Category Archives: Eczema

It’s Sweet Tooth Thursday: Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cake (dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free) or …

… a little part of my birth story in the boonies

I know, I know, I didn’t post anything for … *ahem* … three months … oups … . Well, I got busy and the time was flying. Sorry about this.

But today is a special day. I just had to write a post. My little baby, or rather my little boy, turns four years old.

I can’t believe it’s been four years since the Hubs got very pale, nearly passed out in the hospital and was ordered to leave the room where I was giving birth. My midwife told him she could take care of me, no problem, but he would be on his own lying unconscious on the floor.

But still she had to call another midwife to help her. One was pushing my belly downward while the other was trying to get hold of the baby’s head. I felt like a … (piece of meat/cow/fill in the blank) with the two women working on me and finally, plop, he most precious little baby on earth was born.

The whole labor was rather fast I believe. Prior to my arrival at the hospital I didn’t have any contractions. The normal procedure here in Paradise is to induce after a woman is passed 41 weeks. With other words, from zero to fully open in less than 10 hours.

Oh yes, at one point during labor – mainly to make some small talk with the midwife because the Hubs had left the room (see above) – I raised the question of an epidural. Her answer was ‘Oh, this you should have asked the doctor before you came down here to the labor room. Now it’s too late.’ And I thought ‘B*tch, the last time I’ve seen this doctor was some 8 hours ago and I had no clue how painful this was going to be. … Gotta hang in there. … It’s just a matter of time. … Millions of other women did it before me. … I can do it.’ And so I did. The outcome: healthy baby, healthy mommy and all the pain was erased from my memory. Oh, and a very sick daddy after he came back to the room and saw my placenta lying around.

Fast forward four years. During this time we have mastered appendicitis and are living with food allergies and seasonal allergies causing eczema and sneezing/coughing.

These days, with his ‘old and wise’ age of four years, ‘Timan’ knows that if he stays clear of eggs, dairy, corn, chicken, fish, tomatoes and the products made with them, he stays perfectly healthy without itchy skin and if he would stay indoors 24/7 he wouldn’t cough or sneeze. The latter is nearly impossible for a 4-year-old boy who likes to run, jump, climb and explore nature.

But of course he likes to have his cake and eat it too.

What better activity for a kid to do during the ‘tropical winter’ school holiday than baking his own birthday cake.

Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cake (dairy free, egg free, corn free)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

60 gr dark chocolate (check ingredients for traces of milk)

60 ml virgin coconut oil

1 cup warm water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice or apple vinegar

Method

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3-4

Mix all dry ingredients except the chocolate.

Break up the chocolate into pieces, add coconut oil and melt it in a small sauce pan, stir until combined. Add warm water, vanilla extract and apple vinegar, stir well after each addition.

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined and no lumps left.

Pour into 8″x8″ tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake.

Let cool for some hours.

Glaze

20 gr dark chocolate

40 ml coconut oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp soy-milk

2 tsp vanilla essence

Break up the chocolate into pieces, add coconut oil and melt it in a small sauce pan, stir until combined. Add brown sugar, stir until all is melted. Add soy-milk and mix. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat and stir constantly for another 5 minutes. Add vanilla essence, stir. Pour over cake. If you want to add some sprinkles, now it’s the time. Unfortunately I didn’t find any without ‘Timan’s allergens here in Paradise. Set aside for another hour, you might want to cool it if you live in a hot climate.

This recipe is made up of other recipes I found on the internet but adapted to the items you can buy here in Paradise. You can also use Cacao powder instead of chocolate, but you’ll have to adjust the fat content (oil) in the recipe. Check out this baking ingredient substitution table.

‘Timan’ loved the cake he made and the Hubs liked it too. I liked it anyway. Remember, I’m the one with the sweet tooth. 😉 It’s an easy egg-free, dairy-free and corn-free chocolate cake with chocolate glaze and it’s super-yummy and moist. Enjoy.

What other simple and easy cakes you make for your kids with food allergies?


The ‘best’ month in Paradise

Mid April until mid May is my favorite time in paradise. The weather is as hot as it gets here (33C/92F), the sea is warm like a bath tub, we have hardly any rain and the storage lakes on the island are still halfway full from the downpours during the peak of the rainy season, it couldn’t be better.

