Monday, June 29, 2015

Water, Wolves & Winona

All food allergy families that travel with their own foods, please raise your hand (hand raised). All food allergy families that don't like last minute trips, raise your hand (hand raised). All food allergy families that stress and grumble and cry and have a mini meltdown until the very last second and then have an amazing burst of energy to somehow cook and pack up your family safely due to food allergies, raise your hand (hand raised). AND, all food allergy families that have raised their hands to the above but cannot resist a family get away, raise your hand (hand raised).

Does any of this make sense? Am I the only one that hems and haws and grouches but then pulls it altogether to make it a great, safe family bonding time? (Hems and haws....what does that mean, exactly?!) Alas, NutriGrandpa approached me with a graduation gift for my minions since one graduated Middle School and the other Elementary and graciously offered us a night at Great Wolf Lodge. So I pushed past my stress, put aside my anxieties and accepted. NutriKids were ecstatic- I was a nervous wreck. Why? May I bring all of you back in time for just a moment when NutriSon & NutriHubby went on a school trip for a few days Please read, view pictures and then continue with us, here, with a better insight about my insanity - (Food Allergy Mom Goes on Strike).

It's Only One Night Yes, one night. But one night also includes lunch the day of check-in, poolside snacks & drinks, dinner, breakfast and more snacks...did I mention snacks? Need a short version of what we bring? Gaze upon how simple it looks here-

Now, this is the real list:
  • Homemade Muffins- Three varieties (chocolate chip (yay, can we say Enjoy Life Foods?!), blueberry and plain corn. Why three types? Because everyone likes something different (because if everyone all like the same thing, then it would just make life too simple)
  • Freedom Foods Cereal- Cocoa Crunch and TropicOs sealed in ziplock bags. Why this brand? Because my children want those tiny, GMO-riddled boxes of other cereals but will accept this awesome cereal instead, without a fight and they love them. Sealed to prevent spilling, even at this age, and bags to have less travel clutter & keep everything waterproof.
  • Breakfast Sausage (cooked)- again, two types (links & patties) because everyone knows that even though sausage is the exact same, some children who shall remain nameless insist that they taste differently in a different form. And because I am neurotic about protein, especially in the morning, I oblige. Oh, OH- the best part is that NutriDaughter will only eat links but ONLY if I remove the skins....(counting to 10 slowly)
  • Cookies- This is just a no-brainer. Since we are an Enjoy Life Foods family, we brought two boxes. I could have made cookies but these are travel-worthy and we all love them.
  • SkinnyPop- Salty, carbs, allergy-friendly (free of dairy, peanut, tree nut & gluten). Well loved by all.
  • Gluten Free Pizza- Precooked and sealed in a plastic bag to heat & eat.
  • Dang Coconut Chips- These are strictly for me (hey, I can have my own goodies too!) Delish! They melt in your mouth and it's easy, portable protein.
  • Winona Pure Oils- Oil...for a water park...huh? Yes- Popcorn Butter for the muffins and Coconut to help get rid of the horrible, dried out hair you get from being soaked in a human pool of salt, germs and whatever else for two days. Coconut oil has a high moisture retaining capacity so it keeps hair soft and prevents breakage of hair. I give you the proof-

Extras, don't forget these!- Sturdy paper plates for reheating, cups, napkins, extra plastic bags, utensils, waters, juices, ibuprofen and ear drops (in case anyone gets water stuck in their ears). MEDS- Yes, bolded because you never, ever, EVER travel without (at least) two doses of epinephrine (plus we have his asthma inhaler). And, NEVER leave it in the car...which, for the first time ever in 13 years, we did. Luckily, I also carry extra epi in my purse so we were covered.

