Living with food allergies

As long as your child or other family member has a food allergy, you will need to avoid that Henry at tablefood. Sometimes that is easier said than done.  You will need to become someone who reads every food label and is extra vigilant if the allergy is severe.

Here are some tips for living with allergies:

  • Read the label before buying food at the grocery store. Allergens are listed at the end of the ingredient label. People that are very sensitive should avoid foods that state “may have been processed on equipment that processed some other allergen”.
  • Look at restaurant menus on line before you leave home. You may find options that work well with the dietary restrictions. You may also find hidden ingredients in foods you might not suspect. Some fast food French fries contain dairy. I know that surprised me when we discovered it.
  • Let your server know the dietary restrictions. They may be aware of how the food is prepared and can help with any possible cross contamination issues. They may also be aware of substitutions that the restaurant has on hand for allergies.
  • Avoid buffet or family style settings as there may be cross contamination issues. When many people serve themselves it is easy for someone to use the serving utensil from one pan in another pan.
  • Fried foods may be a problem as the same oil may be used to fry many different foods.
  • Make sure that your child’s school is aware of the allergy. If the allergy is severe, make sure that the school is prepared to help your child in the event of a severe reaction.  Many schools now have a policy of outlawing peanut butter and homemade treats to keep everyone safe.
  • Work with other families that have the same food restrictions; sometimes they are aware of products that work well as substitutions or you may buy some foods in bulk and share with them.

This information is really just a basic introduction to food allergies. Work with your doctor and a dietitian to help your child lead the best, safest life.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Food Allergies

Food allergies are something that we seem to hear about often. It seems like they affect so many different things; from eating at a restaurant, to food for school treats, to a child’s birthday party.  Is it really an issue, or is it just a fad that will disappear soon?   We sometimes have callers frustrated that the menu or treat they have planned is not acceptable just because one Henryguest or child claims to have an allergy.  One caller wanted to serve peanuts at a large bridal shower but was frustrated because people told her she couldn’t as the bride had a severe peanut allergy.  She didn’t know what the “big deal” was; the bride should just not eat the peanuts.  We discussed the possibility that if a child may handle some peanuts and later hug and kiss the bride.  We explained that the risk to the bride for accidental exposure was too great and that peanuts must be eliminated from the menu.   After all, who wants to get the bride sick at her own party?

Food allergies are simply a child or person’s immune reaction to a food. The person must have had some exposure or eaten the food previously to exhibit an immune reaction.  Most food allergies are caused by one of these eight foods:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Peanuts, milk, and eggs are the most common foods causing allergies. Some children may outgrow an allergy; other allergies are lifelong.

Symptoms of the allergy may begin within a few minutes of exposure to the food. Other reactions may occur after a longer period—an hour or so.  The symptoms may include:

  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Wheezing
  • Eczema
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Lowered blood pressure

Sometimes very young children or infants may be allergic to soy or milk. Usually colic or fussiness, poor growth, or blood in the stool are signs of this allergy.  It does not take much of a particular food to cause a bad reaction in a person that is highly allergic.

Food allergies can’t really be prevented; however, delaying feeding solid foods to children for the first 6 months can help. Avoid feeding wheat, eggs, peanuts, fish, and cow’s milk during baby’s first year.  If it is possible, try to breast feed for the first 6 months.  This information was accurate when this blog post was written in 2016, however, now the recommendation on the American Academy of Pediatrics states “There is strong evidence that introducing allergens like peanut to babies at high risk for peanut allergy, starting as early as 4-6 months, may help reduce the risk of developing food allergies by up to 80%.”

There is no medicine to give a child to prevent food allergy, work with your doctor if you suspect a food allergy. Avoid those foods causing the allergy.  Your doctor may advise using vitamins if your child’s diet is very limited.  You may need to avoid those same foods if you are breast feeding.  Small amounts of the allergen may be passed through the milk.  If your child has severe allergies, your doctor may prescribe an emergency kit with an epinephrine pen.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Tips for Organizing Toys

Toys3The AnswerLine staff has been thinking and talking about getting more organized in 2016. Recently, I was visiting with my daughter as she was organizing her sons’ toys.  As she was adding Christmas toys to the boys’ rooms; she was removing some toys they don’t play with much anymore and making sure the remaining toys are age appropriate.

