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, December 30, 2010

NYSE, Allergic Girl




UPDATE: Here's the footage of the closing bell of the NYSE with FAAN on the podium. And here are pictures from FAAN. Fun!
***

FAAN (the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) has asked me to join them for the closing bell ceremony of the New York Stock Exchange. What an honor!

***

From the press release: FAAN to Ring The Closing Bell(r) at the NYSE on December 30

WHAT: FAAN's (the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) CEO, Julia Bradsher , will ring the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Closing Bell, joined by FAAN's Board Chair Andrew Gilman and his son Sam, as well as FAAN Ambassador Who Cares Chef Ming Tsai and his son David.

Members of the food allergy community (like ME) will also join FAAN for the closing bell ceremony.

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. ET

WHERE: New York Stock Exchange, 11 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005

A live webcast of the Closing Bell will also be available on nyx.com.

WHY: To raise awareness of potentially life-threatening food allergies, celebrate the release of the Food Allergy Guidelines, prepare to commemorate FAAN's 20th anniversary in 2011, and wish people a happy and healthy holiday season.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Easy Gluten-Free by Thompson and Brown

The American Dietetic Association (eatright.org) in conjunction with John Wiley & Sons has put out a very easy, clear and concise guide to eating gluten-free. [Full disclosure: Marlisa Brown is a colleague and Wiley is also my publisher.]

If you're newly diagnosed or looking for a book for a loved one who is newly diagnosed, Easy Gluten-Free will give you a very clear guide to celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or dermatitis herpetiformis and then walk you through nutritionally sound recipes for a full meal.

I made two recipes from the book, baked pears with Redwood Hill Farm goat’s milk kefir (my own variation) and their rice pudding (again I played with it, did it with less sugar, non-fat milk and all quinoa). So good and super easy. In addition, I loved that recipes came with nutritional information.

Easy Gluten-Free is not a replacement for a visit to a board certified gastroenterologist nor a knowledgeable registered dietician, no book is, but will make a great companion once you do have a diagnosis.

Well done laides, thank you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best American Poetry Hosts Allergic Girl

Around the holidays, food allergies, food intolerances and Celiac disease (any dietary restriction, really) can feel like an extra burden. To wit: parties, parties everywhere but not a drop to eat.

My friend and colleague Stacey Harwood of the Best American Poetry Blog had the same question: I want to host an allergic girl (namely, me) but how do I host an Allergic Girl? So we made a fun and I hope informative YouTube video, recipe from Food52.com included, with some strategies for both guest and host.

Thanks again, Stacey, and Best American Poetry Blog for all of your support!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jennie’s Pound Cake Minis

When I was in grade school for dessert there was always the option of pound cake, either plain or marbled. It was one slice, individually wrapped and as I recall, we all looked forward to the pound cake slices days at lunch. It was a moist yellow cake, fragrant with vanilla and memories. Also very commercial tasting - as I know now - like TastyKake or Sara Lee. Not knocking that – I loved the stuff - just saying.

If you, like me, had those pound cake slices in your youth and remember them fondly, I think you will really like the new product Jennies has introduced, especially if also like me you are some version of wheat-free (intolerant, allergic, celiac or gluten-free by choice.)

Jennies makers of those delicious coconut macaroons that I adore are now making, “… Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Peanut-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Casein-Free, Trans Fat-Free and Kosher Pareve” little pound cakes. These mini-cakes come in three varieties: plain, marbled and raisin. Arnold, owner of Jennies sent me the plain and marbled to try and of those two I thought the plain was the most successful one. It has that same soft crumb, vanilla fragrance and light yellow cake, the texture and taste are generally lighter than its forbearer, not a true pound in that buttery, sugary, wheat flour way but an excellent and very edible cousin. And even better, these goodies are shelf-stable as in no refrigeration needed. They can hang out in the pantry or your purse. I could see cubing these up to make individual trifles or dunking the cubes in molten chocolate for fondue. They are that yum.

A quick word about Jennies macaroons and gluten-free mini-pound cakes tree nut free status. Two years ago when I reviewed Jennies coconut macaroons, this is what the then VP Lisa said in an email that she gave me permission to reprint:

" How does a company that makes almond macaroons have a almond-free facility? This is what Lisa, VP of Sales at Jennies Macaroons told me: “Jennies is a peanut-free and almond-free facility. The almond macaroons do not have almonds in them; rather they are flavored with an almond extract. The almond flavoring does not contain any actual almond or any other nut. It is a taste which comes from apricot pits.”

Recently, I circled back with owner Arnold and asked him via email about the new facility and their tree nut free status. Here was his reply:
"We are still nut free, peanut free, soy free, as well as lactose and casein free."

Any more questions or concerns, contact Jennies and ask them about your needs. Meanwhile, it’s tea and pound cake time for me. Thank you, Jennies!


Jennies Gluten Free Bakery
email: jenniesmacaroons@gmail.com
web: http://www.macaroonking.com
twitter: @macaroonking
facebook: http://on.fb.me/9zq4fA

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anaphylaxis Canada, Teen Video Series

My colleague Kyle Dine, Program Coordinator for Anaphylaxis Canada amongst other talents, let me know about this new series of YouTube videos about food allergies just for teens. I’ve watched them and they are super. Check them out or send them to your favorite food allergy teen. [Disclosure: Kyle is also in my forthcoming book.]

From the press release:

Anaphylaxis Canada has officially launched our new Teen Video Series on YouTube. We have worked hard with our youth advisory panel (YAP) in creating five engaging short videos which highlight key messages within five important themes (dating, travelling, dining out, high school, and eating safely).

The videos can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/anaphylaxiscanada.

Anaphylaxis Canada’s Teen Video Series is the latest initiative in its Why Risk It? allergy awareness program targeted at pre-teens, teenagers and young adults. More information about the program can be found at: http://www.whyriskit.ca.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tse Yang, NYC

AS OF 2012, CLOSED.

Tse Yang: The Chinese-American-French restaurant that time forgot. Huge fish tanks, Chinese murals on the wall, dimmed lighting and cozy corners where deals are still brokered and broken. Welcome to Tse Yang, the New York outpost of a French classic.

A focused menu, Tse Yang is a midtown Teflon, a resto I had never been to until this past spring and then a few times on business. I avoid Asian restaurants these days: as I'm seafood allergic and soy intolerant, it seems unfair to everyone to go to dine with a menu that is mainly no-nos. But with a business lunch, sometimes you don’t have that option. So you go and you do all of the steps necessary to make it as pleasant and allergy-free as possible. (Have a look here for my tips and the Allergic Girl book will have many, many more.)

