Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Device That "Sniffs Out" Food Allergens

Dining out with food allergies can be nerve-racking. How do you know what is safe to eat? There are products on the market currently that can test your food before you ingest it BUT does that mean that your entire plate of food is safe? Having food allergies should mean being able to dine safely just like everyone else. Just because a person has food allergies does not mean they do not enjoy the idea of going to restaurants or eat on the go; it just has to be approached with more caution. What if I told you that there is a new option being created as we speak? A product that could test all of your food and include multiple allergens simultaneously?

food allergy sensor multiple allergens

No, this is not a wish list item, it is a reality and it's called AllerGuard. Some months ago, Shai Hershkovich (the founder) approached me about the product. Being the mother of a food allergic child who has multiple food allergies, we have been dragging our feet on trying some restaurant experiences. This could be life-changing for us and for millions of other people. I am always hopeful and this product has just added to that. I'm sure you are all curious as well so let me share some information to give you an idea what AllerGuard is all about.

Most recently, Shai was interviewed on a leading television channel in Israel.

Tell me about yourselfMy name is Shai Hershkovich, an entrepreneur from Israel and the founder of a start up company called AllerGuard. Our company was created in order to bring allergic people an efficient and reliable way to know if there is a risk for them on the table while dining out in restaurants, at work or school. AllerGuard is a new way to really know if even a crumble of the food that puts you in danger has found its way to your plate.

How are you connected to the food allergy community? We all know people personally with food allergies. My partner's daughter has an allergy and a very close friend cannot consume dairy products. My niece also has a very severe allergy to gluten, which makes her parents struggle every time they eat outside of the home. Beyond the life threat which is obviously a huge concern, the issue here it the quality of life and endless efforts from the parents to an allergic child to minimize the risk in an uncontrolled environment. They describe the situation as watching your child playing in the middle of the highway, but without the ability to protect them there. We are developing AllergGuard to try to lower the risk for children and also to reduce the stress and burden on the worrying parents. Of course, this product is also for anyone of any age but this was part of our beginning focus.

What is so unique about the product that you are developing? When we started AllerGuard, we were looking for a new concept for allergens detection that will not limit the user to the sample he or she is taking while examining the food. Our focus was on the user experience and giving the allergic person a full dish analysis without limiting the test effectiveness to how many samples the user has taken, and to the chance that the allergen location is where the user was taking the sample. AllerGuard sensing technology is capable of detecting food allergens in trace amounts anywhere on your plate in less than a minute, without taking samples or even touching the food.

allergy technology founder AllerGuard Israel
Will your product be able to detect multiple allergens simultaneously? Yes, the user will purchase a set of SenseCard consumables that are specific to the food he or she are allergic to. The cost will be less than one dollar for a whole day of use. If they are allergic to multiple allergens, they will insert every card into the sensor using the relevant cards. All will be scanned in parallel so the user will not have to wait too long to get the result. In the next product generation, there will be multiple allergen layers on the same card so that the user will be able to buy one card but will be able to get an alert on the presence of all of the allergens he or she is allergic too.

How does your product differ from other products, such as the Nima Sensor? We use a different technology and a different approach than Nima's. We look for the chemical signature in the air. We use nanotechnology and machine learning. In simple terms- our product smells the allergen. We can teach the sensor to identify different types of foods.
Can you tell me more about the company and the team? The company was established on 2017 by me and my partner, Mr.Guy Ayal, who brings tons of experience in technology and hardware development. Luckily Dr. Anastasia Kipnis joined our team. She is a brilliant chemist that always finds an innovative way to overcome technological challenges and to take the development another step forward. We started working in a local technology incubator called eHealth Ventures (EHV). EHV is the leading digital health incubator in Israel and a center of innovation for entrepreneurs who are looking for a home and a guiding hand through the journey of product development and moving from seed concept to a growing business with real value and market positioning. In March 2017, AllerGuard presented our product to the Digital Health Innovation Contest

food allergy digital health award technology

What is your business strategy and who are your partners? We believe that in order to be successful, we need to create value and to bring the right partners on board. The reason we chose eHealth Ventures (EHV) is because of their significant value to the growth of our company and the commercialization of the product that we are developing. eHealth Ventures is a consortium of leading health care providers including the Cleveland Clinic Innovations, Maccabi Healthcare Services (leading HMO in Israel), Amgen, Medison Pharma and others. (EHV) is being led by Mr. Stephen Shapiro (US office), Mr. Talor Sax and Mr. Ophir Shahaf (Israel Office). Choosing partners like these gentlemen are the key for targeting the right markets, advanced product development and defining the right commercialization and marketing strategies.

