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When Food Allergies Change Your Life

A series of events over the last few months has completely changed our lives. I’m talking COMPLETELY!

If you have been following our journey you know that my youngest son was diagnosed with severe food allergies a few years ago. No matter what food you are allergic too, food allergies change your life.

He had a long list of foods that we needed to avoid but peanuts were the most dangerous. Although not life threatening wheat caused serious problems for him including digestive issues, eczema and more.

Over the years we added some foods back like carrots, melon, banana and others.

When Food Allergies Change Your Life

In the summer of 2014 we saw an allergists in preparation for preschool. He tested off the charts for peanuts. I still remember his doctor telling us he would NEVER outgrow his allergy.

Annual Allergy Check Up

This August we started the process for his yearly allergy appointment. We did the blood work and scheduled another appointment three weeks after that for the consult.

When that appointment arrived my husband and I both went. I dreaded the skin prick/scratch test and wanted support. I also wanted to inquire about oral immunology therapy and I had not been able to find a doctor in Arizona who practiced OIT.

Test Results

The nurse administered the test and it didn’t look too bad. I’m no expert so I just waited. She came back and said, he has NO FOOD ALLERGIES!


allergy birthday party edit

The boy who sat out every birthday party, who had to leave the park when people came with peanut butter or trail mix, the boy who had never had all of the things that most people think are “normal” rites of passage has no food allergies.

The Oral Challenge

We scheduled an oral challenge for peanuts for the next week. An oral challenge is when you eat very precise amounts of an allergen at specific intervals to “test” for an allergy. This is done in a doctor’s office in case there is a bad outcome.

The day came and we nervously went to the allergists’ office.

FACT: You should never perform an oral challenge at home if you have a history of food allergies!!!

We had been telling our son that he was going to eat peanuts at the doctor to see if he was still allergic. He objected.

He has always been one of those kids who never tested his allergies. He was careful. He is the kid that when he saw food in a class, party, park, etc. he would say, “I have allergies, that will make me sick!”

We convinced him that we didn’t think he was allergic anymore. I think the thing that convinced him was when we told him he wouldn’t have to wear his bracelets anymore.

We were all really nervous. The oral challenge takes about 3 hours. We took peanuts and peanut butter. They prefer to use peanut butter but I knew he wouldn’t eat it. He isn’t a fan of the consistency.

After barely getting the first dose of peanut butter down they agreed to use the peanuts.

With each dose we held our breath. He played.

We stared at him. He grew bored.

We prayed. He ate his peanuts.

When all was said and done he passed his peanut challenge.

He is not allergic to peanuts anymore. 

Life After Peanut Allergies

Even with proof we were skeptical. Our Epi pen still hangs prominently in our dining room. It took weeks before we stopped carrying it everywhere we went. He is not allergic to peanuts anymore.


Let me say that if you are not a food allergy parent (or family member) you won’t really understand the weight of that comment. Really, that is life and death.

If you have a child with food allergies you might be crying right now. I know I am. There are conflicting emotions and that is ok. On one hand you really get how BIG this is. On the other you know that your child is allergic and there may not be a chance to outgrow it. For the rest of your child’s life you will live the feeling that today could be the day that they have a reaction.

I told you…life changing.

Taking on Wheat

A few weeks later, we went on to the next part of our plan. We reintroduced wheat.

Our son had never had a severe reaction from wheat but it impacted the quality of life. He hadn’t had wheat since he was about 18 months old.

Slowly, cautiously we gave him wheat. We watched, we waited.

We couldn’t believe it. There were no noticeable reactions. None. He had already tested negative on blood and skin tests.

He has been eating wheat for over a month.

Two weeks ago he had his first donut. His teeth would chatter with excitement has he brought that pink, sprinkled donut to his lips. HE LOVED IT! My baby had his first donut.

Let me take a break and let out a loud sigh and take a deep breath.

When Food Allergies Change Your Life

Our son has zero food restrictions. Yesterday was a birthday party at his school. He got to eat a cup cake! I’m done restricting his food, he is not allergic anymore.

We don’t know how or why he got over his food allergies. Some people will insist he simply outgrew them, others will talk about healthy bacteria and the immune system, while others–those who have prayed for him believe it was divine healing. It may be all three.

I do know that every day is a gift. I thank God for every day with my kids. I thank God that we walked this food allergy journey and that at least for now it appears to be over for us.

A Changed Child

I’m thankful and still a little in shock. If he coughs weird or eats something new I watch him like a hawk. I’m not sure if this will ever end. I will tell you that he is more carefree now. I think the weight of the allergies kept him cautious. Now he is more daredevil.

