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, February 22, 2013

Gluten Free Apple Spice Cake

Lady Alice, picture courtesy of Rainier Fruit

I received some major goodies in the mail recently:  Lady Alice apples from Rainier Fruit. This is a new apple that appeared spontaneously. They are not completely sure of its genetic makeup, there may be some golden delicious in there but beyond that it’s an unknown. What is known is that these apples are quite good. Rose-colored skin with some yellow streaks, and firm, yellow-tinged flesh that doesn’t brown quickly once cut. I enjoyed them as eating apples and I put them to the baking test and made an experimental "upside down-ish gluten-free apple spice cake".

I'd say this experiment turned out pretty well. The cake was the spice cake mix from Namaste Foods. (Namaste mixes are free from: wheat, gluten, corn, soy, potato, dairy, casein, tree nuts or peanuts). The batter comes together in a snap and made enough for six cupcakes and one 13x9 square pan cake. I cored and peeled the apples, cutting them into slices to arrange on the bottom and then cut up a few to put throughout but basically that was all of the work. I adapted a Betty Crocker recipe and presto, change-o – delicious cake.

Here’s what I liked especially about the Lady Alice apples: they kept their yellow toned flesh i.e. didn’t get brown or mushy during baking and they kept some bite to them; they were firm although cooked, which all testers (ahem, me and BF) loved.

It was so easy, I hope you try this at home with some Lady Alice apples or any fruit of your choosing. (Flo Fabricant of the New York Times also loved this apple!)


I was trying to be dainty but cutting up a corner into smaller pieces. I ate them both anyway.

Gluten Free Apple Spice Cake
(Adapted from Betty Crocker) 

1/2 cup butter (I use organic)

2/3 cup packed raw brown sugar (I use organic)

1 lb Lady Alice apples, cored & peeled and sliced into half moons. (One pound of apples is approximately 2-3 apples.)

1 bag Namaste Foods Spice Cake mix

Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box. (I use olive oil and organic eggs.)

Heat oven to 350°F.

Version 1 of caramelized apples: In 13x9-inch pan, melt butter and brown sugar in oven for three minutes or so. Lay sliced apples in pan.

Version 2 of caramelized apples: In a non-reactive saucepan, heat butter and sugar. Added sliced apples, and cook on low until butter/sugar is thickened and caramely and apples are cooked down, softened and also caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.

Mix cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan, using water, oil and eggs. Add  apples to bottom of pan if you made Version 2 or pour batter over apples already in pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack. Place heatproof serving plate upside down on pan; turn plate and pan over. Remove pan. Serve cake warm. Or cold. Or at room temperature. It'll be gone fast, beware.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup, recipe

The final deliciousness

I made a big mistake. I bought two mega sweet potatoes at the local green market without a plan with what exactly to do with them. Weighing in at one and half pounds each (!), I needed to come up with something. Meanwhile, while I was furiously Googling some sweet potato recipes, I was whipping up a batch of lentil soup. I made the lentil soup very simply, using the recipe on the package as a guide, here’s a version on that recipe from Goya’s website. And then I further adapted it by adding elements of this recipe from a blogger that was new to me,  Eat Yourself Skinny. She’s not food allergy blog related, but vegan and adapted this recipe from "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone. The result was a superfood-packed soup, lightly spiced and utterly delicious.  

Here  is the original recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny:

2 Tbsp safflower oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of sea salt
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
7 cups vegetable broth
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup baby spinach or kale

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and saute onion for about 2 minutes, until soft.  Stir in tomatoes and ginger, cooking an addition 3 minutes.  Stir in turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and salt and cook for 2 minutes, tasting to make sure its to your liking.  Next add the sweet potatoes, broth and lentils.  Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat and cover, allowing to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Then add spinach (or kale) and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.  Enjoy!


My adaptations were that I added the following to a few cups of already made plain green lentil soup. I found that this soup is very forgiving and you kind of can’t make a mistake.

1, 15 ounce can of organic diced tomatoes
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of sea salt
¾ of pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 large handful of ribboned curly kale

I toasted the spices in some olive oil, added the sweet potatoes and the can of tomatoes and gave that a good stir to blend the spices and then added the already made green lentil soup. I simmered all of the ingredients together until the sweet potatoes were soft. Here’s my special trick, only when I was ready to eat a portion did I add the kale and then let it cook for about 2-3 minutes until it was wilted but not soggy. I like my greens bright. Such a happy soup. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 Ideas for Safe Travel to NYC With Food Allergies

*UPDATED: February 21, 2013*

This email just came in last night:

I just wanted to let you know that we recently took a family trip to NYC with my daughter, who has a number of food allergies. I used your 'Allergic Girl Recommends' lists to get information on possible places to eat, and we went to some of your recommended restaurants. My daughter was very comfortable at those places...she loves it when they 'get it'.  Thank you so much for providing so much detail on your experiences at the various restaurants, it really helped us in deciding where to go and knowing what to expect. Thanks – J. from MA


I've gotten a flurry of emails lately looking for assistance for travel to New York City. There are three ways I can help if you are traveling with food allergy needs:

1. For free, have a look at my Allergic Girl Recommends website for NYC restaurant suggestions.

2. For a low fee, my lifestyle guide Allergic Girl offers general dining out strategies which you can use everywhere/anywhere.

