Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, Psychotherapist; Specialist in Food Allergy Management, Speaking At Mylan Specialty / EpiPen Event (© Noel Malcolm 2013)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Some irreverent humor from The New Yorker and Paul Rudnik for those of us seeing movies and eating Chinese food this week. And the glorious tree in Rockefeller for those celebrating Christmas.




Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Noodle Kugel, Dairy-Free

More kugel from the New York Timesel.

"The traveling kugel had a beautiful balance of sugary sweetness and noodlely starch. The chewy bite, texture and caramelization were all so pleasing. It was perfect as a cold dessert as predicted but warming it brought out different qualities as the sugar and Schnapps liquefied to form a pleasantly gooey bottom. This kugel has the magical quality of giving comfort to those who make, eat or even hear stories about it."

This one is without diary. So next year for Rosh Hashanah this is SO on my list to try with gluten-free noodles.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alcohol Allergies

Press release from AAAAI.ORG about alcohol and allergies from Allergic Girl colleague, Dr. Clifford Bassett:

MILWAUKEE – Toasting the New Year is a tradition that can cause more than a headache the next day. For some people, drinking may also trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

“It is usually not the alcohol itself that produces the reaction. It is most likely ingredients, such as sulfur dioxide (metabisulfite), yeast and additives. Common allergic reactions include hives, skin rashes, flushing and warmth of the skin, bronchospasm or shortness of breath, especially in those with asthma,” according to Clifford W. Bassett, MD, FAAAAI, Chair of the Public Education Committee of the AAAAI.

The key preservative in wine is sulfur dioxide. It is naturally produced by wine yeast in small quantities during fermentation. Sulfur dioxide is also used as a preservative in foods such as dried fruits, baked goods, condiments, canned foods, shellfish, frozen shrimp, canned tomatoes, frozen potatoes and fruit juices. If you tend to have a reaction to these foods, you may also experience it with wine.

Histamine can be another culprit. Bacteria and yeast in the alcohol generate it. Histamine is naturally released by the body during an allergic reaction so even if you don’t have an actual allergy, drinking alcoholic beverages may cause a runny or stuffy nose, itchy, runny eyes or worsening of asthma symptoms. Red wines often have a larger amount of histamines than white wines.

If you think you are allergic to beer, it is most likely the barley, corn, wheat or rye in beer that may cause similar allergic reactions.

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, visit www.aaaai.org for more tips and information that can help you have a happy, healthy new year.

The AAAAI (www.aaaai.org) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. To locate an allergist/immunologist, visit the AAAAI Physician Referral Directory at www.aaaai.org/physref.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Metal Allergies, WSJ

From The Wall Street Journal (through Pat Kiernan of NY1)

"Yet thousands of women (to judge by postings on the Internet) and a growing number of men develop what's officially called "wedding-ring dermatitis"—not to be confused with the "seven-year itch"—and it can happen suddenly after years of ring-wearing bliss...Nickel allergies have been on the rise in North America in recent years and now affect 24% to 36% of women and 7% to 15% of men, according to the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, which named nickel the 2008 "Allergen of the Year." Women are more likely to have pierced ears, which can facilitate a sensitivity to nickel if earrings containing the metal contact broken skin. But men are closing the gap due to the popularity of body piercing."

More here from WSJ.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Gluten-Free Guidebook, Allergic Girl

One of my favorite GF blogs is Gluten-Free Guidebook. Hilary travels all over the world, writes for Frommers (about travel, natch) and has celiac disease. She is one of my GF heroines. I bet she’ll become one of yours, too.

If that weren't fab enough, she has a novel coming out next year -- some of which I heard at a reading a few months back and I’m on the edge of my seat to hear more. From Hilary: It's called THE DAMAGE DONE, and Forge (a division of St. Martin's Press) is publishing it in October 2010. The story is about a travel writer who is called home to New York when her sister is killed, only to discover that the body belongs to a woman who'd stolen her sister's identity, and that her sister has vanished. Here’s an interview with editor David Cranmer for more.

Today, she posted a Q&A with this Allergic Girl but really it’s an excuse for me to tell you more about the lovely Hilary and send you to her site: Gluten-Free Guidebook. It has excellent travel info and restaurants and cities that are gluten-free friendly. Go Go to Gluten-Free Guidebook and then go travel somewhere fabulous and tell us all about it!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Ask and Re-Ask

When dining out, it is vital to ask and re-ask about your dish and its safety.

Even when you’re a regular.

Even when someone has your allergies memorized.

It’s always your job to keep yourself safe, not anyone else’s.

Take for example last week. After seeing Oleanna on Broadway (it was quite good, dated, but good) former WFD assistant and friend Ami and I went to Nizza for an after-theater drink.

The bartender overheard me bemoaning the lack of appetizer-sized socca. Without telling me, he ordered some off-menu panisse, little sticks of socca served with aioli. He knows my allergies very well by this point and can list them from memory. Sweet! But he also knows that I will ask him to check ingredients of dishes I eat all the time because I have to.

I was peckish, so when the panisse arrived in their golden glory, I was ready to tuck in.

“Thank you, so sweet. But aren’t panisse deep fried?”

He said, “No! They’re baked.”

“Really? Great!” I was about to pop one into my mouth (where my bets are that it would have been fine).

The bartender, watching me about to eat a stick said, “Wait!”

He double-checked with the manager whether their panisse are fried or baked.

The manager said, “They’re fried. She shouldn’t have them.”

They were whisked away, no harm no foul.

Seriously, always double check. Ask and re-ask. Smile, be your kind self, but do it!

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook, Holiday Baking



Perfect for holiday allergen-free baking is a new book, from another allergic girl and colleague, Cybele Pascal, The Allergen-free Baker's Handbook. Disclosure: I gave her a blurb and really enjoyed the book. Press release below from Cybele.

***

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

My new cookbook, The Allergen-free Baker's Handbook (Random House/Ten Speed) is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

This comprehensive baking guide is free of all top 8 allergens, as well as gluten and sesame. In addition to being a fabulous resource for those with food allergies and sensitivities, it's also a great looking coffee table book and makes a fantastic gift! You can order it now for the holidays and ensure a Christmas delivery by selecting 1 day shipping at checkout. (It's only $3.99 for 1 day shipping if you sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, which can always be canceled!)

Early Reviews:

“Few allergen-free cookbooks address the reader with the same grace, compassion, humor, and understanding of their core audience that Cybele Pascal’s does. With smart, easy-to-make, and beautifully pictured recipes, Cybele makes ‘luscious,’ ‘delectable,’ and ‘mouthwatering’ the new allergen-free baking buzzwords. Keep The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook in your kitchen for constant reference, and get your crumble on!”
Sloane Miller, president of Allergic Girl Resources


The Allergen-Free Bakers Handbook: How to Bake Without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, and Sesame. "Using her Gluten-Free Flour Mix-a combination of Authentic Foods superfine brown rice flour (worth its weight in gold), potato starch and tapioca flour-author Pascal (The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook) offers baked treats for the 25 million Americans suffering from food allergies. With a well-stocked pantry, readers will be able once again to enjoy favorites like gingerbread, chocolate chip cookies, pizza, and brownies without fear of a reaction. Those without allergies can also benefit from Pascal's collection-100 dishes, in fact, are suitable for vegans. Though recipes call for more ingredients than bakers are probably used to-dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening, agave nectar, and xanthan gum make frequent appearances-Pascal's sage advice on substitutions (applesauce in lieu of eggs, canola oil for butter, rice milk for cow's, etc.) should relieve some of the sticker shock. For sensitive diners and those who cook for them, Pascal's winning collection deserves a look. (Jan.)" --Publishers Weekly


AVAILABLE ON AMAZON DECEMBER 22ND, IN ALL MAJOR BOOKSTORES JANUARY 1ST!


Happy Holidays!

Cybele Pascal

http://www.cybelepascal.com
http://twitter.com/CybelePascal
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cybele-Pascal/164814396706?ref=ts

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Vegan Cookies, New York Times

Fun New York Times article about two sisters, one vegan one not.

Best line: "Brava. I think humor should be mandatory in every diet."

This means us food allergic peeps. Humor makes everything better.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Intelliject, Inc., sanofi-aventis

I’ve written about the Intelliject Epicard before for Health Central (here’s an interview with the twins who created the Epicard and who have food allergies!)

An excerpt from Health Central:

HC: How is the Epicard an improvement upon the current epinephrine injectors?

IE:
1) Size - The current devices are marker-sized and bulky. Studies have shown up to approximately 70% of those prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors do not carry it with them at all times

2) Safety - The currently marketed injectors have a needle that sticks out post-injection. This presents a sharps hazard and risk of a needle-stick injury.

3) Ease of Use - Current epinephrine delivery systems were not designed for the end user and use-related hazards occur often. For instance, using the pen metaphor- the safety cap is covering a hole and when you remove it, you would think that it's protecting the needle "business" end. This is not the case, so users sometimes remove this cap, flip the device over to inject, and end up injecting their finger or thumb instead. In addition, the device incorporates our "prompt" platform that provides audible and visual guidance to a patient to assist them or a care provider with the administration of the epinephrine.


***

So now it seems we are closer to seeing the Epicard get to market through an infusion of cash and a North American distributor. From an Intelliject press release:


Intelliject, Inc. Enters Into Licensing Agreement with sanofi-aventis for U.S./Canada Rights to Novel Epinephrine Auto-injector. Upfront Fees and Potential Milestone Payments Total Up to $230 Million

RICHMOND, Va. (November 30, 2009) — Intelliject, Inc. today announced an exclusive license with sanofi-aventis U.S. for a novel epinephrine auto-injector, in the U.S. and Canada territory. Under the license, sanofi-aventis U.S. shall be responsible for manufacturing and commercialization. Intelliject will be responsible for the on-going development and for obtaining U.S. regulatory approval and has retained certain co-promotion rights in the territory.

Sanofi-aventis U.S. will pay an initial upfront payment of $25 million. Intelliject will also be eligible to receive development and commercial milestones of up to $205 million as well as tiered double-digit royalties on sales of any products commercialized under the license.

"We are delighted to have sanofi-aventis U.S. as our partner with their proven track record in and commitment to the allergy/immunology area. This partnership marks a key milestone in our quest to make our novel epinephrine auto-injector available to the millions of patients at risk for anaphylaxis. We expect it to create significant long-term value for the company; it marks the first step on our mission to bring the same innovation and patient-centric solutions to many different therapy areas. Intelliject’s unique model – drug development expertise combined with a proprietary, patient-centric delivery platform - has the potential to dramatically redefine the “Standard of Care” in multiple biopharmaceutical categories," said Spencer Williamson, President and CEO of Intelliject.

About anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that involves a number of body systems and can be fatal within minutes. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates there are up to 2,000 episodes of anaphylaxis per every 100,000 people in the U.S. each year, although the precise incidence of anaphylaxis is unknown and is likely underreported.

Anaphylaxis can occur in people with allergies to certain foods, insect stings, medications, latex or other allergens. All published national anaphylaxis guidelines recommend epinephrine as the first choice treatment in an acute episode. The vast majority of deaths from anaphylaxis occur in individuals who do not receive epinephrine in a timely manner.

About Intelliject
Intelliject is a specialty pharmaceutical company dedicated to developing combination drug/device products that empower patients to control and gain freedom from their medical conditions. Each Intelliject product in development combines an established drug, an innovative delivery platform and a supporting dossier intended to show superiority, patient preference and cost effectiveness data.

Intelliject applies rigorous selection criteria to identify areas where its patient-centric approach and proprietary technology will offer superior solutions. The company only proceeds to an active development program once it has established that incremental clinical and economic benefit is achievable. Intelliject has a focused pipeline of active programs across a number of therapeutic areas, including small molecules and biologics.

Intelliject is a privately-held company headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. For online information please visit www.intelliject.com.

Intelliject Disclaimer
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the expected benefits of Intelliject’s collaboration agreement with sanofi-aventis U.S. Statements that are not historical facts are based on Intelliject's current expectations, beliefs, assumptions, estimates, forecasts and projections about the industry and markets in which Intelliject competes. The statements contained in this release are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions, which are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from what is expressed in such forward-looking statements. Important factors which may affect the expected benefits of Intelliject's collaboration and license agreements with sanofi-aventis U.S. include, but are not limited to, the risks that its novel epinephrine auto-injector may not gain market acceptance; Intelliject may not be able to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for its products and technologies; and Intelliject may not obtain necessary regulatory approval. Intelliject cautions investors not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this release. These statements speak only as of the date of this release, and Intelliject undertakes no obligations to update or revise these statements, except as may be required by law. Intelliject specifically disclaims responsibility for information describing sanofi-aventis U.S. and its business other than the license with Intelliject.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Share as much information as possible..."

An article from The Washington Post about diner etiquette: "How to be a better diner".

Jarad Slipp, the general manager of CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, likes it when guests share as much information as possible when they're booking a reservation. If a member of the party uses a wheelchair, for instance, the staff will make sure he isn't dragged through the length of the dining room when he arrives. Allergic to gluten? Need a vegan menu? The kitchen is equipped to handle all manner of dietary requests from patrons. However, having such wishes noted ahead of time allows the staff to better "tailor the experience for you," Slipp says, and "make it even more special."


Restaurants want to hear from you about your dietary needs. So, let them know, ahead of time and watch as many restos will do their best to ensure your culinary safety and enjoyment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1-2-3 Gluten-Free, Buckwheat Pancakes

I’ve been meaning to try 1-2-3 Gluten-Free for a few years now. According to the website, 1-2-3 Gluten-Free is: "...manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free (and peanut-free, nut-free and allergen-free) kosher facility utilizing only gluten-free ingredients. Your health is our number one priority. All of our products are gluten free, wheat free, nut free and peanut free. All of our products are also free of egg, dairy (including casein), all but two are free of corn and all but one are free of soy and their labels clearly indicate this." I met 1-2-3 Gluten-Free owners at two separate food shows and they kindly sent me some samples to try. Yippee and thanks!

