A little about us…

As there are so many new faces amongst us and with so much going on, we thought that we would give you a quick background and update into why we started our ‘Oliver’s Choice’ FB page

We are an Australian family… well actually Oliver’s father is Swiss and our boys were born in Cyprus… but I am Australian and we now live in Australia… well sort of… we are currently living in Utah but our home is in Australia… but more about all that later… as you can see our life is a little complicated 😉

We have 2 sons. Our oldest has no allergies and our youngest, Oliver, has had anaphylactic reactions to dairy x2, wheat, egg, rye, and x1 to unknown airborne allergens. He is also severely allergic to peanuts and some tree nuts.

When Oliver turned 8 yo (he’s now 11 yo) he really wanted us to share our journey of all things food allergy related to help make other people’s journey in this just that little bit easier than ours was… hence the name Oliver’s CHOICE… Oliver, after our son Oliver and CHOICE… after all the choices Oliver makes day to day living a happy and safe life with severe allergies.

Our hope is that in sharing our journey we can in turn increase awareness, create knowledge, foster hope and through all of this save lives.

We have a ‘free-of’ dairy, wheat, egg, rye, peanuts and tree nuts household and have been living this way for almost 11 years. This is a personal choice and after Oliver’s first near fatal anaphylactic reaction at only 7 months and having 2 children under 2 living in a non English speaking country at the time, it was soon proven that this was the only safe option for us.

When living with severe food allergies to more than 4 allergens, although we make it work, life is extremely difficult and it is somewhat like a ticking time bomb. When the only option you are given is ‘to avoid’ you know in your heart that although this is the obvious, ‘avoiding only works until it doesn’t…’

Your world slowly shrinks smaller and smaller within the safety of the walls that you have created and built up to protect your child and eventually it becomes very isolating. Or… where the very time consuming, in depth planning, of every single outing or excursion or holiday causes so much stress that it all becomes too much and you question whether it is all worth it… it always is of course and we have amazing times creating wonderful memories but it comes with a toll…

Our page has changed and evolved over the years from sharing our ‘recreated’ food favourites, to tips on how to stay safe while doing everything that you want to do that everyone else is so freely and unconsciously doing… We campaign through our page for things that we believe in from increasing allergy awareness, to our latest petition for EpiPens in Public Places, to increasing the awareness of “NO EpiPen NO EAT’, to informing others that there are adrenaline auto injectors in the rest of the world that are more ‘carry-friendly’ that we should also have the choice of here in Australia, to our latest life changing journey towards food allergy freedom through the treatment of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT).

OIT was introduced to us after watching a 60 Minutes report in Sept 2013. A fire was lit within us to research, investigate, ask questions, make contact, create connections and build a rapport with any specialist in the world that was practising this treatment and was willing to take on Oliver’s case. And through all of these actions we are where we are today…

We are currently in Utah (Layton) in the USA in our 12th week of OIT. Going from not having a single allergen in our home to actually feeding Oliver microscopic amounts of all four of his most severe allergens under the strict guidance of his amazing specialist and allergist Dr Jones at Rocky Mountain Allergy Asthma Immunology, has been nothing short of mind blowing…

Our allergy journey has not been an easy one to date and with IgE levels through the roof… were we that wrong to believe that this might also be a difficult road? But with the quality of life that Oliver was living and the continual stress and anxiety that we all were experiencing we thought that it was worth a try no matter how difficult the road might be… That became especially obvious when Oliver asked one day, if he saved all of his Christmas, birthday and chore money, would he have enough money to go to America to get rid of his severe food allergies… We knew then that we had to give OIT at least a chance… Oliver was ready, we were ready and the time was right…

The OIT protocol has been practised in the USA for more than 10 years. Currently the USA has over 100 board certified allergy specialists offering this treatment and that number is growing fast. This treatment is life changing not only physically but also psychologically for the allergic individual and their whole family. It is currently the only option for a safer life other than avoidance. So if this is all we have to choose from at this exact point in time, it didn’t sound like a bad option especially as our specialist currently has a 98% success rate with over 400 OIT graduates! Two of these graduates are families that have taken this journey successfully before us from Australia and are now living a life free of severe food allergies back home.

We would love for others in Australia to be aware that this treatment is actually available and safely offered not only in the USA but in other parts of the world and that there are 1000’s of severe food allergy children’s lives being changed through this treatment. In the passionate words of our amazing specialist we are not only ‘saving lives but giving life back’…

So with that we hope that our page also gives you positive hope on your journey living with severe allergies in whichever road you choose to travel…

Luscious Lemon Coconut Slice

Our brain is an amazing organ of the human body. I love how a smell can trigger a wonderful walk down memory lane… another amazing fact that our brain is responsible for. How every time I walk past our lemon tree in our backyard, the fragrance from the lemons takes me back in time to the crisp Winter months when I would push Oliver as a very small baby in his pram around the monastery near our house in Cyprus. Lukas, his older brother, would totter along happily beside us. The grounds of the monastery are amazing. The gardens absolutely beautiful. And in the Winter time a bounty of lemon, orange, and mandarins were ready for the picking. You could smell the citrus fragrances in the air as the sun set at the end of each day…

