Friday, August 15, 2014

Great Product for Eczema!

Puzzled GreenI remember it well. My baby's constant scratching; the marks raked up and down the newborn skin; the blood droplets on the sheets and pillowcases in the morning. Eczema is tough to figure out and treat- especially for a baby or young child. 

I love the Flip Mitten Sleeve from Scratch-Me-Not! It so soft and, well, quite brilliant. No matter how short we cut our baby's fingernails, it wasn't short enough. By covering the fingers, with the soft mitten, there will be less damage to the skin from constant scratching and picking. The sleeve is worn across the shoulders so babies and little ones can't easily remove it. Lotions and ointments stay put when the sleeve is on. 

There is a 15% discount on their website when you subscribe to the Scratch-Me-Not newsletter, so take a look to see if their products may help may life a little less itchy.

Disclosure: I received a free sample of this product to review. I was not pressured to give a positive review, but I really think it's a great product, so I did:)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Food Allergy Recipe Books Now Electronic

I have long credited Linda Coss with teaching me how to bake great allergy friendly cookies, waffles, pancakes, desserts and more. My copies of her books, What's to Eat and What Else is to Eat are stained and dog-eared due to overuse. That's why I was so excited to hear from Linda that her books are now available as e-books at, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and most other major e-book retailers! It will be far easier to wipe off a batter splatter from my screen than from a paper page:) If you need to cook and bake without dairy, eggs or peanuts, these recipes are for you.

Linda has kindly allowed me to share two of my family's favorites from her books to celebrate their electronic release. Enjoy!

Wheat Germ Baking Powder Biscuits

These biscuits are a little sweeter and a little healthier than my basic Baking Powder Biscuit.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Makes 15 (2-inch diameter) biscuits.

  • 1-2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (i.e. buy the variety called “toasted”)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a 1- or 2-cup measuring cup, mix the water and oil together; add to dry mixture and mix well.
 Knead dough 20 to 25 times on a floured board. Roll the dough on a floured board until it is 1⁄2-inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or an overturned glass, cut dough into 2-inch circles; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until done. Serve hot, with honey, jam, or dairy-free margarine.
Reprinted with permission from “What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook” by Linda Marienhoff Coss,

Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

Okay, I’ll admit it – this doesn’t actually call for spaghetti, because when I tested the recipe with spaghetti noodles the pasta kept falling off the spoon. But “spiral pasta and meatball soup” just didn’t sound as good!

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings (about 1-1/3 cups each).

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans dairy- and egg-free fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth (3-1/2 cups broth)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 of a small brown onion
  • 3 large cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (8 ounce) package dairy-, egg-, and nut-free spiral pasta
Place chicken broth, tomato sauce, oregano, basil, sage, thyme, and pepper in a 4-quart pot; mix well. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered.
 Peel and chop onion; you should have 1/4 cup. Peel garlic and press through garlic press. Set aside.
 Place ground meat, parsley, and seasoned salt in a medium mixing bowl; mix well. Form mixture into 1/2-inch-diameter mini meatballs. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
 Add meatballs and cook, occasionally stirring gently, until browned on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove meatballs from skillet and add to simmering soup. Add prepared onion and garlic to skillet and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until onions are soft, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions and garlic from skillet and add to soup. Add pasta to soup. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked, stirring once or twice during cooking time. Serve hot.
Reprinted with permission from “What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg- and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook” by Linda Marienhoff Coss,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ready2Go With Food Allergies

Have you heard about the new campaign? Pro-football player Adrian Peterson has teamed up with Mylan to talk about his food allergies and his anaphylaxis action plan in a new campaign, Ready2Go. Check out his video for inspiration and then let you kids upload their own 30 second video to share with Adrian. Three winners will be chosen and those kids will get to make an educational film with Adrian. 
This is such a cool way to show kids that adults and famous people have to deal with avoiding certain foods due to allergies and also need to carry life-saving medications. Hurry! The draft closes on July 15, 2014.
Adrian Peterson of Minnesota Vikings

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's Easter Time!