 

Here are some tips to help you organize toys at your house:

  1. Choose a time when children are away, sleeping, or otherwise occupied.
  2. Make 3 boxes for toys labeled: dispose, donate, store.toys1
  3. Dispose of broken toys and those that can’t be safely repaired.
  4. Remove toys that you seldom see the children using.
  5. If an older child has outgrown a toy, recycle it to a younger sibling, relative, or a box to be used when younger children visit.
  6. Rotate toys you don’t want to be without. Plan to remove some toys for a season or 3 months. Exchange these toys with other seasonal toys at that time.
  7. Consider investing in some clear, plastic storage boxes. You can group toys according to theme; farm toys, train toys, play dough. This makes storage and room cleaning so much easier.
  8. Older children may want to help choose which toys to remove, donate, or dispose.  This can be a great learning experience.
  9. Remember, some toys are favorites and it may be better to organize than remove them.Toys5

Hopefully, reorganizing your children’s toys will bring a less cluttered and more enjoyable 2016.  I plan to reorganize the grand children toys at my home this weekend.  I will buy some more boxes for the train toys to help the grandkids find what they need more easily.  I won’t dispose of any trains or accessories as they are a favorite with all my grandchildren.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Making your own baby food

baby-food-224x300In less than 7 weeks we will be blessed with the arrival of our first grandchild!  Needless to say we are all very excited!!  We have been shopping for car seats, strollers and porta cribs but one of the best gifts that I plan to give my new grandson is healthy and nutritious baby food that I have prepared and frozen just for him.  Although solid foods are not introduced to babies for several months I am starting to plan what I can grow and make into tasty baby food.  When you make it yourself not only do you know that the food you are feeding your baby is nutritious but it also costs much less than buying jars at the grocery store, especially as the baby grows and starts eating more!

Here are some tips to remember when making your own baby food:

  • Make sure everything is clean. This includes washing your hands, washing the fresh fruits or vegetables (even when you are peeling them) and using clean equipment.  Babies’ immune systems are more vulnerable to bacteria so practicing safe food handling methods is especially important.
  • Use fresh fruits and vegetables or frozen ones that have no added sugar, salt, flavorings or preservatives.
  • Cook fruits and vegetables to soften them with a small amount of water unless they are already soft like bananas. Save the cooking water to use if foods are too thick when pureeing.  Use a food processor, blender or immersion blender to get the food to the correct consistency.
  • Use ice cube trays to freeze the baby food. Each cube will be approximately 1 ounce.  Once frozen empty the contents of the ice cube tray into a freezer bag.  Mark the outside of the bag the contents and the date when frozen.  When ready to use always thaw in the refrigerator not on the counter.
  • Always throw away any uneaten leftover food in the baby’s dish.

To watch a video on making baby food, use this link from Spend Smart Eat Smart.  If you are wondering when to introduce food to your baby here is some great information from WIC.

Feeding your family healthy and nutritious foods is a priority for everyone.  I can’t wait to spoil my grandson with my homemade baby food made with lots of love.

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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4-H tips

imageDo you have a 4–H member in your household? The extended vacation after Christmas is a great time to start working on an exhibit for the county fair.  There are many food and nutrition, textile and clothing, child development, or creative arts projects that members can begin work on and some that could be completed during this time.  The write-up can be completed and the entire exhibit set aside until county fair time rolls around.  Just don’t forget where you stashed it.

When my kids-now grown with kids old enough to be Clover kids- were 4-H members, we had sleep over “camp” at our house over vacation. Sometimes kids would rather learn from another adult besides mom, so my sister and I would work with each other’s kids on some exhibits that could be completed over break.  It sure made the days before fair a bit easier since some exhibits were totally prepared and did not need any last minute adjustments.  The kids also enjoyed working with each other and it was just an overall good family time.  It didn’t hurt that there were lots of people around to sample baked goods when we were trying to settle on a recipe for fair.

Consider having some 4-H fun over Christmas break this year. See you at the fair.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Celebrate National 4-H Week With US

national_4h_week_logo1Today is the first day of National 4-H week. Sometimes I think we take for granted what a wonderful program we have available for all our children. 4-H isn’t just for girls to learn how to cook and sew and boys to learn about livestock any more. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning how to cook or sew or care for livestock. 4-H can be about anything a member is interested in learning about. We now have clubs that specialize in culinary, robotics, rocketry, and technology. Just about any topic a member wants to learn about can be a project area and later an exhibit for the county fair. You don’t have to live on a farm to be involved in 4-H. In Story County, we have a large dog obedience program. The member’s dogs range from farm dogs to cherished “members of the family”.

