Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Breakfast at Freeda's? Glutenfreeda!

May has been a super busy month in the food allergy world. We had World Asthma Day on May 6th, Food Allergy Awareness Week May 11-17th and the entire month of May is Celiac Awareness Month. Talk about a great way to begin the warmer months- becoming even more prepared and helping to prepare others around us. Finding the right information and products to share is just a small part of what we need to get others to become more knowledgeable but it's a start.

For me, each and every day is a new start. A brand new set of hours to learn more, find new products and continue on the path of helping other people. (Well, that and just a tad bit of coffee!) Most often, I am asked what people can safely use on-the-go or while traveling. We have become such a busy society that not many of us even have the luxury of sitting down to a home cooked breakfast each day. And if you are a true follower of what I do, I always ALWAYS stress how important a good breakfast is to get your brain awake and functioning.

I was flipping through a magazine and my attention was caught by these sweet little Gluten-Free Instant Oatmeal containers produced by Glutenfreeda. They come in convenient paper containers (yay, can we say recycling is a plus?!) and they are just large enough for a good breakfast yet small enough to pack into any purse, lunch bag or piece of luggage.

I do want to point out that not everyone is able to eat gluten-free oats, even if they are gluten-free. As always, my intent is to share all information for those that are able to use it. Please use caution, read labels and contact the company directly for any question that you may have.

Cranberry Apple with Walnuts & Cinnamon- My first taste-testing was on a chilly morning. In my mind, I had could have had a fast breakfast bar or tried a warm bowl of gluten-free oatmeal....guess which one I went with. When you look at the comparison, is there even a choice really? Look how sad the small breakfast bar looks next to the steaming bowl :) Upon tasting, I can honestly say that the consistency is perfect and it's identical to that familiar oatmeal that you may have been used to as a child. The oats were not too large and it was chock full of cranberry, apple and walnuts without seeming to have too much. I will suggest that you consider adding a touch of something as I thought  it seemed just a tiny bit bland. That being said, I am also a person who tends to always add a bunch of extra ingredients into my cereals so it could very well just be my taste buds.

Blueberries, Strawberries & Brown Sugar- Now this flavor was closer to my usual hot cereal pick. The flavors were still not very strong but still really, really good. Again, a perfect amount of fruit and the consistency was just as good. I do recommend that you begin by adding less water and then adding more as needed. You can always make the cereal looser but you can never fix it if it's too mushy. Especially since most may be using this for on-the-go and may not have an extra to add more gluten-free oatmeal too.Nothing is worse than accidentally ruining your breakfast. Am I right or am I right?

Brown Sugar & Flax- My personal favorite out of all of the varieties. I am not sure if it was the yummy ingredients, the touch of banana slices or what but this tasted just like homemade muffins or bread. Absolutely delicious! Don't get me wrong- all of the flavors are definitely good but this one just had that special something for me. It was almost like a morning treat as opposed to breakfast. I was nice and shared some with my husband but for the most part, I hovered and ate.

Golden & Brown Raisins with Almonds- If you are an almond lover, this is the flavor for you. I found it to have a bit of a stronger almond flavor and (again) a tiny bit on the bland side. I don't mean that to be a negative at all- these gluten-free oatmeals all tasted very, very fresh. I'm just trying to explain my thoughts for those who have not gotten them yet. I absolutely recommend that you give all of the flavors a shot as everyone's tastes are different. To me, the most important factors that I was looking for in a fast, gluten-free breakfast were met- good consistency, easy to prepare and ingredients that are trusted.

I would like to thank Glutenfreeda for allowing me to sample their products. I encourage all of you who are able to consume gluten-free oats to take a look at what they do at glutenfreeda.com as well as their Facebook page. I think most of you will be impressed by the lengths they go to make sure their products are free from gluten as well as making sure they are using the best ingredients. They also have additional information on their website such as recipes, sign ups for great news & specials and they are asking everyone to show their support during Celiac Awareness Month.

