchsia pink puke off the floor, the light bulb over my head clicked on with a 120 watt bulb!  Peanuts!  Holy Mackerel!!  It's peanuts!

About a month ago she got sick on the airplane as we were loading to go to Oregon, we had eaten Pad Thai for dinner that night.  The airport restaurant mixed peanuts into the dish, whereas the place we usually go to puts them on the side and she doesn't touch them.  Now we understand better what happened that night, and why she got sick.

It all makes sense now!  Both times she got sick, she was fine after she got the peanuts out of her body, with no problems afterward.  Now with those two experiences, I made an appointment with the allergist and got her checked.  I feel much better now knowing what she is allergic to and what we need to avoid.  So far if she can actually see or smell the peanuts she won't eat them, I have my fingers crossed that this little skill sticks with her for a very long time.  To be sure though we will continue reading labels and ingredient lists now checking for gluten sources and nut sources.  I will also work to keep my recipes nut free for her, and I know it won't be to hard because so many people already live with nut allergies and I can use their knowledge and experience to educate myself and our family.

If anyone has suggestions of helpful or educational websites, let me know, I'm very curious and in need of education on how to avoid nuts.

Coconut Macaroons

One of my favorite cookies growing up, it was one of the few things my mom could find commercially made so it was a rare treat to have a store bought cookie.  That sounds so backwards, a kid getting excited to have a store bought cookie, but it did make me feel a bit normal that I could have something at the store, never mind how happily spoiled I was to always have home made cookies.  I didn't learn to make these until 2 years ago when I found a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, inspiring me to make macaroons for myself.  I was very displeased with the resulting cookies from that recipe and have spent the last two years tweaking the recipe to my preferences.  I'm now very happy with the cookies that  I create from this recipe and often get compliments for them, I get even more complements when I drizzle them with chocolate.  Yummm...

Some words of advice when making these, egg whites are incredibly temperamental, and need lots of attention.  It's not a good idea to make these cookies during the Long Island summers when the humidity is unbearable, the eggs just don't set up correctly.  And now in the winter I had to coax them a little with a warm damp towel wrapped around the base of my kitchenaid stainless steel bowl, and this is after I warmed the bowl it self.  Did I mention we keep our house unreasonably cold in the winter?  If you don't then maybe the eggs won't be so upset with you.

Coconut Macaroons

2  Egg Whites
1  tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
1  14 oz package of flaked Coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).  Line 1 large cookie sheet with parchment or use a silpat.  In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl when beater is pulled out).  Add salt, and then sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight when beater is pulled out).  Fold in coconut

Using a small cookie scoop, drop coconut mixture in mounds on prepared cookie sheets.  Place in the oven and bake 20-25 min, leave in oven and turn oven off.  Let cookies dry in oven for  10-12 min, then remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To drizzle with chocolate, melt 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave, or a double boiler.  Place macaroons on wax paper and dip a spoon into the chocolate and wave over the top of the cookies until chocolate is used up.  You can also dip the macaroons into the chocolate if you prefer, you'll just need to melt more chocolate.

Store in airtight container at room temperature for 3 days, or freeze up to 3 months.