Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Santa Delivered EpiPen!

Ready to download it?
My holiday wish for our family and yours has been granted! On December 24th (here) , I sent out a plea for Mylan to extend the EpiPen $0 copay through 2016. I am pleased to share with all of you that it has now been confirmed that, indeed, the EpiPen $0 copay will be available through 2016......can you all see me doing the happy allergy EpiPen dance?!

AND, I am happy to share that the terms remain as such:
  • The $0 copay card can be used to reduce out-of-pocket expenses up to a maximum of $100 per EpiPen 2-Pak
  • The card remains valid for up to three EpiPen 2-Pak (or) EpiPen Jr 2-Pak per prescription AND may be used as many times as needed through December 31, 2016.
(As always, please check complete terms and conditions regarding eligibility restrictions)

What better way to begin a new year - being prepared!

 As always, thank you Mylan for all that you do!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Santa- Send a Copay Our Way

Dear Santa-

It's that time of year again when anyone and everyone who has food allergies that requires an EpiPen is waiting with fingers(and toes) crossed. You see, Santa, the good people of Mylan (the company who markets and distributes EpiPen) has been very gracious in helping out the food allergy community. For many years, they have implemented a bunch of helpful resources for us but I think what has been most helpful has been their $0 copay discount. For so many of us, the cost of our EpiPens is sometimes just astoundingly expensive. But it's something that we simply cannot risk living without. My worst personal fear as a food allergy mother is the possibility of having to watch my son go into anaphylactic shock and not have an EpiPen to use.....I truly cannot even let myself think about that. And as a part of the food allergy community, I fear for others as well...

- There are parents out there that work very hard to keep their children safe but often cannot afford to keep an Epipen on hand.

- There are family members that are on a fixed income or don't have a reasonable insurance plan and they cannot afford to keep an Epipen on hand.

- There are people in our communities that will often go straight to the hospital to get epinephrine and risk waiting during those crucial moments that could mean life or death because they cannot afford to keep an EpiPen on hand.

- There are children out there that understand their food allergies, that understand that they should have an EpiPen but don't have them because their parents cannot afford to keep an EpiPen on hand.....

Please ask your elves at Mylan to put on their holiday cheer caps and send us another $0 copay discount for our EpiPens. I'm putting in a special request but I'm also sending them gratitude for everything that that they have done for us each year. Nothing is a more precious gift than being prepared and feeling secure.

Santa, I ask you for my family as well as the countless other families that need to stay safe, prepared, alive.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Hook You in For the Holidays

Candy canes seem to be one of the few items that are able to cross into multiple holiday areas. That red and white stripey guy can be seen on packages, on trees, hanging out at the play groups with little sticky fingers (you know as a mom, I only like my children's sticky fingers- other kid's sticky fingers gross me out just a tiny bit). Yes, candy canes are wonderful in their natural form but you know me- I am a restless, allergy-friendly recipe guru. I get into my kitchen, I put my favorite apron on and I start seeing exactly how I can stretch the boundaries of our products. Plus, food is fun. It should ALWAYS be fun- even with food allergies. If you feel differently, please reach out to me and I'd be happy to help you with some ideas.

Here is my favorite "kitchen geek" apron/photo. Is it red and stripey? No. Is it holiday-themed, does it light up and play music? No. But it does have a touch of magic and this apron is what keeps my cooking spirits high (not only during the holiday season but every season). So let's go on one of my strange Nutrimom adventures and see what I decided to try out. Come on, you know you want too! Wipe off those sticky fingers and get ready to try some new recipes just cuz'.

When is a Candy Cane NOT a Candy Cane? When it's delicious cupcake batter that has been fried! Similar to a funnel cake, the Glutino Twinkle Sprinkle Cakes mix became a new form of gluten free holiday treat. And, I was able to give NutriSon a taste of what a funnel cake is (egg allergies, among others so he's never tasted one). There are two key factors in making this recipe a success- 1) Keep your objects small and simple and 2) only do one at a time. The reason being that they are flimsy during the cooking process and if they are too large or don't have enough space to flip, you may not come out with the original desired shape. The plus side- regardless of what happens, these Cupcake Canes are delicious!

  • Prepare it: Simply follow the instructions as directed on the box of Glutino Twinkle Sprinkle Cakes mix. I cut the required butter in half and added one (4 oz.) applesauce into the mix as well as replacing the required egg with Ener-G Powdered Egg Replacer.  I then filled a pastry bag with the prepared batter. Do not use a frosting tip, simply cut the bag. If you use a frosting tip, the batter will be too thick and clog the tip.
  • Fry it: On medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of oil. Form the the candy cane and fry until the batter edges begin to brown. Gently flip and fry the other side as well. Add additional oil as needed. Allow to cool on a plate lined with an absorbent paper for the grease.  
  • Top it: This is the fun part. Once the fried batter cools, it actually becomes crunchy. Top with frosting, sprinkles, powdered sugar, cinnamon & sugar, melted chocolate or just chow down on them as is.
  • View it: Need a fast peek at how it looks, what it looks like and how long it will take? Simply click HERE for a short video. I am also happy to share some of my oddly-shaped items because, in real life, nobody has perfect batter shapes the first time and I'm not ashamed of mine.

