Monday, November 18, 2019

Inhaler Innovation Webinar

allergies asthma inhaler healthOften, many people may find that allergies and asthma go hand in hand. With so much information overload, it can be confusing and overwhelming to try to navigate through what choices are the best choices for your specific health needs. Health care is not a one size fits all situation- everyone has different ailments, different physical capacities, different views on what they feel comfortable pursuing and most of all, everyone has different paths that they take to make their decisions.

My personal choice of determining our family's road of treatments almost always includes listening to everything and everyone but making a choice of our own. This means I try not to discount anything and I try not to judge anyone else for the choices that they have made. I have found that by listening to multiple ideas, I may come up with just one decision, many or even nothing at all. The point is to listen and keep a mental inventory. Because many of the times where I thought I had come away with nothing, I actually saved it inside of my brain and had an "a ha" moment some time later when it seemed to apply at that time.

allergies asthma patient healthcare webinar

Today, I am sharing an easy way that you can listen to information every single month. It costs you nothing, just the time that you spend listening. Allergy & Asthma Network offers a free webinar each month, also offering a different topic each month. This month's topic is "Inhaler Innovation and History- What is the Right Choice For You?" The webinar is on Thursday, November 21st 4-5 PM EST but you must register to join the webinar at that time. To register, simply click here. Once you are registered, you will receive an email with the details on how to join the webinar. All of Allergy & Asthma Network's webinars can also be found on their website under Education. Do you have an idea or recommendation for a webinar topic that you would like them to consider? Tell them! Allergy & Asthma Network invites all feedback so that they can continue to improve their advocacy for our community.

I recommend signing up for instant email notifications to avoid missing any future webinars, events, advocacy insights and more including opportunities to volunteer. Anyone who is interested in volunteering, please email me at for details.
allergies asthma nonprofit health network
Stop reading. Start registering and sharing. Remember- this webinar could be the key to improving your health or someone else's.

Disclaimer- I am a paid consultant for Allergy & Asthma Network as their Volunteer Manager

Monday, November 11, 2019

Stop Baking!

Like many of you, I have been cooking, creating recipes and dabbling in the recipe world for many years due to NutriSon's food allergies. Although it truly is a labor of love, when I come up with allergy-friendly recipes that are both easy and delicious, I pat myself on the back. Yes, I have spent hours upon hours in the kitchen. Yes, I do it because I want too. But for the times that I don't have too, there is a small flash of gratitude that passes through my heart. 

With the holidays approaching, I wanted to come up with a recipe that was something worthy of gift giving, party pick ups, wintry night noshing and just something very easy. This recipe does call for bourbon however, you can use any safe alcohol of your choice. For those that are not able to or choose not to have alcohol, I (believe) these would still be just as tasty.

gluten free no bake bourbon balls 
1 (8 ounce package) crushed gluten free animal crackers (such as SimpleTruth) + 4 ounces more for rolling
1 cup ground gluten free pretzels
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking cocoa
1/4 cup bourbon (can also use other liquors)
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
Additional confectioners' sugar, crushed pretzel or crushed animal crackers

  1. Mix together animal crackers, pretzels, confectioners' sugar and baking cocoa
  2. Combine bourbon, honey and water
  3. Stir into mixture
  4. Shape into 1- inch balls
  5. Roll in additional confectioners' sugar, pretzel or animal cracker crumbs
  6. Store in an airtight container

Makes approximately 26

Mom Reminder- do not forget to check processing and labeling on all/any alcohol that you are going to use as allergens can be lurking there as well. I'm sure you know- I am a mom, I had to remind you.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Halloween Allergies?

This post is because of NutriDaughter. It's been awhile since I posted.. what can I say- life happened but I still love and appreciate my food allergy community and I love being creative. This recipe idea is a product of a blogger's daughter. I have to say, my fifteen year old daughter has amazing snark and a super dry sense of humor that I am definitely taking credit for. Yesterday, she inspired me. And when I am inspired, I must create. Then. At that moment. Not tomorrow or next week. Like, within ten minutes I was grabbing my car keys and headed out the door for recipe supplies.

halloween scary pumpkins black white
Ohhh, creepy effect via IG
I am all about easy most of the time. I mean, who the heck has 60 hours to hang out in the kitchen.. seriously?! For those of you who do- all the power to you, love and blessings. I'm gonna be hanging here, on my couch, after my simple recipes and scroll through your feed while you are still in there. I may have slippers and fuzzy socks on while doing so. Don't criticize me if there are chocolate stains on my couch and don't tell me I'm a bad parent because I am not making every freaking thing from scratch- let us all just eat in peace, safely.

So, here is NutriDaughter's idea- our tried and true (borrowed) recipe for allergy-friendly version of Reese's eggs but in pumpkin shape. I have tried a few and found that my personal favorite is from Jazzy Allergy Recipes.

Here is her recipe BUT I shaped them into pumpkin shapes versus egg shapes. I found that it's simple- begin flatter, make an indent in the top with your finger, shape the form into an oblong apple-like shape and flatten the bottom just a little bit.

Chocolate Covered SunButter Eggs

1/4 Cup Dairy-free margarine
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1 Cup confectioners sugar
1/2- 3/4 Cup (1/2 jar) SunButter
allergies nut free dairy free chocolate1 1/2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 Bag safe chocolate chips (I recommend Enjoy Life Foods)
1 Tablespoon shortening

My addition- any safe, green candy for the pumpkin stem and eyes (optional) I used Sour Patch Watermelon Candy with the red area cut off. I recommend Surf Sweets or Gimbal's Fine Candies as additional options

  1. Microwave the margarine and brown sugar, stirring every 30 seconds until the margarine and sugar are melted together
  2. Stir in confectioners sugar, SunButter and vanilla
  3. Pinch off some of the mixture and use your hands to shape it into an egg shape (You can make them any size you like. My girls prefer them bite-sized so they can just pop them into their mouth)
  4. Place the eggs on a wax paper lined baking sheet
  5. When all of the mixture is used, place the sheet in the fridge until the eggs are thoroughly chilled
  6. Microwave the chocolate chips and shortening, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted
  7. Place the eggs, one at a time, into the melted chocolate
  8. Use a spoon or your fingers to roll and coat the eggs completely
  9. Place the chocolate covered eggs back on the baking sheet
  10. My addition- add the candy into the top for a stem and eyes (optional)
  11. Place the sheet back in the fridge until the chocolate is set
  12. Store the eggs, in between sheets of wax paper, in a covered container in the fridge
My recipe made 15 pumpkins

pumpkin Halloween chocolate treats

For those of you who are food photographers- yes, my chocolate was sweating and no, I did not fix it. This is real life people and in real life, chocolate sweats. Even more of a reason to eat it faster!

All in all, this Halloween treat is super easy to make, is very kid-friendly (as a mom, I am admittedly not great about sharing my kitchen space) and it's delicious. Dare I say, even tastier than the store bought brand that those with food allergies cannot have. Remember to share responsibly, wash your hands (just because it's safer to do so and ... not washing then eating, gross!) read labels and always ALWAYS carry two epinephrine autoinjectors. 

Wishing everyone a safe, happy and chocolatey Halloween

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Food Sensitivity Testing [Book Review]

Food sensitivity can be somewhat of a grey area within the food allergy community. Meaning, some feel that because food sensitivity/intolerances are not life threatening, they should not be considered as important/detrimental as allergies that cause anaphylaxis. While I understand and agree that these are two very different areas of allergies, I feel that those who are suffering from sensitivities and/or intolerances should never be made to feel that their health issues are any less important. Just as there are varying levels of how people react to food allergies, there are also varying levels of how people can react to foods with less of a reaction. My point being- just because a food intolerance is not life-threatening, does not mean that it is not life-altering.

OK, I will push my soapbox aside just a little so that I can share my thoughts on a book that I recently reviewed. Julie Langton Smith MSc authored "Food Sensitivity Testing: The Principles of Bioresonance and Biofeedback Therapy"". Yes, this is actually my idea of fun because for seventeen years, I have been and will continue to be completely intrigued at how food effects our body. So when I was asked to review this book, the inner food geek in me said yes immediately.

food sensitivity bioresonance biofeedback therapy

Things I Appreciated About This Book Julie's book contains (mainly) short chapters and is written as more of an essay or manual versus a book. I admit, when I received the book I felt a bit overwhelmed as if I was just the tiniest bit out of my comfort zone. Once I began reading, I enjoyed that the simpler, matter of fact writing style is used so as not to make my brain wharp in the process. One of the terms used within the book that I absolutely adore is (CAM) Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. I know that in recent years, integrative medicine has been kicked around but I feel Julie's CAM label makes these alternative health options feel more personal. On the very first page it reads "Many illnesses remain a mystery for both patient and physician." In today's medical society, this is key. So many (including myself) have gone from doctor to doctor, seeking answers with difficult to diagnose symptoms and understanding that there are, in fact, things that are still not easily understood makes it so very accepting to allow both patients and physicians to know sometimes more is necessary to heal. 

patient care health care allergiesStaying open minded is also a focus in this book. Mainstream physicians may or may not be taught the importance of how a meaningful approach to our health care can vastly improve how we heal in multiple ways. One such example is the difference between a ten minute appointment with a General Practitioner and a CAM physician who "spent at least twice as much time with patients compared to mainstream" (page 5 of her book). Being heard is what counts when a patient is seeking answers on how to proceed and how to heal. As a patient who is not feeling well and may not have felt well for months or even years, it can be very frustrating and stressful to spend the time setting up an appointment with a doctor, waiting to get the appointment, then having it end badly within just minutes because that is the time that they are allowed for each patient. 

Things I Saw As a Red Flag Although Julie's book is about food sensitivity, there were two areas that caught my eye in a negative way. One of her chapters states "Thankfully, a nut allergy has less severe symptoms.".... if you are a food allergy mother or have food allergies, are you reading this like "Excuse me?!" Maybe I misread it, maybe I did not understand the context of that paragraph but I find this statement to be extremely dangerous. There is no way to understand how an allergic reaction will effect each individual nor is there any proof that nut allergies have less of a severe reaction than other allergenic foods. I feel the author may want to consider my thoughts going forward for the safety of her readers.

A second area of the book is mentioning shellfish allergies. The author's statement to this is " Generally this kind of reaction is seen in adulthood."Again, I may be seeing something beyond what she intended but I feel this too is a dangerous statement to share with her readers. Allergic reactions can happen at any age, any time, even after ingesting the food many times before without a previous reaction. No, the focus is not on food allergies but if the author is choosing to include this topic, I recommend that the wording be carefully chosen.

What Is This Book About? The author shares a lot of helpful and useful information in her book. Again, in my opinion, the book reads more like a manual than a book (not sure if this was the author's intention or not) which makes for a quick read. One positive that I did appreciate is that nowhere within the book does the author state her opinion, she simply shares all avenues of information. Her topics and chapters include:
  • Multiple types of therapies to offer a wider patient care plan (such as art, dance and music therapy)
  • Explains how food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies may relate to different areas of health related issues, not just physical reactions as many expect
  • Explanations of digestion and how poor nutrition and digestion can effect other areas of your body when you are not well
  • Sugars, fats and proteins and how they relate as different avenues of health issues
  • Case studies with notes, comments and questions for the practitioner to consider using
  • Sample patient letters, explanation of test results and the importance of receiving patient feedback
Overall, I have mixed feeling about this book. I do not review items, food or otherwise, to bend the truth or mislead and please remember that my opinions are always just that, my own opinions. This being said, I feel the author was helpful in collecting the information that is contained in this book but I am a bit confused about who it is aimed toward. Is it written for a patient? If so, some of the information is helpful in giving people new avenues to look at in terms of their tricky health dilemmas that have gone undetected. They may be seeking answers about other areas of treatment or even trying to understand why their body may be reacting in ways that do not make sense to them or their doctors. Is this written for a physician? If so, how practical is it to think that physicians will need this book? I am not trying to seem abrasive, just realistic. Am I wrong in thinking that a physician would learn this information from education and not necessarily look to a book outside of their schooling for it? 

If you are interested and would like to read a copy for yourself, you can find it on Amazon. For more information about the author Julie Langton Smith MSc I recommend you visit her website for the Langton Smith Clinic. I want to thank the publishing company for sending me a copy to review and asking for my thoughts, it is always appreciated to be included.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Shellfish Allergy? Read This!

Do you have a shellfish allergy? NutriSon does.

For those of you who do not fully understand food allergies, one in thirteen people are diagnosed with a food allergy. That means that specific foods can cause life-threatening situations and cross-contamination must be handled and avoiding your allergens is a must.

Now, what if I told you that in the future, your foods and other everyday items may be covered in packaging made from lobster shells? If you have a shellfish allergy, are you going into a cold sweat? Because I am. Just thinking about how this may effect my son as well as millions of others with this allergy. The thought behind it is harmless- it's meant to be a biodegradable product to help reduce waste in the environment (I fully support being eco-friendly). But stop and think- it may be covering a lot of items that you purchase safely right now.

- Would the packaging be required to be labeled for allergens?
- Would it be a cause of cross contamination by being placed with other packages that are not made from this material but touched it, was handled prior to other packaging?
- Would every single food store/processing plant/restaurant/etc. be mandated to be retrained on food safety and handling to reduce the number of allergic reactions from a simple package of food?

This invention is in process and is not even a thing yet but I am already so very uneasy.

I first came across the article here and was intrigued but (as I shared) worried. According to Business Insider "A team of students at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London has developed a method that turns lobster shells into biodegradable "plastic". 

Operating under the name The Shellworks, the group creates planters, wallets, plastic bags, and more, from a substance called "chitin", which is biodegradable and reusable."

Read that. Let it sink in for a moment. Again- the idea is amazing! Save the earth, help our environment but.....make all those with food allergies panic. It's NOT just plastic wrap. It's so many other things - everyday things that are incorporated into your life. Wallets... picking out a wallet that is made from lobster shells... I am shuddering. This being said, I still seek knowledge, opinions and information as not everyone's allergic reactions are the same. My first step was to ask others within our food allergy community about how they feel about it. Here are some of their comments and concerns:
  • "I'm really concerned about this. Thank you for sharing it. I'm going to keep all the information. I already sent it to all of my family because both my son and I are so allergic"
  • "Kind of freaked me out. I'm breaking out just looking at it."
  • "Is it an actual risk? I think back to the walnut shell astro turf that I've seen and wonder if there is enough protein in the shells to make an issue? Definitely something to be aware of!"
  • "I am curious though as some have reactions to touching it and some react to cicadas because of the exoskeleton."
  • "OMG that really could kill me I think? My son and I are both Ana[phylactic] allergic."
  • "It would definitely be a concern for me, but it looks like this is just the shell, what part of the shellfish causes the allergy?"
  • "For someone with a severe allergy any protein at all is a risk. I really think we need to look away from food sources for packaging- as much as I want something safer for the environment."
  • "Seriously frightening to me as one with a shellfish allergy because I am sure they don't label it as shellfish."
  • "With my seafood allergy, I don't trust it! No way!"
  • Definitely worrisome for us!!"
My next step was to reach out to The Shellworks in London and voice my concerns for our community. I was pleased that they replied very quickly. Their response:

"Hi Tracy,

The RCA comms department forwarded us your email. Thank you for reaching out. 

The material is actually hypoallergenic once we process it. We break down the polymer into chitosan, which is actually used in medical and pharmaceutical products and has proven to be biocompatible and hypoallergenic.

It is one of the benefits of using this polymer so that it can become a viable sustainable alternative to plastic. Hope this addresses your concerns."

Are you comfortable with this response?
Do you have any situations that you would like to share that may support using or not using items such as this?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Free Asthma Education!

With asthma and allergies increasing, so does the need for more education and support. Finding budget-friendly avenues are always helpful but free support is definitely always welcome as well. I feel that most of us can agree that the journey of asthma and allergies can seem overwhelming sometimes and can leave some of us feeling a little on the helpless side as well. I am proud to say that this is the exact reason I began doing what I do- nobody should feel alone. Our community is amazing at supporting each other and with technology on our side, we can connect with someone just about any time of day, anywhere in the world.

Since part of my mission is to share to help others, I wanted to make sure I posted about two free events for July and August. If they do not necessarily pertain to you or your family, feel free to pass the information along to others. If this post helps even one person, I have done my job!

Tuesday, July 23rd 3-4 PM EST 

Allergy Asthma breathe webinar free

FREE webinar hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network "Type 2 Inflammation: Severe Asthma and Co-Morbidities". Dr. Bradley Chipps will discuss and answer your questions on the basics of Type 2 Inflammation and what it means for patients with severe asthma as well as co-occurring conditions. This webinar can be attended virtually or via telephone. If you would like to ask the Doctor questions or comment, signing in virtually is the way to go. To attend, you must be registered so don't forget to sign up here and don't forget to share (because sharing is nice, helpful and we need to do more of it).

Saturday, August 24th 9AM - 3PM CT 

FREE CARE- Conference for Asthma Research and Education
Chicago, IL
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital
225 East Chicago Avenue
11th Floor Conference Center
Chicago, IL

CARE is for patients and healthcare professionals. Attendees will:

  • Learn about emerging asthma treatments
  • Hear about the latest asthma research
  • Learn patient advocacy and management strategies
  • Hear from leading asthma specialists
  • Get your questions answered
  • Receive a free breakfast and lunch, an inhaler spacer and asthma resources
Sessions address adults, teens and children 9 years and older- attend as a family, bring a friend or come solo for your own benefit. The conference is free to attend but travel vouchers of $20.00 are available (please contact Registration and complete details here

This event is held in conjunction with the "Asthma Week at the American Thoracic Society" Patient Education Program and is presented in partnership with Allergy & Asthma Network, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, PAR (Public Advisory Roundtable) American Thoracic Society, Northwestern Medicine- Feinberg School of Medicine and SOAAR (Science & Outcomes of Allergy & Asthma Research). 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Forward Your Food

Typically, when anyone discusses food allergies, the rule of thumb is DO NOT SHARE YOUR FOODS. This year, I broke this rule. I even asked others to help me break this rule and they agreed. I have done this before and I hope to do this again. Sometimes, breaking the rules is better than following them. Here is why.

pay it forward food allergiesFor a third time, I am proud to share that I partnered with multiple companies for an amazing cause- the Pay It Forward movement. Are you uncertain of what this is all about? The Pay It Forward movement takes place every year on April 28th. Once every year, everyone is asked to do a random act of kindness. I first heard about this mission and participated in 2015 and then again last year in 2018. I strive to continue to help others and part of my purpose is to share allergy-friendly products that I know, trust and love. The fact that these same products are more than happy to work with me to achieve this makes my heart smile with gratitude.

Here it is July and Pay It Forward happened back in April. Normally, I post about things soon after they happen but this year, I wanted to wait just a little bit. So many others would be sharing and posting about their act of kindness, then May went into full bloom with food allergy awareness and giveaways. I wanted to give the Pay It Forward movement it's own special time that would have a chance of being noticed a little bit more. Not for the sake of getting any credit but in the hope that others might also join in and do what I have been doing for the years to follow.

Gratitude for Goods First and foremost, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the companies that worked with me to make this year's mission complete. This year, I am proud to share that 10 anonymous families of a local Elementary School received a completely full bag of food. When I say full, I mean I was panicking, thinking that all of the foods may not fit! My other fear- can an Elementary school student carry this bag home without the bag ripping?

allergies food donations gluten free

Each bag contained the following product items:
In addition to ALL of this, Lowes Foods (Robinhood Road, Winston Salem NC location) also put together the bags with all of these items as well!
food bag donations lowes foods

- Chocolate chip cookies
- Trail mix
- Spaghetti
- Pasta sauce
- Cereal
- Grape jelly 
- Pancake & waffle mix

I absolutely love this project and hope to continue it each year for as long as I can. Although the selected families may not have food allergies, they also may have food allergies. I like to imagine that out of all of those families, at least one or two has someone who opened the bag and was grateful they were able to eat at least one food safely (if not more). I like to think that some of the families learned more about the products that are available and how food choices really are important.

Will You Participate Next Year? This is such a simple way to make someone smile for one day a year. I encourage all of you to visit the website for more details, share and plan how you can be a part of it in 2020. There are no rules- you can be as creative as you want to be. You can do one thing or several things. The point is to do it. Help others. Be part of the change. Some want to be remembered for having their name in lights but my only goal in life is for people to say "She helped others".

Hugs to My Helpers I want to send out an additional thank you to the companies that helped me to make this year the biggest and best year so far. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Lowes Foods, SunButter, Barney Butter, Crispy Green, Schar Gluten Free, Applegate, Safe Catch, Pathwater and Gluten Free & More Magazine.