Tuesday, May 3, 2016

You MAY Win a Contest!

Many people say that the holidays come but just once a year. I don't believe this. To me, anytime there is a chance of getting a gift, I consider that a holiday as well. Being part of the food allergy community, I am grateful to say that our community is the best at sharing, giveaways and making sure that everyone always has a ton of chances to win allergy-friendly items throughout the year. I am also grateful to be a part of it all, big or small, to help anyone that needs it (and, I love giving gifts to people, so win-win).


With May representing the food allergy world on so many levels, I am excited to announce that I have partnered with the wonderful peeps at Enjoy Life Foods and we have four weeks of chances to learn new ways to use Enjoy Life Foods, spread awareness and, of course, choose one lucky winner for GIFTS! ....in case you didn't hear me- SOMEBODY WILL WIN STUFF & THINGS! So, you ready for the details? Good!

Details. Tell Us. Now Please
Every Tuesday for four weeks, I will share a video with a theme. I will be sharing some simple ways to use Enjoy Life Foods products that will fit into your family's life with food allergies, intolerance and/or Celiac Disease. I would love for all of you to comment, share, enter the Rafflecopter contest entry (below) and participate as much as you can each week. The most important thing to remember is to always include #MayFreely in your comments. Why? This gives us a heads-up that you want to be entered (I don't want anyone to miss a contest entry!) and it helps spread awareness of the contest.

Um, Prizes?!
Enjoy Life Foods will send the winner a gift basket valued at $25 chock full of their yummy, delicious products AND I will also be shipping a box of kitchen goodies as well as a copy of my ebook The Stepping Stones To Food Allergies, a resource guide to the initial stages of food allergies including taste-tested allergy-friendly products, ingredient and company information, kitchen must-have's, substitution lists, recipes and other helpful information (Pssst! Enjoy Life Foods happens to be in it).

So, Like, When?
Begins:  Tuesday May 3rd
Where:  Right in the comfort of your own computer and/or mobile device
(Be sure and watch for a new weekly video on Facebook and YouTube)
Ends:    Sunday May 29th

The winner will be announced on May 30th. Contest open to residents in the US and Canada only. Please see complete terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter contest entry form.

Ready? Enter HERE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Good luck to everyone! 
Special thanks to Enjoy Life Foods for sponsoring this contest and for always having the food allergy community at heart 



#Sponsored



Thursday, April 28, 2016

How Do YOU Use Your Food?

I have a strange sense of humor, I have odd thoughts about food, recipes and what to do with them and yet, I feel compelled to share them with all of you. Continually. I am annoying like that...well, maybe not annoying- persistent? But what I do each and every day, through every recipe and every silly video is because I want everyone to love their foods and have fun with the foods that they can eat. I refuse to believe that people's diets are limited. I refuse to believe that people feel discouraged because of their food allergies and intolerance. THAT is why I do what I do- I want to help. I NEED to help and I can't help myself when someone starts to debate it with me. It makes me itchy-twitchy and then I run home and brainstorm on 15,000 ways on how to help that person, regardless of whatever else I am in the midst of. Sometimes, I feel like Dr. House or the dog from "Up". You can even ask my family- I will be in mid-sentence and just stop, running away to write something down. Maybe a little bit rude but like I said- I can't help it.

Last April, I posted an article on how to upcycle the packaging on one of my favorite gluten free brands Glutino (If you are new to my blog or missed it, simple click here). This year, I wanted to offer yet another way to reuse some of their products. I mean, sometimes how you use your foods is by taking a step back, looking at the product and trying to see what a child would see. That is the way that I find some of my most simple, easy, food-sharing ideas. Don't over think it.

New Wave Enviro Lunchkit
OOOOh, I See Who has had the Glutino Sesame Rings? I have, I have! I love them but I also love sharing them. How do I share my love? Each and every day I pack lunches for my family. Most of the time, there's really nothing fancy going on but every once in awhile, I like to hide a little something special inside. My kids love finding what I pack and I've heard reports that it's become a daily ritual with NutriDaughter's friends, waiting to see what allergy-friendly items she has. So what if my little food surprise is not in the form a a usual treat? What if it's, well, right in plain site? Yes, I'm talking about an edible napkin ring. It IS that easy! Come on, take a poll- I bet nobody else has one in their lunch. It's like the Sesame Rings are multitasking- the story of a mere gluten free ring, laying quietly inside it's package, just waiting to see the light of day when someone finally opens the box. Then, the box opens and in the midst of feeling the fresh air, the Sesame Ring jumps onto the napkin to ensure that the lunch box is neat, tidy and delicious. The Sesame Ring knows that not many foods can achieve this and still stay crunchy. Mission accomplished.