Aaand, I Still Had Batter so I did make a few cupcakes. But then I was staring at these lonely cupcakes. Although they are delicious, they looked so sad and lonely and simple. Don't get me wrong- simple is good too but sometimes my creative mind spazzes and I can't just let my food be. I wanted to create something that would be a typical "Gosh, I really want a cupcake but I really want chocolate...but I kind of want something minty. Or, maybe something crunchy? OOOh, but I want frosting too!" What is a Kitchen Geek to do? I smooshed and ground and molded and I made Mini Mints. This recipe can be seen either as the ultimate combination of foods for a multi-tasker or for the ultimate lazy person who wants to eat all of these things but doesn't have the energy to get all of these things separately. Either way, they are tasty and you must try them. Seriously- you have to try them now because the Glutino Peppermint Yogurt Covered Pretzels are seasonal and they won't be around all year (le sigh...). 

Mini Mints
Download the recipe here & share
1 Glutino Twinkle Sprinkle Cake cupcake (prepared)
2 Tablespoons vanilla frosting of your choice

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, form the Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies into small bowls. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, crush up the cupcake and mix it with the frosting and crushed Peppermint Yogurt Pretzels. Form small balls of the mixture and place into the brownie cookie bowls.

In a microwave safe glass measuring cup, combine the chocolate chips and a squirt of oil. Microwave until the chocolate has melted, making sure to stir once. Drizzle the melted chocolate onto the filled cups. 

Insert one half of a Peppermint Yogurt Pretzel

Makes 6 Mini Mints

What is your favorite way to turn your foods inside out? Be creative, be playful and don't let your food allergies limit your foods. Wishing everyone a safe, happy and delicious holiday ~

I am a Kitchen Geek but also a geek in general and I love it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Have You Found Your Tru Joy?

Nope- I know what you are thinking and it's not a typo. Yes, I did mean to type "tru" without the "e" but I'm willing to bet that you opened it to see what else you thought I misspelled, right? No worries- you are here, you are reading and I am grateful to have you. But most of all, I am excited to share some fun ways to use the items that I recently received from TruJoy Sweets.

Who says you can't have fun with your foods?! Ok, you all know by now that I love to really get into my product reviews and see what I can do with products. Why? I am (possibly) just insane but mostly it's because I like to show everyone that food allergies should not make you afraid of foods. Food allergies should always make you love the foods that you can have. So when I got a package from the peeps at TruJoy Sweets I wanted to figure out how I could incorporate their Organic Peppermint Choco Chews and Organic Candy Canes into our allergy-friendly holidays. And what screams holidays more than anything? REINDEER! So imagine my utter happiness when I realized that the Peppermint Choco Chews are squeezable, mold-able even. Say, as a reindeer-

(click the recipe title to print)
1 White Surf Sweets Jelly Bean (cut in half)
1 Red Surf Sweets Jelly Bean (cut in half)
Chocolate chips (I recommend EnjoyLife Foods)
1 Green food item formed as a leaf (I used a piece of mint gum)
1 Toothpick

Prep Time:          5 Minutes

No Bake Time:   7 Minutes

  1. Break candy cane evenly to have the arch of the cane as a full “u” shape (these are the antlers)
  2. Form one of the Choco Chews into a rectangle
  3. Gently place the candy cane antlers into the top of the rectangle
  4. Mold the second Choco Chew the same way and place on top of the antlers, aligning it with the bottom chew
  5. Continue to mold the Choco Chews together, forming a head
  6. Gently insert the white jelly bean halves into the Chew (these will be the eyes)
  7. Insert the red jelly bean half for the nose
  8. Cut the remaining ½ Choco Chew in half and form two ears
  9. Attach them to the side of the reindeer’s head, molding as you go
  10. Dip the toothpick into the melted chocolate and “paint” pupils on the reindeer’s eyes
  11. Cut the feet of the gummy bear off (this will be the bow)
  12. Apply a dab of chocolate to the green food item and attach the bow
  13. Apply another dab of chocolate to secure the bow on the reindeer & allow to cool
Does it Sound Too Difficult? I have you covered. I made a video tutorial to show you how fast and easy it is to make. Watch- 

(Can't view the video via email? Click here)

But what about the leftover Candy Cane stick?! Use that and additional Chews to make a lollipop! Add alone or insert tiny treats (such as mini marshmallows or chocolate chips) on the inside of the Chews for an unexpected treat.

