Peanut allergy guilt and delicious coping tools
When my son Cameron was first diagnosed with peanut allergy, I cried. (Not in front of him, but still, it was pretty pathetic.)
I mourned for what I thought would be the end of iconic childhood experiences like getting soft-serve from the ice cream truck (which never fails to go by our house each day before dinner when the weather is remotely decent) and having a piece of birthday cake.
On top of this was the guilt over the possible link between his allergy and my consumption of peanut butter during my pregnancy. I'm a vegetarian, and while I knew about the possible connection while I was pregnant, I didn't have a family history of nut allergies and felt the risk to reward ratio was pretty decent. Afterall, I needed protein to order to make an entire person, right?
The latest from the how-you-caused-your-child's-life-threatening-allergy file is today's story that says peanut allergies are more common in boys from affluent homes. Apparently we are so busy sanitizing the environs of our bubble boys that their immune systems aren't able to cope when faced with the enormous threat of a peanut.
Personally, I don't think I'm that good a housekeeper. I don't recall bathing my baby in Purell and I'm kind of keen on green cleaners so I'm pretty sure I didn't Lysol the hell out of my kitchen counters.
For whatever reason, my eldest son has a peanut allergy. We don't know about 3-year-old Alister (he's so keen on being exactly like his brother he has actually pitched a tantrum insisting he too is allergic to peanuts, but that's another story). I've gotten past beating myself up about it and I've found a way to be comfortable letting Cameron have the birthday cake as long as the Epi-pen is on hand.
And luckily, the world is becoming a much more peanut-allergy-friendly place. (Don't get me started on those whiners who can't possibly face a baseball game without a bag of peanuts, though.) Even during the time since Cam was diagnosed, a lot more packaged goods companies are finding the balls to guarantee their stuff peanut free. Schools have peanut-free policies and daycare workers get regular Epi-pen training.
Happily, there is also a bakery in Toronto offering scads of gorgeous confections all entirely nut-free (bonus: also free of nasty preservatives).
Started in 2007, Two Moms Baked Goods has filled a niche in the market not just for parents of nut-allergic children, but for everyone organizing a birthday party or a class picnic with a group of kids that is more likely than not to include at least one child who is allergic to nuts.
Co-owner Caroline Davis suffers from peanut and fish allergies herself, so she understands the burden of not knowing whether or not the food is safe and the headache of carrying an Epi-pen everywhere she goes.
The venture has been so successful that the business just moved to a bigger location to help accommodate the popular baking parties they host on site.
Two Moms hosted a group of mom bloggers and kids on Sunday and I got to take my guys along to bake brownies in the shop's basement.
(Please forgive the cruddy photo quality. These were taken with my phone as I have recently busted my camera.)
This is Alister with his bowl of brownie batter.
Cameron was absolutely delighted to be in charge of his own brownies including the cracking of FOUR eggs. Caroline really empowered the kids to bring a bit of their own creativity into the maybe-not-so-strict science of baking. Encouraged to sample the chocolate chips, make their own decision to enhance the recipe with marshmallows, and, by all means, to lick the bowl, the the kids were in heaven.
"I could get USED to this!" said Cameron.
And that was BEFORE they were invited to go into the retail part of the bakery and pick anything they'd like. KID SWOON!
It was a great winter afternoon and I'm pleased to know this place is there for the next time I just can't make the cupcakes myself.
And confession: I had rather a lot of brownie batter myself that day.