I feel so terrible about something that I did last week. I didn't do it intentionally, believe me. In fact, I didn't even realize how bad my action was until just a few days ago which makes me feel even worse. So I wanted to write an apology to my girlfriend as well as every parent and child that I endangered without even realizing it.
On Saturday, my girlfriend shared a story on Facebook. This story resonates deeply with her and her family because it is a topic that touches them personally.
It was about a little girl named Natalie Giorgi who went on a multi-family camping trip back in July. At the camp, she ate a Rice Krispie treat as she has had many times before. Only this time they were prepared differently. This time, the Rice Krispie treats were prepared with peanut products. Natalie had a peanut allergy and this bite of Rice Krispie treats tragically and suddenly ended her life. Her parents did everything they could to save her that day. They gave her Benadryl like they were supposed to. Her father, a physician, administered two doses of EPI-Pens that they carried with them. They administered a third dose that was obtained from the camp. But the bite of Rice Krispie treats was the beginning of the end for Natalie. Her last words were "I'm sorry mom." She was only 13 years old.
I can't imagine what the family is going through right now. I can't imagine the constant fear a parent lives with when they have a child with a severe allergy, be it peanut or anything else.
It was only on Saturday, when I read this story, that I truly realized what I had done.
You see, my son is autistic. Being autistic he has many sensory issues. The texture and smell of food is one of them. In fact, it's such a huge issue for him that he doesn't eat a variety of food. Imagine my delight when last week my son saw me eating an organic "Honey Oat" granola bar and asked if he could try it. He did and he loved it. This might not be a big issue for many parents but for a parent with an autistic child whose food intake is limited to just a handful of items, this is a MEGA moment.
So when he asked me if he could bring it to school for his morning snack I said yes without hesitation. I was so beyond excited that I wasn't thinking of anything else: nothing at all other than my son. I didn't think, not for one iota of a second, the potential danger I was posing.
When Emilio came back home from school on Thursday, he told me that his teacher allowed him to eat the granola bar but instructed him to never ever bring anything with peanuts again. When he told me I kicked myself because I knew better. In all these years that Emilio has gone to school, this was the very first time I gave him something with peanuts.
However, even though I was silently reprimanding myself that I should have known better, I truly didn't understand the impact of what I had done. Not until I read that story about Natalie on Saturday and how this danger also affects my girlfriend's family.
I cried afterwards because I felt so bad. I feel very remorseful for not having more awareness and understanding of what I had done. I am so sorry for the danger I may have put other children in. I am sorry for disrespecting my girlfriend and her family. I'm sorry for disrespecting other families whose children have a life threatening allergy. I am so very sorry for being selfish and thinking only of my son and not realizing how dangerous my actions were by allowing him to bring this granola bar with peanuts to school.
Natalie's parents are speaking out to raise awareness about the dangers of food allergies and how for many kids, it can kill them. This tragic story has certainly made me much more aware of the dangers of food allergies. I know that many parents live with this fear on a daily basis.
I feel incredible guilty for what I did but I will never make this mistake again. I'm sharing this story as much as I can to raise awareness as well. My thoughts and prayers are with Natalie's family.
To my girlfriend and to all families living with a potentially fatal food allergy, I offer my sincere apologies for making such a huge mistake.
As Maya Angelou said "When you know better, you do better", and I promise to do better.
Hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts) have a wonderful nutty flavor that works well in pesto recipes, while arugula provides a tempered peppery bite. Hemp seeds owe their mega benefits to the fact that they are brimming with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Use this vibrant sauce in pasta dishes; as a way to enliven sandwiches, burgers, and pizza; or atop roasted potatoes. Serves: 6 Ingredients: 2 packed cups arugula 1/2 packed cup fresh basil 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1/3 cup hemp seeds 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano Juice of 1/2 lemon 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil or hemp oil Directions: Place arugula, basil, garlic and hemp seeds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely minced. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt; process until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Through the feed tube, gradually add oil while the machine is running until fully combined. Nutrition score per serving: 207 calories, 19g fat (4g saturated), 2.5g carbs, 6g protein, 0g fiber, 159mg calcium, 1mg iron, 239mg sodium Switch hits: Swap out basil for parsley or cilantro Make vegan pesto by using nutritional yeast instead of cheese Add avocado oil instead of olive oil
Almost every brand of granola in stores includes nuts, so your best bet if you're trying to steer clear of them is to make a batch of your own, which is much simpler than most people think and almost always is fresher tasting than premade. Whole grain quinoa ups the health ante while molasses infuses the granola with wonderfully deep flavor. Mixed with Greek yogurt and berries, this DIY granola makes for a knockout nutritious breakfast. If you want to make sure the recipe is free of gluten, use oats labelled "gluten-free." Serves: 12 Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups rolled oats 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa 1/2 cup shelled unsalted sunflower seeds 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) 1/3 cup unsulfered molasses (not blackstrap) 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon salt Zest of 1 medium orange 1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries 1/3 cup dried coconut flakes Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together oats, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. In a separate bowl, combine molasses, oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and orange zest. Add liquid mixture to oat mixture and stir until all contents are moist. 2. Spread out mixture on a silicone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cook for 40 minutes, stirring granola after 20 minutes. Stir in dried apricots, cranberries, and coconut, and continue to cook for 20 minutes more (for a total bake time of 1 hour) until granola is golden brown. Cool granola completely and store in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Nutrition score per serving: 236 calories, 11g fat (6g saturated), 31.5g carbs, 5g protein, 4g fiber, 40mg calcium, 2mg iron, 54mg sodium Switch hits: Drizzle in pure maple syrup instead of molasses Forgo apricots in favor of dried mango Replace the quinoa with millet
Pad Thai is one of the dishes that first comes to mind when thinking of Thai cuisine. Sadly, most North American restaurant versions are little more than a big plate of uninspiring saucy noodles. A good pad Thai will be a medley of carefully matched ingredients that comes together fast with just the right amount of sweet, sour, and salty. Here roasted soy nuts provide the necessary nutty crunch traditionally achieved by peanuts. Soy nuts are rich in protein as well as range of minerals such as magnesium and copper. Serves: 4 Ingredients: 6 ounces rice noodles 2 tablespoons chopped tamarind pulp or 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 tablespoons fish sauce 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or honey 1 small red chile pepper, minced or 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes 1 tablespoon grapeseed or peanut oil 1 pound medium-sized shrimp, peeled 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 cups bean sprouts, plus more for garnish 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 1/4 cup roasted soy nuts, plus more for garnish 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish 1 lime, sliced into wedges, for garnish Directions: 1. Prepare noodles according to package directions. 2. If using tamarind, mix pulp with 1/4 cup boiling water in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Press mixture through a fine sieve and reserve tamarind water. Stir together tamarind water or rice vinegar with soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar or honey, and chili. 3. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and stir-fry until just beginning to turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add noodles and stir-fry for 1 minute more. Stir in sprouts and tamarind mixture, and stir-fry until noodles have absorbed the sauce, about 1 minute. 4. Push noodle mixture to one side of the pan, add eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until eggs are scrambled, about 1 minute. Add soy nuts and green onions, and combine with noodles and egg. Stir-fry for 1 minute more. 5. Place on serving plates and garnish with additional soy nuts, bean sprouts, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. Nutrition score per serving: 390 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated), 52g carbs, 24g protein, 4g fiber, 103mg calcium, 4mg iron, 1,099mg sodium Switch hits: Swap out shrimp for chicken or tofu Try dry roasted edamame instead of soy nuts
Ground flaxseed infuses dessert breads with nutty nuances and significant amounts of beneficial omega fats. Riddled with chocolate chips, nobody will miss the walnuts in this guise of banana bread. Serves: 10 Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour 1/2 cup ground flaxseed 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon allspice 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 1/2 cup 2% plain yogurt 1/3 cup pure maple syrup 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or canola oil 3 very ripe bananas, mashed 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips Directions: 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together flour, ground flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, and stir in yogurt, maple syrup, oil, banana, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir gently until everything is moist. Fold in chocolate chips. 2. Pour mixture into a greased 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes before unmolding. Nutrition score per serving: 299 calories, 16g fat (9g saturated), 32.5g carbs, 6g protein, 6g fiber, 69mg calcium, 1mg iron, 210mg sodium Switch hits: Use spelt flour in replace of whole-wheat pastry flour Trade yogurt for reduced-fat sour cream Sweeten the deal with honey instead of maple syrup
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