The host and owner Larry greets everyone (not me, yet) by name, in either French or English. This is an old boy’s network resto of the highest order, with UN clients as well as midtown bankers (above the age of 60). Family owned and run, there isn’t much on the menu for me. But Larry, host and owner, has made sure that every time I have dined with them, they prepared a dish to my specifications: steamed chicken, steamed veg, steamed rice. Boringa? Yes. Safe? Yes. I’m definitely missing out on their best menu items, but safe will trump exciting for me every time.

NB: My first visit there, Larry made a point of thanking me for telling him about my allergies before I sat at our table. He then regaled me with several stories of diners (all men) who didn’t reveal their allergies until after they had started their meal. For example, the shellfish allergic customer who only after he took a spoonful of his shellfish soup mentioned the allergy. He had to be escorted out of the restaurant and to the hospital. Food allergy peeps, give yourself and restaurant a fighting chance: tell a restaurant about your food allergy needs ahead of time. Feel shy about broadcasting your needs to your table? Excuse yourself and have a tete a tete with the manager: they want to hear from you.

I look forward to trying something new at the Tse, but until then I'm happy for chicken and veg all steamed, all allergen-free.

Tse Yang Restaurant
34 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022-6801
(212) 688-5447

Monday, December 13, 2010

Food Allergy Guidelines, Dr. Michael Pistiner

I had a chance to ask my colleague Dr. Mike Pistiner what he thinks about the new food allergy guidelines.

***

Allergic Girl: Can you clarify the difference between sensitization and tolerance as it relates to food allergies?

Michael Pistiner, MD: The concepts of sensitization and tolerance can be tricky. As per the guidelines, sensitization is the presence of IgE that is made to a specific allergen. IgE is the class of immunoglobulin (antibody) that plays a role in immediate allergic reactions. Sensitization to a food is not the same thing as a food allergy. People can make specific IgE to a food without having any symptoms. Although specific IgE plays a role in the majority of allergic reactions, especially immediate ones, some food allergy is driven by the immune system but without involvement of IgE (non-IgE mediated allergy). To clarify, a person can be sensitized to a food but not allergic to it. Also, a person can have a non-IgE mediated food allergy without any detectable IgE.

The guidelines use the word tolerate to describe a situation where a person has either outgrown a food allergy or has received therapy and no longer experiences symptoms with that food. They define the specific term tolerance, as a being able to consume a food without any symptoms weeks to years after treatment is stopped.


AG: Where do you see the biggest leaps forward in the food allergy guidelines?

MP: Prior to the food allergy guidelines there had been little consistency in the approach to food allergies. Healthcare providers with different training and different geographic locations could approach food allergies in vastly different ways. These food allergy guidelines help provide a more uniform and coordinated approach. It will not only aid the individual health care provider during direct patient care, but also will assist in communication between providers, and aid in the accumulation of information used in research that will further guide future approaches.

AG: Where, if any, are there still gaps in knowledge?

MP: Available diagnostic testing is far from perfect. Although the food allergy guidelines recommend the use of skin prick testing and testing for specific serum IgE to assist in the diagnosis of IgE mediated allergy, relying on testing alone is not appropriate in the diagnosis of food allergy. Relying solely on these tests can result in missed cases of food allergy or over diagnosis of food allergy. Furthermore, the guidelines recommend NOT using non-standardized tests for the diagnosis of IgE mediated allergy (including, but not limited to: applied kinesiology, IgG testing, provocation neutralization, cytotoxic assays, electrodermal testing, mediator release assay, hair analysis, facial thermography, lymphocyte stimulation, basophil histamine realease/activation, gastric juice analysis, and endoscopic allergen provocation).

AG: Were you surprised by any of the food allergy guidelines findings?

MP: No I wasn’t. The lack of consistent terminologies and approaches to food allergy, limitations in diagnostic testing, and the fact that there is no current treatment, makes caring for those with food allergy a real challenge. The food allergy guidelines support the critical importance of taking the whole picture in the approach to a food allergy (for example: using history and physical exam, available standardized testing (skin prick and/or specific serum IgE), physician directed food challenges and elimination diets) and the importance of effective communication and education.

AG: What important point will you underscore to your food allergy patients as it relates to definitions, diagnosis or treatment of food allergy?

MP: I will encourage them to hang in there. There are still many unanswered questions when it comes to food allergy. We all need to get comfortable with this. Now, with more uniform definitions and approaches we will have a solid base to build upon. With time, more and more evidence will accumulate. Until then we need to get comfortable with what we do know and keep coping, always.

Thanks Mike!

Dr. Pistiner practices at Northeast Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and volunteers as a clinical instructor at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School. He is a food allergy educator and advocate and the author of Everyday Cool with Food Allergies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Allergy Guidelines, Dr. Clifford Bassett

I had a chance to ask my colleague NYC allergist Dr. Clifford W. Bassett what he thinks about the new food allergy guidelines. [Disclosure: Dr. Bassett is a colleague and in my forthcoming book.]

***

Allergic Girl: What was your biggest takeaway from the food allergy guidelines?

Clifford Bassett, MD: We need to encourage individuals who may have a food allergy to have appropriate testing including skin tests, blood tests and oral food challenges in order to properly diagnose and manage this condition, as education and avoidance measures are essential for reducing risk of having an allergic reaction.

AG: Can you clarify the difference between sensitization and tolerance as it relates to food allergies?

CB: In some cases testing may indicate possible sensitization to a food, but this does NOT necessarily imply a food allergy exists. If an individual can safely tolerate a food without any symptoms, it is unlikely there is a clinically relevant allergy.

AG: Where do you see the biggest leaps forward?

CB: Food allergy researchers are in the process of studying the benefits of a food allergy vaccine in several academic centers throughout the US. For now, the only real treatment is avoidance and intensive consumer and patient education, and of course to be "prepared" to treat a reaction should it occur.

AG: Where, if any, are there still gaps in knowledge according to the food allergy guidelines?

CB: We need in invest more dollars and cents in understanding the rising prevalence of food allergies, in children, adolescents and adults and work to provide better options for those at risk.

AG: Were you surprised by any of the food allergy guidelines findings?

CB: No not really. An experienced food allergy savvy allergist will provide guidance in the appropriate "interpretation" of the food allergy test results. It is essential to not over interpret test results and the food allergy guidelines suggest that we need to consider more in-office oral food challenges, whenever the need arises, whenever they can be performed safely.

AG: What important point of the food allergy guidelines will you underscore to your food allergy patients as it relates to definitions, diagnosis or treatment of food allergy?

CB: It is necessary to start with some basics when it comes to defining a food allergy, and of course in contrasting it from an even more common food condition, food and/or alcohol intolerance syndromes: (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, gastro-esophageal reflux, sulfite sensitivity, MSG reactions, etc). The prevalence of food allergy is increasing throughout the world and the number of those with peanut allergy has doubled over the past several decades. We are also seeing an increase in allergic sensitivities to a variety of newer and international ingredients. The most common food allergens that affect adults and children are: milk, egg, shellfish, peanut, tree nuts, fish, soy and wheat. Learn to "decode" food labels and become a true "label detective" to properly identify food allergens. Be pro-active, keep a food allergen card with you when traveling or eating outside of the home. Have a written food allergy action plan in place, and be prepared to treat an allergic reaction, if it should occur.

