Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Help 4 Your School

I have previously shared the news about Mylan Specialty extending the program EpiPen4 Schools (read here if you missed it). I have just received some updated information and I felt it was important to share, especially with so many states (thankfully!) requiring epinephrine in all of their schools. Although the laws are being passed, there are still steps that must be taken to make sure that the much -needed epinephrine actually gets to the schools to keep everyone safe. Also just as important is to make sure everyone understands how to administer it and the specific symptoms to watch for to treat an allergic reaction  The extra help, information and support that Mylan Specialty is continuing to give is just the thing that we can all use to get our teachers and administration trained, stocked and ready to go.

For those schools that qualify for the EpiPen4Schools program, the following is now available to you~

  • An overview about anaphylaxis featuring Dr. Ruchi Gupta which will show step-by-step demonstration of how to use an EpiPen auto-injector 
  • (4) EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. auto injectors
  • EpiPen training device
  • "Anaphylaxis: Know it. See it. Treat it training video
  • An EpiLocker
  • EpiPen replenishment offer
  • Easy, online order processing
photo courtesy EpiPen4Schools
A gentle reminder that schools that wish to utilize this program must submit a valid prescription in order to qualify for this program. Please make sure you remind your school administrators to have this done in order to have everything supplied in a timely manner. After all, the more time that is wasted is also more time that could chance not being prepared for an allergic reaction.

Who's ready to become even more prepared? For more information, please visit the website at  https://www.epipen4schools.com and help your school get all of the supplies that they need.

A special thank you to Mylan Specialty for continuing to support our food allergy community, our families and now even the families that may need support in the future. #MylanNews

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ian's - the Best of Both Worlds

Many of us with food allergies spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Chopping, recipe-trying, cooking...cooking...COOKING! Did I mention cooking? The cooking is wonderful and all- I mean, it's healthier for us and we're nourishing our families one bite at a time. But eventually, this too begins to lose it's shine. Food allergy parents begin to have trouble with their families getting bored of some of the meals because sometimes, you just want to eat fun food, right? Sometimes, everybody just wants to be able to come home, open the freezer, throw something into the oven and just enjoy it. Is this possible with food allergies? Thanks to Ian's Natural Foods, yes I believe it is.

In the beginning, there were frozen pick foods and (honestly), in the beginning some of them were just, well, ok. Not fabulous, not astoundingly good just..meh. Edible..if there was nothing else. Am I being brutally honest? Yes because it's important to be- it brings me to the products that I feel comfortable sharing with others. I hate to say it but even Ian's Natural Foods used to be in that range. Even Nutrimom can be disproved.  Need a visual? Gaze upon the mouth-watering glory that is their Southwest Breaded Chicken Tenders. Why did our entire family devour them (which includes super-picky eater, NutriSon)- we loved the mild, somewhat smoky/spicy coating on the tenders and we all agreed that they had a tiny kick of flavor but a bit more on the mild side for those who don't like anything too spicy hot. I do recommend that when heating, check the cooking temperature for these as they are a bit thicker and I noticed that our tenders started to overcook on the outside but were undercooked on the inside (and nobody wants any undercooked chicken!). Also, a request for Ian's as well- please, PLEASE consider adding a few more pieces to the package.

And how did this happen? Well, it was timing (to my advantage) because just before I attended the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference, I not only found out that Ian's Natural Foods would be there but they also had many delicious new samples. A definite advantage on their part in my eyes because a) all of us loved sampling b) the representative that was there was just so sweet and c) no other sponsor table there had hot food to sample. (Well played, Ian's!) I had to walk away from the table to stop eating their products and then they asked me if I would like to have some sent to me for a review...why of course I did! The Smokin'Sweet BBQ Breaded Chicken Nuggets were one of the items I sampled before and during my product review. Now these, these were my personal favorite (and I did make sure I made them, ate them and only shared just a few because I was in a selfish kind of mood). These crunchy bite-sized munchies have a combination of a slightly smoky flavor with a hint of a barbecue sauce, maybe a honey barbecue? They almost remind me of a chicken fritter.

Now let me fast forward to my thoughts. Somewhere along the years, I had tried their Breaded Chicken Nuggets and I just plain, flat out did not care for them. I don't know if it was the texture of the chicken, the spices, the breading- who knows. What I do know is that whatever has been improved has been improved. I am pleased to announce that our household has another delicious option in our freezer. And the AlphaTots- this was a no-brainer. We have had AlphaTots since I have been trying to teach my children to read & eat. When they were younger, they loved them because they could spell out words and play with their food but I liked the fact that they were safe for everyone in our house, that they were learning and they were eating all at once (gosh, multi-tasking at an early age). But Ian's, we also adored your Veggie Tots...... those cute vegetable versions of the Alpha Tots that were green and orange- any thoughts on trying to bring them back? (PLEASE?!!!!)

Satisfied, full and so happy to have been asked to try them, I cannot wait until all of their newer products are available in our area. I have seen a few but I am scouring my stores for all of the options to come my way. Especially with the holidays coming up, these will be especially enjoyed by NutriSon who gets a special "goodies pick-food plate" for our yearly holiday party that we attend (I always love the other guests who are intrigued and ask what he has and if they can try some too). A big thank you to the people at Ian's Natural Foods for asking me for my opinion as I truly do get excited about new foods for our family.*

PS- Are you one of the lucky ones who noticed Ian's spelled down the left side of the blog post? (elbowing)

*As with all of my product reviews, I did not receive any compensation other than the products that were sent to me to review. My opinions are my own and I intend to share the truth to help others.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sharing Time at Lowes Foods

Are you looking for some allergy-friendly food activities?
Do you enjoy a good story?
Are you curious about some of the newest products & would love a coupon?

I invite you to join me tomorrow for all of these

Lowes Foods Community Table
(Robinhood Road & Peacehaven Road) 
Winston-Salem, NC
4 - 6 PM

I love to meet all of you and help! I will be talking about food allergy awareness, showing everyone some fast & easy allergy-friendly food activities* and I will also read my story How the Grinch Saved Thanksgiving- an EpiPen tale that I wrote for My Kids Food Allergies.

I will have coupons from great companies like Enjoy Life Foods, Freedom Foods, So Delicious and SunButter Sunflower Seed Spread.

Please make sure you check out the other great events coming up through the end of October as well 

*Because everyone's allergies are different, I strongly recommend that guests check all food ingredients, labeling and bring all necessary medications to stay prepared. Neither myself nor Lowes Foods can guarantee that the products that we will be using are completely safe for everyone.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Soap Nuts, What?!

I know what you are probably thinking- Oh my, not another product that I have to avoid. Do I have to contact them to see what else they produce? Is it something that also limits our families products because of our allergies?

I am happy to say no to all of the above. Not only is the Soap Nuts Liquid that I used free of nuts, it's also non-toxic, organic and it's even got a 90 day money back guarantee. I know this is starting to sound a bit like an infommercial so let me get back to what I thought and why.

In my personal journey of food allergies and how foods effect everything in our lives, I have even began to look at non-food items as well. The more I learn, the less I feel good about everyday items that I have purchased and used for so many years. I know I may sound a bit "earthy-crunchy" but everything truly it connected. What we put into our bodies, our soil, our water- all of this impacts all of us. So I try to do my part to the best of my abilities, which also means finding better products to help me do that.

What I Noticed
First thing I noticed was the scent of this liquid- it's kind of a gentle smell, similar to flowers in the garden but not at all overpowering. I myself am sensitive to strong, overpowering scents- so much so that I have had to return items because they just made me ill (headaches, clogged nose, etc). The Soap Nuts Liquid didn't bother me a bit. When you squirt it into the washer, you can smell it a bit stronger at first but once everything is washed and dried, it just seems like a faint built-in fabric softener kind of smell. You know, that kind of comfy, warm cuddly blanket smell.

I doubted at first because there were no suds or bubbles. You know moms- we need proof that it was cleaned (like all of those times you smell your kid's hands to make sure they used soap). I mean look- nothing..so where were the bubbles and how did my clothes actually get clean? Then I remembered that I cannot control everything and I just went with it. I was pleasantly surprised- my clothes were soft, smelled nice and nobody had any reactions to anything.

Just as a side note, I tried one load with just a shirt and pair of pants of my son's and had him wear them all day while we were home in case he had a reaction. I'm happy to report that he said repeatedly how much softer they were and he was reaction-free.

Then, I decided I was going to to be Super Mom and test the amount of loads that it said it yields (120 loads). The woman who sent me the product to try was probably rolling her eyes after reading my email telling her this but it's all good. So did I actually do 120 loads of laundry? Uh, no! Because after going through about 20 and not even getting through half the bottle, I hung my head and decided to again trust in the product. I mean gosh, who truly wants to do 120 loads of laundry anyway?!

I also tested the product on a long time friend NutriDaughter's- Poodley. Poodley has been at my daughter's side since she was about two years old and has never been washed (ugh, I know, I know! But I was always a super clean freak mom and Poodley never went anywhere except her bedroom). My daughter was also reluctant- what if Poodley didn't make it? What if she fell apart or ripped? The world would end and she would never sleep peacefully again. After much debate, NutriDaughter handed her over to me for a bath in the washer. I am happy to report that Poodley not only survived but she is fluffy, soft and has that added comfy smell.

Notice how fluffy her little pink paws are now and how her ears are poofier (I only use very technical terms).

Overall Thoughts

  • Scent is good, easy to use (comes with it's own dispenser), small container versus the usual store-bought plastic bottles and price is comparable. Soap Nuts Liquid 8 ounce bottle sells for $18.95 for 120 loads which is about the same as what you would pay for your usual neighborhood food store detergent except that Green Virgin Products offers a money back guarantee (so, win-win, right?).  
  • Would I buy it? Absolutely! (And if Green Virgin Products ever feels the need to send me some, please feel free it would be appreciated).   
  • Anything that I would change about it? Just a tiny suggestion- consider having a see through bottle so that you can have a better idea of when your liquid supply is getting low. Better to have it for when you need it so you are less likely to run to the store and get the detergent that you used to use just because it's already there.
  • Additional thoughts- I would love to try more of their products and be able to find them at a local store in my area (I am a stickler for mail order).
Want to know more about them? You can find them at http://greenvirginproducts.com as well as Facebook and Twitter. If you decide to check them out, please let them know that lovable, old Nutrimom sent you to see them. I don't get anything other than the knowledge that I passed their name along to others. 

Thank you to Green Virgin Products for sending me your product and asking for my thoughts. I would like to say as with any product review that I have done in the past, I am never compensated other than receiving the products that I review as my opinion is always my own. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are You Healthwise?

One thing that I have learned over the years of being a food allergy parent and consultant is that health is not just about the foods that we can't eat or even the foods that we should eat. Being healthy is about a whole health approach. It's about finding a balance that works for you to gain optimal health. It's about putting all of the pieces together, sitting back and realizing that making healthy changes really are about so many different aspects in our lives. But on thing that is very important is to understand that there is no one size fits all approach- everyone is different, everyone can become healthy is different ways and being open minded to help others is one of the best things we can do to help each other put our pieces together.

I am pleased to announce that I have partnered up with the Healing Arts Club so that we can continue to help everyone together. I will be the official blogger for Healthwise, a blog where I will share healthy tips, information and sometimes even a touch of humor to keep everyone on the positive side of things. I am honored that Dr. Nick has extended this partnership to me and I look forward to bringing my expertise to all of you along with the added benefits of the Healing Arts Club. As many of you may have experienced, often times insurance doesn't cover many other alternative health options and doesn't offer a wide variety of resources on how else to integrate these options into your own personal health plan. The Healing Arts Club takes care of this for you- not only is there a network of hand-picked practitioners but there are special discounts and pricing options made available to you.

I think it's best described by Dr. Nick himself - recognizing that healing comes in many different forms and when you receive awesome care, you want to tell everybody. This is the passion that I share as well and I encourage all of you to become a part of. Don't just aim to be wise - aspire to become healthwise.

I look forward to helping all of you do that~

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Suck at Making Crispy Treats

There is just no politically correct way of telling you this so I am being blunt- I suck at making crispy treats. We've all seen the commercials that depict a mom sitting with her children- a warm kitchen, they're all happy and giggly and they are shaping their treats into perfect little forms. The mom snuggles her children and they are all like "I'm gonna make a star!" and the mom is like "Well I'm going to make a hat!" So, SO not real life.

You know what's real life? That nasty, sticky web of marshmallow that begins at sticky mixture, leads to the spoon, then the place that you tried to form something then to your hair. Your kitchen counter turns into one gooey ledge of slippery, hard to clean, going to begin throwing crap kind of a place. Kind of like THIS-

Yikes!!!! So how, why, where?...Gah!!!!! Is there some factory secret on how people actually form these goodies without having to get a wallpaper scraper to remove all of it? Inquiring minds want to know. (Well, I do at least). I tried- I had this vision inside of my head of what I wanted to create to share with all of you as an easy Halloween treat. That all went out the window. My patience is kaput!

However, I think it's still important to share my disasters too. Why? Because in the midst of me having a mini breakdown and almost being in tears because there is actually no such thing as a Halloween muffin (picture to follow), my kids taught me a lesson- they taught me to lighten up. Because during the time that we parents are trying to be so perfect, our children are just waiting in the other room, not caring what it looks like or if it's pretty. My children just want to hear "Try this" and it's like vultures attacking their prey.

Example- these were my (better) treats that survived-

I know, you are looking at them trying to figure out what they are and if they are even any different. I getcha' and I'm not offended in the least. They are supposed to be Halloween muffins and Halloween wreaths...gosh, is there even such a thing?! (Recipe Tip: I used Freedom Foods Maple Crunch Cereal and Starburst Candy Corn)

I pride myself on trying to take pretty pictures and these, well, they aren't the best but they aren't the worst as far as colors go but the treats...nah! However, they do taste really good and that is a plus with my kids. Besides, while all of the other kids in school all have the same old Halloween treats left over, they will be eyeing up my children's colorful treats asking "Hey, what is that?!" And soon, all of them will be going home, asking their parents to make them these tasty, colorful blobs of goodness and wondering why they had never had them before. Parents from all over the world will contact me, Nutrimom, asking me for this secret recipe that everyone keeps talking about but not before Dr. Oz's producers call me up to say "We must know, Nutrimom, what made you think of this unique way of portraying Halloween for your children?"

Well, not quite, I know....perhaps the sugar from the taste-testing has kicked in but a girl can dream, right?

Now, if you really want a laugh, I am also going to share the items that did not turn out at all (but were still devoured)

 I did manage to make a few cute critters (well, I think they are cute) and they are easy! Remember that post I wrote about my bubbled-over cupcakes? (Psst! Here) Well, I defrosted those saved topless cupcakes and reformed them into blobby monsters. The best part is that it doesn't matter if they start to unmold or fall apart, just keep adding melted chocolate and create yourself a creepy yet edible Halloween monster.

(Recipe Tip: I used Enjoy Life Foods chocolate chips and a combination of broken Brothers-All-Natural Fruit Clusters and Fruit Crisps for the extra body parts).

So to all of my fellow parents out there (food allergic and otherwise), I am hear to remind you that whatever you do, your children will like it. Not all creations must be picture-perfect and not all treats must look like they were featured in the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Allow yourself to cook outside of the lines too~

Monday, October 13, 2014

Food Feeds Fertility

Infertility is one of those issues that plagues so many women every year. But did you know that this is a condition that can also be misdiagnosed where the very foods that you eat are the root of the problem? It makes me wonder how many families spend an astounding amount of money on unnecessary medical bills only to be left with their questions unanswered. Can it be as simple as a food?

I would like to introduce all of you to a woman who is living proof that indeed, the foods that you eat can cause infertility. I found her story so inspiring that I wanted to share it with all of you. Please welcome my guest blog post Tiffany Hinton.

Tiffany Hinton helps people every single day. Her website GF Mom Certified is chock full of information, reading materials, recipes and her own personal details of how she and her husband overcame so many years of an infertility diagnosis.

Why did you begin doing this? I started GF Mom Certified for my girls. As a mom with two little girls with severe food allergies and being gluten and dairy free myself, I know the fear and anxiety a mom faces when trying to feed her children. Food is so much ingrained in our culture for rewards, celebrations and more that the idea of not being able to share with others broke my heart. I wanted my girls to grow up eating the same things I did. I love our old family favorites like my grandmother's chocolate pie or Grandma Pecola's sweet potato pie.

