We often see training courses for things like CPR and how to use a defibrillator when someone is experiencing cardiac arrest, etc. but have you ever seen a course about what to do when someone is having an allergic reaction, especially a severe one? Have you ever heard of a course that addresses anaphylaxis and how to deal with it in an emergency? No? Well now you have. Elizabeth Goldenberg, a lawyer and allergy expert who has been working tirelessly to better the lives of allergic families and help keep their children safe, has finally done it.
Co-founded by Allergist Dr. Mark Greenwald and Elizabeth Goldenberg (from onespotallergy.com)
EpiCenter™Medical offers an online anaphylaxis first aid training course that can be completed via your computer at your convenience in the comfort of your favourite chair. The course is offered to individuals and also groups such as school staff, restaurant workers, travel industry personnel etc. This online course focuses on a number of issues surrounding a severe allergic reaction. It defines what an allergy is and how being exposed to an allergen can cause anaphylaxis. The course also addresses how to correctly administer an EpiPen
(the most common of epinephrine auto injectors, though similar rules apply to any auto injector such as the new Allerject
) and what to do after epinephrine has been given. In addition, it also points out the legal consequences of not taking action during an allergic reaction emergency.
But wait, there is more...
EpiCenter Medical also provides Epi-Kits™ that include epinephrine and can be used to save lives in places like schools and food establishments. This is especially convenient for those who choose to complete the course as a group, such as a large firm, as they can purchase several Epi-Kits and store them around the office in convenient and easily accessible locations in the event that epinephrine is needed to save a life. I think this is a great idea that also helps spread awareness about anaphylaxis.
The First Aid For Anaphylaxis course is an excellent tool for anyone dealing with life threatening allergies but it's even more important for those who are not experienced with severe allergies but who look after someone living with life threatening allergies. Say for example someone like a babysitter, grandparents, neighbour, or even a best friend. Anaphylaxis first aid training was practically unheard of before now. I am excited and thrilled that EpiCenter has addressed this absence. I am also impressed with the terminology used throughout the course. Statements are clear and direct. Everything from the slogan "Don't delay, there is no other way" down to the details in the course itself displays professionalism along with creativity. The designers of the course used simple words and catchy phrases that are easy to process and remember. The course also provides accurate terminology for symptoms and events that can be understood by anyone. Words like "anaphylaxis" and "anaphylactic shock" are often not recognized by someone unfamiliar with allergies. This course replaces these words with terms like "allergic emergency" for example, which can easily be understood by anyone.
People who complete the course become S.A.V.E. Certified and officially recognized as some one who can S
ictims in an E
mergency. This is a desperately needed course that I think serves a niche. I would recommend this course to any one who might be dealing with allergic reactions in the work place or educational setting. But I strongly urge anyone who will be looking after a child with life threatening food allergies to complete this course. It is a life saver - pun totally intended.
To learn more about EpiCenter Medical and the anaphylaxis online training course please visit them at http://epipentraining.com
. You can also find them on facebook
. And if or when you do complete the course please give feedback and spread the word. In the allergy world, I think we all dream of a world where epinephrine is readily available everywhere and can be found in a basic emergency kit.
Two weeks ago a new auto injector, called Allerject, was introduced to the Canadian market. It's a new option for people living with severe allergies and anaphylaxis. It comes in adult dosage and junior dosage. Made by Sanofi Canada
, Allerject has a number of features that make it unique and unlike any other auto injector on the market.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with the CEO of Sanofi Canada, Jon Fairest; a very friendly fellow. Many of my questions were about the usage and features of Allerject but what stood out during our conversation is Sanofi's patient-centred approach. It seems like Sanofi Canada values the opinions of patients who will be using Allerject and shares an interest in their well being. The Allerject was designed by two brothers who themselves live with severe food allergies, so most likely, they have a very good idea of what MY life is like, what MY needs are, and what would put MY mind at ease. And they did just that. The Allerject is designed by
patients. I like it already.
Sanofi was kind enough to provide me with a trainer which I've included a photo of here for your viewing pleasure.
As you know, my family and I have been using EpiPen ever since we found out about our daughter's allergies. I like EpiPen and it has saved my daughter's life on more than one occasion. It has served us well in the past but it had it's shortcomings and is long overdue for a change. I won't delve into a comparison of the mechanics of EpiPen versus Allerject. That's too technical and I have a nasty cold that's had its death grip on me for the past week so only half my brain cells are functioning currently. I'll be brief.
Will I switch from EpiPen to Allerject and why? (Told you I'll be brief) The short answer: Yes, as soon as I can get my hands on a prescription I will be ordering Allerject, both adult and junior, for my husband and daughter. Allerject has many features that make it worth while investigating. There are some key features that won me over. Here they are...
They weren't kidding when they said Allerject is compact. It is about the size of a credit card and the thickness of a cell phone. I took photos of it next to my iPhone. Take a look...
It really fits in the pocket of a shirt or jacket, which I find perfect. This is particularly useful for people like my husband who often did not carry his EpiPen (GASP!) because it was bulky, long and just did not fit into a normal size pocket. For my little girl, long auto injectors proved inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable. Her tiny waist was occupied by the entire length of the EpiPen when attached unto the belt. With Allerject, that problem no longer exists. It fits nicely into her carrier and is a lot less bulky and so she is more comfortable.
Allerject inside the case
EpiPen inside the case
Yes, it talks! Allerject literally talks you through the steps of using it during an emergency and actually counts with you from 1 to 5 while you press and hold the injector. This is definitely a new feature and one I haven't seen before but greatly appreciate. One of the main drawbacks of other injectors is the fact that the instructions written on the label were incredibly small. Most people I know had to take out there glasses just to see the fine print. Therefore, we had to create a folder that has the instructions in a normal size font so that it would be easier to administer the medication. However, that meant that now there would be two items that had to be stored and often times may get separated and well.. you know how it goes. Long story short, Allerject's voice instructions eliminate that problem as well. My mom no longer has to go hunting for her glasses to be able to read the tiny instructions on a label. Also, the voice is very clear and loud enough to be heard in a classroom. Click here
to listen to Allerject.
After using the trainer, I found that Allerject is very simple to use. There aren't too many parts to take out. I simply had to remove it from the sleeve and pull on the red cap, then use the device. What I like even more, is the fact that the needle is not visible at all, before, during or after using Allerject. This is very important for children or those who are afraid or apprehensive about needles. For example, the needle on the EpiPen terrified not only my daughter, but also those who had to use the EpiPen on her as well. With the Allerject, that fear may be lessened because the needle is not visible. I also like the fact that it only needs 5 seconds to administer the medication and that a light comes on to indicate that it's been successfully delivered. In addition, there is a loud click and hiss once you inject it which lets you know that Allerject is working correctly. I LOVE technology!
What I find profoundly different about Allerject is that it's the equivalent of Epinephrine for Dummies so to speak. The simplicity along with the voice instructions (which are available in English or French in Canada)
make it very user friendly, especially for those who have never used an auto injector previously or even ones who've never heard of such devices. I was at a friend's get together last week and none of the women there are trained or aware of how to use an auto injector. I showed them both, an EpiPen trainer and the Allerject trainer, and asked which would they prefer. Allerject won with a unanimous vote. Their words: "It's hands down the better option; it doesn't make sense to use another injector?" I think the voice instructions alone sell Allerject. It's important to note that the injection mechanism is not dependent on the voice instructions which are battery operated. I understood from my interview with Sanofi's CEO that the battery is designed to outlast the drug expiry date, so there is no worry about the battery dying. However, in the event that the voice instructions malfunction, Allerject can still be used and will administer the medication independent of the audio instructions.
