Thursday, July 7, 2016

Go Forth and Eat Freely

Holidays and any food-related outings causes immediate stress and anxiety for many families with food allergies. For me, there is always the added worry of feeling a little more laid back when we are socializing which (may) lead to a possible allergy trigger. It happens to all of us at one time of another- we are happy, we are relaxed and sometimes we just do something and we don't even realize it until it's too late. How do we prevent even these tiny little mishaps? Don't fight the food war, join it.

Our local community pool was having a July 4th cookout as they always do. And I do have to say that in past years, they have always been superb about asking if my son needed his burger cooked separately, letting him get whatever food items are safe first (because, you know, people tend to put their hands into every single bag which = hello I will possibly eat every single food that person has just touched) and I am beyond appreciative of this. Food allergy mothers can actually feel their heart relax when they find groups that are aware of what needs to be done for your child's safety. This year, I wanted to give back in some way. I wanted to share some of our favorite foods to show them that allergy-friendly foods are no different than other foods (well, they may just be better!). I reached out to a few of my favorite companies and shortly after, I was collecting some of my healthiest oils, chips, spreads and snacks. Warning: this often causes NutriHubby to eye up the foods while they are waiting to be used. I watch them like a hawk and I admittedly give him the stink eye if he even as much as grabs a product.

Cook Healthy, Eat Healthy
I know, I know- it's a holiday. We all cheat (a little) but one of the things that I pride myself on is sharing products that make us feel like we are indulging while we are still actually eating healthier than if we had not been using the products. One of the easiest ways to incorporate healthy fats is to utilize oils in your every day meals (You're saying Huh? Read here). Most spray oils contain soy, propellants, additives and other chemicals...gross, just gross. I'm serious- next time you food shop, start comparing labels and I guarantee your eyes will be bulging. It's horrifying what we do to our foods. I was more than excited to share the only spray oil that NutriFamily has used for many years- Winona Pure Oils. I know this sounds salesman-ish and I have admittedly been working with them for many years but I stand by what I say- I have not and will not ever promote a product that I do not believe in. What I thought was really fun was when Tim (aka the pool grilling guru) started to give me tips on how to use Winona Pure Oil to keep your grill in tip top shape. Watch-

(can't see the video? Click here & watch it now)

Healthy Crunching
Perfect beach bag size!
So, I have this self-proclaimed issue with people who crunch too's similar to nails on a chalkboard. I know people can't help it, I understand that nobody can control how much their head vibrates when they chew or how it echoes through my brain but I wanted to get past this. I wanted a holiday where healthy and patriotic and snacking all went hand in hand. I wanted to share the crunch factor in a way that people were asking for more and I (even with my noise issues) would be happy to share. The wonderful people at RW Garcia sent us a bunch of their Yellow & Blue and Red & Yellow Mixt Bag chips. How else do you feed 130 hungry people and show patriotism? (which, sadly, I just realized the whole color and July 4th relevance while writing this post...I'm slow). I found RW Garcia products years ago as well and they are one of the top allergy-friendly snack items that I recommend to my clients that I consult with (they are also in my ebook). When I began looking more into what was in our foods as well as the labels, their Non-GMO label and use of vegetables to enhance the flavors of their products made me jump at introducing them to my (then) younger, picky eaters. My children never saw the ingredients, they just saw chips and ate them. Win for this mom, win for my children because they are snacking on heartier, healthier chips and win for those who we share with around us. On a side note, if you are a friend of NutriDaughter- watch out! Although she is the non-allergic sibling, she has grown up understanding why better foods are better for us. She often tells me that her friends are lectured by her about their choice of lunches and snacks. I'm sorry but I'm not.

When a Snack Attack is Acceptable
When I was considering what snacks I would bring to the pool, I began thinking about what I had mentioned earlier- people reaching into bags, cross contamination (shuddering) so I wanted to also provide a few items that would make it both safe and easy for them to get what they needed for their meal. Again, I thought of my children and what they most enjoy when they eat- dipping! Not just them- I am a dipper too but I am absolutely not all about double-dipping, sharing spoons from any type of dip or chancing that a miscellaneous food from another dish happened to make it's way into a dip, rendering it no longer allergy-friendly. The best answer? Single serve items, grab and go or individual packs! I also wanted something that would be just plain fun to have as another dining option on the table that nobody else would normally bring. Among the table full of typical cook out dishes, I had a basket of SunButter. Not only was it patriotic in it's own way but who could resist having the extra protein? Plus, did you know that sunflower seeds have multiple health benefits such as contributing to your Vitamin E intake to protect your cells from free radicals which can cause damage cell membranes. Being exposed to the sun means protecting your skin from the outside and the inside. Truly, you are what you eat.

"Eat Freely" They Say
Speaking of protein and fun snacks, we also got these wonderful Beach Bash Seed & Fruit Mix pouches from Enjoy Life Foods (beach bash, pool party- get it? Great choice Enjoy Life Foods!). Again, not your typical bbq, cooking-out foods but there are no rules on what foods you should serve at any meal. The pool has a bunch of children and young adults (not to mention swim meets...just sayin') so this was a no-brainer to me when I was looking for snacks. At first, people were unsure of what to make of them. It's funny for me to sit back and watch other people's reactions in silence- there's a typical pattern that occurs.

  • Step 1: Eyeball the product, maybe even pick it up but then place it back down and go for the chips
  • Step 2: Watch as other people begin to add it to their plate but you are already at the end of the line
  • Step 3: Patiently wait for the line to die down, hoping there will be some left for you
  • Step 4: Begin stuffing multiple pouches into your beach bag because you have realized how good they are and you feel ashamed that you passed them up the first time
*There is an exception to this pattern: occasionally you will have that family member or out of town guest that just doesn't want to follow the rules or wait in line, so they just barge back into line while those still waiting give them dirty looks behind their back. I can't blame them- I wouldn't take the risk of waiting either.

FYI- the grill guru was not the rude family member :)

Additional Product Tidbits

Winona Pure Oils come in five varieties- ALL of them lend a great taste to anything that you decide to grill. I also encourage mixing it up and combining flavors that you might not normally try together (ex: our perfect grilled corn on the cob uses Popcorn Butter, Olive and Coconut spray).

Apparently, SunButter 1.1 ounce floats! Great for a pool party game or fun in the sun idea but I do recommend making sure you check the seals on them before and after (no icky pool water allowed!). This also applies to the Enjoy Life Foods Seed & Fruit packets ~

I have always been a glass is half full kind of a person but here is proof! The end of an RW Garcia bag of chips is not the end, just the beginning of a new bag.

Enjoy Life Foods Seed & Fruit mix pouches are not only allergy-friendly, they are event-friendly. Their size and easy, on the go portion makes them perfect for planned and unplanned places that families are off to together.

I am happy to report that everyone was fed well and a bunch of people asked about the wonderful products that I brought with me. Multiple hugs and gratitude to Winona Pure OilsSunButterRW Garcia and Enjoy Life Foods for sending the supplies to share with my community and to help further food allergy awareness (and great tasting awareness). Additional hugs to Winona Pure Oils and SunButter for supplying a variety pack of your products for giveaway prizes.

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