Finger Foods and Eggs

In my last post about our foods, we were trialing banana.   Colin likes banana and they don’t seem to cause any sleep or GI issues but he gets red spots on his face when he eats them.  We’ve decided to call them a pass but in limited quantities just to keep the eczema at bay.   That brings our safe list to Rice, Wheat, Corn, Chicken, and Carrots and some Banana.

About a month or so ago Colin really started making progress on the whole texture/gagging issue so I decided to start trying finger food with him.  It was definitely about time and my little guy needed to get some fine motor practice going.  So I dived in by giving him Kix and Puffed Wheat cereals.  To my surprise he did wonderful and LOVES them.  He is not too excited about purees anymore and wants to feed himself.  I’m really happy we didn’t need feeding therapy but now I’m challenged to find ways to present his safe foods to him in finger food form.   I feel like a chef on Food Network, given a basket of foods and told to make something out of them.  I’m definitely thinking outside the box for his meals these days.

We decide to trial eggs since it would open up a lot of other foods I could make for him and I also wanted to make him a first birthday cake of some kind.  The egg trial does not seem to be going well, Colin is up several times an hour and crying, but we aren’t giving up yet.   Looking into a backup plan I’ve found a cake mix that is egg, soy, peanut, dairy free and just real ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, nothing weird.  I’m going to do a test run and I’ll  let you know the results of that one soon.

Yes my little man is about to be a 1 year old!  I just can’t believe how fast time flies with the second child.  Colin is busy busy, walking all over the house and chasing the cat.  Right now he loves lights and points them out to us all day long.  He also reminds me of Helen Keller right now, wanting to know the words for everything.   I’m sure his receptive vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds.  His expressive vocabulary list is pretty short.  In addition to pointing and sometimes signing “drink” or “all done,”  he says “Dada” and “Ba Ba” for bye-bye.   We have an early childhood teacher who meets with us every month, a free service from our school district, and she says Colin looks great developmentally.   Colin’s weight is good too.  Still nursing every two hours day and night, my little monkey is putting on some weight and chub rolls on his legs.  I’m sure he’ll be fine at our checkup next month.

 

Puffy Sugared Cookies

It was really tough this summer to get to the computer.  Now that Hannah is back in preschool, I have a little more time to get pictures off of my camera and get back to my recipe blogging.  My “free” mornings aren’t all that free since I’m chasing Colin around, but when he naps I can get a few minutes of work done.

The recipe I’m sharing today is the go-to cookie in my house when I want to make a cookie I can eat. I probably make these once a month since everyone in the house likes them.  They are dairy and soy free without needing any expensive butter substitutes.  The recipe is Betty Crocker’s Stir-and-Drop Sugar Cookies.  I’ve named my post “Puffy Sugared Cookies” to give you an idea of the texture of these cookies.  Although Betty Crocker calls them sugar cookies, they aren’t the dense flat ones you put frosting on.  When I make them they come out lighter, puffy and rounded on top.  The cookie itself isnt’ very sweet, it’s the sugar pressed into the top that really makes the cookie. (So don’t skip that step!)

I’ve used regular granulated sugar to decorate the cookies, coloring it first with a drop of food coloring (see below), and I’ve also used sanding sugar, which is a slightly coarser sugar.   In the picture above the yellow cookie is has regular sugar on it and the pink cookie has the decorating sugar.  Although both tasted great, I prefer the look and crunch of the coarser sugar.

Puffy Sugared Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup neutral tasting oil, like canola oil

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

Additional sugar for tops of cookies- I like coarse sugar- the colored types meant for decorating

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and oil.  Then add the baking powder, vanilla, salt, eggs, and flour, mixing between each addition.  The batter will be runny/gooey compared to most cookie batters.

Drop teaspoons of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  I find a disher is very helpful.

Pour the sanding sugar/colored sugar you want to use onto a small plate.  Press a glass very lightly onto a cookie to grease the bottom of the glass, then press into the colored sugar.  Place the glass on the cookie again to deposit the sugar on the top of the cookie.  You don’t need to flatten the cookie, you are just pressing enough to sugar the top.  If the sugar is not sticking to the glass, try wetting the bottom of the glass very slightly with water.  Repeat the sugaring process for all of the cookies.  Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes and enjoy!

* To make your own colored sugar, place a few tablespoons of granulated sugar in a small bowl.  Add one drop of food coloring.  Stir with a spoon.  At first the coloring will ball up and it will look like it won’t combine but keep stirring and mashing the food coloring with the back of the spoon. In a few minutes you will have uniformly colored sugar.

Another Diagnosis, Almost

Colin was diagnosed with Food Protein Induced Enteropathy at three months old.  Once he started solids we started seeing new symptoms and so many food fails that we wondered if there was something more to the story.  After a lot of research, some tests and several doctors visits, I think we are a little closer to having a diagnosis.