Allerject was also well received by the local allergy clinic here. I was told that our allergist is in favour of it, so are the nurses. They have already started introducing patients to Allerject and using the trainer to show them how it works. Friends and family like it as well. More importantly, school staff find it a lot more appealing and simpler to use. They prefer it over other auto injectors.
Allerject has other features which you can learn more about here
. For me though, the top three were it's size, voice instructions and simplicity, not to mention the fact that it's a few dollars cheaper
than EpiPen. If we ever get to use it during an allergic reaction (and I hope not)
I will be sure to post an update. Until then, I really think that Allerject is a one of a kind auto injector, one that is definitely going to give EpiPen a run for it's money.
My little girl is going to school this year. There's no question that she will need to carry her EpiPen on her at all times. The problem I've encountered with many EpiPen belts is that they are either a) too expensive, b) too bulky and get in the way, or c) not very comfortable because of the way they fit. Also, the problem was compounded by the fact that my daughter has such a tiny waist, so small that it's about the length of an EpiPen. When she wears the EpiPen with a holder, it literally covers her waist from side to side and is even bigger, making it extremely inconvenient and uncomfortable. I tried to get her to wear several different varieties of EpiPen holders and she always came back ten minutes later demanding to remove it. That is until I found Onespot Allergy's EpiPen holder. It is truly the best in my opinion. It's flexible and can easily accommodate two EpiPens although we only keep one inside it and because it's not bulky, my daughter loves it and finds it comfortable. She put it on the first time and kept it on for an hour without any complaints. The next day, she wore it for the entire day while we were out. Now, she wears it any time she's leaving the house. She has no problems with it and loves the colour (very bright pink/I need my sunglasses pink)
, flexibility and comfort.
Here's my detailed review of The Best EpiPen Belt
by Onespot Allergy. I've included a picture of my daughter wearing it. As you can see, it takes the entire length of her waist. If only I
could get my waist to be that small...
What is the Best EpiBelt? What does it do?
Onespot Allergy states that The Best EpiPen Belt is simply the most discreet and comfortable way to wear one to four EpiPens. These belts fit the newly designed EpiPen or any other injector and can be ordered with one or two slide-on extra pockets to hold asthma inhalers or puffers, Benadryl, cell phones, or other personal items. The slide-on pouch can also be used separately to slide onto a regular belt or like a holster, by attaching a hook and hanging it on a belt loop or bag.
Who is the EpiBelt for?
It's for kids and adults or anyone who needs to carry an EpiPen. It comes in a 'One Size Fits All' but there is an option for extra small belts (for those tiny waists like my daughter who only eats carbs once every blue moon). The 'One Size Fits All' adjusts to fit children to adults size 36 (it adjusts from 24 inches to 50 inches). The 'Extra Small' is available for waists 14 inches to 23 inches. The EpiBelts are machine washable in cold water and hang to dry. In our case, we purchased one extra small belt for my daughter. I wish that I could buy the extra small for myself but I'm aware that shrinking my waist to 23 inches is a pipe dream. So I just went ahead and purchased one adult size belt for myself. Mine is black but the pink one looks adorable so I used it for the purpose of this review.
How is the EpiBelt used?
I don't need to go into details about this part because Elizabeth Goldenberg (the founder of Onespot Allergy and a mother of an allergic child)
actually has a very informative video showing how to use the belt which you can view here
. Essentially, the EpiPen remains in its clear plastic tube and is inserted into the fabric pouch and zipped up. A puffer and Benadryl or other medication can be placed in the same pouch, or you can purchase a second pouch for them. Keep in mind though, the more stuff you put into the pouch, the bulkier it's going to get. This may not bother an adult but for little kids (especially ones with small frames)
bulky belts are unappealing and bothersome. My daughter is easily able to remove the belt by herself. Therefore, it was necessary to find a belt she likes and would wear. The last thing I want is for her to take off the belt and walk around without her EpiPen. For the purpose of carrying one or two EpiPens, Onespot Allergy's EpiBelt is excellent.
What’s good about the EpiBelt? Anything bad to report?
I haven't encountered any problems with this belt so far (nothing bad to report!? Shocking, I know), so I have no negative things to say about it. What I like about this EpiBelt is that it is not bulky like a fanny pack. The waist band is made of black thick elastic, and the zipper and clasps are very durable. The pouch is about one inch wide when empty and made of spandex/nylon, similar to the fabric used in swimsuits, so it's very stretchy which is why it can easily expand to accommodate more than one EpiPen leaving no extra fabric hanging around to get in the way. The pouch is stitched securely onto the waist band, so it does not roll forward or sag. The belt is easily hidden under a t-shirt and will not cause clothes to cling to it. Here's a demonstration of how stretchy it is...
You can also purchase belts and extra pockets for puffers and inhalers separately. In addition there is a waterproof option that you can purchase separately. I think Elizabeth thought of everyone who's living with allergies and their needs. That's why all these options are available. I'm not going to deny that I like purchasing from companies whose owners/developers are themselves parents of allergic children. It just makes it so much easier because they understand my concerns and I don't feel like I'm coming across as a difficult or demanding customer. My personal correspondence with Elizabeth has been pleasant and informative. I think Onespot Allergy's customer service is exemplary.
Is the EpiBelt worth the money?
I think it's definitely worth every penny. No one wants to be rummaging through their back pack or purse to find the EpiPen during an allergic reaction. I certainly don't want my daughter to have to wait while the teacher looks for the EpiPen in her backpack. The belt makes the EpiPen immediately accessible and also ensures that it is the epipen that belongs to my daughter which is the correct dosage for her. If there is more than one EpiPen in the school (and this is common), I do not want my child to be accidentally given a larger dose or something entirely different. Having immediate access to the EpiPen is the best treatment for an allergic reaction and the EpiBelt makes that possible.
How much does it cost? And where can I buy it?
Currently the belts are available on Onespot Allergy
for $25.00 plus shipping and handling. Shipping prices are reasonable and start at $3.95 to any address in the USA or Canada. Visa, Mastercard and PayPal are the available payment methods. However, selection and pricing may vary from the time this review was written.
Now, give yourself some peace of mind and buy one of those belts today. I think it's really the best option and is far superior to any of the other EpiPen belts on the market today. Yeah, and that includes the makeshift belts that are made of elastic and a pencil case, or the ones where the components were purchased at the dollar store. My creativity shines in the kitchen; sewing is an entirely different story...
Like many other parents, I wish that daycare and schools had RFID inventory systems (the same one used by NASA)
installed in their buildings. Children (and parents)
would never lose anything again. But, mere mortals living in the twilight zone like me, have limited options. I wanted something simple because I'm a fairly simple person, although my husband would beg to differ. He would tell you that my logic could stump the greatest philosophical minds of our century because I simply don't make sense. But that's a story for another time. I wanted labels that are near indestructible, functional, eye catching and inexpensive; labels that made sure I sent the message across and also kept my daughter's belongings from getting lost. Mabel's Labels came to the rescue. Mabel's Labels is simple and works for us.What is Mabel's Labels and what do they do?
Mabel's Labels is a group of moms that created labels for the stuff kids lose. According to Mabel's Labels, sticky labels and clothing labels are dishwasher, microwave and laundry safe, and customized with a child’s name, choice of colours and icon. They also offer child safety products and household labels. They continuously create innovative labels for babies, kids and grown-ups. Their labels include multi-purpose, iron-on, and peel and stick that are laundry safe. Why should I buy it?
