Thursday, May 23, 2019

You Are My Allergy Superhero

I don't know how everyone else has been feeling this month but I have seen some amazing allergy support! Posts, tips, recipes and so much love within our community that my heart and soul are bursting with gratitude. In keeping with the feelings of food allergy super powers, I was excited to hear that Allergy Superheroes wanted to participate in my month of giveaways. After all, they are superheroes!

allergy superheroes family wearing capes
This is them!!!

Let me backtrack for just a minute and share how I met these wonderful people. A few years ago, they had an exhibitor booth at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. What caught my attention is that they were just so down to earth and eager to meet so many of us within the food allergy community. Between that and the humor of Dean (Mr. Allergy Superhero?) trying to get me to dance with the group at night, I can easily say that an instant friendship was born. (Just for the record, Nutrimom dancing is horrific...kind of like the episode of Elaine dancing in Seinfeld). Over the years, I have seen Allergy Superheroes embrace our community, grow their business and become one of our extended family members.
black mug diet life
This week, one of the giveaway gifts is this adorable mug provided by Allergy Superheroes. Picture yourself waking up and beginning your morning sipping out of this mug. Better yet, imagine sitting across from someone who has just tried to tell you that your "diet" is unjustified. This mug can be your superpower and the kryptonite for all those people who need to be educated about your allergies. For all of those times when you need to bite your tongue, smile and try to be polite but need to get your point across, this mug can be your voice.

Who's Super Ready to Enter? If you said "ME!" then you are in the right place! First, let's do a quick rundown of the rules:

  • I use Rafflecopter to help you get to the entry information
  • Just do what the Rafflecopter tells you (unless it's against the law, which it won't be)
  • Sharing- I LOVE when people share because, well, it's just another way to help others
  • If you want to leave a comment on this post, it would be awesome
  • Try using positive visualization...I cannot guarantee that it will help but it can't hurt
These are details I have to include:
  • This contest begins Friday, May 24th and ends Thursday,May 30th 2019 at midnight
  • US residents only (apologies to those who live in other countries, I still love you!)
  • No purchase is necessary (you can shop at Allergy Superheroes, but it does not increase or decrease your chances. Just sayin')
  • 1 Winner will be randomly chosen via Rafflecopter (that's why we hired the guy)
  • Your information is always safe with me (I do not sell or share because only mean people do that and I am not that person)
  • If the winner does not come forward within 48 hours, I will ask Rafflecopter to choose a new winner
  • ...Do you think Rafflecopter sounds like a type of dinosaur because I kind of do

An Extra Share Why do I also love AllergySuperheroes? Because they too feel that a Big Bar is absolutely necessary. I adore their willingness to partake in my mission and I love that they appreciate my sense of humor ... Enjoy Life Foods, I hope you do too!

Enjoy Life Foods Big Bar
Photo courtesy of AllergySuperheroes

Make sure you visit Allergy Superheroes on the web, Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.

food allergy fun superhero

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Give Me a gf Gift

When I think of gluten free, I think of products that make me love my foods. Even with food allergies, food is a huge part of our lives. Family get togethers, an after school snack or even how preparing certain recipes makes your house smell warm and inviting. Back in 2015, I was introduced to the wonderful world of gfJules products. Her products are one of the few allergy-friendly items that makes everyone come running downstairs saying "What smells so good?!" Truly and seriously, even opening the packages makes my mouth water! I may be a bit biased because Jules and I share a bond of curly locks but hands down, I'd take her products over my own recipes any day. This is why I knew I had to share them with all of you.

gluten free Jules baking productsWhy the Curly Girl Love? Believe me, it's not just the hair flare. Jules Shepard mixes were voted #1 for three years in a row. I have used them and having a son with multiple food allergies, I adore that her items are easy to prepare. They are super versatile as far as recipes are concerned too (check out what I did with her Bread Mix). Is this making you hungry??? There's only one thing better than ordering from gfJules and that is entering for a chance to win a $20 gift card to order! You cannot see me, but I am bowing to Queen Curly Girl for both the gracious gift she is offering and her delicious products (and hair, don't forget the hair...did I mention curly hair?!).