Food Allergy Parent

Being a food allergy mom and a food allergy advocate was a big part of who I was. It is a weird feeling to be on this side of it. Even the subtitle of this blog is Allergy-Friendly, Whole Food, On A Budget.

Everything is different, our shopping list, the special stores or online orders, having to always be prepared with food when we leave the house, avoiding all but two restaurants, not to mention that a large part of my huge pantry is dedicated to gluten-free peanut-free products. I’m still trying to figure this out.

When I heard about the two kids who died recently from food allergies it hurt. I hope it always does. I hope I’m always this sensitive to the weight of food allergies. I will admit, there was a small amount of relief that my son is not allergic anymore. But I’ll always have the feeling this gift could be taken away.

Having a son with food allergies made me a more compassionate person. It helped me realize that there are children in every school in the country who live with food allergies. Many of those kids are constantly on alert because a food could kill them. How could you actually learn something if you were afraid?

If you have no food allergy connection thanks for hanging in this far!

I Need Your Help

I want to hear from you. I know some of you come here for the allergy-friendly recipes and meal plans and others are just here for the plant-based resources.  Please take 2 minutes to fill out this survey.

I want to know which foods you avoid. Before food allergies I baked with whole wheat, with food allergies I struggled with gluten-free baking, now I need to decide where to go from here

Your survey answers will help me decide what types of recipes to make. If the answers are overwhelmingly gluten-free I’ll avoid gluten, if they are split I’ll likely do a little of both (like I did in the beginning of this blog).

This short survey will help me immensely. I really need you to fill it out.

Now that that is out of they way, will you celebrate with me? Cry with me? Either way, I understand this is big. I’d love to hear from you. What is your story? Do you have food allergies? Do you fiercely advocate for your child with food allergies?

October 5, 2015 Meal Plan…Fall is Here

I have Facebook friends all over the U.S. It’s funny how the arrival of fall means different things to all of us. I mentioned a few days ago that “it was under 100 degrees and I’m ready for soup.” My blogging friend Jacqueline insists that it isn’t fall weather. When you live in Arizona you have to adapt.

I’m happy to report that it has cooled down even more and the temps will be in the 80s and 90s this week. I know all my mid-west friends think this is hot but I assure you it isn’t.

I already did a little cooking this weekend but it wasn’t for us. There is an elderly couple at our church. I actually used to cook for them on a weekly basis. They are sick and aren’t able to cook right now so I took them several meals. They will be enjoying Enchilada Soup and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. I have leftovers for both that will have this week for lunches.

I’m also thinking ahead to Thanksgiving. If you need ideas be sure to check out my Holiday Meal Plan and Cook Book. It’s plant-based and gluten-free collection of Thanksgiving recipes.

Meal Plan Monday Plant-Based, Vegan and mostly gluten-free meal plans

Meal Plan


We’ve been changing things up in the breakfast department. Normally the kids eat while I make lunches. I’ve been making an effort to sit and eat with them. It seems weird sometimes because our mornings are so busy but I feel like it helps all of us start the day better.

  • Bagels (store-bought)
  • Cereal
  • Frozen Waffles
  • Oatmeal topped with fresh fruit
  • Toast with fresh fruit (which has been a bowl full of cantaloupes and strawberries)


I’m starting the week with leftover Mexican Casserole, Baked Potatoes, Mexican Rice, Black Beans, Lentil Shepherd’s Pie and Enchilada Soup. I’ll rely on these for lunch and pack lunches with typical lunch box stuff for my boys.


I’d like to use my Crock Pot and Instant Pot a lot this week. I’ve been really busy at work so I don’t want to have to be busy with labor intensive meals after work.

What does your week look like? Do you cook every day or every couple of days. If you prefer to use leftovers these soups and casseroles are a great option.

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Veggie Burrito

I often refer to my veggie burritos as an easy lunch or a back up meal. It occurred to me that some of you may think I make a really elaborate thing. Trust me, this is not the case. I don’t really do elaborate these days. This Veggie Burrito recipe is as easy as they come.

The basic Veggie Burrito can be made with whatever you have on hand. This plant-based (vegan) recipe is quick and easy to make.

I wanted to show you just how easy this basic veggie burrito is. I’ll also point out that when I refer to an easy black bean salad it is basically this burrito with extra lettuce and no tortilla.

I make it when I have beans already cooked but I’ve been known to use canned beans on occasion.