Our children were able to learn an amazing array of skills while participating in 4-H. Conference judging gives members the opportunity to present themselves to a stranger and answer questions. These skills are a great benefit when those members apply for jobs and must interview for a position. Learning to speak in front of a group and feeling confident and competent with new skills are also lifelong benefits.

Over the years, younger children have wanted to join 4-H. Now kindergarteners are able to be Clover Kids which gives them opportunities to explore areas of interest and exhibit projects at the county fair.

Celebrate 4-H week with us. 4-H has been an important part of our lives and our family’s lives.

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Picky Eaters

JerryDo you have a toddler that is a picky or fussy eater? This can be a huge problem for young families. It seems that everyone has a different opinion about what caused this and how to “fix” it. If you or someone you know is having this problem, we have a few tips that may be useful.

  • Remove tempting snack foods from your home. Try not to buy these foods, or make them hard to find so the toddler is not aware they may be an option for a meal or snack. Research has demonstrated toddlers tend to eat foods that are easily available.
  • Since easily available foods are more readily eaten, keep healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables on the counter tops or prepared in the refrigerator (peeled, sliced, or individually portioned).
  • Remember that food is food, not a punishment or a reward. Try to avoid making some foods seem like punishments or others seem more special. Vegetables are not for punishment and ice cream should not be a reward.
  • Remember young small bodies cannot hold large quantities of food and snacks are often necessary. Just help them understand that a snack is a snack and not the meal. Studies show that children that eat regular meals have healthier weights and that planning snacks can teach healthy eating habits.
  • Filling a child’s plate-restaurant style- can help mealtime choices seem less overwhelming.
  • Encourage your child to help plan meals, grocery shop, and prepare food. They are more likely to try food they have helped fix.
  • Learn to savor and enjoy food. A quiet table with family conversation will encourage eating and enjoyment of food.

Helping your child or grandchild develop a healthy attitude towards food is a skill that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Easy Nature Crafts for Kids

Since school has been out for a few weeks now, the kids may be starting to get bored.  Here are a few ideas for crafts using materials found in nature- directly from the AnswerLine files.  Enjoy.

PAINTING ON SAND

Materials needed: Fine construction sand, tea strainers/flour sifters, glue, tempera paint, brushes, scrap boards or heavy cardboard, felt tip pens

Directions:

  1. Spread glue evenly over board or heavy cardboard. A scrap of cardboard can be used to spread the glue.
  2. Using sifters or strainers, sprinkle sand over glue surface. Let dry.
  3. Paint design on sand. Felt tip pens can be used to add details

NATURE COLLAGE

Materials needed: Cardboard bolts, scrap fabric, glue, scissors,  nature material such as twigs, leaves, flowers

Directions:

  1. Have child gather dried plant materials (leaves, twigs, feathers, etc.) that can be glued to a flat surface.
  2. Cut cardboard bolts in 12-15″ lengths. Cover boards with fabric.
  3. Arrange nature materials on board. Glue down. Allow to dry.

PAPER MAKING

Materials needed: Dishpan, sponge, blender, egg beater, paper scraps, lint, dried leaves, dried grass, iron, newspapers, window screen on canvas stretchers

Directions:

  1. Staple window screen to canvas stretchers. Screen should fit into dishpan easily.
  2. Combine scraps, lint, dried leaves etc. with warm water and blend or beat into slurry.
  3. Pour slurry into dishpan. Add water to thin mixture.
  4. Dip screen into mixture, let drain.
  5. Sponge off excess water. Turn screen slurry side down on a stack of newspapers. Lift screen off.
  6. Cover the area with 3 sheets of newspaper and iron till dry.
  7. Peel off new sheet of paper.

NATURE WEAVING

Materials needed: Yarns, found nature items, 2 sturdy sticks 12″ long, 3-ply jute or cotton packaging cord, comb, T-Pins, cardboard bolts

Directions:

  1. Cut 12 to 18 pieces of jute or cotton 30 long. Fold each piece in half and attach with a half hitch to a stick. Pin stick and strings to top of fabric bolt.
  2. Tie ends of jute or cord to second stick which is pinned to the bottom of cardboard.
  3. Weave over and under cotton jute cords (warp) with other pieces of yam (weft). Insert pine needles. leaves etc. at random to complete design. Weft yams do not need to be tied. Open areas of warp may be left. Use comb to pack weft yams.
  4. When finished remove T-pins from cardboard. Sticks will stay attached in weaving.

