Saturday, February 18, 2017

Cue the Epinephrine

Most of us within the food allergy community have seen a bunch of events over the past few years that have truly had all of us on the edge of our seats. Beginning with the recall of Auvi-Q in 2015, it seemed as if our allergy comfort zone went from a soft yellow to RED!!!! overnight. Many of us were panic-stricken and in disbelief but mostly just upset that the talking device was pulled from our hands just as we were starting to use them. From personal experience in our home, it meant new struggles for my teenage son with multiple food allergies.  It meant a new kind of peer pressure and having to carry a larger set of epinephrine (which also brought back earlier childhood trauma of being referred to as fanny pack kid). In addition, I also had to adjust my attitude as a food allergy parent to be understanding, supportive and yet adamant that regardless of how "uncool" it may be, having an allergic reaction and not having epinephrine is definitely even more uncool times infinity.

But 2017 began in a new light- a hopeful light showing support and, well, maybe even a little extra hand-holding which is what was sorely needed after all of the past dramas. I felt relieved when the story appeared that Auvi-Q was indeed returning to all of us. Even better, they told us that their goal was to make sure it was available to everyone who needed it. Coming in ahead of their originally estimated date of February 14th, I raced to my computer. Unlike other auto injector plans in the past, Auvi-Q offers a mail order service and I wanted to see exactly how this worked and if they truly did put their money where their mouth was. Under this plan, Kaleo's goal is to take the burden off of the patients and get them the epinephrine that they need in the easiest way possible. So easy that you don't have to wait through the usual process (wait to make an allergist appointment, get a prescription, go to the pharmacy, wait to get the prescription filled, etc.) I decided to test out their process to see what the results were.

February 13th 

  • I downloaded the direct delivery service form for NutriSon
  • I delivered it to his physician's office and asked that they call me when it was faxed (I wanted to know the time frame)
  • By 11 AM I received a call stating the form had been faxed
  • At 4:54 PM that day, I got a call from the customer service department handling the mail orders for Auvi-Q. She stated her name and explained that our conversation was being taped. She asked if I was aware that the doctor had sent in a prescription for my son's Auvi-Q, I said yes. She told me that my insurance company (BCBSNC) does not cover Auvi-Q but just as I was about to get upset, she quickly continued to tell me that they have already taken care of everything, could process it and our out-of-pocket cost would be $0. I thanked her more than a few times. She then asked if I preferred to have the package signed for or just left- I opted for no signature as I am almost always home working. 
February 17th (4 days from my initial request) Keep in mind it was also the week that everyone got hit with massive, weird winds, several feet of snow and all sorts of other winter issues.
  • By 11 AM I had NutriSon's Auvi-Q's in my hand! Is it weird that I was like a kid at Christmas- I opened the package right away, checked everything and I couldn't wait to show my son when he got home later.
  • One of the first things that I noticed was the expiration date- April 23, 2018- that's 14 months (yay for a longer expiration date!)
  • I will tell you that it was 40 degrees outside when my package arrived (you will see that the temperature for proper storage is very specific to ensure the life of the epinephrine). I did notice that when I removed the Auvi-Q's from the well-wrapped package, they were cold to the touch. I opened them and checked the liquid, which was clear. I recommend that you consider your delivery at a time when you can be there to reduce the amount of time the package may sit outside in cooler weather or request a signature so that you will know when it will be in your hands. 
I want to send a heartfelt thank you to Kaleo Pharma for keeping their true mission at heart and continuing to help all of our families. Personally, their device is preferred on our homes in so many ways. To be very blunt, the smaller size is just better for us, the easy to use voice commands take the added stress out of both teaching other family members and school staff in addition to not having to stop and think in an emergency situation. 

Please be sure and check their website for complete information about this as well as their AffordAbility Program, resources and updates as well as their Facebook and Twitter pages.

I would also like to be very clear and state that I was not paid to write this- my goal is to share my thoughts and experiences to help other members of my food allergy community decide what is best for them. For those of you who follow me and read my articles- you all know that I always speak my mind and I never support any product that I don't feel completely comfortable with. 