Should Have, Could Have In the hustle of last-minute preparations, I did not have time to call Great Wolf Lodge and discuss food allergies and their policies ahead of time. And, sometimes, NutriSon doesn't want to try out new places he just wants to go and have a good time. This, I understand. But I have to say, from even staying just one night, I wish we could have tried it out to see how safe it was. Even though I had all of our foods, I stopped and spoke with Annette, a chef at their Loose Moose Dining Cottage. I was impressed how quickly the hostess brought out a chef and Annette went through all of their buffet options. Did the word buffet freak you out too?! Chef Annette told me that they accommodate- if you need fruit, they will slice fresh fruit in the back on a clean cutting board. If you need sausage or bacon, they will cook it for you on a separate, clean griddle. If you need tater tots or potatoes, they can make these for you as well since the tater tots share the fryer and the breakfast potatoes are right next to the eggs- a no-no for NutriSon. I am thinking next time I may listen to my own advice. 

*Allergy Warning* I did notice one item that nut allergic travelers need to watch out for- Great Wolf Lodge provides a lotion that contains almond oil. This is also why we travel with our own toiletries. Also, vending machines- not one speck of allergy-friendly options. Great Wolf Lodge Peeps- get in touch, I would be uber-excited to help you with that! It's what I do and I know we could easily work well together. I do appreciate how eco-friendly your facility is. There were recycling receptacles everywhere- like, everywhere. At the pool, in the hallways, in the rooms, the lobby...everywhere. Nutrimom approves of eco-friendly big time. Now the weird, too small sheets and blankets in the kids' beds...that needs an explanation. No worries- the kids passed out but you know, sheets help.

The outcome- No allergic reactions, no accidents or injuries. But also no work, no cooking and no stress for almost two full days. I, Nutrimom, am reminding all of you as well as myself that we have to remember to just go with whatever comes our way sometimes. Remember that it's important to be safe and vigilant but it's also important to be a happy family. You know your job as a parent is done well when all of the food is gone and everyone is sleeping peacefully.

....until they get home, then they are magically wide awake ;)

*This blog post is sponsored by my friends at Winona Pure Oils ~


Thursday, June 25, 2015

When in Doubt, Swirl!

"When in doubt, twirl!" - Ted Shawn  
(I'm thinking that secretly, Ted meant to say swirl but who am I to judge?)

Years ago, I was excited to find Philly Swirl products for my kids (not just my allergic son but my daughter as well). They are brightly colored (which seems to be the key with kids), they taste good, they are relatively budget-friendly as well and most of the products are free of peanut/tree nut/egg/dairy/soy/gluten! (To be safe, please check their products list to see which items may contain allergens specific to your family). Also, Mom vs. Food Allergy just posted some details as well (read HERE) so we both got you covered!

Every time we are effected by a seasonal allergy, dry throat or the occasional school-shared virus of the month, I stock up on PhillySwirl items. So you can just imagine the reaction I got from NutriKids when THIS product review package arrived! And, of course, me being the mother who loves to torment her children, I proceeded in the slowest most debilitating way so as to drive my family crazy. Yes, the dreaded Do Not Touch Mom's Product Review! label....couldn't help it, it was necessary.

(heh, heh, heh!!!!) I even made sure it was propped up near the front of the freezer so each time they opened the door, there it was. Thanks to the folks at PhillySwirl for not only the products but the extra giggles.

Swirl Stix These come in six different varieties (I think, occasionally, there is a mystery flavor- don't tell Scooby Doo) but I am not positive. I am a mom, I have kids, I work and my brain is just not as sharp as it used to be so just nod your head like you understand and keep reading. What I do know is the flavors are:

  • Orange Dream - Orange & Marshmallow  
  • Verry Berry - Blackberry & Cherry 
  • Cotton Candy - Just like you would think 
  • Banana Split - Banana, Marshmallow ad Strawberry Shortcake 
  • Applelicious - Red and Green Apple 
  • Rainbow - White Lemon, Cherry & Blueberry
Pro:  I have found that our family's personal favorite (Cotton Candy) can often be found in most Dollar Tree stores that have a frozen section. Yes- an entire box of JUST Cotton Candy for $1! Budget-friendly and kid-happy.

