A few weeks ago, Robbie was out of town and Liam and I went to dinner with my parents. They had some little brownie bites (the size of a mini muffin) that I used to bribe him to use the bathroom before we left to drive home. I have no shame in that bribing game. Once we were in the car and driving, he took one or two little bites of the brownie and said it made his tongue and mouth feel weird. I took a bite of mine and realized there were chopped walnuts in it. It concerned me, for sure, but I also kind of thought that since he doesn’t like nuts, that Liam was just making an excuse to not eat it. I actually drove with the interior lights on because it was dark out and I wanted to be sure I could see him if he got hives or something. He didn’t, everything was good, and then I forgot about it.
Cut to a few weeks later: we went to Liam’s already-scheduled allergy appointment to check on the progress with the allergy drops we started with him this year. I mentioned the brownie incident, we had a skin test, and long story short: Liam is allergic to tree nuts.
We were kind of shocked at the diagnosis. He doesn’t like nuts in general and just doesn’t eat them, so thank God he’s never had a severe reaction. In fact, we don’t even know if he’s had a reaction at all before the brownie, but I’m thinking that he has been reacting mildly and just didn’t know how to express it. He has eaten some things that he described as “spicy” that shouldn’t have been at all, and it’s likely that it was something I cooked with almond flour or almond milk. In fact, some of the recipes I’ve shared on this blog that use almond flour (like blueberry muffins) he suddenly said he didn’t like anymore. I thought he was just being picky, but now I wonder if he was having reactions and just couldn’t tell me.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks doing all the research I can about tree nut allergies, and let me tell you, it is some scary stuff. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that Liam hasn’t gone into anaphylaxis or had severe reactions before we knew he was allergic. I am so thankful that the only allergy we have so far is tree nuts and not more of the top 8 allergens. And I’m thankful that as of now, we don’t have to worry about “shared lines” or products that may be processed in a plant that also processes tree nuts. But, we still had to make a few changes.
- I actually had some chopped walnuts and pecans from some dishes I made at Thanksgiving (dishes that thankfully Liam didn’t eat), so I threw that out. Walnuts were the tree nut that Liam had the biggest reaction to.
- I had some treats in the freezer that I had made with almond flour that I threw out.
- I had some almond milk in the fridge that I threw out. I’m basically the only person who drinks it, but when we run out of dairy milk we use my almond milk for cereal and French toast. It’s best to just not have it in the house!
- I threw out the raw almonds and almond flour from the pantry.
- I checked all the labels of the crackers and snacks that we have in the pantry, and the sauces we have in the fridge, to make sure it was all nut-free and good to go.
So I cleaned everything out of the house, and got a couple of substitutions for what I got rid of.
- I already had regular flour and gluten-free flour at home, so I’ll use those instead of almond flour.
- I got some coconut milk to replace the almond milk, but APPARENTLY coconuts count as a tree nut even though they are a fruit. Insert eyeroll here.
- So now I am trying flax milk. The jury is still out as to whether it’s a hit.
We are definitely still learning–a day after his diagnosis we went to the store and got Honey Nut Cheerios, not thinking a thing of it. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later (before Liam had a chance to eat any) that I realized DUH THERE ARE ALMONDS IN THIS CEREAL. It’s even in the name! But we’re learning.
Stay tuned for some nut-free treats and meals as we continue to navigate this new part of our lives!
**Just in case you need to do some research about food allergies yourself, you can check out American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology or Food Allergy Research & Education.