food allergy device tester diningWhat is the status of development and what is the next step for your venture? We are working very intensively to bring this product to market. Our focus is on product development, sensor design and technology validation. We have already developed an improved prototype with advanced detection capabilities and performance. We achieved the What's Next Israel Innovation Award last month. This award gave us an additional boost and the acknowledgement that what we do is innovative and an 'outside of the box' solution for a huge problem. We have recently started the series-A funding round and we get a lot of attention from local and global companies and VCs. We are currently looking for the right partner that, in addition to financial support, will get the key to the right doors of the US market.

Comment below to share your thoughts with AllerGuard and our food allergy community

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Drug$ -The Price We Pay Film Thoughts

While everyone else is most likely sharing their goals and aspirations for 2019, I wanted to share some thoughts about a film I recently watched called

Drugs the Price We Pay film logo
Photo courtesy of Drug$- The Price We Pay

This is a documentary that describes the rising costs on life-saving pharmaceutical drugs. It includes real life families who are feeling the horrific choice of needing to being able to afford treatments to keep a family member alive with these overpriced prescriptions. How did I hear about it? I was flipping through Facebook and noticed there was a mention of one of my friends Aleasa Word as being a part of the documentary. Yes, epinephrine was included as one of the medicines but others were covered as well. For the sake of sticking to what I typically speak about, I encourage you to watch the film to hear about all of the mentions but I will be sharing specifically on my reaction to the epinephrine portion of the film.

While these drugs are necessary, they have skyrocketed in price (as we all know) but somehow hearing actual numbers kind of makes me stop in my tracks. I am not saying I wasn't paying attention when the whole EpiPen saga exploded because I was, I was entrenched in it. What tugged at my heartstrings were the same facts presented in a different light.

The first wake up moment "1 out of 5  Americans cannot afford the medicine that they need. They go to the doctor, the doctor writes the prescription but they can't afford to fill it. But five major companies make 50 million dollars in profits." - Bernie Sanders.
These numbers are even less than those diagnosed with food allergies. This while we wonder why so many are walking around without epinephrine, without being prepared, knowing that they may die if they have an allergic reaction and do not have that medication with them when they need it. Look around you right now- who is next to you? Is it your child, your parent, children from school or even yourself. Chances are one of you could face a life-threatening situation or even worse, death due to the cost not having the medication that you need. A medication that (most) of the time, costs so very little to make. How can anyone put a price on a person's life?

epipen in thigh can't breath
Screenshot from Drug$ - The Price We Pay
The second wake up moment Around the 7 minute factor, a scene shows a woman gasping for breath, reaching for an EpiPen. (Knock on wood) we have never used epinephrine on NutriSon. We came very, very close once or twice but we never did. With severe vigilance, strict rules about food, socializing and anything else where food is part of the situation, we have been lucky so far. As a food allergy mother, I watched this woman who was a part of the film and tears began to fill my eyes. Although I don't know her, I felt as if I was watching my own child not being able to breath. I heard her lungs trying desperately to find the air they needed and it terrified me. I paused the film, red eyes and gross, snotty nose and I went upstairs to have my son watch it too. He's seventeen and probably rolled his eyes at me when I banged on his door, telling him to stop what he was doing to watch it. But when it was done, I looked at him and cried and all that I could say to him was "I never, ever want you to have to feel that." No one should.

The third wake up moment A reshare of video footage during the EpiPen price hike trial. Heather Bresch of Mylan, Inc. was asked what she made for the year and her response was "$18 million dollars". Now, it took me a moment to process this. Because the business side of me kept saying marketing costs, pr, development, etc. so maybe, maybe that makes sense? But then the other side of my brain flipped it and my jaw dropped open. This, this is what was echoing through my head for days afterwords:

Let's say the EpiPens were actually $600 (really? We aren't stupid but let's just play along)
$600 per EpiPen Twin Pack
19 Million dollars a year (just for 1 year)
19 Million dollars = 31,000+ EpiPens
I repeat
19 Million dollars = 31,000+ EpiPens 

Essentially, one person has the power to save over 31,000 lives a year (if not more!) but chooses not too. She seems to be ok with this. I am not.