Speaking of Multitasking How many times have you picked up some birthday balloons for a friend, then realized that you need to buy one of those annoying silver balloon weights? Come on- you know you hate to spend the money on it. You know you will most likely never use it except, maybe once again. It will be left on the table or tossed into the trash. It is a purchase that we silently kick ourselves for getting. I am not here to judge you but rather, save you. Next time, stand up for yourself and say no to that horrid little lump of whatever it is that they put inside the shiny, silver NASA blanket looking foil stuff! Instead, take a package of your favorite Glutino treats and put them to work for you. Since many of Glutino's crunchy little guys come in silver packaging, this is your key to an instant balloon anchor that is also an extra gift of gluten free treats for the person you are giving them too.
Step 1: Gently open the bag, making sure not to rip it
Step 2: Cut off the very top of the silver packaging (it just looks better)
Step 3: Throw that cut off piece into the recycling bin so your mom doesn't yell at you for leaving it on the counter for her to clean up
Step 4: Tie with your favorite curling ribbon
Step 5: Attach the balloons and proudly present your unique, edible, delicious gift




You will note that the foil is silver which allows for universal gifts- men, women, children, birthdays, holidays, baby showers....shall I continue? Love your foods, treat them with respect and they will do the same.

In the words of Julia Child 
"People who love to eat are always the best people




Sunday, April 24, 2016

Anaphylaxis Risk- Watch & See NOW

Many of us that have food allergies or know someone that has food allergies knows the word anaphylaxis. Many of us probably even know the definition "An extreme response to an allergen. A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is a severe reaction to a specific allergen, or allergic trigger. Common triggers can include but are not limited to food, biting or stinging insects, medications and latex." * But how many of us have actually witnessed some of the warning signs or the actual event of anaphylaxis? How many of us skate around the discussions as if it's simply a word but not actually something that will happen because we have not seen it in full force?

I understand that not everyone needs to see things to believe them to be true. However, I have found that when it comes to certain situations, people MUST see things that they may not want to see to show them the depth of a situation, regardless of the severity. Most of us are visual learners and most of us will react or prepare ourselves more if we were to see something that will instantly connect us to our own personal situation. Fear is not power but knowledge is. I invite all of you to view the newest commercial showing a true to life anaphylactic reaction right now and I ask that you comment & tell me your thoughts about it.


(If your device is not showing you the above video, you may also view it by clicking here)

Photo courtesy of FaceYourRisk.com
Face Your Risk  This commercial will begin airing today and is part of the newest website FaceYourRisk.com that is aimed at helping everyone understand the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. As you will see when you visit the site, the pages are interactive. As you scroll down, each scroll shows allergic information and shows the progression of what happens during an allergic reaction. The family-friendly illustrated pages make understanding a little less frightening while still show us how to spot an allergic reaction and how to treat it to lessen the possibility of a reaction turning into a life-threatening situation. There have been so many reports deaths over the years that were allergic tragedies and this effects each of us, every day. It doesn't matter if the child that didn't have the proper medications wasn't your child- it still snaps us back into reality. Every story instantly makes us aware of how necessary it is to know what to do, to be prepared and to make sure that the person with the allergy and those around them know what to do to save one more life. It may not be your child but in your heart, most of us feel as if it is. In real life, if I saw this happening to your child or your family member, I would not hesitate to treat them as if they were my own family and help them, immediately.

I encourage all of you to view the commercial above as well as the website at FaceYourRisk.com . Share it with your family, coworkers, school staff or anyone who is in your allergy support network. Allergies are scary but learning the facts, learning how to prevent them and learning how to prepare yourself should not be.





