Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Nuts Not EVER

I recently helped announce Skeeter Snacks "No Nuts About It Pin it & Win It" promotion (click here if you missed it). You know that I always emphasize sharing is caring but then Skeeter Snacks did me one better- they shared with me! Aww, they do care! (hugs) I was even more excited when a big package arrived with so many goodies inside. Who knew that nut free snacks could make a woman so happy? (well, there was chocolate involved so need I say more?) The cute and fuzzy squirrel didn't hurt either.

Speaking of Chocolate... guess what I was drawn to trying first? Chocolate, right? (Men, just an fyi- chocolate and diamonds always make a woman feel loved). But the big dilemma? I had Chocolate Chunk cookies and I had Chocolate Chip Minis....the agony of decision. I think the word "chunk"persuaded me as I was drawn to it, ripping open the package. Definitely a good decision- the cookies have a good texture, are chocolaty and almost a bit creamy. As you can clearly see, an abundance of chocolate (thus, the name). Overall, that familiar crunchy, crumbly cookie that we all know and love minus the possibility of nuts.

Taking a CINNful Bite... Did I mention the Cinnamon Grahams? Mmmmm, mmmm, mmm! A cup of tea, a handful of these crunchy little cinnamon flavored squirrels (sorry Skeeter!) and my tummy was happy. I dare say they are even slightly addictive as I found myself sneaking back to have the rest before others could eat the rest. The crunchy, slightly sweet taste mixed with a tinge of cinnamon was just what I needed on the freezing cold day that snuck up on us.

Chipper ending... Ok, so chocolate is always good but sometimes, you just need a taste rather than a lot. The Chocolate Chip Minis were the perfect grab and go chocolate fix. The smaller size makes it easy to have a one-bite snack (or two, maybe even three). These are also lunch bag size for those little munchkins who like sweet surprises packed each day.

Overall, a great tasting nut free line of snacks. As an allergen warning, I do have to caution that the products do contain wheat, milk, egg and soy. As always, I advise that everyone check labels to be cautious with their own specific allergies.

And now, the GREAT NEWS!!!

Since Skeeter Snacks has shared and cared, I would like to do the same. I was sent several packages from Skeeter Snacks and you could be eligible to have them sent to you, sound good? To enter, simply comment on my Facebook page for this post and tag @Skeeter Snacks. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, November 3rd. This giveaway is open to all so please share. After all, sharing is caring! (except for the fuzzy squirrel...my daughter is not ready to share him with anyone!)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Anaphylaxis - A Medical Thriller

While I was at the US Anaphylaxis Summit in Washington, D.C., I had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful experts in the field of anaphylaxis and food allergies. But I was also honored enough to speak with Dr. Alan Anson Wanderer. Dr. Wanderer is part of the Clinical Research Group of Montana in Bozeman, MT. He has recently published his first novel "Anaphylaxis A Medical Thriller". As guests of the Summit, we each received a copy and I even got my copy autographed by him. During the ride home, I decided to dive in and see what it was all about.

Did I Like it?
Although I am not normally a fan of reading thriller novels, I found this book to be very easy to read. The plot was intriguing and I often found myself wondering what would happen next in between trying to start reading again. I liked the characters, the way the plot connected itself and the ending- loved the ending! But most of all, my favorite thing about this book was how it described different ways anaphylaxis can be triggered. By using the characters in the novel as part of the story, Dr. Wanderer was able to explain various situations that many may not even consider when trying to avoid anaphylactic reactions. I was aware of some myself but there were a few that caught my attention and made me say "I didn't know that!" In the world of food allergies and anaphylaxis, it's always good to learn new things to (hopefully) prepare you even more.

Do I Recommend it?
Yes, yes and yes. Did I mention yes? This book is not only intriguing but it's also (in my opinion) a fast and easy read. I recommend it for the story line as well as for the information that the reader will gain. I also want to mention that this would be great to share with any medical professional to try to spread awareness on the various overlooked avenues of causes of anaphylaxis, such as a fellow pharmacist, primary care physician or allergy specialist. I would definitely pass it along to those who question not only the validity but the small window of time that it takes for an allergic reaction to affect someone. This book gives you all of that.

Photo courtesy of crgmt.com
Where can You Get a Copy?
For more information on how to obtain a copy, I recommend that you visit Dr. Wanderer's website at http://www.alanwanderer.com/ or for book on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Anaphylaxis-A-Medical-Thriller-ebook/dp/B00AZR6F2A/.