Simply put, the more aware people are of your child's allergies, the safer it is for him/her. I like all of the Mabel's Labels products, but I am especially impressed with their Allergy Alerts
. So far, they are the best I have seen and tried. They are very simple, clear, and direct and you can include up to six allergies. The label includes your child's name and their specific allergen in which ever way you want to word it. Allergy Alerts are bright red (a perfect eye catching color)
and are very visible on lunchboxes, pencil cases, folders, desks, chairs, etc. They're a good investment and a great tool to identify what belongs to your child.How is it used and how does it work?
The Mabel's Labels product line includes many labels, too many to list here. My favourite product is Allergy Alerts, but I also like and use many of their other labels. Here's a quick run down of the product line listed on their web site.Sticky Labels and Skinny-Minis
™ are dishwasher/microwave safe, peel and stick labels. These bestselling products are extremely versatile and long-lasting.Iron-Ons and Tag Mates
™ are laundry safe and designed to adhere to almost any fabric. Shoe labels are extra tough, waterproof labels that peel and stick to the insoles of footwear.Bag Tags and Teeny Tags
™ are sturdy metal tags to attach to everything from backpacks to pencil cases.Household Labels
are developed by professional organizers, and organize everything from storage bins, food containers and spice jars to craft supplies, electronics cords and trash cans.Kid safety products
are designed to give parents peace of mind. "My 411 Wristbands" are durable, disposable bands customized with names, phone numbers and other important information. Allergy Alerts remind caregivers of allergies and other special needs.Okay, so what's so special about Mabel's Labels?
Other than the fact that they provide labels for almost everything under the sun (you can even label your kids if you wanted to)
, two things are going for Mabel's Labels: their customer service and the quality of their products.
Their customer service staff is exceptional, especially the Live Chat feature on their web site. They are incredibly sweet and professional. The quality of the allergy labels is unlike anything I've seen. I have used them on dishes, cups, and what have you. They have been into the dishwasher, on the sterilize option (steaming hot)
; they have been scrubbed in the sink; they have been picked at by little fingers; they have been in below zero temperatures outside. They are not only intact, but look like they have just been applied! They did not fade, tear, or come off.
Observe. This is an Allergy Alert label that I applied almost 4 years ago. Note that I stuck on a little thing to cover the name but this is where your child's name goes. You can even see the difference between the allergy label and the original store label on the bowl. Look how faded the store label is in comparison. I think that says a lot about the quality of the Allergy Alerts.
And this is a brand new label that has not been used yet. I also stuck a little thing here to cover the name, you know, to keep things anonymous and happy.
Mabel's Labels also has seasonal combo packs
which are very economical and customizable. They commonly offer limited edition Camp Combos or Back to School Combos. They also have other combos like Basic Kit, Big Kaboodle or Loot Bag for party favors or personalized gifts.
Mabel's Labels is not just for kids; it's for adults too. They offer household labels
for almost everything in the house. It's especially great for control freaks like myself who like to organize everything. You know, everything in it's place and a place for everything, that's me. I've finally convinced my husband that the floor is NOT one big shelf. Currently I'm trying to teach my daughter the concept of rent and income, so that she understands that she owns her room but I own the rest of the house, therefore Buzz Lightyear has to stay within the confines of the spaceship that is her room and Nemo can't have a sleepover with the Ninja Turtles on my kitchen counter. Anyway, I like to have my canisters organized and controlled; I like to have things labeled. It really helps me sleep at night when I know that I can open the cupboard and at a glance see where and what things are. And it also helps me sleep at night when the sink is clean, but that's besides the point. Anyway, Mabel's Labels offers Custom Canister & Spice labels and even have Cord Control labels, Classroom Pack labels, and all other sorts of different labels.How much does it cost?
Given that their most expensive combo is under $50, I think that Mabel's Labels is affordable and cost effective. The labels are durable and versatile so your purchase does not go to waste. Also, Allergy Alerts are $18.50 for 20 of them. I think the price is good and for the value I get out of them, I would definitely purchase them again. Their prices are in Canadian dollars and standard mail shipping is free in Canada on all orders. Standard shipping to the USA is free for orders over $49.Possible cons (otherwise known as 'room for improvement')
The only possible downside that I can think of, is perhaps that you can only include up to six allergens on the Allergy Alerts. At six allergies, the text becomes smaller and may not be as visible as say two allergies. However, the fact that there is a label that has allergies listed on it should at least open the door for more questions and conversations about all the things your child is allergic to.
Although Mabel's Labels offers labels in a variety of colours and symbols that are customizable with an abundance of options to choose from, the Allergy Alerts come in only one colour: bright red. Some people may want the option to choose other colours but in my opinion the red colour is perfect because it acts as a warning or caution sign. When people see it, they realize that my daughter has allergies. It's not only a name tag; it's a medical statement.So what's the verdict?
If you are looking for bright, visible, durable, and reliable allergy labels, Mabel's Labels is the answer. I've used many of their products and I like all of them, but I highly recommend their Allergy Alerts for children with multiple food allergies. I've purchased from Mabel's Labels multiple times and have been very happy with my order every single time.Where to buy it?
You can buy Allergy Alerts and many other labels from www.mabelslabels.com
. They accept Visa, Mastercard and PayPal payments and also offer a satisfaction guarantee if you are not happy with your order.
I hope that you've found this review helpful. Check out Mabel's Labels and share your opinion!
One of the many lessons I learned when I first got thrown into the allergy world is that there are a lot of people out there who are ready to judge you. Those on the outside who do not have to deal with life threatening food allergies either completely sympathize with you but want nothing to do with you or they think you are some sort of wackjob nutcase who's recently escaped from a mental facility and worships satan in their free time - and also want nothing to do with you. Then there are people within the allergy community, the ones who totally get it and understand completely what you are going through because they are going through the same thing, and on the other end of the field are the people who live with allergies everyday and so believe that this somehow gives them the right to judge you and how you deal with your child's allergies.
I've met some really generous and understanding parents within the allergy community, many of whom I still connect with today. But I've also met some strangely rigid and insufferable parents. Many allergy parents were shocked (aka judgmental and almost wagged their finger at me)
when they discovered that I still consume foods that contain my daughter's allergens, even when I explained that I do not feed my daughter those things and that I am absolutely careful when eating such foods. Several parents asked how I could possibly keep my daughter safe, and some parents even flat out scolded me and claimed that I was endangering my child. None of those parents had kids with multiple food allergies. It was always the parents dealing with a single allergy. They most likely felt it was easier to ban the allergen altogether than to deal with it. And you know what, I disagree with that. But you know what, I don't have the right to judge so they can do whatever works for them. Because this is what it all comes down to. What works for one family may not work for another and vice versa.
Of those parents (specifically the ones dealing only with peanut allergy)
, many claimed that they do not allow their kids to consume anything remotely resembling peanut butter, in smell, flavor or otherwise. They do not bring it into their house and they do not consume it elsewhere. That's fine because it works for them. And that's also fine because that is their choice. But we are dealing with multiple allergies. Like many of the other allergy parents, my daughter is allergic to a number of foods, dairy being the most severe. If I were to take the same approach, I would never be able to get her to drink anything that looks like milk. That would practically disqualify any healthy alternative out there. They all look white just like milk and some of them even smell like milk. In fact, if I were to apply this whole nonsense about not eating things that look like allergens our daughter would not be able to eat anything really. Come on, crackers, cakes, cookies, sandwiches? All these things can be done without allergens, but you cannot distinguish them from the ones baked with dairy or peanuts just by looking at them and smelling them. So, in this household, the rule is, if it is not from home and not inspected by Mom and Dad then it is a no go and that is final and set in stone. Unless it has cleared the Allergy Mom customs and immigration, and approved for landing on your plate, it cannot be brought anywhere near the mainland. End of story, over and out. That is a safer alternative that works for us.