A few weekends ago, I gathered some friends together (only two of us eat gluten-free) to try out a few pancake mixes. 1-2-3 Gluten-Free’s buckwheat pancake mix was the clear winner.

My friend Danielle, who is GF, about to dig in.

Light texture and not overly buckwheat-y, the pancakes cooked up nicely (as in actually bubbled, some GF mixes don't), weren’t too dense or bouncy (as some of the other GF pancake mixes can be) and were enjoyed by GF'ers and non-GF'ers. We made some chocolate chip versions and I caramelized some bananas just to gild this GF lily. Here’s what it looked like, so yum.

Our yummy GF breakfast with 1-2-3 Gluten-Free

The success of this 1-2-3 Gluten-Free mix makes me eager to try others in their line. Thank you for the samples, looking forward to the next taste testing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bistango, NYC

The first thing you notice when walking in to Bistango is Anthony: tall, handsome and smiling. He greets you, introduces himself, and basically beams at you until you can’t help but beam back. He makes it very easy to say, “Hi, I have food allergies.” The first time I went in to Bistango, and every successive visit, Anthony gave me his full and undivided attention and said, “Yes of course, tell me what you need.”

I thought, this can only go well.

Bistango is a NYC GF staple for my fellow NYC GF bloggers (Celiac Chicks, A Gluten-Free Guide, Gluten-Free NYC, Gluten-Free Fun and Gluten- Free Guidebook). From the Bistango website: The Gluten-Free Option. Recently, we've focused our attention on our customers' evolving healthy lifestyle and dietary requirements. Introduced five years ago, Bistango continues to offer its customers the option of tasty and quality-made gluten-free pastas, ravioli, pizza, bread, desserts and beer.

As I’ve written before GF doesn’t necessarily equal allergen-friendly. I wish it did, but you just can’t count on it. So I don’t run to
GFRAP approved or GF blogger approved spots. I may make my way there eventually but a GF-identified resto has to win me over like any other restaurant.

I’ve been to Bistango four times now, each time has been better than the last. The food is classic home-style Italian: antipasti, salads, pasta, meat, fish and sides. However, it’s so homey, I started ordering off menu after the first visit. It’s that kind of place. Also, I’m that kind of Allergic Girl, I order off the menu at a lot of places. Nothing crazy, but something I don’t see and that I’d like. And it's been yum every time.

The service at Bistango is attentive but unobtrusive. I’ve lingered there for way past my meal, never feeling rushed. Talk directly to Anthony about your dietary needs and if you ask for ingredients, ask Anthony. He knows every ingredient in every dish. For anything they don’t make, Anthony keeps the labels. Yes, he has them in the back and is happy to share. A BIG plus!

For example: Last week when I was there with Hilary of Gluten- Free Guidebook, Anthony asked us to try some cake that he had just purchased from a Kosher, GF/DF bakery, Heaven Mills. I asked him about ingredients and he brought out the label as well as the manufacturer's contact info. I called the manufacturer's cell from the table. We had a lovely chat about his ingredients and nut-free-ness. According to the owner of Heaven Mills makes only one GF item with walnuts and employs GMP: good manufacturing practices. I felt safe enough to try the delicious brownie cake at the table and was richly rewarded with dessert at a resto, a rarity as you all know.

Bistango is a delish neighborhood find and GF staple. I see why my bloggy colleagues love it so. Anthony makes everyone feel like a regular, which creates lots of regulars. Every patron is like Norm! Go in, you'll see what I mean.

Bistango, NYC
415 Third Avenue
at 29th Street
Manhattan, NY 10016
212 725-8484

Monday, November 23, 2009

Best American Poetry, Allergic Girl

All photographs © Christopher Labzda









***

Stacey, MFA friend and writer, kindly asked me to do a Q&A on the Best American Poetry blog. Thanks Stacey! She wanted pictures as well. I, in turn, asked colleague Chris if he’d help out. Above are the outtakes that didn’t make it into the Q&A but are so pretty I didn’t want them to go to waste.

***

Chris was awarded his Master of Fine Art degree in Fine Art in 2008 from Goldsmiths at The University of London in the UK. Chris is professional, tidy with his equipment, easy to work with, captured prettiness in both the elements and the subject (i.e. the food and moi) and got some great shots in one evening in a natural setting i.e. not a studio. He can be contacted at christopher@labzda.com.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Betty Crocker, Gluten-Free Brownies



Oh my goodness.

That’s about all I can say about Betty Crocker's GF brownies. Dense, rich, fudgy and I don’t even really love chocolate. But I adored these on my bday.

These GF brownies would be a welcome addition to any party, dessert plate, Viennese table or pot luck.

Seriously, ridic. Thank you Betty Crocker food scientists for coming up with this one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Never serve anything that looks creepy..."

Recently, I returned to a restaurant that I’ve liked in the past. However, this particular evening, the chef was not there. Note to self, find out if chef is working before going to a restaurant. Everything seemed off: service, the food, the reception. Meh. All of the excellent allergen practices were in place and my meal was safe but it wasn’t a great dining experience. Less than great to be honest.

I ordered off the menu, something the chef had previously suggested I try, or at least I thought that’s what he had said. Turns out the restaurant makes no such dish and had no idea how to do it; at least the sous chef working that night had no clue. They made me a "special order", which was very sweet but it was bizarre. The "special" meat patty came out raw inside (I sent it back for more fire), and as if someone hadn’t actually packed it. It was in floppy sections. Very unappetizing.

I probably should have sent it back a second time but I ate it. I felt badly that they went to all the trouble. I wished they just told me they didn’t have that item on the menu and offered other options. I deeply appreciated that they wanted to please me but...ugh.

Chalk it up to major miscommunication on both sides.

My dining companion (who works in the foodservice industry) and I were talking about this New York Times article: the 100 rules of service (part 1 and part 2 and readers' comments on the article). We remarked that sadly a few were broken right in front of our eyes, like #21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong. My dinner was creepy and wrong and raw. My dinner companion summed it up perfectly when emailing the next day: “I would like to add a rule: #101. Never serve a naked meat patty that looks like it was made by a first grader, and raw inside.”

Do you have any rules to add? About food allergies and service? Or just service in general? I’m curious.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nut Free Cupcakes, NYC

I get TONS emails from readers and commenters asking about where to get nut-free cupcakes in Manhattan. My answer, sadly, is no place that I know of. Everybody Eats is in Brooklyn; Babycakes is GF and vegan but NOT nut-free; there are some others in Bergen County New Jersey; but this all equals non-convenience for the nut-allergic Manhattanite.

(If I’m missing something and you know of any place in New York City's five boroughs, please do share.)

So what’s a Manhattan-based allergic girl or allergic guy or a friend/family member to do in the absence of a safe bakery and with a birthday quickly approaching? Bake them yourself.

I made two kinds but the concept was the same: brownie mix as a cupcake with white icing. I find the brownie mixes denser, way chocolate-ier and they don’t dry out as much if you bake them a day ahead of time. Both of the mixes I used also incorporate chocolate chips which helps keep the cupcakes moist and lovely.

