Thursday, July 28, 2016

EpiPen- Money Vs. Living

There has been a lot of coverage in the news as well as within our food allergy community over the past few years regarding the increasing costs of EpiPens. With food allergies on the rise, it's frightening to think that an innocent life could be lost just because the necessary life-saving medicine was not something that could be afforded. Everyone always says a person's life is priceless but saying that and actually being able to make sure of that are two very different things. What's sad is that many of us are being forced to choose between having EpiPens to prevent a possible tragedy or not having it and holding our breath in hopes that we won't have ever be in a situation that can never be forgotten.

EpiPens Cost Money
This is just the cold, hard truth. But the real question is WHY? This is a difficult subject for me to discuss as I have shared my thoughts in the past with Mylan (marketing company for EpiPen) and I truly am a person that always tries to give others the benefit of the doubt. You may have noticed that there has been a flurry of spokespeople working to discuss food allergies and EpiPen. Do I appreciate that celebrities are sharing their personal allergy stories? Of course but (there is always a but) the life of a famous celebrity is not quite the same as your everyday food allergic person. In every day life, most of us do not have the extra income to keep as many EpiPens on hand, most of us do not have a live-in chef or nanny to give us the added cushion of knowing that the chance of an allergic reaction will be much less. When I reached out to the representative at Mylan about why EpiPen costs had increased, this was the answer I received "Mylan does not set the final retail cost or out-of-pocket expense charged to patients. The pharmaceutical supply system is complex and, in addition to pharmaceutical manufacturers, involves multiple parties such as wholesalers, pharmacy retailers, pharmacy benefit managers and payors. These parties all play a role in determining access to, and the ultimate retail price of prescription drugs. Any changes within this broader system can effect the final retail price charged to a patient throughout the course of a year. We encourage consumers to check with local pharmacies before having a prescription filled. Websites and apps offer tools to compare the price of prescriptions in local pharmacies." IF this is how the EpiPen prices are increased as well as any other necessary medication, why are we not hearing about people complaining about other drugs too? Some of my thoughts were shared on a WSOCTV by Jason Stoogenke.

View the tv segment here

YOU Can Be the Change
Our voices and the voices of our families can make a difference- they always have! One of the newest ways is to sign a petition on ForeChange.com to help make life-saving EpiPens affordable for everyone (click HERE to sign). If this system is so complex, as stated from my Mylan representative, then let's begin at square one and work together. Let's stop pointing fingers and be a part of changing the cost. Let's show the industry that we are the ones who want to be a part of this system to make it easier for everyone. Is there data that states who should be eligible for the medication to keep them alive and who should not? No and there never should be. Those children that succumbed to an allergic reaction because they did not have the EpiPen they needed- I consider those my children. That teen who ate a cookie that unknowingly had trace amounts of their allergen- that could be my son. Those people who tried to wait to get to a nearby hospital to use their EpiPen because they could only afford to have one - that could be my family member or even me. Make your voice heard and sign the petition now. Go to https://forcechange.com/159185/make-life-saving-epipens-affordable-for-everyone sign it and share it. It may not be the answer but it's a start and from a few voices comes an army of support. There is also another petition (hey, if you want to be the change, do it with everything that you have, everywhere!) go to http://www.petition2congress.com/20720/stop-epipen-price-gouging/. 

The Price Tag
Is there help for some of us to be able to get EpiPens at a discount or even free? Yes but the few alternatives don't always mean they apply to you and your family. The EpiPen $0 copay card can be used in conjunction with some insurance plans but even with this option, they may only cover $100. As you can see in my receipt, without insurance and the EpiPen copay card, our EpiPens would have cost us $1,819.08....how many people do you know that could actually afford this? Ever?! And how does a food allergy parent ever begin to justify not being able to pay this to keep their child alive? In fact, there should never even be the thought of having to watch your child die because of this. That is not acceptable to me and it should not be acceptable to anyone else. Our family is lucky- our insurance covered three EpiPen Twin Packs for $50, then we applied the EpiPen copay card which brought it down to zero. This was wonderful for us but this is not just about how it effects me and my family- it's about making sure everyone else's family is safe as well. It's about support and  helping others stay safe. I keep a set of EpiPens in my purse in case I ever come across someone who needs it- it doesn't matter if it's not my allergic son, what matters is that I help someone who needs it.

More Money Saving Tips
One tip I wanted to share that was passed on to me from our pharmacist Gunar Stowers at Robinhood Family Pharmacy- have your doctor write out the EpiPen prescription for 3 Twin Packs with refills. The prescription will be filled as such (rather than fill one Twin Pack, then go back a month later) and it allows you to get all three EpiPens for the cost of one. This may take some extra work between your pharmacist and your insurance company but it's an easy way to save on the medication and have more of it. Having extras means one less change of a reaction that cannot be treated.