Have you tried Auvi-Q yet? 
I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

You Had Me at Pizza

How many of you knew that today February 9th is National Pizza Day? Did you hear about this and just kind of shrug and mope away because you haven't found an allergy-friendly place to actually go to get pizza? What better way to share my love of pizza than to let you all in on a secret located in the heart of Westview, Pennsylvania - friends, I am talking about Mandy's Pizza.

Let's see if you notice what I noticed when I saw the logo.... do you see it? "Allergen Friendly"  "Vegan" are you getting excited about it now? If you are worried about some of your family who wants a good Italian meal but doesn't have food allergies you are in luck again- Mandy's Pizza has both traditional Italian food and allergy-friendly food so all of your family can have a meal together. As I read through their webpage, I was touched by the reason they began this for others so I reached out to them directly. Listen to what they shared with me:

NM: I came across your website and I have to say, being Italian and growing up in New Jersey, it made my mouth water! You offer both traditional Italian menu items as well as allergy free, gluten free and even Vegan options. Can you tell me why this was so important to you? 

MP:  The whole premise of our business was to afford everyone the opportunity to eat out safely. However, we refused to serve off-the-shelf products which are mass-produces and tasteless. 

NM: Brandon's story states he was just 9 years old when he started his cooking adventures. As a parent and him not only having food allergies but being a bit younger, did you help him out in the kitchen? Or did you let him do his own thing so he could understand it all?

MP:  In the beginning, we just let him "Have at it". Honestly, I had no idea on how to make these items and I was working at our business while he was at home making our garbage disposal fat with all of the rejected attempts.

NM: Do you think growing up around other foods helped to motivate him to help others with food allergies eat safe foods?

MP: This was the main motivator. Moreover, when I would bring him a tasteless steak salad and pizza for the rest of us, it was truly saddening to see how upset he was. Back then, there weren't very many other options for those with severe food allergies. Steak and potatoes or a plain burger and no bun were the staples of the day.

NM: What were some of the reactions of those coming into your restaurant for the first time with food allergies?

MP: Honestly, it's quite humbling and truly the only motivator that keeps me in this business. Kids to adults will come in and at times, will cry when they take their first bite. No, it's not just because of the product itself but the realization that just for a moment, they can feel normal. Sometimes when a newbie comes in and asks if we sell "allergen free pizza" I'll say "Oh, no...that place went out of business about a week ago." as a joke. I'm so evil.

NM: Have you ever had someone have a reaction while eating? If so, please explain.

MP:  Only once. Their toddler was diagnosed with Celiac Disease that week so they came in and ordered a gluten-free pizza. A short time later, it was discovered that he was likely also intolerant to dairy. The parents were not upset with us at all. In fact, our knowledge of different aspects of these diseases helped them feel more at ease.

NM: How do you prepare your menu items safely since your establishment does offer both allergy friendly AND your typical other menu items?

MP: Separate equipment, tools and strict processes. Quite frankly, it's not that difficult if you take the time to educate your staff, both young and old.

NM: I noticed that in addition to supporting those with allergies and certain dietary needs that Mandy's Pizza also has fundraisers and contests. How often do you participate in these?

MP: Fundraisers and contests are truly insignificant to our whole approach. We are more proud of the events we hold for kids with food allergies. While Brandon was young, he quickly realized how having food allergies can keep you from enjoying some of the most simple of celebrations like trick or treating or just sitting on Santa's lap. As a result of this, Brandon started holding events like allergen-friendly trick or treating for kids or allergen-free donuts with Santa. We hold these events along with Naturally Soergel's- a local business which is situated on a local apple farm but focuses on those with food allergies and gluten issues.

NM: I noticed your events are for BOTH kids and adults, I love that! Which event do you feel has drawn the most attention?

MP: OMG, allergen-free donuts with Santa! In fact, we will need to change the rules for next year so that only two parents can attend since many of the seats are taken buy "extended" family members, which reduces the number of children who can attend. This event sells out in about two hours.

NM: For those who want to try some of Brandon's foods, you offer an online store under Brandon's Best Allergen Free- what is the top selling item?

MP: Either the Cinnashugga or Vanilla Nilla Donuts. We make these cake-style donuts just like a bakery would by deep-frying them in an allergy-friendly oil. These donuts taste exactly like a traditional cake donut without the slimy or mushy texture of gluten-free only donuts. I just brought home two of our Jimmies Gone Wild donuts and Brandon yelled at me for eating one.