I used Cherrybrook Kitchen brownie mix and Betty Crocker brownie mix, both gluten-free, nut-free and vegan (made with vegetable oil and water). I used soy-based Earth Balance margarine with Cherrybrook Kitchen white icing mix and also made traditional buttercream icing with Cherrybrook Kitchen vanilla icing mix and organic butter.

We had dinner at a restaurant that I know and love: Nizza. I asked them if I could give them mixes to make me a safe cake OR if I could bring my own cupcakes in without incurring a plating fee. We both agreed the latter made the most and easiest safest sense. I love when restaurants work with you and I really LOVE having cake on my bday.

The cupcakes were so rich, my dinner party could only eat one, sometimes only half and no one thought they were gluten-free/vegan/nut-free. They satisfied the need for bday cake and were completely safe for all, especially moi. Was it annoying to bake one's birthday cake? Nah, not really especially as not having safe cake on one's bday was unacceptable. So voila, solution!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Family, Food Allergies

So we’ve all heard the horror stories: grandparents sneaking your tree-nut allergic child a walnut brownie saying, “A little can’t hurt.”

I’m looking for some stories of families who support your dietary restrictions.

Whether parents, sibs, grands, in-laws, please share!

With Thanksgiving soon approaching, we could all use some great supportive family stories.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dyson Vacuum, Allergens

Recently, I received a Dyson Ball DC24 vacuum through Dyson via Asthma & Allergy Friendly. (Disclosure: Asthma & Allergy Friendly has generously supported my Worry-Free Dinners programs with allergy-friendly donations in the past.) I already have two vacuums: a huge Hoover, with no-bag technology but heavy, unwieldy and with a square nose like a hammerhead shark; and a small more compact, bagged Eureka vacuum that gets dragged all over the place like a whiny little sibling.

As an Allergic Girl, one who has asthma (in remission, thankfully), I keep my home as dust-free as possible: no animals, natch and friends take off their shoes at the door (thanks, friends!). I have two silk Orientals: an area rug and a throw rug; and there’s a cotton rug in the bathroom that gets washed regularly. The rest of my space is parquet flooring. I wash my bedding every week and the surfaces are dusted weekly. I keep my windows open year round, so soot collects quickly but that’s where cleaning weekly comes in. Basically, the Dyson was entering a home that is pretty low-dust, low allergen.

I read the Dyson instructions and watched as it rolled it over my entryway throw rug. The mini-cyclone in the canister registered some tiny red dust bunnies. Hmm. I rolled it over the parquet floor, heard that crunch crunch as some larger stones collected, gravel probably from road work outside brought into my room on someone’s shoes (who didn’t take off their shoes?). Dyson and I continued through the apartment, turning corners with ease, swiveling, all the while the cyclone picking up a little more dust and tornadoing it into red mini-tumbleweeds. (My silk rugs are red.) The dust was whirling around so fast it almost seems like it wasn't working, but it was.

Upshot: after three weeks vacuuming weekly with Sir Dys-A-Lot, my big area rug was definitely cleaner. When using the Eureka , I noticed visible particles left behind; when using the Hoover, it pulled perfectly clean fibers out of my silk rug unnecessarily, so the rug looked cleaner but shorn. As you can see and read, much thought was put into re-envisioning this vacuum. The Dyson canister opens from the bottom, thus with a flick of the finger, the bottom drops out. Dust is deposited directly into the dustbin. For comparison’s sake, the Hoover, which is also bagless, is top loaded; you have to upturn it to get rid of the dust, thus spreading the dusty love all over the garbage and elsewhere. I do love that design point of Dyson’s as well as its curve- turning capability, its compact lightweight nature and yeah, it does just look really cool.

I have only used the Dyson’s three times. I'll have to check back in in a year to see how it held up. However, for now, it has made my other vacuums obsolete. Yesterday, I gave away the Hoover and the Eureka will be retired/recycled this week. Thank you Dyson. I look forward to many happy hours of vacuuming.

Do you any of you have the Dyson or another vacuum that helps with your allergies? Do tell.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Amy's Kitchen, Slogan Contest

You don't see this every day, so I thought I'd pass along to you. I'm sure many of you enjoy Amy’s Kitchen's products. Now you can help them with their company slogan. The below comes from Amy’s Kitchen:

***

Dear Amy's fans,

Amy’s Kitchen is celebrating its 22nd birthday this year. Believe it or not, after all those years in business, Amy’s has no official slogan! The closest thing the company has to a tagline is “Healthy eating for busy people.”

Amy’s needs a slogan! And we need your help to spread the word.

We’d love it if you could ask your readers to tell us what phrase, word, jingle, or rhyme encapsulates Amy’s Kitchen for them (in 15 words or less). The winner will receive $500 worth of Amy’s products!

To enter, send your readers to Amy’s Kitchen or search for "Amy's Go Organic" on www.facebook.com. Entries must be received by February 1, 2010.

We can’t wait to see what your readers come up with!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vegan Soul Kitchen, Byrant Terry

I saw Bryant Terry give a speech at the 2009 Natural products Expo East. His talk was about food justice, a cause near and dear to my social worker heart. (Here’s a 2003 article on food justice and Terry’s other book and website Eat Grub.) He's written a new cookbook and his publisher sent me a copy Vegan Soul Kitchen. It's “...Alice Waters meet Melvin Van Peebles.” An easy on the wallet, high in the veggies, all-out healthy cookbook wherein every recipes comes with a song suggestion to blare whilst cooking.

For the food allergic and food intolerant set (we allergic girls and guys, and food intolerant dudes and dudettes), Terry stresses an important life lesson: “...pay close attention and listen to [your] body to see what it needs (or should avoid)."

And then later, related more to the vegan diet "...No single way of eating is perfect for everyone. In fact, because our bodies are so dynamic, no single diet is perfect for any one throughout his or her life. Our relationship with food should be fluid, shifting as we change.”

Yes! Also he encourages playing with his recipes. So, as many include some pastry flour for thickeners and some nuts and nutmeats as garnish or recipe additions, take those out and play! I made the dish that inspired the book, citrus collard greens. Collards have seemed daunting in the past because of how long it was suggested you cook them. (This week, The New York Times has a recipe up this week that are quick cook as well.) Terry uses a classic French method of blanching then shocking them to keep that nice green color and adding some citrus, crucial in digesting iron to it’s optimum. The result is super tasty!



Photo courtesy of Vegan Soul Kitchen:
With the permission of DaCapo LifeLong Press, here is Terry’s recipe and a picture of the end result. 


Citrus Collards with Raisins Redux

Yield: 4 servings

Soundtrack: “Sankofa” by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and Tony Allen from Allen Chop Up and “Sankofa” by Cassandra Wilson from Blue Light ’Til Dawn

This recipe was the seed of Vegan Soul Kitchen . . . a brand new classic, if you will, dedicated to my home city in the mid-South—Memphis, Tennessee.