A second way to ensure longer access to EpiPens is one thing that everyone should do- BEFORE your pharmacist rings up your prescription and BEFORE you leave the pharmacy, check the expiration dates on your EpiPen boxes. You are paying for one full year of this medicine and that is what you should be receiving. If your EpiPen expires in less than one year, ask the pharmacy to look through their stock for another box. If they give you grief about it, you may want to consider looking for a new pharmacy that does have your family's best interest at heart. Much like your doctor, your pharmacy is a part of keeping your family alive and well and they are there for you, not the opposite.

A third option is to use SearchRX. This searches for the cheapest EpiPen price that is closest to your home and works directly with pharmacies to reduce the price of medications. By clicking here, it will show you comparisons by pharmacies instantly. You can choose to show the information by lowest price or the mileage but either way, this option will save you time on the phone as well as gas.

I Still Have Hope
Dear Mylan, your company has done wonderful extraordinary things for our community over the past few years. You have provided free EpiPens for schools, you have continued the $0 copay card and you have even been a part of helping multiple states mandate that schools carry EpiPens. I ask you for my family and for others to please help our community with this struggle- continue to be the better company, continue to show your gratitude for all of the people that appreciate what you have done in the past. To be very blunt, what is more important to you- knowing how much money will be inside of your pocket at the end of the year or knowing how many lives your company alone has saved?



I went back through my son's receipts and was astonished at the price difference! 


Share Your Thoughts Below
I want to hear your thoughts about this situation and how it effected your family. A few years ago, Mylan had a website that showed all of the faces using an EpiPen- I am asking all of you to share your photo or a comment below to show Mylan all of the faces that NEED EpiPens but cannot afford them.







Monday, July 18, 2016

Is Gluten Free Lipcare REALLY Worth It?

Drama by Red Apple Lipstick
Gluten can hide in anything- food, soaps, even our cosmetics. Although some of us may not be effected as much as others when it comes to gluten products, is there another reason to avoid it anyway? Does avoiding gluten in every single item truly make a difference? Sometimes, it's also about what you are introducing to your body rather than what type of foods you are avoiding. Sometimes, it's about what can actually be worse for you all around.


Kiss Your Lipstick Goodbye
Or, try to. I know for women, cosmetics are a very specific thing. You need the right colors, you may be picky about which brand you use or even how much you spend on them. I do admit that I am a dollar store junkie- I am that person pulling items off the shelves and out of the bins to get all of whatever I have found. Why not? The same brand of lipstick that I find in the dollar store for $1 is what I also see at other stores for $10+. It's simple budgeting. But what happens when you realize that your favorite lipstick is just not letting go? I give you Exhibit A:


(did everyone hear the music intro in their head? Dun Dun DUUUN) THIS is what I was finding on my glasses AFTER I ran them through the dishwasher with my other brand of lipstick. I mean, how gross! What's worse is that I wondered how many times I gave a guest one of my glasses to use without noticing these awful lipstick leftovers, ugh! So not the type of leftovers one would expect at Nutrimom's house.

Nutrimom Turns Into a Detective 
Who knew I, Nutrimom, would some day gain private detective experience?! With evidence staring me in the face, I felt I had too. I was definitely curious to find out if the products by Red Apple Lipstick would hold up to the leftover lips test. I was met with some caution that overall, it is difficult to remove ingredients such as waxes and parabens that are found in most lip products and that although Red Apple Lipstick is a better product on many other levels, this may not turn out as successfully as I was thinking. Did this stop me? Heck no! When people tell Nutrimom it may not be possible, that is an immediate "Let's do this!" for me. So I gathered all of the necessary items and got to work.

Even A Detective Should Look Good 
Not only did I get to go undercover for the week but I was also excited to try out new shades of Red Apple Lipstick - Drama lipstick and Cabernet Kiss lipgloss. The shade of lipstick was perfect but this was the very first time I was applying the Mint To Be lipgloss. I have to say, I fell in love with both of them but the lipgloss- oh my! I LOVE it! It's got a slightly minty smell to it (thus, the name) but it also made my lips look shimmery for my summer days- almost as if I had been kissed by the sun in a lovely shade of deep red. Another thing I learned while being undercover (since, you know, undercover means wearing sunglasses) if you want an easy but cheery look for the pool without spending a ton of time on makeup just apply Red Apple Mint To Be Lipgloss, put your sunglasses on and you are done. Not only will you look fabulous, your lips will be protected by Vitamin D too. As for your other glasses, check out the minimal traces from my before picture. You can barely see it on the glass while you are sipping away. I was already off to a good start.