She could literally live very comfortably on just one year's salary and choose to use the rest to save people. Am I judging? Yes. That's a hard yes. Do I know her, do I know what her personal situation is that may require her to have that salary? No. Do I know if she worked for years upon years and deserves that salary from all of her dedication? No. But in my eyes, none of that matters. At the end of the day, she won't be remembered for saving lives, she will be remembered for endangering them.

hives anaphylaxis food allergy reaction
Original photo from AllergyPhoods

This article is not meant as a bitchfest and it's certainly not meant to go after Heather Bresch personally- she just happened to be the one in the film who's numbers made my thoughts jump into action. You see, I am true to my word with everything and everyone, always. Because if I am not, people will not be able to respect me or trust my word. As silly as it sounds in this day and age, I also believe and expect others around me to be the same way. When I see scenarios like this, where a person could be helping versus harming, I cannot understand why that person would choose not to help. This is not meant as a violent or angry post but as a share, asking others to wake up and be a part of the solution. Let your voice me heard because if you don't, you will never know if you might have been the one to make a change. Stand up for what you believe, even when other people may not think that what you are doing is the right thing. Prove them wrong.

This film needs to be watched and shared. Patient empowerment can become a superpower for those who need to understand the facts. Most of the time, trying to listen to a description of how the pharmaceutical world works can make our thoughts clouded and our head go numb. The importance of knowing what is going on- the difference of those who go without what they need and those who decide to ask why they are being given a life-saving prescription without a choice to be able to use it.

drugs the movie at theaters
Photo courtesy of Drug$ - The Price We Pay
You can find out about  Drug$ - The Price We Pay and view on the web or on YouTube or Amazon Prime as well as follow along on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

I was not compensated in any way to share my thoughts about this film. As with any other review, my thoughts and opinions are always honest and my own.

Friday, November 30, 2018

December Allergy Support Challenge

How Will You Spend Your December? 

While most of us are preparing for the holidays or trying to find the perfect gift for the perfect person, I wanted to share a new idea with all of you. It's a reverse holiday calendar- each day, you don't get a gift but rather, it gives you an option on how to share about food allergies. Those with food allergies sometimes feel even more stressed over the holidays, especially being surrounded by foods and anxious being invited to get togethers. This is my way of being able to ease some of those stresses. This is my way to give back and give someone else the reassurance that someone has their back. One idea for each day of December, will you take the December allergy support challenge with me?

red holiday December nature
Proudly Partnered with Red Sneakers For Oakley

December 1st Eat a Red Apple Day As you know, red is the official color for Red Sneakers For Oakley. Apples are rich in quercetin (a flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory properties and can sometimes help ease allergies).

December 2nd Special Education Day Food allergies are something that require additional support and knowledge, why not share your favorite materials with others to help them understand.

December 3rd Make a Gift Day Imagine the smile on a child's face when they get a gift out of the blue and it's safe for them? Unsure of what is safe to share- how about this allergy-friendly paperweight.

December 4th Dice Day 1 in 13 are diagnosed with a food allergy. Ease the conversation of food allergy statistics with a family-friendly game of dice and let someone win brand new dice.

December 5th International Ninja Day Yes, even with food allergies you can be a ninja! Much like a traditional ninja, you must be stealthy and have a very keen sense of how to react in all situations.

December 6th Put on Your Shoes Day It doesn't matter what brand, type or size- sport your pair of red shoes and tell everyone why Red Sneakers For Oakley loves red shoes.

December 7th Cotton Candy Day Sometimes, someone with food allergies needs a safe treat too! Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy can be found for $1 a bag or go extreme and try a Cotton Candy Phillyswirl pop.

December 8th Pretend to Be a Timetraveler Day Embrace your food allergies! Take this day to go back to a time that you would have done or said something differently to make you even stronger.

December 9th Worldwide Candlelighting Day Is there someone that you would like to acknowledge or let them know they are not forgotten? Light a candle in the memory of the many children and young adults that we have lost to food allergies.

December 10th Human Rights Day You have choices and the right to choose what is best for your allergy needs. Exercise your rights- share your thoughts about health bills, write to a congressperson and let your voice be heard.

December 11th International Mountain Day Agriculture is important to our communities, especially with food allergies. Share how your family feels about the importance of sustaining natural resources.