We think that Colin has Food Protein Induced Entercolitis or FPIES.  (Pronounced like F-Pies, like apple pies).  So what is FPIES?  The International Association for Food Protein Entercolitis writes:

Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) is an allergic reaction in the gastrointestinal system. The most common triggers are milk and soy, but any food (even those thought to be hypoallergenic e.g. rice, oat) can cause an FPIES reaction. FPIES typically starts within the first year of life.

Unlike most food allergies, the FPIES reactions are delayed and usually begin about 2 hours after ingestion of the causative food. FPIES reactions are characterized by profuse vomiting and diarrhea. In about 20% of cases the child will have such an extreme reaction to a food that they will go into shock and need to be taken quickly to the Emergency Room for immediate treatment. About 75% will have acute episodes on diagnosis. The other 25% children will have more chronic symptoms, which resolve within 1 week after avoiding the food.

There is no curative therapy at the current time. Strict avoidance of the offending food is the basic treatment

Unlike common food allergies, standard skin testing and blood testing for specific IgE are routinely negative in these patients. Therefore, a careful history and physical examination is the key for diagnosis

There is a great article on FPIES here.

How did we get here?  Well, over the last few months several people who heard Colin’s story and symptoms mentioned the name FPIES to us.  We did a little reading and were surprised to see how the description of this syndrome fit with what we were seeing.  Recently we saw a pediatric allergist and a doctor doing her fellowship with him.  I kept FPIES in the back of my mind but didn’t bring it up, not wanting to seem like I was google-diagnosing my child.  Anyway, we spent the most time with the fellow and were so surprised/relieved to hear she thought Colin’s reactions to oats was textbook FPIES.  She was very helpful and supportive.  She said there is no test to confirm it and no treatment.  The pediatric allergist was unfortunately not as helpful, basically telling us that regardless of my food trial data, due to lack of testing and breastmilk variables, it was impossible to prove what Colin was really reacting to and unless Colin was failure to thrive or in the hospital, we just needed to deal with having a fussy baby.  He did test him for IgE allergies (regular allergic reaction) for oats and banana.  Colin was negative for both.  The fellow said that the negative results were actually good in that they supported an FPIES diagnosis.   So since the main allergist wasn’t ready to put FPIES in his file, I can’t say he has a confirmed case, but after our long talk with the fellow, we are comfortable with that diagnosis.

You may be surprised that the fellow telling us it was FPIES was actually a relief.  It is not the happiest of news for a parent to hear, but I got over the shock of FPIES a while ago after reading a lot about it and realizing it fit Colin so well.  I also know most kids grow out of FPIES by age 3-5.  It is not a life-long problem, although some kids have food sensitivities that may remain.  Just hearing someone put a name to what is going on and validating our struggle felt really good.

I joined an FPIES support group online, which has been really helpful and confirmed any remaining doubts we had.  So many of the kids are like Colin, having the scary vomiting reactions to a few foods but having the diarrhea/sleep disturbance/other reactions to many more solids.

Looking ahead I don’t know what is in store for Colin after he stops breastfeeding.  My hope is that he will have enough safe foods to get enough calories and nutrition.  I tried asking the allergist what to give Colin after breastmilk and he said cows milk or soy milk.  (Sigh- not helpful!).  I tried telling him about Colin’s intolerance to those and he wasn’t receptive.  Sooo, the plan is just to forge ahead with solid trials (and the sleep deprivation they cause) with the goal of finding foods before weaning him off breastmilk.  I know Colin will need to breastfeed long after a year but I am really exhausted by this diet. I’m ready to be done, to eat again.  I’m toying with the idea of taking him to a nutritionist, who can help us make sure he is getting the nutrition he needs and can help us plan what foods to try next.

For now we are going to retry bananas.  We originally thought he had an IgE allergy to them due to eczema we saw, but the allergy tests showed otherwise.   I am going to be more strict about the food trials, giving foods 5-7 days if we can tolerate it (unless there is vomiting/diarrhea) and I will have to be really strict about my diet.  (Sigh)  No more tastes of peanut butter or sneaking the risky candy corn, which is delicious when eaten with a handful of peanuts by the way, but it is made on the same equipment with all sorts of offenders so it has to go.

Cider Simmered Brats

This weekend for Labor Day we decided to try something new on the grill.  My husband received the “Weber Way to Grill” grilling cookbook for this birthday and we gave “Cider Simmered Brats with Apples and Onions” a go.  It was fabulous.  It is definitely a new combination of flavors for us but that is why I love it.  All the flavors worked together perfectly and they were a great change from the usual brat toppings.  They have the recipe and a video online here.  I used a package of Johnsonville Brats, they were dairy and soy free, and I ate mine without a bun.  I could have made my own bun but didn’t have the time. Also, don’t be scared by the words “apple butter” in the mustard topping for the brats.  All the apple butter I have ever had is completely butter free. It is actually a thick jamlike spread made solely of fruit and spices.  It’s easier to find in the fall but some apple jelly would work in a pinch.