Now that I've bored you with the details of my philosophy on dealing with allergies let's move on. We are peanut butter people in this house. My husband in particular, is a big fan of peanut butter, and not the cheap imitation stuff. He likes the good stuff, like Kraft, Skippy or some of the big names out there. He likes creamy, smooth peanut butter. So when we learned that peanut butter is going to have to retire from show business we were on the hunt for a new face. We wanted something the same but we found something different. It was different in a good way. We hosted many alternatives, gave them a chance, send them away, brought them back in the hopes that their act might have improved but had to let them go again, until we met Sunbutter. A star was born...What is Sunbutter?
manufacturer describes it as follows: "SunButter is a delicious and healthy alternative to peanut butter. Made from specially roasted sunflower seeds, it is completely peanut-free, tree-nut free and gluten-free. Packed with nutrition, SunButter is an excellent choice for people with peanut allergies. Available in a number of varieties, SunButter is packed with nutrition and tastes great. It is a wonderful complement to fruit, jams, jellies and crackers and can be used in a variety of delicious peanut-free recipes for everything from appetizers to main dishes to desserts."
Sunbutter is sold in a number of varieties and sizes: 454 gram jars, 5 pound pails, 1.5 ounce cups and 1.1 ounce pouches. Only jars are available in our grocery store so that's what I buy. Sunbutter comes in Creamy, Unsweetened, Natural, Crunch and Omega-3 among others.
Good. Now that we know what it is, we need to find out how it compares to peanut butter.Okay, so does it taste and smell like peanut butter?
This part is where most people will either agree or disagree. In my opinion, Sunbutter is in a class of its own. I am not sure why the manufacturer compares it to peanut butter. Perhaps because their largest customer base is mainly people who are allergic to peanut butter (and that's just a speculation on my part; I have no data to support this theory)
. In truth, I would prefer to compare Sunbutter with other seed butters because it is actually a seed and not a nut. It's almost like asking someone to review fish versus turkey. You're sort of comparing apples to oranges and kind of unfair to both products. However, for the purpose of this review, I will stick with peanut butter as a competitor, especially since the manufacturer uses it as the benchmark.
I like peanut butter and ate it several times a week before we discovered Sunbutter. However, as my daughter grew and was able to reach counter tops and other areas in the kitchen, it became prudent to make the environment safer. To my husband and I, that meant giving up peanut butter. It was such a hassle to eat it around her. We had to be extremely cautious and I had to wash everything by hand and had special utensils and special plates for foods containing peanuts. Don't get me wrong, we kept her safe. We had no accidents and everything was fine, but it was just becoming inconvenient for everyone. I must say that since we have become peanut free, cleaning the kitchen has become a lot less of a hassle. I enjoy eating breakfast at the table with my daughter without having to remind her "not to touch or come anywhere near mommy because I'm contaminated with peanut butter". So in that way, for peanut allergy sufferers, Sunbutter brings our family closer during breakfast. Bonus!
Sunbutter does not taste like peanut butter. This is my opinion. People can tell me I'm wrong, but that's like telling someone who thinks beef and mutton taste different that they're wrong. Everyone has different preferences. I think Sunbutter is very good (i.e. cannot stop eating it when I open the jar)
. In fact, it is excellent. I love it and could eat it by the spoonful if I'm not stopped. I need intervention.
My husband who is a true lover of peanut butter is very much in love with Sunbutter too. To the both of us, Sunbutter seems like it holds the common nutty roasted flavor of other seed spreads, such as tahini, which is made from sesame. If you've had tahini, you'll know what I mean. Similar to tahini, Sunbutter has this smooth velvety texture, whereas peanut butter is more creamy. But unlike tahini, Sunbutter is not runny and thin, rather more spreadable like peanut butter but not quite as thick. It's consistency is more like a very, very thick honey.
As for taste and smell, I think Sunbutter is fabulous. It's not as salty as peanut butter. It has a bit more sweetness to it. Sunbutter's flavor also has more depth and rounds out nicely when eaten by itself (read: dip your spoon in the jar and then dip it in your mouth, then go find a support group for Sunbutter Anonymous)
. Sunbutter does not have the familiar salty-bitter aftertaste that often comes with peanut butter. But what it lacks in saltiness and bitterness, more than makes up for with the deep roasted flavor and the smooth velvety texture. And did I mention sweetness. I just love it. I find it quite addictive and often have to hide the jar (from myself)
. Sunbutter may smell similar to peanut butter but honestly I find that all nut and seed butters smell pretty much the same. Perhaps the roasting factor is responsible for that.How does Sunbutter perform in different foods?
Straight from the jar, Sunbutter stands on its own merit. The roasted seeds give the flavor depth and provide contrast to the sweetness. It's smooth velvety texture is very appealing. Taking a spoonful out of a jar is very much recommended if you want to really taste its yummy goodness. On the other hand, perhaps it's not recommended; you may not be able to stop. Hmm.. I wonder if they have Sunbutter Clinics.
On bread, in a sandwich, or on a cracker, Sunbutter mimics peanut butter spot on. It spreads easily, provides just as much coverage and tastes quite good with anything that complements peanut butter, such as jam or jelly. But you know I get creative sometimes and just go off the deep end. Try it with honey - YUMM! I'm salivating just thinking about it.
I often eat Sunbutter with home made jam because I love home made jam and it reminds me of my mother. I know. I'm weird like that. And I've used Sunbutter to make a mock peanut butter and banana sandwich. I'm not even going to tell you how good that was. You're just going to have to try it. Suffice to say, that I thought the Sunbutter banana sandwich tasted far
better. Move over peanuts, there's a new nut in town... errr seed.
In smoothies, Sunbutter is absolutely delectable and in ice creams too. It thickens smoothies just like peanut butter and is especially good in a banana chocolate smoothie. Sunbutter requires a bit more blending, as opposed to peanut butter, in smoothies. However, it's a lot more cooperative than peanut butter in ice cream. It tastes divine (with a big D)
. Just don't make the chunky monkey ice cream I made last summer, ok? Sunbutter ice cream with chocolate chips and bananas...
Oh. My. God.
I felt like I died and went to heaven. Heaven has Sunbutter. I'm sure of it.And now, the big question. How does Sunbutter perform in baking?
It's on par with peanut butter when it comes to baking. It works pretty much the same in practically all recipes that call for peanut butter and I substitute cup for cup. It's especially marvelous in chocolate ganache if you want that nutty flavor. It is very good in cakes and squares. It is outstanding in granola bars. In fact, despite my love of peanut butter, I really dislike it in granola bars. However, Sunbutter is fantastic in granola bars. I love it in all the different variations of granola bars that I bake. It does not overpower the other flavors in the granola bar like peanut butter often does.
One particular thing I love about Sunbutter is the fact that I often use it in recipes to replace fat without compromising quality, something I could not do with peanut butter. For example, when I make my granola bars, I omit the margarine entirely and use Sunbutter. For some baked goods the consistency is even better! Sunbutter also works well in cookies and often times it is even hard to tell the difference between a peanut butter cookie and a Sunbutter cookie, which is one of my daughter's favorites.What makes Sunbutter special?