December 12th Cocoa Day Many children with food allergies cannot enjoy hot cocoa because of cross contamination and allergens. Consider sharing a brand that may be safer for everyone to enjoy.

December 13th Violin Day Food allergies can be very stressful, why not use music to soothe anxiety? Researchers have documented that music can be effective for reducing pain in those with anxiety.

December 14th Lost & Found Day Have you been trying to hunt down ways to keep your food allergy items from getting lost? Visual reminders work best- personalized items can keep allergens from cross contact.

December 15th Cupcake Day DON'T be the person who tells someone it must be awful to not be able to eat a cupcake. Instead, ask them to share their favorite recipe and guide you to make it with them.

December 16th Chocolate Covered Everything Host a get together and ask friends to bring their favorite allergy-friendly chocolate and a side to cover it with. Be sure to use personalized skewers.

December 17th Clean Air Day Airborne allergic reactions are rare but they can occur. Consider where your foods are cooked and how to purify your air as this might affect someone with allergies.

December 18th Arabic Language Day Food allergies do not discriminate and they need to be conveyed in multiple languages. Food allergy translators are available for Arabic and most other languages.

December 19th Oatmeal Muffin Day You want to share an oatmeal muffin with your allergic friend but you know it's just not a safe thing to do. Try stocking up on some of their favorite safe brands.

December 20th Regifting Day Always consider where your gift came from before you regift it. Regifting is completely acceptable unless it is a bag of boiled peanuts or something else that was packed with other allergens or does not have a label listing ingredients.

December 21st Short Story Day Reading is an easy way to become friends with others, bond with your children or even educate about food allergies without added pressure. Choose a book that also has a mission behind it.

December 22nd Be A Lover of Silence Day Words can help or harm- use this day to choose when to speak and when not too. Sometimes those with food allergies don't want an opinion, just someone to listen.

December 23rd Roots Day Do you know if someone else in your family had food allergies? Research, ask questions and find out about your family's health. You may find some new answers.

December 24th Egg Nog Day Egg nog used to be an off-limits beverage for those with allergies. Be the host with the most and pick up some possible dairy free nog options instead of your usual brand.

December 25th Pumpkin Pie Day With food, there are no rules and this includes where you choose to use pumpkin. Rather than pie, why not have a no-bake donut holes that has pumpkin hidden inside?

December 26th Thank You Note Day Support and recognition to those who help with food allergies is always something to be grateful for. Write a note, send an email, post a tweet- just say thank you to whoever you feel needs to hear it.

December 27th Make a Cut Out Snowflake Day The perfect allergy-friendly craft for class activities or parties! Local dollar stores carry 500 coffee filters for $1 which makes the perfect snowflakes.

December 28th Chocolate Candy Day Purchase some new candy molds and start being creative with your candy! Don't let food allergies limit you but do let it inspire you to make a new kind of candy.

December 29th Tick Tock Day Truly, every moment that you don't live life to the fullest means that you lost that moment. Allergic reactions can happen at any time- stay prepared and do something to regain a moment that you feel may have been lost.

December 30th Bicarbonate of Soda Day Also known as baking soda, this product can be added to allergy-friendly recipes to fluff and plump your foods. Need a recipe? Try these pancakes.

December 31st Make Up Your Mind Day Today is the day- the last day of December and the last day of the year. How will you start the new year? Will it be positive or negative? Make up your mind~

We are in this together! Do you feel supported? Share the ways that you educate and strengthen the community so that others can try it too. As I have shared before,

"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"

~ Tracy Bush, 

I am proudly partnered with Red Sneakers For Oakley. I highly recommend that you visit them on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to understand their mission and the story behind it. My partnership is not compensated in any way other than receiving good karma.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Why Do I Need to Go to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference?

"Do you know the dates for the 2019 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference yet? I don't want to have to choose between several events." ~ A fellow blogger 

food allergy event that I can attendTrying to compare the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference to other events or expos is like comparing apples to oranges. Granted, if you have never attended the conference, then I can understand why someone may not know what sets it apart from other food allergy events. Since knowledge is power, I thought I would shed a little light on this question in hopes that some new faces will join us in 2019 and future years to come.

