34: Food Allergy Awareness

Any kind of holiday or occasion involving food is a high alert time for food allergies. Near and dear to my heart is the issue of food allergies. Our daughter and my brother have life-threatening food allergies that require planning, research, and prevention. The key to success in not having an emergency room visit, or worse, is to plan your food. Pack snacks, safe desserts, and other food options if you are uncertain about the ingredients or preparation conditions of food you will encounter.

Here are some potentially deadly items for peanut- and nut-allergic people:

  • pies (a pumpkin pie might seem okay, but it might use pecan flour in the crust!)
  • anything prepared in a kitchen containing nuts or peanuts (past and present)
  • processed baked goods
  • all bakery items
  • anything on a buffet where a nut item is also located (cross-contamination)

At parties with lots of holiday foods, make sure you only drink from your glass. Again, cross-contamination is possible and occurs in drinks. Eat using only your utensils from your plate. If it is possible to go first in a buffet situation, do that and try not to make a second pass. Cross-contamination covers a picked-over buffet.

Remember to make sure your Epi-Pens are current. If you need a refill, take care of it. While you’re doing that, review all of your labeling and contact information on emergency medicines and update it. We keep our Epi-Pens in a red, insulated bag that has been clearly labeled with Sharpie with our contact information and medical information. Inside that bag, we also keep Benadryl Strips and an Albuterol inhaler. The Epi-Pens are also in their own plastic duo-case that is also labeled very clearly.

If you are hosting an children’s event, please have your food clearly labeled and any nut items out of reach of small children, in particular. Children under 3 years of age should not have any peanut or nut items at all, so keep that in mind, too.

In the past, I think of Christmas with nut goodies of all kinds playing major roles, but now it’s a little different. Making safe desserts to give and take has become a tradition in its own right.

Have a safe Christmas this year!

60: The “Buy Nothing” Christmas

This is a novel but necessary concept for many people in this economic climate. Forced by circumstance (lay-off, bankruptcy, foreclosure, health problems, other catastrophes,) many Americans will be having a “Buy Nothing” Christmas, or at least a “Buy a WHOLE LOT LESS” Christmas this year.

Even if you aren’t under tremendous economic pressure, there are many ways to save or spend very little this holiday season.

  1. Holiday meals – In your meal planning, go a little lighter on the calorie load. If you want to splurge on Christmas, but stay within your normal budget, plan extremely frugal meals around the holidays. Breakfasts and lunches can be your real money-savers. Learn to make real oatmeal! Flavor with milk and jam or honey. For lunch, pasta dishes are some of the most low-cost meals you can make. Burritos or wraps are great lunch alternatives, too. A great dinner is homemade soup and homemade bread!
  2. Cards – Make your own. It’s just silly to spend $3-5 on a card at Hallmark!
  3. Wrapping paper – Use brown craft paper or plain white paper to wrap gifts. Use twine or raffia to tie up the package. If you are a stamper, let your imagination run wild! Make a matching card! Kids love to decorate gifts with markers and stickers, too.
  4. Have a potluck dinner with friends. Spend what you would’ve on dinner anyway.
  5. Adopt a “no gifts” policy for the adults and focus on the kids.

You can still have a wonderful Christmas without blowing your budget! Start planning now!

Photo courtesy of Joshua Davis. Thanks!