Gratefulfoodie

http://www.gratefulfoodie.com/

Life with food allergies can be challenging, rewarding and down right fabulous. Savoring life with a tool kit full of parent stories, recipes, links and info for schools, products and ideas is Caroline's goal enjoyed by thousands worldwide.

Caroline is a winner of Top 25 Food Allergy Moms - 2012

What's your best advice for a mom struggling with cooking for children with food allergies?

Find other moms managing the same food allergies.  They have walked in your heels. They are your future. Believe it or not, but one day you too will turn and help another overwhelmed mom.

Thanks to the Internet, we can meet other mothers 24/7 on-line to share stories, offer support and recipe successes and failures!  Not only do we need recipes, but need support and understanding on how to call manufacturers, what recipes are kid winners, which travel well, Holiday ideas, etc.

I enjoy cooking blog sites that give opinions on what ingredients do NOT work, such as when an egg replacer just isn't enough, or that soy milk can be over powering in some gluten free baking.

The day I met our allergist 12 years ago, he explained that I will learn the most of what I need to know from the other food allergy moms attending the same support group meeting.  He was absolutely right!

I was the luckiest food allergy mama on the day a food allergy Mom, who I had just met, dropped off a bag of safe foods at my front door.  She simply explained, "I know you are overwhelmed and here are some groceries to get you started." She was right, I did not know what to cook for my son right after diagnosis.

Her kind gesture sparked an entire program of purchasing safe foods for newly diagnosed families in my town.

Her child had a very similar list of allergens and the feeling of relief and gratitude brought tears to my eyes.  I truly felt blessed and welcomed into the food allergy community.  She included foods that had never crossed my mind and that I didn't even know existed.

Wild Oats (no longer operating in Nevada) partnered with my local food allergy parent group to help us create a program of meeting up with newly diagnosed families at the grocery store to help them read labels and discover safe foods.

I can honesty say that learned and continue to learn the most from other food allergy families.   Thanks to the Internet, we can meet other mothers 24/7 on-line to share stories, offer support and best of all....recipes!

What's your favorite allergy friendly product?

My favorite product that is edible is the Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spreads that are dairy free, Vegan and some are soy free too.  Without these, my beloved dairy free baking would have been very limiting!  Mashed potatoes and sauces would be a thing of the past.  We do not eat hydrogenated oil in our household, so this line was a culinary God-send!

My favorite non-edible product is my children's Epi Pen carriers!  Both use different styles from different companies since my teenage boy would rather have bamboo shoots tucked under his nails if seen with a funky printed carrier.

My nine year old daughter couldn't be bothered with my son's 'boring' carrier either.  Therefore, my son enjoys the manly look of the carriers from www.onespotallergy.com while www.allergyapparel.com rocks it out for daughter with their huge, fun and interesting collection.

What's the biggest challenge raising a child with food allergies?

The biggest challenge raising two food allergic children was and still is, learning to let go. In addition, to learning to how gradually raise children that will leave the nest and go to college as well adjusted and self advocating food allergic young adults.  

Truly, this was on my mind since the first day of diagnosis!  I was so absorbed and overwhelmed that I couldn't even think ahead to college and the thought of not controlling the universe.

At the beginning of each school year, I consciously pause and give myself goals for teaching age appropriate independence. It is my natural desire to put them in a bubble, read every label, talk to every human that may ever come in contact with them and be mama bear until the cows come home.  Clearly, this is a bad plan.

The toughest moments come at the various stages of development.  Such as, my son is a high school freshman this year.  This meant passing the baton of speaking to his peers about this food allergies, socializing and girls!  I think I popped a few gray hairs this year quite honestly.  Learning to trust and allowing him to take more control is challenging to say the least.  

We sneak away to our local coffee house and chat about how he plans on managing these topics.  I bring up the challenge and then ask him his plan while not being judgmental, but keeping that fine line of ensuring safety. I have to gently guide him to possibly better plans of attack.

Our first big independent moment came when he was five years old and he was allowed to carry his own rescue medications. He carried that same old green backpack up until this year!

Freshman year is really putting me to the test and each week there seems to be always a new challenge, but I have to say, that so far, he has made great choices. The day he was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies, I felt like I took one deep breath in and I've been waiting all these years to exhale. I keep wondering if I am in the spot to begin my exhale so that my son can take over?

How do you ensure your child's food allergy safety?

Caroline Moassessi

We have a strict policy: eat only items brought from home or pre-screened packaged foods. Period. Certain "safe" restaurants are okay too. No matter what, each morning we run through a mental check list trying to determine eat meal. If my kids will visit friends, we have a discuss long before the visit regarding food. Sometimes I send over pasta and a jar of safe sauce. Other times, if I know the family well enough to establish they understand cooking for a food allergic, they might eat food cooked there. The bottom line: create and stick to your family's policy and don't budge.
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What's your family's favorite Thanksgiving treat? Please link to your recipe.

Caroline Moassessi

We started this tradition only last year. As a family, we bake Thankful cupcakes! The picture says it all! They are Vegan, nut free, dairy free and egg free so all of our food allergy needs are met. Then Mama here writes on top of the smooth ganache items we're all thankful for! Some are funny some are serious. It's great fun reading all the words of gratitude.
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