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)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

3m, Clean Air Tips

*Correction: This is from 3m NOT the American Lung Association*

It's all common sense but good to have some reminders as we head in major allergy season. (BTW: my mouth, nose and eyes were itching all day yesterday-I'm so turning on my air filter right now).

The below is from a 3m press release.

Below please find tips from Neil Schachter, M.D., Medical Director of the Respiratory Care Department of the Mount Sinai Medical Center and past president of the American Lung Association of the City of New York, on simple changes to help improve your indoor air quality and make your home a healthier place to live. (underwritten by 3m filters.)

1. Avoid cleaning products with ammonia and chlorine –Some household chemicals may be irritants to the respiratory tract in people who are sensitive to these chemicals. They can cause watery eyes and sore throats and even can trigger coughing and shortness of breath. Choose milder yet effective cleaning aids like those that use baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and citrus oils.

2. Houseplants...a clean air ally – Some common indoor houseplants, such as bamboo plants, English ivy and peace lily, can provide a natural way to help fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution by absorbing some potentially harmful gases . A six-inch potted green plant can clean a room of excess carbon dioxide in eight hours .

3. Lay area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting – Wall-to-wall carpeting can attract and hold indoor dirt, pollen, pet hair and mold spores and many contain chemicals. Vacuuming can remove some surface dirt, but often, the vacuum can actually push pollutants deeper into carpet fibers. Area rugs are best since they can be picked up and cleaned thoroughly.

4. Use high performance air filters – Use a high performance filter, like the Filtrete 1” Advanced Allergen Reduction Filter from 3M, to help capture particles such as pollen, smoke, dust mite debris and pet dander from the air that passes through the filter. Be sure to change your filter at the start of every season.

5. Restrict your furry friends – People who are allergic to cats and dogs are actually allergic to the dander that pets shed. To help minimize exposure to pet dander, keep pets out of the bedroom and especially off the bed.

6. Turn up the air conditioning – Air conditioners not only cool the air in your home, they can also help reduce humidity levels. During the warm months of the year, turn up the air conditioner to help keep humidity levels lower, which can help keep mold from growing.

7. Turn off the humidifier – Room air humidifiers are moisture-generating sources that can spread bacteria, mold spores and chemical deposits into the air in your home. Keep relative humidity between 30% and 50% to help prevent mold growth.

8. Leave shoes outside – Avoid bringing outdoor pollutants indoors by removing your shoes before entering the home. Wearing shoes indoors can track particles that can become airborne, including animal dander, mold spores, pollen and bacteria.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Clean Plates NYC

When I saw a small posting in New York Magazine’s Grub Street (and here's an interview with the authors) about a compact guide to 75 restaurants in NYC that offer healthy options, in multiple price points, for vegans to meat eaters, all in Manhattan, I thought: I need to have a look at that book.

Author Jared Koch kindly sent me a reviewer copy of Clean Plates NYC. A compact guide to dining healthier, making more informed dietary choices, Jared is committed to health through food. (He has a background in integrative nutrition and eastern medicine and this guide reflects those leanings.)

It will be no surprise to any of you Allergic Girl readers, many of the restaurants that I’ve either recommended as allergen friendly or talked about visiting safely are on his list as well. There are a few that I haven’t visited (I always love new resto suggestions) and will be checking out very soon.

An important caveat: There are a few crucial errors and some general confusion about how food allergies or food intolerances can adversely affect the body. I spoke to Jared about these errors about which he agreed were indeed incorrect and assured me he will correct upon the next printing and on his online community board.

**As with all dietary questions or possible changes, consult your personal physician or allergist to get the best most accurate information for you.**

Once the corrections are made, this will be a useful guide for those visiting city who want to eat healthfully or a reminder for those of us already here about how to find healthy restaurants.

Thanks Jared and Clean Plates NYC.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Asthma, Swine Flu

FROM American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology TODAY:

Asthma sufferers should be cautious of swine flu

MILWAUKEE – As news of the swine flu situation develops, it is important for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions to be aware of the basic facts about influenza and how it is spread, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

“The typical influenza vaccine does not provide immunity to swine flu,” said Executive Vice President Thomas B. Casale, MD, FAAAAI. “As with other influenza viruses, this virus typically attacks the respiratory tract. So if you have a chronic respiratory condition like asthma, it can take a turn for the worse, exacerbating your asthma.”