*Anaphylaxis definition as described at EpiPen.com

In the past, I received materials and information for providing my thoughts and ideas to Mylan. All comments made by me about medical treatments or Mylan are at my own discretion and based on my own opinion. #materialconnection










* as found at Epipen.com

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Allergy Medications Can Be a Part of Earth Day

Every year, there is a national Earth Day to encourage each and every one of us to help save our planet. I love the ideas that pop up in the media and I am grateful for those who take extra strides to become a part of new solutions to show earth that we appreciate it. My question to you is- why is it just one day? Why not take an active part in helping decrease the gazillion amounts of waste that are slowly taking over our earth every single day? I know we are busy, I know we all have jobs and lives and "stuff" but if we can reteach ourselves new routines in what we already do, it's billions of people doing at least one thing each day, everywhere. Ripple in a pond- each person does make a difference.

This brings me to how our allergies can be a part of Earth Day and then, every day. How many of us just throw away unused or expired medications? How many of us toss the empty (or expired but not empty) asthma inhaler cartridges into the garbage? These are all things that add up greatly. Especially since we all know that allergies continue to increase every year therefore so do the medications needed for them. This year, I looked at my son's expired asthma inhaler and as I opened the garbage, I stopped. I recycle everything... EVERYTHING so why was I going to throw this away? I needed some advice from someone that I could trust so I reached out to my favorite local pharmacist Gunar Stowers at Robinhood Family Pharmacy. I have to say, Gunar (as always) was eager to help. Check out how he explains what to do:



(Is your computer wonky and not letting you view the video above? Just click here)

Brag About YOUR Allergy Medications! Tell me how you recycle your allergy medications or comment and tell me what changes you will make to help out the earth. Share this post with a friend to increase the ripple. Then sit back and smile while the waves of karma come back to you <3

Happy Earth Day friends



If you are local, please stop in and talk to the lovely staff at Robinhood Family Pharmacy- I promise you will not find a more dedicated, caring full service pharmacy to trust with your family's needs. Let them know that Nutrimom sent you :)


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Your Best Mate- Allergies

Most people who carry EpiPens may have noticed the new and stylish holders that you receive when you register your EpiPen- all gone is the black, zipper pouch with the logo and in it's place is a stylish, bright mini backpack-looking holder that does cheer you up. BUT....yes, there is a but. As nice as this option is, try telling a 14 year old boy that this is still cool. Better than a fannie pack but still not as discreet as the long-lost Auvi-Q (read here). To be honest (because you know I am...I am from Jersey and I just have a big mouth) our family would not hesitate to use whatever shape or form epinephrine was available in the case of an allergic reaction. Who wouldn't?! But when your Freshman son with multiple food allergies starts hiding his EpiPen holder in his backpack and trying to leave the house and almost "forget" it then an alarm goes off inside of an allergy mom's head. My thoughts zoom to the countless deaths that have happened over the years because epinephrine was not on or near the people who needed it. I Then go into big mouth Jersey mode, begin my mom-rant and begin to loudly remind my son how he cannot, under any circumstances, ever be anywhere without all of his medications. Period. End of story. This is a deal breaker and should he try to pull a fast one on me, then I will promptly shut down his media outlets, lock him in the house until he is 35 and that will be that (Not really but I'm sure so many other parents have the same thoughts).

My son has multiple food allergies (eggs, peanuts, watermelon, shellfish, uncooked dairy and Prednisone) as well as asthma. This means always having two epinephrine auto-injectors, an asthma inhaler, antihistamine packets, a copy of his allergy plan and his MedicAlert bracelet. And honestly, this is a lot for any young person to have to accept each and every day. For the most part, until this year when he entered High School, he rarely complained about it (even through the fannie pack days). Not bad for a kid who has self-carried since Third Grade.