Wait, Who is gfJules? Ok, I'll pretend I did not hear you ask that but I understand, not everyone can know all of the products all of the time. gfJules are gluten free products that were created by Jules Shepard. She was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 1999 and found her way into the food allergy community by realizing that "The difference between living gluten free and loving gluten free is a very fine line". Jules knew that having food allergies meant that we need to love what we eat and to feel satisfied, not just fed.

food allergy awareness giveaway gift
Here's the giveaway information (I know, I've typed long enough. You all just want to know what to do, where to be and how to win).

Entering to Try To Get Dough

  1. There will be a Rafflecopter thingy that will explain what to do to enter
  2. Sharing is not necessary BUT it is appreciated 
  3. Commenting on this post is not necessary either but both Jules and I like to hear what you like
  4. There are STILL two more weeks of giveaways so keep coming back
  5. Why aren't you entering, you are wasting time
The Other Stuff
  1. As always, no purchase is necessary. This is a giveaway. A chance to win.
  2. Contest begins Friday, May 17 2019 and end Thursday, May 23 2019 at midnight (then the Rafflecopter turns into nothing like a pumpkin)
  3. This contest is not sponsored, it's just nice to share for food allergy awareness
  4. Contest is open to US residents only (sorry!)
  5. I will choose 1 random winner via Rafflecopter
  6. If the original winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen (so watch your email boxes)
  7. I will never share anyone's information
  8. I can't think of anything else but if I do, all of you will be the first to know

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to everyone and please remember to visit gfJules to give her a thank you for being a part of the giveaway. Visit her on the web, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram (because it's not stalking, bloggers love to meet their peeps).

gluten free Jules Celiac products

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Yumm, Another Giveaway

WOW, we are off to an amazing start to my month of weekly giveaways! I mean, did you see all of the entries for last week? I challenge everyone to beat last week's numbers and I knew to motivate everyone, I would have to offer another one of my favorite products as a giveway gift. Are you ready for week two?

This week's prize is offered by FreeYumm. In case you have not heard of them, FreeYumm  are free of: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat/gluten, soy, fish, shellfish, sesame and sulphites. Their products do contain oats but they use gluten free oats (I wanted to give everyone a heads up) and they are non GMO certified. FreeYumm has a dedicated bakery with very strict protocol to keep their consumers safe and well fed. They also do not use any highly processed sweeteners (do you here all the moms and dads cheering right now?). FreeYumm has a selection of bars and cookies that are delicious, NutriFamily approved and are perfect for snacks, grab and go and much more.

What is this week's prize? Brace yourself......  one winner will receive 9 boxes of FreeYumm goodies!!! AND this giveaway is open to US and Canada residents (see Canada, I love you!). Picture it- THESE could be all yours!

top 8 free allergy friendly snacks
Photo courtesy of Nutriacure

Ready to start the giveaway? (crowd says YEAH!)
Are you going to share if you win? (crowd says NO! and I'm cool with that)

Giveaway Entry Directions

  • Simply do what the Rafflecopter guy below tells you to do (I promise, it's easy & harmless)
  • Comment on this post because having extra feedback also helps 
  • Share away, the more the merrier (remember the challenge)
  • Set your schedule reminder for next week to check back OR sign up to follow my blog and/or other social media channels to find out right away
Now the Stuff I have To Say
  • No purchase necessary
  • This contest is not sponsored
  • Contest begins Friday, May 10 2019 and ends midnight Thursday, May 16 2019
  • 1 Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter
  • Contest is open to residents of United States and Canada
  • If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a runner up will be chosen
  • None of your information will be given out, sold, shared because I don't do that
  • Prize is not transferable and all ingredients of FreeYumm products should be checked to ensure what is safest for your allergy needs

Here is that Rafflecopter guy I was telling you about 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Special hugs to FreeYumm for offering this delicious prize to share with all of you during food allergy awareness month!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Food Allergy Awareness Giveaways

food allergy advocacy support giveawayFor those of you have have food allergies, asthma and more, you already know May is the official month to share awareness with others. This year, I am sharing some of my favorite allergy-friendly products with all of you as a thank you for being a part of my supportive community. Every Friday during May, I will post a new chance for you to enter to win a prize. Am I going to tell you ahead of time who is going to be a part of the giveaway? Heck no! The element of surprise is better! The greatest thing? Because I am posting a new giveaway every Friday, that means you will have five chances to win! (how many of you are looking at your calendar as we speak?)

Without further adieu, let's begin with the first week's prize. Drum roll please.........