BARK PRINTING

Materials needed: Cotton T-shirt (pre-washed), scrap fabric, newspapers, latex paint, 4″ paint brush, scrub brush/bucket, trees

Directions:

  1. Stuff T-shirt with crumpled newspaper.
  2. Paint sections of tree with latex paint. Choose a tree that is marked for cutting or use cut logs that are to be burned.
  3. Press T-shirt against painted surface.
  4. Wash off tree surface with water and scrub brush if tree is to be unharmed.
  5. After T-shirt is completely dried (4 to 8 hours) iron on reverse side of design to heat-set. Launder wrong side out, by hand.

CHALK SWIRLING

Materials needed: Colored chalk ,  pan with water, scrap paper, popsicle stick

Directions:

  1. Using a popsicle stick, scrape off chalk particles into water surface. Chalk will float in still water.
  2. Drop paper onto water surface. Remove immediately. Chalk will stick to paper. Allow paper to dry.

LEAF PRINTING

Materials needed: Grasses, leaves, tempera paint, paper, paint brushes

Directions:

  1. Paint under side of leaves, grasses with tempera paint.
  2. Lay the painted side down on a sheet of paper.
  3. Cover the leaves etc. with used paper, rub lightly with hand.
  4. Remove used top paper and plant material. Allow design to dry.

Try some of these ideas the next time you hear “I’m bored”.  You may find a budding artist in the family.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Make your own sidewalk chalk and play dough

Are you looking for some fun projects to make with your kids or grandkids?   Why not try making your own sidewalk chalk or play dough.   Both are easy to make and require only a few ingredients that are easy to find!

chalk1chalk2chalk

 

 

 

 

 

To make sidewalk chalk start collecting empty paper towel and toilet paper tubes.  Wrap one end with duct tape.  Use freezer paper or waxed paper to line the inside of the tube.  To make the chalk mix in a large empty yogurt container 1 cup water and 3-4 Tablespoons of your favorite color tempera paint.  When that is mixed, slowly stir in 1 ½ cups of plaster of paris.  The mixture will start to thicken but you still want to be able to pour it into your sealed and lined tubes.  Let set until firm when squeezed (1/2 to 1 hour) then, remove the outside liner and let it sit until dry, which may take a couple of days.  The end result will be colorful sideway chalk that is both fun to make and fun to use!

By making your own sidewalk chalk you control the size and shape.  Larger pieces won’t break as easy as thin ones plus it is a fun project to make.  I plan to share mine with my great niece and nephews as well as my sister who has a wall painted with blackboard paint for her grandkids to enjoy.

play dough 2 play dough1 play dough

 

 

 

 

 

To make a cooked version of play dough, mix together the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 cup cold water

Mix all of the ingredients together and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring constantly. When finished, it will be the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Divide it into 3-4 equal portions and add a few drops of different colors of food coloring to each.  Kneading the dough will distribute the color and make it smooth.  Store it in a freezer bag or air tight container and it will keep for a long time.  This makes about 3 ½ cups of play dough.

Homemade play dough is a project where kids can be actively involved (once the cooking is done).  Keep plenty of cookie cutters and other small kitchen tools for the kids to use when playing with the play dough.  It will provide hours of fun!

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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New Year and Resolutions

As the New Year approaches, many of us think of things we would like to change in our lives. There are many different approaches to making New Year’s resolutions.

It is tempting to consider making drastic lifestyle changes to accomplish a major goal as quickly as possible. This may not be the most effective strategy; instead, consider making small, manageable steps. If you are not already a subscriber, consider looking at some of the other Iowa State University Extension and Outreach blogs for ways to improve your life.  Spend Smart. Eat Smart can help you with healthy eating while getting the most for your food dollar. The Science of Parenting blog can help if you have resolved to be the best parent you can be.  If budgeting or overspending are on your mind, look at Money Tip$.  Of course, the SafeFood blog is a special favorite of AnswerLine as this blog has information about keeping the food in your home safe to eat.

Resolve to check out all of these blogs for tips on leading a smarter, healthier life in 2015

Happy New Year from the AnswerLine staff.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

More Posts - Website

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