For details, visit http://www.glutenfreeda.com/supportceliacawareness/ and make sure you become a part of helping to raise awareness to others. After all, it could be as simple as sharing your breakfast with others~

 I do need to warn you that they also produce items that contain tree nuts, dairy, eggs and soy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Brothers, SunButter and Vegas All in One

I am beyond excited that I will be attending the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference this year in Las Vegas, Nevada. (You can't see me but I am actually jumping up and down right now, can't wait!) Since it is Food Allergy Awareness Week, I absolutely wanted to post about this awesome event. I mean, I am assuming most of you know that this event is a huge deal and that all of you have heard about it but on the off chance that someone has not, I will give you all of the wonderful details.

Food Allergy What?! The Food Allergy Bloggers Conference is three day event for bloggers, speakers, food allergy-friendly companies and authors put together by Jenny Sprague of Multiple Food Allergy Help and Homa Woodrum of Oh May Deeness!. Both of these women have a great sense of passion and energy (plus, they are just down to earth and love them!). They had their initial conference last year in 2013. (I am still grumbling that I was not able to go to that one, ugh!) and from what I have seen for this year's agenda, it's going to be even better. Not only will I be well fed but I will have the honor of meeting some of the food allergy community's top doctors and professionals too. And, did I mention it's in Las Vegas (I guess I know where hubby will be while I am in conference).

What, Who, What? Yes, hubby will have to drudge through it all and find things to do for himself because it looks like I will be busy, busy, busy! There are speakers, a Wine & Sign Author's Party so I will be able to get autographs and meet some of these awesome people and great Sponsors as well. For a complete list of the official Food Allergy Bloggers Conference Bookshop to see all of the great books they recommend, click HERE. And, why yes, My book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" happens to be on that list (Thank you FAB!!!!! Eternal love and support for this amazing honor).

Speaking of Sponsors... I am very proud to announce that I have also been given the honor of having two Sponsors myself for this trip-Brothers-All-Natural Fruit Crisps and SunButter Sunflower Seed Spread. Without both of these companies, I would not be going to this much-needed conference and I appreciate their help.

Brothers-All-Natural offers fruit crisps that are simply that- freeze-dried fruits. Not only are they allergy-friendly and a great on-the-go snack but they are free of gluten, dairy, soy, peanut, tree nut and GMO's (blah, we all despise GMO's!!!). In this day and age of everyone wanting to be on the go but still needing healthy and safe snacks, Brothers-All-Natural helps us out with that. They also have other products, like their Disney character packages, fruit and oats, giveaway on their site and they even offer twelve different varieties of fruits. And if you are in an indecisive mood like I get into sometimes (who, me?) you can choose a variety pack to cover all basis.

SunButter is a great alternative to peanut butter and nut butter products. They have been a staple in our home for as long as I can remember. SunButter now has seven varieties to choose from and is also has On-the-Go Snack Packs and 1.5 ounce cups. I have to say, when we travel and I need to be able to pack smaller items for a safe snack, these are the perfect sizes to throw into my purse or a lunch bag.  Their products are completely peanut and tree nut free as well as gluten free (win, win and win!).

So as far as the saying goes "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas", I will prove that wrong come September. Because not only will I return (obviously) but when I do, I will be bringing back a slew of information to arm me with even more knowledge to help all of you! After all, who says Food Allergy Awareness Week should only be limited to one week a year ~

photo courtesy 123rf.com

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Winter, Food Allergy Style

Now that Spring is FINALLY here, I can share this post with everyone. I'm not sure about all of you but this winter was just a long, cold, grey blahness that felt as if it would NEVER END. And in my defense, having grown up in the North and now living in the South, I guess I have become a cool weather wimp. I know this may seem like I am complaining or making fun but being cooped up in the house made all of us stir-crazy. What bothered me the most were the days when the school board decided to close due to it being too cold. Yes, I am serious. Not ice, not fourteen feet of snow but because it was cold. In the winter. Wow, that must have snuck up on them huh?