#FabLogCon The official hashtag for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. The first difference is that this is a conference, not an event or expo. It is open to anyone, not just those with food allergies. This conference welcomes products, organizations, non profits, medical professionals, parents, caregivers.....I could continue but truly, it's an open door for anyone who needs information and support or for those who want to help by sharing information and support. Similar to events and expos, the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference includes an Expo Hall as part of their schedule and speakers for classes. However, let me clarify why these are even better than what you will find at an event or expo.

epinephrine auto injector app
Aterica Digital Health
  • The Expo Hall has multiple advantages for attendees and vendors. Open for two hours the first day and eight hours the second day, the Expo Hall is a one-stop collection where vendors can freely share their products and product information. Samples and giveaway items as well as product demonstrations are also welcomed. All of the attendees can mingle, wander or walk in and out of the Expo Hall at any time and a raffle is also a part of taking time to speak with the vendors (each table gets an attendee one raffle ticket for a giveaway). By having this laid back scene, there is less pressure on exhibitors to feel a typical "rush to fill the attendees with our stuff and give them a few seconds of information" which is typically found at events and expos. At the Expo Hall, attendees love personal interaction with each exhibitor- they want to be able to take their time, find out about your products and are always hoping to form new relationships and/or professional partnerships. From a marketing point of view, most companies would pay a PR agency a lot more to get them the number of potential connections that they can reach out to at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. In the Expo Hall, it's never about competition but it's always about hugs, handshakes, photos, business card exchanges and engaging each other on a relaxed level. 
  • The Classes Yes, events and expos do also have classes and/or speeches that you can sit in on. The main difference is that I find them to be a bit more structured. From the classes that I have attended at other events, very often they are held in large, echoey parts of an auditorium or open exhibit hall. Although I can see it's set up that way to utilize the space that the event has, it very often feels less personable, tends to be a bit more challenging to hear the speaker(s) clearly and doesn't truly lend itself as being an interactive class v.s a listening/watching class. In events and expos, you are more likely to be seated as a large group in front of the
    allergyfriendly plantbased protein drink
    presenter(s) in chairs without a notepad, without a table to lean on and without feeling like you are allowed to ask too many questions. Most of the presentations at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference are in banquet rooms with tables and chairs, extra notepads and pens and an abundance of coffee and water. Audience participation is always encouraged because these classes are not just about people wanting to hear themselves talk- it's also about what the attendees can learn and the questions that they have that they normally wouldn't be able to ask without paying to have a professional answer their questions correctly.
Food allergy bloggers conference sharing support
No Appetite For Bullying

So, what did I do this year? I have to say, as a food allergy mother/blogger/consultant/author/Volunteer Manager and whatever else I am currently doing with insane passion, I felt like I did just about a little bit of everything this time. In past years, I felt like the days were too short (or the conference was too short) because you are trying to keep up with the scheduled classes that you want to take but wait, then it's time to eat (again) but WAIT I need to take a picture and hug this person....AFTER I eat more of this amazing Vegan chocolate whatever. Truly, my head is always spinning with a mixture of passion, gratitude, happiness, support and the feeling of regaining or recharging my empowerment. I do not attend the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference for myself only- I attend because I have this unstoppable need to continue to help others. So, while I am meeting new people and scheduling business meetings in between my flight and the beginning of the classes, I am also using all of this knowledge to empower myself for others around me as well. I always tell people that when I began blogging, I wanted to help. Not one single day has gone by that I woke up and said "I can't do this anymore, I'm tired of it." Instead, when I have days when I question my abilities, I get confirmation from a simple email or comment from someone that says "Thank you, you helped me today". It's like new layers that you never knew you had because knowledge keeps growing and changing and so does our community. This is what keeps me coming back for more. This conference is my battery backup- just when I think I am losing momentum, I am regenerated from the people that I meet.

food allergy supportIn conclusion (there has to be a conclusion otherwise I will continue to ramble and most of you will probably not want to read anymore) I want to thank Jenny Sprague who began this amazing event for all of us. She brings us together every year and her energy and passion is simply magical. I want to thank Backpack Health for sponsoring me at this year's event but also for carrying the same passion to help others by engaging our community and guiding them to be empowered as well. But most of all, I want to thank our entire community network who continues to push us forward, to not give up and to make us believe that answers can only come from all of us when we come together to share. To keep things simple and neat, I have posted all of my event photos here so make sure you click through them. 

In the words of Carl Jung:

"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."

patient health empowerment engagement app

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Got Allergies? Get Support!

Do you remember when your child was first diagnosed with a food allergy? Do you remember how your brain just froze and the room became too bright and too warm and the doctor's voice seemed like it was a million miles away? And do you also remember the rush of feelings that happened all in just a few seconds: fear, anxiety, helplessness, sadness, anger and the need to protect your child. A food allergy diagnosis can be crippling and turn your world upside down..but, from the darkness, there will always be light.

Yes, light- it will start out as something dim, far off in the distance but over time it will become so bright that you won't know how you got there from where you came. You will meet people who will be a part of that light and others that will not. You will learn new coping skills and you will find out that you have a protective rage that you never knew was hiding inside. This is what being a food allergy parent feels like. The question is, how do you get to the brighter side of food allergies and how do you know what will work for you and your family?

I highly recommend that you consider attending the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. This is not just for bloggers.This event continues to offer support every year. This will be my fifth time attending the conference and I continue to attend, but why? Because you can never learn too much, you can never over advocate and can always improve how you choose to handle your own health and allergy situations. I am proudly sponsored by Backpack Health this year because I make it a point to surround myself with companies and organizations that have a parallel path to mine. I may only be one person but what if all of those "just one person" people got together once a year to support each other and learn together?

Support Support for food allergies is a necessity! What is important to remember that what one person feels is their best support may not be your best support and that's ok. You can ask as many questions as you need to get that answer. Those questions may change over and over but you must keep asking until you feel you have the right answers. Never let anyone tell you that you are wrong for the way that you handle your choices because you will always be the first and best advocate for your allergic child, nobody else. If you are not sure how to share your voice, then just listen, meet other people who are speaking and see firsthand how many product sponsors are waiting to meet you.

Choices You DO have choices! So many choices and you will be amazed at how much they increase over time. From allergy-friendly products to the doctors that you see and even how to handle health information to stay up to speed. With food allergies, having everything when you need it in a moment's notice can sometimes be the difference between life and death. You will even have choices about how to share your child's food allergy journey to help others because once you get to the point that you are on the bright side of food allergies, your heart will grow and you will again, ask questions about how to share what you have learned along the way. Sharing within your food allergy network is what gives you answers but also gives others answers. Backpack Health is one of my favorite tools to both keep track of our family's health information and a way to contribute to what is normally difficult information to collect from people dealing with health issues. Backpack Health is more than just an app, it's a patient empowerment tool. We all know that patient empowerment is the key to progressing on so many levels. Your choices are literally the help that will be used for others to be given more opportunities and more choices.

Register now to attend the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference to become a part of your future food choices and to "come to learn and leave with an army of friends". Still not sure? This year's sponsors include Kaleo, DBV Technologies, Enjoy Life Foods, Aimmune Therapeutics, Belay, Gem City Fine Foods, FARE, Mabel's Labels, Flax4Life, OWYN, AllergyEats, Nima Sensor, MadeGood Foods, E.A.T. (End Allergies Together), FreeYumm, FAACT (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team), Jones Dairy Farm, SnackSafely, Zego Foods, Allergy Alert, Allergy Force, Aterica Digital Health, Siitch, Allergic Living, Amanda's Own,  Deliciousness, Home Free, Allergy Superheroes, Latitude Food Allergy Care, Hungry Harrys, Chebe, Path of Life, Canyon Gluten Free Bakehouse, Natralia, Namaste FoodsReady, Set, Food!Gluten DetectiveAAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America)Kids With Food AllergiesModern TableFree2BFoodsRed Apple LipstickSunButterAmerican Gluten FreeAllergy & Asthma NetworkAllergy CookieSweet Elizabeth's OrganicsHolidaily Brewing CompanySouth Point CasinoSmashmallow, First Light Home Care, Schar Gluten Free, Follow Your Heart and Attendify.