The number one winning bonus to Sunbutter is the fact that it is not only peanut and tree nut free but also free of gluten, dairy, egg and corn. The manufacturer states that the sunflower kernels are roasted on equipment that roasts soy, but there is a cleaning process in between to avoid cross contamination. They also state that there is no soy in Sunbutter. So it is possible that it may be safe for those with a soy allergy as well but you'll have to check with them on that.
As is the case with many nuts, sunflower seeds are high in Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats, just like peanut butter. The manufacturer states that Sunbutter has 1/3 less saturated fat than peanut butter. Perhaps compared to other brands of peanut butter, but in our case, our brand of peanut butter is Kraft, which lists 1 gram of saturated fat per tablespoon, same as Sunbutter. There might be other brands of peanut butter that list a higher content of saturated fat. Sunbutter outperforms peanut butter when it comes to Vitamin E, though. One serving (2 Tablespoons) of Sunbutter provides 27 percent of a day's recommended allowance of vitamin E, whereas one serving of Kraft Peanut Butter provides 16 percent. In addition, SunButter also has twice as much fiber and iron compared to peanut butter.
In short, when it comes to nutritional value, Sunbutter gives peanut butter a run for its money, if not bump it out of the race completely. So if your peanut, dairy, and egg allergic five year old child, (who's so thin her stomach is concave and refuses to eat carbs on a good day)
has decided all of a sudden that she is a vegetarian (who eats chicken on weekends)
then Sunbutter is a healthier alternative to peanut butter.Is there room for improvement?
Sunbutter can be a little bit hard to stir initially when you first open the jar. The oil is on top and takes a fair bit of force to mix it in at the beginning. But once it's mixed in, it's smooth and easily spreadable.
Sunbutter is also sold in little pouches called On-The-Go Snack Packs, which I was given by an allergy mom who does not like nut butters in general and her kids don't either. She gave those to me when she found out how much we like Sunbutter so I thought I would give them a try. These pouches are an absolute pain. They are inconvenient and messy. For starters, they have to be kneaded to reincorporate the oil into the sunbutter. But many of them just burst in the process of kneading. They are also hard to open without scissors and only tear half way making it impossible to drizzle the Sunbutter without making an absolute mess of my hands and the sandwich as well as the plate and counter. My husband and I were almost tempted to throw them in the garbage when we first got them. But, I love Sunbutter and I didn't want it to go to waste. So I took all the pouches we had (which was a lot; it was a big box of them)
and I cut one by one and dropped them into a big jar and stirred the whole thing. It created a mess but it was one mess and one clean up. I don't see how a child can open that pouch in their lunch box without creating a mess. I'm going to stick with the jar, thank you. I will put it on a sandwich and stick it in my daughter's lunch box marked "Sunbutter - peanut FREE".
I have not tried all the other sizes or flavors. I tried the crunchy and loved it but my husband preferred the creamy (and my little girl announced that she will not be eating anything with weeds in it - strawberry seeds, spices and herbs are also referred to as weeds)
so we buy the jars of creamy Sunbutter.
My biggest beef with Sunbutter is the cost. Here in Atlantic Canada a 454 gram jar of Sunbutter costs $6.99 at a large grocery store chain, the cheapest I've found it so far. In other places I've seen it as high as $8.99. That's a lot of money for a small container. Sunbutter hardly goes on sale here. On a good day it may be as low as $5.49 and that's a sale price. Compare that to Kraft's peanut butter 500 gram jars which go for $4.49 at regular price, and they go on sale often for $1 each. But even at regular price, Kraft's peanut butter 1 kilogram jar goes for $6.49. Compared to Sunbutter, that's more than twice as much for a lesser price. In that regard Sunbutter sounds like it's cost is quite exorbitant. However, when you compare it to other nut butter alternatives such as soynut butter, the price is not that much higher. We've tried a lot of soynut butters, from pea butter (YUCK!, by the way)
to Wowbutter, and to put it bluntly, some of them were inedible. Wowbutter may have been close but not quite. Soynut butters just could not measure up to Sunbutter, not even close, not even in the same league.
Some people are totally freaked out when they see baked goods made with Sunbutter. Apparently, the chlorophyll in the sunflower seeds reacts with baking soda and baking powder. It turns green! You won't see it during baking but when the baked goods cool down, they will turn green. If you want to avoid being interrogated by other family members (or having to convince your spouse that you did not commission the Incredible Hulk to take a dump over your cookie dough)
as to why your oatmeal cookies are suspciously green then you may have to follow the manufacturer's suggestions. On their web site
, they state that if you reduce the baking soda/powder by approximately 1/3 it may not be so green. They also say that depending on the recipe, a splash of lemon juice could help. I've only encountered that problem in cookies. My granola bars never turned green even though they have baking powder, and neither did my cakes or squares, but they also contain baking powder. However, my cookies contain baking soda, and they do
turn green. So I'd say that baking soda reacts with the Sunbutter more readily. I have not tried the lemon juice trick yet. But guess what I'll be doing for Halloween and St. Patrick's day... you guessed it, baking with Sunbutter and baking soda. Just think, I can make cookies in the shape of a witch's fingers; that would be WICKED. Get it? Witch - Wicked. I know, I crack myself up sometimes. Okay, I'll stop now...So what's the verdict?
In all fairness, when it comes to price, given the fact that due to allergies I have no choice but to go with a peanut butter alternative, I would shell out the big bucks to buy Sunbutter. And for the the extra dollar it would cost to buy it compared to other soynut butters, I would definitely prefer Sunbutter. The quality of taste and texture far surpasses that of any soynut butter I've encountered, as they pale in comparison to Sunbutter.
As a stand alone product, Sunbutter definitely delivers. It doesn't fall short like many other products that claim to be peanut butter alternatives. The taste and texture is very appealing. I really love the roasty flavor and also impressed with its nutritional value. As far as taste goes, I prefer it over peanut butter. If my daughter was not allergic to peanuts and if I had the option of peanut butter including all other nut butters, I would most likely still buy Sunbutter for myself. However, the cost may make it inefficient for large families who have the option to buy peanut butter. But we are talking about allergy families here, who have no choice but to buy alternatives, of which most are expensive and cost an arm and a leg. So, would I give up my arm or leg for Sunbutter? Hmm.. I'd have to think about it, because it's tempting. Like I said, I'm sure there's Sunbutter in heaven.Where to buy it?
You can buy Sunbutter through www.sunbutter.com
or other online retailers. In Canada, Sunbutter can be found in large grocery store chains like Atlantic Superstore and Loblaws, as well as other Health Food stores.
Now, go, buy Sunbutter.
After using the Allerbling wristband for about six months, I'm disheartened to say that it has fallen short of our expectations. Unfortunately, the charms tend to break at the seams and fall off. This has happened three different times involving several charms and two wristbands. It's a hassle to keep exchanging the kit and it's equally annoying to have to replace the charms. Although the customer service I received from the company was very good, and they sent a whole new kit to replace the broken one, I most likely will not buy the Allerbling Wristband again. Perhaps when the design is improved, I might reconsider. As it stands now, I cannot continue to recommend the product based on it's current performance. Essentially, if you plan on using it only for a short duration, it could work for you. However, as a long term and permanent solution, it's unlikely that it will last. The Allerbling Wristband is a great idea for an allergy product but it is not very durable.
