Nothing but gratitude and heartache for grieving Mom, Kellie Travers-Stafford. If you feel anything other…PLEASE do not share it here!

My heart breaks for the Stafford Family. I am both touched and grateful to Kellie Travers-Stafford who has been so brave in opening up and sharing her story about the tragic death of her daughter Alexi from a peanut allergy. This story hits close to home for many and is a horrific reminder of our reality and the worst nightmare for any parent and/or child living with food allergies.

I have been struggling with the many negative reactions, shaming and blaming that so many feel compelled to post regarding the tragic death of Alexi. Because of these types of posts, I decided years ago to be selective when engaging in conversation to educate others on food allergies. To those who have typed anything but condolences for this family,  here is what I want you to know.

Yes, every tragic food allergy death could have potentially been avoided somehow some way. They are ACCIDENTAL, and that is what makes this disease so challenging on so many levels. Alexi’s death was a tragic accident and speaking as a mother of two teens with life-threatening food allergies, who are extremely vigilant (as it sounds like Alexi was), this could have easily been my children.

We eat Chips Ahoy. They have been a “standby” staple cookie in my family for years. Yes, we train on reading every label every time, but these kids are teens, and if they grew up for years with one cookie out of the hundreds on a grocery store shelf that was safe, they may just have let their guard down for a moment, never thinking that their trusted product had changed.

This is a tragic accident and the worst nightmare of any parent and/or child living with food allergies. There are approximately 200 deaths per year from food allergies. I feel confident in saying that 99.9% of these were accidental. We live our entire life working to eliminate risk, ask the right questions, read labels, avoid products that may contain, educate on the dangers of food allergies, carry an Epi-pen and remove those incapable of understanding right along with high-risk foods and restaurants from our lives, but still, accidents happen.

I’m sure you teach your children life skills and hope that they make smart and safe decisions. One day even with all of your best parenting efforts, your child may be involved in an accident. Accident as defined by Merriam-Webster “an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance” and like many accidents, yes it’s possible it could have been avoided. My hope is that you never have to experience someone putting the blame on you and your child on how this tragic turn of events could have been avoided. I can pretty much guarantee if you do, it won’t be the parent of a child with food allergies!

Posted in Epinephrine Epi-Pen for Anaphlaxis, Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis, Food Allergies In the News, Food Allergy Deaths, Food Allergy Related Deaths, Peanut Allergy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In pursuit of the nut free granola bar.

In pursuit of the nut free granola bar, I find my self (against my better judgement) turning down the snack aisle in the grocery store. I do it cautiously, as if I am lurking in muddy waters hoping that no one is watching. I look around and start to pick up an assortment of boxes, one by one,  intently reading the labels in the hopes that one box will not contain or be labeled “may contain” for peanuts or nuts. That this one day will be the jackpot, and I will be able to buy a package of store bought granola bars.For some reason I am compelled to repeatedly perform this task  knowing that most likely the outcome will remain the same, no store bought granola bars for us.

Over the years I have made a number of healthy safe granola bars and snacks. There are some good no-bake options which I will share soon, but often are messy and need to be refrigerated. I recently came across this recipe  on allerrecipes. My kids LOVE it. These granola bars are tasty and turn out crunchy, so make sure you like the crunchy type of granola bars. They travel well and are good for after school and sporting activities. You can modify these to your dietary needs. I included the variations we made below.

Enjoy!IMG_0968.JPG

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (I used flax)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used Gluten Free)
  • 3/4 cup raisins (optional) (I used currants)
  •  3/4 teaspoon salt (I skipped)

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. ( I used my hands the first time and would not recommend this. I used a spatula the second time, much easier!)
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/81298/playgroup-granola-bars/print/?recipeType=Recipe&servings=24

 

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The Story of “Beyond A Peanut”

In March of 2004, our little Ryan “Ry-Guy” who was 14 months old at the time took a bite of a peanut butter sandwich. Four injections later, and hours of observation Ryan was going to be OK. What we learned is that Ryan had a biphasic anaphylactic reaction, and has a life-threatening peanut allergy.
 
Our lives would be different from that day on. Two large trash cans later our home was peanut free. We threw away our waffle iron, wok, and anything else that might have been used with peanuts or nut oils.
 
Ryan’s doctor stressed that to ensure Ryan’s safety we would have to become his advocate. To educate myself  I began to read everything that I could on the subject of peanut allergies. I learned that eliminating peanuts was not quite as easy as one might think. Peanuts could appear in a wide variety of products and places that one might not think of as being potentially dangerous for someone with a peanut allergy.
 
The more I read the more I realized I would need to advocate for Ryan in more ways than I had imagined. I couldn’t expect someone who was not living with this allergy to read the educational materials, websites, and discussion boards that I had.  I needed to find a quick and easy way to put all of this knowledge that I had gained into a “snap shot” to help people learn about cross-contamination, the importance of reading every label, the use of epinephrine etc… Keeping a child with a peanut allergy safe goes far beyond the peanut itself, hence the name for the flash-cards “Beyond A Peanut”.
 
Our Dr. asked to call Ryan’s day care. After speaking with both the director and the owner, she did not feel it would be safe for Ryan to return to that school. She felt they did not understand the difference between a life-threatening food allergy and one that might create some discomfort. I had set out to find a new day care. I found a great school. It wasn’t peanut free, but the school was so eager to be trained and learn how to provide a safe environment. What I realized was that I did not have the right tools to train them with, which is where my first prototype of  “Beyond A Peanut – Food Allergy Awareness Cards” was born.
 
These cards were created to help educate children with a peanut allergy, their families, friends, and other individuals who provide care for children with peanut allergies. The cards have been found to be extremely effective.  For adults they have created the “a hah” syndrome. For children they have created a circle of friends who help and support Ryan rather then single him out. My hope is that these flash-cards help educate children and those caring for them on how to stay safe with a food allergy.
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