Jenny Taylor, an American now living in the UK, wrote about the time she gave her son his very first bite of a peanut butter and jam sandwich while he was weaning, and she wasn't prepared for the reaction he would have.
Her son, known only as 'B', began gagging, coughing and gasping for air.
"Your eyes rolled in the back of your head," Taylor wrote on her blog Let's Talk Mommy.
"I froze and could faintly hear the sound of daddy’s work shoes running into the kitchen towards you. I quickly wiped as much of it out of your mouth as I could as you continued to vomit.
"We knew we needed to get you to the hospital immediately."
Taylor's son's skin reacted to the peanut butter
Taylor explained that before the family entered the hospital, her son had become unconscious.
"I ripped you out of your car seat and I held you as tight as possible screaming to Daddy to hurry," she continued. "I thought you were dead.
"A doctor to the right of me moved faster than I had ever seen anyone move and gave you a shot that made you gasp and me cry out in relief.
"My baby was alive. He saved my son."
But it wasn't easy for the family. Taylor's son had to be given medicine injections regularly as the peanut butter he had digested kept attacking his system.
He had hives all over his body, in his eyes and mouth.
B was soon moved to a bigger children's hospital and Taylor was told her son had suffered a "deadly allergic reaction" to peanut butter.
But as B started to get better, Taylor said fear took over, as she worried about the ingredients in foods and how she was going to keep him safe.
She was sent home from hospital with her son and his epi pen and said she was paranoid about what to feed him for months.
"At the time, I felt lonely, scared and lost," Taylor told The Huffington Post UK.
"I didn’t know how to go out in public and keep him safe from everyone else. It was definitely a lonely journey in learning how to cope and how to handle his allergies.
"As he got older, more allergies started to appear. It makes you panic a little but you realise your child can still live a happy, healthy, normal life and you hold on to that.
"Now, we know how to take caution when we need to and teach him and as much as ourselves about his allergies. It is our way of life now and we don’t know any different.
"It’s like becoming the best observer in the world to the people around you, your environmental surroundings, and anything you touch as well as your children when you eat."
On returning from hospital, Taylor was scared about the food she gave to her son
Taylor wrote the blog in the hope that it will lead more parents weaning their children to become aware of the potential fatal effects of unidentified food allergies.
"I have had to become a pro at reading labels and seeing signs of him struggling if he ate something not right," she wrote.
"I have to pay more attention to him than I do my daughter especially when we are out and about for the day if there is food around.
"I sometimes get angry and wish I would have known more about allergies and dangers of food when I was weaning him. Nuts and eggs included as these are the two we have had issues with the most.
"I didn’t know it but my son had baby eczema badly, and baby asthma, I was told this can be a warning sign they may have food allergies.
"There is nothing scarier than seeing your child go blue, seeing them choke and gasp for air knowing you can’t do anything for them.
"The pain that rips through your body, the tightening in your throat and chest as you hold your breath until they breathe again themselves. It’s something that changes you, stays with you forever.
"If my experience can help but one parent be cautious about food allergies while weaning than it was worth reliving it to share with you."
Taylor's son today
Taylor explained the best way to manage her son's allergies is to spread the word as far as possible about his allergies: to the school, to the people on the playground, to the doctors that touch him, to friends that come over to play, to his soccer coach, to his swimming instructor.
"Everyone he comes into contact with knows about his allergies," she said.
"It’s frustrating to always be making people aware wherever we go but necessary to give him a better chance to live a long, safe life."
While there are many dairy-free butter alternatives that could be used in this recipe, many of the popular vegan butters contain soy, so I decided to substitute the butter in this recipe with virgin, cold pressed coconut oil. At room temperature, coconut oil is solid and has a different density than butter, so it's important to use a kitchen scale to measure the quantity of coconut oil required.
In traditional shortbread recipes, one of the first steps is to cream the butter and sugar together. Since solid coconut oil does not have a smooth consistency, my first step was to make the coconut oil more butter-like. I used the paddle attachment of my stand mixer to beat the coconut oil until it was soft and creamy.
I used powdered sugar instead of granulated white sugar in my recipe to help give the coconut oil the buttery consistency that's ideal for making cookie dough. I added sifted powdered sugar to the coconut oil and beat them together until the coconut oil resembled icing.
Creating the right texture in your finished product is always the biggest challenge in gluten-free baking. There are many pre-mixed gluten-free flour blends, but in most cases you can't do a straight 1:1 replacement with wheat flour and gluten-free flour blends, as your baking will often come out crumbly. I added xanthan gum to help bind the dough and tapioca starch to help make the cookies crispy.
Rolling the dough into balls was pretty easy and had the added benefit of moisturizing my hands (fun fact: coconut oil is an excellent skin conditioner). I used a fork to press them down into coin shaped cookies.
After baking for 15 minutes at 325 F, the cookies were done. An important tip for successful gluten-free baking is to allow your baked goods to cool on the baking tray for 2 to 3 minutes before moving them to the cooling rack, as gluten-free baked goods often crumble if you try to move them when they are fresh out of the oven. This will save you, and your waist, the hassle of having to eat all of the broken "mistake" cookies that you can't serve.
The resulting cookies from this recipe makeover were impressively delicious. These gluten-free, dairy-free and top allergen-free shortbread cookies have a sweet coconut flavour with the same light and crispy texture as traditional shortbread. The cookies freeze well too, so you can make them in advance and defrost as needed. Bring on the holiday parties and Christmas cookie swaps!