Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Treats

It's been a while since I've posted because I've kind of hit a rhythm with this gluten, sugar, and egg-free thing.  I did hit a wall when the hot weather came around and my daughter kept suggesting we go for ice cream.  uhhh....  

I checked all the labels at the store and if it was sugar-free, it had Splenda, or it was made with egg yolks.  Not going to happen. Same goes for all the frozen yogurt places near me.

So I figured it was just one more thing to make at home.  I was already flavoring her yogurt with fruit and honey, I just had to make a frozen version.  First I froze pretty much every fruit I could imagine.  Then I broke out my old KidCo food processor from when she was a baby and broke up the frozen fruit.  I added the plain Greek yogurt, and honey and put it back in the freezer for a couple minutes to set.  Meanwhile, I cleaned up some nice old glass ice cream dishes I'd gotten from my grandmother and nuts.  I scooped some blueberry fro-yo into the dish, topped it with some slivered almonds, and viola! Sugar-free frozen treat.

I've found some frozen fruits work best with mixed with yogurt, like berries and peaches, while others can just be frozen and pureed into an ice-cream-like consistency w/o adding anything, like banana and mango.  The banana I also top with a little pure maple syrup and walnuts, for a sort of frozen banana bread treat.

My daughter loves them, they're really easy to make. I buy whatever fruit is on sale and keep my freezer stocked.

Good luck and stay cool!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Patron Saint of Bread

Despite being raised by a mother who wasn't an enthusiastic cook, my Uncle George was a foodie.  My dad is probably the world connoisseur of bread, but George knew meals, the whole meal from cocktail to aperitif and everything in between.  Not only did he enjoy good food, he appreciated it, he savored it.  When everyone was full and clearing their Thanksgiving plates, he was still on his first helping and would soon be heaping on the seconds.  And my mother loved to cook for him because he was so appreciative, and it's nice to make someone happy, especially someone who never asked for anything.

I doubt a hot dog ever passed his lips, unless he was at a baseball game.  No, he'd opt for a slow-grilled hot sausage smothered in sauteed onions and peppers on a hoagie roll.  When he ate, he made it count.  He was also a good cook.  I don't think he cooked himself meals much, he was known for eating at his country club among friends/family.  But my mom loved this BBQ sauce he made occasionally and since he obviously didn't follow a recipe, he called her once while he was making it so she could write down what he put in.

Sadly, Uncle George passed away Saturday.  My parents were with their brother when he passed and were taking care of the arrangements and all the painful things one has to deal with when they lose a loved one and insisted there was nothing I could do right now.  (George was my father's brother, but I think if you cook someone's favorite holiday dishes for 45 years and stay up nights worrying about them you can drop the "in-law" bit.)  So I felt helpless for my parents and needed to do something, to accomplish something, so I baked bread for my daughter.  I began the long process of baking sandwich bread, a recipe I have failed at three times already, but since she was out, and Saturday was my only chance to bake, I had to get it done.  I was frequently distracted during the process and I swore over and over that I was wasting ingredients because I was forgetting things and it would be a disaster.

Well, it would take a member of my dad's family to ensure a loaf of bread was not wasted.  It came out perfect.  Thank you, George.  You are missed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another rash

Things have been going well so far.  The removal of eggs has been pretty easy.  I just picked up some Truvia (Stevia) to make a Valentines cake tomorrow.  I'll see how that goes.  I'm still working on a decent pasta sauce recipe.  My daughter didn't care for the sauce I made last night, and frankly neither did I.  I miss garlic.

A little over a week ago I noticed she had was looked like Eczema on her hands and wrists.  Ugh.  At first I wondered if it was a reaction to one of her allergens that hasn't been completely removed from her diet.  But then I started thinking about the location of the rash as opposed to the cause.  I asked if the school was using a new soap.  That could do it, since that was the cause of my eczema as a kid - soaps.  Nope, that wasn't it.  Then I realized she'd just started doing her bedtime routine by herself, which included hand washing.  Hmmm.  Since eczema is usually inflamed during washings, I gave her a pass to wash her hands without soap before bed until it cleared up.  I noticed it getting better in a few days.  I explained to her that she wasn't able to reach both hands under the sink at home well enough to rinse her soapy hands and it was causing her rash.  Now I help her with the hand washing again, but just the final rinse part.

So the message of this little story is... sometimes the cause is much simpler than we think.  If we look at ALL the details we may find an easy answer and solution.  There was no diet change, she just needed help rinsing her hands.  Phew!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Recipe page added!

I'm not sure how many recipes I'm going to be adding, so I'm just using the one page for now.  My first recipe is gluten, egg, and sugar-free banana bread.  My daughter loves this and it freezes well. I cut it into 1" thick slices, put them into a freezer bag and take out a piece as I need it.

I may attempt the sandwich bread again today.  If I'm successful I'll post that recipe as well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Latest GF+SF+EF baking projects earned a B, B, & D

Let's start with the least successful, the sandwich bread earned a D.  OK, maybe a D+.  I followed a gluten-free bread recipe I found online and subbed out the eggs for flax seed, the sugar for honey, and the custom baking mix for Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour.  (The BRM Bread Mix has sugar, too. crap!)  I chose this recipe because it I think the hardest ingredient to sub out is the flour because when baking GF bread you need to add xanthum gum and often cider vinegar and this recipe had that already measured out.

I followed the directions to a T, keeping all my ingredients separated as per the recipe, and my yeast was happily foaming when I added it.  When I put the batter in the pan it was airy, almost like a marshmallow fluff or mousse.  I let it rise, and it still felt light going into the oven.  After 40 min I checked on it to see if I need to tent it with with foil and it sunk.  The top had just caved in.  OK, I'll see how it tastes, it doesn't have to be pretty!  I let it cook until done, cut off a slice, Yuck!  Sour and yeasty!  Kate didn't mind it but then again, she's not picky.

I looked up my problem online and mentioned it to a friend of mine and I have a few ideas I can try for next time. The good news it I liked the consistency of the bread. It was moist and airy, not as dense as the other bread I used to make.  The primary problem is the yeast.  Possible solutions:
- Let the yeast warm up more.  I bought it in bulk and store it in my freezer.  Maybe I didn't let it sit out long enough and it was too cold when I started using it.
- Let it consume the honey longer.  Like I said, the yeast, water, and honey mix was foamy, but maybe honey takes longer for yeast to react with than sugar and needs more time to hang out together.
- Let me over preheat longer.  I don't have an inside oven thermometer so it may not have been hot enough when I put the bread in.
- As for the flavor, there really is none in this bread.  The woman at the natural food store suggested I use some almond flour and split the total flour amount between the BRM All Purpose and the almond flour.

One of the B projects was a cookie recipe I found, also online.  I followed the directions as far as ingredients except I made them tablespoon size rather than teaspoon size.  It's pretty much just butter, oatmeal, bananas, raisins and nuts.  I thought they looked kind of gross, and they didn't have much flavor, but Kate likes them and since she's the one who can't eat any other cookie at the time, it works for me.

The other B was pizza crust.  My husband was out skiing after work so it was just my daughter and I for dinner.  It seemed like a good chance to try something out and if it sucked we could just have waffles.  We used to make a great pizza crust from the Bisquick mix but alas the sugar.  So I used the same recipe, but subbed out the eggs for Egg Replacer (my first time using this) and the Bisquick for Pamela's mix.  It worked out great, except I assumed the oven temp should be 350 degrees, when it should have been at 425.  Doh!  So the crust wasn't as crispy as we like, but the flavor was great!  It would have been an A if I'd read the recipe more carefully.

All in all I'd say these were all successful endeavors, even when the success was learning what NOT to do!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow day baking

My daughter has a snow day tomorrow so I figured it'll be a good day to try out some baking recipes.  Bananas are a popular sugar substitute but my 4 days out of the store bananas just aren't ripe enough.  While stocking up on supplies at the grocery store I remembered I used to use Kate's Gerber Bananas if I had some kicking around whenever I baked, so I picked some up and can use that until my bananas ripen.

There's a Valentine's Party coming up at her school and I need to find a decent cookie I can send to school with her.  I'm going to try a recipe I found online that has banana, oatmeal, walnuts, and raisins, which are all things she likes.  And what better than a snow day than to try them out!

I may also take a stab at sandwich bread.  I have 2 recipe's I'm going to combine, one's gluten-free but has sugar and eggs, and the other is sugar and egg-free but uses wheat flour.  Hopefully I can cut and paste and create something that works.  Again, a day trapped inside is a good one for baking bread since the entire process can take a couple hours.

Once I come up with some successful recipes I'm going to create a recipe page on this blog and post anything worth sharing.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Little changes and already seeing results

It's only been a few days since I learned about Kate's new allergies (Egg, sugar, garlic) and what little changes I've made are already yielding visible results.  The other night I made pancakes for dinner and used the milled flax seed in place of the eggs.  I figured pancakes was a good food to test it on since she and my husband use maple syrup and even if the pancakes taste bad, you can always just dip in more maple syrup.  But they were really good!  The flax seed gave the pancakes a heartier flavor that I like a lot. The down side was the GF pancake mix I used had sugar, so getting better but not there yet.  Like I keep saying, it takes time to convert the pantry.  Luckily Pamela's baking mix will work just as well and doesn't have sugar.

So anyway, I've managed to reduce her allergen input considerably over the last few days.  I haven't given her a scrambled egg for lunch, which I usually do once a week with apple slices and carrot sticks as a quick warm lunch.  Our dinners have been pretty basic fare.  She's only had one  PB&J sandwich, and since she'd just eaten a whole banana I made it pretty small.  The results?  Her face has thinned out a little, her pot belly has trimmed down a little, and she doesn't complain about her belly hurting as much.  This morning she felt fine until I gave her a couple leftover pancakes made with the pancake batter with sugar.  A little while later she said her belly hurt.

I am not giving her any less food or calories (trust me, this girl is EATING!), just focusing on the foods that don't have egg and sugar.  She always ate a lot of fresh fruits and veggies for snack and with every meal so her diet won't look that different to her. She may notice some things missing, like the scrambled eggs, but it's a great opportunity to discover new foods.  She likes the homemade blueberry yogurt I made.  I puree the blueberries in the little food processor I got when she was a baby to make her own foods, then I stir in honey and plain yogurt and she loves it!

My husband is taking her to his folks' this weekend.  I haven't started the 3-week elimination of the foods so she doesn't have to eat anything special while away.  I'll also have a chance to try out a new bread recipe.  I can also polish off that tube of cinnamon rolls leftover from Christmas that have been taunting me from the refrigerator door every day!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shopping Gluten, Egg, Sugar, and Garlic-free

I had a chance to do some grocery shopping alone after talking with Kate's doctor about her new allergies.  My first stop was the natural foods store where I got a lot of help from the woman working.  I told her I was looking to substitute my daughter's Omega-3 supplement with a sugar-free option and together we scoured the labels and found one I thought might work. She told me I could return it unopened if there were any problems. Phew! Because these aren't cheap.  Next, I asked about Egg Replacer, and she knew the product well because she uses it. She told me it isn't the same consistency as a real egg so it is best used for baking when egg acts as a binder.

My second stop was the grocery store where I read every label of every food Kate eats.  Her beloved Vans blueberry waffles have sugar, but the flax and apple/cinnamon flavors don't.  Score!  She eats the peanut butter my husband likes, which has sugar, but I found a store-brand natural peanut butter that has no sugar.  To replace her jelly, I went with Polaner All-Fruit.  I found a few brands of sugar-free jar pasta sauce, but they all have garlic.  I can make that myself.  The GF pasta isn't made with eggs so that's not a problem, we can keep buying the same kind.  The yogurt she and her dad eat has sugar.  This is something else I can make myself with fresh fruit and honey to sweeten it up.  Alright, I made it all the way across the grocery store and so far I'm able to substitute most of the foods she eats pretty easily.

The next thing I need to find is a sugar-free, gluten-free bread mix.  Now that I have my milled flax seed and Egg Replacer, I can easily sub out the eggs with one of those or applesauce.  As far as I can tell they all have sugar, which is a problems for me because I have yet to master the art of gluten-free baking.  The doctor emailed me a recipe she knows that doesn't use eggs or sugar (yeah!), but it isn't gluten-free (d'oh!).  Unfortunately, GF baking substitutes is not an exact science, you can't just replace wheat flour with rice flour or potato starch, you need a good mix of flours to get a decent flavor and consistency and you need to add a touch of xanthum gum.  This I have a hard time with, despite the instructions on the labels and web site, I just can't seem to bake decent GF breads or treats from scratch.  The consistency is all wrong.  But, my search isn't over, I'll find a way to make bread she can eat.

Gluten-free but still, something’s not quite right…

I guess you can call it “Momtuition” but do you ever just sense that something’s not quite right with your child? I’m sure I heard Jenny McCarthy talk about it touring for her first book about her son’s autism and I believe there is some truth to it. I mean, you just know. Maybe because I’m with her all day every day, but you can just tell when there’s something different from the other kids that’s not quite right.