The commercialized aspect of Easter revolves around chocolate and bunnies (made of chocolate) and eggs (hard-boiled or made of chocolate and filled with peanut butter) and marshmallow chicks (that now carry an allergen label warning of possible contact with dairy). This time of year can be a minefield of mishaps and misunderstandings when food allergies are involved- especially for young children. 

Here are a few of my favorites ways to celebrate the treat part of this holiday:

Happy Easter!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Six Food Allergy Happenings You May Have Missed Over the Holidays

New Year's Eve
So, the decorating and present buying and singing of Auld Lang Syne is done. While you've been enjoying the holiday season with family and friends, here are a few items related to food allergies that you may have missed:
Epi Injectors
  • The date has been set for the 2nd Annual 2014 Food Allergy Bloggers Conference. Start saving your frequent flier miles for a trip to Las Vegas Sept. 26-28.
  • Mylan is extending their $0 copay for EpiPens through 2014. Go to for details.
  • Sanofi is also extending their $0 copay program for Auvi-Q  through 2014. Go to their website for details.
  • The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Team has formed to educate, advocate, and raise awareness for all individuals and families affected by food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis. 
  • KFA is offering a free webinar on 504 Plans and Individualized Halthcare plans. Sign up for the January 14 event and learn how laws protect food allergic students.
  • FARE has partnered with Research Match to help connect patients with food allergy studies.
 Did I miss anything? My mind may still be a bit fuzzy after too
Chocolate Chip Cookies
much "sparkling cider" and too many holiday cookies....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Debunking Food Allergy Myths

There has been some great information coming out of last week's Conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). One of the speakers, Dr.  David Stukus, presented on the outdated information related to allergies that still circulates. Among the myths:
  • "I can't get the flu shot because I'm allergic to eggs."
  • "I'm allergic to food dyes."
  • "I can take an at-home blood test to find out which foods I'm allergic to."
  • Avoid giving highly allergenic foods to babies for their first 12 months of life.
It is difficult to stay on top of the latest research, but it is important for families to be aware of the changing conversations about food allergies. Reach out to your allergist if you have any questions about how to manage food allergy. You can read the complete news release of Dr. Stukus's presentation here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dairy Free Dark Chocolate

ShareI do enjoy dark chocolate. I like that slight bitter to the sweet and there are so many health benefits (doesn't it help you lose weight, sleep better, give you more energy and make you resistant to all illness and disease?:)

I was thrilled when Enjoy Life recently asked if I wanted to try their new dairy-free dark chocolate chips. I thought dark chocolate would need to stay out of my family dairy-free recipes, but those days are now over. These dark chocolate chips are dairy-free and delicious...especially in my dark chocolate chip cookies. I love a product with two ingredients- in this case unsweetened chocolate and cane sugar. That's it! So simple. There's a coupon on the Enjoy Life homepage for their products. Print it before heading to the grocery store.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Teaching ALL Kids About Food Allergies


Have you seen the adorable Supermarket Search game at It's a great way to share the importance of reading ingredient labels with kids, and you get to print out an allergy  friendly recipe at the end. While you're on the site, download the free ebook about Ana & Phyl Axis, narrated by Modern Family's Julie Bowen. 

I love that there are so many resources about food allergies for ALL kids!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Homemade Candy Corn and Halloween Goodies

 It's that time of year again! The witch/ghost/bat decorations are out of the attic and adorning the house and I've pulled out some favorite seasonal recipes like homemade candy corn and pumpkin apple muffins
 I recently had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Jo Frost in which she shared her experience with her own food allergies, as well as some Halloween tips for food allergy families. Here are some of her seasonal ideas:
  • focus on the non-food festivities like mask making, pumpkin decorating, face paint, spooky scavenger hunts.
  • remember that different sized treats may contain different ingredients. If you can't read the label, assume it's unsafe (that piece of advice is mine).
  • give your child something to eat before going out trick or treating or to a party. That removes some of the temptation to eat without thinking or because of hunger.
For more information about Jo's work on behalf of food allergy families, check out 25 Years of EpiPen, and while you're there, upload a photo showing how you carry your EpiPen and Mylan will donate $25 to leading allergy non-profit groups. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to Make Food Challenges Easier for Food Allergic Patients