Thanks Dr. B!

Clifford W. Bassett, MD FAAAAI, FACAAI
Diplomate, American Board of Allergy and Immunology
Medical Director, Allergy and Asthma Care of NY
Faculty, NYU School of Medicine
Asst. Clinical Professor of Medicine & Otolaryngology - LICH-SUNY
Fellow, American College and Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
www.allergyreliefnyc.com

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NIH, News

There’s been quite a bit of traction about the new food allergies guidelines. Here are some of the media outlets that have covered the story.

The Washington Post

USA Today

CNN

LA Times

Baltimore Sun

WSJ

US News

Time Magazine

***

And here’s two links from NIH:

You can order free copies of the summary of the guidelines here. And here’s some information about food allergies written just for patients. The link includes a pdf of the Food Allergy booklet which will also be available for free in very early January.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Food Allergy Guidelines, NIAID

Today, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, released: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-sponsored Expert Panel.

The guidelines are a standardized set of definitions about diagnosis, treatment and management of food allergy including both immunoglobulin mediated reactions and some non-IgE mediated reactions (but not celiac disease). They are based on a comprehensive review of current scientific and clinical literature, expert clinical opinions as well as public comment.

For the past several months, I’ve been working with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to ensure that the food allergy guidelines reaches as many of us in the food allergic community as possible.

In the next few weeks, you can read more on this blog: information, news and interview related to the guidelines and how they affect us.

Meanwhile, here are some important links and downloads for right now:

On Friday December 3rd there was a press conference with Dr. Fenton and Dr. Sampson. (I tweeted about it and I know several of you had questions about my tweets.) An audio link of the press conference outlining some of the major points of the guidelines will be available for the next 30 days here.

From a NIAID press release:

Published online by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the guidelines and summary recommendations will be freely accessible on the NIAID food allergy guidelines portal.

More information on the guidelines may be found at the NIAID food allergy guidelines portal.

The available information includes a document titled Frequently Asked Questions about the guidelines.

Information for patients and their families will be available at What’s in It for Patients (TBA).

NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit NIH.gov.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Allergic Girl, Holiday Cookies, Book Giveaway

CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

The wonderful Silvana Nardone

+ an allergen-free holiday cookie recipe

+ the excellent Heidi Bayer, Bklynallergymom

+ Jazz by James Carney (and you can win a free copy of his CD)

+ the possibility to win a FREE copy of my forthcoming book, ALLERGIC GIRL

+ watching us bake and giggle on YouTube!

= major fun

Silvana’s contest will be running starting December 1 through December 31, with a different reipce and prize every day. Here’s who's baking and here are the contest rules.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan Kimchi, Recipe

Fish allergic but still love Kimchi, the spicy, fermenty national fish of Korea? Chef Billy Brigtsen made me some fish-free Kimchi for my bday party, vegan Kimchi that I’m still enjoying. Here’s how he did it.


Kimchi
Copyright Billy Brigtsen

2 heads of savoy cabbage, leafs separated and submerged in a salt water solution (one quart of water to 1/4 cup of salt ) for 24 hours.

Rinse the cabbage leaves thoroughly in running, cold water and pat dry.

Kindly make a paste with the following and fold into the cabbage leaves:

• 2 TB garlic
• 2 TB ginger
• 1/2 Cup red chile, ground and blended with a few drops of warm water to make a paste
• 1 apple
• 1 yellow onion

In a large bowl or other large vessel thoroughly blend together this beautiful mess with your hands. By using your hands, you guarantee that every bit of cabbage will be coated with this pungent and spicy blessing.

Transfer this to a ceramic container, cover it, and let it sit out at room temp overnight for 24 hours.

Kept in the fridge, this will only develop in flavor.


Monday, November 29, 2010

No Nuts / With Nuts

The last few years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving with my first cousin Gregg and his family. Gregg’s wife Lynn coordinates the meal, providing the main dishes and then we all supplement with sides.

She does serve nuts but that’s okay with me; as long as I know where they are, I can avoid them. There’s no fish during our Thanksgiving and wheat is easily avoided as most everything is made from scratch and Lynn can tell me the ingredients.

*If you feel uncomfortable with your allergens even in the room, talk with a food allergy coach about your anxiety and a board certified allergist about the real risks to you.*

Before the day, Lynn and I go over the menu and my food allergy/intolerance needs. I also offer to bring a dish or two. This year Lynn read about the bacon fudge I made over the summer and requested some for dessert. Of course! This time I used some Guittard chocolate samples (Guittard is made in a gluten-free, peanut-free facility. Here’s their allergen statement ) and Applegate organic GF/DF bacon. It was a huge hit. Fudge - so easy to make and so beloved. Who knew.

When I arrived on site, Lynn walked me we go through the dishes that had nuts that I should steer clear of. Usually, there’s one pie with nuts on the dessert table (I don’t eat desserts anyway) and someone brings a sweet potato dish that has nuts. I asked my mom if she would make a safe sweet potato dish for me this year. She did and there were two sweet potato with marshmallow dishes, clearly marked.

With Nuts:


No Nuts:


Everything had its own serving utensil. And I'm the designated first on the buffet line. It was all that simple. And delish.

How was your Thanksgiving? Did it go well? Did you institute any new strategies? Or were there things you’d do differently next year?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Patroon Restaurant, NYC

I walked in to Patroon's front room and it was positively buzzing with men in suits – a seriously busy lunch crowd in midtown Manhattan. I had called ahead, and the manager said food allergies were not a problem they dealt with them all of the time.

(I hear this a lot these days in NYC when I make a reservation – do you?)

The General Manager personally took care of our table. Lovely. I was feeling brave, so I ordered the prix fixe, a deal at $27.00 and here was the surprise: I didn’t have to send anything back.

How many times have I ordered a salad, plain no dressing, that has come distinctly not plain and dressed? That is the norm (dishes not coming as ordered) and it always gets sent back, often to the consternation of the staff. Well, Patroon, during a busy weekday lunch, listened to my order and the salad came out dry. It may sound like a small matter but it can be an indicator of a larger issues: how well does a restaurant staff listen to your food allergy needs. The chicken paillard was delish as was the sorbet for dessert - and all food allergy safe.

Patroon, a venture of restaurateur Ken Aretsky was professional, pleasant and corporate. But that’s not a bad thing here when they actually listen to your needs during a busy time.

Good job and thanks Patroon. I’ll be back.

Patroon Restaurant
160 East 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 883-7373

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Biquick Gluten-Free, Drop Scones

When I was a teenager (and new lacto-ovo vegetarian) I would make drop scones on the weekends from Bisquick. We always had some in the house, my dad was a big weekend waffle-iron guy. (He had old irons from the 1930s that were very seasoned and made perfect waffles every time.)

And then of course, in the last five years no wheat for me, so no Bisquick. When I started seeing their gluten-free mix on the shelves in small boxes I bought two to play with. One we made pancakes with over the summer (review here) and then this last box, I made a batch of drop scones.

Cut in some butter, whipped in three eggs which product a sticky batter. I spooned five into a pan and baked them as per the directions. They don’t rise per se, as you drop them is how they cook, but they do brown on the bottom nicely and when cooked through, sliced while still hot and buttered, yeah – pretty good. Commercial tasting, yes. But they always were. Fairly drama-free if you don’t want to go mix your own gluten-free flours. The batter for Bisquick gluten-free is generally more sweet and less salty/savory than I remember the original mix. However, I ate these scones with scrambled eggs (isn’t that a delight to do something so normal?) and wasn’t feeling that I that they were too dessert-y.

Thank you again Bisquick for creating the gluten-free line. I’m liking it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pickled Pears, Recipe

One of my favorite things the the chef made for my bday party was the quick pear pickle. He had gone to the green market that morning and the pears looked so luscious he borught them with him and last minute came up with this. (If you want to see what they look like, check out the video on YouTube.)

***

Pickled Seckel Pears
Copyright Billy Brigtsen

In a stainless steel-lined pot (preferable for cooking acidic foods) graciously combine the following and allow to simmer briskly for twenty minutes:

• 1 cup vinegar ( plain, white wine, champagne, or cider )
• 1 c water
• 2 tsp salt
• 3 TB agave nectar
• 1 TB coriander seeds
• 1 tsp chile flakes
• a sliver of ginger
• a bay leaf and a few cloves
• a shallot sliced

When this is finished simmering, add to it one ice cube rack's worth of cubes. This will bring the temperature down and will also provide a mild pickle for the pears, which is the most human interference they will need if they are at their peak.

At this time take a spoon and taste the pickle to adjust the contrast of flavors; the sweet, spicy, & salty should all be present and in line.

Pour this into a more fitting container that you've placed your eight halved and cored pears.

Keep in the fridge and see how long you can hold them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

PTSD, Food Allergies

As a mental health worker, I understand that if you’ve experienced a traumatic event, like anaphylaxis, you will have a deeply emotional response to that event. As an Allergic Girl, who's also a mental health worker, I believe that there's an extra danger: if that emotional response goes unchecked and lingers, becoming disruptive to life’s normal functioning, that trauma can easily slip into PTSD. I hypothesized that this existed for those in the food allergic community who have experienced an anaphylactic event in my forthcoming book, Allergic Girl.

So, I was very excited to see this study abstract published recently:
CONCLUSIONS: People could develop PTSD and psychiatric comorbidity symptoms after their experience of anaphylactic shock. The way they coped with anaphylactic shock was affected by the severity of these symptoms. Past traumatic life events had a limited role to play in influencing outcomes.

More studies need to be done: this was a small sample (94 people), conducted through surveys that were mailed in but I’m glad to see this beginning – a look at the very real emotional consequence from severe and life threatening responses to food and how if left unchecked can interfere with normal life functioning.

If you think you fall into this category or have noticed typical symptoms, reach out to a mental health professional trained in dealing with trauma.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving, NYC

Recently an Allergic Girl blog reader asked me about dining out in NYC on Thanksgiving with food allergies.

I told her stick to high end hotels or white tablecloth and you’d probably fare well using my dining out strategies.

In addition, The New York Times, Sifty actually, did a list of which NYC restos are doing T-Day dinners. That might aid in finding a good white tablecloth resto to could cross-check with Allergic Girl Recommends.

Sidecar, NYC

The upstairs, upscale sister to the legendary PJ Clarke’s, Sidecar has a clubby atmosphere without the attitude. You enter a “secret” entrance on the side street, up a darkened stairwell to an open, bricked room -familiar, woodsy and homey – a meat lover’s heaven in midtown.

Jenn, the general manager used to work at Craftbar, so I lucked out when I went here for a recent business lunch – the GM was a food allergy ally. When I walked in, she introduced me to the executive chef, he and I had a quick conversation about what would be safe for me on their menu (basicially he said they could adjust anything I wanted) and I was ushered to a cozy booth.

The table next to us asked about the shellfish dish and I overheard a server say, “I’m allergic to shellfish so I couldn’t tell you but I hear it’s very good.” (See, food allergies are everywhere.)

I had my standard first time I’m at a new place dish: dry green salad and burger, no fries and they brought over some complimentary steamed vegetables as well. The server was solicitous and well versed in food allergies.

I’m looking forward to going back and trying more of their menu.

Sidecar
205 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022-4001
(212) 317-2044

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Allergic Girl, Allergen-Free Birthday

Here it is.

The bday menu.

• Collard greens, Swiss and red chard, and dill with pickled Seckel pears, kimchi, and lemon vinaigrette.

• Braised lamb shanks with rice flour dumplings, yams, & red wine gravy - topped with lavender buds & micro greens.

• Parfait of maple-baked Rome apples and frozen Redwood Hill goat's milk kefir.

So much fun and so delish - pear pickle and kimchi recipes are to come!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Picture it: New York City, 2010

Picture it: New York City, 2010.

A beautiful young Jewish girl lies on her couch reading the New Yorker magazine trying to relax while a handsome young Louisiana chef dredges, kneads, pours, drizzles, poaches, pickles and roasts in her kitchen. She waits, he braises; it's all she can do to not run into the kitchen to hover over him. She goes back to her New Yorker and naps. The guests arrive, the dinner is served and it's a resounding success; everything delicious and free of her allergens.

That chef was Billy Brigtsen and the girl...was Gina Lollobrigida.

Okay, okay it was really this Allergic Girl. And between you and me, I really did want to jump up every minute and see what he was doing. But this was my self-imposed leap. He had my full list of allergens, we went shopping together (you can watch us shop here) and he was using all of my bowls, pots and pans, dishes, knives, cutting boards and stuff from my cupboard (he did use some of his spices).

Still. You know. I had a few moments of: should I go check? I stopped myself because I had done everything humanly possible to allow him to create freely within my personal food allergy and food preferences. I wanted to let him create, without interruption from moi. The moment I remembered that was my goal and I had done all of my steps, I freed myself from distrust and took a nap. When I awoke, the shooter had arrived to take B-roll and the guests started to arrive.



I had a quick taste test of everything, swooning, and the party started.



The might be the best gift I've given to myself in a while.