However:

1. Starting today ‘Timan’ is on school holiday for the next three weeks. In one way it’s very nice, I get to play (and snuggle :-)) with my son and maybe I get to sleep in until 7am. On the other hand however this isn’t good at all because I need to keep the little tot occupied or he will keep me on my toes the whole day long. Since many months we live in the era of ‘no-I-won’t-nap-ever-again’.

2. I’m not used to this anymore. After not even 3 short months I got so used to my free mornings I usually spend lounging on the couch, chatting with the neighbors, shopping cleaning the house. But luckily we have the perfect activity right next door. Ok, ‘sort of’ next door.

3. And this is the plan: Day #1 we go to the beach. Day #2 we go to the beach. Day #3 we might go to another beach (just for a change). But on day #4 we go to town. And on day #5 we visit Gromi. Day #6 we make a trip to the playground and stay there forever some hours. On day #7 we’ll go to the beach (again). And then we’ll start from the beginning. I just hope the weather is on our side. Sigh.

4. One thing I know for sure, ‘Timan’ can’t stay at home for more than 1/2 day. He needs an activity that involves running around, jumping and more running, burning energy, doing something physical. Any activity which doesn’t necessarily involve me every second of the day would do it and I’m starting to wonder how I’m going to survive these three weeks. How did I do this before? So fast did I get used to these 6 hours per day for myself.

5. But this week I was enjoying my last ‘free’ days for several weeks.

6. A friend came to the island and gave me some CDs with children songs and audio plays in Swiss. Songs and plays I remember from my own childhood. Since ‘Timan’ is singing the whole day, I’m sure he’ll like them and will pick up some songs in no time.

7. We went for another appointment to the dermatologist, the one I was not happy about the last time. This time however she was totally different. Maybe I’ve done her wrong in the past, because at that point she was not used to the way of life here (which is so much different then anywhere else. Deep down it still is a banana republic). We had a good talk and she completely agreed to the way I was handling ‘Timan’s eczema (double dosing one antihistamine and follow-up with another one at night, both in case he ate an allergen). She also told me about the local pharmacists who refuse to follow the doctors orders but rather ‘follow the book’ concerning prescriptions, even if the particular prescription is the norm in other countries. So we ended up laughing together and making fun of the locals like two expats living in a foreign country. Anyway, that’s what we both are.

8. Yesterday, to celebrate the last day of school, all the kids in preschool went to the local playground in town and I went along to snap some photos. I never thought it would be so difficult. They run and run, all of them, all at the same time, with no direction in mind. The playground looked like an anthill. I tried to make some group shots but 3- and 4-year-old kids are not able to stand still long enough, let along able to look into the same direction, all at the same time, not even for maybe 3 seconds.

Never before I ended up with so many crappy photos.

But all the kids had a great time and that’s what counts. 🙂

Wish me luck for the weeks ahead, enough coffee for the early morning hours and enough wine for the 5pm-frenzy or the overtired-after-dinner-tantrum.

But in the meantime I wish everyone a great weekend.

For more of those important lessons life is teaching you, head over to ‘Life Ever Since’:

Life is good

All of a sudden my days have so many hours. I still can’t believe it, it’s just wonderful. Oh, life is good. 🙂

Every single day since years I’m getting up at the crack of dawn, but starting this week I am free, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want (for 6.5 hours per day). I’m still getting up at the same time though, but I don’t mind. Oh, life is good.

1. This week I relearned to drink my coffee totally relaxed and in peace. There was nobody who constantly pulled on my legs, was whining about this and that and wanted me very urgently – meaning this very second – to build a ‘bobblebeckerbus’ with LEGOs. Oh, life is good.

2. This week I relearned to use the bathroom all by myself. What a pleasure. Oh, life is good.

3. This week I relearned to enjoy cleaning the house while whistling to a melody on the radio.

4. Actually this week I relearned to listen to whatever music I wanted to hear. Oh, life is good.

5. This week I relearned to be myself again, hmm, at least for those 6.5 hours per day. Oh, life is good.

6. This week I had a happy little son walking home with me in the afternoon, telling me about the things he was doing and who and what he was playing with. Oh, life is good.

7. This week I relearned to have fun playing with blocks and LEGOs and cars again, because the dinner was already made. Oh, life is good.

8.  This week I relearned to stay very calm. I really was a good girl, I didn’t freak out, I didn’t give a spiced answer and I even forced a smile when the tw@t of a dermatologist laughed and said ‘Oh, is this your first child? He he he, that’s why. And eczema has nothing to do with calcium deficiency. No, he he. But here in the tropics a lot of children have skin problems. It may go away eventually. And your son is looking fiiiine.’ Sure, now that the eczema has gone – because of the calcium supplement and wet wraps – he’s fine. He wasn’t fine though when I scheduled the appointment a few months ago.

