Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Food- Not Just For Eating

Each year, we all gather with friends and family for various holidays and festivities. Sometimes we are limited, whether it be resources or trying to find allergy-friendly items to adorn our tables with. What if our resources are not as limited as we think? What if our holidays don't have to be improved, just revamped? Peek inside of your kitchen pantry, open up that long-lost cabinet full of items about to be outdated- use what you have! Are you confused? Let me explain~

Set the Mood
You have the linens, you have the food cooking but you are horrible at setting the table. You are undecided about colors, matching, how many candles look happy together but not as if the table will catch on fire at any moment. Stop over thinking it! Take a step back, breath and simplify. Nobody ever left someones house and complained about what the table looked like (just the food you burned, lol). Earth tones are calming, peaceful and can pretty much fit into almost any situation. To complete your candles, simply grind some Glutino pretzels and sprinkle them onto your candle dish. Your table will look absolutely effortless and delicious but still elegant.

Create a Place
Need the recipe? Click Here
Everyone loves to feel special, why not make something special to seat your guests with- maybe something decorative, something that sings Spring but also something that you can eat? A place setting is not always about what proper etiquette recommends. A place setting can be whatever you feel lends itself to the atmosphere or what you want your guests to enjoy. You are the creator of your own food space and this means you can make is as funky or as dainty or as artsy as you want too. Myself- I have a family that eats a lot (like, A LOT) so I made the ultimate place card- one that could be eaten. After all, what is food without more food? With a handful of gluten free ingredients, you can offer something that not many others would and begin a conversation (other than politics, sports, what the neighbor across the street was wearing the other day). Knowing my family, it will end in a contest with who can eat the fastest.

Make Your Own
There are plenty of sweet treats in the stores but as always, having food restrictions can cause stress just looking at all of the labels and ingredients. If you set aside just a few extra minutes, you can replace those store-bought mallows with an easy option to save you the added worry of a possible reaction. For less money you will have the special ingredient that only a homemade treat can provide. Skip the brightly colored, sugary shaped chewy-gooyies! Instead, grab a large marshmallow, melt some allergy-friendly chocolate and dip one end into some crushed pretzels. Better yet- use two flavors ( I used crushed Pretzel Chips and Yogurt Covered Pretzels). Who says a mallow has to be all sugar and no salt and crunch?! Make your own sweet delicacy the way you want it and begin a new tradition of better delicacies.

Always Have Extras
My mother always told me to make extra. You never know if there will be a last minute guest, a friend who needs a place to celebrate or a sudden neighbor stopping in. My family always makes more than enough because it's sinful to not feed everyone... we are Italian and we feed (maybe that's why we eat so much!!). Honestly, it does make sense- imagine hosting a dinner and realizing the last guest has no food?! Not in my house and having food allergies doesn't mean that there will be any smaller amounts either. After all, you never know who will pop in for a visit....

Please note that the above picture was taken without harming any rabbits. It is also extremely important that you NOT feed your rabbit crackers as it can be harmful to their diet. Please check with your veterinarian for your rabbit's best dietary options but always offer friends and family as many Glutino Crackers as you desire.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Veta- Good Things Will Come To Those Who Wait

In the world of food allergies, having instant access and knowledge of where and how to get your epinephrine is crucial and even life-saving. During an allergic reaction, all of your thoughts and actions can literally make the difference of potentially stopping an allergic reaction, decreasing the final outcome or even getting to someone before an allergic reaction has even begun (such as accidental ingestion of a known allergen). As a food allergic mother, my worst nightmare would be if my son did not have access to epinephrine at a moments notice if he needed it.

Countless deaths have been reported over the years due to waiting to get to epinephrine or not having it on-hand at all. It's such a frightening thought that a single food could end a life in the blink of an eye. But it's even more frightening to be a parent and send your child away from you each and every day not knowing if the next call you receive will be that horrible, dreaded call that no parent wants to hear- Your child suffered from an allergic reaction today. 

Found: An Answer In 2015, I came across a product that I instantly wanted. No- needed. Aterica Health was working on a smart case for EpiPens called a Veta case. I featured them in my 2015 Winter newsletter and reached out to see more about what was going on with this awesome product. Conversations went back and forth and the more information I got about the Veta case, the more hopeful I became. All of the questions that I ask myself or that anyone asks will be available to you by a single touch on your smart phone. Literally every single question that runs through your mind about the EpiPen can be answered through this Veta case. Curious? Tell me if these thoughts sound familiar:
  • Did my child forget to bring their EpiPen
  • Where was the EpiPen before I lost it?
  • Is it too hot or too cold where we have the EpiPen?
  • What if my child removes an EpiPen?
  • If the EpiPen is removed to be injected, how can I find out faster?
  • When was the last time I checked the expiration date?
  • What if I can't be reached right away?
  • What if someone panics or doesn't know how to inject the EpiPen correctly?
  • How will someone know where to transport my child?