While people with asthma or other chronic lung conditions are at a higher risk for developing complications from influenza, it is important to be attentive to the presence of symptoms but not to panic. Catching the symptoms early is key because the antiviral drugs used to combat swine flu are most effective if started as soon as possible, and might not work if administered more than 48 hours after becoming ill.

The symptoms of swine flu include fever, tiredness, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with the virus have also reported a runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

“Any individual exhibiting signs of swine flu should call his or her physician to discuss those symptoms. A doctor is best prepared to advise whether or not an in-person visit should be made,” noted Casale. Also, patients should avoid contact with other individuals as much as possible and practice good hygiene, especially hand washing.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.

For useful tips to help reduce flu transmission, visit

Locate an allergist/immunologist online at

Gramercy Tavern, Grape Juice

Ever think you’d read those two words together: Gramercy Tavern and Grape Juice?

I certainly didn’t until I was at a dinner at Gramercy Tavern a few Saturdays back and my teetotaled English Uni. chums who had overdone the night before were looking for a non-vino alternative. Gramercy Tavern came to the rescue with fancy grape juices.

Yes, fancy grape juices.

Navarro Wines (the geniuses behind this) has been bringing varietal juices to the market for 25 years:

“Twenty five years ago we made our first Gewürztraminer grape juice planning to serve it to children visiting the tasting room with their families. It was such a big hit with adults that within a few years we added Pinot Noir so that we could serve both a white and a red.”

But when and how did they get here to NYC and Gramercy Tavern? Enter Juliette Pope, Beverage Director, Gramercy Tavern. Here's what she had to say.


How long has Gramercy Tavern offered these special grape juices?

At least 5-6 years

What makes Navarro Wines grape juices unique?

Anderson Valley winery Navarro’s gentle handling of their stellar hand-picked estate-grown fruit yields non-alcoholic grape juice that reflects the character of the two grapes--Gewurztraminer & Pinot Noir—as clearly as the vinous versions of them would, just through a prism of sweetness rather than dryness. Most grape juice production on a commercial level is based on garden-variety table grapes that have little to offer but sweetness & vague fruit flavors and that are machine-harvested without a second thought; Navarro’s commitment to using superior-quality, more expensive and more finicky European grape varieties (vitis vinifera) for juice and even harvesting them manually makes them unique in both the wine and juice worlds.

What was the criteria for Gramercy Tavern to pick non-alcohol "wines"?

Honestly, there is no other winery doing what Navarro is doing, at least that I have been able to dig up. I have asked around various winemaking friends and Navarro is the one and only that any of them know of putting its resources into juice as well as wine.


I love how mocktails and mock wines are making their way in the food & bev market. Can't wait to drop by Gramercy Tavern again for a non-alcoholic tipple.

Thanks Juliette and Gramercy Tavern!

Gramercy Tavern
42 E. 20th St
New York, NY 10003

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chef to Plate Campaign, NYC

What a great idea. GF community you are so organized I’m jealous. (FA community: this is something to shoot for.)

The below came from Erin organizer extraordinaire of NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group. Gluten-free New Yorkers unite!


On May 3rd, multiple restaurants in the New York City area will be participating in the Chef to Plate Campaign to raise awareness of gluten intolerance through gluten-free dining.

In conjunction with the Chef to Plate Campaign and the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group, Gustorganics is offering a gluten-free, 100% organic, pre-fixe dinner menu starting at 5pm. Dinner will cost $41 per person. Please visit for more information. You do not have to be a member of the NYC Celiac Disease meetup group to enjoy the pre-fixe gluten-free menu on May 3, 2009

Restaurants participating in the Chef to Plate Campaign on May 3, 2009
Complete list can be found here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vegan Before 6, Bittman

Who knew Mark Bittman and I had this in common?

“During the day, I eat only plants — vegetables and fruits mostly, but beans and whole grains, too. At night, I revert to a more indulgent pattern and let myself eat the food I love most (like the recipes below) — but with a little restraint. It's that simple, and it's been dubbed VB6 — Vegan Before 6.”

“Now, I may not be the crunchiest [person] around, but it's clear to me that the key to helping reduce global warming and avoiding the lifestyle diseases that plague many of us (myself included) is the same key to saving money on food: Go to the source. Eat more plants, fewer animals and less processed food.”