3. Finally, for a one-time fee, I would be *your concierge*. Contact me now to get started for your New York City sojourn today!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nut Free Candy List, Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board

Here's a nice list of peanut-free and tree-nut free candy and ice creams from Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board that Elizabeth Landau of linked to in her column last week. This list is  called the Peanut and Tree-Nut Free Candy list and it was published in 2012 by the Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board. 

As always, double check each of these items by reading the labels and calling the manufacturer directly to ensure its safety for your food allergy needs.

*In addition, avoid your allergens at all times, have an anaphylaxis action plan and carry your epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times.*

Saturday, February 16, 2013

AAFA, KFA, Merge 2013

Kids With Food Allergies Foundation & Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) Merger Announcement. From the KFA press release: The patient organization with the largest online community for families raising children with food allergies, and the largest organization for asthma & allergy patients intend to merge.  The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA) will become a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and together they will be the most comprehensive nonprofit source of education, advocacy, research, social networking and support for millions of families living with these diseases.

This is exciting new for the asthma and food allergy communities and I look forward to seeing how this merger unfolds over the next few months.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Being An Allergy Hero, CNN

Elizabeth Landau of wrote an excellent article for Valentines' Day this year. [Disclosure: I’m quoted in it]. The focus is about how you can be an “allergy hero” to your significant other if they have allergies, food allergies or dietary restrictions. As Landau says, "As the significant other, you have the opportunity to be an 'allergy hero.' Your job is to minimize risk and create a safe and supportive environment for your sweetie, on Valentine's Day and in general." What’s great about this article is that it’s applicable for any time of the year, not just Valentine’s Day. Read through for tips and strategies about how to support your food allergic loved one all year long.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Best Valentine’s Day Gift, 2013

Still looking for that perfect St. Valentine’s Day gift? One of the biggest, self-love gifts you can give is confidence and clarity about a medical diagnosis (as much as it's possible). And helping your child achieve clarity about their food allergy diagnosis now will help them learn how to self-advocate in all stages in life. (A huge, huge life-long gift.)

February 13, 2013, I was quoted in a story from the Canadian AP about dating and food allergies: "...I'm very clear about what I can and cannot do, and that kind of clarity definitely helps. And people tend to respond to that, I think, in a positive way." You can read more about dating with food allergies from the Canadian AP article: "Communication, planning can help ease dating anxiety for people with food allergies"

Want more? Here’s an excellent breakdown of how I help coaching clients create food allergy confidence and clarity by blogger Grateful Foodie who attended last month’s Blogger Summit hosted by Mylan Specialty (Makers of EpiPen and with whom I have a relationship).

Need more assistance? I’ve got your back. Contact me today about a food allergy coaching program today for expert guidance and support.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

9 Food Allergy Blogger Tips

Part of the Mylan Specialty (makers of Epi-Pen) Blogger Summit for food allergy bloggers, many of whom are food allergy moms, was a presentation about using social media from expert, Ritesh Patel (on Twitter, @ritters90). Ritesh is also, himself, the father to a food allergic teen.

Smiley, knowledgeable, food allergy dad, Ritesh Patel

This is my seventh year of blogging about living well with food allergies (and sixth year of food allergy coaching) but there is always more to learn, refine or re-envision about blogging and social media. So I listened with a beginner’s mind to Ritesh’s presentation. Below, in brief, are his nine top food allergy blogging and social media tips with relevant links.


1. Make all content “shareable, embeddable and mashable.”

2. Ensure your content is relevant and readable in other social media environments, like on tablets and smartphones.

3. Look at if you have an iPhone – it creates short bursts of video. Here are video options for other platforms, like Android.

4. Look at – it creates a magazine of your Twitterfeed.

5. 2013 is the year of the video, like Add more video to your blogging and your social media feed (see number 3).

6. Joining and using Google+ is vital to your brand.

7. For better SEOs, use natural language in blog posts, titles, subtitles and tags; cultivate inbound links; and use fewer acronyms in your blog posts. Here's a link with more information about increasing your SEOs.