 Another food challenge is on the calendar for later this month. This one is for eggs. After going through multiple challenges for wheat, milk, baked milk and baked egg, we've learned a few things and I plan to make some changes that will hopefully help relieve some of the anxiety and uncertainty heading into this one.

This time:
  • I will bring a variety of foods. Since this is an egg challenge, I will bring french toast, scrambled eggs and a hard boiled egg. This gives us several options and a back-up plan in case something goes wrong (food gets contaminated at the allergist's office- oh yes, it's happened!)
  • I will bring our toaster from home. French toast heated in the microwave multiple times is a soggy, mushy mess. The idea is to make the food appealing after we've referred to it as "dangerous" for over a decade.
  • I will bring plates, utensils and condiments from home. French toast just tastes better with a silver fork and a little honey or syrup.
  • I will bring a laptop and a Redbox movie we've been waiting to see. No more watching a movie from home for the seventeenth time- this truly needs to be a distraction! 
I also think the clinical setting could be better adapted for people going through food challenges, so I have a few suggestions for the allergists out there who conduct challenges in their offices. 

I wish allergists would:

  • designate a space for food challenges. Must we sit in a regular exam room, on a bed staring at tongue depressors and a disposal case for medical waste? This is not a space conducive to relaxed eating.
  • create a homey atmosphere in the challenge room. How about a table, comfortable chairs, a microwave and toaster oven we can use? A big screen TV and some board games would be a nice touch. We're trying to forget that we're sitting in a doctor's office waiting to see if there is going to an anaphylactic reaction. An inviting, calming environment would be helpful.
Do you have other ideas for families or allergists heading into a food challenge? I'd love to hear what works for you!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Allergy Friendly Bars
Enjoy Life has improved the taste of their chewy bars and added ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat flour to the recipe. I appreciate food products from Enjoy Life because they are made in a dedicated factory, so there is no risk of cross contamination of the top 8 most common allergens. Their products are also free of casein, sesame and sulfites. 

Cute Vera Bradley Lunch Bag!

The chewy bars make a great lunchbox addition and travel well for an anytime snack. They come in four flavors: SunButter Crunch (my personal favorite!), Cocoa Loco, Caramel Apple and Mixed Berry. There are five in a box, and since they have a long shelf life, feel free to order several boxes to take advantage of Enjoy Life's free shipping offer (on orders over $49). 

Food Allergy Assistant readers have a special incentive to try the new bars-  a 10% discount! Simply go to Shop Enjoy Life Foods and enter CHEWY10 at checkout. I'd love to hear your thoughts after trying them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Food Allergy Documentary

Discovery Channel Documentary
Did you get a chance to watch the Discovery documentary, "An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America"? If not, you can view the 53 minute show online when you get a chance. A word of caution: it is graphic and may not be appropriate for kids. I would advise parents to preview it first.

I do think the documentary was well-done, but it is tricky to produce an educational film for different populations. It is a great piece for adults directly impacted by food allergies. It is also a learning opportunity for those not directly impacted by food allergies. This documentary can raise awareness about anaphylaxis and the dangers of food allergies. It can educate grandparents, teachers, coaches, babysitters and others who may come in contact with people with food allergies. 
Eating out with Food Allergy

It is a hopeful piece. To hear teens and adults talk about how they don't let food allergies "define them" and that you can "overcome obstacles" is a wonderful message for parents and young people who deal with food allergies. It is a thought-provoking piece. Why is it that food allergy rates have doubled in children since the late 1990's? There has been much research into causes and treatments, but there is still a long way to go to determine why more people are allergic to foods and how to best manage living with food allergy.