Swirl Popperz Less variety as far as flavors (four rather than six) but there is a different flavor added in. Still well love by the kiddos. Flavors are:
  • Rainbow - White Lemon, Cherry & Blueberry
  • Orange Dream - Orange & Marshmallow
  • Cherry Melon - Cherry & Watermelon
  • Cotton Candy - Again, you know ;)
You can also (wait, get ready for it...) "pop" them up as you eat them. So next time you complain that your children aren't active enough, reconsider. Just picking, PhillySwirl- my kids fought over them and then made the other kids at the pool jealous.

Look at the sheer essence of taunt!...she doesn't get that from me!
Swirl Cups with Candy Spoonz We have occasionally found the Swirl Cups but the addition of having added candy-coated spoons was a hit. You see, PhillySwirl was nice enough to put in just three of the candy spoons and then three of the wooden spoons just to see how fast parents would wind up leaving the room to curse when the children begin to fight over them. Luckily, the flavors were all good:
  • Rainbow - White Lemon, Cherry & Blueberry
  • Cotton Candy- Because, this is just a must
  • Sunburst - Tangerine, Wild Cherry & Lemon Swirl
  • Hurricane - Lemon & Strawberry
  • Cherry Melon - Cherry & Watermelon
  • Blueberry Jam - Black Raspberry & Blue Raspberry

And did you see the frisbee we got too? (We also got a magnetic clip but it's not in the picture).

I want to thank the wonderful peeps at PhillySwirl for contacting me and asking if I would review their products- we were all happy to oblige and please keep us in mind for future tastings as well. I do have one small (well, maybe even medium) parental plea- please, PhillySwirl, please please PLEASE consider looking into using less corn syrup and artificial colors. As much as we love your products and I will be honest and say that your brand is the only brand that NutriKids will eat (hey, I am always honest!) but from a mother's point of view, think of how much more I could brag on all of your products if they also had natural flavors.

In case you are wondering where to get these cold treats, please check their store locator or just nag your local supermarket to carry them until they do. You are the customer, after all ;)  PhillySwirl is also on Facebook so stop by, give them a like & please let them know you heard about them from this crazy blogger, Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason.

*As always, never any compensation is received for product reviews other than the products themselves as all of my reviews are always honest.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Staycations are Underappreciated

Ahhh, do you hear that? That- in the distance or next door or even right inside of your own home; the sound of the children home for the summer. So, honestly, while you are reading this are you smiling or are you wincing? I mean, I like travel but with food allergies, it can almost seem, well, daunting. Once I'm there, I'm good but what I have also learned is that my children also appreciate planning to have no plans sometimes.

Think about it- all year we are running to and fro- activities, birthdays, holidays and just your everyday schedule of trying to cram as much as you can into one day. And yes, I do love vacations (in fact, I will be sharing a guest post soon) but I also like the comfort of my own home too. What's even stranger is that my children actually request that I give them the "Hotel it Up" version of our at home staycations, like it's the best thing ever. This means that NutriKids love the idea of me printing up a door hanger with breakfast options for breakfast in bed (um, when was the last time I got one of these?!). As many choices as I offer, one of the most asked for is a childhood favorite- cinnamon toast. But this year, in an effort to rethink my foods and not to waste an ounce of anything, I have come up with a twist to this classic. May I present "Fairy Toast"

And on any family vacation, there are snacks....snacks upon snacks upon snacks...upon...snacks. (Did I mention snacks?!) I get it- the kids eat, nonstop but why not try to come up with a fun version of what parents may be eating on their time off as well? What's small and round and delicious all over? How about Granola Sushi?

I know that my children can't (and probably won't) eat most sushi so I created one just for them. Everyone wants to feel special, so why not include the kiddos? Of course, this recipe is not just for the kids so feel free to munch away and share (or don't share- I won't judge). Come on, they're cute little buggers. Go ahead- try one. I'll wait.........