Allergy Labeling I did want to make sure that I included the allergy information for both of these products as well. I did notice that although TruJoy Sweets are organic, they do mention producing their products on equipment that also produces some allergens (such as peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, soy and wheat). They also had two different allergy statements on each package. Since the last thing I would ever want for anyone would be to use a product without proper allergy information, here is what was explained to me:

"For Peppermint Choco Chews, Fruit Chews and Choco Chews: they are formulated without nuts however, the equipment they are produced on also processes nuts, dairy and soy. They are certified GFCO- gluten free.

For Candy Canes (and heart-shaped lollipops & bunny-shaped lollipops): they are produced on dedicated nut-free and gluten-free equipment in a segregated area of the facility that also processes dairy, eggs, soy and wheat. They are on a separate floor with a separate ventilation system. And (as per the company contact) the risk of cross contamination is minuscule, however we want to give consumers full information and let them make the final decision."

My Allergy-Safe Recommendation as always, I appreciate the allergy information that was given to me but I strongly recommend that everyone research the products and contact the company directly to ensure the safety of your allergy needs. My recommendation for TruJoy Sweets- a plea for our food allergy community to consider revamping these processing procedures in the future. For our family, these treats were tasty for myself and NutriDaughter but definately off-limits for NutriSon with multiple food allergies.

The Tru Taste Test Tasting is the most enjoyable part of product reviews. Overall- loved them! The Organic Peppermint Choco Chews are similar to a familiar other chocolaty chew candy (cough, Tootsie Rolls) but a little less stick-in-your-teeth and softer. The taste starts out with an overall smooth chocolate flavor followed by a mild peppermint undertone. The Organic Candy Canes taste like your typical candy cane, maybe a little less strong-minty but I personally prefer not so minty so what's not to love? What I DO love about both of these are the fact that they have no artificial colors, flavors or corn syrup- an extra mom point for that one.

Hugs to TruJoy Sweets for asking me to try their products out for them and for making us tasty sweets that are not loaded with all of the usual "gunk". Make sure you check out their other products that they have at (yup, they have some more!). 

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Food Allergy Badasses"

"I think FAB stands for Food Allergy Badasses" - Robyn O'Brien

For those of you who have been to the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference, this pretty much hits the nail on the head. So when this phrase was mentioned by Robyn, I jumped at the chance and asked her if I could use it in my post because it is completely accurate.This was my second year at the conference and it's also one of the most difficult recaps to write about. I almost feel as if I come home so empowered, so loaded with information and products and uplifting stories that I don't want to leave anything out, not one single thing. I want to share all of it with you, everything! How can I sum up so much positive energy in one post? How can I express what anyone can learn and feel from attending the event?

Who Are the Badasses? This is the most wonderful part- YOU are! Every single person that goes-every parent, every vendor, every blogger- anyone who is there is there for the same reason and that's why we come together like this. A complete puzzle is nothing without all of it's pieces so every single person counts. Whether it be a person newly diagnosed with food allergies, a doctor, a company looking to find out what else they can do to help the food allergy community or even someone who is not directly affected by food allergies- we are all a part of it, together. There are no feelings of who knows more or how do I fit in. I truly always feel as if we all meet with the same, pure passion to just help one another.

How Do I Become a Badass? One word- attend. Can you read all of the recaps? Yes. Do you get the same information by just reading about it? Very, very helpful but no. There is a major difference between reading about it and being a part of it. Bunches of topics are covered and you get to pick and choose which places you want to be at. There are wonderful sponsors and companies (here) that take the time to be there for you- all of you so that they can have that one-on-one time with the people that are using their products or want to use their products. Authors and food and just gobs of information are rolled into a few days to make sure that you leave knowing that we are all a family. We are truly all in this together to help one another and any information is good information. What other day would you be able to say that you:

- discussed the latest food allergy research
- tried the world's best allergy-friendly food (safely and specifically fine-tuned to what you need for your specific allergies)
- were armed with a bag full of free "stuff"
- went and had dinner with so many of your favorite food allergy rock stars that you follow only to find out that indeed, they are all as down-to-earth and cool as you thought they would be.

Badasses are Family This is always a learning experience for both sides of the food allergy fence. You know all of those hidden fears that float around inside of your head? Those doubts about what you decided to do as a parent to keep your child safe? Or if you are the only one that felt like there must be more that you need to know about food allergies other than what you are told is correct. This is a no judgement zone- this is the extended family and support network that you have been waiting for since the food allergy diagnosis. This is the place that you cannot wait to go back to next year even before it has ended this year. This is where you know you feel safe, no matter what. And the best part? Endless, free hugs.. because that's what all families do and there is no shortage at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. Perhaps because badasses give the best hugs ;)

Badasses Research Better Than Anyone Yup. Those labels that you check, double-check, recheck again? You will meet many others that are right there with you and they may even give you better information on how to investigate more accurately. Those companies that think they are being seen as "partnering with the food allergy community" but, in fact, are using it as a disguise to market their products for evil vs. good- yeah, we all know about them and yes, we all discuss how we will avoid them politely amongst ourselves. Saving money? Well, duh! This is always a must with food allergies because these safe foods cost and we all love to share. I mean, even when we aren't working, we are working.