How long did it take you to receive a correct diagnosis? I am still struggling today with being fully diagnosed by my medical team of doctors. After almost fourteen years of believing I had ulcerative colitis, IBS, asthma and several other issues including unexplained infertility, my reproductive endocrinologists found that I was positive for the celiac antibodies. Going gluten free restored my health. My most recent endoscopy and colonoscopy show blunted villi and damage, although as I am not positive for the DQ-2 or DQ-8 (the most common genes associated with celiac). My gastro intestinal doctor will not diagnose me. My gluten free lifestyle has given me my three girls, a healthy and vibrant life and I have been off all of my prescribed medications for six years. I believe you have to fight for a solution and find the source of the ailment, not mask the symptoms with medicine. So if you are still struggling as you read this, know there is hope.

What would you tell others that may have similar symptoms? If you suffer from celiac symptoms, you need to be tested before going gluten free. Ask for a blood panel and biopsy. I encourage you to find a doctor who listens to you and is willing to investigate the cause. The best advice I received from my OBGYN several years ago was that they could not help and to find a specialist that I liked. He told me to interview them like I would if I was hiring them for a job a take a list of questions to ask. I encourage you to do the same.

How long have you been GF Mom Certified? I launched GF Mom Certified in 2012 after my first daughter was diagnosed with galactosemia* at three days old and we needed to feed her to keep her alive. I had to learn to prepare food she would eat without dairy and after her gluten reaction at eighteen months old while traveling. I knew what other parents must feel and fear. I converted my blog and launched our website to provide gluten and dairy free kitchen solutions to others that are "Mom Certified" and "Kid Approved". Our first cookbook was published in April 2012.

Where do you get your inspiration for your recipes? Most of my inspiration comes from old family recipes. I love food. I love how food can bring a family together, how food can break down barriers and open people up and I love how food can fill a room with joy and laughter.

Where do you typically eat out? We live in the Chicagoland area which is a blessing when it comes to choices. Personally, I love PF Changs. We also eat out at a few chains like Noodles & Company, Go Roma, Five Guys, Jason's Deli and a local Mexican dive.**

What types of people come to you for help and advice? We attract what we are is so true. I talk to moms and people struggling with infertility the most. I am open and love to share. At a recent book signing, there was a mom of two autistic children in tears because she did not know that you could still have some of your comfort food gluten and dairy free. Our cookbooks bring normal-ness back into life after years of struggling to figure out what to feed her children.

Do you attend many events or speaking engagements? I love to attend events and speak. You can find us all over the nation from California to North Carolina and most definitely in the Chicago area. We keep a list of upcoming events on our website at gfmomcertified.com. I love to talk and answer questions, so if you find us at an event ask away. If we don't know the answer, I will help you find someone who does. The gluten free community sticks together and helps each other.

Where do you hope this will lead? I want to be able to do what I love full time. What is that you ask? I want to be able to cook and dream in my kitchen designing recipes day in and day out. I would love to have a New York Times best-selling cookbook but more importantly, it is about helping moms by taking away the fear.

Where can we find all of your information and products? GF Mom Certified products and information can be found online at our website http://gfmomcertified.com on Twitter at @gfmomcertified and Facebook. Our cookbooks can be found online at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and our website. You can find our cookbooks in several grocery stores in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana including Strack & Van Til, Ultra Foods, Fresh Thyme and a few Hy-Vee.

Thank you Tiffany for sharing your story with us! I appreciate your willingness to help others from your own experiences. I have to add that it was a pleasure meeting you and your husband and discussing what had brought you both to what you are doing now. Your passion is evident and I know you will continue to grow that passion into even bigger ways in the future.

A for Tiffany's thoughts on how food brings us together, I completely agree. Because most of the time, we are all trying to deny that food should be in every part of our lives and I don't believe this to be true, healthy or realistic. I have said it before and I will say it again -

*Galactosemia is a disorder that effects how the body processes galactose, a simple sugar.
** These restuarants may not be safe for your family's allergies needs. As always, please check their menu options and ingredients to be safe.