This brings us to dinner. Usually dinner for us during summer break or vacation is something fast that we can grill. When I was a kid, my dad used to make steak and broil it with butter in the pan, which I loved dipping bread into. Can we say high cholesterol? Since trying to stay gluten free, I recently realized an easy fix for this tasty memory (see below).

Butter Replacement- marinate the steak for several hours with a mixture of Winona Pure Oil of your choice (be creative, you'll be surprised how different oils create different tastes!), garlic powder, sea salt, ground coriander and just a tad more sea salt (do this for both sides). Flip the steak once while cooking. The oil, steak juices and spices will create an awesomely wonderful dairy free dipping juice.

Bread Replacement- Simply grab a handful of Glutino Bagel Chips and place them right into the juice of the pan. Yum, yum and yum! Plus, they are mini so you can eat a bunch and not feel as guilty. Cute foods = less guilt. They are also ideal for tiny hands.

We have dinner but all dinners must also have sides (aka green veggies!). Who else hears the kids running from the room? One of my recent favorite vegetables is roasted Brussel Sprouts and I wanted to add a little extra something to them just to get out of the same old pattern and into that adventurous vacation mode that's all the way in my back yard. Who else needs a veggie uplift? 

Are you trying to figure it out? Are you wondering what those are mixed in?! That, my friends, are pieces of broken Glutino Salted Caramel Pretzels. What- you haven't ever roasted a vegetable? Easy peasy! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, wash veggies, find a shallow dish and spray with oil, spices of your choice and add pretzel pieces. Mix several times to avoid burning. The pretzels add a slightly sweet, almost nutty, creamy taste to the brussel sprouts and the combination of the slight bite of the sprouts makes it intriguing.

Just a reminder that food allergies are the number one reason that I encourage people to play with their foods no matter where your family decides to spend their vacation. Vacation is a frame of mind, not necessarily a place away. Enjoy your time, enjoy your family but most of all, remember to enjoy your foods.

*To download either of the recipes, simply click on the recipe title 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Finding Your Roots

A few months ago, I attended the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event in Charlotte (reshare) . As one of their bloggers, I always love to meet the sponsors and see what types of products are there. In the midst of a flurry of events, I realized that I had been given some of the Roots Hummus to take
home, try out and give some feedback. Flash forward to now, June (uh, a few months, like, where's the post Nutrimom?! Gah!) followed by a trip to Whole Foods to grab up some new hummus. This was the best part of it my lateness- getting more (because, yeah, not only did the stock that they gave me not make it through even one week but if it had, I'm pretty sure it would not be the right color by now).

First off, I caught this lovely and wonderful signage when I went to grab a few containers-

Tell me this, in itself is not awesome- Roots Hummus part of donating to the Whole Kids Foundation!  I may be partial because this company is based in Asheville, NC but I always love when any company gives back to others. And, because it's to help introduce better nutrition to children (which is where better health starts), I am doubly partial....does that makes sense? 

Thai Coconut Curry Hummus- yup, you read that right. Is it as delicious as it is intriguing. There is a slight, smooth coconut taste to it with a bit of a kick. I love the combination, the flavor, the consistency and I could not stop eating it.

Chipotle Hummus- Now this, THIS has a kick! As much as my mouth was burning, I had this overwhelming need to keep eating it. I am a spicy person for sure so this was an absolute perfect snack for me to have and I look forward to getting it again.

Roots, Does it Pass the Test? I would say I am far from being a hummus expert but I do know what I do NOT like in a hummus (tell me if you agree)- 

I don't like hummus if it's even remotely:
  1. Gritty
  2. Lumpy
  3. Too dry
  4. Too watery
  5. Looks oily
  6. Is made with a ton of allergenic items too (such as nuts)

I am more than happy to share that Roots Hummus has none of the above qualities. Although I have only tried just a few of their products, I am extremely happy and satisfied.  I love that this company combines flavors that are not often found in a hummus to take the dipping options to the next level. 