Photo found on Pinterest
This was basically me by the time the sunshine was finally back-
This being said, I wanted to share a few photos to make you chuckle. My main purpose is truly only to (hopefully) make some, if not all of you laugh. Laughing is essential- it must be done, always! And if you cannot laugh at yourself, then somebody else will so why not be the first to have a crack at it? Besides, in a world full of the emotional ups and downs of food allergies and usual day-to-day stresses, laughter is the only universal medicine that is both free and is allergy-friendly. 

Had I still been living up North this winter, I would have been just as grumpy only I would have been buried under several feet of snow and I would have still had to have driven in it. Now as much as I do love the fact that the Southern states literally close up when there is even a flake, I find that sometimes, it's almost comical watching people freak out over a few flakes of snow. I came across this video clip posted by Vic Dibitetto that seems to hit the nail on the head-

My Southern peeps- please don't think any less of me! I can say that I am one of those people also running to the store for bread and milk too! There is a huge difference between people who don't have food allergies and those who do with what we have left as far as varieties after the snow crowd has made it's way through. Need specific examples? Gaze upon Exhibit A which is a photo I took in my local food store of the bread aisle-

Exhibit A
I cannot even make this stuff up. This just shocks me. Perhaps THIS is the reason that there are so many people with gluten issues- simple overload! Could it be that the insistence of having bread products in our homes in order to outlive a snowstorm and then having to eat it up quickly before it goes bad after the storm
be a piece of the never-ending question of how gluten is destroying our gut? Inquiring minds want to know.

Now I bring you over to the dairy aisle but this photo is of the area that I shop in (aka non-dairy milks). Please see Exhibit B-

Exhibit B
I see this as a definite positive to having food allergies, wouldn't you? All of the other people are now cursing out the store manager for not having enough milk for the storm while we are calmly picking up our usual varieties and going home. Who says food allergies are always stressful? In this case, it seems to be quite the opposite.

While everyone else is stocking up on products such as peanut butter, bread and milk (check, already go that), packaged goods and whatever else they can find in a can what do families with food allergies hoard? Well, this is a peek at what I rush out to get to have in our home in case the power goes out-

See the difference? Still thinking that your neighbor who doesn't have food allergies has it better? I think not! Having food allergies means that we take a longer look at our foods and how they are processed. This then leads to eating better and healthier foods all around. I'm not saying that my family lives on frozen packaged items but I do keep them in case I need something fast and safe that I can heat up on the grill during a power outage. No peanut butter in our homes but you will find SunButter and Barney Butter (we are not almond allergic). No bread but we do have gluten free waffles and rice tortillas.Gluten free pasta, fresh meats, safe frozen chicken nuggets, such as Applegate are life savers, even for mom.

The other thing that I tend to do when a storm is coming is "binge cooking". This means that after I get home from the mad rush at the store, I go into auto pilot and cook various meats and meals so that (again, should the power go out) I will have plenty of foods to simply heat up that I know are safe for everyone. The difference between what I do as a food allergy mom and what others do that don't have food allergies? What I am cooking is healthier, does not contain all of the harmful and fattening foods that often have chemicals and additives and unlike all of those who are left eating up their breads, our foods can simply be frozen for later use or (even better) gives me a few nights off of no cooking.

The moral of this is that sometimes life hands us situations that we cannot understand or control at all. But I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, as it should. Just because we may not understand it when it happens does not mean that it's a change for the worse. I have said it before and I will continue to say it forever more- I feel blessed because of my son's food allergies. What I thought was the end of our world as we knew it was actually the beginning of so many other positive changes in our lives. Every day, every hour, every minute can bring us challenges but within those challenges I find us walking away with more strength and knowledge than we had before.

In the words of Ferris Bueller "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." I choose to laugh and embrace everything in life and I hope you do the same~