Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Very Sneezy Dinosaur [Book Review]

With NutriKids growing up fast, I am always excited to see new child-friendly books coming out to educate younger kids. As much as I love that my children are growing up and becoming their own person, I do miss the nights that I would snuggle and read with them. Now, with my son being 18 and my daughter 15, well.... it may creep some people out and mortify both of my kids if I were to try to read to them. Luckily, I still get approached to give my thoughts about new books. So, although I cannot read them to my children, I get to share them with all of you and your children and that leaves me with warm, fuzzy feelings.

allergy childrens book dinosaur sneezingThe Very Sneezy Dinosaur is an adorable book written by Justin and Michelle Esgar, parents of a son who has allergies. The main character, Elvie, is a dinosaur who cannot stop sneezing. The pictures and wording are a simple way to read to children on a comforting level while allowing them to enjoy a family-friendly story. Although just thirteen pages long, this story of a sneezy dinosaur would be a wonderful way to softly educate families, be used for story time at school or as an easy way to help transition into the world of allergies. Studies have shown that visual reminders are an easier way to educate anyone but children especially tend to pick up on messages more quickly when they find the character someone that they can relate to easily.

Are you wondering how the story goes? You can order a copy (both Kindle and paperback available) directly from Amazon. My personal suggestion- if you are able to provide or donate books to your child's school or a local library, this book would be a wonderful contribution. Copies for birthdays, Grandparents' house or even as an initial food allergy diagnosis gift to share with the child diagnosed would also be something so easy to allow Elvie to help provide even more comfort where it is needed.

childrens allergies book sneeze dinosaurThe next important question is- will there be more books coming out in the future? Stay tuned!

Special thanks to Michelle Esgar for thinking of me and offering to send me a copy for my opinion.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Can You Leave Food Allergies Behind?

I am a blogger that has always just laid it on the line, presented everything as it is. I do not sugarcoat. I do not play games to make myself more popular, that's not my style. What you see is what you get and I proudly stick to that. With a new year starting, I wanted to be open and honest about something new starting with me too- divorce.

food allergy child and parent

I began this blog because my son (now 18) has multiple food allergies and asthma. Eighteen years ago, doctors did not communicate as well with their patients, not many stores carried allergy-friendly products and let's face it- most of the earlier products were just awful. Food allergies were something still seen as "new" and knowledge was left up to everyone to figure out on their own. It's a scary place to be when you are a parent. One day, you are freaking out because you feel like you can't figure out the parenting thing and you have a meltdown because you never seem to snap the onesie up the right way. The next, you feel like an even crappier parent because you watch your child have an allergic reaction and don't even know what it is or how to stop it. Because even your pediatrician didn't really know what to tell you to do. Until, the phone rings again and it's the pediatrician's office calling back asking, nonchalantly, if your child is still breathing. Never was I told to use Benadryl, or an autoinjector nor did I have any idea what could have happened. We were lucky- HE was lucky. These are moments that never leave a parent's memory, they are only repeated and made worse imagining what might happen next time. So that was me- 18 years ago, watching my son after he ate the tiniest amount of egg from a baby food that he didn't even ingest. He gagged and spit it out. Hives appeared down the side of his face and neck. He got dark circles underneath his eyes.
food allergy reaction anaphylaxis baby
Fast forward 18 years and 22 years of marriage. Fast forward through the sleepless nights of a mother who slept next to her son some nights when his asthma was bad because she was afraid he would stop breathing. Fast forward through years and years of class parties, food stress, being the parent that the other moms grouped together and whispered about because her cupcakes didn't look like the store-bought cupcakes. Fast forward through the ER visit when I knew something was not right with my son's breathing but my husband insisted I was overreacting and it resulted in thirty+ inhaler puffs to open up his airways properly again. Fast forward through the times when my son would have honest discussions with me because he knew he could talk to me about anything. Fast forward through various family dinners when my son was pressured to "try just a little bit" of a food he is knowingly allergic to while I am looked upon as the overbearing parent who defended his decision not to. Fast forward through the beginning of High School and dating and hanging out and a whole new area of terror for a food allergy parent. Fast forward through the nights that I stayed up until my son got home safely while my husband slept peacefully, not a care in the world. Fast forward to now where my food allergic son has decided not to live with me but chose to live with his father instead.

kitchen apron cooking food spoonCut the apron strings - an actual term that so many people have said to me... really? I mean, really? Parenting with food allergies is not at all about a parent who doesn't know how to let go of their child but it IS also all about a parent who doesn't know how to let go of their child. This is not the same scenario of "He will only do it once, he has to learn" because unlike staying out too late or forgetting to do homework, having an allergic reaction without having life-saving medications will, yes indeed, only happen once because death is only a one time thing. Truth is powerful, even when it's scary.