YOU can enter for a chance to win an amazing selection of Enjoy Life Foods products and a super secret surprise gift from yours truly (that's me!).  I mean, come on, with the exception of Enjoy Life Foods actually offering up a Big Bar* who could pass this up?! Joel, dude...we MUST talk (lol).

Enjoy Life Foods allergy friendly

What To Do Next
  1. Enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter doodad
  2. Comment on this post (because it makes me & and Enjoy Life Foods feel the love)
  4. Sit tight and keep your fingers crossed until the winner is announced
  5. Repeat next Friday (and the next three Fridays after that)
Giveaway "Stuff" that I have to include
  • This is not a sponsored giveaway
  • No purchase necessary
  • Entries for giveaway must reside in the United States (sorry Canada, check back next Friday I have you covered!)
  • Giveaway begins Friday, May 3, 2019 and ends at midnight Thursday, May 9, 2019
  • 1 Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter
  • If the chosen winner does not respond within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be chosen
.... why are you still reading this? Exercise those fingertips and enter now!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Special thanks to Enjoy Life Foods for offering a gift to the winner and for always accepting my sense of humor 

* Big Bar the Movie coming soon! 
Watch for announcements of the premier ~

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Seeking Volunteers!

Allergy & Asthma Network is seeking volunteers for 

Do you know what an OSC (Outreach Service Coordinator) is?

health education coalitions advocacy supportvolunteer health community support education

volunteering flexibility support group communityconnections school media health volunteering   

Details: Anyone that is interested, please contact
(me) Tracy Bush, Volunteer Manager Outreach & Education Coordinator
(336) 486-1905

There is no minimum of maximum required for your time. Allergy & Asthma Network is grateful for the time that our volunteers are able to offer to help us educate others about allergies and asthma. Whether it be events or programs in your area that we can help with or being able to attend events for Allergy & Asthma Network, we would like to hear from you!

Here is our current 2019 Event Wish List:

  • Saturday, May 4th Washington, DC
  • Wednesday, May 8th  Dallas, TX
  • Friday, May 17th  Edison, NJ
  • Saturday, May 18th Cincinnati, OH
  • Saturday, June 1st  Crestview, FL
  • Wednesday, June 5th Overland Park, KS
  • Friday & Saturday, June 21st-22nd  Baltimore, MD
  • Wednesday, June 26th  Ashland, WI
  • Saturday, July 27th  Buford, GA
  • Sunday, July 28th  Elizabeth, NJ
  • July 1st- August 31st  Detroit, MI
  • Wednesday & Thursday August 21st -22nd  Flagstaff, AZ
  • Saturday & Sunday, August 24th & 31st  Philadelphia, PA
  • Saturday, September 14th  Annapolis, MD
  • Wednesday, September 18th  Houston, TX
  • Saturday, October 5th  Lake Havasu City, AZ
  • Saturday, October 5th  Kissimmee, FL
  • Thursday, October 10th  Henrietta, NY
  • Saturday, November 16th  Houston, TX

Please feel free to share this post with friends, family, support groups, schools, medical staff and anywhere else that will help us to add additional support to our community. 

volunteer program community support advocacy

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Your Water Can Help Save the Planet

How often have you heard people scoff when someone says "We recycle because we want to help save the planet"? I am willing to bet, too often. Most have the attitude that one person's efforts won't even make a dent in what's going on in our world right now. To be fair, yes one person would not be a huge impact. However, what if all of those people who are questioning that one person turned into that one person.... imagine how easily so many of us could be making positive changes for our environment with so little effort. Seven years ago, I made a decision to recycle, reuse and rethink how our family's actions and waste could be put into action to help make a better planet. Now, if I'm not recycling, I feel guilty because this is our new normal. What's even more inspiring to me is when I come across products that have a mission behind their company, especially when it includes recycling.
refillable ecofriendly aluminum water bottle
It's Not Just Water A recent email came to me from PathWater asking if I would be interested in checking out their product. In my typical fashion of fast-glancing through an email, my thought was "It's water" and I left it for later. Then my official blogger brain kicked in and questions swirled inside of my head. Pushing all of my other tasks aside, I logged onto their website and began to read. Going through more of their pages, I have to admit, I was kicking myself for making such a fast judgment initially. This is a product with a mission and it's far beyond how to stay hydrated or quench someone's thirst. This may be a product that could change how we look at plastic bottles of water forever.

