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)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Recipe: Sweet Potatoes & Marshmallows, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free

Sweet Potatoes & Marshmallows, circa 2011
**UPDATED November 2015 **

As a child, sweet potatoes with marshmallows were what I looked forward to every year. And with my burly boy cousins, it seems there was never enough marshmallow to go around (or they simply got to it first.) The joy of being an adult is that I can create a sweet potatoes with marshmallows dish that has enough of the best parts to go around.

I discovered this recipe on Epicurious and have made it two years running. Such a keeper! I get massive compliments on it and it’s quickly become a stable. Brown sugar and spice-braised sweet potatoes are one aspect; gone are the overly-sweet (yet still delicious) canned pineapple version. But my true trick is to turn this recipe once cooked into two 9 inch round pans and to create a 1 or 1 ½ inch layer of potato mash. I top each pan with large fluffy marshmallows which creates the perfect ratio of marshmallow to sweet potato. Every spoonful (and you only need about two) is the perfect bite. Above is the shot of last year’s dish. We gobbled it up so quickly this year I didn’t get a chance to shoot it.


Sweet Potatoes & Marshmallows, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free
Recipe adapted from Epicurious via Bon Appetite 1994

•    4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
•    2/3 cup packed sugar in the raw
•    5 tablespoons butter
•    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    1/2 teaspoon salt
•    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•    Pinch of ground ginger
•    2 cups marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange potatoes in baking dish in one layer so they cook evenly. Combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake potatoes 50 minutes. Uncover; bake until potatoes are tender and syrup thickens slightly, basting occasionally, about 20 minutes. Then I mashed the potatoes with a fork and I transfer to two smaller pans. At this point you can place in fridge until you are ready to hear and top with marshmallows.

When ready to serve, increase oven temperature to 500°F. Top potatoes with marshmallows  Return to oven; bake until marshmallows begin to melt about 3 minutes.

Be warned these sweet potatoes with marshmallows will quickly become a family favorite!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

American Girl, Food Allergy Doll

 From Huffington Post Parents blog:

American Girl Dolls To Get Allergy-Free Lunches, Hearing Aids
“…and, for those dolls with food-sensitivities, an American Girl Allergy-Free Lunch. The lunch comes complete with a medical bracelet and a fake allergy shot, ‘just in case.’”

There are so many possible positive applications for this kind of doll. A doll with food allergies, anaphylaxis and an auto-injector of epinephrine can be a teaching tool for young children about disease management. As children learn best through play, this doll can help parents to identify any feelings (anxious of otherwise) about food allergies and food allergic reactions as their children play.
What do you all think about: American Girl Dolls To Get Allergy-Free Lunches, Hearing Aids?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cooked Cranberry Orange Relish

That beautiful bowl filled with red goodness in the foreground is the best cranberry sauce

I make Cooked Cranberry Orange Relish every year for Thanksgiving but it’s so easy and good, I’ll make a batch when I have a spare seven minutes (uh yeah, seven minutes) and use it for baked apples, swirled into plain yogurt or on a turkey sandwich. The possibilities are endless. I think the original recipe used to be listed on the cranberry bag itself but as it isn’t anymore. So here is a version from Recipeland that works just fine. Below is the recipe with my modifications.

Cooked Cranberry Orange Relish
Adapted from Recipeland

1 bag of whole fresh cranberries
1 orange (I use a navel, save yourself de-pitting)
½ cup water
½ cup sugar (I use organic brown)

Pick over the cranberries and discard any soft or broken ones. Wash the orange.
Place the cranberries into a small saucepan. Zest the entire orange, making certain to avoid the pith into the cranberries. Add the juice of the orange into the pan. Add the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Turn down to low heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the skins of the berries begin to pop. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl and let cool. Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey, Stew Leonard’s

Resting Stew Leonard's turkey

That gorgeous and tasty Thanksgiving bird pictured above is not the result the hours of my labor but of a simple phone call to Stew Leonard's in Yonkers, NY.


Me to Stew Leonard's Chef: Hi. I have severe food allergies to tree nuts and fish and I’m calling about your cooked turkeys. Can you tell me what’s in the marinade?