Photo courtesy FabLogCon

Who Gathered These Badasses? This conference began because of Jenny Sprague- fellow food allergy mother and blogger of Multiple Food Allergy Help. If you have had the honor of meeting Jenny, you will instantly know that she is the ultimate badass. I wanted to take time to say thank you to Jenny for all of her hard work and dedication for putting this dream of hers into reality for all of us. A big thank you to her staff and people that helped her keep this conference as awesome as it was- I envy you all.

Now What? Now, we all wait to see what the details are for the 2016 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. Now, we all settle back into our normal lives and schedules, although it often feels a little lonely when you get back home (is it just me?).  Now, I use all of my knowledge to see what else I can do to help other people each and every day. Those of you who made sure to introduce yourself to me- I loved and appreciated it so very much! I know the people that look to me for advice are just as important as my passion to have me continue. A very special thank you to Winona Pure Oils for being my event sponsor, for having their products in the swag bags and for sticking to what they believe in doing just as much as the food allergy community does.

Tell Me! Did you go too? Comment below and tell me about it.

~ Until next year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Organize a Kitchen for Food Allergies

You know I am a self-professed Kitchen Geek- the kitchen is my life and not only do I catch myself "geeking out" over kitchen items but I also feel the need to continue to help others who need it. We all need some extra help in the kitchen, especially when food allergies are concerned. This often starts with how to organize your kitchen to avoid cross-contamination, accidental allergic reactions and, in  general, ways to keep your entire family safe.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when someone from Modernize approached me and asked if they could write a guest article for my blog. Because as you all know- if you love your kitchen, it will love you back.

I'm happy to share these wonderful food allergy organizational tips (and, gosh- check out the kitchen pictures too!! Drooling, geeking, ok onward) 

How to Organize a Kitchen for Food Allergies
By Mary Sauer

Once you or a loved one are diagnosed with a food allergy, it seems like your day-to-day routines are turned upside down. This is especially true in the kitchen. You family’s favorite meals may now be off limits for the recently diagnosed family members. Now that you have to concern yourself with cross-contamination, food storage and preparation has become exceptionally complicated. In the article, we will help you develop a plan for organizing your kitchen for food allergies.

photo courtesy via Modernize
Color Code Everything

When you have a severe food allergy, you have to worry about more than accidentally consuming the food you are allergic to. Cross-contamination is a real risk, and people with allergies have to make sure the appliances they use weren’t previously used on a food they are allergic to or that their food wasn’t prepared on the same surface as a trigger food.

Avoiding cross-contamination isn’t easy, but it can be simplified. Invest in color coded utensils, plates, and containers. Set clear rules with your family so they know what colors indicate safe foods and what colors indicate off-limit foods. If you are concerned about storing your food, you can also invest in color coded bins for your refrigerator and pantry.

Focus on Accessibility

Cooking for food allergies is typically a very involved process. Processed foods that make dinner time convenient are now off limits, and cooking with fresh foods is the only thing that will work for your family. Make dinner preparation as easy as possible by keeping allergy friendly foods easily accessible while you are cooking. If possible, keep your allergy friendly staples within arm’s reach of the stove and give your fruits and veggies priority seating in your refrigerator.

 Create a Master Shopping List

Now that food allergies are a part of your life, grocery shopping takes a lot more planning. Cut down on the amount of time it takes to plan your meals and grocery trip each week by creating a master list of allergy-friendly meals. What foods does your family eat every week? What is the one item you will doomed without if you run out? Put all of your favorite allergy friendly foods on your master list and make sure they make it your cart every single week.

photo courtesy via Modernize
Create a Food Allergy Safety Kit

When you or someone living in your home has food allergies, keeping your kitchen clean and sanitized is crucial to your family’s wellness. A food allergy safety kit is a great way to make this simple. Use a bucket or a caddy to store your sanitizing solution, dishcloths, and rubber gloves in one, easily accessible spot.

At Modernize, we believe the perfect kitchen is a functional kitchen. The key to success in a food allergy friendly kitchen, and the key to maintaining your sanity, is organizing your kitchen. With a concrete plan for meal planning, food storage, and food preparation, you can survive the switch to an allergy-free kitchen. 

<3 Thanks to the peeps at Modernize for the article and for asking to keep our food allergy families just that much safer (and, if you ever have an extra kitchen, I'll take one). #KitchenGeek