Friday, December 10, 2010

Tis the Season....

To be honest with you, I have been struggling this holiday season with working around the food allergies. It seems that so many activities center around food, which of course I love, but it does create some stress when trying to avoid allergens for my two-year old son.

In the past week, Brody has had two reactions due to cross-contamination. Not life-threatingening, but enough to scare us and have the epi-pen in hand (thank goodness for Benedryl, we don't leave home without that or our epi-pen). It is stressful when you think you are keeping your child away from the potential "dangers" and they still have reactions and you are not exactly sure how it happened.

We are preparing to go on a Polar Express train ride with my family a couple hours away. This will be the first time that we have traveled somewhere that wasn't to family's house where things were bought and prepared that were safe. We are not going away long, but I have felt anxiety as I have been getting things ready to go. It is in these times, that I feel sadness that I can't just pack up our clothes, etc and eat out at any restaurant we want and just enjoy being away from home. As a mom who has a child with food allergies, I have to think about what I can pack for him for meals, etc and feel as though I can't just fully relax.

On the Polar Express train, they will be serving the children cookies and hot chocolate as they ride to the "North Pole" in their pj's. This is great for my four year old, but Brody is now at the age that he understands and wants to have what his big brother is having. I have to make sure that I deliver very close to (or better than) what everyone else is having.

I went on a mission yesterday to find some non -dairy hot chocolate (also without partially hydrogenated oils, which is trans fat). I know I could probably make homemade mix, but things have been so busy that I do not have time to buy a ton of ingredients and it turn out bad. Hot chocolate is not complete without marshmallows, so I was also looking for some that do not have dyes in them (we try to avoid dyes).

The last special item that I that I wanted to find was safe candy canes that didn't have dyes (red #40 in them).

Whole Foods delivered with all three items!

I almost cried as I saw the non-dairy hot chocolate mix...I don't know if it was the excitement, or the price :) I have learned that it is necessary to splurge on some items so Brody can feel included and be a part of what we are doing.

-I am having a cup as I write this blog, and I will tell you that is not as sweet as other dairy-filled brands, but what a wonderful option to have, and I fill much better about the ingredients list (even for the rest of my family).
Besides being non-dairy, it is also wheat and gluten free.
-It is made in a facility that processes peanuts, sesame, dairy, eggs, fish and soy.
(for my family, I have been comfortable that it is made in a facility with....I am not as comfortable when it is made on shared equipment and there is not a note stating that the venders follow good manufacturing practices to segregate ingredients to avoid cross contact with allergens). Make sure you do what makes you feel comfortable.

-In my opinion, I think they are better than regular marshmallows. They are sweeter so you might not need as many. They come in small sizes for hot chocolate and baking and larger sizers for making smores, etc.
They are Gluten Free, Kosher and Parve (dairy free), but they are made with kosher fish gelatin, which would not be appropriate for someone who is allergic to fish.
-the red stripe on the candy cane is not as pronounced, but there are perfect!Fruit juice is used instead of the dyes, which I LOVE!
They are gluten free, vegan kosher and also organic and corn syrup free.
Produced on dedicated nut-free and gluten-free equipment in a segregated area of a facility that also processes diary, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat.

I hope that these simple items can make it easier for you to make memories with your family and allow you or you or your child to feel included :)

Anyone else feel more stressed around the holidays in regards to food allergies?

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Allergen Free Thanksgiving

I am sitting here watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with my boys and getting ready to make some food for our Thanksgiving dinner. I am so excited that almost the entire meal with my family will be safe for Brody (milk, egg and peanut free)! It makes it less stressful and I want him to be able to enjoy the foods that are a part of our family traditions.

I am thankful that we have a much better handle on the food allergies today than we did last year, but we still have some reactions now and then (example: someone kissed Brody on Halloween who had just eaten chocolate and Brody had a skin reaction). It is really amazing how far we have come in a year. If you are just starting this journey, I want to encourage you that it does get easier as you get comfortable with what foods/products are safe.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful, memorable, safe Thanksgiving!

Here are a just a few highlights of what we will be having....

Organic Turkey cooked with lots of fresh herbs/with homemade safe gravy

Roasted Asparagus (bake on 400 for about 10 minutes with extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper...can add freshly squeezed lemon juice for extra flavor)

*Ordered a wheat, egg, milk, peanut free Pumpkin Pie from Aunt April's Bakery

*I love this idea as an appetizer or a centerpiece

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Overstuffed Baked Apples

This recipe is free of milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish

  • 4 large apples, cored (I used Organic Granny Smith...Whole Foods has Organic Honeycrisp on sale today only for $1.49lb)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar OR local honey for a "healthier version"
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (can find Gluten Free oats)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, a healthy grating
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons safe butter, cut into pieces (I used Earth Balance...can buy soy free if needed)
  • 1/8 cup, regular or golden raisins


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Sprinkle cored apples with lemon juice. Mix next 7 ingredients and over-stuff apples. Bake 20 minutes in a small oven safe dish. Once cooled, I removed the skin (for my boys) and cut it up into pieces. They loved it!
Enjoy a beautiful fall weekend with your family and make lots of memories!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

An Allergen Free Cheese That Tastes Good?