8. Use the same image for your brand everywhere.

9. Google's Author Rank is becoming more vital. Here's another article about author rank via Brooklyn Allergy Mom.


Thanks Ritesh, for all of the excellent information!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Top 8 Free Short Ribs, The Strand

Chef Kelvin Fernandez, executive chef of the Strand Bistro created a top eight allergen free short rib recipe with parsnip puree and roasted parsnips for the fabulous Blogger Summit dinner by Mylan Specialty (makers of Epi-Pen). Here are some shots of the chefs preparing a sample rib, courtesy of Noel Malcom:

Safety first, Chef puts on his gloves
Made earlier that day, the short rib is being heated up
Red wine glaze also gets warmed and lovingly poured over the short rib
With a fresh spoon chef tastes to correct seasoning and then discards that spoon
Putting all of the elements together, parsnip puree, short rib and roasted parsnips

Making a beautiful plate
Final presentation

So delish! If you haven't made your Valentine's Day reservations and live in or near New York City, I know Chef Kelvin would love to make this or something equally yummy and safe for you.

Contact the Strand Bistro and say Allergic Girl sent you!

Strand Bistro
33 W 37th Street 
New York, 10018
Tel: 646.368.6395

PS Here's my recipe for short ribs - so easy, go make them today!

Friday, February 08, 2013

ACAAI Study, Teens, Anaphylaxis

From American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Most pediatric allergists expected that by age 12 to 14 years, their patients should begin to share responsibilities with adults for anaphylaxis recognition and epinephrine auto-injector use; however, they individualized the timing based on assessment of patient readiness factors."

Most allergist expect it, but how often does that happen? Have you started talking about emergency yet with your food allergic child? Want help starting that conversation? Contact me about a targeted food allergy coaching program all around talking about your anaphylaxis plan and "emergency" with your teen.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Dining Out With Food Allergies In NYC

Did you know I have a whole restaurant listings blog dedicated to just dining out with food allergies in New York City? It’s called Allergic Girl Recommends and on it I have places where I’ve dined successfully, tips on dining out and a map.

If you want more assistance, my book Allergic Girl offers general dining out strategies and you can purchase it in stores or online.

Dining at work event in NYC. Photograph courtesy of Noel Malcolm

Or, for a one-time flat fee, I could be your personal food allergy concierge. Here's more about my Allergic Girl Concierge service for New York City. Please Note: the strategies I teach you can be employed for any future travel, anywhere!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Bananas and Sour Cream

When I was little, visiting my grandparents in East Hampton, Long Island, my Bubby (a Jewish term for grandmother) would slice bananas and lovingly place them over sour cream; sometimes she sprinkled a little sugar on them. I loved this treat; she made it for my mother too, when she was a little girl. I associate that flavor combination with her, although I never eat it because sour cream -oy! - too rich for my lactose-intolerant palate these days.

So when Chobani Greek Yogurt sent me samples of their new product line to try, I was delighted to see bananas with two percent Greek yogurt in the package. Upon my first taste, I was instantly transported to my Bubby’s house – the sweetness of banana coupled with the creaminess of two percent yogurt, it's a way healthier and transportable version of my childhood treat. It’s my new favorite flavor, read: obsession.

In other news, Chobani recently built a new facility. Here’s the December 16, 2012 story from the New York Times. Part of their new product line includes products with tree nuts. I asked Chobani to respond to this statement from the New York Times Chobani story: "The third new product the plant will be responsible for is the Chobani Flip, a square package with one corner containing nuts, granola, dried fruits or other ingredients that can be added to the yogurt."

This was Chobani's answer:  "All allergens are processed on dedicated equipment in a segregated area with its own independent air handling system. Ingredients are kept isolated & access to the room is restricted. Employees wear special garb & follow strict protocols when entering & exiting."

Great news!

I have been enjoying Chobani without issue for a few years now. But as everyone’s needs are different, please reach out to Chobani directly if you have questions:

Meanwhile, Thank you Chobani for this healthy walk down memory lane – so yum!  

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Blogger Summit 2013, Mylan Specialty

Blogger Summit 2013, NYC. Photograph courtesy of Noel Malcolm

*UPDATED: February 11, 2013 with more blog links and pictures!*

I was thrilled and honored to work with Mylan Specialty (makers of Epi-Pen) to create a Blogger Summit at the end of January 2013. Bloggers from all over the country came to New York and we gathered for a dinner the night before and then had a day long of talks from me about food allergy confidence and Dr Ruchi Gupta spoke about anaphlyaxis.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta and me, Allergic Girl, speaking, January 2013

Ritesh Patel spoke about social media trends for 2013.
Ritesh Patel

Here are some shots of the event:

Here's a run down from several of the bloggers (in alpha order) of their thoughts and take-aways from this incredible event:

The Allergic Kid

Brooklyn Allergy Mom

Cybele Pascal

Easy Breezy Life - How to Talk to Others About Food
Easy Breezy Life - Can My Child With Allergic Live Normal
Easy Breezy Life - Free Epi-Pens For Your Schools

Food Allergy Assistant - Food Allergy Reactions on Valentine's Day

Frugal Food Allergies - Valentine's Day
Frugal Food Allergies- What's Cooking?

