Tuesday, September 26, 2017

When Loafing is Acceptable

Last year, I found Schar's Artisan bread. It is the closest product to that bread I had missed so very much and was now in my kitchen waiting to be devoured. And NutriSon was happy too so all was good with the world again, right? Well. Maybe. Because NutriSon is picky. Like, above and beyond picky. So when Schar's came out with their newest Artisan Baker 10 Grains & Seeds bread, I saw this as a huge opportunity to boost my son's digestive tract. I know, mom's are so lame but since this new loaf contains ancient grains and seeds, that means fiber which also means better digestion. While I was busy being excited, NutriSon was busy NOT being excited. He saw "bread with things in it" aka chunks or whatever you want to term something where the some of the ingredients are visible. I saw a new challenge to prove him wrong.

Utilize Sibling Power I have found that there is an easy method to have your child try something that they denied the first time that you presented it- give it to their brother or sister first. Once they see that the new product that they were supposed to try is being eaten by the other one, the contest begins. Especially when the one eating it is saying how soft it is, how great it tastes and how "Mom made a special sandwich just for me". This may not be approved in any of the parenting books but hey, whatever works and it's relatively harmless. The easiest way to try this out is to use a cookie cutter to cut out a shape from any other Schar's bread, a shape from their new 10 Grains & Seeds bread and then insert one shape into the opposite bread. Not a huge magic trick but it got the attention of both of my children and the kids that saw it at school too. Maybe I need a star too!

They Choose Cake over Bread If you had a choice between bread or cake, which would you choose?! It may seem like I am the mom with the mostest but I am still just in sneak mode. I am serving up what seems to be a dessert item, right? But this dessert has the added benefits of the unique sourdough and I even snuck in a bit of fruit in the process. Prep time is just 5 minutes and there is no bake time. Ready to make it? Just click on the recipe title for the full instructions.

Pumpkin Petit Four Fingers
2 Pieces of Schar's Artisan Baker 10 Grains & Seeds bread
2 Teaspoons Go Veggie Vegan Classic Cream Cheese
1/2 Tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/8 Teaspoon vanilla
1/8 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon raw honey
Chocolate (such as Enjoy Life Foods)
1/2 Teaspoon oil (such as Winona Pure Oil)

Click for the recipe
No Crusts Mom! ..do you have one of these also? It's ok, I've got you covered for this too. Cut off those crusts and make them into No Bake Pumpkin Donut Holes instead. Similar ingredients as the recipe above, same 5 minute prep time and with a little bit of patience while you wait for the chocolate to cool, you have yourself another easy treat. And that white stuff that's in the picture that you probably thought was sugar- nope, it's coconut flour. Yup- donuts that are allergy-friendly and your oven doesn't even have to be on. Healthier, even on the outside- none of the donut shops can boast about that. These are kid-friendly but also parent-friendly so make sure you make some extras for you as well.

Back to the Crusts We still have those crusts that your children just don't want to eat. You could throw them away but most of us who buy gluten free bread knows that nothing should be wasted. You could make them into typical recipes, like croutons or stuffing but I wanted to share another route that my recipe guru brain went to. This one does require using your oven but it's minimal and has a delicious outcome.

Bread Crust Granola
Oil (I recommend Winona Pure Oil)
Crusts from 2 pieces of Schar's Artisan Baker 10 Grains & Seeds bread
1/4 Cup dried berry blend (raisins, cranberries, etc.)
1/2 Tablespoon raw honey
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
Dairy free Popcorn Butter Spray

Make it
Can I just say that these amazing gluten free products are (in my opinion) the best that we have found in our gluten free journey. Food allergies should be about loving your foods and it should be about thinking about how many ways you can use that wonderful product to allow you even more freedom with your foods.  For this, I thank you Schar- you are truly making our families happier and our kitchens fuller. For more information, recipe ideas and much more,  visit them on their website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and even YouTube.
But I Want a Loaf! Luckily, Schar has a $2 off coupon waiting for you.

$2.00 Off Any Schär Product!

I have received free products in exchange for my recipe ideas. No charge for product reviews as my thoughts are always honest.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rewarding Your Support Giveaway

A few months ago, I was introduced to Made Good Foods. For those of you who haven't seen their snacks yet, they offer nutrient-rich granola. Made Good Foods products include Granola Bars, Granola Minis and the newest item (drum roll please.....) Crispy Squares! Yes- they have recreated an allergy-friendly version of an all time childhood favorite. Best of all, they have filled them with vegetables so that all of those kids out there that are noshing down on them are smiling and nodding with a big thumbs up but the parents are also smiling and nodding because they know it's a healthy snack. The bonus- they are also free of peanut, tree nuts, wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, egg, sesame, fish & shellfish. Not only do they taste amazing but even just opening the package...oh my! It's like opening a childhood memory.