(Dry coarse skin, dermatitis, hyperpigmentation and eczema can be a symptom of Hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency) according to the Cleveland Clinic and it looks as if this was a reason (or maybe the reason) why ‘Timan’s eczema kept flaring up.)

After she finished laughing she gave me a three-month supply of Cetrizine (antihistamine) and Hydrocortisone, just in case the rash would come back. And yes, this was after I told her that I was successfully trying to get off the steroids. Having specialists from other countries with not much experience who are pushing certain medicines to make it easy for them, these are the beauties of a free healthcare system. 😦

Luckily I got ‘Timan’s eczema under control, I found the triggers, without a doctor. Oh, life is good.

9. This week I didn’t care about those downsides in Paradise, the sometimes rude behavior people show here, because ‘Timan’ is healthy and happy, the Hubs is healthy and happy and the Mommy is healthy and happy. Oh, life is good.

10. This week, today, I’m finally going to the beach all by myself.

(source)

I wish everyone a great weekend.

For more of those important lessons life is teaching you, head over to ‘Life Ever Since’:

P.S. I’m not the only person complaining about the public healthcare in this country. Everyone here makes the same experience. It’s sad, but if you don’t have to pay for it, you wont get the service either. Unfortunately there are not so many other options, private specialists are rare.

But for now, life is good. 🙂


It’s Sweet Tooth Thursday: Mango Drop Cookies with a Twist (dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free)

I just knew this was going to happen. There will be a day I don’t have a decent snack for the tot available. I had fruits, but ‘Timan’ was craving for a cookie, something with carbohydrates. Of course it was supposed to be reasonable healthy and yummy and not causing his skin to flare up with an eczema or a rash a couple of days later because of his food intolerance.

Bake it myself, that’s the solution. I thought for a while, took a little bit from here and a little bit from there, I used oats instead of an egg and the outcome you find here: Mango Drop Cookies with a Twist.

You can actually fiddle around with the twist yourself, make as tangy as you like. My recipe however is child-prove, tested and approved by the tot himself.

And with a little help the master ‘Timan’ was ready to help too. And how concentrated with his task he was.

Mango Drop Cookies with a Twist (dairy free, egg free, corn free)

Ingredients

3/8 cup (3 oz/90ml) olive oil

3/4 cup (150gr) brown sugar, loose

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 ounces (90ml) mango juice

1 medium mango, peeled, cut into small pieces and mashed (I ended up with 75gr)

2 1/3 cup (300gr) whole-wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon, ground

1 tsp ginger, ground (this is the twist, add more if you like)

1/4 tsp salt

4 tbsp (20gr) instant oats

Method

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3-4

Mix olive oil with brown sugar, vanilla extract and mango juice, add mashed fresh mango and combine.

In separate bowl sift flour and baking soda, mix in cinnamon, ginger, salt and oats. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.

The more you mix the batter, the less ‘fluffy’ the cookies will be.

Using a teaspoon scoop portions of batter and drop them on a greased cookie sheet using another spoon. Place the drops about 1.5  inch apart, the cookies will rise a little and flatten a bit, but not too much.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until they start to turn brown on the edge, depending on the cookie size. Don’t overbake.

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before you use the spatula for flipping pancakes to lift them off the sheet and transfer them to a wire rack. Let them completely cool and store the cookies in an airtight container.

Et voilà, you have some nutritious and healthy cookies for an afternoon coffee or a yummy treat for your kids lunch box. They are not crunchy, but not really chewy either, more of a cake or muffin texture.

The cookies here in the tropics only stay crunchy for about 14.99 seconds anyway. So maybe the dairy-free, egg-free and corn-free ‘mango drop cookies with a twist’ would be a little more crunchy if they were baked in a dry climate, or if you would use candied mango pieces instead of fresh mango, or if you would add an egg or an egg-replacement. Drop a line, I would like to know. However for me they are perfect the way they are.

Enjoy.

What cookies are you baking for your family these days?


The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 2)

♦ Read here: ‘The mysterious rash – did we get rid of the eczema? (part 1)‘ ♦

First I started to apply virgin coconut oil 4-5 times per day all over ‘Timan’s body as a moisturizer. Over the time of about 2-3 weeks his skin improved tremendously. Everywhere on his body except on the eczema area behind his knees the skin went back to normal, was smooth and felt soft like a peach.

