If you are here just for the Agua de Piña recipe, scroll on down. Though, I’d love for you to read this first part, too!
Did you know that it’s Food Allergy Awareness Week? Or did you even know such a week existed?
Well, even if you had no idea, I invite you to take a little time to become educated about food allergies and sensitivities. As many as 15 million Americans are affected by a food allergy. And there are so many different kinds. While the most common allergies are milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nut, and seafood, a person can be allergic to just about anything. While the severity can range from person to person, all are serious and if you suspect you or your child has an allergy, definitely seek medical advice.
My blogger-turned-real-life-friend, Megan, invited me to post about Food Allergy Awareness Week, and share a recipe that is free of at least one of the most common foods people are allergic to. Megan is one of the most amazing mothers I know — her adorable son, Carter, was diagnosed last year with eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE). The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders describes EOE as “an allergic inflammatory disease characterized by elevated eosinophils in the esophagus,” and those affected can only have a very, very limited diet, and have to be tested for allergies to pretty much anything they will ever eat. I don’t know a lot about it, but be sure to go check out Megan’s blog to follow on their journey. I’m sure you will be amazed by the strength of this sweet family. She made this awesome little calendar for things you can do this week to learn more about allergies. This was specifically created for UFAN (Utah Food Allergy Network) but if you deal with allergies in your life, I think you might find some use of this. And for those just wanting to learn more about food allergies, this website is a great place to start.
While Jack doesn’t have any life-threatening allergies (thankfully), he does have sensitivities to lactose and fructose that requires a different type of lifestyle than many. Because of this, I’ve been trying very hard to adapt all our food to things he can eat (which has been good for me, because I have a lactose intolerance as well), and make an attempt to educate those who interact with him on what foods he can eat. Because, the fact of the matter is, when he eats these foods, it does make him sick and uncomfortable! And, being the protective mama that I am, I want to try and make his life as comfortable as possible.
I’ve found that many people just don’t really understand allergies or intolerances, and that’s understandable. Why be educated about something that doesn’t affect you? But as I’ve done research, I’ve realized just how many people are affected by food allergies and intolerances, and it doesn’t hurt to try and understand what people go through with these. Your child may someday have a classmate or friend who can’t even be in the same room as peanuts. Maybe you’ll marry someone who has a lactose intolerance. Or perhaps, somewhere down the road, you’ll realize that you have an allergy or intolerance. You just never know when it might affect your life, and if you know even just a little bit, it can make a big difference in someone’s life. Even just learning to ask people if they have an allergy when you are making something is a kind gesture.
Several people have tried to tell us that we just need to toughen Jack up, and he’ll grow out of it. And while yes, many children outgrow allergies, you shouldn’t try and force it. Some people never outgrow allergies, and they can be life-threatening. And even if it’s not, why make someone be uncomfortable by trying to make them build up a tolerance? It can be difficult to live with an allergy as well, but it is possible, and there are many great support systems out there. And with the Internet, you can find out just about anything.
One thing that has been kind of sad for Jack is that he can’t have a lot of fruit, and definitely no fruit juices. Before we found this out, he LOVED fruit. In addition, he can’t get little bits of milkshakes or ice cream from grandparents, and we have to double (and sometimes triple) check everything he eats. It becomes very apparent when something slipped under the radar. While I doubt we would have given him very much juice or milk shake even if he didn’t have intolerances, sometimes I wish we could, like when we are at a picnic on a hot summer evening, or even just a sip of the orange juice I have to have each morning. Sometimes it’s nice just to have a little treat.
My sister-in-law, Charbel, often makes delicious agua frescas when we are with her. Forrest also laments on how he was served this quite often on his LDS mission. These are drinks that are made from fruits (or sometimes even flowers) with a small amount of sugar. These fruit drinks aren’t full of sugar like most fruit juices, and are even a bit frothy, like a milk shake. Today, I am going to share a quick and easy recipe for Agua de Piña, which is one of our favorites around here. This is something I don’t feel bad about letting Jack have a couple sips of, because pineapple is low in fructose and okay in small amounts. It is super refreshing, and, as I mentioned, frothy. I felt like I was drinking a pineapple milkshake for a little bit.
You can make agua frescas with just about any fruit, in a similar manner. But for this, all you need is a small- to medium-sized pineapple, water, and a little bit of sugar. This drink would be safe for anyone who has one of the top seven food allergies, and is the perfect drink for the long (and hot) summer nights ahead of us!
Agua de Piña
1 medium-sized pineapple
4 cups water
3 Tablespoons sugar
Remove peel and core from pineapple, and slice into chunks. Place into a blender or food processor, and blend until it is liquified. Add in water and sugar, and blend until everything is combined and liquid.