Muffins with Mom

This year, our pre-school hosted a “Muffins with Mom” event in appreciation for all that we momma’s do. Me being me, I immediately volunteered to make Top 8 allergy-friendly muffins so that all of the kids and moms could participate. There would be two events, one on Thursday and one on Friday.

I had never made allerGene-friendly muffins, and definitely not Top 8, so I baked a few batches ahead of time to make sure they didn’t taste like dirt. Let me tell you, the muffins were delicious! They were a hit with all of my taste testers, both those with and without allergies alike. They were thicker than I expected and they stuck to the liners a bit, but I was confident that I had found my recipe and was ready to bake my official batch!

[Side note: I was going to spray the liners with a touch of coconut oil to help with the sticking. However, when I looked at the ingredients, the spray was not pure coconut- it contained SOY! Always, always, always double check your ingredients!]

Muffins with Mom Allergy Friendly Muffins

I washed all of my measuring spoons, bowls, and muffin tins. I sanitized the counters with clean dish rags and set out a fresh dish towel for drying. I even made sure to bake during rest time so the kids would be out of the kitchen. I did everything right.

We only have a handful of kids with food allergies at our school, so I figured a dozen muffins would suffice. True to form, Gene, Farrah, and I split one muffin from this batch to make sure they were as tasty as expected. They definitely were!

Once the muffins cooled, I placed them in a large tupperware container. From there, I typed up a list of all of the items used and their specific ingredients. Allergy moms want to know this stuff upfront, and I didn’t want there to be any hesitation during the event.

Before I knew it, the day was done and it was off to bed! I would deliver the muffins to school the next morning.

Top 8 Allergy Friendly Hungry Harry's Chocolate Chip Muffins

I woke up at 1:01 AM in a panic. I had a dream that was so realistic that it shook me to my core. My dream, or rather nightmare, was a replay of my afternoon, only this time, there was no joy or confidence in what was taking place. My ingredients morphed into ones that were not free from allergens, my utensils were not cleaned properly, and the risk of cross-contamination was everywhere I looked. When I awoke, I was plagued by fear and overcome with anxiety.

Needless to say, I did not go back to sleep. Instead, I tortured myself further by playing the “What If Game”. What if I read the ingredients wrong and they did, in fact, contain a major allergen? What if the tupperware container I stored them in somehow had allergen residue? What if when I dropped the muffins off, the volunteers accidentally mixed them with the other muffins? What if someone has a reaction when they eat these muffins? What if they don’t have their epinephrine on them? The game continued for hours.

As night turned to day, my emotions ran even higher. These thoughts had overwhelmed me and I was a wreck. I called my husband in tears. I reached out and asked friends to pray for me and the quality of the muffins. I even considered backing out and saying that there would be no allergy-friendly muffins this year.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I was never a person who struggled with anxiety, but becoming a food allergy mom has challenged that fact.

It had happened. It had happened again. I let a bad dream take over. As an allergy mom, this happens more often than I care to admit. When I am awake, I can control my thoughts. I can fight the fears and anxieties. However, when I am asleep, I don’t stand a chance against them.

After many prayers and much deliberation, I made my decision. I know how to cook for people with allergies and I know the precautions to take to avoid cross-contamination. I knew these muffins were safe and that they would bring smiles to a few unexpectant faces, so it was only right that I deliver them for the event.

Muffins with Mom Allergy Friendly Muffins

In the end, I’m so thankful that I made the decision to provide muffins for the event. One of the volunteers e-mailed me after the first round on Thursday and said that the muffins were a hit and they only had two muffins left! She asked if I could make more for Friday’s event (the one we were attending). This time, I confidently said yes!

Muffins with Mom Allergy Friendly Muffins

Friday morning, we attended our very first Muffins with Mom event. As I’m sure you other momma’s can attest to, it wasn’t a relaxing occasion by any means. The upside was that I was able to eat a second breakfast with my babies and watch Gene create the most beautiful bead bracelet for me.

I’d like to say that my takeaway from this experience is that I will be more confident in my knowledge and abilities as an allergy-mom in the future. Maybe I will learn my lesson, but maybe I won’t. You can be sure I will keep you updated though!