The Secret is Out
My expert opinion for the case of the everlasting lip stain? My Red Apple lipstick and lipgloss were hands down almost non-existent after being run through the dishwasher. I have proof! Take a moment to scroll up and glance at what was hanging out from my old lipstick. Now, take a peek at my after photos when I used my Red Apple lipstick and lipgloss:

Red Apple Lipstick is barely there, as lipstick should be

No explanation needed

I can honestly say that ingredients in lip products does matter! What bothered me the most is the fact that I was using a lip product that was so full of unhealthy ingredients that even a dishwasher could not remove them with boiling water. Your skin filters in everything so all of the gunk on my glass was also becoming gunk inside of my body. Are you still unsure yourself? That's ok, I understand trying new products can be scary. We all have our own routines that make us comfortable. But I have an awesome, easy chance for you to try out that Red Apple Lipstick products without costing you a dime. YOU could win a $50 gift certificate just by entering this contest. You have nothing to lose (except that current questionable product you are using).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Contest Details: Contest will begin Tuesday July 19, 2016 and end Wednesday July 20, 2016 at midnight. 1 winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter entries. Winner shall receive one $50 Red Apple Lipstick gift certificate to use as they please. No purchase necessary. If the original winner does not claim their prize within 48 hours, a runner up winner shall be chosen. None of your entry information shall be shared as that is most unprofessional and definitely not what I am about. Prize contributed by the wonderful peeps at Red Apple Lipstick.



Why Use Red Apple Lipstick Products? They are free of gluten, paraben, petroleum, animal bits, corn, harsh chemical and GMO's ~




Congratulations 
SHARI WINARD
You Are My Winner









Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gluten Free Christmas in July

Need it? Order Here
When you are a food allergy mom, you cook and bake. A lot. All of the time. It doesn't matter if it's 98 degrees outside and the rest of the earth is being engulfed in humidity, you turn your oven on and proceed. People who don't have food allergies probably think we are insane. You are baking now?! Yup. The plus side is that no matter what time of year it is, our families get home cooked meals and treats when so many other don't. So for that alone, I'll take having a son with food allergies any day.

I got a holiday gift from my friend Tiffany Hinton (also known as GF Mom Certified) in December - her newest book Santa's Gluten Free Cookie Plate. After reviewing one of her other books (here) I was excited to see what kinds of recipes would be in this book as well. And although I got in so many months back, I thought it would be fun to bring a little holiday spirit back into our house during a time of year when it's least expected. After all, cookies have no specific time of year- they are always enjoyed. Besides, imagine the other kids as they watch us pulling out festive, colorful cookies while all they have are whatever their parents bought and pulled out of a package. 

Tiffany's book is a collection of typical holiday cookies as well as some that are not specifically holiday-oriented but are still those that would warm any kitchen. Her recipes have simple steps and easy ingredients which is always helpful for anyone who is newly diagnosed with food allergies or even those who have been on the food allergy trail a long time and don't want to cook anymore than they have too. She includes recipes for Royal Icing, Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Dip for those who have been searching for an allergy-friendly version of their long-lost cookie toppings. Also included are resources for the main cookie ingredients used throughout her book for gluten free flour, egg replacer, chocolate chips, dairy replacement, gluten free oatmeal and peanut butter. Just a reader note: Tiffany mentions "favo water" for one of the egg replacers. Favo water is another term for what is typically know as aquafaba, the use of bean liquid to mimic eggs in recipes.

Once you have baked, you want to share, right? Don't miss the link near the end of the book. If you register at http://www.freebies.gfmomcertified.com you can get free Santa's Cookie Plate downloads for holiday bag toppers & tags, gluten free gift tags, jar toppers, gluten free stickers and more.

As always, warm thanks from our family to Tiffany's family for thinking of us and sending this bundle of love.



Thursday, July 14, 2016

You Can Do What With PhillySwirl?!

It's Summer, I live in North Carolina where we never have a Spring- we go from grey and dreary to HELLO, IT'S HOT! Everyone knows two things about summer: you need to stay hydrated and popsicles almost always make their way into the picture somehow. Who can resist the colors, the flavors, the melty, slushy treats that leave our lips and tongues all sorts of fun colors. How do you top that? By trying out new flavors. But not just any flavors- PhillySwirl flavors.

My summer began as any other day- at the food store. Big surprise, right? NutriDaughter was the one who asked for popsicles and when we looked, there were new PhillySwirl flavors. Did we buy them? No- only because we had some goodies in the freezer that we needed to finish up first. I think it was a sign because days after, I received a request to try out the very same items (OR, perhaps I, Nutrimom, have secret telepathic powers that allow me to channel specific product reviews to arrive in my inbox). I will never tell. Mostly because my mouth is full of popsicles.

Last year, I was asked to review some PhillySwirl popsicles (no arm twisting here since they are free of the top 8 allergens and you can find them almost everywhere which is a plus for a food allergy mom). In last year's post (here), I sent out a plea on behalf of all consumers (allergic or not) who love PhillySwirl products but still had the guilt of some of the artificial colors and ingredients that are included in their allergy-friendly treats. I am happy to share that they heard the request and they now offer two organic options that do not contain corn syrup, artificial colors or artificial flavors. The Jungle Swirls flavors come in four flavor combinations:

Tropical Twirl (Swirl, twirl, I get it!)  Mango Pineapple
Leaping Lime Cherry Lime
Flutter Berry Blueberry & Lemon
Babble Berry Strawberry Pomegranate

Our package included the Organic Jungle Swirls but they also offer  Organic Sorbet Stix.

I don't know about anyone else but summer also makes me think of people sitting on a porch, drinking lemonade. We were on our front porch happily enjoying ours, just in a different form. Our taste buds met six flavors of the Lemonade Swirls popsicles and what a great way to spend a lazy, hot summer day. With lemonade flavors like Strawberry, Blueberry, Watermelon, Pomegranate, Classic and Lime it's as if PhillySwirl revamped our relatives old fashioned drinks into a portable, delicious past time. AND, the Lemonade Swirls do not contain corn syrup or artificial flavors (not organic and they do contain artificial colors but I feel confident that we can persuade PhillySwirl to work on that as well). Who says you need to have lemonade in a glass and who says lemonade should only be made of lemons? I scoff at those who are limiting their treat opportunities.

More thoughts of my childhood remind me of trips to 7-Eleven (yup, they have those in New Jersey). The chain of convenience stores that have all sorts of junk food but mainly, that giant ICEE drink. Tell me you haven't seen these things? You can't miss them! As soon as you walk in, there is an over-sized, twirling cup to ensure that every child will see it and then follow their parents around the store pleading to get one. PhillySwirl has taken that pain away and now offer their ICEE MixItUp popsicles. No whining, no having to deal with the begging and pleading as you walk through the
aisles of the store- just your own personal ability to get a brain freeze in your own home. I'm pretty sure that our ICEE drinks didn't come in flavors like Red & White Cherry, Green Apple & Watermelon, Blue Raspberry & White Cherry or Strawberry & Kiwi. In fact, I'm pretty sure our choices just consisted of "I''ll have red".

The Dark Side of Popsicles
Speaking of popsicles and drinks, I want to discuss a far more important factor of popsicles. It's something that happens to all of us at one time or another..... I'm talking about that horrific moment when your popsicle melts. Most of us are sad, some of of us may dry our eyes, pull up our big boy pants and slurp the wonderful juices right out of the plastic. But what if there was a way to make it even better? What if there was a way to have an easy, two ingredient (dare I even say) fancy form of your popsicle that is yet again, another childhood favorite? I am talking about a Popsicle Float people- it's a real thing and it is delicious!!! Simply take your slushy popsicle and add your favorite frozen ice cream (ours was So Delicious) and bam! Having an evening soiree and need something different? Serve the float in a crystal glass and you are done.



Want to make the float but don't have any melted popsicles? I got you covered! Remove the popsicles from their plastic and place them in a tall glass. Allow them to stay at room temperature for approximately 35 minutes (yes, I actually timed it). The rest is the same as above. I feel it is important to also tell you that 3 popsicles were enough for two 6 ounce glasses so plan accordingly. Nothing is worse than not having enough of whatever item you are planning on sharing- how awkward is that? OK, we have popsicle floats for everyone! Oh...wait, well, almost everyone. Sorry Tommy, you'll have to wait another 35 minutes until I can get you one. Don't be that host.


Sending out slightly frozen kisses to PhillySwirl for sending this awesome package for my family to try out. I am also additionally grateful for their efforts to understand what their consumers need and for their newest products. From our family to yours, thank you ~

Intrigued? Check out PhillySwirl at phillyswirl.com as well as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.




As always, I never receive compensation for product reviews except for the products themselves as my opinions are my own and are always honest.

Monday, July 11, 2016

New Food, Did I Chicken Out?