Ingredients? Other Products? They have several varieties of hummus which are free of meat,dairy and animal products (this includes ingredients, products, production methods, equipment and facility). You can view all of their products and the ingredients HERE (very handy little sheet). I highly recommend that you try out their products for yourself but I have a feeling that your taste buds will be begging for more. 

Photo courtesy
If you do give them a try, please let them know that Nutrimom gave them a good recommendation because, you know, sharing is caring. To see who they are, visit their webpage, Twitter and Facebook.

As always, I was not compensated for my product review other than the product itself as my reviews are always honest.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

What Does a Food Geek Do?

It's the end of another school year. I have work that is overdue,both NutriChildren graduated (5th and 8th Grade), parties, cooking, presents, cleaning, cooking, DISHES, COOKING!!!!! Phew! And in the midst of it all, what do I, Nutrimom, self-professed Food Geek* do? I disappear for hours at a time at my newest local Harris Teeter (Pine Plaza location). Because this is how I spend my time. Quiet time for me is food shopping alone but I don't even food shop anymore- I am like the dog in "Up" that tries to go into the food store for a few things and then gets distracted by new allergy-friendly food items.

My latest adventure? The Harris Teeter that recently relocated to a larger store just up the street. And what's strange is that NutriDaughter and I actually took a "trip" to check it out, took pictures and shared (she may just be a mini Food Geek yet!) and somehow, we both missed what is possibly THE best part of the entire store...behold, in the frozen section, there are shelves upon shelves of gluten free items! And not just a few, but items that I usually have to go all the way into Winston-Salem to get (yeah, all the way, like 20 minutes). Without further rambling, I present the many reasons that I love the new store-

Why am I Telling You This? A- I am a Food Geek (we already established that). B- I am passionate about helping others find allergy-friendly foods and when I see them right in a local store, I have to share (one less trip..or two or three, right? PLUS, VIC card = extra Budget Alerts). C- This is just what I do & somebody has to do it so why not share.

On a side note, I have tried & tried my hardest to get the lovely peeps at Harris Teeter to recruit my services to make their stores even more awesome but alas, they have not taken me up on it. I mean, this store rocks but imagine, just imagine what I could bring to them to up their game within the food allergy community?! I am thinking that the person I spoke to thought I was a telemarketer...I understand but gosh, I think my website speaks for itself.

Happy shopping & keep your eyes open, always! Allergy-friendly products are slowly making their way into our stores, more varieties are being offered and I for one could not be happier!

*Food Geek- ME! I love food, I love finding new allergy-friendly foods & products that I can use with food and I love them cheap!! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Kid Approved Goes BiCoastal

Just about a year ago, I met Tiffany Hinton (aka GF Mom Certified) and her sweet family at a Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event. I was intrigued by her story of how she began her mission to help others when she explained that foods were the cause of her issues. Now a proud mother of three, she is a down-to-earth voice of the gluten free world with a great sense of humor, a great attitude and a brand new book. Much to my delight, when I offered to review her book and it arrived, she mentioned that it was the first hard copy that she had been waiting for from the publisher but instead, she sent it to me. She even signed it for me (she's gluten free and awesome like that).

Since I was scheduled for a trip, I decided to take her book Kid Approved with me. What better way to see what was inside and have enough time to go through it with no rushing. Luckily, the book made it through TSA and on my way to the Mylan Event, I boarded the plane, book in hand. I was wedged in between an older lady that wouldn't look at me and a sleeping dad whose wife was across the aisle, watching him sleep (ohhh, the looks- you should have seen the looks!! Especially when we landed, he woke up after she spent five hours with two crying kids and she leaned over and said "Did ya' have a nice nap?!). Needless to say, I was happy to have such a nice distraction.

"This is not just a cookbook, Kid Approved is a solution guide for you to keep your child safe in a world of fun and wonder." Right away, loved it! This describes the book perfectly. We are all so focused on what foods to avoid, what not to do when we have food allergies but Tiffany hits the nail on the head- food allergies are not about being afraid of your foods, it's about finding out how to use the foods that you are able to eat. Life should be fun (and safe) but mostly fun so why not teach your children to enjoy both? When you remember back through your childhood, how many of those memories are about a favorite recipe that you made with a family member or even a particular smell? That is what it's all about and Tiffany shares that with us.

