Monday, July 9, 2012

It's so campy!


Whether you are sending your child off to sleep away  or day camp, certain things remain the same for children with food allergies or sensitivities. Above all else they, and those responsible for them at camp, must do everything they can to keep them safe. I must borrow from the Scout's motto, "Be prepared", to express the best way to achieve your child's optimal safety while away from home.

First of all, prepare a memo to be given to the camp director, nurse, and counselors who will be dealing directly with your child. I use this one for Lillie, and include a list of problematic ingredients found on, as well as a snack list, such as this one from

For Rosie, I have an allergy information sheet with her allergies and Epipen instructions in bold. I also include mine and my husband's cell phone numbers, so time isn't wasted going through the files to look this information up. I send a fanny pack for the counselor with her Epipen, asthma inhaler, Benadryl and a copy of the sheet.

I make sure to make an appointment too meet with the relevant people, before camp begins. The first day is usually chaos, and that is not the time to teach a 16 year old counselor how to use an Epipen for the first time.Take your kids, or a picture of them, when you meet with director/counselor, so they are familiar with your child.

This year I purchased very cute medic-alert necklaces. I include their allergies, sensitivities, name and home phone.  Lauren's Hope has a great variety of products sure to please any child or adult. The classic medic- alert bracelets and necklaces are kind of boring for a child, and in turn, they may be reluctant to wear them...add a princess or some funky beads, and now they've got bling!  The plastic bracelets are also an appealing solution for many children. My highly food allergic babysitter recently told me how she saved a 3 year old from popping a peanut chew at a party recently when she recognized the child's plastic "Peanut Allergy" wrist band.

Lauren's Hope is giving reader's of this blog 10% off your order with the code GLUTENFREE on the check out page.  I really feel more at peace of mind when my children wear these necklaces.

Pack appropriate snacks.  My daughters' camp provides two snacks a day. I spoke to the counselors about giving my kids the snacks they can have, but on any given day there may not be appropriate choices. Rosie likes to play it safe and stick with what I pack either way.

Luna bars has recently come out with Luna Protein Bars that are gluten free. They do have allergens such as peanuts and tree nuts, so check if it suits your child's needs. But for those that are only dealing with a gluten free diet, they are a great choice.  The new flavors include cookie dough, chocolate cherry almond and chocolate peanut butter. These are great to send along a bunch for sleep away kids or in a lunch for a day camper. It can be a real pick-me-up during a hike or just a long day.  Be considerate and check with your child's camp regarding restrictions in terms of nuts. 

Don't forget to send those special homemade treats. Today there are a number of camps just for celiac kids, and others that are training their cooks regarding food allergies and special diets.Whether you are sending your child to one of these camps or not, I strongly suggest you speak to other parents whose children have similar concerns to your's and get their recommendations on specific camps.  A R.O.C.K. support group is a good place to start. Although many camp directors think they can accommodate your special needs, you need to know it is not just theoretical, and ensure that there is follow through.

Sending pre-made meals and baked goods is a good way to ensure your child won't go hungry if there is a mix-up. I am a huge fan of vacuum sealers for meals. They can be re-heated as a boil in bag or in the microwave. They keep food fresher longer and avoid cross contamination on re-heating. Food does need to be frozen or refrigerated if it normally would be stored that way. A vacuum sealer doesn't make perishable foods shelf stable.

I discovered an amazing brand of flour that's "new to me" called Domata.  As readers of this blog know, my past favorites were Jules and Better Batter. They have been dethroned.  I found that for some applications like cakes Jules was better and for some like bread, Better Batter was the one to use. With Domata, I only need one now to achieve a perfect texture in my baked goods. I tried it in cream biscuits, cookies and cake and the texture was really perfect without any funny smell, (as is common in gluten free flour), or gritty (ditto)! When I bit into my chocolate chip cookies I had a flashback to "regular" Toll house cookies for a moment. Domata is available online at, as well as in some stores. Check their website for details. If you purchase through Amazon on a regular basis, you can take advantage of the subscribe and save program.  Domata is also cheaper on Amazon, at least, than the other all purpose flours which I order online. The flour contains xanthan gum and is a "cup for cup" substitution for all-purpose flour in recipes. I also use it as a substitution for gluten free recipes that call for a number of different flours and xanthan gum. Simply add up all the measures of various flours in the recipe and omit additional xanthan gum.

With some legwork and a good attitude, your child with special dietary needs can have a great camping experience along with their peers...enjoy the summer!
This recipe is great for a lunch, or to send individually wrapped and frozen for your sleep away child to store in the camp kitchen. These muffins are gluten free, vegan and nut free.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum (such as Domata)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup blue agave nectar
3/4 cup soy or rice milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed well
1 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 325F degrees. Place paper cupcake liners in 2 standard sized muffin pans (this recipe yields 18-24 muffins depending on size). Spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add next 4 ingredients. Stir until well combined. Add bananas and stir until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 30-35 minutes. The centers should no longer appear "wet" and should bounce back when touched when done. Completely cool on wire racks.

Freeze in zip top plastic bags, if desired.

Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 dozen muffins

Note: Use the brownest, yuckiest bananas you can find...the ones no one wants to eat anymore!

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