Coarse sea salt
2 large bunches collard greens, ribs removed, cut into a chiffonade, rinsed and drained (pages 4 and page 8).
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2⁄3 cup raisins
1⁄3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

• In a large pot over high heat, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the collards and cook, ­uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water to cool the collards.

• Remove the collards from the heat, drain, and plunge them into the bowl of cold ­water to stop cooking and set the color of the greens. Drain by gently pressing the greens against a colander.

• In a medium-size sauté pan, combine the olive oil and the garlic and raise the heat to medium. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the collards, raisins, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

• Add orange juice and cook for an additional 15 seconds. Do not overcook (collards should be bright green). Season with additional salt to taste if needed and serve immediately. (This also makes a tasty filling for quesadillas.)

Chiffonade
The chiffonade cut is used to produce very fine threads of leafy fresh herbs as well as greens and other leafy vegetables. First, remove any tough stems that would prevent the leaf from being rolled tightly (reserve them for stocks or salads). Next, stack several leaves, roll them widthwise into a tight cylinder, and slice crosswise with a sharp knife, cutting the leaves into thin strips.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nut-Free, Lipstick

The question of nut-free cosmetics, specifically lipstick, comes from an Allergic Girl reader and it's one that I've written about before.

My first thoughts were Almay and other drug store brands that don't use high-end expensive nutty ingredients. Or a place like Giella that custom creates cosmetic blends. (Very cool, I know and not more expensive than Chanel or other high-end department store brands).

What do you think? What have you used?

From reader:

Hi: I saw your website and was intrigued. It's my husband that has the nut allergy, but I also have the fish/melon-and-other vegetables allergy.

But my main concern is nuts in cosmetics. I've finally found makeup I can wear without breaking out (Bare Escentials) because I have extremely sensitive skin and eyes, but their lipgloss must have some kind of nuts. Even though I wrote to the company and they say it doesn't, their lipstick does, so there must have been some kind of contamination in the processing, or the person I e-mailed is uninformed, or they are not as careful about what is considered 'nuts' (I didn't realize the shea butter connection, for example--that's in everything!).

Anyway, are you aware of a list of cosmetics that are nut-free you could refer me to? I'm mostly interested in the lipsticks as that seems to be the problem.

I'd be very grateful for any assistance you could provide me.

NYC Food Allergy Poster, Lappin Testimony

Here's a copy of the testimony of Council Member Jessica Lappin at last week's food allergy poster open hearing.

Testimony of Council Member Jessica Lappin

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Proposed language for educational food allergy poster.

October 23, 2009

My name is Council Member Jessica Lappin, and I represent City Council District 5, which includes the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.

In March, the Mayor signed into law Introduction 818, which required the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create a poster containing information on food allergies. As the author of that legislation, I am here today to express my opposition to the proposed language for the food allergy poster.

The implementation of this bill, and what we are here today to discuss, is a very personal issue for me. Both my husband and my son suffer from food allergies. However, my situation is far from unique. The National Center for Disease Control estimates that 12 million Americans have food allergies. That amounts to 6% of children under the age of 3, and about 4% of the overall population. Food allergies are also on the rise. Between 1997 and 2007, food allergies among young people in industrialized nations increased by 18%. From this information, we can assume that restaurants in New York City will be dealing with food allergic customers on a more frequent basis.

When my family eats at a restaurant, I don’t worry that my husband will suddenly forget his allergy and order shrimp. What worries me is that someone in the kitchen will go from handling shellfish to handling my husband’s food. Or my son’s. It’s the threat of cross-contamination from someone who doesn’t understand the risks that worries me. And there is significant evidence to suggest that food service workers do not have a sufficient understanding of food allergies. A recent study revealed some worrisome information: 24% of New York City restaurant workers thought that consuming a small amount of allergen would be safe; 54% considered a buffet safe if kept clean; 25% thought that removing an allergen from a fully cooked meal was safe. I am sure that some of the food allergy experts here today will talk more specifically about this or other studies. My point is simply to illustrate that all of this data points to a real need for effective educational tools for food service workers.

If we are to accomplish the goal of this legislation, to bring down the overall number of anaphylaxis reports in the city, especially those that result in death, we need to educate all food service workers about the severity of food allergies, and reinforce this information at all possible turns. The food allergy poster that is under discussion is just such a vehicle for this information, and is a tool for reinforcement. We need to get it right the first time.

As it stands, the proposed language for the food allergy poster is not a comprehensive educational restaurant poster. In fact, the proposed poster is focused on customer service, as evidenced by language that specifically targets restaurant servers. That is a huge flaw as it ignores the many other instances at which food can become contaminated. A comprehensive educational poster needs to address food servers, preparers, and any employee involved in the handling of food.

A poster that addresses all employees involved in the handling of food needs to 1) address food handling safety issues, providing specific instructions on how to prepare food with care and attention for a food allergic customer 2) make clear those situations in which it is unacceptable to serve food to someone with food allergies 3) highlight the frequency with which food allergies occur and 4) highlight the gravity of food allergies.

I am also concerned that the Department of Health is implementing Local Law 17 in a way other than what was approved by both the New York City Council and the Mayor. The bill that was signed into law specified that any food service establishment that violates this law shall be subject to a fine no greater than one hundred dollars per violation.

However, according to the Department, violators will be charged $100 per day, and such penalty shall be doubled if the respondent is found in default. This concerns me because this legislation was the product of an effort involving many stakeholders, including food allergy experts, restaurant owners, and many of my colleagues in the Council. Changing the violation structure now is not what was discussed or approved. I respectfully request that the Department of Health please stick to the language that was agreed upon and the language that was approved by the legislative body of our city.

I hope that after the Department of Health hears what food allergy experts and concerned citizens have to say, that you will incorporate the changes suggested, and fulfill the true aim of Local Law17.

Thank you.





Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Perilla, NYC

Since it opened in spring 2007, Chef Harold Dieterle's (of one of first winners of Top Chef) restaurant Perilla has been getting great reviews; and last spring, my dear friend had her bday brunch there. You can read about the brunch here. After dining there in March, co-owner and hostess Alicia had said in our email exchange (I had written a thank you): “Hope you visit us again soon. Next time we will challenge the chef to create something fantastic for you!”

Flash forward to about ten days ago. After a late afternoon food panel at NYU's Fales Library (with Delores Custer; Harold Mcgee; Florent Morellet; Sara Moulton; Fabio Parasecoli; and Moderator: Clark Wolf) I headed over with Shari Bayer and Terri Sheridan for a work/social dinner.

Two days prior, I looked over Perilla’s menu, isolated two items (lamb and duck) that looked easy to modify and emailed Alicia. She emailed back that the Chef said: [sic] “lamb yes.... just ask about mustard seeds....prob need to sub something for orzo. Duck yes....no chili jam...ask [Sloane] about dragonfruit...although it is in the cactus family just to play it safe.”

Love that direct communication.

I entered Perilla still cautious, as I always am with a new restaurant, but knowing I had done my part to communicate my food allergy needs early, clearly and directly. We were greeted by Alicia who assured me they were all ready for me. Yay! We had an early dinner reservation at 630pm and we were seated in a spacious leather banquet with a full view of the room. Loved our seats! Going early was helpful because by about 7pm the place was jammed and hopping, even in a recession.