I just got a phone call from my good friend who just finished eating homemade english muffin pizzas with her food-allergic child with cheese that tasted good! Non-dairy cheese that tasted GOOD? I listened up....she got my attention on this one. I had to share this!

I remember when we first started this food allergy journey, I looked for non-dairy cheese and then figurred out that some of the brands have casein in them. Really? Doesn't make much sense to me.....most people who are looking for non-diary cheese might want to be avoiding casein...hmmm....

After trying several types of dairy free/casein free cheese (there weren't too many choices), I decided that I would rather live life without it. I did attempt to give it to Brody, I thought, "He doesn't know what real cheese tastes like, so he won't know the difference"....he refused it. I didn't blame him. I ate my pizza cheese free with just sauce and lots of veggies. As Brody is getting older (almost 2), I would love to make him a pizza that looks like a pizza and maybe even tastes like a pizza ;)

I am very excited to try Daiya Vegan Cheese (oh, and it is SHREDDED!!!!). I remember trying to shred my non-diary/casein free block of cheese and even the texture (rubbery) grossed me out! This could mean homemade pizzas with shredded mozzarella at the house! That would be so fun! They also have shredded cheddar (think...chili, casseroles, etc).

Daiya Vegan Cheese is free of the common allergens including dairy (casein and lactose), soy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts.

I guess I will be grabbing some at Whole Foods and checking it out ;)

Remember that Whole Foods has a wonderful return policy. If you do not like the product you are trying (because I know sometimes you might not want to try a product because of the cost and then would hate to throw it away if you don't like it). If you bring in your receipt, they will refund your money OR if you do not have your receipt, they will give you a store credit.

Let me know what you think!
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Healthy Lunches with No Waste....

My oldest son has started pre-school two days a week and we are adjusting to the new schedule (life has just been busy). The pre-school we send him to is not close to our house, so Brody and I stay up in the area and run errands so we don't waste gas or time. Plus, I figure grocery shopping might be easier with one :) Because we do this, Brody and I also need to pack a lunch on these days.

I have to tell you about A friend of mine told me about them and I am so glad she did! They make packing lunches easy, and much less wasteful than using tons of plastic baggies. I love that it has 3 compartments, because it makes me be more creative with what I pack for them and I find it is a healthier lunch. I can give them to the boys in the car and the act like a little tray. It is an easy way for them to eat their lunch. Having a child with food allergies, we pack lunches and snacks all of the time when we go out and this system has been a lifesaver!

We packed a family picnic this past weekend (there are four of us) and we each had two easylunchbox containers in each cooler (and we had two coolers). There was also room inside the cooler for an ice pack and apples.

This is similar to the new bento luchbox system and you can even buy pieces to add to make your more creative/functional. Check out the gallery of some of the lunches that have been packed using this system.

Due to overwhelming demand, they are currently sold out of container sets....BUT a new shipment arrives Mid-October (which really isn't that far off). Place your order now and they will include a FREE cooler bag that fits with the container sets (a $7.95 value) as a thanks for your patience.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Picking Apples....

One of the activities that we can do, that is food related as a family, is pick local produce. This past spring/summer, we picked strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, went into our garden and gathered our harvest or took a trip to the local farmer's market.

It is such a wonderful feeling to see Brody pick fruit right off the tree/bush and be able to eat it with no worries! Besides the wonderful health benefits of vine-ripened fruit/produce, supporting local farms and knowing where our food comes from, it is such a treat for a family who has food allergies! Then I get to come home and make safe treats with the yummy fruit/produce.

This past weekend, we were able to visit Mercier Orchard and pick our own apples (the apples are herbicide and pesticide free) and were less than $1 a pound. We got to eat the apples right off the trees. They were the best apples I have EVER eaten (the Jonagold's were my favorite). The boys had a great time riding on the tractor up the hill to the many rows of apple trees. We went into the country store afterwards and were able to taste fresh apple was wonderful! I couldn't leave without buying some fresh apple butter (ingredients: apples, spices....LOVE it!)

I realize you might not be able to go to Blue Ridge, GA to Mercier Orchard, BUT I was in Whole Foods yesterday (in Cool Springs) and they had Gala Apples on sale for .99 a pound from Mercier Orchard!!!!! In the refrigerated section near the produce, they also had Mercier Orchard apple cider.

No matter where you live, I encourage you to find a local apple orchard and make some memories by picking and then making some yummy treats for your family.

If you know any good apple orchards near by (Nashville), let me know...we are still looking :)

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Deal on Grass-Fed Beef at Whole Foods!