Our little girl will be going into grade primary this year. Given our history with daycare and the mayhem that ensued, we felt that it would be safer and in her best interest to stay at home and go to school when the time comes. She was 2 and a half at the time. Fast forward... today she is five. That time has come. The time to worry and fret and complain and be scared and cautious; but also the time to prepare my tools and bring out the big guns if necessary. Part of my arsenal is the Allerbling Wristband
. It's going to be particularly useful at school.
Now, daycare was a total bust for us. When I look back at our time at daycare, I think it was a calamity, but it was also an important experience (read: valuable lesson that I wish to never learn again, thank you)
. Daycare is not like school though. School is a whole different ball game (and you will be seeing a lot more posts about school in the coming months and perhaps years)
and one that requires a fair bit of patience and an abundance of finesse. Yours truly is not the most politically correct person and that's on a good day. I can't deny that I've burned bridges (and as someone used to say in a place I used to work at a long, long time ago "may the bridges we burn light our way")
and although some of those bridges could have been salvaged, the majority of them were already burning when I got there.
I'm slowly learning (at the request/demand of my husband and other people who think I'm crazy)
, to be more patient, more accommodating, more forgiving, and more approachable (aka more Canadian)
, while at the same time learning to be less snarky, less bitter, less panicky and less of a control freak (just shoot me now)
. I'm not saying it's not gonna happen; I'm sure I'll get there. I just can't promise that I'll get there in less than a decade or so. That kinda change takes time; time I could be using to beat the living daylight out of a stubborn bread dough, not meditating on how we can all make our lives better with love & understanding so let's all hold hands and sing kumbaya (okay now you can really just shoot me)
. That's not to say that I lack the skills to multi task. Oh no, au contraire, my friends. I can KO the toughest dough out there and still come up with a foolproof scheme to make my neighbor's life miserable (just like when she deprives me of sleep by installing her little snottling of a dog out on the lawn so it keeps barking at all hours of the night - barking at the cars driving by, barking at the wind, barking at its own tail, even barking at its own farts - though I suppose I can't blame it there)
. Anyway, the point is I have made the determination to become "nicer", whatever that is (someone will let me know... eventually)
Back to the school thing... since our daughter is going to school for the first time with strangers and people who know very little about her and about allergies in general, we decided that we should do all we can to help them keep her alive. First thing that came to mind was identification. I wanted something that can stand out, be visible and identify her allergies clearly. I've looked around and there are a lot of necklaces, dogtags, and bracelets online and in stores. After I did the research, I settled on the Allerbling Wristband. In summary, it works for us, my daughter loves it and wears it all the time, and it delivers on its promise. I give you the detailed review below.What is Allerbling and what does it do?
According to Allerbling
, the "Allerbling wristband is a unique medical ID bracelet, which is customizable by you, at any time, based on your child's changing food allergic conditions. Allerbling is a visual educational tool and a conversation piece that has the potential to save children’s lives by raising awareness of a child’s food allergies. Allerbling is cute and approachable, so kids will want to wear it. Yet it is clearly marked as a medical product for children’s caregivers. It displays the iconic symbols of the food products that are risky to the children, so their teachers and caregivers can be constantly reminded at a glance."
Okay, so we got the part about what it is, but does it actually do what they say it does? Yes
, for us, it does. Although our daughter has not gone to school yet, nearly everyone who's seen her wrist has looked at least twice and many family members held her hand to actually read what's on the bracelet. That in and of itself is a great opportunity to discuss her allergies and it opens the door for more dialogue (always a bonus)
.Is it right for your child?
I think it's great for any child living with a life threatening food allergy. And for children suffering from multiple life threatening food allergies or those diagnosed with Celiac Disease I would say it's a good investment. It's designed for children 3 and older. The allergy charms present a choking hazard to younger children. Since our daughter is 5, that was not an issue.
So, what allergies can you use Allerbling for? It's best to check their web site
to see the latest information about that. At the time of writing this, the following are the allergies for which there are charms: Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish, Fish, Wheat, Dairy, Egg, Soy, Sesame, Corn, Strawberry, Coconut, Chocolate, Bee,
. That's an impressive list given that it includes the top 8 food allergies as well as some of the less common ones.How is it used and how does it work?
The wristband has a red medic charm along with a charm for each of the individual allergies. Each wristband has 5 holes and can accommodate four allergy charms in addition to the medic charm. You can remove the medic charm and add a fifth allergy charm but I really would not recommend that. One of the key features of Allerbling is the fact that the medic charm is a bright red and has a different shape than the rest of the charms so it really stands out as a medical symbol. At a glance, it is easy to identify it as a medical bracelet and not just a piece of jewelry. Even my little girl recognized that the medic charm was different and asked me about it. The Allerbling wristband helps her explain to others what her allergies are and I think that it's paramount to her safety that she be able to communicate this information to school teachers, students, friends, family members and other people she meets. She also understands the importance of having something that could easily identify her allergies. She loves wearing the Allerbling wristband and couldn't wait to get in the mail. She thinks it's "super cool" and shows it to everyone she meets. In other words, she does not take it off nor does she wish to. Bonus in my book. Now, if I can only convince her to wear her epipen with such enthusiasm...
ALLERBLING KIT FRONT
ALLERBLING KIT BACK
Moving on... the fun part. How on earth do you fit THAT charm in this tiny little hole. Allerbling would have you believe it is easy, but I do not believe this is true. At first it looks like bad design, really bad, but hang on, it will all make sense in the end. It will be a freakin' pain to get those charms in the holes, BUT once they're attached, they will not fall off. Look at it this way, it took both the strength of my husband's two big hands, and the strength of my (not so big)hands to attach those things. I got my husband to stretch the wrist band with one hand which elongated the hole. Then I squeezed the charm backing and inserted it part way into that hole, enough so that I could grab the backing and pull it through the other side. (That description sounds so benign but why do I feel so dirty?) Now, continue to attach the rest of the charms in that manner and you're all set. You might be tempted to take a pair of scissors, screw driver or other sharp tool to help you attach the charms. If you do that, you risk damaging the bracelet and putting a tear through it. So we figured that if it required 4 adult hands (and a whole lotta cursin') then most likely our daughter will not be able to take them off (unless she's the spawn of the devil, in which case we'd have bigger problems).
Okay, so what's so special about Allerbling?
It's very comfortable, enough that my daughter wears it all day and even sleeps with it. She wears it all the time, just like her MedicAlert bracelet. It's latex free which is a big bonus for those suffering from latex allergy. It's also 100% silicone (it won't rot) and it's waterproof. My daughter wears it in the shower. It's also childproof, meaning it will require four hands to get the charms off. It would not be easy for a child to do that. Just to give you an idea of how childproof the Allerbling is, my daughter figured out how to remove her MedicAlert bracelet when she was 18 months. No, I was not impressed. She has yet to figure out how to remove the charms on the Allerbling. She tried to remove them but gave up because it was too hard. That's another bonus in my book.
Allerbling accommodates multiple food allergies and is great for my little girl because we used all five charms. The wristband is offered in different sizes, ranging from XS to XL. It's a vibrant orange color and each of the charms has a different color. I love the color because it is kid friendly and gender neutral; no more pink for girl and blue for boy. The charms are not embossed, which could sometimes rub off. Instead, the writing is engraved into the silicone (I tried to get a good close up shot in the photo below) so even if the picture of the allergen fell off (which I doubt would happen easily) the actual name of the allergy is still quite visible and easy to identify on each charm.