Perilla draws an attractive, downtown crowd with some families (including Alicia’s adorable son and husband and some friends with their babies), couples on dates, groups; truly a mix of everything and everyone, all looking happy. The buzz was great, the lighting attractive and our waiter Hunter, a tall cutie, said he totally understood my needs because his BF in Cali has severe nut allergies. Always helpful when someone has a friend with similar concerns.

I confirmed with Hunter that I was having the lamb and tried to confirm some of the ingredients in the Tasting of Colorado Lamb dishes (grilled rack, crispy braised belly, homemade cheese & parsley sausage). Hunter reported that Chef would only say that everything was safe for me given my needs, but he would not give me the exact ingredients. I can respect that a chef doesn’t want to give away ingredients but it does make me a little bit more nervous.

I had to make a choice: trust that the Chef knew what he was doing and trust my process (as outlined above and here) or skip eating altogether because the chef wouldn’t tell me every last ingredient. (In years gone by, I might have skipped eating. I see no shame in doing that. Bottom line: if you don’t feel safe, don’t eat.)

However, I felt safe enough. I decided to go with trusting that the Chef, co-owner Alicia and server Hunter were looking out for me and that my process works. I also made sure my dining companions knew what to do in case of an allergic girl emergency, where my medication was and how to help me if I needed it. (Terri’s son has a severe peanut allergy so she knows the whole drill. Thanks again Terri!)

I didn’t order an app, because there wasn’t one that I saw that could be easily modified. Chef sent an app out, on him. A salad of fall veggies that was totally safe and allowed me to join my app-eating companions. Very cool, Chef. My entree of lamb arrived all scrumptious and safe and I had some yummy sorbet for dessert. All very happy happy.

Chef appeared table-side soon after the entrees were served to make sure I was okay. Super sweet and super cool. We had a nice long chat about food allergies and dining out. Chef underscored how grateful he was that I gave him some notice before coming in. He said he was happy to make menu adjustments especially when given advance notice (a day or two by email,alicia@perillanyc.com or opentable.com is fine). We talked about what I could eat on my next visit. For example, there’s a lamb burger at the bar. It has breadcrumbs but Chef said if I gave him some notice he’d make some without for me. Rock on, Perilla!

I will def go back again and hope to add Perilla to my list of regular allergic girl haunts.

Perilla Restaurant
9 Jones Street
New York, NY 10014
Phone: 212.929.6868
Fax: 212.929.6882
Owners
Alicia Nosenzo & Harold Dieterle
alicia@perillanyc.com

Monday, October 26, 2009

Divvies, CBS

Yay, Lori and Benjamin of Divvies on CBS yesterday! Video here from CBS and story with recipes.

New Media FTC Guidelines

FTC ENDORSEMENT GUIDE UPDATED 2015

In a November 28, 2008 publication that may affect bloggers who review products, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has updated its 1980 guidelines on endorsements, testimonials and advertising, providing “the basis for voluntary compliance with the law by advertisers and endorsers.” It will take effect December 1, 2009. The FTC guideline (updated 2015) requires endorsers (including new media) to disclose their connection to a product seller if that connection would “materially affect the weight of credibility of the endorsement.”

I'm an Allergic Girl not a lawyer. But, as a citizen, blogger, advocate and businessperson, transparency is important to me and what I do. So, How does this relate to what I write/blog about? If I read the FTC document correctly, not a whole lot. I don’t get paid to write my Allergic Girl blog by a third party, never have. Additionally, I already disclose when I’ve received a book from a publicist or products directly from a company or when I have a relationship with a company. However, all of this online disclosure chat prompted me to make my blog policy very clear.

First and foremost, I am an allergic girl.

When I go to a restaurant, when I try a new food product, when I go to a hotel or read a book, I experience all of that as someone with food allergies, environmental allergies and allergic asthma who wants to stay safe and enjoy.

That is my first concern; that is my bottom line.

After that, if I like it, then I’ll dig a bit further: who makes this, how, where; who’s cooking it, may I thank them personally; or where can I get more of that delicious product? I'll ask because I liked it, it didn’t make me allergic and I might like more.

After that I think: “Hmmm, this might be cool for the Allergic Girl blog” and consider writing about it.

As pertains to samples, yes, I receive foodstuffs, product samples and reviewer copies of books for free.

Once I taste test or trial a product, if I don’t love it, I don’t blog about it regardless of whether it was free or cost dearly. If it’s not tasty (or seems unsafe) I talk directly with the company.

Alternatively, if I love something, I blog about it. I try to get as much information as I can (company allergen policies that I put in italics, for example) so my readers can make an informed decision about whether they want to explore that company for their own needs.

My thought is that *if* these new FTC guidelines (updated 2015) help the blogging community become a more respected, valued journalism tool by underscoring the need for transparency where a certain murkiness (e.g. the relationship between advertisers and blogs that get paid for positive reviews/endorsements) existed then that can only help all of us.

***

You can read the PDF from the Federal Trade Commission (updated 2015) ; stories from the New York Times and the ensuing online conversations from Media Bistro about book reviews and reviewer copies of books i.e. free books for review; Edward Champion interview with FTC’s Richard Cleland; CNNMoney.com; and Publisher’s Weekly, who tried to further clarify what this all means for the independent blogger.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween, Allergies and Asthma

From a AAAAI.org press release:

MILWAUKEE – Parents of children with food allergies are aware of the dangers lurking in Halloween treats, but little attention is paid to asthma, which can also be frightening for asthmatic children participating in Halloween festivities.

“If your child suffers from asthma and/or allergies, be aware and prepared for potential triggers to ensure a safe and fun time for all during the holidays,” according to Clifford W. Bassett, MD, FAAAAI, Chair of the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

The AAAAI offers these tips to help children with asthma and allergies safely enjoy the holiday and stay out of hospital emergency rooms:

* Beware of costumes. Mold, dust and latex products can be major asthma triggers. Don’t recycle costumes from the attic or basement, and wash new costumes before wearing. Halloween masks can trap dust and mold, so keep your child mask-free.

* Don’t enter homes. Keep your child on the door step of homes while trick-or-treating. Asthma triggers in the houses of others may include cigarette smoke or pet dander.

* Watch for weather changes. Cold air and humidity can make breathing difficult for children with asthma. Make certain your child is dressed appropriately for the conditions.

* Under the weather. If you child is feeling poorly, hold off on trick-or-treating. Cold and flu symptoms can severely aggravate asthma conditions.

* Lurking food allergies. Halloween can be troublesome for those with food allergies. If this includes your child, read every food label and be a “label detective,” so you know what the ingredients are before your child touches or eats the product. This means avoiding homemade treats.

* Be prepared. When trick-or-treating, be prepared for an emergency. For food allergies, carry an epinephrine pen. For asthma, keep a rescue inhaler close at hand.

The AAAAI also offers a comprehensive library of online asthma and allergy resources for parents at www.aaaai.org.