Spring, Central Park

Cherry Trees, Central Park, 130pm, April 23, 2009:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wolfgang Puck, Atlantic City

Longport, NJ

I was in Atlantic City for the first time this past weekend. It was a Golden Girls tour: I went with my mother, her best friend since they were 16 and her BFF’s mother (87, drove herself from Philly and played until midnight every night-what a woman!).

What and where to eat was my question. Naturally, my travel bag was filled with snacks and treats: granola, rice crackers, dried fruits and some safe chocolate but I’d need dinner.

My biggest triumph of the weekend was finding Wolfgang Puck American Grille. (Here's a nice piece from about Wolfy). Here are my steps.

I called the hotel concierge to ask them if they knew of any allergy friendly restos in the Borgata or Atlantic City area. He called Wolfgang Puck American Grille for me and confirmed that they accommodate allergies happily, according to them.

When we arrived, I introduced myself to manager Monti, explained my needs, smiled lots and gave him my chef card from Select Wisely. He was grateful for the card as was I for having and using it. He smiled lots, I smiled lots; he said the chef was happy to prepare me a safe meal, I said thank you.

Server Juvy was informed of my needs and I reiterated my needs to her directly as well; let’s not play telephone, I say. (Notice I know everyone’s name? I introduced myself as well). I ordered my regular order (If you read this site, you know: roasted organic chicken, veggies sautéed in oil and steamed rice.) Juvy returned to the table to tell me discreetly that the “steamed” rice I ordered actually had lemongrass in it and was I ok with that. So NOT! Thank goodness she thought to ask. Thank you, Juvy!

Dinner arrived, and it was so good: a juicy chicken, spring veggies cooked to perfect tenderness and they subbed brown rice which I didn’t have (got spooked). Monti checked in, Juvy checked in—all was safe and yum.

Saturday night, without a reservation, we went back for the same meal, it was that good. The wait was over three hours for a table in the back room. I found Monti who with a hug, kiss and big smile seated us right away. (Allergies are the new VIP).

Monti told server server Bart my needs; I reiterated them, gently. I ordered the chicken and just veggies; no need for rice. When Bart served us he said the chef wanted to know why extra veg no rice “this time”. Chef remembered me? Wow. Dinner was a delight and I felt safe and was safe.

Did you read the steps? Use them, they work!

Thank you Wolfgang Puck American Grille for taking such great care of my needs! I’ll be back.

Wolfgang Puck American Grille
1 Borgata Way
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
(609) 317-1000

Ramps, Spring

Even though it was rainy and cold yesterday at my little green market, ramps are here which means spring has officially sprung. (Here's Danny Meyer on ramps from the NYTimes).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spanish Pantry, 2009

I had a chance to attend the Spanish Pantry, 2009 event yesterday afternoon at Gotham Hall:

We met Spanish wine producers, sampled some very delicious riojas and even sampled some typical Spanish food (yes, I dared to!)

Here are some pictures of the foods available:
Marcona Almonds (didn't sample, natch):

Baby eels (passed on those too):

Black salt (black from carbon, tasted artisanal and looked dramatic):

Manchego Artesano (OMG):

Iberico Jamon (OMGx2):

I stuck to the cheese platter mainly as manchego is a favorite and I tried the jamon, er, several times. And yes I can have hard cheese even though I’m lactose intolerant. (Here’s Steven Pinker talking about that on Colbert Report at time index: 3.26).

As for wine, I didn’t take any pictures but I can tell you what was quite good and maybe you can find them at a retailer or wine bar near you.

I tried some bubbly cavas, the Spanish version of champagne. Cavas del Castillo de Perelada was my favorite: not too dry but not too sweet and would retail for about $10USD (as would most of the below - or less!).

A chilled rose by Bodegas Monte Odina called Monte Odina Rosado 2008 had a deep pink color, a full fruit taste and a very clean finish. It would be my choice for a summer tipple.

My favorite white by Vintae was Libalis 2008. It turned out to be based on the Muscat grape, not surprising as I love that in Greek wine as well. Chilled, heavy fruit, almost raisiny; more sweet, not as dry-yum.

My favorite red was a cab blend from Jordán de Asso called Jordán de Asso Barrica 2005. It was fruity and light, very potable--I was doing more drinking than tasting.