"Take time to do what makes your soul happy. Like eat chocolate." She had me at chocolate! Throughout Tiffany's book, she includes cute quotes and sayings that remind us to be patient, to involve our families with the cooking (which, I truthfully still need to work on myself) and to accept that imperfection is perfect. I love that her photos are all true-to-life images of her and her children preparing, cooking and even making a mess. To me, it's easier to identify with recipe photos that we can instantly envision happening in our home as well, which gives this book an added personal touch.

"I licked it, so it's mine." If any of you have followed myself or GF Mom Certified, you will instantly understand why this quote made me chuckle at the beginning of the Breakfast chapter. I would share a picture but I think it's better to leave it up to your imagination and check out what's inside the book itself.

"Pack your EpiPen" Tiffany also includes an important reminder in her Birthday Solutions chapter. There are tons of cookbooks, food allergy guides and recipe collections out there but having a reminder to always be safe and prepared is just as important as the recipes themselves. This is especially true for family and friends that may be given a copy of Kid Approved to try to learn how to prepare safe meals for someone with food allergies. Thanks for having that in your book Tiffany!

"1/2 Cup Sweet Potato Flour" .. Wait, what?! There's sweet potato flour and I have never seen or heard about it???? How? Where? Gosh, I suddenly feel uneducated and I have been cooking for my allergic son for thirteen years! And, oh my gawh, you can make a grilled cheese with the cheese on the outside of the bread????? So, now not only am I feeling a tad behind in my cooking skills but I am starving. But this is why we all need to get new books like Kid Approved- it goes to show you that no matter how much you know (or think you know), there will always be room to learn something that you didn't know before. Cooking, learning...makes my brain hurt but at the same time makes me want to go cook something (Maybe, even lick something so it would be just mine).

"Food Feeds Fertility" This was the most awesome surprise for me. There, on page 170, was the interview that I had written about Tiffany (HERE). And there I am, wedged on that plane ride during horrendous turbulence, wanting to jump up and down and scream "Look, everybody, she put me in her book!!" but I can't. I mean, I was so honored and excited and proud and I couldn't share it at that moment, not with anyone. No tweets, no whispering, no messages (stupid airplane mode). But perhaps, it was a moment that was meant just for me to enjoy and take in. Perhaps, this was a sign that sharing what we do with our personal lives, our journeys, our foods and how so much surrounds us each and every day to show me that we are allowed to enjoy everything, even if alone. Perhaps, as Tiffany inscribed in her book to me, it's "where dessert comes first."

I highly recommend this book to anyone that is looking for a gluten free, family-friendly cookbook. It also includes a shopping list, menus and a surprise extra at the end of the book (yeah, like I would ruin the surprise and tell you what it is!) Please stop by her site, place your book order for Kid Approved (she has others too!) give her a like and let her know that Nutrimom sent you- I promise Tiffany will take the best care of you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Disneyland Has A New Princess

Let me start by saying that all of my life, I have always hated my ears...until now. They stick out, I was teased horribly and until a few weeks ago, I was awfully embarrassed to show them to anyone, ever. But now, I am proud to show them to everyone because now, there is a fruitful meaning behind these special ears of mine. They stick out for a reason- to listen, to hear and to wait for what I will hear about in the future as well. Behold, Disney's newest princess- a Food Allergy Princess!

(In case you missed it, that means me.) I started using the term Food Allergy Princess in 2013 when I was invited to the first Mylan Bloggers Summit (makers of EpiPen) and it's just kind of stuck. Each year since then, myself and several other bloggers have been honored to be pieces of the puzzle on how to continue to educate the public on the importance of always being prepared for an allergic reaction. Mylan's slogan "Life Happens. Be Prepared." is true to life- an allergic reaction can happen anywhere, anytime, at any given moment and the best course of action is to be prepared, always.