The AAAAI (www.aaaai.org) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. To locate an allergist/immunologist, visit the AAAAI Physician Referral Directory at www.aaaai.org/physref.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Food Allergy Poster Hearing, NYC

This announcement comes from the press office of Jessica Lappin, New York City Council:




COME TESTIFY TO SUPPORT FOOD ALLERGY POSTERS

Last March, a bill sponsored by Council Member Lappin became law requiring restaurants to display a poster that provides important food allergy information to their staff. The Department of Health was charged with designing this poster and has prepared a draft version. It’s a good start, but it could be made much stronger. The proposed poster focuses solely on food servers and does not offer information to workers who may contaminate food with allergens at any other point as food is cooked and prepared. We’d like to see that included on the final version.

Add your voice! The public has the chance to testify and recommend changes to the proposed poster before it becomes final. Come out and urge the Department of Health to create a meaningful poster that will educate all restaurant workers. Let’s make sure this poster is as strong and valuable as it can be.

Hearing Details:
Friday, October 23, 2009
10 a.m. – noon
Department of Health
125 Worth Street, Third Floor Boardroom
For more information, call Christina Bottego at (212) 788-6865.
Persons interested in pre-registering to speak at the hearing should notify Rena Bryant, in writing, by mail to 125 Worth Street, CN-31, New York, NY 10013, or by fax to (212) 788-4315 by 5 pm, October 22, 2009. Please include a telephone number where, if necessary, you may be reached during normal working hours. Speakers will be limited to 5 minutes.


The sample text that needs clarification:

Food Allergy Alert!

Food allergies are serious. Even a small amount of an allergy-causing food can make people sick.

When customers tell you they have a food allergy:

· Ask the chef or the manager if the allergy-causing food is in the dish ordered.
· Ask the chef if the allergy-causing food could have had contact with the dish order during preparation.
· Tell the customer that the allergy-causing food is or may be present in their order if it is an ingredient or could have had contact during preparation.

The eight most common allergy-causing foods are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat and soy.

Call 911 if the customer has an allergic reaction.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Save The Deli, David Sax

Smoked brisket at Blue Smoke . Not Kosher but delicious:



***

Deli for me, or more pointedly deli meat like corned beef, pastrami and brisket has a deep and profound place in my heart and in my mind. I imagine I’m like many New York Jews in that way. Food is memory and well-made pastrami can be the best memory evah. I may not be old enough to remember when this city during the golden age of the Jewish deli (that would have been my grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ time in Brooklyn) but my lingering hunger for pastrami is a deep desire for history.

William Helmreich (CUNY) is quoted as saying in David Sax's new book, Save the Deli: “Younger [Jews] who go into delis, are practicing something us sociologists call ‘symbolic ethnicity’...when Jews go to a deli, they’re ethnically bonding, expressing common roots of our shared culture.” (And for the non-Jews, Sax’s quotes Helmreich as saying: “In the deli, you can walk in a goy and walk out a Jew...maybe a pound heavier.”)

So, millions of us have a deep connection to deli. But if you’ve noticed in the last few years, at least here in New York City, the deli is dying, going out of business or adding some really odd, tref items to their menus in an attempt to keep up with American cuisine, tastes and diets (much to the deli lover’s chagrin).

David Sax , in Save the Deli, (published by HMH and sold through Amazon.com) takes the reader on a meaty journey of the history of the delicatessen and its dare-we-say bleak future. He writes a neatly detailed account of the birth of the New York Jewish deli, and spends considerable time on the intersection between food, Jews and real estate. He then attempts to answer the very-mournful (cue music in a minor key) question of why the deli is dying.

He ponders: “Does the salvation of the American Jewish delicatessen lie in maintaining a strong connection with its origins in New York or will a local approach ultimately win more hearts and mouths?” So he takes us on a cross-country journey to the delis of America. “If a solution to the save the deli exists, it rests in the patchwork of states where over million American Jews live.” What he finds is some delicious second and third generation deli, as well as some deli done in new, innovative ways.

But what does it all mean? Can deli be saved outside of its New york roots? Do you think this food will be around in its truest form (i.e. not in a fast food mart) in fifty years? Should it be? Is deli important to you?

Dites-moi or read Save the Deli and then we can "tawk".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ScanAvert, Food Allergies

This information about ScanAvert came to me through a doctor friend. He gets all the latest about medical advances that are linked to technology through MedGadet. ScanAvert looks potentially kinda cool (NB: I haven't tried it).

These are a few food allergy applications that we’ve all heard about that have entered the market (usually for the iPhone) that assist with either making smarter, allergy-free meal choices when dining out or giving ingredients of certain items to avoid your particular allergen. I haven’t written about them because I figured most of you have heard about them by now through other fabulous food allergy bloggers.

However, I hadn't heard about this one yet. What’s most interesting to me about ScanAvert is that it seems to cover more than just allergies like how medication and food can interact adversely. Important information that and something the applications don't cover (that I know of). From the ScanAvert website:

“Fifty percent of Americans take prescribed drugs, often unaware they are ingesting substances that are contra-indicative. ScanAvert offers a simplified method to avoid consuming substances in foods and OTC remedies that may interfere with the effectiveness of a prescription drug at the point of sale of those consumable products..”

If any of you try it out, let me know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Food Allergies, Classroom

From another from an Allergic Girl blog reader and a Worry-Free Dinners member.

***

We had a similar experience this week with my 3 1/2 year old at her preschool. As parents of allergic children, we are always hopeful that they are absorbing all of our cautions and explanations, but we are never sure as they are so young and it's such a big concept.

They made applesauce in her class, but forgot to tell me they were doing it so I was unable to double check the safety and give the go ahead for her to have it...and they don't feed her anything that I don't approve. So at snack time, all the children had applesauce and my daughter had her safe crackers. Naturally, I felt so bad for her, but she was not bothered in the slightest.

I asked her if she had wanted to try the applesauce to which she responded, "Mommy, I didn't want that applesauce because I didn't know if it was safe and I don't eat anything that you don't check."

My heart skipped a beat! I went from feel sorry for her to feeling so incredibly proud of her!! I told her that she was such a big girl to understand her allergy and to be able to make such a big decision on her own!

We made another big deal of it at dinnertime when my husband was there to congratulate her and give her high 5's! It seems like a small thing, but in our world it was a huge moment!!


***

Keep these stories coming, they encourage all of us!

Friday, October 09, 2009

M&Ms, Food Allergies

This short but pithy story comes from an Allergic Girl blog reader and a frequent Worry-Free Dinners attendee.

"Today we went on a hayride with A.'s new school friends, and before the ride we had a picnic. Of course, one of the moms brings M&Ms for her daughter's dessert...all of the little ones started sharing them, and they all offered A. some too. This is what A. says:

"No, thank you. I can't have M&Ms. I'm allergic. I can only have skippers" (Skippers are Vermont Nut Free Chocolates).

She said this numerous times, told me, and never took any.

It might be one of my proudest moments in recent mommy memory."