Overall, I realized how every drinkable Spanish wines are for my delicate palate (I don’t love bold, big reds, or too much spice or tannins) and how very affordable they are for my wallet. I hope many of these tasty libations find their way to New York distributors and restaurant tables very soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dr. Clifford Bassett, NY1

Allergist colleague Dr. Clifford Bassett on NY1 for a short segment on how to detect a cold versus an allergy in allergy season. (Hint: it's probably allergies not a cold.)

National Restaurant Association, Food Allergies

Love how the National Restaurant Association is on board with food allergies.


National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Recipes

For you lovely gluten-free bloggers with recipes (obvi, not moi) from the NFCA:

"[We] wanted to let you know about the new National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Online Recipe Box. Each week a new gluten-free recipe is featured, and if yours is chosen the recipe will be credited back to your blog.

Simply email your favorite gluten-free recipe to with “Gluten-Free Recipe of the Week” in the headline and your mouth-watering creations could be featured on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness web site!

We’re working to collect as many recipes as possible, so encourage your readers to submit their favorite gluten-free recipes as well."

Thanks for letting us know Heidi. Get your recipes in; I know you have some good ones to share!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Injuries from Epinephrine Auto-Injectors on the Rise

“Preventable Injuries from Life-Saving Epinephrine Auto-Injectors on the Rise” is a study published this month in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology) and released last week.

The below is from the study and press release:

Systematically reviewing 26 reports published in peer-reviewed journals during the past 20 years, F. Estelle R. Simons, M.D., Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and colleagues in the United States, found that most of the 69 incidents of unintentional injection of epinephrine reported to date in the medical literature have occurred during the past 6 years.

The true rate of occurrence of unintentional injection of epinephrine from auto-injectors is unknown, but the authors note that the previously projected rate of 1 in 50,000 injections has been seriously underestimated.

“An increased rate of occurrence is likely, paralleling the increased rate of occurrence of anaphylaxis in the community and the increased dispensing rates for epinephrine auto-injectors,” they stated.

Although approximately 10 percent of the injuries occurred while first aid treatment was being administered to another person, no information about the outcomes of anaphylaxis in the person for whom the epinephrine was intended was found in the articles reviewed.

The researchers therefore note that additional information is needed “about the lost dose hazard and its implications for anaphylaxis morbidity or mortality and about the indications for, and timing of, a second injection of epinephrine in this situation.”

Authors conclude, “Health care professionals should maintain vigilance about training and regular coaching of those at risk for anaphylaxis in the community and the caregivers of children at risk in the correct and safe use of epinephrine auto-injectors, ideally at yearly intervals.”

Patient information on allergic diseases including the free brochure, titled Be S.A.F.E Managing Allergic Emergencies (Anaphylaxis), is available by calling the ACAAI toll free number at (800) 842-7777 or visiting its Web site at For food allergy patient information or support, call the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) at (800) 929-4040 or visit online at

Have you gotten training on how to use your epi? Have you trained your loved ones on how to help you in an emergency?

Neti Pot, Seasonal Allergies

I had written about the neti pot for last summer. And now the New York Times has done a short piece on its effectiveness.

Bottom line they say: “Studies suggest that nasal irrigation can reduce sinus and allergy symptoms.”

Great news for allergy suffers especially as it’s low cost, non-invasive, non-medical, non-sleep inducing and all natural.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

AAFA Survey, Allergy Eyes

Do you suffer from allergic conjunctivitis or any ocular symptoms caused by allergic rhinitis...tearing, redness, itchy eyes, etc.?

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America let me know that they are conducting a study in conjunction with Johnson & Johnson to learn more about those of us with itchy allergic eyes and our behaviors regarding those eyes.

Here's a link to the survey.

I took the survey: it’s quick and afterward you can download a certificate for a free trial-pair of contact lenses.

UPDATE: May 2009

Here's are the results of the study from a joint press release.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (May 28, 2009) -- Many allergy sufferers say symptoms such as itchy, dry, red and watery eyes leave them frustrated and irritable, tired, and distracted, according to a new survey conducted by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). About 40 percent of women allergy sufferers surveyed say their red and puffy eyes make them look tired and unattractive.

Among those who wear contact lenses, other problems arise. When their allergies act up, half (50%) say they switch to glasses, while 45 percent report that they wear their contacts less often. For some, not being able to wear their contacts affects how they feel about themselves and impacts their performance at work, school, and when playing sports.