How Do Mylan Summits Help Everyone, Not Just Bloggers

Photo courtesy of Mylan

As much as it may seem like I am being a bit spoiled and pampered, I can honestly say that this is not why I accept these invitations (please see my disclosure information below for full details). These summits are for one purpose and one purpose only- to gather bloggers, each with a slightly different expertise, and to learn from each other. Not only do we get information as bloggers but we give information as well since all of us are also food allergy mothers. I am grateful to be a part of an event that strives to bring safety to our food allergy community as much as they can. The fact that Mylan will take extra measures to listen to our personal scenarios, questions, concerns or even complaints to make us better equipped and have less of a chance of allergic tragedies is something that is priceless to me. They are not just spitting out reports and numbers to us- they are engaging us, asking for our input and trying to figure out ways to make access to EpiPens easier at all times to everyone, not just those who already know they may need it but even for those that won't know until something happens.

EpiPen location marker in Disneyland
Making the Happiest Place on Earth One of the Safest Places on Earth In case you hadn't heard the recent news, Mylan and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts have agreed to work together to make vacationing safer (more safety means less stress and more access for families to be together). The November 2014 announcement told of several EpiPen locations through Walt Disney Parks, Resorts and even on their cruise ships (info HERE). This announcement had a ton of food allergy families jumping for joy and breathing a sigh of relief. Vacation, Disney, additional safety...this is a trio of happiness that cannot even be explained. But what was not mentioned (and that we found out at the Disney Summit) was this is even taken one step further. Presented by Chef Bill Orton, myself and the other bloggers were given a copy of Disney's Allergy-Friendly Dinner Menu. We also got to critique, ask the chef questions and give him our opinions on what food allergy families look for to avoid allergens when dining away from home. Disney is off to a great start to improve their food and beverage experience but I feel this too will be a work in progress. That is one of the reasons we were there- to help, to improve and (hopefully) to perfect.

Updates, Meetings and Bonding With the combination of delicious meals and great conversation, there was also the added bonus of hearing what Mylan was able to collect about the Epipen4Schools campaign. Presented by Dr. Martha White, the information consisted of

  • Methodology for Study- Between May 21, 2014 - July 9, 2014 a recorded 32,387 schools were invited to participate in a fifteen question survey.
  • Characteristics of Responding Schools- 6,019 surveys were submitted (far less than how many could have) the highest being Pre-K to Fifth Grade and the majority being completed by school nurses
  • Epinephrine Auto-Injector Stocks- 5,713 schools reported epinephrine auto-injector stocks. Of these, 57% reported that they stocked two or more epinephrine auto-injectors and only 4% did not stock any at all. 59% also showed that they were allowed to have stock epinephrine on campus.
  • Anaphylactic Triggers- Food still ranks as the highest known cause of an allergic reaction. What was also noted is that food-triggered allergic reactions had a higher percentage in the Northwest whereas most reactions in the West were primarily insect bites/stings and unknown triggers. Allergic reactions also seem to be less during the winter months but food was always the highest cause of these reactions. 
  • Treatment of Anaphylactic Events- Studies show that 75% of those who had a reaction were treated with an epinephrine auto-injector, 9% of which also received a second dose. 80% of those who were treated were transported to the hospital and almost half of these treatments utilized the school's stock epinephrine. 
The outcome of EpiPen4Schools: Despite being the first-line of treatment for an allergic reaction, epinephrine is still underused. To me, this solidifies that allergy awareness and preparedness have and continue to improve but more vigilance is necessary. Luckily, Mylan is already on the ball and has added even more help to show that being prepared is necessary in all walks of life. From fashion icon Nina Garcia to chef Amanda Freitag to actor Auggie Maturo, the announcement of the newest spokespeople touches on how food allergy action plans are necessary for everyone, not just the family next door. Myself and the other guest bloggers had a surprise visit from none other than Auggie Maturo and his mother. This was one of the most heart-warming moments for me- not only is Auggie a sweet, highly intelligent little man who was nothing less than professional yet absolutely charming but his mother openly showed her concerns for Auggie. It's just another reminder how the constant fear of our children not being prepared for an allergic reaction is so much more than just a thought- it's a paralyzing fear that no parent ever wants to see come to fruition - EVER. I think I can safely say that just listening to Auggie's allergic reaction experience immediately made each of us think about our child's first reaction and what we felt. The positive outcome is that having this immediate closeness to these people that we have never even met before gives us even more strength to stay educated, stay prepared and stay connected.