Muffins with Mom Allergy Friendly Muffins

Monster Jam

[a stadium story]

Each year, Houston’s NRG Stadium converts into a giant dirt track for monster trucks. The monster truck drivers wow the audience by performing stunts and racing each other. It’s truly a spectacle!

Gene obtained an obsession for monster trucks early on, so it was an event we were eager to take him to. For the first few years, our reasoning for not taking him was nap time and following schedules, but as he got older and we could be more flexible, the excuse became his allergies.

NRG Monster Jam with Food Allergies

NRG is a major stadium and, as such, it is filled with more germs and allergens than this mom wanted to think about. However, I knew that this had the potential to be a memorable experience for our family and I did not want to be held back. So, we decided to go in celebration of Gene’s third birthday. We purchased our tickets, arranged for a family member to watch baby Farrah, and began to plan, plan, plan!

I scoured NRG’s website for information on outside food. I knew we had to have our approved clear bag, but in most situations, outside food is not permitted, so I needed more precise details. The website clearly stated that “exceptions are made for medical reasons and children”. I felt that we qualified for both of those exceptions.

NRG Stadium Monster Jam Food Allergies

I made sure to screenshot this piece of gold and packed our bag! Our clear bag included multiple allerGene-friendly snacks, Gene’s EPI Pens, chewable Benadryl, and anti-bacterial wipes. Off we went!

I had so much fear leading up to this outing. I prayed and prayed for weeks and even asked others to pray for our family. As we approached the security check, I was still anxious, but knew we were as prepared as we could be.

I opened our bag and the gentleman immediately saw the stocked goodies. Before he had a chance to even open his mouth, I explained that Gene had food allergies and he could not eat anything in the stadium. He paused with hesitation and said, “Let me talk to my supervisor”. As he walked away, I got my screenshot ready and was fully prepared to cause a scene and be on the 5:00 news.

Fortunately for him (and the news that evening), the man came back and said, “Alright, those are fine. Go on through”. My entire body gave a sigh of relief as I knew the first battle was over.

The second battle would be fighting the allergens inside the stadium.

We got to our seats and promptly used our antibacterial wipes to wipe them down. I scanned the nearby sections for allergens and didn’t initially see anything that would cause alarm.

The show began and Gene looked absolutely precious wearing his noise blocking headgear. We made it almost two hours before the group diagonally in front of us pulled out a bag of peanuts. If that didn’t make me nervous enough, they proceeded to throw them down the row to other members of their group. Not the entire bag, but individual peanuts flying through the air. They meant it as a way of sharing with each other, but through my eyes, all I saw was the potential for a deadly reaction.

I opened my mouth multiple times to say something, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Being an allergy mom means you’re usually caught between a rock and a hard place. I didn’t want Gene to be at risk, but I also didn’t want to impose our burden on others. Airborne allergies are tricky. You never know when or if a reaction is actually going to occur, which makes me hesitate when it comes to asking others to change what they’re eating.

Unfortunately, they ended up sharing the peanuts with more than just their row of friends. Hives began to appear on Gene’s cheeks and our chewable Benadryl was utilized. Between the minor reaction and Gene’s sitting still time maxing out, we knew it was our time to go.

It’s been a year since we went to Monster Jam and I still think about those peanuts flying overhead. I have replayed that scenario over and over again in my head and, after all this time, I still don’t know if I would say something to the people in front of us.


So, let your takeaway be this: Next time you’re at a stadium event, please be cautious if you choose to eat peanuts. Peanuts have a high potential of posing an airborne risk, meaning that people can have reactions simply from small particles circulating through the air they breathe.

Ask those around you if they have a peanut allergy, ask for a container to throw your shells in rather than throwing them on the floor, and definitely do not throw them down the rows.

Although we didn’t make it the entire way through the show, the few hours we did see were enough to make us want to go back again. I’m not sure when that will be because I am still so terrified of Gene’s airborne peanut allergy, but I know we’ll try again some day.