Stew Leonard's Chef: Of course! (He lists ingredients of marinade, all safe for me.)

Me: Where you make the turkeys...are there any tree nuts in the area? Will this bird come into contact with tree nuts?

Chef: Nope, just turkeys. They don’t come into contact with any tree nuts.

Me: And in the marinade? Are there any hidden fishy ingredients, like Worcestershire sauce? I know you already listed all the ingredients, but I need to double check.

Chef: (Laughs) Yes, we stuff the turkey with fish! No seriously, only the marinade ingredients that I told you. Worcestershire has anchovy, we’d never use that.

Me: (Laughs) Yes, not everyone knows that.

Chef: I’m Culinary Institute of America trained. I know all about allergens, there are no tree nuts or fish in our turkeys.

Me: Thank you!

Chef: Of course, any more questions, I’m here (and he gives me his name).


Here’s a picture of their Turkey making production line at Stew Leonard’s from their Facebook page:

Courtesy of Stew Leonard's


Some background: for the last few years I’ve spent thanksgiving with my cousins in Connecticut and they’ve been buying and serving the Stew Leonard's turkey. I’ve enjoyed it for years without issue. As ingredients and formulations change, I call every year to have the same conversation with the Chef at Stew Leonard's. And every year, I’ve been fine.

*But please note: This is not a risk free turkey. It is made outside of my home by hands other than mine. I’m not suggesting this for you or your family buy Stew Leonard's turkeys but letting you know that I took that leap of faith and it was delicious. And of course, I always have my emergency plan and medications on me, even at my mother’s house, a totally safe place. *

Monday, November 19, 2012

Insalata Cuoco, Recipe

Socca with Insalata Cuoco
*UPDATE: As of January 2013, Chef Mike is no longer at Nizza.*

See that gorgeous salad in that picture above? And in the YouTube video here and below?

Want to know how to make it? Here is the recipe direct from Chef Mike. Thanks again Nizza!

Insalata Cuoco by Michael Schimelpfenig, Chef de Cuisine, Nizza NYC

For the salad:
1 clamshell mixed greens (mesclun mix)
2 bulbs fennel, shaved
2 bartlett pears, batons
.5 lb goat cheese, crumbled
For the dressing:
.5 lb bacon strip
1 shallot, minced
.5 bunch parsley, fine chop
.5 cup sherry vinegar
1.75 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste


The salad:
Begin this salad—as with any salad—by washing the mixed greens (even when the package says “ready to eat”), the pears, and the fennel.  Remove any green stalk from the top of the fennel bulb, and shave as thin as possible across the top.  This is best done on a Japanese mandolin (Benriner is the brand I use).  In the absence of a mandolin this can be done with a sharp knife.  Save prepping the pears until near ready to serve the salad, as they will oxidize and turn brown if sliced too early.  Prepare the pears by quartering it around the core.  Place each quarter flat side down and cut each into thin slices, then cut the thin slices into batons.   
The dressing:
Cook the bacon in a hot sautĂ© pan until crisp.  Remove from pan, and allow it to cool before chopping.  Once cool, coarsely chop the bacon into small bits.  Blend the bacon, shallot, parsley, and sherry vinegar in a small mixing bowl.  Whisk vigorously while slowly adding the olive oil until all the oil is incorporated.  It is important to add the oil as slow as possible in order to assure that it will blend in with the rest of the ingredients, and not separate within the mixture.  Add salt to taste after the vinaigrette is blended. 

The final product:
Toss the greens, fennel, and pears with the bacon vinaigrette in a medium mixing bowl.  Taste, and adjust seasoning as desired with salt.  Keep the goat cheese refrigerated until ready to serve this salad.  Cold goat cheese crumbles with more ease and is less messy to deal with than warm goat cheese.  Crumble the goat cheese over the top of the salad and serve.
*This recipe will yield three portions.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Food Allergy Research, CDMRP, 2012

This is the third year that Congress has set aside funds for food allergy research.

In 2010, I was proud to be a consumer reviewer on a peer review panel in Washington DC which helped to decided where these Congressional funds should be directed.

In 2011, I was featured by the CDMRP website.

In 2012, I was honored again to be chosen to represent all of you as the consumer reviewer of current research proposals competing for congressional funds in a program called FY12 Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP). As a consumer reviewer, my mission was to evaluate the potential impact of each research proposal upon the food allergic community.  It was fascinating to read about all the different ways medical researchers are approaching the question of food allergy’s cause, prevention and potential treatment.

Thank you again CDMRP for allowing consumers directly impacted to be part of this important process!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

FAAN Teen Summit, 2012

This was my first year talking at FAAN’s Teen Summit and what fun it was. I spoke with over 120 parents and then with the break out kids' groups – 50 plus middle schoolers and 50 plus high schoolers. All different groups, all with different needs and foci. And with all groups, instead of doing a power point presentation or lecture/demonstration, I decided to take a leap and do some improv comedy-based group exercises. Everyone took the leap with me. As a presenter, it was incredible to hear all three rooms, and all three groups, buzzing with laughter and feel the connections everyone was making with each other. Such an honor to be a part of that.

A FAAN conference is one of the rare opportunities for parents and children alike to be with other people that truly get it. For parents, I thought: "There is no better time to practice having difficult conversations about food allergies then when we are all together." So, that’s exactly what we did.

I put the parents in unfamiliar pairs, and then asked them to role-play about what a food allergy emergency means to their child. Even before we started the exercise, from the dais, I could see parent pairs connecting immediately.  I saw a lot of agreement and head nods and heard outbreaks of laughter – always the best signs that connections are happening. The comments after we completed the exercise were insightful and helpful to the whole group. One food allergy mother recognized that even in this practice session she felt stressed about talking about food allergy emergencies. This stress in a low stress moment highlighted how much she felt she needed to practice emergency situations before they happen. Great! Another parent shared how her practice partner models certain situations, like dining out at a restaurant for her child, letting her 13 year old listen in on a phone call to that restaurant. This gives him a chance to hear how she does it before he will start doing the call himself. Yes! Another parent pair discussed how her child doesn’t yet understand that label reading means not just one time but every time because labels change and foods are recalled. Nods all around.

With the two kids' sessions (middle school and high school/college), they came up with one-two minute skits related to what they learned or felt during the conference thus far. Some of the concepts they created and enacted were a game show, a talk show, a narrated true story that was mimed, a song, a commercial and a cautionary tale. I was deeply impressed by their creativity, cooperation and engagement in the process. And they all wanted to perform their creations for the group so much so that we ran out of time! They made each other laugh, bonded and most importantly, played.

Play is how children learn. Play can be how adults learn, too, which is why I brought these improvisational exercises to the FAAN’s Teen Summit this year: to learn, to connect and be healed together.

I was honored to be a part of the FAAN’s Teen Summit 2012 speaker line-up. Thank you FAAN’s Teen Summit and thank you FAAN’s Teen Summit conferencees for taking a leap with me – we all reaped the rich rewards!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Nizza, Food Allergy Aware, Video

Fungi Socca
*UPDATE January 2013: Chef Mike is no longer at Nizza.*

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know Nizza has been my food BFF for some time now. I had my birthday there a few years back and we shot some of this Cooking Channel segment there two years ago. Recently, they brought on a new Chef de Cuisine, Michael Schimelpfenig or Chef Mike. It seemed like a perfect time to revisit Nizza and their allergen awareness policies and just general niceness, really. They kindly invited us to come in and make their home, ours for a few hours and film it on video.

Numodo shot and produced this fourth video in the Dining OutWith Food Allergies series at Nizza. You can watch it via a link here or embedded below:

Scrumptious, right?

Here’s a behind the scenes tidbit. Initially, that gorgeous fungi socca with truffle oil worried me. Chef Mike went over every ingredient and all was safe, I love mushrooms, but the truffle oil...who made it and was it possible tree nut contaminated? Very often truffle oil is made in France by companies that produce walnut oil, a French cuisine staple. Or like this oil made in California with a French process and partnership. If you have a look at La Tourangelle's nut oil lists, and you are a nut-allergic girl like me, you will see why when Chef Mike said fungi socca with truffle oil, I paused.  