What a DEAL! On Friday, September 3rd you can get Grass-Fed Beef for $3.99 lb at Whole Foods. I will be relaxing at the beach on a much needed vacation, but I will see if I can find someone to help me stock up :)

While you are there, stock up on Simply Orange Juice for $2.50 for 59 fl oz....this is normally $3.50 or more....this is a SUPER deal! We LOVE this OJ (especially when it is on sale!)

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A Day of Hope....

Team Allergen Free Please at the FAAN Walk

Things have been busy around here lately! We just finished up our first FAAN walk in Nashville, TN! We had 670+ walking to raise awareness. It was a beautiful day at Centennial Park and the company was wonderful!

I can't tell you how it lifted my spirits to meet other families who deal with similar struggles on a daily basis. It is just nice to be reminded that you are not alone. I can't tell you have amazing it was to have safe products all around us! I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was SO exciting!

We got to sample Divvies 2010 FAANtastic cookie contest winner choco-lot brownie cookie (I am eating one as I type...OH MY is DECADENT!). It says on the wrapper 1 for you + 1 to share...umm...this didn't happen :) Divvies is free of nuts, eggs and dairy. Epi Pen is treating you to 10% off enter promo code: EPI at checkout.

Enjoy life was there with coupons, soft baked snickerdoodle cookies, soft and chewy caramel apple snack bar and cinnamon crunch granola. It is great that Enjoy life is free of the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish).

Lucy's gave out Cinnamon Thins and Oatmeal Cookies (free of gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts). My favorite one was the Cinnamon Thins, they reminded me of fall.

Sunbutter handed out coupons and samples of their sunflower seed spread that is perfect for on the go!

We also got cool freebies and info from Epi Pen and FAAN, got to meet local asthma and allergy doctors and had fruit and water donated by Whole Foods.

I left with my bags full of safe goodies, my heart full of hope and felt rejuvenated and uplifted by all of the wonderful friends and families coming together for the same cause!
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bolthouse Farms...Feel Good About What's In This Bottle

We make our own smoothies at least twice a day, but I have found a drink/smoothie that is ready to drink that is SUPER yummy if you do not have time to make one yourself.

Bolthouse Farms has varieties of fruit smoothie drinks that are delicious on their own or you can use them in your own homemade smoothie and add even more nutritious ingredients to it.

So far, my favorite is C-Boost Fruit Smoothie because I love mango, but I have to say that I like the Green Goodness. I think because it is green, I feel like it packs a nutritional punch; it includes veggies (broccoli and spinach). In the Green Goodness, one bottle contains 3 3/4 servings of fruits and veggies. The USDA recommends that we eat 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, so this helps towards the daily goal. I am always looking for a way to get in our servings, since I am learning how important fruits and vegetables are to the health of my family.

Bolthouse Farms is 100% Juice/Puree (the three smoothies that have the below information are Green Goodness, C-Boost and Berry Boost...these are the ones that I bought)
  • Gluten Free
  • No Preservatives
  • No Artificial Flavors
  • No Genetically Modified Ingredients (LOVE THIS!!!!!!)
On the back of the bottle, it tells you what is in the bottle, for example, in the C-Boost it has 3/4 mango, 29 acerola cherries and 2 3/4 apples. I am such a visual person; I think this is so cool!

HERE IS A DEAL: if you have a Kroger nearby, you can stock up on some! A 15.2 FL oz bottle is $3.29, but they are buy one, get one FREE. So it comes out to $1.65 per bottle (which is a great deal for this smoothie). I have been looking for the bottles with the expiration dates that are farther out and I am stocking up. WE LOVE THESE! I think I am addicted. Grab some and tell me what you think! This deal expires on 9/11 so you still have time :)

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Buddy Fruits-Pure Blended Fruit To Go

Obviously, eating fresh fruit is the way to go....but sometimes you want to give your kids a "treat", need something fun to keep them happy while you are out and about, or a new idea to help them eat more fruit. Buddy Fruits are perfect!

Buddy Fruits....Pure fruit and absolutely nothing else. All natural, no added sugar
No preservatives
No colorings
No additives
No fat
No genetic modification
No water added
No dairy or gluten
Nothing artificial
Only few calories
Only fruit and nothing else!

And they are allergen free!

Fun Info: 1 pouch equals 1 serving of fruit. It is recommended that we eat 7-13 servings of fresh, raw, fruits and vegetables every day. A serving is about the size of your fist.

Buddy Fruits
Easy to carry anytime and anywhere
-fits in pockets, lunch boxes, etc. It is very flexible.

No spoon, No mess

Re-sealable! Cap fits back on tightly
-LOVE THIS! Put the cap back on, and save the rest for later. How convenient?

Baking Idea- use them to add more nutrition and flavor to muffins, pancakes, etc and make them moist at the same time. Just squeeze the amount of fruit you want into your mix and then put the cap back on, put it in your refrigerator and save the rest for next time.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Power of Fruit-Frozen Fruit Bars

With almost 100 degree temps around here, we have been beating the heat with cold treats!