I wrote about them, got to taste (YUM!) and had a giveaway so naturally, the kid in me was truly excited when I was asked to sample their Crispy Squares...uh, yeah! Not just because it's a fun snack but because it's another source of vegetables that I can eat without having to pick up any type of cooking item- a HUGE win in a mom's world. Well, a huge win in anyone's world, I think it's safe to say. Don't get me wrong, I love cooking but gosh.....sometimes, I just don't want too!!!! So when there's a choice of even more dishes in the sink or opening a package of Made Good Foods for a fast snack, I say all hail Crispy Squares and Granola! The one favor that I ask of anyone who opens up a box of Made Good Foods- please, DON'T be the person who leaves empty wrappers inside of the box. It's cruel and unusual punishment, especially to those who really, really need one.

Made a Giveaway Come on, you all know me- did you think I wouldn't offer to share with all of you too? I will repeat myself again and again- sharing is caring. The wonderful folks at Made Good Foods offered to send one person a Back to School Gift Pack stuffed with t-shirts and a variety of Made Good snacks. Plus, you get the nifty bag to carry all of your snacks in..or,hide them- your choice. No judgment from me :) So let's get straight to the details of the giveaway and get those entries going. All of us have places to go, people to see and entries means more chances of you being able to nosh on a prize pack of Made Good Foods.

Good Things Can Be Yours  You want to win the Made Good Foods prize pack. I want you to win the Made Good Foods prize pack. But there are rules (I know, I know but it's for the best).
  • 1 Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter
  • Giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry Canada, I do love you though!)
  •  No purchase necessary
  • Giveaway will run from Tuesday Sept. 19 - Thursday Sept. 21st 
  • The more you share, the more chances you have to win
  • None of your information will be shared or sold (that's just NOT my thing)
  • If the original winner does not reply within 48 hours, a runner up will be chosen
Congrats, you are my winner! 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to Made Good Foods for not only giving us all a healthy snack that is minimally processed and organic but also for continuing to share with their consumers. Here's to happy noshing!

As always, everyone's allergies are different. To ensure that the products are safe for you, visit Made Good Foods on their website. For additional news, deals and future giveaways, be sure and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not sure where to find them? Check their store locator.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Cross- Contamination IS the Real Deal

NutriSon will be 16 this fall....sigh, that is another article altogether but through these almost 16 years, I have ingrained specific habits to keep everyone as safe as possible from allergens. This includes those who visit and also have dietary or specific allergy needs. I don't discriminate- keeping everyone safe is a priority to me. In the beginning, I was the mom who would prepare our foods and his foods. There were times when I would catch myself not remembering if I used the same spoon or accidentally forgot to wash my hands in between the two meals which lead to me tossing my son's foods in fear of harming him. Lots of unnecessary food wasted but absolutely necessary for safety purposes. No matter the cost of the foods that were thrown away, they will never compare to the cost of my son's life.

Flash forward to now- 99% of our meals are free from all of my son's allergens so that I know there are no mistakes. Even though it's been this long, I STILL automatically remind everyone in our home (and outside of) to use precautionary strategies: Did you wash your hands before you touched that? Make sure you use separate spoons. Don't lick that spoon while you're mixing it.....etc. etc. Sometimes this gets me dirty looks as if I don't trust whoever I am repeating it to but for me, it's a habit that is part of whatever meal I make. Kind of like a piece of the recipes forever. And those dirty looks I get- yeah, I don't care because ultimately, it's STILL my son's life and I don't care how angry you may get at me for reminding you about that. So just chill and don't take it so personally because it is 0% about you and 100% about my son. Enough said.

Recently, I posted a question asking page members to share their cross contamination tips. I got bunches of amazing responses and I was so excited to see that so many shared what works for them to keep all of us safe. One woman in particular went above and beyond to share ALL of her safeguards and although all of her tips mirrored what I do for all of my meals, I was amazed at how I didn't think to share them myself. I reached out to her and asked if I could share her tips and she was more than happy too.

Meet Darlene "Being anaphylactic to corn, pepper & hot peppers, black walnut, garlic, tomato, onions, almonds, and shellfish can cause severe reactions along with asthma attacks. As you can see with this severe list, it's an absolute must that we follow a strict guideline in my home to try to keep me safe as possible. I have beat a lot of odds and I am a survivor and I'm not willing to give up this world yet. There is one thing that I have definitely learned through all this... I hear all the time from people "Oh my God, I would never survive living without all those foods and having all those allergies!" and my answer to them is when it makes you that sick and you know what real sickness and pain is, you truly will avoid those things that make you that sick because you do not want to suffer like that. Not only does it change your lifestyle at home but as you know you don't go out to eat or you're greatly limited on eating out and my case it's almost near-impossible today." Here is what Darlene shared:

