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New book, “The Thriving Child,” helps parents feed kids with allergies

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The Thriving Child: Parenting Successfully Through Allergies, Asthma and Other Common Challenges, by Erica Reid (Center Street).

The first time Erica Reid covered her son’s aching ear with a steamed white onion, her music mogul husband, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, worried more about her health than the boy’s.

“He was giving me the cuckoo look, like it was vodoo or something,” she said, laughing.

But the ache went away and stayed away. She continued to experiment with homeopathic treatments while shifting her son and daughter away from a typical meal of chicken fingers, pasta and peas to turkey burgers, brown rice and kale. A litany of allergies, asthma and infections — one of which landed her son in emergency surgery when he was 3 — eased. Months of steadily improving health led to years.

“My kids were sick all the time; they were on antibiotics all the time,” she said. “Now, this summer, it will be six years that my children have had no medications. No Tylenol, no Motrin, no Advil. My refrigerator is my medicine cabinet and our kitchen is our pharmacy. I just turned to food.”

Though Reid went on to write “The Thriving Child,” she professes no professional credentials. For each chapter in her book, covering a range of topics from food allergies to discipline, she combines her own experience with perspective from experts. She views her layman status — or would that be laymom? — as an asset in inspiring other parents to do their best for their children.

She stops short of zealotry.

“Do my kids eat junk food? Absolutely. Do they eat processed food? Absolutely. Do they eat that way 90 percent of the time? No,” she said. “I stopped bringing junk food home. If we’re going to have it, let’s have it out of the home. I try to make the home where we eat a certain way 90 percent of the time.”

Still, upon seeing Beyoncé and Jay-Z at Reid’s New York book-signing and Reid’s husband on “The X Factor,” skeptics may attribute her approach to a privileged lifestyle.

“But this is not about a woman married to a certain man in a certain income bracket,” Reid said at a Chicago book party at the fashion boutique Ikram, hosted by financial guru Mellody Hobson. “All of us can do this. If we have access to food, it’s just about shopping in a smarter way.”

The book includes kid-friendly recipes at the back. Some feature uncommon ingredients such as the seasoning Sea Veg ( but are generally simple.

Still, detoxing a child’s diet isn’t easy, Reid acknowledges.

“It was a challenge. It’s still a challenge,” she said. “But they eat much better. They are thriving.”

By Wendy Donahue
Chicago Tribune

Kale Chips

Note: Adapted from “The Thriving Child.”

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stems from 1 bunch kale; tear leaves into big pieces. Soak in cold water with 1 tablespoon sea salt. Rinse well, strain and pat dry. Drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and ¼ teaspoon Sea Veg on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Add kale; toss. Bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice; toss. Return to oven; bake until crispy, 10-15 minutes.

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