Youtube video coming up!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Allergen-Free Corn Muffins




King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill sent me some samples to play with and I combined them in a glorious and ridiculously (for gluten-free anyway) recipe for quick corn muffins, just in time for a homemade brunch while my little non-allergic half-bro and I worked on his graduate school statement of purpose (remember those?).

Basically, I took King Arthur’s GF All Purpose Flour and Bob’s Red Mills corn meal and did a switcharoo on the Bob’s recipe. The first batch I totally forgot baking powder. There were too dense and anemic looking (see the left side of the picture) but edible. Then I added a teaspoon of baking powder to the second half of the batter, and sprinkled some raw turbinado sugar on top and voila, actual corn muffins piping hot, airy, light yet still corny and yum.

Have any of you tried any of the King Arthur Gluten-Free mixes and flour blends yet? Or the new line of different grade of cornmeal from Bob’s Red Mill?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shopping Day with the Chef

For my birthday, this year Chef Billy Brigtsen is cooking an allergen-free meal in my home for my friends and me.

Chef Billy Brigtsen and I had worked together at Blue Smoke for my Worry-Free Dinners. He has since started a private home cooking service with a strong focus on working with people with dietary restrictions. His viewpoint is very similar to the best chefs I’ve known, talked with and worked with: it’s a challenge to create something minus a few key ingredients not a Debbie downer.

***

Here is our provisional menu:

• Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, roasted with thyme & mint, wrapped in poached romaine lettuce leaves.

• Fig halves tossed with gremolata and olive oil

• Ribbons of collard greens with kimchi. Napa cabbage and red onions seasoned with garlic, ginger, red chile, onion, apple.

• Peking-style duck with rice crepes (egg, goats yogurt /milk, brown butter) and scallions

• Ace's Goats milk ice cream with a wedge of baked apple & maple syrup

***

The talented Ace Salisbury filmed our shopping journey so you can watch me, with my allergic stuffed nose, and Chef in his jaunty hat in this episode of Allergic Girl’s New Thing a Week: Shopping with the Chef. (Keep an eye out for Tom the butcher at The Meathook in Williamsburg, he was just featured in the New York Times, unbeknownst to moi.)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Trust, Chefs

Trust has been on my mind especially as I’ve received quite a few emails lately about trust (maybe because of this or this): how to get it or how to regain it; how to build it or how to build upon it.

Trust takes time, patience, faith and a leap into the unknown. When it comes to food allergies and trust, there’s that added layer of fear based on past experience; eating something to which one is allergic can lead to an uncomfortable reaction, mild symptoms, severe problems or even an anaphylactic response. Sometimes your gut says, "Don’t trust" like mine did last April at that meditation retreat. That’s okay, listen to that, manage your risk and do not eat when you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes your gut says the opposite: it’s says, “Leap.”

Recently, I was contacted by Chef Billy Brigtsen. We had worked together at Blue Smoke for my Worry-Free Dinners. He has since started a private home cooking service and offered to cater my birthday party this coming week.

Talk about a leap – here it is. A professional chef, cooking a menu we designed, minus all of my allergens, in my home, with my friends.

Wow.

Here’s the provisional menu (subject to the market):

• Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, roasted with thyme & mint, wrapped in poached romaine lettuce leaves.

• Fig halves tossed with gremolata and olive oil

• Ribbons of collard greens with kimchi. Napa cabbage and red onions seasoned with garlic, ginger, red chile, onion, apple.

• Peking-style duck with rice crepes (egg, goats yogurt /milk, brown butter) and scallions

• Ace's Goats milk ice cream with a wedge of baked apple & maple syrup

I'm planning on filming the shopping day and some of the prep so stay tuned for the results on this blog and on my YouTube channel.

Updates, Restaurants

The last few months, I’ve been out several business lunches. Most of them have been at upscale, white tablecloth midtown or midtown west restos. It wasn’t until I received an email last week, the last in a series from readers all over the country, asking when am I updating my allergicgirlrecomends.blogspot.com site that I realized, whoops, those all should be added. So, stay tuned as I will roll out some review of these midtown, Teflon gems in the next few weeks.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Joan's, GF Great Bakes

I had heard about Joan’s GF Great Bakes but had never tried their products because they had tree nuts in their facility. I finally had a chance to meet Joan herself at this year's Suffolk County Celiac vendor fair and learn a vital fact: no more nuts in the facility!

Here’s what Joan had to say in an email about tree nuts in their facility and their packaging: "'Be aware that all of Joan’s GF Great Bakes packaging says "manufactured in a facility that process tree nuts". When we first opened 21/2 years ago we produced a date nut bread. So many customers requested a nut free facility that 18 months ago we discontinued the date nut bread and have been completely nut free from that time on. Joan’s GF Great Bakes packaging still has the disclaimer. We never used peanut products at any time and we are also soy free. The only soy product is soy lecithin in a pan spray and the chocolate chips'."

Of course, should you have any question please contact Joan’s GF Great Bakes directly to discuss because the packaging is confusing until they switch over.

Onto what I loved of what Joan’s GF Great Bakes sent.

A corn bread flat top muffin: these taste just like a corn muffin should. It held together nicely, with a light and fluffy texture. It was a little sugary sweet for my taste but didn’t stop me from gobbling it down, slathered in butter.

English muffin: lovely toasted, a little springy, but would make me happy to have with eggs in the morning, especially when traveling and gluten-free, nut-free breads are harder to come by.

Everything bagel: the crust, yes it had one, was firm and toothsome; the inside on the springy tapioca side but edible. The everything bagel flavor combination of seeds and powders was right though, garlicky and delicious.

Bialy: oh my, this puffed up to double its size when baked and formed a real baked bialy curst. Salty and onion-y, this was my favorite product. The inside is also tapioca-textured like the bagel but the baked crust was unlike anything else I’ve seen in the GF market.

I see why everyone’s been raving about Joan’s GF Great Bakes for years and now that they are nut-free I can join in the rave.

Thanks Joan’s GF Great Bakes!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Food Allergies

On Twitter a few weeks back I wrote that a friend’s employer had invited me over for Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) dinner. One response tweet in particular stopped me in my tracks: @allergicgirl do you find hosts that invite you seem 2 regret invite after learning of your allergy needs?

I know that happens in our community, a lot. So, let’s walk through how I handled this invitation and how you might handle a future dinner invite and get invited back.

First, I approached the event thinking it would be safe i.e. I used a positive attitude. Because I know I can take care of myself in any situation (medically and emotionally), I did my best to communicate my FA needs clearly and early and trusted my hostess would do her best to accommodate those needs. But, I planned to have a nice evening, full stop.

Second, I have all the emergency medications I need in any situation, on my person, at all times.

Third, I know my emergency plan (i.e. what to do, when.)

Forth, I know I’m not the focus of the event, in this case Shabbat was. If that means I need to eat a little something ahead of time so I’m not stuck, I do that. (I didn’t in this case.)