The current divorce rate is fifty percent. This does not specify if food allergies have any part of this. There is plenty of data and research about how food allergies can take a toll on a marriage, how one parent often takes on the bulk of the stress and responsibility, blah blah blah..... does it matter? Divorce is divorce. Things that you cannot mend. If my marriage ended in part because I protect my son fiercely, then I accept that with honor. If my marriage could not continue because my time and efforts to keep my son fed with safe foods that I purchased across town from multiple food stores didn't match with the other families that do not have a child with food allergies, I accept that. Being a parent is always priority, even within a marriage.

food allergy awareness support tealGoing forward I love my son, I will always love my son and I support his decision because it is his, no one else's. My hurt should not hinder his life, that would be selfish. Going forward, I am interested in how many other parents are going through a similar situation. How many of you may be on the fence about deciding to get divorced? How many of you are looking for someone just to listen to what you are going through? I feel as if there is so much pressure and a feeling of almost embarrassment which tends to keep people from sharing or asking for the advice that they may need. How can we support each other? How can we continue to remain a strong food allergy community and not be overwhelmed, trying to figure out how to handle a situation such as this? Tell me. Now. Email me, comment, tweet, reach out- I have always wanted to help so please know, I am here. I'm going through it. Most importantly- I am and you will be just fine.

Nobody ever expects to have a child with food allergies. Nobody ever gets married with the intent of getting divorced. And nobody ever anticipates their child choosing not to choose them. Yes, there will be people who will be told one side and not the other and many may believe it. But you know the truth and that is enough.

positive light and energy life

Cut my apron strings but no matter how big the scissors are, everything that I have done for my son and taught my son will remain intact and that's what matters. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Food IS Happiness

I admit, I am not one of those food allergy moms that tried to ban food inclusive parties. I support those that do but with NutriSon, I felt that it would be better for him to go through the motions of everyday life as it would happen. Did I get stressed out whenever there was mention of a yet another class party or special treat being planned? Yes. Did I get angry at those who "forgot" to tell me, leeaving my son without safe treats? Absolutely. Ultimately, I was the parent that always lurked in the back of the classroom armed with wipes, medications and safe foods while keeping one eye on my son at all times but also trying to seem like any other parent that was there to socialize. I didn't complain, I didn't judge those who tried to debate with me about why my son "should" be able to eat their foods- I simply smiled, shut down the conversation and went on with the day.

food love happiness gratitude family

You see, food IS happiness. Food IS love. Food IS tradition, regardless of what nationality or religion you. Some can argue that food should not be used as a prize but why not? I feel we should not be deprived just because it is food. I needed my son to grow up understanding that yes, there will always be times and places that he will be surrounded by foods that he cannot have. I needed him to know how to handle those situations because no parent follows their child around for the rest of their life. And I needed him to know that I had his back every single time that I knew I could.

Recently, I was on a podcast with Jordan Googe as the guest. He was discussing how food is used as comfort. I felt a pang of guilt go through me as I am the person who loves to feed (also Italian so if you are not fed, you have failed as a person). But Jordan immediately looked at me and said "I think you are guilty of facilitating a happy relationship and happy emotions from people. It happened to be created through your cooking." .... I honestly think that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. No guilt for being who I am and no shaming for involving food in our life. When was the last time someone has said something to you and it just seemed very profound and much needed for that moment in your life?

holiday promotion allergies save supportBecause I share food with my friends and family, I want to share food with all of you too! I am offering a holiday discount - For $150, the package will include a limited consultation, a copy of my ebook The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies and additional recipe ideas all free of your specific allergens (this is a savings of over $200!). Any consultations that are scheduled with me by December 31, 2019 will receive this special promotional offer*. Consultations may be take place beyond December 31st but MUST be scheduled with payment by December 31, 2019. I am also happy to offer this as a holiday gift option if you are looking for a unique idea for someone that you know is in need of some support. Contact me today for details and set up your consultation now to begin 2020 with positive thoughts about food, life and otherwise. We are in this together!

*Those who are seeking a longer consultation session will be charged for additional hours at my regular rate of $85/hour

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.