Friday Feature: Linda Coss

This Friday Feature showcases Linda Coss. I am not exaggerating when I say that Linda's food allergy books were a lifesaver for us when our son was first diagnosed with multiple food allergies. Her recipe books taught me how to make safe foods our whole family could enjoy. Linda's "Practical Tips" book guided us through many situations related to school, travel and holidays.

Learn more about Linda through our recent interview:

How did you first become involved in food allergies?

Eighteen years ago I shared a bowl of ice cream that changed my life. I dipped a taster spoon into the melted bit at the bottom of the bowl and let my 8 month old son lick it off. Then I went home and put him down for a nap.

A little while later, that “mother’s intuition” voice told me to go check on him. He was beet red from head to toe. I picked him up and he started projectile vomiting. It was like a devil baby in a horror movie the way this stuff was shooting across the room! His ear began to swell and so began my life in the food allergy lane.

When I first started on this path, life-threatening food allergies were practically unheard of. Almost no resources were available, the internet didn’t exist (or if it did no one in the general public had heard of it), food manufacturers weren’t required to include ingredient panels on their packaging, and the Americans with Disabilities Act was so new that it was not yet widely enforced.

I am very happy that so many people have been successful in their efforts to change this, and make things easier for those who have to cope with this very challenging condition.

Over the years I’ve started a local food allergy support group (which I ran for 13 years), written and self-published three food allergy books (“How To Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips For Everyday Life,” “What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook,” and “What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook”), and – most recently sent my food-allergic son off to college.

What are you passionate about in the food allergy field?
I am passionate about making it easier for others to manage their child’s life-threatening food allergies. Through my books, it is my goal to help others parents create a safe and enjoyable life for their food-allergic children, and to make safe/easy/delicious food that the entire family can enjoy.

People often write to me with questions, and then are shocked when I write back – usually the same day. When I say in my books that “I’m here for you,” I really mean it. I am passionate about helping people.

What else are you working on in the food allergy area?
Last week-end I gave the keynote address at the AFAA’s 6th Annual Food Allergy Conference and Expo. I would love to have more speaking opportunities such as this. Unfortunately, few event organizers have the budget to fly me out from Southern California!

What are your favorite food allergy friendly foods/products?
There are a number of food allergy friendly treats that I think are terrific but rarely purchase because of the high cost of shipping to California (such as Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates, Divvies’ cookies, and Home Free’s coffee cakes). I also think Cherrybrook Kitchen’s new ready-made cookies are truly delicious.

Of course, my favorite food allergy friendly products are my books! Even now that Jason has moved off to college and I theoretically can cook anything I want, I still find that I cook most of my meals using the recipes in my cookbooks.

“What else do you do for a living besides write and publish food allergy books?”

In addition to running my book publishing business, I am also a freelance marketing writer. I help businesses reach their goals by writing targeted and effective websites, brochures, letters, newsletters, articles, and other written materials for them. You can learn more about this at Plumtree Marketing.

What are some of your other interests/hobbies?
Well, I really do enjoy cooking, and after all those years of creating recipes it seems strange not to be doing so any more! I also enjoy gardening, walking (my morning walk is often a highlight of my day), entertaining, reading, and going to lots of different types of live entertainment (concerts, theatre, lectures, comedy shows, etc.).

Note from the Food Allergy Assistant: Some of our family favorites are recipes from your books (Spaghetti and Meatball soup, Cinnamon Roll Biscuits, and Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping- to name a few!), so we hope you keep creating great recipes and sharing them with us!

Linda's books are available at FoodAllergyBooks.com. She says, "I’m always happy to personally autograph books, or include a gift enclosure card in the package. Just write in your special request in the “special instructions” section of the order form".

Also, Linda now posts near-daily food allergy management tips on Twitter and she's got a Food Allergy Books fan page on Facebook.

Thanks Linda for all you do to help make coping with food allergies easier.
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