Special thanks to Dr. Wanderer for not only providing me with a copy of his book but also for the experience of meeting and speaking with you. It's wonderful to see that more people are seeking a way to prevent anaphylaxis and to get more people informed. I hope you all enjoy the story as much as I did!

*I would like to state that I was not compensated in any way to review this novel and that this was done for my own reading pleasure.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Antioxidants in a Tortilla?!

I was intrigued when I came across a new gluten free tortilla made by Food for Life. We have used their brown rice tortillas for many years so I was excited to hear about their Black Rice Tortillas. What's so great about black rice? Well, with all of the latest buzz revolving around "super grains", black rice is included in that category. Black rice contains fiber, antioxidants (as I mentioned), anthocyanins* and may even help prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

*anthocyanins are ingredients that are capable of lowering the risk of heart attacks because it prevents the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

The Black Rice Tortillas have the same ingredients as the Brown Rice (brown rice flour, filtered water, tapioca flour, safflower oil, rice bran, vegetable gum (xanthan gum, cellulose) and sea salt) but the Black Rice have the added benefit of organic chia. Chia is high in protein and calcium, is supposed to give you a bit more energy, has high omegas, fiber and antioxidants (there's that word again!). For all of those people that question how you continue to get the necessary vitamins and calcium without dairy, here is a perfect example.

If you follow my blog, you know that I very often try to come up with recipes or ways to use the products. I do this because I like to think outside of the box, try to offer ideas to others who are stuck and have difficulty finding uses for their allergy-friendly products and, well, I just like to be creative. What came to my mind this time? Homemade taco shell bowls! I had the molds, had the ingredients and I have been craving a taco salad forever so why not? Here's the fast and easy way to make them- 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Microwave a black rice tortilla for 30 seconds to make it more flexible and to be able to mold into the pan. Gently push the tortilla into the molded pan, being careful so as not to tear it. Fill it with uncooked rice to keep the shape in place. Place into the oven.

Watch the tortilla carefully as it hardens fast and will quickly burn. Once it has become crisp, remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Remove the rice and fill with your favorite ingredients. 

 I want to thank Food For Life for allowing me to do this product review for them and for giving us some great gluten free options to use.  For more information, please visit their site at www.foodforlife.com and check out their other products while you are there. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Cup and a Smile

I was always curious about Sun Cups. I saw them everywhere- Facebook, magazines, emails, blog posts but the one place I did not see them was locally (sad, frowny face). Image my excitement when a representative from Sun Cups contacted me, asking if I would like to try them out. Trying to compose myself, I answered "Of course, would love to" and then I proceeded to run into the other room to let my family know that a package would be arriving soon. You know that I love packages (and coupons, too but that's another story).

I checked out their website and was happy to see that Sun Cups do not contain gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, corn or soy and they are made in a nut- free, gluten-free facility. Alright- already off to a good start. After a closer look, I realized that they do contain dairy (sad, frowny face again for my son). But, there is always an upside- I can try them...by myself...and enjoy them without grabbing hands. Does this make me a bad mother because I am eating these things in front of my child? (slowly putting Sun Cups up sleeve and silently leaving the room to rip open the package).

Stairway to Heaven!
I am a dark chocolate lover so my first instinct was to try out the Dark Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups first. As I took a bite, I noticed the cups are very similar to other cups but just a tiny bit crunchier (crunchier is good). The consistency and flavor were good and I quickly munched both of them down. My only complaint- maybe make a four pack for us moms who really need a good chocolate fix? Just a suggestion.

My next sampling I decided to share (secretly) with my daughter was the Milk Chocolate Caramel Cups. They were smooth, gooey and they reminded me very much of a Twix bar without the cookie part. And the silly thing was that for some odd reason, I was surprised when I bit into it and it was just chocolate and caramel. For some reason, I expected Sunflower Butter with the caramel (I know, weird combo) but both of us were very happy with them.  We were licking our fingers clean.

 I let my daughter choose the next flavor- Dark Chocolate Mint Cups. I  felt that I had to have two cups so I settled with one of each (due to  sharing). Now, I am not generally a min and chocolate kind of person  but these little cups were really good. The peppermint was mild so there  was no overpowering, ever-lasting mint breath where you feel as if you  will breath cold mint forever. The inside was creamy and it was, in my  opinion, the perfect combination of dark chocolate and mint.
The final sample was the Milk Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups. These were just as tasty as the dark chocolate but they were a bit creamier. They almost melt in your mouth (mouth watering thinking about them). Since these were the last, I did not share, I did not ask if anyone wanted to share and I enjoyed every bit of it (smiling, patting belly). I was a happy camper. That was, until I saw the circle of sadness...the empty wrappers!