When I saw the Power of Fruit-Frozen Fruit Bars and read the ingredients, I was in LOVE! I am a label reader (as I am sure many of you are), and to see just fruit, fruit concentrate and water with no added sugar, colors or preservatives...I knew this was a product that I could feel good about letting my kids indulge in and wanted to share with you.

Because they are made of just fruit, they are also Allergen Free!

Power of Fruit™ Bars are purely delicious fresh fruit, frozen. Unlike other frozen fruit bars that claim to be natural, we have no 6-syllable ingredients or laboratory additives that would disqualify us from a spelling bee.
We blend whole fruits like strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, mangoes, pineapples and bananas together with just a little all-natural juice concentrate and water. That's it. Just don't tell your kids a bar is equivalent to ½ a daily fruit serving.

Stay Cool, Healthy and Allergen Free!

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Back to School: Food Allergy/Gluten-free Store Tour

If you are local, the Whole Foods in Green Hills is doing a Back to School: Food Allergy/Gluten-free Store Tour next Thursday, August 12th from 3pm-4pm

For parents of children with food allergies or celiac disease, the beginning of the school year often means taking a close look at meal options to ensure the health and safety of their children. Join Whole Foods Market, Green Hills and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) as we provide a store tour on foods that accommodate food allergies and gluten-free diets. Parents from FAAN will also share relevant information. Parents and their children welcome!
Location: Meet at seating area at 3:00 p.m. next to coffee bar.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Edy's Fruit Bars

My boys have been enjoying Edy's Fruit Bars All Natural Strawberry this summer. It is free of the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish) and does not contain artificial colors.

Other flavors that are free of the top 8 allergens and does not contain artificial colors.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deal on "Ice Cream" at Kroger

I ran into a deal the other day that is too good not to share.

Kroger has Purely Decadent and So Delicious varieties of ice cream on sale until 8/14. Normally, a quart of So Delicious is $6.09 and it is on sale for $2.99; a pint of Purely Decadent Coconut Milk ice cream is also $2.99. This is definitely a price to stock up on! This is the time that I get to try new flavors that I have been wanting to try.

You can also CLICK HERE to get a coupon to make this an even better deal!

Get some ice cream, make some smoothies/milkshakes and stay cool!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Divvies Bakery Cookbook No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious!

I am so excited to share THE DIVVIES BAKERY COOKBOOK with you! When I found out Brody had food allergies, I wanted to find cookbooks that were specific to kids with food allergies that had yummy, easy recipes, and "normal" ingredients. This cookbook is one of of those. I sat down last night, and enjoyed reading through all of the recipes. I loved the personal touches throughout the book; they were practical and encouraging. I thought of my son, smiled, teared up and was inspired to make treats that everyone wants to eat!

When Lori Sandler’s son Benjamin was diagnosed with severe food allergies to dairy and nuts at a young age, she decided to take action. While she wasn’t trained as a pastry chef, she had many fond memories of visiting bakeries as a child and wanted Benjamin to experience those same warm moments and treats. And so after years of testing, tasting, and refining, the Divvies Bakery was born in 2005, a bakeshop dedicated to peanut-free, tree nut-free, milk-free, and egg-free products located in South Salem, New York.

According to Sandler, eating and celebrating should always be an inclusive experience and nobody should be defined by their food allergies. The very name of her company connotes “divvying up” and sharing. In her Introduction, she writes: “In the spirit of Divvies, I have written a book filled with recipes for delicious, safe treats that everyone will want to share, with or without food allergies, as well as tips, shortcuts, and ‘life recipes’ that will help everyone feel included.”

Featuring more than 70 sweet treats that anyone can easily prepare, THE DIVVIES BAKERY COOKBOOK is divided into sections that focus on the times in our lives when food plays an important role and those with food allergies often feel left out. From birthday parties and family holidays, to schoolroom and travel snacks, the book includes Sandler’s signature recipes, such as: crowd-pleasers like Warm Apple-Apricot Cake, Cinnamon Buns, and Divvies Famous Chocolate Cupcakes; one-of-a-kind treats like Popcorn Snowman, Wafflewiches, and “Brown” Chocolate Bags that you can fill with fruit or sorbet; interactive desserts like her Chocolate Fountain with Dippers; and special sections on sweet beverages, party favors, cake frostings, pie fillings and more!

It’s hard to believe these scrumptious goodies contain no dairy, eggs, and nuts. The ingredients left out are replaced with healthy dollops of natural chocolate, oatmeal, fruit, and molasses. Along with the Divvies recipes, the book imparts Sandler’s handy resources, basics for stocking the kitchen and getting started, and hard-won wisdom for parenting a child with food allergies, with useful advice for communicating with teachers and parents. And the book also features a note from Benjamin, now 11-years-old, in which he shares his personal story and favorite treats.

With the degree of “divviculty” indicated for each recipe, tips for the best birthday parties, perfect picnic baskets, cool cupcake towers, snacks in a cinch, tasty travel treats, and bonus gluten-free recipes, THE DIVVIES BAKERY COOKBOOK is the essential allergen-free cookbook for beginners and kitchen experts alike.