What's the Big Deal Now, I know I am a product geek. I know not everyone goes to the food store during a grand opening to spend two hours there, seeking out products and posting about them. But PathWater caught my eye on so many levels that I thought I should definitely be sharing with all of you as well. Here's an easy rundown of why you may want to consider introducing PathWater into your life:

  • The Bottle Unlike plastic bottles of water, PathWater is sold in a reusable, aluminum bottle. Think about it- how much money have you spent on a single bottle of water? Then it gets thrown away or recycled (if you are a kind person) and you have to buy more bottles of water. It becomes an endless cycle that's killing our environment.
    plastic water bottles environment landfill
    Photo courtesy of PathWater
  • The Price A typical bottle of water is $1.25-1.50. PathWater is $2-3 dollars. Now, bear with me as I (like many of you) are probably very budget-conscious too and right now, your brain is seeing dollar signs. Yes, a typical plastic bottle of water may be slightly cheaper but it's actually wasting money. You will spend your $1.25-1.50, drink it and then it's gone. You have not invested in anything and you have added to the plastic in our landfills. When you purchase a bottle of PathWater, you spend a tiny bit more but you get to keep a sturdy, reusable bottle. And for an additional price comparison, most of us know how much it costs to buy a reusable bottle and it's waaaaay more than $2-3. 
  • The Size Most bottled water comes in an 8 ounce bottle. PathWater bottles are 25 ounces (so, again, comparing prices that also comes into play). So, really, you are spending more but you are getting three bottles in one. Why do I personally love the bottle size? Because I am someone who admittedly has a difficult time making sure I drink enough water so I feel having the larger size will encourage me. From a mom point of view of having years of experience lugging kids around and dealing with various sippy cups, the PathWater bottle is also slim so it will fit inside most cup holders in cars. Call me silly but moms get angry when drinks do not fit properly inside of a cup holder.
  • Allergy Point of View (You all knew this would pop up somewhere in my post, right?) When I contacted the representative, they shared this statement before I even thought to ask "There is no cross-contamination of the product including the water. It never touches anything other than the material it is made out of." I have always checked labels and ingredients but honestly.....I have never thought about checking for allergens with bottles of water. Am I alone in this? Am I a bad parent? I'm feeling like it but that's ok because thanks to the PathWater representative I learned that their company has their allergic customers covered. If you have other concerns, you can also check out their FAQ's page. 
    aluminum water bottle with name
  • No Sharing Since my children were small, we have always had color-coded bottles, cups, refillable bottles, etc. to ensure that whatever one person was eating or drinking did not even come close to my son with food allergies. PathWater has a spot on their bottles where you can write your name and... AND (this is another annoying mom moment) it stays on and doesn't smudge (I used a Sharpie). One small moment for one mom but one giant moment for parents everywhere who are tired of trying to read smudged names or initials on bottles.
My mission- to share with all of you (of course) but also, to constantly be on the lookout for products and companies that have a consumer's best interest at heart and beyond. Currently, PathWater can be found in stores across California and ordered online. Don't take my word for it- try some for yourself and let me know what you think. Heck, let PathWater know what you think as well! If you want them in a store near you, put in a request with the store manager (as parents, don't we already do this anyway?). For more information, visit PathWater on the web, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube

Thank you PathWater for reaching out to this blogger and enlightening me! Now, the real fight begins....should I order more bottles so the rest of my family each has their own bottle or should I bask in my special mom water bottle alone?

*I received free product for my opinion. No charges for product reviews as my opinions are always honest and my own.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Food Allergy Concierge

mother children relaxing outside

Traveling with food allergies....what is the first thing that pops into your head? I can tell you what I think - STRESS. Immediately. It doesn't matter if it's the world's best vacation ever offered; if my son is going, I am stressed even before I know the plan. This may sound selfish of me but it's just true to life and I am willing to bet that most, if not all, food allergy parents feel the same way. As much as we dream of a family vacation, our dream is never quite the way we envision it. In a food allergy parent's vacation dream, we are plagued with worry, unsafe food, cross contamination, allergic reactions, not finding enough safe foods while away.... I could continue but I'm sure you get a pretty clear picture. Since I am sharing so honestly, I will say that even with all of these "what if's", I do aspire to one day be able to travel with my son and watch him be as carefree as anyone else. Imagine watching your child be able to eat everything safely, being able to go out to a restaurant in any location and to just feel, well, like everyone else. Food allergies so often make us feel that none of this could actually ever happen.