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Cornish Pasties with Oliver’s Twist – dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free

As a busy mum I am always looking for lunchbox ideas that also pass as a wholesome, balanced meal. A parcel of goodness with as many of the 5 food groups in it as possible but still packed with yumminess. So when we created this yummy pouch of goodness, we were excited that it was an all in one creation that could pass as a meal, a snack, and most importantly a lunchbox creation full of goodness. Even though Oliver is not a huge fan of vegetables he loves these pasties that I sneak extra vegetables into. Hope that you enjoy them also…

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Egg Free Meringue!

There are few things that Oliver and I have not been able to recreate in the kitchen using ingredients that are free from egg, dairy, wheat, rye, peanuts and tree nuts. But we thought that this one might get the better of us… We spoke about all things eggs recently… the constitution and make up of eggs and how they are used in different recipes. This led Oliver and I to continually think about one thing in particular that is a favourite around the world but especially in Australia… it uses mainly eggs in it’s recipe… egg whites in particular… The Aussie Pavlova or Meringue… Oliver really was intrigued to try one of these after his sugar monster of a brother told him how great they are… so we researched and researched and with the help of Oliver’s Nonna’s recipe and some creativity we think we have come up with a beautiful and tasty EGG FREE meringue 🙂

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Celebrating 1 Year of Blogging, Educating and talking all things Food Allergy…

Our food allergy journey started on the 24th August 2006 when our world was turned upside down. I remember the day clearly for many reasons… Firstly, it was the day after Oliver’s older brother’s 2nd birthday. I remember this especially well as I think back often and wonder… if Oliver’s first anaphylactic reaction had of happened the day before at the remote zoo that we were visiting, as a birthday celebration, we may not have been as blessed as we are today enjoying every minute with Oliver now. Secondly, I remember that we had been living in Switzerland for only a few months, so I didn’t even know the emergency number!!! (it’s the first thing I memorise every new country that we visit now). Thirdly, Oliver’s grandparents were visiting from Australia (so thankful for their support every day but especially on that day). Fourthly, I remember it was cold, wet and muddy outside even though it was an August Summer’s day in Europe. And I remember that it was first thing in the morning as we were all still in our pyjamas…

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Chicken Strips – Lunchbox ideas

When almost everything I put into Oliver’s and Oliver’s brother’s lunchbox is made from scratch I am sometimes overwhelmed with the lack of motivation and ideas… especially when all of the ideas have to be dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free and nut-free… But over the years we have managed to collect a number of great ideas and things that the boys like more than others. One of Oliver’s all time favourites are crunchy chicken strips. I especially love these as they are super easy to make, don’t require many ingredients and can be eaten warm or cold. They can be eaten freshly cooked or can be frozen for freezer to lunchbox ease-ness… So here’s the recipe for you all to enjoy 🙂

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Trifle – Free from Dairy, Wheat & Gluten, and Eggs… believe it or not!!

Nothing screams Aussie Summer to me more than trifle! Whether you have this at Christmas, at an Australia Day BBQ or just as a treat… this is one of my favourite Summer recipes. So I really wanted to be able to offer Oliver an opportunity to try this delicious dessert also. This year is the first time that I have been able to create a trifle that we can all enjoy together as a Christmas dessert which we will most likely have on Boxing Day with all the cold left overs which we love so much. We will have hot Christmas Pudding with custard after all the hot food on Christmas day and cold cut left overs and trifle on Boxing Day 🙂 or something like that… we can do whatever we want as we have so many choices now…

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Gingerbread House – Dairy-free, Egg-free, Wheat-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free

We love traditions in our family. Traditions can be of all shapes and forms. In relation to food celebration traditions, due to Oliver’s severe food allergies, we have had to be creative and start a few of our own traditions… which we love all the same… traditions are about starting something special together and repeating these special activities or meals again and again and passing them on… But this year we have been able to recreate and tweak a lot of the traditional Christmas food traditions… and the European Gingerbread House is just one of them… The kids have loved making this. We always thought that it may not hold or be strong enough due to the lack of gluten in the flour but where there is a will there is a way… and after many trials and errors 🙂  as Oliver himself put it… Success!! We loved making our first Gingerbread House. We thought that it would be difficult making one that was dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free and gluten-free and that would stay standing  but we tried anyway and never gave up and that’s how we ended up with this masterpiece of work!

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Christmas Cake – dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free

Christmas is coming… we feel it in the air with the kids school Christmas concert next week and with the end of the school year looming… today the house is filled with the beautiful smell of mixed spices and dried fruit in the air as we bake our Christmas cake… we have been baking this cake since 2010 and have been tweaking it each year just that little bit more… I think last year we created the perfect formula… and now we are excited to share it with you all…

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