I also appreciated the term "threshold" used in the documentary to describe that everyone with food allergy has a different level of tolerance. This makes sense to me as a way to specifically address food allergy to others like the school nurse, restaurant staff, the school cafeteria, or caretakers. Every person with food allergies has different needs and it is up to parents, and eventually the food allergic person, to articulate those needs to others. 
Dr. Gupta

A shout out to Dr. Ruchi Gupta who was interviewed in this documentary. She is a strong food allergy advocate in her roles as a doctor and a parent of a food allergic child. Thank you to FARE and Mylan for their support of this show. Education and awareness is the key to keeping everyone with food allergies safe. After you watch the documentary, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Food Allergy Blogger Summit

Last week, I had the honor of spending time with an inspiring group of food allergy advocates, bloggers and researchers. Mylan Specialty, maker of EpiPen®hosted a Blogger Summit* to lead an open discussion to share information and brainstorm ideas.

Click on linked names to visit the food allergy bloggers of this inspiring group.
Back row, from left: Keeley McGuire, Liana Burns of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Jenny Sprague, Cybele Pascal, Lindsey Steffensen, Elizabeth DiBurro, Tracy Bush
Middle row, from left: Libby Ilson, Siobhan Cavanaugh of Mylan Specialty L.P., Kelly Rudnicki, Judy Morgitan of National Association of School Nurses, Dr. Ruchi Gupta, Lynda Mitchell of Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, Tonya Winders of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, George Dahlman of Food Allergy Research & Education
Front row, from left: Joanne LaSpina, Ruth LovettSmith, Lauren Kashtan of Mylan Specialty L.P., Lisa Rutter, Sloane Miller, Heidi Bayer, Caroline Moassessi.

The focus on the summit was back-to-school, but any topic related to food allergies was fair game. The highlights for me included:
  • Dr. Gupta

    hearing from Dr. Rucci Gupta about efforts to establish a national registry to record anaphylactic reactions. Often these reactions may be documented as "wheezing" or "respiratory distress". Until we have accurate records, it is difficult to determine how many people are affected by anaphylaxis.

  • discussing 504 plans with Judy Morgitan from the National Association of School Nurses  and Lynda Mitchell from Kids With Food Allergies . Any student has the right to request a
    Judy Morgitan and Lynda Mitchell
    504 Hearing to determine eligibility. Accommodations at school may include guidelines for hand-washing and/or a safe zone in the cafeteria.

  • Updates from Tonya Winders, COO, of Allergy and Asthma Network (AANMA), Liana Burns, Manager of Policy and Programs at Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and George Dahlman, Vice president of Advocacy for Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). We learned how states vary in terms of access to epinephrine in schools and community
    emergency services. Check out AAFA's map to find out which US schools require stock epinephrine. Join in AANMA's advocacy efforts on behalf of all states and be on the lookout for news (and ways to get involved) of FARE's efforts in restaurant training, emergency services protocols and access to epinephrine in schools.
  • reminders from Mylan Specialty of their continuing work to bring together people affected by anaphylaxis through programs like 25 Years of EpiPen® featuring Adrian Peterson and Jo Frost, EpiPens4Schools and the Zero Dollar Co-pay Plan.
    Lauren Kashtan, Senior Manager
    Communications, Mylan Specialty

    (Isn't it terrifying to imagine dealing with food allergies before EpiPen®??? Twenty-five years ago, patients were told to avoid their allergic food, but in the case of accidental ingestion, get to a hospital immediately for treatment. Yikes!)
Besides all the learning, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner by Chef Kelvin at the Strand Hotel, insightful conversation with one another and a general feeling of hope and empowerment when it comes to food allergies. 

Thank you to Mylan Specialty for sponsoring this event and to Chandler Chicco Agency as well.

View of Empire State Building from The Strand Hotel Rooftop deck
*The information I share about the Mylan Summit is at my own discretion and based on my own opinion. My travel expenses for the summit were compensated by Mylan Specialty in exchange for evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting.