Friday, August 28, 2009

Many and various

1. First off, the tzitzis party. It was a blast. Venue, of course, was the Doughnut Store, the kosher doughnut-and-other-junk place that we make a point of never ever going to, because, well, slippery slope and all. The only time we EVER go there with kids is when we are on our way to the airport, because they're open really early. Otherwise, just tzitzis parties, of which this is Party the Second. The only problem of course was that their doughnuts are milchig, so I had to stop by at the bakery in the morning to pick up doughnuts for Iyyar. I got two, and it was a good thing; I got a dozen chocolate-frosted doughnuts for the members of our party (three adults and eight kids) and since none of the adults had and the two babies didn't really either, most of the kids ended up having two, so Iyyar of course wanted a second one too. The ones I'd bought looked exactly like the ones we got there, so much so that he didn't realize they were different--when he helped himself to a second I just caught him sinking his teeth into a nice milchig one. Clearly he didn't eat any of it, though, because he was fine the next day.

Presents included, of course, the chicken tzitzis. And no, there is absolutely zero religious significance to this; in fact, these may very well be the only pair of chicken tzitzis ever in the history of the world. But Iyyar is into chickens these days, so that's what he wanted, and that's what he got. He also got a toolbox with worker-man hat and safety goggles; Avtalyon's kind of appropriated those.

2. Holy cow, soy is in EVERYTHING. Keeping a totally dairy-free diet is a pain but doable. Weeding out every little bit of soybean oil or soy lecithin is another story entirely. Earlier this week, after lunch, Iyyar got really quiet and climbed into bed with his blankies, as he hasn't done for a couple of weeks; closer inspection of lunchtime ingredients revealed "or soybean oil" halfway down the list of ingredients on the tomato sauce. The only other things he ate were plain pasta and allergen-free rice milk (and a plum, I think) so it's hard to see what else it could have been.

Cooking healthful meals for everyone every day has always been kind of difficult, logistically--I try my best but it's hard when the only way to keep an eye on the baby is to have him in the high chair while I cook, and once in the high chair the baby starts screaming to eat (understandable, but problematic when the food's not cooked yet!) So historically there has been a heavy emphasis on really simple meals (doodles cheese), things I can make at least partially the night before (pizza, carrot pancakes, chicken soup, hummous), and prepared foods (TJ's chicken nuggets, jarred tomato sauce, fish sticks etc.) Now, between Iyyar's diet and MHH's diet (he's been doing the IBS diet, which has really been helping with his own tummy issues) I find myself having to cook pretty much everything from scratch and/or making three different versions of every meal. I can't use prepared, well, anything, and I can't use cheese, and MHH can't eat any meat but white meat, and Barak won't eat any meat but bologna, and only eats about four vegetables, and... oh well, here's the rundown right now:

MHH: Soluble fiber at every meal; no red meat; no dark poultry or poultry skin; no dairy; no high-fat anything, or egg yolks; no fruit or fructose; limited whole grains; all legumes fully cooked and mashed, and vegetables have to be cooked and peeled.

Iyyar: No dairy or soy, but otherwise not too picky

Barak: No cooked vegetables except for carrots and spinach; no meat; nothing with sauce or (here's the kicker) ingredients that are not immediately identifiable upon inspection.

Avtalyon, B"H, will still eat anything. But you see my dilemma? What's left that everyone likes? Oatmeal, fruit, and Rice Chex, that's what. Logically I would say, Barak needs to learn to adjust to new foods--and he has been, somewhat--but it's not fair to him to take away all his favorite dairy things and make him eat a bunch of things he doesn't like when there are plenty of healthy things he does. He's picky but not insanely so, and I just don't feel like making mealtime into a battle right now, especially since he is gradually expanding his repertoire--he'll eat pizza with sauce now, for example, which is a pretty huge development.

Oh, and to make all this more interesting? BOTH IYYAR AND BARAK HAVE PEANUT-FREE CLASSROOMS THIS YEAR. So no peanut butter, and for Barak, possibly no tree nuts as well--we're not sure yet. And he's not supposed to have fleishig lunches either. AND he's supposed to have motzi every day. Seriously, what's left?

Probably what I'll do for Iyyar is send him with a lot of snacks--crackers and hummous and red peppers and a hard-boiled egg, and let him have his sandwich when he comes home at 1. Barak can have PB and crackers for breakfast if he wants. For motzi at school, I'll have to start sending him with bagels and cheese, which he won't eat in sandwich format but will eat separately (whatever!)

The hardest thing is dinner though. Last night, we had:

-peas with lemon-garlic dressing
-scrambled eggs with spinach and garlic
-baked sweet potatoes
-cold leftover noodles from lunch, which Iyyar found in the fridge
-sliced apples, cucumbers and plums

Sounds OK, doesn't it? Barak ate an apple and cucumbers. Iyyar ate leftover noodles. Everything I actually cooked? Avtalyon ate some, and then MHH came home, ate the eggs and un-peeled peas with olive oil, and was sick this morning. EPIC FAIL.

