Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Food, glorious food

I have a love hate relationship with food. I love food. I love food far too much. Food loves me back. I am in a sincere and constant balancing act of trying to enjoy my love of food but not pile on weight. Like everyone else out there it's a balancing act and some days I am better at it than others. Add to that the fact that I have two children who can eat endless amounts of food and not gain an ounce and you have a recipe for disaster. If you want to get really nuts, add to that a child who is clinically severely underweight, and needs to follow a diet intensely high in both calories and fat. 

Wes gets to eat all the foods our inner fat child screams out for. Hagen Daz. Mac and cheese with heavy whipping cream and full sticks of butter. Toast with both cream cheese and butter. Heck, Wes used to drink cream instead of whole milk. At one point his Occupational Therapist and Pediatrician felt his need to gain weight was so urgent they advised me to offer him dessert after every meal. Every meal, peoples! I was offering my kid cookies after his breakfast. Now before you get all high and mighty with me about how you only feed your children a diet based solely on what you can grow in your back yard and your children think beets are a dessert, I must remind you that more than likely you haven't been the mother of a child whose thigh is the same size as his ankle. Or maybe you have. If so, you know the sheer desperation you feel at times when you need to get them to gain weight. You will also know the agony of finding pants that fit and you find yourself wondering if they sell suspenders for toddlers or if boys can just wear leggings instead of pants. I digress. Every lick of Wes's leftovers, every taste of his dessert and every hastily snuck "sample" of his meals adds up. 

So imagine my horror when Wes was diagnosed with allergies to eggs and peanuts. I mean crap. Really?! Do we REALLY need another layer of complication? Nothing felt safe anymore and even though I spent time methodically clearing out the cupboards and reading every single ingredients label I was even more worried about what to feed my family and how to get Wes to gain weight in the process. 

This diagnosis lead to a lot of baking experimentation as we decided to put the entire family on Wes's allergen diet. It didn't seem to make sense to cook separate meals and baked goods for one part of the family and it also meant a lot more work.There were some tremendous flops. I made a billion batches of waffles before we found the right one. Every time Jack would sample a batch he would remark with disgust, "this is not the right one mom." He was horrified and didn't understand why I couldn't get it straight. I didn't really either. I mean a waffle should be pretty straight forward. 

As any parent of a child with an allergy can tell you the first weeks are completely daunting. You find yourself on a roller coaster of emotion. One minute I was crying because I worried Wes would always feel left out at birthday parties because I would have to bring his own separate cupcake. I wanted more than anything for Wes to just do normal kid things and not have to think about whether they were going to be life threatening. On the other side of that fearful place was a sort of resolve to make things normal. I can't change the fact that we still have allergies but I can sure try and make the kid a waffle he can enjoy.

 I want to share some of the recipes I have collected and tweaked to be allergy safe because I know how difficult it can be to find recipes that are both healthy, kid friendly, allergen free AND tasty. The recipes I will tend to share here will veer towards the healthier lower calorie side of things. After all, Wes can always add butter to his portion. 

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