To get a copy of The Divvies Bakery Cookbook go to Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble or a bookstore near you!

Want to win a copy? We will be giving away a copy at our next FACT meeting on September 7th
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

YummyEarth...Treats You Can Feel Good About...

Yummy Earth is founded and run by two dads who wanted to share yummy treats with their children with no chemical colors, artificial flavors, corn syrup or anything they wouldn't be proud to cook with at home for their families, including GMO's.

You can feel safe YummyEarth Organic Fruit Lollipops are:

  • Certified Organic
  • No Artificial Dyes
  • 100% Natural Flavors
  • Real Fruit Extracts
  • No Corn Syrup
  • Casein-free
  • 100% Vegan
  • GMO-Free
  • Nut-free
  • Soy-free
  • Wheat-free
  • Dairy-free

SO....they are Allergen Free...isn't this great?

They proudly handcraft 21 delicious flavors with real fruit extracts and are just as proud of what is in YummyEarth as what is not; in fact, they even use organic black carrots and organic pumpkin for fabulous color!

Some of YummyEarth's intense fruit flavors are mango tango, pomegranate pucker, tooberry blueberry and wet-fact watermelon. Not only are these flavors tasty, the names have to make you smile.

The Ingredients on YummyEarth Organic Fruit Lollipops are:

Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Tapioca Syrup , and/or Organic Rice Syrup, Citric Acid (from beet sugar) Natural Flavors, may contain Organic Black Carrots, Organic Black Currant, Organic Apple, Organic Carrot, Organic Pumpkin

YummyEarth has also has the first ever real USDA organic Gummy Bears and Worms!

I have to tell you that I am not a huge gummy bear fan, but these were packed full of fruit flavor. Click HERE for the gummy bear/worm ingredients

The Gummy Bears/Worms are

  • Certified Organic

  • No Artificial Dyes

  • No Corn Syrup

  • Tree-nut Free

  • Real Fruit Extracts

  • 100% Natural Flavors

  • Gluten Free

  • Peanut Free

  • Soy-Free

  • Dairy-Free

  • GMO-Free

  • No MSG

Where to buy YummyEarth: Available at Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Whole Foods, Shop Rite, Publix, Meijer, LeGourmet Chef, Stop & Shop, buybuyBaby, Marriott hotels, Earth Fare, HEB, Disney World, Wegmans,, Harry and David, Smoothie King, Sprouts, Borders Books, health food stores, and supermarkets.

I was in Jason's Deli the other day, and they had YummyEarth lollipops near the cash register to take for FREE. What a nice treat!

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Local: Peek-a-boo Playtown is Peanut Free

I love that Peek-a-boo Playtown has a Peanut Free Policy. Can't wait to check it out!
*Thanks Ginger for sharing this with me!

They are having a Grand Opening Party tomorrow, Saturday July 10th from 9am-4pm at their Cool Springs location (3252 Aspen Grove Road, Suite 9). Admission will be FREE, and there will be prizes, balloons, a magician and much more. You could even win a free birthday party!

Peek-a-boo Playtown is an indoor play center with a Multi-Level Climbing Structure, Grocery Store, Tool Shop, Fire House, School House, Apartment, A separate toddler area, trains, dinosaurs plus more and it is peanut free!

Might see you there!
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Ice Cream" Sandwiches

All Natural SO Delicious Coconut Milk Minis have been a wonderful treat this summer. They are rich and creamy and are just the right size to satisfy your sweet tooth, since they are Minis. We LOVE them! The coconut milk "ice cream" has such a decadent flavor. And of course, much healthier ingredients than regular ice cream sandwiches. I won't go back to the regular ones :)
All Natural So Delicious made with coconut milk non-dairy frozen dessert
  • Agave sweetened center
  • 100 calories per serving
  • Dairy free
  • Rich in medium chain fatty acids
Click HERE to print a coupon

Allergen Information: CONTAINS: Coconut, Gluten/Wheat, Soy
I have to tell you, I LOVE Turtle Mountain! On all of their products, they state this
Allergen Information: Turtle Mountain applies strict quality control measures in an effort to prevent contamination by undeclared food allergens. To assure our preventive measures are effective, we sample test our products for the presence of dairy, peanut and almond allergens using state of the art testing methods. To learn more about our all allergen prevention program visit us at

They also have great dairy free ice cream....our favorite is Mint Marble Fudge, and we buy the vanilla to make milkshakes with :)
If you are gluten free, the Vanilla Minis Bars (does have soy) or Cookie Dough Ice Cream (they have it using soy ice cream or with coconut milk...both do contain soy though) would be a wonderful choice!
If you are soy free, they do have yummy coconut milk ice creams!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Fruits of Summer

We love fruit! We especially love local, vine-ripened fruit. It is healthy and allergen free.

