Monthly Archive: March 2011

Henry’s Dairy Allergy Was Partially Eczema

I found this milk elimination to fight eczema to be interesting after our experience with Henry, and how we figured out what his glaringly obvious allergic reactions were from. He reacts to dairy on contact with his skin, and he can get both hives and simply a red, eczema-like reaction from ingesting it.

I can’t speak for eggs, since we’ve been more careful about those. The worst reaction to bananas was digestive though he did get red from them too. That was a good one, when bananas were first or near the first food he ever had and I was immediately suspicious, yet who ever heard of a baby not being able to eat bananas? Then again, Henry was very nearly allergic to food that wasn’t breat milk, until he grew out of sensitivity to azo dyes and salicylates. But that’s another post that needs to be written sometime.

In any event, I’m not surprised, though I am surprised that we don’t see more of this, or have more doctors savvy or imaginitive enough to help with it.

$7 a Day??

Via Glenn Reynolds, things like eating on $7 a day articles really get me going. There are five of us here. That would be $245 a week! Luxury! Riches! We can afford about $100 a week, for somewhat tortured values of “afford.” Call it maybe $3 a day, then, for a person. So lucky that three of them are kids, though they’ve become a challenge to afford to feed despite their size and bodily non-fussiness about what they’ll turn into fuel and additional mass and height.

What that means is not cauliflower, not much Trader Joe’s (though that’s a good place for allergy friendly food, a part of the challenge of eating cheap I won’t even get into here), not a lot of fresh food, and devotion of more time than might otherwise be the case.

It means you buy certain things in bulk, which costs up front but extends your stocks later. It means less variety than might be the case. It means paying attention to sales or who has what at everyday best prices, but balancing that against gas and time required to go farther rather than nearer for a given thing or three.

You want inexpensive? Rice. Dry pinto beans. Flour. Store brand old-fashioned oatmeal. Dry lentils and peas. Generic goods from the store with the best unit price, based in part on what it is and how well it will feed the kids. Cheap meat. Cheap pasta. Cheap sandwich bread. Lots of sandwiches. Tuna as somewhat of a luxury, for variety.

It means you sweat over the price of cheese, but cheese is a staple, an ingredient in or centerpiece of so many meals, you can’t do without readily. Cheap means a pot of chili made with dry pinto beans and beef that was on sale for $1.99/lb. Cheap means burritos made with flour tortillas you made yourself for a fraction of the store bought cost, refried beans you made yourself, rice, maybe some corn, the cheapest meat you could get, some cheese, and sour cream at the best price you can find. Now, in reality convenience wins much of the time, even here, so it’s canned refried beans most of the time, and even store bought tortillas, though homemade are better (whereas I’ve never made refried beans as good as our favorite store brand). Burritos are a good cheap eat, as they are filling and can stretch meat and cheese further than some dishes. Pasta stretches food, too.

Yes, some of this is not as good for you as other things, but the lower you can go on some items, the more you can afford healthier items and treats.

There are some surprises. Making your own bread doesn’t save all that much. It’s just yummier. Potatoes are relatively expensive. A batch of mashed potatoes takes 5 lbs and will leave only a little left over. It’s the allergy boy’s favorite food in the world, but is mostly supplanted by rice.

It’s hard when you need to buy spices, but those are necessary for making the food tasty and interesting, and represent a low cost per meal in the long run. When we got food stamps for a year, it felt like we were swimming in grocery money. The kids were smaller, and I couldn’t use the entire $400-odd in a month, even splurging. While I buy all the 99 cent spices I can, some aren’t available that way, and food stamps made that easier. Then they sort of jerked us around and kept us off of them, which has been tough at times, and gotten worse as our income fluctuated back down. We probably qualify for a couple hundred a month, and I’m waiting to hear on our latest attempt to bother applying. Having any self-employment income means you may almost as well not bother. But I digress.

The point is, $7 a day may not be up to the standards people of means are used to, but it’s actually a substantial amount of grocery money. Thus I find these challenges amusing, or even disturbing, because they seem so unserious compared to the reality out here.

Coconut Milk

With Henry’s allergies to dairy and all nuts, he has to use soy milk. It’s a good thing he likes all things soy! To him, soy butter is as yummy and natural as peanut butter is to most of us. And he hates sunflower butter, which is vastly better. We tried rice milk along the way, but that seems to be little more than water.

Yesterday I noticed for the first time coconut milk in Walmart, in the same case with soy, nut, rice and organic milks. It was a buck more (speaking of which, at the rate milk has gone up, the differential with soy seems less onerous), but I decided it might be worth a try, and could picture it being better in something like cake. When I make a cake free of eggs and dairy, instead of all water, I generally use half soy milk and half water. Not that it matters, since he has developed tolerance enough to eat cake with eggs and/or milk baked into it, just as the allergist suggested. Yet we’ve come to like the special recipe cake better. Though ironically I cannot make it taste good in chocolate, despite chocolate being the original recipe I adapted. But I digress.

I bought one, and this morning it was time to open a fresh milk, as his old soy milk is expired. Presumably, since it’s hard to tell, besides just throwing it away after the recommended 7-10 days. The only way I seem to be able to tell, since it doesn’t develop an odor, is to taste it. If I feel like retching within the next moment or so, it’s definitely bad. My body knows what my nose and taste buds can’t discern.

I offered Henry the choice of coconut milk or soy on his cereal. He picked coconut and there was much excitement. Then as soon as I’d opened it, he said no, he didn’t want it, didn’t like it. He refused to taste it to be sure. If I’d never told him and just opened it, he’d have had no clue it was different, and might have loved it. Duh! I thought he’d be happy to try it, but he’s busily being 3, and some. Most stubborn person I know, too.

I poured a small glass so I could taste it. Man, what an improvement over soy milk! You can taste the coconut flavor, in fact it tastes much like the liquid from the hollow of a coconut, which when I was a kid we got all excited to have, despite it not, in reality, being that good. We called it “coconut milk,” but apparently that’s not the correct term.

Sadie wouldn’t taste it, after championing the new milk to Henry. Maybe that would have helped. He refused, simply declaring he didn’t like it. Valerie drank the whole thing and declared it awesome. When offered more, she opted to try it as chocolate milk. I flavored it heavily, since the coconut flavor came through. She hated it as chocolate milk. I drank it. It was good, but different. Might be better as strawberry. No word on how it would be with lime.

So… I guess I’ll be baking! Or doing something with it, even if I’m the only one who eats it. And I probably won’t buy it again, or if I do, won’t tell Henry what it is before serving it. Why fight to serve him something that costs more?