The great cracker goo panic

Last weekend we battled a second stomach bug after recovering from one just a few weeks ago.  *sob*

We were headed to a pig roast on a farm about 40 minutes from our house. The people who invited us were incredible–they made vegan rolls special for Emily and bought her a pint of coconut milk ice cream so she wouldn’t be left out. It’s a gesture very few people offer and it warmed my heart.

Unfortunately, on the drive out there, I heard that undeniable, gagging-followed-by-a-miniature-splash sound, and turned around to find Emily throwing up all over the back seat. We pulled over in the middle of farmland nowhere and cleaned her up next to a canal with only baby wipes and Kleenex. (Side note to my fellow parents: never, EVER, travel without towels in the car.)

Emily had her heart set on seeing cows and horses, so we carried on the last few miles and arrived at the farm. It was obvious pretty quickly that it was no minor upset stomach. Emily was burning up, didn’t want to play with the dogs or other kids, wanted nothing to do with food, and wouldn’t leave my lap. We headed home before the food was served, although we did get to take her ice cream and vegan rolls home with us.

So when I got a call from Emily’s day care earlier this week, I knew it would be one of two things: either she was still sick, or there was food allergen exposure. The call went something like this:

Teacher: So, I have a little bit of a concern…
Me: Okay, what’s up? (Already my heart rate has doubled.)
Teacher: Well…Emily can have Ritz, right?
Me: Yep.
Teacher: Okay. Well. We passed out plain Ritz crackers to all the kids, and then we noticed what looks like peanut butter on all the crackers. I tasted it, and some of the other ladies tasted it, and we’re pretty certain it’s peanut butter.

NORMALLY at this point, I would be in the midst of a panic attack. However, I knew immediately Emily was fine. The “peanut butter” on these Ritz crackers was not, in fact, peanut butter. It’s something known in the allergy world as “cracker goo,” and it’s a paste of oil and salt that builds up during the manufacturing process. It looks, smells, and tastes eerily similar to peanut butter. I knew this. I’ve seen it. But it was new to Emily’s teacher, and she was having a mental breakdown as she dialed my number to tell me Emily had consumed peanut butter.

After explaining cracker goo to her, I asked her to keep a close eye on Emily JUST IN CASE. We disconnected the call and she immediately texted me, telling me she was shaking and in tears. She’d been so worried. I reassured her that even if it had been peanut butter, she had done nothing wrong. Accidental cross contamination is, unfortunately, not uncommon. It could happen to anyone–even me.

Strangely enough, not peanut butter.

Emily was in the clear, but when I picked her up she made sure to tell me her teacher told her no more Ritz. It’s silly that it pained me, but it did. Emily loves Ritz crackers and she eats them all the time. She couldn’t even begin to comprehend why the teacher took them away from her but not the other kids. Yet, the teacher did exactly what she should have done. I did my best to explain to Emily why her teacher took away her crackers, but I could tell it wasn’t registering. These are the moments–the ones that seem so insignificant–that the emotional weight of parenting an allergy toddler bears down pretty hard.

Other than that, things have been calm and easy around here lately. We still have no issues with baked milk–next weekend is the pizza test!

A few nights ago, Emily helped me make mini banana chocolate chip muffins. The recipe called for egg so I used aquafaba. This was only my second time using it; the first was about a month ago when I made molasses cookies. After two successes, I am SOLD on aquafaba as an egg replacer. I have never before made muffins that were so light and fluffy, that didn’t crumble apart. I really wish I had known about aquafaba a year ago when we started the weekly muffins.

My kitchen is not always this messy.

One last thing before I wrap up my ramblings: can I just talk about how horrific food allergy nightmares are? I had the most vivid dream last night that Emily ate peanut butter at day care and that it caused her so much pain she started thrashing around and cracked her face on the side of the toilet. It’s disturbed me all day. NOT COOL.

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