Yes, the Veta case can answer ALL of these! Tell me that is not amazing and doesn't allow you to exhale even the tiniest bit. 

Veta in Action
To my delight, I got word that the Aterica Health folks were going to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference last November. Putting a face to a name was great, seeing the product in person was good too but what knocked my socks off was to be able to watch the Veta case to see the multiple functions that it will provide. Want to see it? I thought you would so I taped it for all of you! Ready? Click below now!

(If you are having trouble watching the above media, click HERE to watch it)

Waiting Patiently The original estimated arrival date for the Veta cases was February 2016. It's March and the Veta case is still in the works BUT after meeting these people one-on-one, I know for a fact that the delay is not because time lines were not met, not about anyone not doing their jobs- it is quite the opposite. This team is very, very passionate about this product and they are perfectionists. Especially with recent recalls of other life-saving devices due to reported malfunctions, I for one am willing to wait if it means there will be a product that will be more likely to live up to what it promises. 

(Mike Fisher & Alex Leyn)
Photo courtesy of Aterica 
As explained by Alex Leyn, CEO & Co-Founder "I am profoundly aware that we are letting our pre-order customers down by not meeting our expected pre-order target ship date. While it is definitely not for lack of focus and extremely hard work by the entire Aterica team, we still have more work to ensure Veta delivers a secure, reliable, and transformative user experience our customers deserve. Overcoming constant design and manufacturing challenges has not been easy, but we know that the result will be a product experience that you and your family can rely upon.We share and have a deep appreciation for the degree of excitement and relief Veta represents for families living with anaphylaxis. Our direction and responsibilities to you remain clear. ~"

What Now We wait. There are other options- I suggest checking out their website to see how the Veta case will help you and your family. You could follow them on Facebook and Twitter to get instant updates or even to stop by and share your support with a few kind words. You can also pre-order* your Veta cases to ensure fast and easy delivery once these wonderful items are available. I can personally say that I have met these people, had lengthy conversations and have seen how much their goal is to help others. The food allergy community prides itself on seeking out those who have only the best intentions in mind to help others. Our community is very aware of the companies, products and organizations that want to help with their heart and soul and I can proudly say that Aterica Health is one of those amazing finds.

Me with Holly Curtis

* Please note that Aterica Health will not charge your credit card until the item has shipped. By pre-ordering, you are reserving your Veta cases, receive special pricing and discounts, get free shipping and get first and best guarantee. For complete details, please visit

Friday, March 18, 2016

Field of Beans (and Dreams)

Be honest- when I say "Beanfields" what is the first thing that comes to mind? Do you picture a beautiful spring day, with cows mooing and green everywhere? A picturesque landscape where you feel at one with nature (where, magically, there are no pesky bugs...I hate all bugs, they freak me out). Is it something like a little like this-

Nope. It's not a field but it is a bean. Well, many beans actually. Well, actually it is a field AND beans. And from what I have read on the Beanfields website, I guess you could even say it's a field of dreams. What may look like an innocent snack to you is actually a secret agent within the tortilla chip world.

Snacking- Good or Bad?
For most of my life, I have been told that snacking should be limited. Like most people, I didn't really like that or listen to it. We all grew up being fed what we didn't know would become the unhealthy foods that are now so mainstream. There have been studies that prove that the typical shelf snacks in a chip bag contain ingredients that actually make you crave more, leave you feeling hungry later and can also be addicting. But as an adult and now a mother of a 14 year old with multiple food allergies, I have learned more about what I should and shouldn't eat and what to feed my family. Snacking is good - as long as you know what to reach for.

Put Down the Grease, Pick up the Fiber
All those GMO snacks that taste good at the time but really don't do anything other than try to fill a craving, the artificially colored crunchers that make your fingers turn funky colors, the bags and bags of products that you cannot even correctly pronounce when you try to read the label. Doesn't this make you wonder what it's doing to the inside of your body too? Whatever goes into the stomach also goes into the rest of your body- ALL of it. (It's called neurons, people and your stomach has more neurons than your spine, which decides how all of the signals will be dispersed to your body.) I didn't make it up, it's a fact- Google it. Beanfields Snacks are Vegan, contain fiber and protein, are gluten free, are allergy-friendly and they are addictively delicious. When was the last time you picked up any other brand of chip and could say the same? ..think about it.