When I began Kate on the GF diet the doctor mentioned I could see an increase in energy and her potbelly could trim down a bit. Well, as we went along the process, I did see the eczema clear up but I never really saw that energy and her belly never shrunk.  Whenever I expressed concern about this to other parents or family (I was looking for someone else to see what I saw) everyone just said she was a mellow kid (and I should consider myself lucky!) and had a cute belly.  She not only had a belly, she never seemed to shed her baby fat the way other kids her age did.  She had a good appetite, but she didn’t eat junk so I could never tell where the weight gain came from.  Again, people (including my pediatrician!) either said, she’s just chubby, get her to exercise more, or she must be having a growth spurt because they tend to gain weight just before. OK, but for over a year!?  I looked back at all of her specs from her check-ups with her height and weight and somewhere between her 1-year and 2-year check up, her percentile for weight went from 50% to 90%.  What happened in that time?  She eats healthy, and even though she isn’t high-energy she gets exercise.  What’s going on?

I noticed she’d get little, faint red spots around her mouth and chin whenever she ate pasta.  Thinking about foods again, it has to be the tomatoes, I thought.  I tried taking her off of pasta sauce (jarred sauce, by the way) but no other symptoms went away.  Not tomatoes. There was a weekend where she didn’t have any bread stuff and a couple days later she seemed to have a trimmer belly and great energy. Of course by the end of the day the belly was back, but it got me thinking. Maybe it’s yeast?  Bread has yeast!  So I tried taking her off of everything with yeast in it.  No, Damnit!!  I obviously wasn’t going to figure this out on my own.  I was convinced something was wrong and I needed professional help.
I called the ND, about 1 year after the appointment when we determined gluten was causing her eczema, and told her I suspected something else was going on and I couldn’t figure it out.  I wanted to run the blood test on Kate.  She was reluctant because it involves squeezing out a little blood and the tests aren’t 100% accurate.  I told her I’d rather have my daughter be healthy and hate her forever than go through life not living up to her body’s best potential.

Kate was a trooper during the blood test and the doctor saved the day by remembering the lollipop she had in her purse.  A lollipop AND a band-aid, she thought this was actually one of her better days! 
Now I’ve been going through some medical stuff and whenever a doctor runs a test on me the results are always the same, “The good news is the tests are negative. The Bad news is, we still don’t know what’s wrong.” Grrr, right? So this is exactly what I was expecting with Kate’s blood test, but at least I would know. I’d have some sort of answer. (I tend to need answers, even if it’s what I want to hear, just SOME answer.) Two weeks later I got the results: eggs (white & yolk), sugar (cane), and garlic.  On a scale of 0 to 5 (0 being no reaction, 5 being strong reaction) eggs were a 4 and sugar and garlic were 3’s.  (How this translates to her future diet, I can probably rotate sugar and garlic into her diet more frequently than the eggs.)  Again, first reaction was “crap” but then it made sense, even the garlic (pasta sauce!).   It probably wasn’t the yeast in the bread, but the eggs.  And when I tried to remove the bread, there were still other foods with eggs in them.  The doctor provided me with some information on egg substitutes and we talked about how I can find gluten-free mixes that don’t have sugar and replacing her Omega-3 supplement that has cane sugar in it. 

The eggs will be pretty easy to replace because everything I make I add eggs to, and milled flax seed and a product called Egg Replacer by Ener G are good substitutes and are readily available.  Also, many GF products are also egg-free, like the waffles and pretzels. I asked the doctor if these were common allergies to have together and she said it does often happen, but the companies making allergen-free products tend to cover as many allergens as possible to reach a wider market. Lucky for me!  Until I started reading all the labels: those awesome GF waffles Kate loves so much: sugar, GF bread mix: sugar, GF cookie and brownie mixes: don’t even bother, GF granola bars: sugar (although I may find honey-sweetened bars, haven’t looked yet), Corn Chex: you guessed it, sugar!  I was able to find sugar-free pasta sauce, but D’oh! Garlic.

So, Kate’s got to eliminate each of these allergens for 3-weeks and I’ve got to make it happen for her.  After 3 weeks, I can let her have some (one at a time, including dividing egg whites and yolks) to determine just what reaction each allergen caused.   Then it’s 6 months to get it out of her system before I can start rotating these things into her diet.  I’ve been through this before with the gluten, so I know we can’t do it cold turkey, it’ll take some time and then one day we’ll start the 3-week detox.  Eggs will go first, than the garlic and sugar as I’m able – I doubt I’ll be able to remove all at the same time.

Here we go!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Adapting to gluten-free cooking, eating, and shopping

Getting used to cooking gluten-free has been challenging, but mostly because this girl really likes her carbs.  Waffles, pancakes, pizza, tortellini!  I found a good GF waffle from Vans, and there are a few really good baking mixes out there I use to make pizza crust and pancakes and as a substitute for flour in cornbread or other recipes.

Bisquick makes a GF baking mix and you can find it with the other Bisquick and pancake mixes. Pamela's also makes a nice, hearty baking mix and this I've occasionally found in the GF section of the grocery store or our natural foods store. There aren't any Trader Joe's or Whole Foods stores near me, so whenever I visit my family I raid those stores for different GF options. Like I said before, the cooking isn't so hard, it's finding quick little portable snacks that's a challenge. I'll pick up any new chip or snacky thing that's GF. Snyder's has a new natural line that has some GF chips and they are pretty good with coupons when a new product comes out. Another good snack on the go are Buddy Fruits which is apple sauce blended with other fruits in a kind of squeeze package. It tell my daughter it's like how the astronauts eat!

I've gotten a rhythm for baking bread.  I live in a very drafty house so foods rarely rise well for me here, but I've found that always using luke warm (95 degree) water helps a lot.  I like both the King Arthur Flour and Gluten-Free Pantry bread mixes but tend to favor the Pantry mix because it's available at the store and I don't have to pay shipping.  Since the bread is very dense I slice it much thinner than regular bread so we don't use too much at a time.  I also don't pre-slice the bread for this reason, it'd be a big mess.  After the bread cools, I cut it into about 4 or 5 chunks and put each in a freezer bag.  Each of these portions lasts about a week, so I keep the bag in the fridge and slice of what I need as I need it.  I find it lasts longer in the fridge than on the counter.

Personally, I love eating the gluten free bread toasted with hummus or pesto.  It's got a subtle sourdough flavor and sliced thin it makes for nice toast points.

My daughter started preschool in the fall and since she'd been GF for over 6 months and has had little bits of gluten and wheat every now and then w/o problems, I thought I'd try rotating a little gluten into her day.  Her preschool offers the daily snack, which is usually crackers or dry cereal.  It was her first real experience away from me so I thought I'd let her have the school-provided snack so I wasn't putting any extra strain on what could already be a stressful transition.  BIG mistake.  After a couple of weeks I noticed little blotches.  Then more and more and something had to change.  I called the teacher and told her what was up and that Kate'll be bringing her snack along with her from now on.  No other kid was bringing snack, my heart broke a little.  Kate knew well enough by now that her blotches and itchiness was due to the school snack and it was no big deal bringing her own.  I started off with some special new things, and she always loves her some Pirate Booty, so that helped.  She really impressed me with her acceptance of this.

Then we have the birthday celebrations and holiday parties at school, which always involve donut holes, cookies, cupcakes, etc.  This could be a problem because she loves treats, just like any other kid. Luckily, the teacher is pretty good at letting me know in advance when there is a celebration at school so I can pack something special for Kate to have at the party.  King Arthur Flour has a great GF brownie mix and they freeze well, so I can make a batch and take one out of the freezer when she has a party. Betty Crocker also makes a tastey brownie mix and choc. chip cookie mix, these also freeze really well. I find the gluten-free Betty Crocker mixes in the same areas as the other Betty Crocker baking mixes.

So far I've found that specialty brands, like Glutino and Gluten Free Pantry, display their GF products in the designated GF section or specialty foods section of the grocery store. But the mainstream brands, like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, display their products along with their regular products.

Other mainstream GF products we use that I readily find at the grocery store are Chex cereal and Nature Valley Granola Bars.

Friday, January 28, 2011

ID’ing the problem and implementing the solution

The first visit with the ND was a success in that she got a good look at the eczema and discussed a couple ways of determining the cause. She told me about a blood test that checks for food allergies or sensitivities but while it's not too bad for an adult, could be traumatic for a small child. She also said that many allergies are genetic and she could try testing me to see if anything shows up and we could kind of translate the results to Kate. Since I'd finally found a doctor Kate will allow near her, I stepped up to take the blood test. While awaiting the results, she had me write down what she eats for a couple of days and identify when Kate started eating solid foods and what she ate at what age. Well, we got the results back for me and as the doctor said, I was "very boring". NOTHING showed up. However, we did take a closer look at the food calendar and found that gluten/wheat was introduced around the time her eczema showed up. BINGO!

