We just wrapped up our first holiday season free of dairy, eggs and nuts. I’m also happy to report that we met with our Swiss allergist for the first time and got some encouraging news. With my family visiting from the United States, I even got the chance to check out some local restaurants. This allowed me the opportunity to enjoy foods we typically avoid at the dinner table because of my son’s allergies, such as cheese fondue, pizza and delicious Swiss pastries.
Cappuccino and a carac, a Suisse-Romande pastry
Our family celebrates Christmas, and each year when I was growing up my mother would make her famous sugar cookies. Ever since I moved away from Minnesota, I’ve continued to bake these delicious cookies every Christmas for friends and family. This year, I wondered if I could make an allergy-friendly version for my son, without having to sacrifice taste or texture.
Luckily, and with only a few slight modifications, I was able share my mom’s sugar cookies with the kids. While it’s a small thing, I’m so happy that these cookies will be part of my children’s Christmas memories, just like mine. Here’s the recipe, which I only make during the holidays, although they can be enjoyed year-round.
White Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups dairy-free margarine
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flax meal mixed with 6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla (or vanilla sugar)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1. Cream margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix well.
2. Roll into balls and dip in sugar or sprinkles. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten the cookies a little with a flat-bottomed glass (or another smooth, flat surface).
3. Bake at 350°F/180°C for about 10-12 minutes.
Food Allergy Testing
Before the holidays, my son had a skin prick test during his first Swiss allergist appointment, and the preliminary news was good. He’s had this done before in the United States, but only for milk, soy and eggs. For this test, the doctor tested him again for his known allergens, along with peanuts, almonds and a few others. She drew a cat on his arm with a ballpoint pen, which he thoroughly enjoyed watching, and then dropped the different solutions onto different parts of her cat drawing (e.g., on the ears and the mouth, etc.)
Skin prick test for food allergies
While his reaction to milk was still very severe, his reaction to eggs was less severe than when he was tested six months ago. In addition, he had no reaction to peanuts. He did have a slight reaction to almonds, which may be a tree nut we’ll continue to avoid. Even though he’s never had a reaction to peanuts, tree nuts or sesame (that we’re aware of anyway), our allergist in the United States had advised us to avoid these foods because egg and milk allergies have been linked to peanut allergies, in particular.
Based on these results, our son’s blood was drawn about a week ago for more testing. He’s had one blood test before in the United States. However, this initial blood test was done by our pediatrician’s office and relied on non-CAP studies. Both our allergists in the United States and in Switzerland recommend CAP testing. Therefore, these new results, which we’ll receive any day now, should be more accurate. I’m not a medical professional, so I’m trying to learn about this stuff as we go along. WebMD has some good information about blood testing that I thought was particularly helpful.
Generally, it seems that a negative skin test, like my son had for peanuts, is a very good sign. So, as the new year begins, our family is cautiously optimistic that this most recent blood test will provide more good news—possibly for peanuts, and maybe even eggs, as well.
Here’s hoping we all get some good news about food allergies in 2013, including new research, successful food challenges, etc. Happy New Year!