Tomorrow, we are packing a picnic lunch and going to spend some time at a local farm that has pesticide free/herbicide free blueberries and blackberries. I am excited to eat as many fresh berries as we possibly can, and then freezing the rest to put in pancakes, muffins, smoothies, cobblers, pies, etc.

Every summer, we go to farms that have cherries, berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries) and peaches. The boys enjoy going to the farms and eating the fresh fruit (usually they do not wait until we get home). Doing this has really given me an appreciation for what is in season and I would rather give my money to local farmers. We look forward to picking every summer! It has become one of our traditions.

Go to to find farms in your area that have the fruits of summer.

Make some memories and enjoy the "fruits" of your labor :)

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream

Over the weekend, I was on a mission....a mission to find recipes for safe, homemade ice cream. I went to an adoption yard sale and found an ice cream maker (the kind that you have to put ice and rock salt in the bucket). I have never made homemade ice cream before. I hesitated buying it, because I have heard that a lot of the recipes call for milk and eggs. I felt pretty comfortable that there would be recipes on the Internet, but I wanted to make ice cream that creamy and yummy, not icy. I wasn't sure if we would be able to get the right texture and richness using milk alternatives, etc.

I bought the ice cream maker, and came home and did some research. I came across a book called The Vegan Scoop 150 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream That Tastes Better Than the "Real" Thing. I looked into it a little more, and knew that I had to get my hands on this book. I called the local libraries and they didn't have it. I was told they could do an inter-library loan, but it would take a week or two to get it in. I decided that I didn't want to wait that long to make some safe ice cream. I found out that The Vegan Scoop was at Borders and had them hold it for me. We went there and I browsed through it and was excited about what I saw. I used a coupon (you can sign up at Borders) which helped out with the cost, but I thought it pretty funny that the book was more expensive than my yard sale find :) Oh well!

With book in hand, and 5 lbs of ripe bananas that I found for a dollar (we froze the rest for smoothies), I was inspired to make safe banana chocolate chip ice cream. The result? YUM!!!!!! I was so excited about how it turned out! Peaches will be ready to pick soon, so I bet you can guess the next flavor of ice cream we will be making...

To me, ice cream is one of the treats of summer and the memories that the kids will have of making it are priceless!

Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

recipe adapted from The Vegan Scoop

This recipe is free of milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish

*it can be soy free if you substitute plain coconut milk and coconut creamer (I saw the creamer at Whole Foods...using plain and not vanilla, etc lets the real flavors of the ice cream come through). It even says in the book that you can experiment with other types of non-dairy milks (Almond, Rice, Cashew, etc.)

*you will need an ice cream maker


3 bananas, peeled and sliced

1 cup plain soymilk, divided *read above to make soy free

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (you can find this at Whole Foods, the brand I got was Bob's Red Mill...this is used as a thickener and helps the ice cream be glossy and creamy)

2 cups plain soy creamer (I used Silk) *read above to make soy free

1/2 sugar (I used organic cane sugar)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Safe chocolate chips (Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips There is a coupon on Enjoy Life website for .55 off any Enjoy Life product). I just dumped in the amount I wanted to use...just eye-balled it :)


In a food processor, puree bananas and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup soymilk with arrowroot and set aside.

Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup soymilk, bananas, and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.

Add vanilla extract.

Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2-3 hours. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Fold in chocolate chips right before serving or putting back into the freezer.

Yield: approximately 1 quart

Stay Cool!!!!!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Cherrybrook Kitchen Fudge Brownie Mix

Yesterday, I was at Target, and I found a Cherrybrook Kitchen Fudge Brownie Mix on clearance. It was marked down to $2.58, but had been $5.19. Plus, I had a $1 coupon from when I had contacted the company (it did not have an expiration date). So for $1.58 I decided to try the box of brownie mix.

There is such a convenience of using boxed brownie mixes, but obviously most are not safe for Brody because you have to add an egg (I tried one time to do a gluten free brownie mix with egg replacer and it took us DAYS to get it out of the was a rock!) and a lot of the regular brownie mixes have hydrogenated oils and other stuff in them that we try to avoid.

The brownies were pretty good. Next time, I would cook them for less time to make them more "fudge like", but I think you could take these somewhere and people would not question them being allergen free. It was the first time Brody has ever had a brownie and my older son was very excited too! It was such a fun treat for them AND me since I didn't have to cook it from scratch. I just had to throw in some safe melted butter, water and vegetable oil and mix.

The only hang up I would have is paying $5.19 for a box of brownies next time, since I probably won't find them on clearance or have a coupon. Honestly, that is a deterrent for me. Maybe it would be a good deal to buy them in bulk from Amazon? Anybody know any other ways to get the $5 box of brownie mix cheaper?

Click HERE to see the ingredients (they do contain wheat and soy)

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Reaction...Much Different from the Last Time

Last Friday, I ran to the store with my boys and had a million things on my "to do" list. As I was backing out of my parking spot (trying to see past the huge Tahoe that was parked on the drivers side), I felt my car stop. A F-150 and my car hit. Everyone was fine, both cars a little messed up, but we sat in the parking lot of the grocery store for about two hours and here is where the story begins....