Our family is very much protein-based. Numerous studies have proven that protein is highly recommended for optimal brain function, especially in children as they are still developing. I have also seen so many people who are afraid of any type of fat because they are afraid of gaining weight. Although I understand that, I also know that the use of healthy fats in meals will help maintain your metabolism, increase energy and those lead to a better ability to control other aspects of your body. The key is to find the good fats- the healthier foods that are not full of higher amounts of what actually does your boy harm. So how does a blogger with a protein pushing family do this? The opportunity was actually presented right to us.

"It Tastes Just Like Chicken" only, it doesn't! I have been on a hunt to fulfill our sausage fix but I am also very picky about my foods. I want food that tastes good, period. I don't want food that sort of tastes like food or that looks like it but definitely doesn't taste like it- I want what I want. I was asked if I would like to try out First Fresh Chicken Sausage and yes, I did have that skeptical thought in the back of my head Another chicken sausage that will taste like chicken. They look innocent enough, right? They look just like breakfast sausage only very pale. I do admit, in the pan they made me cringe a bit. I can't help it- I've tried a lot of foods and can you blame me?! They start out one way and look just like your typical sausage. And you know what? They actually taste like sausage! NOT chicken, NOT something like sausage but actual breakfast sausage! This is exciting to me- food excites me!! ....am I the only one here? I even tried the mix in challenge and First Fresh passed with flying colors (the mix in challenge is when you try a food alone and it's good but then sometimes you can taste the difference when you add it into one of your favorite meals). My only tiny pet peeve- First Fresh Breakfast Sausage contains 9 sausage links whereas other brands typically contain 12. I know, it's a minor thing but when you budget and you have hungry kids, you need more.

Italian Sausage the Italian Way What better way to try out the Mild Italian Sausage than to serve it
up as sausage parmigiana?  NutriSon can have cooked cheese so this is one of his favorite things! But first, I had to prepare the meal and not tell anyone it was chicken sausage. Why? Because if my kids don't know, they will eat it. If they do know, I will be met with frowny faces and attitudes even if it tastes absolutely delicious. A parent must do what a parent must do. I was happy when I bit into my sausage and it tasted just like Italian sausage. I was not met with resistance or frowny faces, I was not met with attitude or comments under breath. Instead, I watched as my family eat their dinner and asked for more. I was even astounded when the kids told me they would eat First Fresh sausage again after I told them it was chicken....could this be the same family? Could this be a brand new food that all of my family would enjoy?! I think yes. I don't know about the other parents out there that cook but this is amazing to me! Admit it- there are many, many families out there that have picky eaters and will spend the time to prepare different foods for each meal just so everyone eats properly. One meal means less time at the food store and in the kitchen. I'm happy.

Some Like It Hot My last package of First Fresh to try... so sad, as they don't carry this brand at my local stores (YET! I will work on that!). Growing up in New Jersey, hot Italian sausage was like a food group, especially during the summer. Italian sausage sandwiches, on the grill, in sauce (or, gravy, depending on which part of Jersey), sausage and peppers...you get me. I picked up my very pale chicken Hot Italian sausage and STILL, in my stubborn brain were the words It looks pasty...it's not going to taste as good.....white chunks, I'm eating white chunks. WRONG! Three for three- well played First Fresh. I don't praise products that don't taste good and for a Jersey chick to tell you your Hot Italian Sausage is awesome, you have definitely won the food game.
 
Numbers Don't Lie Enough about me and my eating, let's just look at the actual numbers. I talked about utilizing the leaner, healthier fats in your meals so let's see what I noticed when I looked at labels:

                 First Fresh        Other Brand
Breakfast Sausage
Calories:         70                      170
Total Fat:        4 grams             13 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram               4.5 grams
Cholesterol:    30 mg                40 mg
Sodium:          190 mg              490 mg

Italian Sausage
Calories:          120                    260
Total Fat:         5 grams              21 grams
Saturated Fat:  1.5 grams           8 grams
Cholesterol:     60 mg                 60 mg
Sodium:           390 mg               570 mg

**PLUS First Fresh have no MSG, added hormones, preservatives, nitrates or fillers (see all here)

Of course, I also had questions since my son has multiple food allergies. I read labels, I noticed they have some other items that they offer so I inquired to see if they produce any other products that contain peanuts, nuts, eggs or shellfish. The answer- no (another win!).


I want thank First Fresh for sending out such a generous amount of sausage to review- it was a very pleasant experience and I will always be more than happy to try them again. For more information on the full line of their products, visit them at  www.firstfreshfoods.com or follow them on Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Yummly.  As always, I never receive compensation for product reviews except for the products themselves as my opinions are my own and are always honest.









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 loudly...it'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.