Road Tripping with Food Allergies

Traveling with Food Allergies

We recently took our very first extended road trip as a family of four and made the long haul from Texas to Florida! Things surprisingly went better than expected. The key is VERY low expectations and A LOT of prep work.

Everyone knows that going on a road trip is a lot of effort. Anyone who has kids knows that going anywhere with children is a lot of work. When you combine those two and throw food allergies on top, you’ve got the complete trifecta!



About a week before our trip, I started a ‘notes page’ in my phone and kept a running list of all of the things we would need to bring with us: baby monitor, sound machines, Pack-n-Play, Bumbo seat, books, toys, etc.

When I’m packing, I pull out everything that I can think of off the top of my head. Once I have it all laid out, I then refer to my list. I erase any items that I have already packed and then hunt down any remaining items from the list.

It’s an almost fool-proof method. I continue to add to the list even the night before. I usually leave the super important items, such as the beach house key, on the list until I am walking out the door to ensure that we have it al!


True to myself, I created excel sheets for organizing all of our food needs. Luckily, we have visited Florida enough times and are familiar enough with the local grocery store to know what allerGene-friendly items they have in stock, or rather what they do not have in stock.

On the first spreadsheet, I created our Meal Plan. We definitely did not stick to eating these specific meals on these exact days, but it was a nice visual way to lay it out and make sure we were going to have enough food. Please feel free to judge the unhealthiness! For those of you who think that we eat super healthy because of Gene’s allergies, here is your proof that we definitely do not, especially on vacation!

Traveling with Food Allergies

The second spreadsheet is where the real magic happened. I listed the meals that we were having in the left column. Next to that, I had two columns: one for allerGene-friendly items that I knew we needed to bring with us because the store didn’t carry the products and another for items that we could buy at the store that were needed to complete the meal. The final column consisted of snacks and items we knew we’d need.

You might see a few things in the “BRING” column that you know they would carry in any grocery store, like cheese. That’s because these were items that we already had at home that we were going to need and decided to take with us since we had the room.

Traveling with Food Allergies


We traveled with two coolers. One was your standard large cooler that went in the bed of the truck. It was loaded down with the allerGene-friendly items that we brought from home to eat throughout the week. Once these items were packed in the cooler, I highlighted them blue. The second cooler was a smaller one that we kept in the back seat that was easily accessible.



There’s nothing special about where we chose to stop to go to the restroom and get gas. We’re just like everyone else and made our best guess as to which place was the cleanest (example A: Cracker Barrel).

Traveling with Food Allergies


Since stopping at fast-food restaurants along the way wasn’t an option for us, our smaller cooler was filled with our lunches and snacks that we ate along our journey. On the way there, we ended up stopping at the Mississippi Welcome Center to stretch our legs, go to the bathroom, and eat lunch. We ate outside at a picnic table, enjoyed some fresh air, and even had a few running races to the big tree and back. It was the perfect break!

Traveling with Food Allergies



We currently have a grocery delivery service membership and we take full advantage of it, even when we’re on vacation! When we were about 30 minutes out, I referred to my handy-dandy excel sheet and ordered our groceries from an app on my phone. I picked our delivery time and they were delivered shortly after we arrived at the house.

*You may have noticed that we had “Alfredo & Meatballs” on the menu for dinner. Fun Fact: Alfredo sauce has egg in it. I discovered this when I was ordering our groceries and double checking ingredients. We switched to plain old olive oil and parmesan for our sauce.*


Our drive to the beach is just over 10 hours with no stops. Adding in 3-4 stops for eating, gas, and potty breaks, we’re looking at about 11-12 hours total. Since we left at 5:00 in the morning, that meant we were going to arrive at the house right around dinner time. I knew that our rowdy crowd was going to want to chow down as soon as possible.

Since I’m such a smart momma, I planned ahead and made sure that we brought all of our dinner ingredients with us from home. When we got to the beach, we unloaded the truck, grabbed a beer for the parental units, and headed down to the beach just in time to watch the sun set. Mind you, it was about 4:50 in the afternoon, but that’s what you get in late November.