It was almost 7pm by time we got done with the report, etc. The boys were hungry, it was getting late and I was emotionally exhausted. We decided to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant that has been safe for Brody the past couple of times we have eaten there.

When we got to the restaurant, it was extremely busy (Friday night). I spoke with the manager and made sure that the recipe for refried beans had not changed. He assured me that they were safe (no milk, eggs or peanuts).

We ordered the food, sat down and when it arrived, I noticed that Brody's beans had a little cheese on the side of the cup. I asked the lady if she could please get us another one because my son is severely allergic to cheese and it makes him have problems breathing and I told her we have to use an Epi-Pen. She took it back and brought out another one. Now, a little concerned, I took a spoon and looked through the beans and noticed that they looked "stringy", (like there was cheese in it). At this point, I was pretty frustrated and Brody was very upset that he couldn't eat his food. I walked up to the lady and asked her if there was cheese in the beans. She said no and I proceeded to ask if she saw them make it. She assured me that there was no cheese in the beans.

We ate our food and I didn't enjoy my dinner very much because I was watching Brody like a hawk to make sure that he didn't have a reaction, because I just felt so uneasy about the circumstances.

We got the boys home, put them to bed and two hours after ingesting the beans, Brody woke up screaming. When we went in to get him, he was wheezing, having difficulty breathing and extremely congested (snot was pouring from his nose) and coughing a little bit. We immediately gave him Benedryl and then I called a friend who is a nurse (she then called a relative that is a nurse practitioner) and recommend that we use Albuterol also and see if that didn't help the wheezing subside. Our plan of action was to use the Epi-Pen and get him to the hospital if the Albuterol didn't work.

I also called a friend of mine who has been on the food-allergy journey for awhile (I was so thankful that she got on the phone with me at 10pm) and asked if her son has ever had a reaction this long after ingesting something. I stayed on the phone with her throughout the breathing treatment. It is so encouraging to talk to those who can empathize with you.

After the Albuterol treatment, Brody's wheezing stopped and his breathing went back to normal. I held him for two hours and monitored his breathing. He also slept in my bed so I could keep checking on him (I set my alarm to wake up).

So, my thoughts on all of this?

First of all, I was thinking the entire time we were having to make decisions on what to do, was the $2 cup of refried beans worth all of this? Absolutely not. I felt responsible that he was going through this. It made my stomach feel sick. I guess we cannot trust certain places. I know it sounds bad, but I am more comfortable with the more expensive restaurants because the managers always seem to take care of it and ensure the safety of the food (but even then, there are no guarantees).

Next, my husband and I struggled with, "Is this a delayed reaction?" Can a reaction that happens two hours later be life threatening? Do we use the Epi-Pen? Last time, he reacted immediately after his accidental ingestion. I feel like there are not solid answers when it comes to using the Epi-Pen. I called my allergist yesterday and told him what had happened over the weekend. He said that this was not a delayed reaction...which made my heart drop. We essentially could have used the Epi-Pen and if he had reacted like this at the restaurant we probably would have administered it and ended up in the ER.

I was so thankful that Brody was alright, but it is something that hangs over our heads all of the time. Is the dining out going to cause a reaction that could make us end up in the emergency room? I am starting to feel more and more that it isn't worth it. People make mistakes and a little mistake could really hurt my child.

In the end, Brody was alright (thank goodness), I learned more about how he reacts and that even two hours later could be a life threatening reaction. I was also told by my allergist that if Brody had been in the care of someone else while he was wheezing and having this reaction that he should have been given the Epi-Pen; but he felt comfortable with what we did and the plan we had if it wasn't working.

To use or not use the Epi-Pen? I feel this seems to always be the question.....When in doubt, use the epi-pen. It cannot hurt your child to use it, but not administering it when needed, could be deadly.

Have any of your children experienced a reaction "after the fact"? I guess in my mind I thought that a severe reaction would happen I know better....

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ideas to Make Church/Preschool Safer for your Child?

I was approached by the Director of the Children’s Ministry at our church and he would love to hear thoughts/ideas from parents with food-allergic children on how churches, pre-schools, etc. can make it safer regarding snacks.

Most of the time, snacks are served to young children, and as we know, it makes it difficult to find a snack that is completely allergen free (milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish).

We bring in a safe snack for Brody each week, but that doesn't mean that he couldn't accidentally grab another child's snack (which has baked eggs and Brody has had an anaphylatic response)

What are you thoughts? What has worked at your church or preschool to make you feel comfortable? What would you like to see done?

Your opinions are invaluable...I would love to share this with him on Sunday at church :)

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ban Peanuts on Planes?

I heard this on the news last night, and read the article today. I was interested to read the comments, and found that they literally made my stomach turn. Some attitudes were insensitive, downright mean and uninformed.