3. Okay, that was way too long of a #2. So I'll stop with #3 (this should have been "long and various" instead of "many and various.") #3 concerns the moderately noteworthy occasion of my entering my third trimester. I'm due the very end of November, which, precedent would indicate, means a reasonable ETA of mid-November. This I am happy and excited about. What I'm worried about is the logistics. Two other guys in MHH's kollel have had new babies in the last year. Neither took more than a couple days off. One had family come in for a few weeks; another has family already in town. We will have neither. Avtalyon was born on a Friday morning; MHH took off Friday and Monday and was back to work on Tuesday. And that was with the best possible timing--if I have a baby midweek he's likely to go back to work the day I get home. Assuming, IY"H, that all goes well and I come home in two days with a healthy baby, which, well, wasn't the case the last two times.

Nearly everyone who helped out in the past is either no longer in town or not available; Ada is in nursing school AND working full-time (don't ask me how she does this, I have no idea), Yehudis has moved across the neighborhood, Racheli is back in Israel and CB is married and in New York. Asnat is back, but has two other jobs and not much flexibility. Grandma E is turning 80 in a few weeks and Savta is teaching, so visits from either are out of the question.

I have no idea what I am going to do here. I am a planner by nature, but on this one I think I'm just going to have to hope for the best.


shanna said...

Food for school: TJs sells sunflower seed butter that tastes disturbingly like peanut butter, but is not even manufactured on equip shared with peanuts or tree nuts. Sunbutter and jelly sandwich is dairy-free and motzi. (I don't have any at home, so I can't check whether it's manufactured on equip shared with soy, though.)

uberimma said...

Oh, I forgot about that. That's funny, too, because I had a friend whose son was in a similar situation (the ONLY thing he would eat was peanut butter, and was really underweight, and had a peanut-free classroom). I mailed her four jars, I think. I don't think he went for it but my kids are not that picky.

persephone said...

Oh dear Lord. I am so sorry; this is why I don't want to be tested for celiac, I can't bear the thought of 2 special diets at once. To say nothing of... how many have you got going on there??

Ok, I can't help with too much of this, but about the husband: with time, he should be able to eat graduated amounts of IBS-unfriendly foods, as long as he's diligent about eating the IBS-friendly ones first.

That said, legumes and the like have ALWAYS been trigger-happy for me. I can eat fruit as long as it's not underripe, eggs go down fine, and I only eat dark meat chicken; but peas, beans, nuts and corn are things I have to be very careful not to eat too much of. Dairy in some forms is also tolerable, but cream: forget it.

As for the nut-free classrooms - you might as well be irked with me as the other mother, so I'll be the one to say it: please make sure Barak washes his hands with soap after eating PB before leaving for school. If he's washing-resistant, a baby wipe used thoroughly works as well.

Deborah said...

Yikes! Potatoes all around? Bake potatoes en masse; you could reheat and serve different ways. Avoiding the peel is easy then, too. Rice, dressed up various ways for different people. There is this great Jasmine rice from Thailand I buy here in 25 pound bags...

What is there as a substitute for cheese for
MHH and Iyyar? Something caloric and nutrient dense, salty? Tahini? That is made from hulled seeds usually. They have lots of calcium and protein, too.

I will be thinking...

LC said...

To add to persephone's comment:

AND brushes his teeth, or at least "cleans" his mouth however you would require between milk and then meat.

I have a teacher friend who will react to being *breathed on* by someone who has eaten peanut products.

What freaks me out - on someone else's behalf, no less :) - is the number of stories I hear from my kids about nutty granola bars among classmates at the nut-free school. 'But why can't *we*?' "Because I won't have it on MY head when someone else gets sick."

Although, having confirmed no allergies in the relevant classroom, I'm not so vigilant about brushing, just hand washing.

B'sha'ah tovah and good luck with figuring out a plan for November.

LC said...

Sunbutter: all produced on equipment that processes soybeans.

Just so you know.

persephone said...

Wow, LC, I've never heard of a reaction to being breathed on. We ask relatives not to kiss him without brushing their teeth, for sure, but I wouldn't think that would be an issue with classmates. Although kids certainly put their mouths on the water fountains. Hmmmm. I still think washing/wiping faces might be enough, but maybe I should rethink that.

You're right about sunbutter - I just checked my jar of TJ's, and it shares equipment with soy.

As for my earlier comment, we've just been meeting with our own school to determine nut-free procedures. I mentioned that kids who miss eating PB at school might instead be eating it right before they get on the schoolbus, and the director kind of gasped and said "I can't believe they'd do that!"

Obviously that was naive and a bit silly, but they're new at this. I'm not at ALL implying there's something wrong with giving PB for breakfast - many, many kids won't eat any protein besides PB, and they have to get it in somewhere! But our school, at least, is kind of scrambling to cope with this route that PB could enter school.

We asked if they could institute an across the board "everyone clean your hands upon entering school" policy, and they're currently mulling that over. We're especially pushing for it in our son's own classroom.

I would hope that the parents of the allergic child in your school, whoever they are, have thought of the possibility too and are taking similar measures. But... I guess I wouldn't be too sure?

Yasmin said...

Do you want one of these, to add variety of shape if not ingredients?
They're pretty easy to use:
The store in nearby J-Town has a couple of designs so it's easy to get for me.

And how about the forms for making rice balls (onigiri)? You can just make plain ones if there's nothing they'd like tucked inside. (I mean something like this:

Also, this looked like they might have some interesting ideas:

Yasmin said...

Hmmm, no live links, and the URLs got split by the formatting. Sorry about that. I'll email it to you so you don't have to cut & paste.