Esta De Araugo is in the most part, your typical everyday mum dealing with the daily challenges of life, whilst raising a family of three kids. Overlay that with the fact that all three of her kids suffer from life threatening food allergies and this is where the comparisons end.
Growing up on a nut farm in regional Victoria, the last thing that Esta thought about was anyone being allergic to nuts. Coming from a Greek family and the never ending entertaining, socialising with the children became increasingly fraught, as they got older as did the need to be hyper-vigilant around food.
Esta’s kitchen is the heart of her home. Before her children came along, she entertained endlessly. Her only concerns around food back then were, whether she had enough, and what wine to match with which course. When her eldest daughter had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs at six months, it turned her world upside down. She thought that all she had learned growing up would be irrelevant if she couldn’t use eggs and nuts. However like any parent she adapted.
When her second daughter was diagnosed with severe egg and nut allergies, her world was rocked further given the important part nuts had played in her life. So when her son was born, the chance of allergies even greater, with in fact a total of 7 allergens. Esta suddenly found herself being very concerned about food, the ingredients, the labels, what additives they contained and those little warnings that start with ‘May contain…’. In Esta’s words
“The list of prohibited foods in our home is so long, you would be bored long before you reached the end”. Children’s parties were a major challenge. The kids would feel left out as most other children enjoyed chocolate, creamed cakes and all sort of nut desserts without a care.
Friends would go out of their way to cater for the kids, however they still wanted to have the same birthday cake as everyone else, not Esta’s ‘safe’ version, despite how enticing it looked. Esta and her husband Steve were extremely vigilant on these occasions ensuring their children neither touched nor ate anything that may harm them.
Their vigilance however was not enough. The near death experience of her two youngest children at Easter 2013 changed all that. A simple incorrectly labelled pack of hot cross buns by a leading supermarket, lead to two of her children having an anaphylactic reaction within minutes. Fortunately she knew what to do having experienced this numerous times before. But it got her thinking, what would others do? How would they know what was wrong?
This drove Esta to look for a way to increase allergy awareness in the community. Talking with friends and family about her thoughts, two ideas came to mind. Firstly the idea for AlertBand. A family run business that produces wristbands with alert messages on them, to help people identify adults and kids with health conditions.
They are perfect for schools, childcare, camps, parties, sleepovers, holidays and nursing homes. Allergy and medical Alertband’s were designed for both kids and adults
Secondly, coupled with her love of food and her passion to ensure her children ate well and learned to enjoy food, the idea for her cookbook was born. “I wanted it to be full of easy to make recipes for the whole family, that were not only healthy, but were allergy friendly too” says Esta. “It is important to me that my kids know what good food is. We spend a lot of time in the garden growing our own fruit and vegetables, going to farmers markets and using wonderful fresh, organic produce.”
Esta has made a real difference to her kids and many other people’s lives through her wristbands, and her use of clean, organic, natural ingredients for the recipes in her cookbook.
To find out more or purchase any of these products log on to www.alertband.com.au