Always Find a Solution This is my philosophy with almost anything, but especially with food allergies. I am not that "woe is me" food allergy parent and I don't knock anyone who is because we all need to deal with food allergies in our own way. So after I was done with my second or third mommy rant, I decided to stop yelling and begin thinking. Then I got an email from AllerMates. I adore their products and I was excited when they asked if I would mind sharing my thoughts on a product of theirs. I was a little nervous since NutriSon is older and I wasn't sure if they were age-appropriate for him but then there is was- my solution! One of the products they offer is a solid black Allergy Medicine Carrying Case (happy dance). AND, it has room for an asthma inhaler as well! The same size of NutriSon's EpiPen holder but solid black...you know how teenagers love the color black to be cool. When it arrived, I even got approval from NutriSon and there was no coaxing or yelling involved. As you can see, the case from AllerMates also comes with an emergency contact information card and extra pockets to tuck away other necessities. There is an elastic strap to make sure NutriSon's inhaler stays put and doesn't float to and fro inside the case. Neat, organized, efficient and High School acceptable. I would share a picture of NutriSon wearing it but, as you probably have noticed, he is rarely in any of my pictures since he strongly dislikes photos.


Use Your Resources Another word of advice that I recommend to everyone. Food allergies can be confusing, overwhelming, frightening but they can also be a way to transform your life in a positive way. AllerMates also covers other resources that everyone may need to reduce that tension and share that they are there to help as well. Like what? How about all of this:


Photo courtesy of AllerMates

Be Your Own Mate The great thing about food allergies is that it can empower you to do great things. Always be proud of yourself or the person that you know who has food allergies- they are their own superhero (After all, who else has the superpower to defend themselves from a deadly food with knowledge and epinephrine)! Because everyone has their own way of gathering information, AllerMates can be reached in multiple ways: their website AllerMates.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube - choose one or choose all but most importantly, choose what will help you.

Photo courtesy of AllerMates
Thank you to AllerMates for reaching out to have me share my thoughts, I am honored to have been asked. I did not receive any compensation other than the product as my thoughts and opinions are my own.






Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gluten Free? I Don't Carrot All..

Let's begin this article by taking a quick food allergy survey, ready?

Since you or a a friend/family member/loved one was diagnosed with food allergies, have you:

A. Ignored it
B. Found products, don't like them but still use them
C. Don't use any products- you eat the same, boring bland foods continuously
D. Know that there are good, easy-to-use products and you use them as much as possible

If you answered either A, B or C I am writing this post just for you (well- you, your family and everybody else's but let's not get into details). Food allergies can be tricky, disappointing, overwhelming and sometimes even tasteless. I am happy to say that you don't have to live like this- you don't have to give up on your foods or give up on what you make to eat. When you don't like a product, don't use it- it's the same way if you do not have food allergies. But when you find a product that you really like- stock up on it and use the heck out of it! (and, tell everybody because you want them to eat it too!)

One of our long-time favorite products is Cherrybrook Kitchen. I've used their gluten free Sugar Cookie mix, Chocolate & Yellow Cake mix for many years so when they sent me their Carrot Cake Mix, I was like a kid at Christmas (only, it was Easter).

Yes, I used the horrible GMO bunny marshmallows...
don't judge, I'm honest

Tricky (For the fellow children of the 80's, tell me this Run DMC song isn't going through your head right now??) What do I always tell people that complain about allergy-friendly products who have said they tried them and didn't like them - everything has to be tweeked. I think I am safe in saying that most gluten free, allergy-friendly boxed items tend to be better tasting when you step outside of the "as prepared" directions on the box and add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. However, what I can also honestly say is that I have never had to do this with Cherrybrook Kitchen products. Their products are far from tricky.


Disappointing This is what kills me about allergy-friendly foods- spending so much extra money to try these products to keep your family safe and then you are just downright disappointed. It happens to all of us. Luckily, you can usually return the unopened packages if you really don't like them. Whenever someone tells me they were unhappy with a product, I have this immediate need to find out what I can recommend to them to fix it. I like to help and for those of you that have met me or spoken with me, you know how I get. But after all of these years, so many boxes and even working through a spastic oven temperature fluctuating issue, I have never ever made a Cherrybrook Kitchen product and been disappointed- ever. (and just for the record- they didn't pay me to write this, it's all my own truthful opinions).

Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Carrot Cake
only requires oil, water & mix!
Overwhelming Food allergies means not knowing and more cooking. Our family went through it and I can still remember that feeling as I walked through the grocery store and couldn't find anything safe for my son to eat. Where do I find new products? What is safe? How will I be able to cook all of these foods and where will I get the time to do it? And then you find items to make and they require more ingredients that are (usually) allergens, such as eggs or milk. Yes, these can be substituted as well but sometimes you just want easy, simple, minimal. After a long day when my son tells me at 3 PM that he's invited to a party the next day and I need to bake something for him, I want easy! My brain is not fully functioning after 3 PM (well, sometimes but thanks 3 PM lull) and easy makes my life easy. So how much easier is it when you only need to add minimal ingredients and you are on your way to yumminess? And by minimal, I mean 2 or 3. Take a peek at the online baking instructions for the Cherrybrook Kitchen items- you will note that no eggs or dairy are required...allergy moms like this.

Tasteless Ok, I'm not even going to have to tell you that this just doesn't apply. Let me just show you-

Do you see those orange things? They are pieces of real dehydrated carrots. And that flour mix? As soon as you open up the bag, you can smell it...ok, my mouth is watering. Which is sad because our local stores don't carry Cherrybrook Kitchen's Gluten Free Carrot Cake yet! Did I ask my local store that carries their other products- yup. Did they have any other hopeful answer for me other than "All of our products are ordered regionally so we can put in a request but it's up to the buyers who order it for the entire Southeast Region"- nope. And, since I'm on a role, how does that ordering process even make any sense?! You have customers in each town asking for specific products yet you don't get them. Why would your customers in Georgia be forced to get what your customers in North Carolina want and vice versa? I digress.... I'll just order from the link on Cherrybrook Kitchen's website with free shipping (here).

Exactly how fluffy is the cake? I measured it for all of you (please excuse the not-so-fancy school ruler). As you can see, even without eggs, dairy or gluten the Carrot Cake was about an inch tall. I baked mine in an 8.50 inch cake pan and, as I mentioned before, have been having some oven temperature issues. Although it may not look as fluffy as you would expect, I promise you these cakes have always been super easy to bake. They have never given me any trouble by under or over cooking or turning into a weird, gummy mess and in the past, they have been awesome both as a cake and as cupcakes. Plus, the Carrot Cake passed the "doubting Grandpa" challenge- my Step Father that often refers to gluten free as noticeably different tasting. Cherrybrook Kitchen gets bonus points for making the doubters doubt-free. Well, and me- I get points too for making it!

The best part- tasting and sharing! Since I received the Carrot Cake just in time for Easter and I was in charge of bringing dessert, this worked out perfectly! I was so stressed about what to make and how to crunch my time that this was a lifesaver. I popped it into the oven the night before, let it cool and frosted it an hour before we left for Easter dinner at moms. I felt like I was forgetting to do something because it was so fast. The end result- absolutely moist and delicious. I would have even eaten the cake without frosting but since it was frosted, why fight it? Moms can eat at Easter too. My recommendation- get two boxes and prepare one box as a cake and the second as cupcakes to freeze and use for emergencies. You will be feeling the wonderful wave of less stress when you need a fast cupcake and all you need to do is defrost it.

Thank you to Cherrybrook Kitchen for the Gluten Free Carrot Cake- we all enjoyed it and I was excited to get something I hadn't tried yet. For more information, please visit them at cherrybrookkitchen.com. As always, I do not receive any compensation for my product reviews other than the products themselves as my opinions and thoughts are my own.




Want to share the love using their Gluten Free Sugar Cookie mix? I use them as a base for most of my holiday cookies -click (Here)  & (Here) to see what other holiday we need them for.


















Saturday, April 9, 2016

Your Food Can Help Save the Planet

In 2012, I began the year by making a promise to the planet and our environment to begin to recycle on a higher level. We did recycle before that but this was different. I am talking about every scrap of paper, every piece of cotton that you pull out of an aspirin bottle and every plastic bag that should not wind up in a landfill somewhere when it could be recycled instead. (In case you need a fast re share, click here to see what I mean) At first, it began with eye rolls from my family each and every time I reminded them "That can be recycled". Then it filtered into our donations to Goodwill (I always donated but I began to donate anything and everything that I may have just thrown away in the past). Lastly, it moved into our kitchen directly and began to show us how our lives without paper products can be just as easy and normal as when we used to use paper products. Save a bunch of trees, teach your family a new routine and life will hand you back a heap of good karma in return- I truly believe this.

Revamping Our Pack Its With food allergies in our home, we have always packed foods anyway. But with the revamping and recycling, I had to look at more eco-friendly ways to save the earth and to save my family from continuing previous bad habits. Then one day I spied my first New Wave Enviro Lunch Kit. Actually, NutriDaughter saw it first (click here to read how she tormented me). Soon enough, we were the proud owners of our lunch kit and on our way to helping the environment. Plus, you have to admit that the kits are pretty stinkin' cute.

Flash Forward Years later, we still had the same lunch kit! It traveled all the way through Elementary School. Until, one day, NutriDaughter revealed that the lining was ripping and the water bottle was just about unusable. No complaints I mean, over two years of not using paper bags or cases of plastic water bottles that are adding up in our landfills. It was time to trade up and renew. The good news- all of the containers from the last kit fit so we instantly had a backup set of containers as well. Yup- the rest of the containers are still saving the planet and going strong.

Each kit includes the bag, reusable water bottle & 4 containers

More! I Need More! Our package also arrived with a stainless steel insulated food container (aka mini thermos), a stainless steel water bottle and a stainless steel leak-proof food container. Here are my thoughts on the cool extras that have also made our lunch-packing a ton easier ~

Stainless Steel Insulated Food Container The air-tight container that truly does keep warm foods warm and cold foods cold. No leaking at all and it fits into almost any lunch bag that you are using, including New Wave Enviro's kit. The only (tiny) mommy-pet peeve I have is that the inner plastic is a bit on the sharp side. Not that you would normally open it up and swirl your fingers around, especially when there is food inside but as a mom who gets super paranoid, this would make me uncomfortable if NutriKids were younger and didn't know any better. Meant as constructive criticism only my New Wave Enviro peeps. And, if you are new to the whole thermos thing, I have some tips to make sure this little guy lives up to what I say it does:
  • For Warm Foods- Heat water to fill the inside of the food container. Add to the food container  and close it up. Heat 1-2 cups of water in a pot large enough to insert the food container without having the water overflow. Once it's boiling, remove it from the heat, place the filled food container  into the water and allow it to sit until you are ready to fill it with your heated food. Close tightly and pack. 
  • I recommend waiting until right before you leave to ensure warmer temperatures and I do recommend that you consider packing anything cool/cold in a different place or separate it with a cloth napkin or other food containers to minimize the cold effecting the warming of the container.
Stainless Steel Water Bottle I personally love this water bottle option. Obviously, because it's stainless steel and my son (who I uses it daily in his lunch bag) has told me that it keeps the water cooler than other bottles. It comes with a "Flip-N-Sip" cap which is like having a built-in straw without a straw. For those of you who have skin reactions around your mouth when you sip out of the mouth of a stainless steel bottle (which NutriSon does) this bottle is a great option. No mouth contact to the steel means no skin issues (at least for my son). Another mom tip: the Flip-N-Sip top is very easy to clean (moms, you all know what I mean).

Stainless Steel Leak-Proof Food Container This container is good for anything from a bowl of pasta to a sandwich to anything else that you are afraid of packing inside of your lunch due to a fear of spilling. (Spilling or leaking leads to gross things and unhappy people, especially the people who are left to clean out the lunch bag when this happens). I will say that I was having trouble with the lid which (I believe) may have been caused by the heat of the dishwasher but I could be wrong. I did find that as long as I packed the container and placed something on top of it, the lid stayed secure and no leaking occurred. The fact that it's stainless steel is also a huge bonus since our family does not use plastic for heated foods. 

More Reasons I Love New Wave Enviro Not only is our family reducing our family's waste as well as the landfill waste but New Wave Enviro also has their own environmental passions as well. Their products are BPA free, a portion of product proceeds are donated to support the Worldwide Preservation of Endangered Species and they are partnered with Healthy Child Healthy World which helps both parents and children learn how to pack a healthier lunch that is litter free. For more information on the full line of New Wave Enviro products, where to purchase them and to keep up on the latest news about what they are doing, please visit them on their website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

I'd like to send additional hugs out to the people at New Wave Enviro for asking to get my thoughts on the newest products. As always, I do not receive any compensation for my product reviews other than the products themselves as my opinions and thoughts are my own.