Are peanuts really that important to people, or does banning them signify something else? Until your child (or someone you love) is affected by this, I truly believe that you cannot empathize. I was there, I did not get it AT ALL before. Life experience has changed my attitude.

We don't even know if Brody is definitely allergic to peanuts since it just showed up positive on his blood test (and since we won't be giving him peanuts for awhile to "find out"), but even if it turns out that he is not allergic later on down the road, I hold in my heart what it feels like for another mom going through it and would never jeopardize the safety of another child.

We teach tolerance on all different levels, why not for life threatening food allergies? I guarantee if someone saw a child turn blue, eyes rolling back in their head, stop breathing, have to be injected with a huge epi pen and seek emergency care afterwards, they would see it in a different light.

Ban Peanuts on Planes? It's Not Nutty to Allergics

By Russ Bynum
Associated Press Writer /June 12, 2010

SAVANNAH, Ga.—Federal regulators are considering a snack attack on the nation's airlines that would restrict or even completely ban serving peanuts on commercial flights.

Advocates say the move would ease fears and potential harm to an estimated 1.8 million Americans who suffer from peanut allergies. Peanut farmers and food packagers, however, see it as overreaching and unfair to their legume.

"The peanut is such a great snack and such an American snack," says Martin Kanan, CEO of the King Nut Companies, an Ohio company that packages the peanuts served by most U.S. airlines. "What's next? Is it banning peanuts in ballparks?"

Twelve years after Congress ordered it to back off peanuts, the U.S. Transportation Department gave notice last week that it's gathering feedback from allergy sufferers, medical experts, the food industry and the public on whether to ban or restrict in-flight peanuts.
The peanut proposals were listed in an 84-page document including several other proposed consumer protections for air travelers. Three options were given: banning serving of peanuts on all planes; prohibiting peanuts only when an allergic passenger requests it in advance; or requiring an undefined "peanut-free zone" flight when a passenger asks for one.

While those options only pertain to peanuts served by flight crews, the document also states "we are particularly interested in hearing views on how peanuts and peanut products brought on board aircraft by passengers should be handled."

Spokesman Bill Mosely said the department is responding to concerns from travelers who either suffer from peanut allergies or have allergic children, "some of whom do not fly" because they're afraid of exposure.

"We're just asking for comment on whether we should do any of these three things," Mosely said. "We may not do any of them."

Peanut allergy can cause life-threatening reactions in people ingesting even trace amounts. Just breathing peanut dust in the air can cause problems -- though usually minor ones -- such as itching, sneezing and coughing.

A few limited studies on airline passengers with peanut allergies found a number of people reporting symptoms while flying, but few were severe or life-threatening, said Dr. Scott Sicherer, who studies food allergies at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

"But there's discomfort," Sicherer said. "It's sort of like if you were allergic to dogs and all of a sudden they brought 50 dogs onto the plane."
Why worry about peanuts on airplanes, as opposed to other public spaces?

Advocates with the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network say the answer's simple: planes are confined spaces where the air and dust particles get re-circulated. And there's no way to stop and get off during a severe reaction during flight.

"It's a different environment when you're basically 30,000 feet in the air," said Chris Weiss, the group's vice president of advocacy and government relations. "If you're sitting around a bunch of people and all of a sudden they're all handed packages of peanuts, that could release enough peanut dust into the air to trigger a reaction."

The Transportation Department previously weighed imposing peanut-free zones on airliners in 1998. The agency retreated after getting a hostile response from Congress, which threatened to cut its budget.

Several airlines such as Continental, United, US Airways and JetBlue have voluntarily stopped serving packaged peanuts as mile-high grub. Delta and Southwest still hand out goobers as in-flight snacks. American Airlines doesn't serve packaged peanuts, but it does offer trail mix and other snacks that can contain peanut ingredients.

Not surprisingly, government regulation of peanuts on planes is a woefully unpopular idea in Georgia -- the nation's top peanut producing state and home to former President Jimmy Carter, who grew up on a peanut farm.

"The peanut industry feels like we're being picked on," said Armond Morris, who grows peanuts on about 270 acres in rural Irwinville and serves as chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. "If we're going to go targeting food products, maybe we just need to ban all food" on planes.

Arlene de Armas of Miami sees things differently as she makes plans for her family to fly to Pennsylvania for a summer vacation. Her 7-year-old son, Leandro, is allergic to peanuts.
She's already planning on what precautions to take -- calling the airline ahead to request no peanuts are served on her son's row, bringing sanitary wipes to clean the folding table in front of his seat and packing epinephrine -- or adrenaline -- to administer if he suffers a severe reaction.

"It's the added stress of knowing, God forbid, you could have a situation where he has a reaction and you have no way of getting to a hospital," de Armas said. "Peanut allergies are severe enough and common enough. Why not serve fruit?"

Go HERE to leave a comment for DOT (Department of Transportation) under What DOT wants to know from you
If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments with the info/link
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