“Having to stop wearing their contacts or wear them less frequently creates a wide range of emotions among allergy sufferers,” says Mike Tringale, Director of External Affairs, AAFA, the leading patient advocacy organization for people with asthma and allergies. “Contact lens wearers say they feel less attractive when wearing their glasses (37%), unhappy (35%), less confident without their contacts (29%), and less able to perform activities as well as when they are wearing their contact lenses (26%).”

Other major findings from the survey show:

• Spring was identified by 67% of respondents as the most troublesome time of year for eye-related allergies. Over half (51%) say they experience eye allergy symptoms all year long. One-quarter of all respondents (26%) report Fall as the worst time for eye allergies
• Half of women surveyed (52%) report that their eyes are so itchy as a result of their allergies that it causes them to rub their eyes and rub off makeup
• About four in ten (39%) of allergy sufferers say they have consulted with an allergy specialist about their eye-related allergy symptoms. They also report consulting with their Family Practitioner (28%), Optometrist (28%), or Ophthalmologist (28%)

To help allergy sufferers better understand and manage the condition, AAFA offers a free educational brochure titled Eye Health & Allergies. The brochure, which also includes a free* trial certificate for by 1•DAY ACUVUE® MOIST®, can be viewed or downloaded at or

Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

A few weeks back I received a forward impassioned email from a chef colleague about the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 and how it was going to essentially ruin the world. (Did you get one? ZumFamily did as well, and she wrote a short post about it, too.)

“The U.S. house and senate are about to vote (in a week and a half!) on a law that will OUTLAW ORGANIC FARMING!! Main backer is (of course) Monsanto chemical and engineering giant corporation. This bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and POISONOUS insect sprays dictated by the newly formed agency to "make sure there is no danger to the public food supply". This will include back yard gardens that grow food only for family use. If this passes, no more heirloom clean seeds but only Monsanto genetically altered seeds that are now showing up with UNEXPECTED DISEASES in humans!”

Scary indeed. But it is accurate?

Ethicurean takes a more measured approach and lays out what’s really going on.

Read Ethicurean's food safety post if you care about farming bills, tainted produce, the environment or all of the above.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Soda Tax, NYC

I’m going to take an unpopular stance and say that too much soda is just evil. (you know I'm right).

I'm not saying it's not totally delicious. Give me a Dr. Brown's Cream right now or a root beer float, oh boy.

However, it is best in moderation and as a nation we don’t seem to be able to do anything in moderation.

This sugary-soda tax idea ( New York Health Official Calls for Tax on Drinks With Sugar, by ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS, April 8, 2009 ) might put the onus on the state to help those that use soda as their only source of hydration to think twice about doing so by placing a tax on sugared sodas.

From the New York Times: Dr. Frieden and Dr. Brownell, director of Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, say that based on experience with tobacco taxes, a soda tax would be “highly effective” in reducing the $79 billion in annual health care costs associated with obesity and overweight across the country.

They argue that an excise tax would be more effective than a traditional sales tax and provide an incentive to buy less soda. The article says that since the mid-1990s, children have been drinking more beverages containing sugar than they do milk.

“Diet-related diseases also cost society in terms of decreased work productivity, increased absenteeism, poorer school performance and reduced fitness on the part of military recruits,” it adds.

In a recent interview, Dr. Frieden said that the Bloomberg administration had tried to combat obesity through calorie labeling, banning trans fats and serving 1 percent milk in school cafeterias.

But, he said, “Soda is the big one.”


Friday, April 10, 2009

ABCNEWS, Allergens in Ethnic Cuisine

Nice round-up of hidden top eight allergens in ethnic cuisine from Radha Chitale,

PS Bonus video: Hidden skin allergies from my old dermatologist, Dr. Doris Day (yes, that's her real name).

Nizza, NYC

**UPDATE: As of May 2012, there is a new chef!**

I’ve been to Nizza five times now. Twice in the last week. The first time I went on a dinner date with Kelly of Celiac Chicks and tweeted about our lovely experience.

Back in January, I supposed when Nizza attained their GFRAP status, Celiac Chicks had written about Nizza as well as Gluten-Free NYC.