How Many of These Do YOU Practice?
  • We use different toasters and waffle makers. 
  • All food heated up in the microwave must be covered. 
  • No food is allowed on the counter top, you must always use a plate or a cutting board.
  • Each condiment or container (like peanut butter and jam) must use a separate piece of serving ware for each container.  
  • Every serving container must have its own serving ware inside the bowl or pan before serving is allowed. Absolute requirement that you place the same serving utensil back from the serving container you got it from. 
  • Only my safe foods can be used in my heirloom wooden bowls passed down for my grandparents. 
  • No allergy foods can be used in hand washed kitchen items. All other kitchenware must go through a sink rinse and then the dishwasher. 
  • All foods must be covered in the refrigerator.  
  • Keep separate cabinets- there are 2 spice cabinets that sit across the kitchen from each other. If you go to one cabinet, it's all of my safe spices & baking accessories and the other cabinet contains the same that is not for me. Then there is another set of cabinets that are across the kitchen that contain all my safe foods. Basically, if you go to those cabinets and I can eat any of those foods. If it's not friendly for me, it automatically goes into the other cabinets on the other side of kitchen.  
  • I had to teach the family that you hold down packages of flours and powder foods towards the bottom of a bowl or pitcher and pour contents slowly. Things like gluten powder or things that have corn powders in them, etc. Don't need allergy puff clouds floating in the air to breathe-in. 
  • All foods cooked in the oven that is an allergen must have a tight lid or covered in tin foil. If cooking something like biscuits that cannot be cooked with a cover you must cover the pan with tin foil and dispose of it after cooking.  
  • Always cook with our ventilating fan on. 
  • Do lots of wipe downs and keep lots of rags on hand for the extra daily wipe downs. 
  • No one is allowed to drink from someone else's drinking glasses, eat out of each other's dishes or share silverware. 
  • Keep 2 differently designed spoon rests on the counter to use when cooking allergen and non-allergen foods at the same time.  
  • Foods that I'm strongly allergic to that when you cook oils disperse through the air (like black pepper, cayenne pepper, onions, garlic, etc.) are not allowed to be cooked at all in my house. If I'm going to be out of the house for a couple of days, the family is allowed to have onion and black pepper parties (lol). This is literally a thing in my household that my family gets excited about when I'm not home for a couple of days. They could cook whatever they want on the 1st night and then the whole 2nd day they open up all the windows, run fans and air out the house and wipe the kitchen clean.
"It is a lot of work to get everybody trained but once everybody gets used to all of the rules in the house, it's just become second nature and normal. It will seem like an impossible task at the beginning but everybody will fall in sync. And from personal experience, once somebody has cross-contaminated you and you've had an allergic reaction... trust me how quickly the whole household learns the follow the rules."

Darlene spent most of her childhood battling constant upper respiratory infections along with skin breakouts and painful rashes. She has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, leaky gut syndrome found linked to the cause of her dairy allergy and others and later asthma triggered by certain foods. After years of thinking she was being poisoned, someone mentioned testing her for Celiac Disease which changed her life and gave her some new answers. Darlene also mentions "One of the very important things that I have to do is follow a diet rotation because if I eat all the foods that are allowed left for me to eat and I do not rotate them, my body has a higher risk of becoming allergic to them still. That happened to me in August of 2016.  Financially, times got hard in the summer of 2016 and I was watching every penny and eggs were just dirt cheap. So I was eating a lot of eggs and wasn't following diet rotation properly due to what I could afford at the time. That became tragic because now I'm allergic to eggs. I've been following a diet rotation for years now since 2007."

I want to thank Darlene for sharing so much of her persona wisdom with us- sharing is so very important to keep everyone safe!  
Do you have a tip that you would like to share? Leave a comment below~

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The New Allergy Solution

I admit, I am a food allergy mom but also a bit of a geek when I get the opportunity to check out new resources. After all, none of us have the same allergy needs and allergies are not "one size fits all". To me, this means that research, information, ideas and anything else allergy-related is a part of the constant journey to find a knowledgeable, safe life within the food allergies. I refuse to let food allergies consume me but I absolutely embrace the continual knowledge to consume me. Having knowledge is the key to surviving and growing- utilizing it and knowing that your brain can, indeed, continue to welcome more is empowering.

I was asked to review The New Allergy Solution by Clifford W. Bassett, M.D. This is 325 pages full of LOTS and LOTS of allergy information. I admit, at first glance my brain kind of twitched and pushed it to the side for a bit. Once I opened it up, my complete geek put on it's glasses, grabbed a pen and began reading every single page- not thumbing through, not skimming paragraphs but reading it. The words on the cover
Supercharge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering caught my eye immediately. Thinking this was yet another book about how food allergies can be cured (which I do not believe), I was pleasantly surprised to begin reading about Dr. Bassett and how much I wish he had been around for our family when my son was first diagnosed. On page 14 his statement "You should be invited to partner in making yourself better" and page 38 "And I wanted to find solutions that might make more sense than the by-the-book, short-term fixes that so many doctors prescribe" made me shake my head in agreement over and over again. Dr. Bassett gets it- he understands that we are in need of one-on-one help and that our families are screaming for doctors to find the sources not just the fixes.

