Celebrate Fall with a Maple Leaf Bento Lunch! :)
Nothing says Fall quite like leaves! And in this case, maple leaves. In our front yard is one large Maple tree. We've enjoyed watching the leaves change color and then fall. And we've been having fun raking the leaves and jumping in them!  Eliana and Mia love to jump into the leaf piles.  After Hurricane Sandy most of the leaves are now gone so we made a Maple Leaf Bento in our EasyLunchboxes :)

In the upper left compartment Eliana has red, orange and yellow bell pepper scraps. 
The colors of Fall :) On top are two cucumber maple leaves cut with a mini maple leaf cutter.

In the lower left compartment is a babybel cheese with a maple leaf shape cut out.

In the main compartment Eliana has two maple leaf sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter on wheat and white swirl bread.  There are two mini organic fruit leather maple leaves too.
The maple leaves were peanut free and nut free soynut butter and banana sandwiches.

This is one of the sandwiches that Eliana has come to love over time. At first she didn't like anything that even looked like peanut butter because of her allergy.  Now she knows peanut substitutes by name and asks for them.  

I must say... Having a food allergy has changed us a a family.

But first... I have a confession..

My name is Michelle and I was a crunchy peanut butter addict.  I used to make a crunchy peanut butter and blackberry jelly sandwich almost every day. It was my favorite. I used to LOVE open faced peanut butter with sliced banana sandwiches--on slightly toasted bread it would be all warm and delicious! I loved Reese's peanut butter cups. They were my favorite. But things have changed. Eliana is allergic to peanuts, cashews and pistachios. She had never liked peanut butter or nuts ever but when we found out she was actually allergic, not just didn't like it, we made some deliberate changes in our family. The day we officially found out was the last day I had peanut butter. I have never even tempted to eat it again, even though I was an addict. That's right.. you read correctly. was.

These sandwiches (soynut butter or sunbutter with banana) are so delicious I actually don't crave peanut butter!  I thought I would crave peanut butter like crazy after stopping cold turkey. And no--peanut butter substitutes don't taste exactly like peanut butter. No matter what they say on the label. And yet, I still don't miss it like I thought I would.  I know I am not allergic to peanuts. But when you have an allergy in the household it changes things for the entire family. It's not a choice for Eliana and I don't ever want to unintentionally cause an allergic reaction by having something that is potentially dangerous to her in the house. That concern and love for her overrides my previous addiction to crunchy peanut butter.

So we had to make changes. We don't eat certain products/foods and we are always reading labels.  It is always better to be safe than sorry!  I know that depending on how severe the food allergy is, the precautions can be different.   I also know allergies can change over time, but for right now I am thankful that it has been manageable for us.

Now we are so much more aware. Aware of all allergies, aware of food labels, aware of ingredients, of products that are not safe.  I would have never thought twice about dog food/dog treats before, but a lot of dog treats have peanut butter in them! Not until I started looking around did I actually see how many things have peanuts in them or contain traces of peanuts in them--which may have been part of Eliana's tummy ache issues.   

I do sometimes get sick of seeing the words "may contain peanuts or nuts" or something else so vague on something Eliana really wants to get. But for being 4 1/2 she is very understanding. She is proud of her allergy! She tells everyone exactly what she is allergic to and she knows what each nut looks like. If I explain to her that something has peanuts or nuts in it she won't usually ask for it again (well except for M&Ms. That is a hard one LOL!) 

Having an allergy in our family has opened our eyes to so many different products too! I have to say--Some of my favorite snacks were found because we were looking for peanut free and nut free options! I love how that happened :) I'm very thankful that there are so many companies and products out there that are peanut free and nut free and made in peanut/nut free facilities. We have been discovering new brands and trying out new products and we've made it fun! Overall I have to say that having a food allergy in the family has changed us for the better :)


Has a food allergy changed your family? In what way?


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