When Kelly and I went, we found the manager right away, Gaetano, also the wine director, who told us about the history of the socca in France and Italy.

(Here’s Mark Bittman from the New York Times in 2005 talking about socca. And here’s his socca recipe.

The chickpea flour based pizzette i.e. socca is quite rich, Chickpeas are high in protein which I suspect is part of the richness, also the large a quantity olive oil in the flour mixture. The pizzette is thin, pancake-like and as large as a dinner plate. The “crust” is best when very toasty at its edges, which helps to give it some structure. Under the weight of the mozz, socca can get soggy but no matter--still tastes just as delicious. Nizza’s socca pizzas make excellent starters and are equally filling as a main with a salad.

Re: the chickpea flour. During my first visit, Gaetano, told us that they grind the chickpeas in house. When I went last week however, Chef de Cuisine Peter told me no, the chickpeas are from a commercial vendor. I have looked into the vendor which is Regina Nut owned and operated by Sahadi Foods. I’ve asked them about their cross contamination policies etc. More soon when/if I hear back from them. However, I have not had any issues with the socca product thus far.

**If you have a severe nut allergy and/or are concerned about possible cross contamination, then this chickpea flour product may not for you.**

has a GF menu.

Here’s my dinner last week.

Big salad app:

Pomodoro socca with toasty edges:

GF (La Veneziene) pasta with tomatoes, peas and prosciutto:

is part of Chef Andy d`Amico’s group of southern French restos. Over the years they have gotten better and better about dealing with allergies. (I had one dubious experience at Nice Matin at least ten years ago, clueless staff and errors, which prompted me to skip eating. However since then it’s markedly improved at every outpost of this group: 5 Napkin Burger, Marseille, Café’D’Alsace. Sign of the times to be sure.)

would be perfect for a pre-theater jaunt. However, I’m looking forward to trying them during brunch service next.

Thank you Chef Andy d`Amico’s and Nizza staff.

630 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036
(212) 956-1800

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Oral Allergies, CNN

Allergic Girl colleague,'s Elizabeth Landau has a nice piece on oral allergy syndrome, which is very timely as spring has sprung.

If you find yourself having unexplained funky mouth (as I did last week), this might be the reason why.

See a board certified allergist for more info. can hep you find an allergist near you.

FAAN Awards, 2009

Allergic Girl colleague Dr. Mike Pistiner was a recipient of this year’s Mariel C. Furlong Award for Making a Difference in the category of Health Professional.

Great work, Mike!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

My 2009 Passover

Happy Passover, Allergic Girl readers!

What are you doing for your holidays? Cooking? Going to a friend's seder? Traveling to family nearby? Or heading out to see the in-laws?

Regardless of where you might be headed, if you have any dietary restrictions, any holiday can be extra-stressful, for sure.

What to bake or make or bring?

Gluten Free NYC has a great roundup of GF products for Passover. Great job, David! (By the way these places are closed by now but good to know for next year!)

As for me, I’m being incredibly lazy and not using any free-from products for the first night. (Second night is a friend’s house for a Sephardic pesach and she also will just make it naturally allergen-friendly for me).

Frankly, I want straightforward, whole foods.

I don’t want to try any specialty food mixes or do research about their GF/DF/NF status: it can be exhausting.

Lucky me, I want exactly what my family is making: a traditional seder plate, brisket, roasted chicken, roasted asparagus, tzimmes and nut-free haroseth. No matzoh balls this year GF or regular; everyone fills up on them and can’t eat anything else.

How are you handling your holidays this year?

UPDATE: Obama had a White House seder. I am in awe.

UPDATE: I'm actually attending three seders this year; I'm very lucky. First one was Monday at City Winery, which I Tweeted about. They created their own Haggadah which was super cool.

I used City Winery's Haggadah on Wednesday to lead our seder.

Here's the table:

Here's the inevitable laughing:

It was the most interesting table discussion about Darfur and Katrina and global community responsibility; slavery, freedom, political activism and even Catholicism (we had some Catholic peeps at the table).

Tonight will be more traditional and lovely; Sephardic foods and Ashkenazi Haggadah.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Opus, NYC


I had heard about them last summer. If any of you follow NYC food press, I’m sure you had as well: gluten-free pizza and pasta on the Upper East Side. Seemed too good to be true—I was looking forward to trying it out.

