I’m being interviewed for the Journal regarding my childrens’ milk allergies and the release of my new Companion guide and Cookbook. Here are some of the questions and my complete answers: (I’ll let everyone know when it gets published:))
1. How did you cope with the news your first child was allergic/intolerant?
When we gave our oldest son his first bite of yogurt, he went into anaphylaxis and we had to rush him to Urgent Care. Within minutes his body was covered in hives, his eyelids swelled shut, and his arms and legs swelled up. It was terrifying. When we finally saw an allergist who diagnosed his Milk and Egg allergy, we had no idea where to turn or what to do. We made numerous mistakes which resulted in trips to the Emergency Room and many doses of Benadryl. It took years to finally understand the magnitude of his allergy and how to deal with it.
2. How did you discover what to feed him?
A lot of what I fed him at first was trial and error, often resulting in hives, vomiting, and trips to the Emergency Room. Eventually I did a lot of research on the internet and found comprehensive lists of what products contain the milk protein and what to avoid. I learned quickly to read every label, even if “dairy-free” is written on the front, as many products still contained caseinate (derived from milk) resulting in rashes on my son.
3. Is it odd that so many of your kids have this, or is that rather common?
I find it very odd that so many of my children have problems with dairy as both my husband and I have no problem with dairy products. I spent the first years in denial, hoping it would go away. Now, it is just a part of our daily living as I’ve learned to deal with it and adapt meals for the entire family.
4. Do you know actual statistics for kids who are allergic?
US News reported that 4% of children and teens in the US are affected by a food allergy. This has increased 18% over the last decade.
5. What made you decide to undertake the cookbook?
I found my inspiration for writing my cookbook 2 1/2 years ago when I started nursing my youngest daughter and had to go off of all dairy products myself due to her colic-type symptoms. As soon as I went off all dairy products, her symptoms went away. While I have always been sympathetic to my children, I was amazed at how bland the dairy-free food was that I had been preparing for them. I found myself craving savory meals and creamy sauces. I decided then and there that I would start cooking better not only for myself, but for my children. I wanted to share my findings with others who were going through a similar situation, thus starting my quest to find and create savory dishes that the entire family could enjoy.
6. What was the process…how did you get recipes, test, get it published, etc.
This first thing I did in preparing to write my cookbook was collect all of my favorite recipes that I’ve adapted, created, and modified over the years and put them all into one place. I then sent out e-mails to friends and family and asked them to submit recipes that they enjoyed that might be dairy-free. This was a long and tedious process as many people had no idea what meals may or may not be dairy-free. I spent hours sifting through recipes and even found some hand written ones from grandparents. Those were treasures. I then branched out and joined an allergy support group. This was very helpful not only for recipes but also for moral support to know that I was not alone in my struggles with the allergies of my children. In addition to this I started a blog documenting my experiences with my childrens’ milk allergies and started up a website www.milkallergycompanion.com. As recipes came in, I organized them and screened them for appropriateness in my cookbook. After I organized everything, I knew that I needed to test and photograph each recipe, as I only wanted to use the best in my cookbook. I once again sent out e-mails asking for volunteer test kitchens. Many family members and friends helped out in this process. I asked them to rate the recipes, tell if they would change anything, and asked if their family enjoyed the recipe. We also tested every recipe in our own kitchen and I had my children and husband rate them. This process took a very long time. In addition to test kitchens, we had food parties. One favorite one was the bread and soup cookoff. Everyone made one of the soup dishes that I was testing or one of the bread dishes. We then all came together and sampled all of the food. I had little anonymous cups for people to rate each dish from 1 to 5. It was a lot of fun and a great way to help choose the best recipes possible. We also did this with multiple pancake recipes, cookie recipes, and the like. I was surprised to find that some of my favorites were no longer my favorites. It was a lot of fun trying new things. After I had all the recipes tested and photographed, I started the long process of compiling them into a format ready for printing. I love scrapbooking and found it a lot of fun to showcase the photos and to play with the fonts. After the book was completed and edited, I finally met with a self-publishing company, BookSurge, and a few weeks later, my book was ready to print and is now available for sale through my website, Amazon, and other on-line book stores. It was a very gratifying experience to finally finish something that I had started.
7. How long did it take start to finish?
It took me 2 1/2 years start to finish to collect, test, photograph, and compile my cookbook. It was a happy day when it was finally published!
8. What are some of the features?
In The Milk Allergy Companion & Cookbook, there are over 175 tested recipes, amazingly all dairy-free, a shopping and eating out guide, a list of hidden sources of dairy, ideas for nursing moms who have to go off of all dairy, ideas for birthday parties, school, and other special occasions, quick meal ideas and a list of dairy-free snacks, and tips and tricks for cooking dairy-free (as well as a few tips on how to adapt for an egg allergy).
On the website, www.milkallergycompanion.com, I have put together links to other helpful milk allergy sites, a blog detailing my own experiences, free dairy-free recipes monthly, an eating out guide, and more in-depth information about the cookbook.
9. What do you hope to accomplish with the book and companion web site?
If I can help one person out there who is struggling with a milk allergy, then I have succeeded. I hope that through my book and website I can help those individuals who have been newly diagnosed with a milk allergy avoid some of the pitfalls and trips to the emergency room that we had to go through. I hope to provide recipes that use normal ingredients that the entire family can enjoy, with or without a milk allergy. I also want to inspire others to recognize that there is hope and that one can embrace and savor life in spite of their milk allergy.