I gently explained that very often truffle oil is made by a nut oil producer. He immediately went and retrieved the oil bottle to show me the label. It's from a company called Sogno Toscano. The label didn’t mention that it contained tree nuts or was made in a facility with tree nuts nor did the website that I checked from my smart phone say anything about tree nuts. But it was imported from Italy, so I was unsure if they were, or were mandated to be, FALCPA compliant.

Chef Mike said, “I can call the distributor right now, they can call the company directly and we can find out the answer.” See why we love him! His cell phone was at the ready and in less than two minutes, we had the answer. Sogno Toscano does not make nor process any nut oils in their facility. I able to tuck in with confidence and boy, was it yummy.

Does this mean that Nizza is 100% safe for everyone, all of the time, about every allergen? No, that’s not possible. But with communication about your needs and concerns with regards to your allergen(s), the staff at Nizza will do what they can to allay those concerns and make you a dish that is safe for you.

Thank you again Nizza, can’t wait to see you again soon!

(212) 956-1800
630 9TH AVE

Monday, November 05, 2012

Food Allergy, Food, Sandy

Central Park, NYC, November 4, 2012
*UPDATED: As of 12:30 Nov 6, 2012*

One of the big questions on my mind after Hurricane Sandy has been about those of us who need may specialty foods/medications (like anyone with food allergies, Celiac Disease FPIES, EoE, diabetes): how and where can they get it after such a major storm? After days and days without power (some may not have power until the second week of November) even the most prepared of us will be running out of supplies.

Behind the scenes here at Allergic Girl, there has been a flurry of emails and calls with food allergy, Celiac disease advocates, community leaders, medical professionals and food manufacturers. There is a massive desire to help but there is no coordinated way, yet, to do it. So here is the information I have read about or collected so far and the list is growing.  

*Please note: These are not endorsements. Follow up directly with these links and companies and ask them if they can accept specialty foods.*


I spoke with Leigh Lagrosa of the Food Bank of NYC and they are accepting shelf-stable, allergy-friendly goods from food manufacturers only. They serve all five boroughs of NYC.  Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Fun posted that conversation (Thank you, Erin!)  If you are a food manufacturer, here’s where you can send goods and donations to the Food Bank of NYC:

Leigh Lagrosa
Food Sourcing Liaison
Food Bank of NYC
355 Food Center Drive
Bronx, NY 10474
t: 718.991.4300, ext. 3335
c: 646.265.5099


I’ve read on Captain Jack's Peanut-Free Pirates Facebook page that these two hard-hit townships food banks were accepting donations from individuals.

I called The Community Food Bank of NJ as did FAAN and Theresa Forsman, Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations of The Community Food Bank of NJ said they absolutely will accept shelf-stable, allergy-friendly goods and donations and you can send them to:

The Community Food Bank of NJ
31 Evans Terminal,
Hillside, NJ 07205
Tel: (609) 383-8843

The Food Allergy & Asthma Support Group of North New Jersey's Group Leader Lisa Giuriceo spoke with these two food banks who said they can also accept shelf-stable, allergy-friendly goods and donations:

The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Inc.
3300 Route 66
Neptune, NJ 07753
Tel: 732.918.2600

Long Island Cares Inc.
10 Davids Drive (Harry Chapin Way)
Hauppauge, NY 11788-2039
Tel: 631l582l.FOOD

* When sending donations please mark "Hurricane Sandy/Food Allergies"*


Heidi Bayer of Brooklyn Allergy Mom wrote this post - thank you Heidi!

Erin Smith at Gluten-Free Fun put together a very comprehensive post on how to help - thanks Erin!

Kelly Courson at Celiac Chicks also wrote a very helpful disaster preparedness post - thanks Kel!

Captain Jack’s Peanut-Free Pirates on Facebook posted about this neat idea from Good And Messy about creating labels for your donation so the recipients know it is special food!


If you have more places to send food, are coordinating something near you or want to help, post a comment or post a comment on my Facebook page at Allergic Girl.



One other thought: have an allergist that you love? Tell them about these resources for their patients that might need assistance.

We are in this together.