From there, we came inside and I whipped up “homemade pizza” with Schar crust in under 15 minutes. You just can’t beat an easy meal like that after a day of traveling!

Traveling with Food Allergies

If you’ve read this novel of a post, you might be thinking that this is all way too much work for a vacation. I agree with you, but I know firsthand that food allergies don’t take vacations. They are a 24/7 lifetime job that require the utmost attention to detail.

In the end, all of the planning and prep-work was easily worth it. The Florida weather and views were beyond gorgeous as usual. We had the best time playing in the sand and riding bikes, and in addition, saw more dolphins than I’ve seen in the last 20 years combined!  We even ventured out to a Mexican restaurant, La Cocina, where the staff was highly knowledgeable on food allergies and made Gene his very own batch of corn tortillas! We will definitely be going back next year for Thanksgiving break. Who wants to go with us?

Traveling with Food Allergies
Traveling with Food Allergies
Traveling with Food Allergies
Traveling with Food Allergies
Traveling with Food Allergies
STOPS: There’s nothing special about where we chose to stop to go to the restroom and get gas. We’re just like everyone else and made our best guess as to which place was the cleanest.

Introduce Peanuts Early & Often?

If you are pregnant or have a newborn, you’ve probably been given the advice of “introduce peanuts early and often”. As I write this post, I am literally laughing and cringing at the same time. This advice is so misleading, so absurd, and so dangerous that I cannot believe people are spreading this information and doctor’s are posting flyers in their exam rooms stating such.

Let me be clear, I am not a doctor or a medical professional. Now let me be even MORE clear, my son could have very well ended up in the hospital, or dead, if I had followed that simple advice. Fortunately for him, I like to make rules, not follow them.

I am not saying that peanut products should not be given to babies. Rather, I am saying parents need to be given more information than just the short tidbit of ‘early and often’.

Pediatricians recommend introducing peanut products to babies as early as four to six months. Great. Fine by me. However, this recommendation should not be given to ALL parents for ALL babies in a simple snapshot.

Here is MY advice:

Look for warning signs and get a blood test done if you’re even the slightest bit concerned. If you haven’t seen any warning signs and aren’t concerned, feed away!

Warning signs? What warning signs? We had dozens of repeated warning signs when Gene was a baby; we just didn’t know that’s what they were. The two most prevalent signs were eczema and rashes/hives.

Introduce Peanuts Early and Often
Introduce Peanuts Early and Often


From minute zero, Gene had sensitive skin. When the typical newborn shedding and baby acne period had passed, we mentioned to our pediatrician that we were concerned about Gene’s skin. We were told that he had eczema and were given recommendations for how to treat it with home-remedies or store-bought products. These worked some of the time, but ultimately, we had to get a prescription-strength ointment to put on the persistent spots. Food allergies were not mentioned in any of these eczema conversations, even though there is a strong correlation between eczema and food allergies.

Introduce Peanuts Early and Often
Introduce Peanuts Early and Often


From just a few weeks old, Gene would randomly break out in rashes and hives. Sometimes the hives were teeny tiny. Sometimes they were massive and looked like mosquito bites. Sometimes the rashes would go away after a few minutes. Sometimes they were there for days. We took Gene into the pediatrician for these random outbreaks. It went something like this:

Doctor: What kind of detergent are you using to wash his things? You should be using Dreft.

Me: We use Dreft.

Doctor: I recommend getting a cover for his mattress. It could be dust mites.

Me: He already has an allergy cover on his organic hypoallergenic mattress.

Doctor: I suggest a HEPA machine in his room to filter his air. Go ahead and change the regular ceiling air filters while you’re at it.

Me: We have a HEPA in our room and love it, so we bought one for Gene’s room. We also change the air filters on a regular basis. My husband even writes the date he changes them on the bottom so we know how long it’s been.

The conversation continued with questions about shampoos and body washes, lotions, diaper brands, and so on. We just couldn’t seem to find the culprit. All in all, the doctor chalked it up to an unknown and said that we may likely never know what was causing the outbreaks, but he did say there was a small chance it could be food allergies.