NM: I love the "Food Allergies Are Cool" t-shirt, who's idea was that?

MP: That was me. I am a former ad agency guy and wanted to use some reverse psychology so that kids can see the positive in being different. Frankly, they really are the cool ones since everything they eat is made just for them and not just some meal whipped up in a microwave.

NM: Being a mother of a food allergy child myself, I did notice that there are no ingredients listed on your menu items. How can your customers access these to be sure they are safe for their allergy needs?

MP: I do not list ingredients for one simple reason- safety. Others have tried to replicate what we do in an effort to just make more money. We worked hard on our menu and Brandon worked hard on his products. We don't want people viewing this as a competitive edge but rather a way of preventing others from trying to replicate what we do without the concern for safety taken into consideration. At the pizzeria, we have a handout that customers can see very easily and which items that they can eat. We take it one step further by knowing that the only real allergen in the allergen-friendly menu is corn and it's only in tow of these items. That said, all of the other items are free of the top ten allergens which is our prime focus.

NM: I see you are a part of DineSafeApp* why did you feel this was important to be a part of?

MP: Yes, in fact we have more of a business friendship. Mandy's Pizza is a strong supporter of the DineSafeApp as a result of it's focus solely on safety while dining out. While there are "other" technology solutions, this is the first that we have encountered that is not advertising focused, nor confusing to understand which items are safe to eat. We feel that DineSafeApp focuses on the true aspect of dining safely

NM: Any thoughts of expanding in the future, maybe a franchise of Mandy's Pizza so everyone can try it right in their own neighborhood?

MP: No! I went that route with a partner and it was the biggest mistake. It wasn't about making more money, it was truly so that this larger venue could accommodate parties for kids or adults with food allergies. Soon after opening, it became apparent that they didn't take this as serious as us since we had some situations that set me over the edge. Because of this, shortly after opening, I felt it necessary to remove our name and any references to our business from that location.

Honestly, I would rather see Brandon have the ability to expand his business into a larger wholesale opportunity. His new allergen-free Cookie Dough in a Jar is awesome (coming in about 30 days). I literally just made some of his NottaNuttaButta Cookies before replying to your questions. Tomorrow he has hockey and three directors of this huge facility have been pestering me for more of his cookies. None of them have food related issues.

Thanks to Mandy's Pizza and their family for everything that they do for our food allergy community! (who says food is not love?!) Their allergen-friendly menu includes: six types of gluten free and allergen free pizza (smoked kielbasa, meat eater, bbq chicken, buffalo chicken, spinach ricotta and Hawaiian), hoagies, french fries, chicken nuggets, pasta meals (pasta & meatball, pasta with sausage bruschetta and lasagna) and two types of chicken wings. You can find Mandy's Pizza at 512 Perry Highway, Rt. 19 North in Westview, Pennsylvania. Whether you are close to them or just curious, you can also visit them on the web, on Facebook and Twitter.

Don't forget to give Brandon a shout out too (you can order his items)! Brandon's Best Allergen Free can be found here.

* DineSafe App is an app that works with restaurants, eateries and resorts to offer personal menus for food allergies and dietary preferences

Show your consumers support &
click here to be a part of what they need

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Snackers For My Snackers

I thought I would share my latest product review for Three Bakers Snackers since, well tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday and who doesn't need new ideas for food?! Come on, we all love watching the game, eating tons of different pick foods and snacks or maybe you are the one bringing some food over to someone else's home for the game. Either way, I felt sharing was the way to go.

Three Bakers was gracious enough to send three of their four flavors - Chocolate ChipHoney Graham  and Cheddar Cheese but they also offer Chocolate Chocolate Chip...yum! So what did they look like? How did they taste? Let's spill all of it and don't forget to check out the recipes I share as well. You all know that I am a firm believer of using products in more ways than just opening up the package. Why not? If you feel as if your foods are limited, it's a great way to give you more flavor and meal varieties as well as pushing your brain to think of new options to use.