I Ate Them
Actually, I ate many of them. As much as I hate to admit it, I ate the entire bag of their Nacho flavor. THE WHOLE BAG! But it's a trick- they make them taste good but they put just the right amount of chips into the bag so that you're like "Ok, well technically it's like half a bag or less since it settles in shipping." But the flavor- oh my! I (was) a huge orange-cheesy-tortilla-chip-who-shall-remain-unnamed lover back in the day so Beanfields Nacho chips were like I had found my healthy replacement. Love at multiple bites. I did have an assortment which also included Sea Salt, Barbecue, Ranch, Pico de Gallo, Salt N' Pepper and Simply Unsalted. My honest thoughts: all of the chips had a good, kind of different crunch to them. These chips are hearty, crunchy but they also have a slight softer crunch to way I can describe it. I will say that I am a big flavor person so as much as I enjoyed each of them, my personal preferences were the Nacho and Barbecue. In my opinion, the Ranch could use a tad more ranch flavor but still a great chip. Not everyone has my taste buds- I eat spicy foods like they are going out of style so I recommend you taste them to see what your taste buds like the best.
Beanfields at FabLogCon 2015
Got My #KitchenGeek On
Of course I had to try a recipe!!!! I just can't help myself, it's an obsession. I almost feel incomplete without one. I decided to try something stemming from one of my own Mom Tips (as seen here) and I wanted to make something that NutriSon would actually try (talk about picky!). What can I say- the kid loves bread, just like Oprah so I made him some BBQ Bread.

This bread uses minimal time and ingredients. The flavor is subtle and although I used Barbecue, I'm positive that any of the other flavored Beanfields chips would be just as good. As always, I'm sharing the recipe below but feel free to click on the recipe title to grab a free download as well.

BBQ Bread
Featuring Beanfields Snacks

Winona Pure Oil
1 Package Barbecue Beanfields Snacks 
1 Cup Our House All Purpose Baking Mix
1 Tablespoon gluten free baking powder
1 Teaspoon powdered egg replacer (such as Ener-G Foods)
2 Tablespoons raw honey
1/4 Cup butter or butter alternative (softened)
1 Cup milk of your choice

Prep Time:   10 Minutes
Bake Time:   23 Minutes

  1. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish by lightly spraying it with Winona Pure Oil and set aside
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  3. Using a food processor, grind the entire bag of Barbecue Beanfields Snacks  chips until no large lumps appear
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ground chips, baking mix and powdered egg replacer
  5. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients
  6. Add the honey, butter and milk
  7. Combine well, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to mix evenly
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan
  9. Bake for approximately 23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  10. Allow the pan to cool for 10 minutes before slicing
Serving sizes will vary

Thank you to the lovely and wonderful peeps at Beanfields Snacks both for what they do to allow us to snack healthier and for allowing me to get a first-hand tasting. Always feel free to send know, the crushed ones, soon to expire ones, new flavors-I'm your gal!

You can follow Beanfields Snacks on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest but make sure to get over to their website for the latest news too!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How Green is Your Protein?

It's March so that means you will all get bombarded with recipes, facts and fun about St. Patrick's Day. We have all seen the typical green menu items and it's all really fun in the name of a holiday. But what about those of us who just want to change it up a little bit? Maybe test the food limits a little but still have some fun in the kitchen while we show our true (green) colors? Of course, me being a Kitchen Geek, I am here to try to help as always.

When Green Means Protein Yes, I am pushing the protein thing again (Yay, Team Protein! Optimal brain function!). I can't help it- you all know I always tell you protein is needed so why not sneak it into our lives whenever we can? Well, at first we will sneak but then we will like and THEN we will just eat it. It's a pattern and I'm totally going to get you into it. Just wait- you'll see. My newest find and yummy sampling that will leave you green with envy (green, see?!)- the pistachio milks that I received from Elmhurst Harvest. I can tell you that I had never seen or heard about pistachio milk and how is that possible, exactly? I mean, part of what I do is to tell people about dairy free alternatives so why was I not informed earlier?! Bygones- they are here now so all is good. I bet the next thing you're wondering is what these taste like. I was more than happy to taste-test for all of you.

  • Vanilla A hint of vanilla but by no means too much of a pistachio or vanilla taste. It reminded me of vanilla milk but less sweet and a tad thicker.
  •  Original More of a pistachio taste (like if you were eating a few) but still not overbearing on the sweetness or nut taste.
  • Unsweetened I thought this one would be bland but nope- still just as good and equal on the not too sweet and not too pistachio chart.
I have to say that I was skeptical opening these because although I recommend products every day, I am the worst about trying new things to a certain extent. To my delight, all of these milks were just as creamy as dairy-based milk, they were smooth enough to drink alone or add into coffee or cereal and no funky aftertastes. NutriHubby even helped himself for his workout shakes. 

Dessert & Beyond I wanted to share a recipe that would be not only easy, green, protein-packed but also something that could be eaten anytime of the day. Sometimes we need to have dessert for breakfast and this recipe allows us to do it without feeling so much guilt. I updated my original recipe for Quinoa Pudding by swapping out the almond-coconut milk with Elmhurst Harvest Vanilla pistachio milk. It worked just as well and it's always better to use a wide range of proteins if you can. The best part was the Pistachio Sauce that I made to top it off!

Click for the Recipe
Pistachio Sauce
1/3 Cup Elmhurst Harvest Original Pistachio milk
1 Tablespoon raw honey
1/4 Cup Original Banana Water
1/2 of an avocado
1/2 Teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 Teaspoon sea salt
1/4 Cup So Delicious Coco Whip (thawed)

Prep Time:        6 Minutes
No Bake Time:  2 Minutes

Add all of the ingredients into a blender. Blend for 2 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

This recipe is not only great for the Quinoa Pudding recipe! Open up your mind and think about all of the foods and recipes you can use it with- granola, dairy free yogurt, frozen treats, cake- basically any place you could use something for your sweet tooth without worrying about so much extra sugar. Between the benefits of the pistachio and the Banana Water, you are (almost) eating sinfully well. Plus, it's that weird green color so some people may turn their nose up in disgust which leaves you even more to eat for yourself.

Green May (Not) Mean Go Just a gentle reminder that everyone's food allergies and intolerances are different. I highly recommend that you read product labels and double-check on the website to get all of the facts to keep you safe and as close to reaction free as possible. Elmhurst Harvest does produce other non dairy nut milks (which are delicious but may not be safe for your specific allergies). If you are able to try out their line of pistachio milks, I definitely recommend them. I am picky about dairy free milks (I don't like anything too watery, too bland) so these were a welcome treat.

Many thanks to the folks at Elmhurst Harvest for asking me for my thoughts, I appreciate being asked.

Now let's get cooking!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Allergy Kingdom is Your Allergy Kingdom

A few months back, I was asked to check out "How to Host an Allergy-Friendly Movie Night" provided by Mylan (marketing company for EpiPen), My Allergy Kingdom and Disney. All in one box was an entire night's party festivities to show that food allergies will never discourage having fun. I posted a video (here) to show everyone all of the adorable items that were included in this package. Everyone loved this idea (including me) and I had numerous people ask me where they could get the kit for themselves. Let's face it- it's an awesome idea and who could blame everyone for also wanting one too?! NutriKids are just a teeny, tiny bit too old to enjoy Winnie the Pooh so I tucked it away for a rainy day.

Get a copy now- click here
It's Raining- Here's the Rainbow I am offering the kit as a giveaway item to one lucky person (sorry, I only have one). It is "gently used" but only because I opened the box to see what's inside, nothing else. To see the what's inside, take a peek at the video, there's lots of goodies!  Shortly after I pre-announced that I would have this giveaway, I got even more great news. Mylan and Disney have officially launched "Show-and-Tell Scout"- an educational storybook aimed at raising awareness about anaphylaxis in the school setting. "Show-and -Tell Scout" follows the story of Scout, a young fox living with potentially life-threatening food allergies to milk and peanuts. We learn about his severe allergies and the importance of being ready to respond in the event of an allergic reaction. When I saw this, I instantly knew that this was an entire safe, allergy-friendly night already planned and waiting for all of you! Think about it- you host a party, get to decorate your own popcorn bag, try some delicious recipes and then end the night by reading a heart-warming but very important story.

Enter Here, Enter Now Who's ready to pull up their chair and get their fingertips ready to enter for a chance to win my "How to Host an Allergy-Friendly Movie Night" kit?! Since so many of us have so much going on, I have tried to keep it easy-peasy. Simply enter via Rafflecopter and keep your fingers crossed. As always, sharing is encouraged because it's nice to share and even if your friend wins it, you can still go to their house to enjoy it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Details One winner shall be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. All entry information shall be kept private and confidential and is never sold, shared or used to bug you with more emails. The contest will end March 4th at 11:59 PM. The winner will be announced on Monday, March 7, 2016. If the chosen winner does not respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, an alternate winner will be chosen. Contest open to everyone (yes, even you wonderful Canadian peeps!) because food allergies are everyone and so is fun.

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