Basic Veggie Burrito


  • 1 tortilla per burrito
  • lettuce
  • cooked black beans
  • diced tomatoes
  • frozen corn
  • salsa
  • guacamole


  1. Heat beans and corn (and anything else you want hot).
  2. Layer all ingredients into a burrito (or ditch the tortilla and put everything on a bed of lettuce).

This is a quick and easy meal and can be made using whatever you have on hand. If you have potatoes, peppers or rice use them, if you are missing tomatoes or guacamole that’s ok. Use what you have.

For more great meal ideas check out my Recipe Page.

September 28, 2015 Plant-Based Meal Plan

What’s for dinner? Have you full switched to plant-based fall favorites or are you still hanging on to summer?

I’ve been getting dinner inspiration from some of many of YOU on Facebook. I recently asked “What is the best (plant-based) thing you’ve cooked recently?” and I found a lot of great ideas. Feel free to hop over and add yours!

I’m going to use many of those ideas in our meal plan this week.

Plant-Based Meal Plan Monday

Plant-Based Meal Plan

Some readers have wondered if this is a daily meal plan. It is weekly. I don’t assign specific days for meals because I would get off track. I just plan out 4-5 recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and cook as often as I need too (expect those times I batch cook or do once a week cooking.)

Let’s start with dinner.


These plant-based fall favorites are perfect for the cooler weather, or for those of us who are pretending the weather is cooler.

  • Enchilada Casserole, I love enchiladas but a sloppy casserole is easier to make.
  • Veggie Spaghetti with a side salad and Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing.
  • Roasted Veggies I’m thinking potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers, broccoli and tomatoes.
  • Veggie Pizza or Pizza Pasta if I’m short on time.
  • Soup, either Taco Soup or Simple Veggie Soup


I’ve been working from home most of the time so I haven’t needed to pack my lunch. We still pack a lunch for our 1st grader every day and our preschooler about half the week. I like having the ability to eat leftovers at home.


I really enjoy using my Instant Pot in the mornings. Though not all of the recipes use a pressure cooker I like having that option.

  • Steel Cut Oats with fruit.
  • Sweet Potatoes in the Instant Pot. We top them with cinnamon and raisins.
  • Blueberry Muffins or Banana Muffins (using my Banana Bread Recipe) and fruit
  • Cereal as a stand by

What do you have on your meal plan this week? Were you inspired by any of these plant-based meal ideas?

Check out my Plant-Based Fall Favorites Pinterest Board for even more ideas!

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Easy Lunch Box Side Items

Are you in a lunch box rut yet? It is easy to do.

The routine of packing a lunch can get monotonous, especially if you are packing for multiple children. Sometimes getting the lunch made is more important than making it interesting.

Lunch Box Side Items

When I’m packing lunches I don’t think, “I wonder if this is fun/interesting/(fill in the blank).” I try to make sure it is:

  • Enough to fill them up
  • Not too much that will get wasted
  • Food they will actually eat
  • Food that can be eaten quickly

My boys love salad but it isn’t the best thing to pack in their lunches for a few reasons. It takes a while to eat, doesn’t have many calories (to give them energy and fill them up), and they would probably skip it in favor of other foods. I save salads for home.

We typically stick to a main dish, fresh fruit and/or veggies and side items.

I also avoid items like gummy bears or lollipops. We keep those for special treats when they are with us.

Easy Lunch Box Side Items

I don’t buy a lot of individually wrapped items because they are more expensive. I buy larger containers/bags of lunch box side items but sometimes my boys have gotten tired of things when I’ve pack them repeatedly.

Our lunch boxes aren’t packed full of fresh fruits and veggies. We have those in every lunch box but we also have sandwiches or tacos, pretzels and other convenience items.  I consider the items listed below to be side items. Check out these main dish ideas if you need them (there is a printer-friendly version).

I’m breaking them up into two categories, Salty and Sweet.



Keep in mind that we have fresh fruit and/or veggies in every lunch. In a pinch we may use apple sauce but it’s normally seasonal produce, right now it is apple slices.

We use the EasyLunchBox Containers that have three compartments. The large container is for the main dish and the other two containers hold either fresh fruit/veggies or one of the side items listed above. You can read more about our Lunch Box Routine and discover 5 tips to help you simplify yours.

My husband does most of the shopping these days. We shop at Sprout’s, Costco and Walmart most of the time. We also buy quite a bit on Amazon. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial if you haven’t yet. We use it all the time! You can use subscribe and save to have items delivered on a schedule.

What types of side items do you pack in your lunches. I’m always looking for more ideas!

This page contains affiliate links.

For More Lunch Box Fun check out…

Basic Lunch Box Essentials for elementary kids

The Plant-Based Lunch Box Guide for 2014

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