Overall, I would gladly recommend Sun Cups as a great alternative to a certain unnamed product (winking). I do hold strong onto my hopes that the company will hear my plea, strive to be different and come out with a 4-pack....imagine the heaven! (drooling again). To view the complete information about the company and it's products, please visit them at http://suncups.com/.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Nut-Allergic Squirrel?!

I can guarantee that everyone reading this has squirrels in their yards (well, unless you live in an apartment). They are cute, fuzzy and they all scurry through your yard day after day trying to collect their food supply of nuts. But I am here to report that there is one, lonely squirrel who cannot do this. Folks, I wanted to introduce everyone to the world's only known nut-allergic squirrel, Skeeter.

Now as all people with food allergies know, having a nut allergy can be tricky but we always prevail and adapt and this is exactly what the people at Skeeter Snacks were able to do. They are able to provide products that are completely nut free. Picture it- I can see Skeeter gorging himself on those yummy snacks all winter while the other squirrels have plain old nuts. 

To help out even more, Skeeter Snacks is having a celebration. What is it called? What else would it be called but...
No Nuts About It!

Skeeter Snacks is celebrating the holidays with a fun & interactive contest. They invite you to be a part of  a nut-free holiday celebration and earn points to win cool prizes! Start by following their board & then check back daily for a chance to enter to WIN! ... Plus, you can search around their Pinterest weekly for their biggest fan, Skeeter, for a chance to earn MORE points!! 

And the best part of all of this? Skeeter Snacks has offered to work with me for a giveaway (Yay! Who doesn't love a giveaway?!)

Details on my giveaway to follow soon so make sure you stay tuned to have another chance to win.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Washington D.C. Taken Over By Anaphylaxis

NEA Building
On October 5, 2013 Washington, D.C. was unknowingly overtaken with a slew of anaphylaxis experts. While the government was shut down, the thoughts and hopes of how to improve the lines of communication for the importance of preventing and treating allergic reactions was bubbling over with excitement. Tucked away in the NEA (National Education Association) building were more than fifty people that were gathered to not only share their ideas but to try to come up with solutions. After all, isn't that what is keeping us from having more control of anaphylaxis and reactions is a solution?

Great Information!
I have to first say thank you to Allergy & Asthma  Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)  for not only inviting me to be a part of this great event but also for hosting it. It was an honor to be in the presence of so many people. I also want to send out a thank you to Mylan Specialty for sponsoring this. For those of you who may not be familiar with AANMA, their site contains tons of information for asthma, allergies and other related conditions and offers many varieties of advocacy and education. They have great tips, memberships, pod casts and even a birthday club. I highly recommend this site to anyone who is need of guidance and support in conjunction with their usual support system.
Dr. Michael Pistiner, AllergyHome

Dr. Sandra Gawchik & Sue Lockwood

The Big Question-
I guess you are all wondering who, what, where when and why, isn't that what all stories are made up of? We were lucky enough to have several guest speakers including one call-in speaker that consisted of Sue Lockwood & Dr. Sandra Gawchik- American Latex Allergy Association, Jennie Young - National Education Association (NEA), Dr. John Lee & Dr. Michael Pistiner - AllergyHome, Kimberly Turner -  Allergy & Asthma  Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), Dr. Matthew Greenhawt (via telephone), Dr. Stanley Fineman - Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic, Dr. Ruchi Gupta, Tia Campbell - Virginia Department of Education, Lisa Albert - Elizabethtown High School, Jon Terry - Allergy Advocacy Association and Dr. Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet - Family Allergy & Asthma Care.We were also given a copy of Dr. Alan Wanderer's book "Anaphylaxis- A Medical Thriller" and even had the chance to chat and get an autograph.
Dr. John Lee
Lisa Rutter & Me
Elizabeth DiBurro,
Dr. John Lee &
Lindsey Steffensen
 I was also overjoyed to see some of my blogger buddies there as well, especially since I had no idea who else was going. (Who likes surprises- I do! I do!)
Lisa Rutter - No Nuts Mom Group, Elizabeth DiBurro - EBL Food Allergies, Lindsey Steffensen - Frugal Food Allergies and Libby Ilson - The Allergic Kid.