Allerbling is also cost effective. Compared to other allergy identification bracelets, it's price is well within reason, which brings us to the next question.
How much does it cost?
I think the most cost effective option on the Allerbling web site is the Allerbling kit. It's US$18.00 and includes 1 small and 1 large band, top 8 food allergy charms and 1 medical cross charm.
You can also buy a spare wristband or charms separately for US$5.00 each ($6 for less common allergy charms). This is especially useful and economical for parents with two or more children who share the same allergy. No need to buy an extra kit, just buy the wristband and the charm to save money. The separate wristband comes with a red medic charm too.
All prices are in US dollars. Shipping costs are also reasonable and they ship to Canada as well. At the time of writing this post, the shipping cost for USA orders under $20 is $3, and for orders from $20 to $40 shipping costs $5. For Canadian orders, shipping costs $5 for anything under $20, and $7 for orders $20 to $40. Shipping is free to all orders over $40, both in Canada and USA. Keep in mind that selection and prices may vary depending on when you are reading this post. It's always best to check the Allerbling web site
.Possible cons (otherwise known as 'room for improvement')
If there is one thing that I find really annoying about the Allerbling is the constant snagging on hair and clothes. My daughter complains that it pulls her hair sometimes when she puts her hand on her head. If your child has very short hair then this does not pose a problem. However, for children with longer hair, it really is an annoyance, one that I hope will improve in later designs. You can see all the hair snagged in the picture below. With a fidgety 5 year old, I have to remove the wristband from her arm and painstakingly take out all the hair that is wrapped tightly around those charms. Definitely room for improvement here.
Some people may be put off because the charms are difficult to install initially but for my family this was a bonus. Even though we had to work hard at attaching the charms, it is well worth the effort because it ensures that the charms are not easily detachable.
The Allerbling only includes a small list of the less common allergies. I suppose if your child has allergies that are not within the top 8, and not within the less common ones offered by Allerbling, then the product might not be the best choice for you.
The wristband only comes in one color: bright orange. Some people may want the option to choose other colors; some may feel that bright orange is too loud. But I think bright orange is perfect. Yes, it might be loud but that also means you can't miss it - always a bonus when you have allergies. You can't be too careful what with all the lack of awareness that's out there.
Perhaps the area that Allerbling could most improve is the number of charms one could attach to one wristband. Currently, the Allerbling wristband only has five holes, enough to accommodate 4 top allergies and 1 red medic charm. My daughter uses 4 charms for her allergies. I could easily see her requiring one more. Many children have allergies to more than five top allergens. Despite that, I think simply putting the child's most severe 4 allergies on the wristband would at least create the opportunity to speak about his/her allergies and the additional ones not displayed on the Allerbling.So what's the verdict?
Simply put, the Allerbling on its own does a good job of reminding those around your child of his/her food allergies. In combination with another bracelet, such as the MedicAlert for example, the Allerbling is an excellent and powerful tool. It's very visible with vibrant colors. It alerts people around your child that he/she has a food allergy and opens the door for conversation which helps keep your child safe. The fact that it's child proof and waterproof is a winning combination. More importantly, it's very economical compared to other allergy/medical bracelets in it's category and has a lot of style to it which gets children excited to wear it and help them speak up about their allergies. In other words, I would wholeheartedly recommend Allerbling to anyone who cares for a child with life threatening food allergies. Even if your child suffers from more than 4 allergies, at the very least, Allerbling serves as a conversation starter. As an investment in my daughter's safety, the Allerbling wristband is a well made product that delivers what it promises and the value of it's pros far outweighs it's shortcomings.Where to buy it?
You can buy it from www.allerbling.com
. They accept PayPal payments and also offer a 100% guarantee if you are not satisfied. They state that volume discounts are available for schools, daycares, doctors' offices and retail stores.
I hope that you've found this review helpful. Now, go forth and conquer!
As many of my readers know, we have very few good allergy books that target preschoolers. Last week, I was able to take a look at The No Biggie Bunch series, which I received in the mail. Let me just start by saying that the authors have done a fabulous job of delivering the message to our dear little ones, all in a fun setting. I had been checking out the No Biggie Bunch web site
with anticipation for the newest addition to the series: Dairy-Free Dino-Licious Dig. My little girl has a severe dairy allergy, among others, and she identified with this one right away. I am impressed by the books and I love the concept of inclusion. The entire series addresses the very issues that we struggle to work through with our kids.
The No Biggie Bunch is written by Heather Mehra and Kerry McManama. It's about a group of six kids who have different food allergies, with the exception of one. The characters are comprised of Paige who's allergic to Peanuts, Eliot who's allergic to Eggs, Scotty who's allergic to Soy, Davis who's allergic to Dairy, Greta who's allergic to Gluten, and Natalie who has No allergies. Clever and playful, the stories teach kids that with prepared safe snacks and a ready response, the social challenges of food allergies can be easily overcome. The mission of the No Biggie Bunch is as follows(excerpt taken from the books)
:The No Biggie Bunch is a diverse group of kids who handle the social challenges of food allergies with poise and panache.
The adventures of Davis, Natalie, Paige, Elliot, Scotty and Greta are neither technical nor medical. Their stories are meant to act as springboards for conversation among children, parents, teachers, friends and family members.
The No Biggie Bunch doesn’t speak about limitations or medications. They focus on allergen-free celebrations and smart preparation.
Focus on Fun and all you can do and pretty soon, you will be saying “No Biggie” too.
As soon as the books arrived, Maya and I sat down to read them. The first thing that caught her eye was the amazing illustrations. With vibrant colours and beautiful artistic style, the book was able to capture her attention for the entire time, from start to finish. Maya particularly loved the Dairy-Free Dino-licious Dig, not only because she is allergic to dairy, but also because she absolutely LOVES anything dinosaur related. She was so excited as we read the story together and her eyes just lit up when she saw the picture of the dinosaur. She kept pointing at all the pretty pictures and most importantly she understood the story, which brings me to the next point. I liked the fact that the stories are simple, straightforward, and very engaging.
In the case of Dairy-Free Dino-Licious Dig, the story starts with Davis and Natalie who are going excavating to find a dinosaur. It shortly progresses to the main theme of the story, which is snack time. Natalie and Davis are hungry and each of them grabs a snack from their individual No Biggie Bags. Davis pulls out his dairy free snack while Natalie grabs her cheese crackers. The story focuses on Davis's dairy allergy and emphasizes that Davis is allergic to the milk in the cheese, something that I found lacking in other allergy books. The message that comes across is not that cheese causes an allergy but that the allergy is to the milk in the cheese, and so something like soy cheese or rice cheese can be safe, and that anything else (not just cheese) that contains milk is not safe for children with dairy allergies. The story goes on to explain that Davis cannot share snacks because he is allergic, something that most allergy parents try to teach their kids; sharing is a confusing issue for allergic children. One of the most important things about the story is the approach to the challenges of having an allergy in a social setting. It teaches children that food allergies will not dampen their experience if they are prepared with safe snacks and a positive attitude. Simple, yet brilliant.
In a similar fashion, Sports-Tastic Birthday Party addresses a common obstacle for allergy parents, namely birthday parties. The story is about Scotty (who's allergic to soy) and how he celebrates his birthday with the rest of the No Biggie Bunch. It starts off with them playing soccer and then focuses on the food theme: birthday cake. The children handle their respective allergies by showing the group what they each brought as a treat. The story also introduces a new idea; the premise that treats do not necessarily have to resemble the birthday cake, but can be anything else, like favourite fruits or safe candy. The lesson here is that the possibilities are endless. Just because everyone else is having a cupcake doesn't mean I can't have gummy bears instead.