Get Allergy Wise - Kissing Induced Anaphylaxis
Get Allergy Wise - Party Times Tips

Grateful Foodie - Food Allergy Guru Sloane Miller Shines
Grateful Foodie - Food Allergies: Valentine’s Day and Halloween -What’s in Common?
Grateful Foodie -  Ideals Whirling: Food Allergy Social Media Summit

Marketing Mama
Marketing Mama - Valentine's Day

Multiple Food Allergy Help - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Thank you all for such an incredible event!

Cooking Allergy Free

Last week, I was honored to speak and be part of planning a Blogger Summit here in New York City with Mylan Specialty (makers of Epi-Pen). Part of the event was a dinner with everyone the night before and then breakfast and lunch the day of. We worked closely with the Chef of the Strand Bistro, Kelvin Fernandez, whom you may remember I did an Allergic Girl Dines Out Video with last year.

Chef Kelvin’s shellfish allergic so he really understands food allergies, issues of cross contamination and building a delicious menu. Over the course of two days, we collated every diner’s food restrictions, created a safe-for-everyone menu and vetted over every single ingredient and sub-ingredient of every dish.

Here are some gorgeous shots of the chef and I in his kitchen during that vetting process. (Photographs courtesy of Noel Malcom):

For a food allergic group like ours, he opens a new salt to use!
For any dish that used a "processed" food, we looked at each and every label.
Chef always changes his gloves. He also has latex-free gloves for patrons and his latex-allergic sous chef.

The final result was a dinner everyone could enjoy as there were several allergic and intolerant girls at the table.

*Stay tuned for a blog post of the OMG delicious short ribs he made.*

Thank you Chef Kelvin and the Strand Bistro!

PS: Planning a trip to NYC? The Strand Bistro is one of my go-tos for my concierge clients. More about the Chef and the Strand on this blog post.

Monday, February 04, 2013

One in Three Children Experience Anaphylaxis on Valentine's Day

Mylan Specialty, makers of Epi-Pen, released a new survey on January 31, 2013 that found “…of the 302 U.S. adults, age 18+, who self-identified as caregivers of at least one child with a life-threatening allergy to food and/or latex…one in three reported that their children with life-threatening allergies have experienced anaphylaxis on Valentine’s Day.” [Disclosure: I have a relationship with Mylan Specialty.]

More from the press release: “The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Mylan Specialty, revealed that teens that date were significantly more likely to have experienced anaphylaxis during Valentine’s Day than those who do not date (47% versus 13%) and:

  • Less than half of parents (47%) talk to their child about risks posed to children with life-threatening allergies from physical contact related to Valentine’s Day, such as being kissed by someone who has recently eaten food they may be allergic to.
  • Only 47% of parents tell their teen that when going on dates, they should tell their date about their life-threatening food allergy.
  • 35% of parents did not indicate that they remind their teen to bring his/her epinephrine auto-injector on dates"
As this study illustrates, having a conversation about “romance” and food allergies is not an easy one, especially with teens who may have their iPod headphones in their ears every time you try to with them.  My advice to parents from the press release: 

“As children mature, parents’ conversations should evolve with their needs and age-specific concerns. Food allergy talks need to reflect what is happening in their children’s lives and the real-life challenges they face on a daily basis.”

What that means is that conversation about anaphylaxis, emergencies, Epi-Pens, food allergies are ever changing as your child changes.  Once your child receives a diagnosis of life-threatening food allergies, that is the beginning of an ongoing conversation about how to manage that diagnosis. Receiving an anaphylaxis action plan from your board certified allergist is not a final step – it is the beginning of exploring what allergens to avoid and how, what symptoms to watch out for, what emergency means, what anaphylaxis looks like and what to do in case of that emergency.

I know it’s scary to start having these conversations with your children, especially ones about dates and Valentine's Day, but they want to hear from you, even your teenagers, they’re looking to you for guidance (and they're listening to you even when their headphones are in).

Friday, February 01, 2013

Food Allergies, V-Day

I wrote this status update on my Facebook Allergic Girl page last month: “One way in which new BF keeps me safe in my home: shakes contents of containers, bags or boxes (like raisins) into his hands, thus eliminating any possible cross contamination. What is one way your loved one keeps you safe?”

As Valentines Day’s looms, I’d love to hear more about:
1.    The ways you keep yourself safe?
2.    How you keep your food allergic loved ones safe?
3.    How a loved one keeps you safe?