My first reaction was “Oh, crap!” but immediately I realized, this isn’t so bad. I have a friend with Celiac so I’ve been conscious of gluten-free foods and the increasing availability in your average grocery store. I’m also not working so I have the time to make her stuff from scratch. I was also THRILLED to have something to go on. I had an answer!

The doctor told me to take her off gluten for 3 months before checking in and it could be a couple weeks before I notice a change.  It took about a week before I was able to completely eliminate gluten from her diet, between finding subs for her favorite snacks, mastering gluten-free bread, and restocking shelves. But I started removing it when I could, so it wasn’t an abrupt transition.

As soon as she was entirely off gluten, I noticed the eczema clearing up. It was wonderful! After a couple months I had her spend a weekend on the old diet and about a week later I saw little flare-ups, so it definitely was the gluten.  The doctor also recommended Kate take Omega-3 and a daily vitamin with extra vitamin D, since she still has very dry skin and we live in a cold, dry climate. 

She didn't have as hard a time transitioning to the new foods as I did. She was still young enough to just eat what was in front of her. She had her old fav's but I just lied and said they were all gone. Come on, you can't reason with a 2 year old!

Just as I’d gotten used to Kate eating all the same foods as her dad and I and shopping for the family, I was now buying other foods just for her again. We typically eat whole foods like fresh or frozen veggies, brown rice or potatoes and a protein for dinner as a family so our menu wasn’t really shaken up; the hardest thing was the portable snacks she was used to while we were out and about. Gone were the days of Goldfish and Cheerios. Goodbye Teddy Grahams! Welcome back rice cakes and apple sauce!

It took a while to find the GF Annie’s mac and cheese and figure out which bread mix made the best PB&J sandwiches and which GF pretzels tasted the least like cardboard (Glutino! Very buttery tasting, but Snyder’s are pretty good, too, and less expensive), but I finally found a rhythm that kept everyone happy and healthy. My husband still makes his sandwiches on regular whole wheat bread and snacks on wheat sticks and I have my wheat crackers, because let’s face it, the GF foods are expensive and if you don’t HAVE to eat it, it helps save money.

She is very adventurous when it comes to food, she'll pop an entire jalapeno if you don't warn her first, so I feel bad when she wants to try something and I have to say no.  I just inform her that it is "itchy bread" (because the eczema made her itch) and occasionally let her have a tiny taste as long as I know it isn't something she'll fall in love with and want again and again.  (This girl may never know the true joy of a Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll.)  For this reason I try to avoid eating in front of her anything she can't have, but the reality is she lives in a world where she can't eat everything and has to just accept the fact or the consequences.

It started with eczema...

I noticed my daughter, Kate, had eczema around 6 to 9 months old, mostly on her legs. I had it as a child and my mom took care of it by not letting my skin come in contact with certain soaps, like in regular detergent and bubble bath. My reaction was purely based on topical contact and I could treat the occasional flare-up with Hydrocortisone. So, obviously, that's what I tried first. We use the perfume-free and dye-free laundry detergent and Eucerine bath soap/shampoo on her. Nope, didn't take care of the eczema, but didn't make it worse, either. I may even still have some of the millions of bottles of bath-soap and shampoo I’ve tried over her brief lifetime. Even the lotions were a problem, she’d howl anytime a lotion with even the slightest hint of alcohol touched her skin.

A friend of mine from playgroup is a Naturopathic Doctor and she mentioned it could be a reaction to a food. Typically when I think of food allergies, I immediately go to anaphylaxis, EpiPens, and peanut-free lunch tables. Nope, food allergies can have other, milder, effects on the body, like eczema!

So when she opened her practice (Kate was about 2 ½ by then) I made an appointment to get to the bottom of the eczema problem.  I realize I could also go to my regular pediatrician about the eczema problem, but so far all they’d recommended was the sensitive soaps I was already trying and by this time Kate hadn’t sat through a doctor’s appointment without shrieking like a monkey any time the doctor or nurse even so much as looked at her. My friend, however, was someone she knew in a friendly context and just as I’d hoped, she had no problem letting the new doctor examine her skin.