Peanut-Free Tea for Three is about Paige, Eliot, and Greta who are having a tea party. What I liked about this one is that it addressed a common concern for children with allergies; cross contamination. At one point during the story, the children all agree that Paige cannot use the jar of jelly someone brought from home because it might be contaminated with peanut residue. In the end, they all enjoy drinking juice and having their safe snacks.
The other book in the series is Trade-or-Treat Halloween. My little girl took to that one right away. She really enjoys Halloween, trick or treating, costumes, pumpkins, spooky ghosts and all. So this book was right up her alley. The story starts off with the No Biggie Bunch going trick or treating together. It focuses on some of the individual allergies, but the main theme of the story is the fact that all the characters can trade their unsafe candy for safe treats. More unsafe candy means more safe treats and that's what the children are excited about, the possibilities of what they can get in return for trading. It teaches them that Halloween is still a fun event, even without candy.
Some of the other things I loved about the entire series and what I thought were quite creative and unique, are the questions in the back of the book after the story ends. Questions such as "How would you trade-or-treat your Halloween candy?" and "Which safe snacks and supplies would you pack for your dinosaur dig?" with a picture of three items and the No Biggie Bag underneath, allow children the opportunity to identify what they think is the correct answer for them. It gives them a measure of control over their allergy and the opportunity to choose from among a variety of options. After reading the stories, Maya was able to guess the correct answer for her, which was the dairy free snacks. I am so proud of her.
Another thing that I think is absolutely brilliant is the subtle but powerful image on the inside front flap which displays Nutritional Facts, and whimsically lists Ingredients and Contains warnings. It looks exactly like the label you would find on any food product, and it really gets kids familiar with the idea of reading labels and what they look like. In fact, I think that this should have been included in the actual book because sometimes the flap can be lost but the idea itself proves how much thought and care went into creating those books.
Last but not least, is the quality of the paper and the fact that the book is in hardcover. I love children's books that are in hardcover because it makes them more durable. The paper does not feel cheap and has a nice glossy look to it which makes the illustrations more appealing, not that they needed any help in that department. Even I thought the illustrations were great, and I'm an adult. Maya fell in love with the books from the moment she looked at the first picture.
The No Biggie Bunch series is a fantastic addition to any kid's library. For children with food allergies, I think it's essential. It teaches kids that anyone can have a food allergy, that it's not ethnicity or gender specific and most importantly, that they are not alone, that others suffer from food allergies as well. The books really put emphasis on the fact that although allergies make us different, they don't make us any less special, that although allergies are serious, it is possible to overcome the social challenges. What I like most about the series, is the inclusion of everyone, those who are allergic and those who aren't and the premise that food does not have to be the focus of any gathering, but that it is more important to focus on family, friends, and all the other good and fun things you can do.
In summary, the style of the books is very simple and direct with great illustrations. My 3 year old understood the stories as I read them to her. It teaches kids to take control of their allergies and promotes their creativity by displaying how the characters are able to handle their allergies in different social settings that involve food. At $14.99 US each, the books are invaluable and a worthy addition to your child's collection. I intend to buy the entire collection for my little girl, and there is already some talk within our local community about suggesting the series for school classrooms and daycare facilities. As far as I know, the books can be ordered through Amazon.com though the prices of shipping and customs make it quite expensive for Canadian consumers and that's the only complaint I have. I really would like to see the books sold through Canadian bookstores. Other than that, the books are perfect. The fact that Maya would not put them down and asked me to read them to her over and over again is typically a sure sign that they have become a big hit.
Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, the author has provided me with the entire series, free of charge, to review and pass along to the local allergy community as well as the AAIA.
There is no doubt that living with anaphylaxis can make life challenging and at times even overwhelming, but what's even more challenging sometimes is the lack of books with allergen free recipes. There are very few books, in my opinion, that have edible recipes. Anybody can bake anything; the difference is whether you want to be able to bite into a soft, moist scone or a tough, leathery hockey puck. I have a number of trusted allergy friendly books that I refer to at least once a week. A recent addition to my kitchen repetoire is Kelly Rudnicki's The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book
. If you are allergic to dairy, eggs, or nuts, then it's time to check out this fabulous book. It's hockey puck free!
The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book is divided into two parts. Part one includes tips and advice from the author, a seasoned allergy mom, and perhaps even a veteran in the world of allergies. Part two of the book includes all the delicious and mouthwatering recipes. One of the main features of the book, which prompted me to buy a second copy for my mother, (and a third one for my mother-in-law)
were the sections on ingredient substitutes and allergy friendly brands. There is also a section on the author's favourite baking tools and ones that make everyday baking that much easier. Some sections include tips on how to read product labels and tips for birthday parties and school celebrations. Not only that, but also Rudnicki makes sure to provide a list of common names for milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and their derivatives. As if that wasn't enough, there is also a dedicated page with a list of the most common questions and answers about food allergies and anaphylaxis. This is the type of book that you can lend (or better yet, buy a copy and give)
to family and friends. It's not a comprehensive medical journal, but it definitely introduces the topic of allergies in an informative and friendly tone. The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book is perfect for family members and friends as well as teachers and kitchen staff in daycares and schools.
If I had to choose one cookbook to keep in my kitchen, The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book would be the one. The recipes are all egg, dairy, and nut free. I have tried many of them and every single one turned out fabulous. Moreover, for me, one of the biggest selling features of the book is the addition of colour pictures of the food, so it's visually appealing as well. I have read many food allergy recipe books and this one by far is the best when it comes to the quality of the recipes and the useful hints/tips about allergies. It's not simply a recipe book, rather it's tailored to families living with allergies and those who wish to include them in occasions that involve food. I would recommend this book to anyone living with dairy, egg, peanut, or tree nut allergies and at a price point of under $20, you can't go wrong by adding it to your kitchen bookshelf.
Most toddlers enjoy a good book with a simple story and colourful pictures. As a parent of a child with food allergies I also want to provide books that talk about allergies and help teach my little girl about her food allergies in a fun setting. I've been able to find a few allergy books for toddlers sold in Canadian bookstores. Among them was The Bugabees: Friends with Food Allergies
by Amy Recob. This is a story about 8 friends with food allergies. The BugaBee characters are based on eight of the top food allergens - peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. It focuses on the daily routines of best buggy friends and how they each deal with their food allergies.
The entire tone of the book is very positive and teaches kids that they can enjoy life despite their food allergies. My little girl found the book quite entertaining. The beautiful pictures and vibrant colours are eye catching and kept her attention for the duration of the story. The rhyming verses kept her engaged and provided a very fun learning experience. I especially liked the additional activities in the back of the book, particularly the ones that pointed out examples of allergenic foods. It provides further learning and teaching opportunities for little children and their parents. Another bonus is the fact that the book is in hardcover, which makes it more durable in the hands of little toddlers.
The Bugabees also has a web site
that matches the theme of the book. The web site includes information about allergies and the different characters in the book. It also provides a dedicated section that describes symptoms of an allergic reaction. There is even a section for allergy friendly recipes. If you don't own the book, you may want to check out the web site or alternatively The Bugabees Facebook Group
I think The Bugabees is one of the best allergy books for toddlers, and highly recommend it for any child with a food allergy, particularly ones with multiple life-threatening food allergies.