This Book is Thorough Dr. Bassett very clearly took a lot of time and energy to ensure people reading this book get every possible part of allergy information at their fingertips. He includes prevention, testing, allergy triggers, whole health allergies (skin, food, environmental and more) and he offers not only information for each but discussed how important it is for everyone to have options when it comes to their treatment plan. I highly recommend that anyone diagnosed with any type of allergy read this book. I would also love to see it made available to patients in allergy specialist offices as a research tool. Very often, many of us that are diagnosed feel there is a lack of doctor/patient communication which leads to misinformation, feeling overwhelmed and the need to find answers so that we can live with our allergies versus living around our allergies.

I want to applaud Dr. Bassett for sharing this wonderful resource with me- I am honored to have been asked. You can order your copy on Amazon and you can find him at Allergy & Asthma Care of New York.

As always, no compensation for product reviews except for the products themselves as my opinions are always honest and my thoughts are my own.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Do Food Allergies Leave You Hungry?

I am a food allergy mom. As a food allergy mom, I need to feed my allergic child and I need to feed him safely. What if, one day, beyond my control, my world gave me a twist that meant I could no longer just go to the food store and get what I needed to feed my allergic children? What if the money in my pocket was so very slim that I had to feed my allergic child foods to keep him alive while knowing that it would make him sick? What if I went to my local food pantry for help and found nothing that my child could eat safely? This happens every single day, all across the United States and beyond.

When you become a mother, feeding is instinctive and these thoughts were always looming in the back of my mind. I read an article in 2011 published in Gluten Free & More Magazine that described a situation like this and I was horrified. Horrified for the mother that was describing it but also because, at any given moment, this could easily happen to any one of us in the blink of an eye. For many, many years I wanted to change this or figure out how to become a part of the solution to this. Sadly, my local food banks responded to me with "There is no way for us to organize our pantries for these types of foods." ...what?! My immediate response being "Let me come down there and see if I can help you figure it out. There must be a way." No replies, no "thanks but no thanks" just empty silence and the thought of people in my local area having to go through this situation while I sat there, waving my arms and screaming "I can help! Tell me how to help!"

A few months ago, I came across a non-profit organization called Mend Hunger. Their mission is my mission and their goal is to ensure that food pantries are stocked up and able to offer allergy-friendly foods for those who need it. Not only do they coordinate donations to the pantries, they work with them to put an organized plan in place so that the much needed allergy-friendly foods go to the people that truly need it. To date, they service 10 cities and are growing rapidly. The best thing about what they do is that when I asked them "How can I help?" they gave me an answer.

I am honored and humbled to be an Advisory Board member for this amazing organization!

How Can YOU Help? This is the best part- we can all help out in some way. I tend to dream big but as I always tell everyone- your voice matters, your help matters. Even if you are not local to Mend Hunger, you can help!
  • Donations (food items as well as monetary donations)- whether it be that you have a company with products to donate or just that food allergies are near and dear to your heart, contact Mend Hunger and see how you can work together. Anything helps- that donation that you might feel is too tiny could be a meal for one more person.
  • Host a Food Drive With the holidays around the corner, this is especially important. Hosting a food drive can be a family event, a neighborhood event or even a classroom event. Helping others is not only rewarding but the feeling that you get when you know you are doing something for others is priceless.
  • Amazon Smile Do you shop online? Use this as an opportunity to donate! Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Mend Hunger when you shop on AmazonSmile (see why they are smiling?)
  •  Get Involved Mend Hunger is a non-profit organization and they can use your help in other areas as well. Check their About tab and see what internships are currently open. By donating a few hours of work to them weekly, Mend Hunger can continue to expand above and beyond and you will be a part of that process.
  • Attend a Candlelight Cabaret Mend Hunger is hosting a fundraising event on Saturday November 11th - if you are in the Glencoe, Illinois area or would like to attend, click here for details. Interested in donating items for the event or a sponsorship? Reach out to me and I'll be happy to get you started!

We have choices to make every day- let's be a part of the choices that truly matter. Invest in your food allergy family, invest in helping others and invest in knowing that you are a part of the good things that are still found in this world. Mend Hunger can be found on the web, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

"Food allergy support; this is a vast, never-ending place where people from all around the world meet. This is a family that you never knew existed and that you didn't think would ever be a part of your life." 
~ Tracy Bush, AllergyPhoods.com