family on the beach happy relaxedHere's the Thing That I Am Going to Tell You It may make you say "What?!" out loud and reread what I wrote. It IS possible to travel with food allergies and have it be everything that you imagine it would be. Are you shaking your head? Are you grabbing your spouse and saying "This woman obviously doesn't know what she is talking about. I bet she doesn't even travel!"I am the mother of a seventeen year old who is allergic to eggs, peanuts, watermelon and shellfish. I am the mother who precooks all of our meals to bring with us so that I can (try) to relax while we are on vacation. Many of you understand this- now you are shaking your head yes because you are that parent as well. It's not stress free and it's not relaxing, but for most of us, this is the closest we get to traveling safely. Here is the amazing news that I need to share with you because as I read about it, I was truly excited and hopeful about vacationing as a family safely.

It's Such a Simple, Brilliant But Much-Needed Idea  I am talking about a company called Food Allergy Concierge. It is exactly what you think it is, but probably even better than you think it is. When you think of concierge, your thoughts most likely go to those helpful people in hotels. "Can you recommend a good place for" or "Can you provide a few extra toothbrushes, we forgot ours" but this service is not that. Food Allergy Concierge is like your personal assistant during the entire vacation. Their job actually begins before you even arrive. As their website explains "Our guarantee is to do everything a parent does to prevent an allergic reaction". Let me give you a few examples of why I love this company:
restaurant kitchen dining food safety

  • They have a trained team, which includes nurses
  • Their team meets with every restaurant that you are dining at
  • Your concierge monitors the entire meal (sterilizing food prep area, reading ingredients, ensuring all of your meals are made without cross contamination and served safely)
  • They contact the manufacturer of every product you and your family will eat
  • They also offer someone that can accompany your family on vacation (medical and paramedical experts, certified in Advanced cardiac life support) and translators

The Big Question Have they ever had a mishap? I had to ask because I wanted to know and I'm sure all of you want to know. Food Allergy Concierge has been in business for four years and never had a guest experience an incident. The company representative stated "We work at a very high level of research and safety and we have very strict regulations in our company to avoid anything from happening". They also share an experience on their blog that explains how they went above and beyond to avoid cross contamination for a guest. "The attitude and lack of knowledge of the staff led me to be extremely cautious about this meal. I supervised the chef closely and I served all the food at once, so nothing was left unattended in the kitchen.

food allergy safety dining out

The family didn't know any of this was going on. They had come to this restaurant with the goal of enjoying a delicious stress-free meal, and that is what they got".  I highly recommend that you read the article entirely to get a better grasp of how well the situation was handled.

This Gives Me Hope Does it give you hope as well? I will say that although this article is sponsored, I truly am excited about the Food Allergy Concierge from a personal perspective. For seventeen years, our family has done the best that we could with our vacationing but we have felt limited. As a mother, one of my fears is that we will be half way across the world and there won't be enough safe foods for my son to eat. I cannot be alone in this- this is a very real dilemma. A person needs to eat. Not to mention if there is an emergency, I worry about health care and availability of what our family
may need at the time of the emergency situation.

eating on vacation relaxed with allergies

While I was looking through the Food Allergy Concierge website, I was excited to see they are available on cruises and in multiple locations which include the United States, Europe, Safaris in Africa, Israel, the Caribbean and the Far East. If you are looking for more information or examples of client experiences, follow the Food Allergy Concierge on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Or, if you are already ready to speak with them, they offer a free twenty minute consultation via telephone or online scheduling.

Who Says Food Allergies Have to Limit Family Travel?  I have shared my thoughts about this before but let me reshare "If you say that celebration and life is not all about food, you are wrong. It IS about finding the right foods that are healthy and safest. Food is not something that tears us apart, it brings us together. After all, this is how I have connected with all of you". Why not allow yourself to enjoy life with food allergies? It's not just you that wants this, it's families everywhere. Luckily, the Food Allergy Concierge team is willing to make it happen for you.

Would you consider taking a family vacation 
and utilize Food Allergy Concierge?

food allergy concierge safe dining

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time and this article is sponsored by Food Allergy Concierge. Please keep in mind that I only share products and information that I feel will be helpful to the community. My opinions may differ from others. I highly recommend that everyone research further to ensure what is safe for their specific allergy needs.