We also gave aloe vera gel from my plant a try, but didn’t see any improvement at all. I didn’t even have the feeling it really worked as a moisturizer. And ‘Timan’ complained it was stinging and burning his inflamed skin patches.

In the meantime the northeast monsoon had just started with its rain and the tap water was very chlorinated again, even I could feel the change. It’s not only chlorine, the water is treated with, I think the company treating the water is also adding something else to make it less harsh to the skin. Maybe this is what is causing the rash. This time around only ‘Timan’s legs were involved, from the buttocks to the rim of the shorts (note: unless we go out, he’s running around with undies and shorts only, I ditched the shirt after his armpits got better and stopped itching).

The Christmas parcel from Europe arrived and with the present for ‘Timan’ there were also some remedies for the little guy I was looking for. My parents included among other things tea tree oil and Urticalcin, a homeopathic remedy to treat a calcium deficiency. I never considered calcium could be the problem, but I believe this idea is on the right track.

Dry coarse skin, dermatitis, hyperpigmentation and eczema can be a symptom of Hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency) according to the Cleveland Clinic.

‘Timan’ has never been a milk-lover after weaning from breastfeeding with 22 month, he was nipping on his soy-milk about as often as he was drinking cows-milk before. And eczema can be a sign of calcium deficiency. But as with all homeopathic remedies, the symptoms got worse at the beginning before they started to improve.

The chemicals in the water and therefore in the clothes combined with starting to take the homeopathic calcium tablets made the eczema on his legs flare up even more.

To give ‘Timan’ a break from itching and myself a pause from preventing the scratching I applied Hydrocortisone again and it reasonably cleared within 4 days. Never before it had cleared in such a short time.

I have also started to use a wet compress on his legs 3x per day for 30 minutes each time. This was a huge success for the area behind his knees. It went very smooth and the inflammation could be kept at bay.

Right after the wet compress I gently apply some drops of the tea tree oil, to my surprise it does not sting or burn at all when I am using it undiluted. It probably depends on the stage of the inflammation or the concentration of the oil itself.

Additionally, whenever the weather is reasonably good, we are going to the beach for a swim. Of course ‘Timan’ loves this more than anything.

But I believe to really put an end to ‘Timan’s eczema on his legs we would have to move to another house that does not get the water from the ‘Public Utilities Corporation’ and but ‘untreated’ water from a creek in the mountains. And all our laundry would be free of chemicals. Yep, those houses do exist here in Paradise, we just have to find one. Let’s keep fingers crossed that we will anytime soon.

To put all together, these are the things that work for us to keep ‘Timan’s skin eczema free:

  • using untreated water from the mountains for cooking, shower, bath, etc.
  • chewable multivitamins and minerals that are free of most common childhood allergens
  • dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, chicken-free, tomato-free, scombridae-free (fish-free) diet with many fruits and vegetables, preferably raw
  • Urticalcin – homeopathic tablets to treat a calcium deficiency (even though they contain lactose -> room for thoughts about the dairy-free diet?)
  • drinking a lot of water
  • antihistamine
  • wet compress on his legs
  • tea tree oil on his legs
  • virgin coconut oil as moisturizer all over the body as often as needed (sometimes 4-5 times per day)
  • using a nail file to keep his finger nails as short as possible

And if he would have a flare up in the future I can’t control with natural remedies

  • Hydrocortisone

But this is how his eczema area looks right now, after almost three weeks with Urticalcin, without the use of steroids.

I just hope the itching will finally stop and ‘Timan’ gets off the antihistamines. Slowly I will also reintroduce dairy products (in moderation) and eggs, but will definitely wait with corn products, chicken, tomatoes and fish of the family ‘scombridae’ (tuna, marlin, swordfish, mackerel, bonito and such). Red Snapper is much tastier anyway. 🙂

Yeah, 2012 will be a better year for my son and therefore for all of us. And with proper skin care, applying lots of moisturizer and an appropriate diet we’re going to be able to keep the tots skin eczema free and silky soft.

What worked for you or your little one to treat dermatitis? Are you using steroids or natural remedies? Did you use homeopathic remedies for eczema?

p.s.: Using virgin coconut oil does not only keep the dry skin soft and smooth, it also evens out scars, i.g. from the tots appendix operations.

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