Fifth, I communicated my food allergy needs via email so it was all nice and neat and written out (See the verbatim below). NB: Included on the what I cannot eat list is what I can eat, helps with menu planning.

Dear Hostess,

Thank you for your kind invitation for shabbat dinner this Friday. I'm so looking forward to finally meeting you! Thank you, too, for going out of your way to accommodate my severe food allergies.
My list includes:
Allergic to all tree nuts [walnuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts etc]
Allergic to salmon - I avoid all fish
Allergic to eggplant
Allergic to honeydew and cantaloupe melons
Intolerant to wheat and soy [not an allergy but I will have a bad stomach ache]

I cannot consume any of these ingredients in any form -- nor can I consume anything that has come into contact with them via serving utensils, sauces, garnishes or toppings.

What I can eat:
Plain roasted meats or chicken
Green vegetables
Other fruits like citrus or berries
Fats like olive oil or butter

I know this is a lot, I'm am here to make this easy for you, let me know how I can help.

Thank you again and looking forward!
Best
Sloane


Based on this list, the hostess created a dinner that everyone could enjoy, especially me. We started with a choice of chicken consume or watercress soup, the entrée was brisket with onions and prunes (that was OMG good) with sides of steamed brown rice, baked white and sweet potatoes, steamed green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli and brussel sprouts) and roasted mushrooms. Dessert was a gorgeous plate of fresh fruits: everything on my list.

The hostess had posted my email on her referigertaor so everyone was fully aware of my needs. And get this; the hostess’s husband, a former New York City high ranking government official, was a banana baby in the 1940s. He said he lived on powdered milk and bananas for the first six years of his life. We had a long and very brisk conversation about all of that.

The dinner was lovely. And allergen-free. And fun! (Tips six and seven, bring a hostess gift and write a real thank you note, not an email.)

I know this sounds like an ideal. And definitely these days because I have a blog, a book and a business all about food allergies - if someone is inviting me over, they pretty much know that there are some allergies involved. But before all of that public stuff, I was still invited out. And if it felt like too much to deal with for the host/hostess, I’d offer to come by for cocktails or bring a dish I could eat to add to their meal.

Like Tim Gunn says I made it work. You can, too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Republic of Tea

Tea, for me, is a basic food group. I know for a lot of you chocolate is or coffee or wine or fried foods; tea is mine.

I was raised on tea. Tea was my favorite drink in my baby bottle with lots of milk and sugar (and yes, I remember it). It’s the first thing I grab in the morning. It’s the last drink I have at night. When I’m feeling wheezy: tea. When I’m feeling blue: tea. When I need a boost in the afternoon: tea.

Recently, Republic of Tea sent me a new flavor to try, a winner this one. Organic Turmeric and Ginger. During the winter months, I add a cup of ginger tea with raw honey to my daily black tea intake. I either make my own tisane with fresh ginger, cinnamon, and garlic, something an ex-boyfriend, Henry, used to make for me when I was feeling under the weather. Yum. So, I was super excited about this Organic Turmeric and Ginger tea. It’s yellow when brewed, from the turmeric, spicy from the ginger with some smoothness from added dried honey. Its tea base is green, antioxidant filled and low-caf.

I asked Republic of Tea about their allergen policies as they have one tea line with natural almond flavor. Here’s their official stance:

Allergens: Republic of Tea ’s Full Leaf Round Eco-Friendly Tea Bag and Eco Iced Tea Brew Bag is made of a biodegradable mesh material made from a corn byproduct. Research shows the protein that causes corn allergies is removed during the making of this product but, as everyone is affected differently by allergens, Citizens should be aware. Stringent internal allergen control methods are in place to eliminate cross contamination, with Ministers (employees) trained annually to assure adherence to policy. With the exception of natural almond flavoring used in a small number of teas, none of the natural flavorings used contain allergens. Again, as with all packaged foods, Citizens should always review labels carefully to check for possible allergens. Further, The Republic of Tea is a latex-free facility, where only vinyl food-grade gloves are used when handling product.

Republic of Tea has a very clear HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) in place but if you have any questions, I urge you to reach out them and discuss it. Here is the Republic of Tea contact page.

In the meantime, I'm off to have another cuppa thanks to Republic of Tea .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Allergic Girl, New York Daily News, 2010

Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to the New York Daily News about dining out in New York City with food allergies. And then we did a photo shoot! How fun. Here are some outtakes, taken by my assistant.

Me and red chard:


Those radishes were dirty:


Here's the lovely photographer:


And...that was the same day Shauna James Ahern, Gluten-Free Girl, was strolling through the park.

(After the Daily News shoot, Shauna and I made a YouTube video which you can see here.)

Here’s the NY Daily News finished article:


And finally, here are my best tips for dining out and here are my recommendations for dining in NYC.

Thanks again, NY Daily News for shedding light on this important topic!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Indie Candy



***

Generally speaking, I like products (and I like to review products) that you can just go into your local supermarket or natural food store and purchase easily, which means I don’t usually review online stores.

However, as Halloween is coming up, and the question of where to buy safe, allergen-free candy is on everyone’s mind, I’d thought I’d share an online store, new to me, that both creates and carries candies free of the top eight allergens.

Indie Candy sent me a pineapple lollipop (that I didn’t try), lime jellies that were soft, fragrant and chewy and a Jack-O-Lantern chocolate pop. The chocolate was the one item that I was most interested in, as it’s difficult to find good quality chocolate. This pop had that fruity-like aroma of dark chocolate, good mouthfeel and wasn’t overly sweet. Pretty much, one bite and I was in
Proustian pop-heaven. Why the madeline-tinged reverie? When I was a kid, there were Howard Johnson’s every few miles along the Long Island Expressway. On our way out to our country home on the south fork of Long Island, we would stop at ‘HoJo’s” for lunch. Invariably, I’d beg for, and sometimes get, one of their chocolate-pops, tantalizingly stationed by the check-out. The pops were round circles of milk chocolate with white centers that had a picture on it. Such a treat, chocolate on a stick.

So back to this Jack-O-Lantern chocolate pop by Indie Candy that sent me into chocolate pop recollections, I wanted to know more about Indie Candy, their manufacturing and purchasing, how they source their ingredients, cross-contamination and their top eight free status.

***
From Indie Candy and reprinted with their permission:

Our facility is completely big 8 allergen free, so there is not an opportunity for cross contamination within our facility.

Our chocolate that we use to make our chocolate products is made in a dedicated nut and gluten free facility. This facility also process soy and dairy. However, this product is produced on a dedicated dairy and soy free line. The ingredients are additionally tested to ensure strict allergen control standards are met. Because of this, our chocolate products are certified gluten free/vegan and CFC Pareve.