Special thanks to Backpack Health for graciously sponsoring me for this event. I am amazed at the passion that they have for advocacy not only food allergies but for other health issues as well. They believe in our communities and embrace the power of patient engagement. If you haven't already visited them, you can find them on the web at as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

Monday, October 22, 2018

You Can Be MORE Dairy Free

Is it possible? Is this an actual thing that someone can do- be MORE dairy free? Yes. Absolutely. And you can do it with more pizazz than you thought, with more tantalizing foods than you thought and even more education than you thought. How did this begin? Let's take a tiny step back to 2016 when I reviewed the first Go Dairy Free book written by Alisa Fleming. I adored this book, truly! I never lie, I never extend the truth because their is no need to do so. Life is short, you should love your foods (even with food allergies) so why tell people about crappy products and information. I don't. Her book made me identify with the passion to help on so many levels. With so much information, I knew that she was trying to jam pack so much into one book so that whoever was reading it would know that living a dairy free life is not a negative thing. It's just a new thing. And that life as a dairy free person should mean that it's time to take a look at your foods because your body is telling you to do so.

Flash forward to now, 2018 when I have the second edition of Go Dairy Free in my hands. The same amazing information but MORE. Because being dairy free and having food allergies has changed and improved so much over the past few years, why not share more? This may be a silly, non existent thing to some but I love the new cover. I am admittedly visual so the fresh new look with an undertone of muted teal looks inviting but  empowering at the same time. No, a book cover does not mean every book is what you need but it's a darn good start when you have just been diagnosed and need some reassurance that your foods will not break you.

So, I have both editions... what do I think? Let's get right to down to it.

Size Does Matter It's true. Knowledge is power and having 467 pages versus 288 pages means you automatically have 179 more pages of what you need to direct yourself to where you need to begin. When anyone is newly diagnosed with any type of food allergy, they need MORE. Sadly, physicians are limited on what they can give their patients to start out with. Alisa's book is not just a cookbook but it's also "the ultimate guide". Go Dairy Free is like a dairy free manual that everyone should receive with their diagnosis. And when people are diagnosed, yes they can Google information until their ears bleed but they don't want too. They want someone to just hand them one thing and say "This is all that you need to begin." 

Same Chapters, Updated Lingo I noted that the original chapters are still included but Alisa updated them with some new wording. Was that necessary? I believe so. Times change, people change and our attention span gets smaller and harder to captivate so yes, I feel the slightly revised chapter descriptions were just enough for the new edition. I mean, if you already had the first book and you got the second book, you would be looking for a reason to have the second book in hand, yes? This includes new words so readers understand that the original ideas are intact but improved.

MORE Recipes! What I did notice was the expanded recipe section. As I mentioned above, more information means more knowledge and more power. I am willing to bet that with the selection of ideas all captured here, the person picking up this book will be smiling. Not only are there recipes, but there are detailed charts of items that are also labeled with the page number and if they are also Vegan, egg free, gluten free, nut free, peanut free and soy free. In essence, this newest edition of Go Dairy Free is a surprise within a surprise. It's not just dairy free- it's more. There are even recipes that tell you how to make your own dairy free milk (and if you don't want too, there are plenty of suggestions on what you can purchase right off the shelf). 

And, My Continued Personal Pet Peeve STILL, no pictures!!! If you follow Go Dairy Free you know that the pages share brilliant, amazing, delicious looking dairy free photos every single day. So why are they not in the book? Or, perhaps even one photo per chapter? So much pride was taken in this book, so why not flaunt your photography skills as well? And, again, most people are visual creatures so why not entice them when they are flipping through your book? Alisa, you work hard and the people want to see what the recipes look like before they make them. Come one....

Please take a moment to check out all of the Go Dairy Free pages (yes, it's more than just a book!). You can visit on the web, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn. Thank you Alisa for sending me an updated copy of your book Go Dairy Free and for being super patient (I know, you sent it off to me weeks ago but I didn't forget about you!). Don't forget, with the holidays coming, this book would make a wonderful holiday gift as well! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Plant Powered Gone Awesome

"Hey Tracy, I have this new product do you want to try it?" 
I love these emails! 

Food allergies. It's been a journey for me both with my son and myself. So why not get excited about new products? Foods have changed so much over the past 17 years since my son was born. People should love their foods, even with food allergies. But what I have also learned is that what you eat needs to be healthier, in more of it's purest form and your body will thank you for it. Do I eat this way always? No. But I do my best to continue to find products that fit into my lifestyle that are also a better product.