Rule #1- Watch For Pets with Food Envy Who has pets? (hand raised) Now who else notices that each time you open any type of package, your pet runs to you, assuming it is food for them too? (hand raised). And who else finds it cute at first but then ultimately annoying when this happens? No offense furry friends but people with food allergies are super protective about the foods that they can eat so back off just a little. I mean, you don't see your humans running to hog your food bowl at feeding time so let bygones be bygones.

Of course, I totally get it. The Cheddar Cheese Snackers are quite tempting. They are subtly cheesy so it's not a full overload of cheese explosion and I prefer that sometimes. They also have a hint of pepper that pops up here and there to wake your palate up. AND (this is my favorite part) they are not flat and square like most other cheese cracker-like snacks. The Snackers are poofed! Like, rounded, giving them a bit of added fun and crunch. So what do I, Nutrimom, recommend you use these for other than just a snack? Well, remember those peanut butter and cheese sandwich crackers that you (probably) ate as a kid? Why not make a peanut-free version but also make it into a fun food dip?

SunButter Snackers Dip
Use this as a fun, easy protein dip for vegetables, fruit or just off the spoon!

1 Cup Three Bakers Cheese Cheese Snackers (crushed)
1 Teaspoon SunButter of your choice

Prep Time:        4 Minutes
No Bake Time:  5 Minutes

  1. Using a medium sized bowl, combine the crushed Snackers and SunButter
  2. Mix, combining well
  3. Store in an airtight container
Makes approximately one cup

Chocolate Chip.. Need I say More? Sometimes, just noshing down handfuls of a great treat is what heals the soul. Here in North Carolina, our winter hasn't been a bunch of snow-filled days. Our winter has been seemingly dreary days upon days filled with clouds, greyness, more greyness, damp and oh, not much snow. I now understand why the groundhog hibernates. I am just about there myself except I don't have fur, I just have a fuzzy blanket and my bag of Chocolate Chip Snackers. These are flat (I like variety) but what I really enjoy about this bag of Snackers is the tease of chocolate chip. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely one who loves chocolate to the ends of the earth but Three Bakers nailed it when they created these little guys. Rather than your usual chocolate overkill that (most) of us tend to eat too many of and then feel ill and guilty afterwards, the Chocolate Chip Snackers are dotted with tastes of chocolate. I almost want to say it's similar to those chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches that are out there but crunchy and far easier to eat a bunch of.

And, THESE! I can't forget about the Honey Graham Snackers...oh yes! Also flat (hey Three Bakers, just curious, why is only one Snackers flat? Huh? Huh?) ...maybe it's a trade secret. If you like that familiar taste of Grandma's pie crust- eat these. If you like crunchy, buttery, just slightly sugary crackers- eat these. Plain and simple. Or, as NutriDaughter pondered "So, these are all puzzle pieces...does that mean that when you them together it unlocks an even better cracker?" Smart girl for just twelve years old....she totally gets that from me, of course. The only thing left to do is to think about, hmmm. I dunno ANOTHER RECIPE!

S'mores Singles
Because..why not?!

1 Bag of Three Bakers Honey Graham Snackers
Enjoy Life Foods chocolate chips (melted)
Mini marshmallows
*Optional Spray oil (I use Winona Pure Oil) added to the chocolate

Prep Time:        5 Minutes
No Bake Time:  4 Minutes

  1. Cover a baking sheet or other flat surface with parchment paper
  2. Place each Honey Graham Snackers on the covered sheet
  3. Dip each marshmallow halfway into the melted chocolate
  4. Gently place onto each Honey Graham Snackers
  5. Allow to cool
  6. Store in an airtight container to avoid stale marshmallows
Serving sizes will vary

Read The Labels I do want to warn that although these Snackers are gluten free and delicious, they contain milk and/or eggs. Because everyone's allergy needs are different,I recommend that you check the Three Bakers website (although they are delicious, they also need to be safe for you!). Huge hugs to Three Bakers for not only thinking of me and asking if I would like to try them out but also for their patience in the time it took me to get my feedback out. AND they also make other products such as pizza, pizza crust, stuffing mix, hamburger buns, hoagie rolls, hot dog buns and bread! Be sure and visit them at, on Facebook, on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

As always, never any compensation except for the product themselves as all of my reviews are always honest.