We work with our ingredient suppliers to ensure that each product that goes into our products is also Big 8 allergen free. For example, our extracts are made for us to be allergen free and use sunflower oil as a basis rather than the more common soy oil. Most companies just purchase "off the shelf" industrial extracts and may not be aware of the ingredients in the flavor extracts or colors they use. Our flavors are "from the named fruit" and only from the named fruit - so mango is only made from mango, etc. "From the named fruit" is a specific methodology used in flavor making and is just like it sounds.

Since our products are designed to be allergy friendly, we thoughtfully review every step and every ingredient in the process and limit any opportunity for cross contamination.

Also, because we have deep knowledge about each ingredient, if a customer has a non-typical allergy (mango for example - in our line, just don't any thing that is Mango flavored), we can answer their questions and direct them to appropriate products.

Since I am my own customer (I can't have gluten and I have a son with multiple food intolerances), I am very aware of the issues with food production and allergies/intolerances.

Hanson Watkins, Indie Candy


Retailers, wholesalers and parents can go online and place orders through Indie Candy’s website at www.indiecandy.com or phone in orders at 205.835.0094. Indie Candy’s Halloween candy will be available until October 31, 2010.

***

If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out to them as they were very receptive to questions as you just read above and I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Accidental Tourist

I’m a world-class packer. Probably the result of having divorced parents. I spent years shuttling back and forth with suitcases overstuffed yet invariably missing something essential: homework, an Archie comic, a favorite nightie or a beloved toy. Ten years of missing stuff always in the other apartment, you become an expert on packing what you really need.

As an adult, I travel light: only carry-on whether a week, a weekend or a month, especially if I have access to laundry facilities. And everything in my bag is exactly what I need. A heating coil to make tea in the room for the morning. A travel pillow. Bathing suit for hotel pool. Handiwipes for the hotel remote and phone.

And food.

When I travel, I’m almost that logo of a flying armchair from Anne Tyler’s book or the movie of the same name: a traveler who wishes to have the comforts of home when leaving home, almost like you never left.

When you have a restricted diet, food is not merely a comfort but a necessity.

I have food for the trip there and back, and usually enough food to eat in my room three meals a day for three days. Not gourmet dining but sustenance. I was thinking about this on this last trip to Boston. The Chef asked me why I didn’t come down for dinner the first night? (He noticed, gosh). First, I was exhausted, second, I had brought all this food; now I needed to eat it.

So I wonder, what are your essentials when packing? Do you find you bring everything but what you need most? Or do you bring exactly what you need? Do you bring food? Or do you wing it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Food Allergy Action Plan, 2010



A girl walks into her doctor’s office.

The doctor says: “So, kiss any boys lately and get allergic?”

“Nope,” the girl says, “but let’s go over my food allergy action plan, just in case.”

(It’s funny because it’s true.)

I went into for my annual physical today (and flu shot, more info from FAI) and if you remember what happened last year, I thought annual refresher of my food allergy action plan was a good idea.

Have you gone over your plan lately? If not, I suggest you do ASAP. Even if you’ve had food allergies, even for forevah like me, having it written out (and pasted somewhere public in your home) can only be a good thing.

Here is a link to FAAN’s Food Allergy Action Plan for kids, here's an updated plan from FAAN; both wwork for adults, too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Boston Harbor Hotel, Chef Daniel Bruce

My welcome at Boston Harbor Hotel:



***

This past week, I made a quick trip to Boston for the Natural Products Expo East. Because of a scheduling snafu, I was kindly rebooked from my usual Pure room at the Seaport Boston to a hotel down the street, the Boston Harbor Hotel.

The person I contacted after being rebooked was the hotel executive chef via email first then by phone. Chef Daniel Bruce was the essence of graciousness and hospitality. “We can make anything you like with any flavor profile,” he said. (That is the answer you want when talking with any chef, in any hotel restaurant or went you go into any restaurant; never settle for anything less.) Chef Daniel confirmed what I write about on Allergicgirl.com. Typically, hotel chefs are allergen-aware and trained, they deal with allergy requests and special requests all day long and basically, they want to help us, they're willing to help us and they're happy to help us.

Once I checked in, Chef Daniel met me for a quick conversation about my food allergy needs and then when over what I might like to have for dinner. Chef Daniel also mentioned that he had read my blog and copied and pasted all of my allergy needs into my guest profile. (This the level of service that is ideal from a chef, foodservice professional or hotel - even a date - if you have a blog.)

After all of this set-up with an Executive Chef of three hotel restaurants, you may think I just breezily walked into the hotel restaurant that night and ate whatever they served me, without doing any of the steps. And that may have worked. But I never leave it to chance; I never let anyone take over for me in a new untested situation, regardless of how many times they reassure me that they know everything they need to know. My health is my responsibility, first and foremost. So, I always, always do the steps. The same ones I use in any restaurant, anywhere. It's why I dine out often with so few food allergy issues and lots of new foodie friends.

So onto the food. The second night of my stay I sat at the bar of the Meritage. I introduced myself to the General Manager by name and he said “Oh yes, Ms. Miller, we’ve been expecting you.” Lovely. Chef Daniel came out to personally take my order. Very nice. I had a three-ounce filet mignon perfectly cooked (medium rare) with fingerling potatoes, green beans and Brussel sprouts. That’s one of my standard I-don’t-know-you-yet-so-this-is-my-safe-dish – a lean protein with steamed or sautéed veg. (I recommend you have a safe dish that you can order at new places as well.)

Whilst at the bar, I ended up chatting with a lovely couple next to me who were considering the hotel for their wedding. They were talking about how they dine at the restaurant often and are huge fans of the chef, in awe they said, of his culinary abilities. They were impressed that he had come out to not only talk with me but to take my order and then serve my dish.

The woman inquired: “Are you a food critic or someone famous?”

“No”, I said proudly, “I have food allergies.”

How did this all happen? It starts right after you book your trip. Reach out to the Executive Chef of your hotel to see if they can accommodate your needs. A quick call or email takes only a few minutes but it could mean the difference between a nerve-wracking trip and an easeful journey.

Thank you Boston Harbor Hotel and Chef Daniel Bruce for making my stay such an enjoyable and allergen-free one!

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis, ACAAI

The below is a press release from the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology and it poses an excellent question:

Would You Know the Symptoms of Life-Threatening Anaphylaxis?


If you or a loved one is newly diagnosed with food allergies or even if you’ve had food allergies for, like, forever, you may not know the answer to the most basic of questions: what does anaphylaxis look or feel like and what should you do if/when it happens.

-Get motivated and get educated.
-Go over your food allergy emergency plan, allergy action plan or anaphylaxis plan with your allergist.
-Review your emergency medications - what to take and when.
-Don't delay; this information is life saving.

From an ACAAI press release:

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Many of the approximately 1,500 deaths in the U.S. each year due to anaphylaxis, a sudden serious allergic reaction, could be prevented if more people knew the symptoms and the immediate treatment needed to survive.