A is three [3] years old by the way. I'm so proud too! Great job A. and A.'s parents!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Flu Shot, ACAAI

So I got my flu shot yesterday. I know, big whoop. But I'm always a bit nervous about getting it. I'm not egg allergic but I am skin sensitive (never had any reaction, other than a sore arm for a day). And I get it every year as I'm in a higher risk group because my other alias is: Asthma Girl.

So, did you get yours yet? Concerned about allergic reactions? Here's a press release from The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI):

***

Patients with Vaccine Allergy May Be Safely Vaccinated Following New Guidelines

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., October 8, 2009 – An apparent allergic reaction after an immunization should be investigated rather than avoiding future immunizations, which could leave patients at greater risk of disease, according to new medical guidelines published in the October issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

There are approximately 235 million doses of vaccines administered in the United States each year, and only 1 dose per million causes anaphylaxis, a serious medical reaction. Fatalities from vaccine-induced anaphylaxis are exceedingly rare.

“Local, injection site reactions and constitutional symptoms, especially fever, are common after vaccinations and do not contraindicate future doses,” said John M. Kelso, M.D., Division of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, Calif., and a chief editor of the practice parameter.

Dr. Kelso and colleagues recommend that all serious events occurring after vaccine administration should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at www.vaers.hhs.gov established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Possible associations of the reaction to the vaccine can then be evaluated for causation.

All suspected anaphylactic reactions to vaccines should be evaluated by an allergist to determine the culprit allergen. An allergist, an expert in the diagnosis and treatment allergies and asthma, can perform allergy testing to identify the specific substances that trigger allergic reactions and determine the most appropriate and effective treatment.

Allergic, or IgE-mediated reactions to vaccines are more often caused by vaccine components rather than the immunizing agent itself. Vaccine components that may cause allergic reactions include gelatin or egg protein, and rarely, yeast, latex (contained in vial stoppers or syringe plungers), neomycin and thimerosal.

“Gelatin, which is added to many vaccines as a stabilizer, is either bovine or porcine, which are extensively cross-reactive. We recommend that a history of allergy to the ingestion of gelatin should be sought before administering a gelatin-containing vaccine,” Dr. Kelso said.

“The MMR (measles and mumps vaccines) and one type of rabies vaccine contain negligible or no egg protein, and can be administered to egg allergic children without prior skin testing. Egg protein is present in higher amounts in yellow fever and influenza vaccines and may cause reactions in egg-allergic patients, who should be evaluated by an allergist prior to receiving these vaccines.

“However rare, if a patient gives a history of an immediate-type reaction to yeast, latex, neomycin or thimerosal, we recommend that it be investigated with skin testing before immunization with a vaccine containing these constituents,” he said.

If the vaccine is warranted for an allergic individual, evaluation may determine that it can be administered in the office of an allergy specialist who is prepared to treat for an emergency if needed.

“Persons with a history of allergy to egg or a past reaction to an influenza vaccine may still be able to receive the H1N1 vaccine or the seasonal flu vaccine safely. I believe that anyone with this concern should check with their doctor and consult with an allergist,” said James T. Li, M.D., professor of medicine and chair, Division of Allergy and Immunology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and a chief editor of the practice parameter.

The practice parameter titled “Adverse Reactions to Vaccines,” was developed by the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, representing the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The Joint Task Force practice parameters are online at www.allergyparameters.org.

About ACAAI

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) is a professional medical organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill., that promotes excellence in the practice of the subspecialty of allergy and immunology. The College, comprising more than 5,000 allergists-immunologists and related health care professionals, fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research.

To learn more about allergies and asthma and to find an allergist, visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

***

Friday, October 02, 2009

Halloween Candy, Allergy Moms

"Keep in mind that NO candy is safe for everyone. Having said that here are some varieties that are “safe” for a variety of allergies. Remember to READ THE LABEL every time, even if it’s a candy you’ve purchased previously. Many times, Halloween versions will contain different ingredients. Be Safe: All treats, No tricks!"

The above quote is from food allergy blogger Gina Clowes, of AllergyMoms.com about safe treats for all hallow's eve. Go get your candy on!

Nick News, Food Allergies

Love this, hope they do more.

***

Link to "Allergic To My World" video, from Nickelodeon's show, Nick News.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Frisky, Food Allergies

From another dating allergic girl:

"If you want to work your way into my heart, accept my other lover – food. Acknowledge me, acknowledge my food allergies. Love me, love my delicate palette. Understand me, understand that I eat olives with every meal. Really want to find out what makes me tick? Share a meal with me."

Read more on The Frisky.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Men, Food Allergies

Headline: Bristol doc saves nut allergy sufferer on plane

Read the story here, paying close attention to this last line: "He has been advised that he should carry a 'pen' with adrenalin to inject himself. He doesn't carry one – but he will do now."

OK, so I’m asking this in all seriousness: is this a guy thing?

My empirical data suggests that men often do NOT carry their life saving medications for food allergies. But why? Aside from the obvious (men don't want to been seen as weak or ask for assistance) what's going on guys? We want you to be safe...

PS The dude in this new video by the FDA about food allergies puts the auto-injector of epi in his pocket.

Food allergic guys who are reading this, and I know you're out there, let me know what you think either in comments or privately at allergicgirl@gmail.com).

Meatless Mondays, Allergic Girl

What is a little known fact about food allergies that everyone should be aware of? Are there any hidden dangers most people may not know about?

There’s a prevailing belief that food allergies are fictitious, or over-exaggerated. This belief is extremely dangerous. Food allergies are real and can be life threatening. A recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that the American public still believes that there is a cure (there is not) or that daily medication could help with food allergies (it does not). The only treatment available right now is strict avoidance of the allergen; the only lifesaving medication is epinephrine given if there has been exposure to the allergen. It is that simple.

Read more Q&A with AG on the MM, enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program, Home Fashions Market Week, 2009

Last week the Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program was in town for Home Fashions Market Week, 2009. [Disclosure: I have a long standing relationship with AAFA and the Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program. It's an allergy-friendly love fest.]

I had an opportunity to talk with Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program and Allergy Standards Limited about their new products (paint and flooring, air purifiers and new Disney plush toys) and meet the Dublin team behind Allergy Standards Limited, the home group for the Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program here in the United States.

(From the Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program website: The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in partnership with the international research organization Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies.)

Dr. John McKeon, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer told me about the origins of Allergy Standards Limited. When he was an ER doc back in Dublin, he overheard a nurse talking to a mother of a newly diagnosed allergic child. He heard the nurse tell the mother to avoid certain contaminants in the home (along with utilizing common sense cleaning measures and medications) and he heard the mother say, “...but toys aren’t labeled with formaldehyde content or phtalates? How will I know which ones to get?” Thus, the idea of creating a certification standard, a mark that would indicate toys and other items safe for the allergic community, was born.

Allergy Standards Limited and Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program is expanding and growing quickly, but what they need is us. We need to start asking for these products at the large retailers (Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Walmart, Bloomingdales etc..) because the more we ask (i.e. demand) safe allergy-free products, the more the market will rise to meet those demands.

So, speak up to your local retailers; tell them you want better, safer, allergy-friendly home products and in time they will stock them.