What Was Discussed?
Dr. Ruchi Gupta
With so much to cover, I can truly say that AANMA did a wonderful job providing us with a binder full of all of the slides that were presented as well as even more helpful information. Most of the discussions reminded us of some very important tips but Dr. Michael Pistiner summed it up the best- ACT

With so many different avenues that reactions could occur, it is important to find the triggers. Make sure communication is clear and open and be prepared since an allergic reaction can happen at a moment's notice. We all need to come together so that we can come up with a better plan that will be more effective in not only treating anaphylaxis but to possibly avoid it. Being proactive should not just be limited to other allergic friends and family- information should, no needs to be shared with all types of people. Why? Because an allergic reaction can happen to anyone at any time. The more information that is used as common knowledge, the more others will begin to see that allergies are not so unfamiliar but actually turning into today's daily challenges. Each year, food allergies increase but there is an upside to this- each year, so does the research to help us understand it.

What Can I Do?
There are numerous ways to help spread knowledge about anaphylaxis, it all depends on what is the best avenue for you. Whether it be starting a local support group, communicating with school staff, sharing various websites and pages, donations; it is gladly a never-ending funnel of what can I share next. I can tell you that each time I attend a summit or a webinar, it leaves me with new hopes and goals on how to increase my awareness as well as with others. The important thing to remember is that no gesture is too small- if your lifestyle allows for a small amount of help, that's still help that would not have been previously given out to those who need to know. Not everybody is expected to join every group or set up every local school board with all of the best pointers on what we need. It's all about multiple people helping and paying it forward so that we can lean on each other. A bridge is not a bridge without multiple pieces- with all of the necessary items to secure it, it becomes a safe and useful item for everyone. It doesn't matter if you are a piece of the bridge or a builder, just as long as the bridge is made. As best stated by Isaac Newton "We build too many walls and not enough bridges."
Photo courtesy of 123RF.com

Please be sure and check out all of the other photos and information regarding the summit on Twitter under #USAANASUMMIT.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sunbutter, What is the Real Truth?

Have you ever wondered where Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Spread really comes from?
I am here to tell you that there is a cover-up. Now, this is a HUGE secret so I am going to ask you to keep it between just you and me.

As the Sunbutter story is told, they tell us that they use specialized production areas to produce Sunbutter but when I dug deeper, "specialized" seemed just a bit suspicious to me, don't you think? I mean, creating an environment to roast and blend sunflower seeds, can't this be done in a factory anywhere? So why all the hub bub? As I told you, I dug deeper and I discovered the shocking truth and I am about to expose it to you.

Intrigued? Read the complete story HERE as seen on Sunbutter's page.

(WARNING: the truth could surprise you.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Allergy-Friendly Candy Corn

I am so excited to have found these- my son is going to be twelve and has always wanted to try candy corn. This year, lo and behold in our local Walgreen's was the golden bag. Wrigley's has come out with Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn!

The first time we saw them, I didn't buy them because I am stubborn (and I didn't want them in the house because I knew we would eat them). But after posting a few recommendations on various Facebook pages for people looking for a safe candy corn, I knew I had to grab a bag and try them out.

Before we taste-tested, I called and spoke to Tammy at Wrigley to make sure there was nothing that was labeled incorrectly. The bag does not list any allergens or cross-contamination warnings but always ALWAYS better safe than sorry. As per Tammy, she said that all with the exception of Creme Savers, Wrigley products are made without nuts, tree nuts, eggs or dairy and that they do not process items with these ingredients as well. I was also assured that although the Creme Savers are made with some dairy, there are still no cross-contamination worries. Of course, as with anything and since everyones allergies are different, I strongly recommend that you also personally check the packaging and with the company to ensure that you and your family are kept as safe as possible.

So how are they? Three words- yum, yum and YUM!!!! The consistency of the candy corns is exactly like an original candy corn (bravo Wrigley's) followed by a bunch of juicy fruit flavors which include orange, strawberry and lemon. I am not a huge candy person myself but they are pretty darn tempting. Warning- do not leave the bag open as the tantalizing scent of fruits will cause you to continuously reach into the bag for more.

What's in them? Well, as with most candy, there are some not so healthy ingredients but I think we all occasionally indulge so here is the ingredient list- sugar, corn syrup, less than 2% of malic acid, lactic acid, socium lactate, acacia, confectioner's glaze, natural and artificial flavors, salt, mineral oil, colors (red 40, yellow 6, yellow 5, blue 1).

As always, I am excited for my family as well as other families that can enjoy another new Halloween treat. I hope all of you enjoy safely-