Then, there was the bonding. At the end of the summit, at the end of our lunch and learning I was thankful to relax just a bit. It's surreal to me when I sit back and think about all of the wonderful people (both bloggers as well as Mylan peeps) that I am connected to now. I am forever grateful to be a part of this experience and although I am not a paid spoke person for Mylan, I do appreciate that my time and passion to continue to help other people is sponsored in the form of travel (after all, this is time away from my family). I'm not going to lie- for a food allergy mom who cooks A LOT, it is pure heaven for someone else to cook for me. No cooking, no dishes, nobody asking if they can have a bite of my food so I may be selfish in that aspect but I am ok with that.

Missy Berggren, Jenny Sprague
Caroline Moassessi & Me

In the End, Even a Princess Needs a Reminder Being so busy during the year, even I forget to reshare sometimes. So, with a recap during the Mylan Summit, I wanted to make sure that I provided helpful information (again) to all of you and your families:

EpiPenOnLocation- A great chance to educate others by sharing a video about your family's personal story of food allergies and preparedness (but also, by sharing, you are entered for a chance to win a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort- woo hoo!).

$0 Copay Offer- Unbelievably, there are still many people who do not know about this amazing offer! One $0 copay card offers the possibility of 3 EpiPen 2-paks for nothing- NOTHING! Restrictions do apply so I do recommend checking the eligibility requirements.

My EpiPlan App- A convenient way to keep track of EpiPen expiration dates, where they are and even receive useful tips. In this day and age of everyone being app-happy, this is just one way of integrating EpiPen into your everyday life.

Register Your EpiPen- Not only is there a cool, updated EpiPen pack that you will receive but when you register your EpiPen you get even more updates and information. And, it's free (free is always good but free and helpful gets extra kuddos).

Order an EpiPen Training Device- Each time you fill your EpiPen prescription, you automatically get one trainer included. But did you know that you can also order additional training devices for school staff, support groups or just teaching friends and family how to be prepared if an allergic reaction occurs?

In the End, Food Allergy Princess Says In the past thirteen years (the age of my son with multiple food allergies), I think I can sum it up in three words- "Everyone Personally Involved"- Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason
Through this journey, through meeting all of these people and going through the process of food allergy reactions, diagnosis, eating safely and just dealing with day-to-day rituals, having food allergies does involve everyone. It's a life process and needs to be supported in any shape and form that is can be. The more support, the better the chance we all have to stay safe.

I have said it again and I will continue to repeat it until the day I die- please, PLEASE always carry two doses of epinephrine! Yes- it can be bulky and cumbersome and it may not match your bathing suit or even be considered a great way to introduce yourself on a date but you know what's even worse than all of that? Not having it- not being able to get to it- not being able to save yourself or someone that you love (or even those who unexpectedly need it). Nothing can replace a lost life but we can replace our chances to live each and every day.

"Life Happens. Be Prepared."

Mylan sums it up for us

A special thank you to my contacts at Mylan Specialty as well as the awesome ladies that worked with them to make sure all of us were taken care of (virtual hugs). 

*Disclosure - I attended the Mylan Blogger Summit meeting. Mylan paid for all of my travel expenses and for my Disneyland Resort park ticket in exchange for my evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting. All comments made by me about EpiPen (epinephrine injection) Auto-Injector, Mylan, and/or the Mylan Blogger Summit are at my own discretion and based on my own opinion.

#MylanEvent  #Sponsored