However, as you know, GF doesn’t necessarily mean great for those of us with food allergies (other than wheat) so I went but with a question about how they would handle all of my needs.

The first time I went to Opus, introduced myself to the host, manager and co-owner Enzo. I explained my needs, smiled lots. Enzo said, “Sure, we can handle that, easy.” I also spoke with his brother, co-owner and Executive Chef, Guiseppe about their GF menu as well as my fish and tree-nut allergies. I wanted to try the GF pasta with Bolognese and asked if that would that be safe. “Absolutely,” he said and proceeded to list the ingredients.


Not merely did I try the GF pasta (they use a corn based brand from Italy with great texture; tastes like the “real thing” to me at least) but I began to crave the GF pasta with Bolognese after I left. So I have been back again. The third time I went, we had the same waiter as before who had remembered my allergies: all of them.


A total neighborhood hang, brothers working both the front and back of house, the lovely Annamarie at the bar, the mama who makes homemade Limoncello (it’s grain alcohol based and way too good-here’s Danny Devito drunk on his own brand of Limoncello), it’s a family affair at Opus. They clearly take pride in what they do and are pleased to be offering delicious options to the gluten-free community. As for other allergies, they can handle that too. Just ask for Enzo. And maybe one of these Saturday nights you’ll see me
at the front corner table, laughing with a big bowl of GF pasta and Bolognese.

1574 2nd Ave, (At 82nd St)
New York 10028
(212) 772-2220

“Don’t Blow It”, Schering-Plough

(courtesy of Schering-Plough)

I don’t usually pass this stuff along, especially from Big Pharma, but this seems like a smart partnership: a new online health game called “Don’t Blow It” developed by Schering-Plough with American Forests, to help teach people about nasal allergies and improve air quality.

"For every unique player, a low-allergenic tree will be planted up to our goal of 20,000 trees. Why? Because studies suggest that higher levels of carbon dioxide and a warmer atmosphere may increase pollen production, in turn triggering nasal allergy symptoms. And tree planting is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of CO2 in the air."

And the game is cute. Ronny the Nose, see the nose above, has a personality, the music isn’t irritating and I played a few rounds much to my delight. My inner five year old was cheering every time I hit a Doc or Rx and had an allergy-free halo.

My sense is that for little kids there might be positive reinforcement through the “Don’t Blow It” game to take meds that will help decrease allergy symptoms. Even I could feel the tug and I’m usually med compliant. And a tree will planted as well!

Good stuff.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Blueberry Cake, Namaste

I had some leftover samples from Namaste that were up over a year ago; I decided to bake the "Sugar-Free Muffin mix" anyway. Waste not...

I made it into a cake instead of muffins. If cake can be made into muffins, why not a muffin mix into cake? I made sure not to over-mix the delicate batter and added raw brown sugar, organic frozen blueberries and some extra sugar on top, which formed a lovely, almost crackle-crust. (Yes, I over-baked a bit but the blueberries helped to keep it moist. Overall, a very good experiment.)

Voila! My morning breakfast coffee cake. Oh so yum. Thank you again, Namaste.

Blueberry Cake:

Even closer:

Friday, April 03, 2009

Homeopathy, Food Allergies

I know you all know that there are NO FDA approved cures for food allergies. The only treatment is avoidance.

However, over the Twitter-sphere, through Food Allergy Buzz (thanks lady!) she linked to this press release from Allertherapy. She also wrote a posting about this company.

I am thrilled to see FAAN address the claims this company makes.

Have a read of FAAN's official response.

See a board certified allergist to explore your options and your needs regarding food allergies. can hep you find an allergist near you.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Food Allergies, Nightline

An story about food allergies will be on Nightline tonight. Curious to see what they say. Will DVR and share tomorrow.

UPDATE: Here's Nightline story: "Allergic to Everything".

The story focused on a "new" breakthrough in food allergies: the food challenge.

However the food challenge is the OLD standard; and still the gold standard.

Perhaps, this story will raise some awareness that blood tests are not the end all of allergy diagnosis but must be used in conjunction with a history of allergic symptoms when eating a food.

More here on blood tests and food challenges.

WFD in Florida

Live in South Florida?

Traveling there for vacation with your family in May?

Or perhaps you have family or friends you know would appreciate a Worry-Free Dinners event in Florida?

Come join us in Ft. Lauderdale!

More info here.