Introduce Peanuts Early and Often
Introduce Peanuts Early and Often

Looking back, the hives, rashes, and eczema diagnosis should have all been red flags waving us towards food allergies, but as first-time parents, food allergies weren’t even on our radar. Thankfully, our pediatrician (who ROCKS) was keeping track for us and these signs were what ultimately led to the recommendation for a food allergy blood test when Gene was six months old.

Six months old! Did you catch that? All of these warning signs happened between zero and six months. The recommended range for peanut introduction is in there, meaning that if we had given Gene peanut butter when we started introducing solids, he would have had an allergic reaction. I literally cannot bring myself to think about where I would be right now (or where Gene would be) if we had given him peanuts products as a baby.

Introduce Peanuts Early and Often
Introduce Peanuts Early & Often

So, if you are a parent of a new baby, listen to advice others give you, but don’t take it at face value. Ask questions and research. When in doubt, take the safest route. If you see warning signs or think food allergies are a possibility, have a blood test performed.

(The pictures you see in this post are all reactions that Gene had from US having allergens on our hands or breath. He never ate, drank, or touched the allergens directly himself.)



Chick Fil A and Peanut Allergies

If you’re like most humans and are a fan of Chick-Fil-A, you probably know that they cook their foods in peanut oil. When we first found out about Gene’s peanut allergy, I instinctively (and devastatingly) swore off all things Chick-Fil-A. However, I kept hearing rumors that people with peanut allergies could still eat those golden nuggets and crispy waffle fries. It just didn’t make any sense to me, and I had to get to the bottom of this mystery.

In case you haven’t figured it out, allergy moms love to do their research. We research, and research, and then research some more. After hearing the rumors, I started to investigate. Each article I found confirmed the rumors and stated that even though Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil in their kitchens, it was still safe for those with peanut allergies to eat.

The more research I did, the more hope I began to have. We are firm believers in doing the digging and investigating on our own, but always like to have the comfort of our allergist’s knowledge on top of what we find ourselves.

Our allergist agreed that Chick-Fil-A is typically a safe place for those with peanut allergies to eat. The oil is 100% refined peanut oil, meaning that the protein from the peanuts has been removed, thus not posing a risk for those with peanut allergies. There are plenty of scientific studies and numbers on refined peanut oil to back this up, but I’ll leave you to research this on your own if your heart so desires.

Chick-Fil-A’s website even addresses the peanut oil concern too! It specifically says, “Chick-fil-A restaurants purchase their peanut oil from certified suppliers that guarantee their refining process will remove any and all proteins that cause allergic reactions. Not all peanut oil is treated equally, so consumers should exercise caution when buying food or ingredients with peanut oil”. Check out this link for more information straight from the chicken’s beak.

Chick Fil A and Peanut Allergies

As exciting as it is to know that Gene could eat at Chick-Fil-A and not worry (too much) about his peanut allergy, he sadly still cannot eat at Chick-Fil-A.

Wait, what?

Yup. That’s right.

But what about their grilled nuggets? That’s just chicken. Gene can eat chicken. And what about their waffle fries? Waffle fries are just potatoes with some salt. Gene can eat potatoes and salt.

While it’s true that Gene could live off of a meat and potatoes diet, our concern for him is cross-contamination. For example, if the waffle fries are cooked in the same oil as the chicken nuggets, they could end up with traces of egg and wheat on them from the breading of the nuggets. Or if the grilled nuggets are cooked on the same grill that the buns are heated on, his grilled nuggets could have bread crumbs on them. Make sense? Nothing is ever straight forward or easy with food allergies.

We have been known to let Gene have their Icedream (in a cup of course) as a special treat, but that’s about it. Maybe one day Gene will outgrow his egg and wheat allergies and we can let him fully experience the glory of Chick-Fil-A. A momma can only hope! For now, I’ll enjoy my secret dates with Farrah while brother is at school.

Chick Fil A and Peanut Allergies

*Before you rush out and eat at Chick-Fil-A, know that you should always do your own due diligence by researching for yourself, talking to your doctor, and then still be prepared with epinephrine. There are always exceptions to the rules and allergies are no different. They are the definition of unpredictable.*