To increase awareness of anaphylaxis, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) have partnered to bring the Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) educational program to 150 communities throughout the U.S. The ACE program is supported by Dey Pharma, LP.

“The first line of treatment is early administration of epinephrine. Most fatalities from anaphylaxis occur outside the home, especially when treatment is delayed,” says allergist David Khan, MD, ACAAI program chair. “Our goal is to show parents, teachers, school nurses, emergency responders and others how to recognize and respond to anaphylaxis symptoms the moment they begin. Our goal is to save lives.”

Anaphylaxis is a rapid-onset, whole-body, potentially life-threatening, allergic reaction. It can happen to anyone at any time, but is more commonly experienced among people with risk factors. There are three major risk factors for fatal anaphylaxis:
• Allergic reaction to food, stinging insects or medications
• Presence or history of asthma symptoms
• Delay in administration of epinephrine

The affected person may experience cardiovascular shock and/or serious respiratory compromise.

“If you or someone you know experiences anaphylaxis, ask: what caused the allergic reaction? The answer may not be what you think. See an allergist. Get a strategy and reduce anxieties associated with anaphylaxis,” says Nancy Sander, AANMA president and founder. “Forty-seven states protect students’ rights to carry and use auto-injectable epinephrine. We’ve created resources to help them and families coordinate students’ needs.”

Every child at risk should have an anaphylaxis action plan on file with all schools and caregivers. The plan should list symptoms; state that immediate action can be life-saving and outline what to do in order of importance.

The ACE program will be presented in 150 communities by teams of local allergists and laypersons. ACE program objectives are to:

• Help patients, families and healthcare professionals identify who is at risk, and recognize signs and symptoms of life-threatening allergic reactions

• Recommend that auto-injectable epinephrine, the first line of treatment, be administered immediately once the symptoms have been identified, followed by emergency medical attention at the nearest hospital

• Develop prevention models that:

o Promote identification and avoidance of allergens
o Encourage patients with a history of anaphylaxis to consult with an allergist routinely
o Provide an Anaphylaxis Action Plan to patients who are at risk of anaphylaxis
o Refer patients with a diagnosis of anaphylaxis to an allergist, support organizations and educational programs

To learn more about the symptoms and treatment of anaphylaxis visit www.aanma.org/anaphylaxis and www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gluten-Free Girl, Interview

Recently, Gluten-Free Girl Shauna’s new book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef published. [Disclosure: We share the same publisher.] Shauna, her husband Danny (The Chef) and Lu (their daughter) were in NYC for all kinds of gluten-free fun. Aside from catching up on life, blogging, books and where to eat in NYC that's allergen-friendly - we had a sit down in the park to talk about the “loooove story". And really, who doesn't love a good love story? Add food to the mix, make it gluten-free and you have a party right there.

I invite to you have a listen in on the convo over at my new YouTube channel and enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

WestFAST, Kyle Dine

WestFAST (Westchester Food Allergy Support Team) is doing a FAAN fundraiser with Allergic Girl colleague, Kyle Dine. Super exciting! Here’s WestFAST's (Westchester Food Allergy Support Team) flyer information. Enjoy!

***

U.S. Launch Party for Kyle Dine’s “Food Allergies Rock!” and Food-Allergy-Friendly 
Halloween Party

Featuring musical performances by Kyle Dine and Charlie Hope at LIFE THE PLACE TO BE, 2 Lawrence St., Ardsley, NY (25 minutes north of NYC) 

2-4 pm on Halloween, Sunday, Oct. 31st, 2010

Come in costume to participate in our costume contest!

$30 admission for family of up to 5 with $5 per family going to benefit FAAN.

For more information, contact Suzie Fromer at suziefromer@gmail.com or (646) 785-6297 or visit www.lifetheplacetobe.com.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Kitchen Inspection, New York Times

Cross-contamination in a restaurant kitchen is a major worry for any of us with a restricted diet who dine out. But what about at home? Before we even start to tackle allergen contamination, what about the basics: bacteria, viruses, spores, fungus, mold; raw proteins; proper temperatures and hand washing. This illuminating article in the New York Times is a must read. And then wash. In the bathroom.

The New York Times article highlights:

"Would Your Kitchen Pass Inspection?" Pass or Fail, Some Health Basics for the Kitchen. Some of the things health department inspectors watch for in restaurants are worth keeping in mind at home:

--Make sure to clear the sink of dishes and pans before washing hands, and use different towels to dry hands and cookware. Have liquid soap and paper towels in your bathroom for hand-washing.
--Make sure your cutting boards don’t have nicks and grooves where bacteria can grow. If they do, you can sand or replace them. Bacteria can also thrive inside cracks in floor tiles and wood countertops.
--Make sure your refrigerator is working properly and keep it on a cold setting.
--Don’t let food linger on countertops a long time before cooking and serving it.
--Keep pets off countertops and dining tables.
--Damp dish towels can breed bacteria. Keep them clean and dry, or use paper towels.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Westchester FAAN Walk, 2010

The walk starts:



This past Saturday was the first FAAN walk in Westchester, NY, which is about thirty minutes north of Manhattan. It was a truly glorious morning. Hundreds of families, grandparents and siblings were there, all in support of their food allergic family members. We walked around a track, overlooking the Long Island sound, entertained by Spider-man and Scooby-Doo.

Scooby entertains all:


At the end of the walk, there were musicians, safe treats from Divvies and Enjoy Life (and others), a fire truck to visit and jumpy castles. The goal was to raise $30,000; they raised over $130,000, all for FAAN. I was honored to join this year’s walk not only representing of all of us adult allergic girls and guys but to lend some support to a dear friend.


My best friend from grade school, Aimee and her beautiful family walked for the first time this year:


Aimee is one of my original safe friends.

Her three-year old daughter Kate developed severe peanut allergies this past year. Neither she, her husband nor their older daughter, seven-year old Hannah have any food allergies. The only person she knew with food allergies, before this, was me.

So, after Kate had a scary severe allergic reaction to a peanut butter cookies last year, Aimee and her family did what so many of you incredible food allergy mommies and daddies [and extended family members] do: they kicked into major parent mode, getting educated about food allergies [I recommended Dr Wood’s book as a primer, next year I’ll recommend Allergic Girl too for the how tos of food allergies], seeing the best qualified board certified allergist so they could to get the information they need about staying safe, medications and emergency plans; became active with FAAN and other email food allergy groups; learned how to advocate for little Kate; and helped both of their children cope with all of the new food rules. I’ve been there to help Aimee and her husband with all of this new information because parents need support, too. It’s been an adjustment to be sure, but Aimee has been able to find many positives about food allergies: like she and her family eat healthier than they ever have before.

My main takeaway from this event was the pure joy and support that is out there for the food allergic community and I was so thrilled to be a part of it.