Enter Frooze Balls So I got this adorable box that had six varieties of Frooze Balls. My initial thought was "These are some tiny packages". There are five in each bag and as a mom whose children eat non stop, I couldn't help but be just a bit hesitant. Yet, nothing is better than eating my own words, literally. I have to say, just one of these plant-powered guys is filling! Brace yourself for my thoughts on their Peanut Butter variety (yes, my son is allergic and yes, I ate them then proceeded to wipe everything down including myself). Why? Because my son is 16 and he knows not to touch his allergic foods. I have learned that this should not limit me from trying products that I like or that may be liked by others as long as I am careful. The taste- a mild hint of peanut butter. It's hearty and what I initially thought was sugar was actually coconut.

Because Frooze Balls also contains fruit, most of the flavors are (in my opinion) mild. The size of the product is good- not so big that you feel as if you might choke on it if you eat the entire thing..which I may or may not have (snicker). The consistency is good- not dry or chalky and no weird aftertaste as sometimes can be found in some products. As far as the Salted Maple ..oh my! when you open up the bag, it smells like pancakes (well, to me at least). Although I noticed that I mainly tasted the raisin versus the maple. Still tasty but I had hoped for more maple... I guess that would also mean more sugar, which would defeat the purpose of the product.

STOP right here! 
The Salted Maple inspired a new recipe that takes a forever-favorite snack and ramps it up with extra protein.

Recipe Here

The flavor of the Salted Maple mixed with the cream cheese reminds me of the date nut bread my grandmother used to top with cream cheese.... there must be something with Frooze Balls and my childhood. You can use any of the Frooze Balls products for this snack but this was my choice.

The Fudgetastic was something that I brought to work with me one day. I've gotten into the bad habit of needing something sweet so I thought this would be better than my current sweets. I paired them with some apple slices and yes, my fudge craving was met with a lot less calories and sugar.

When you were little, did your mom ever get you those mini lemon pies? Or make lemon chiffon pie? Yes, those mass-produced, most likely GMO filled pies that had the gooey lemon center? UGH I loved them!!!! So when I got to the Lemon Cheesecake Frooze Balls, I was torn. On one hand, I was like "Oh yeah, lemon!" but then I was like "Hmm, lemon and all of these other flavors? I dunno". Opening the bag was like taking a whiff of my childhood... is it the way they make the bags maybe? I see a pattern here of when I open the bag. Whatever works, right? I am happy to report that the flavors did not overpower each other as expected.

Dark Forest...let's talk about this one for a minute. I think this may have been my personal favorite. These smell and taste like the most decadent chocolate ever with a hint of cherries. Only the cherry flavor doesn't hit you for a minute to two. It's like a bonus tasting. Either way, still a little piece of yumminess and something that I would eat again. I mean come on, chocolate!

In the midst of all of these sweeter tasting products, Frooze Balls also has a Mint & Cacao flavor (quick quiz- do you know how to pronounce cacao?). This was like tasting your favorite chocolate covered mint cookie or breaking open that little chocolate and green candy. Although very minty, it still wasn't overboard on the flavor.This is a definite possibility for when you need something a little on the lighter side or even to both curb your sweet tooth but also soothe your stomach.

ALL of the Frooze Balls contain dates, raisins or sultanas (it's a white, oval seedless grape... I Googled it), sunflower seeds, coconut and Himalayan salt. Depending upon the variety, there are some that contain peanut, cashew, almonds, cacao, lemon, mint, etc. I typically don't review products that contain nuts but as I stated above, I am looking at items for me as well (time for mama to see what is safe for her too).

I am super grateful for Frooze Balls sending me all of these goodies. In my true fashion of honest product reviews, I have some things that I would like to suggest as a consumer. Obviously, my suggestions may not be the same as other consumer suggestions but I always share them. One of the ingredients mentioned is "natural flavor" please be specific as to what this is. Natural flavor can mean anything and transparency always gives a product extra points with the consumers. Not to mention that something as simple as this may mean a huge something to a person who is allergic to that natural flavor.

Second suggestion (and bear with me because this may seem so trivial) - the tear on your packages pulls downward. This means that the likelihood of a consumer spilling all of your product on the floor and wasting it (or, using the 5 second rule) is very high. Maybe consider having it pull across the top which would more likely leave your Frooze Balls safe and sound until they are ready to be eaten.

All in all, these are a hearty little snack and I am thankful that Frooze Balls asked me to try them out. You can also find a 6 pack variety on their website at and you can visit them on Instagram and Facebook. Give them a try and tell them you heard about them here (I just get a nice thank you). Because at the end of the day, it's all about food and sharing ~