Food Allergy Counseling

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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: Kyle Dine, No Reactions Tour 2013

Me & Kyle Dine at a KFA Event September 2012

  • Looking for positive "Allergy Dude" role model energy for your child with food allergies? 
  • Looking for a fun afternoon of songs for your child with food allergies?
  • Looking for the empowering message your child with food allergies that they can manage their lives with food allergies? 
Then look no further than Kyle Dine. In Kyle’s words: “The most important thing to me is raising awareness and education about food allergies.”  A food allergic lifer (like me!), Kyle travels the United States and the world teaching little ones about severe food allergies, anaphylaxis and empowerment through catchy tunes.

Some of his vital food allergy risk management messages are songs called: “Never Keep A Reaction A Secret”, or “Cool Bracelet” (Medic Alert) or “My Epineph-Friend” about epinephrine auto injectors. You can a listen here. Here’s more about his school assembly work and his brochure. Kyle’s tour starts tomorrow April 30, 2013 and here are his dates of now.

This year I’m thrilled to be on of Kyle’s corporate sponsors and to tell you more about Kyle Dine. And to let you know that he has Fall tour dates available. I’ve seen him perform and little kids are not only mesmerized but enchanted, engaged, learning and having a great time.

Kyle is a wonderful advocate for our anaplylactic food allergic community and I’m proud to call him colleague and friend.

Check out Kyle Dine's site, CD and join him on his tour or book him for your little one's school!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

10 Ingredient Pantry Pasta Dish: Pasta with Kale, Garlic and Chiles

Picture 1 - Fryer chile flakes, garlic and capers
Picture 2 - Adding chopped fresh kale
Picture 3 - Addition of cooked pasta to pans with kale and 
A Pasta Dish Straight From the Pantry was posted in the New York Times April 9, 2013, written by Melissa Clark. It’s a version of a dish I’m certain many of us home cooks have in our virtual back pockets: some kind of pasta, with olive oil, some garlic, some kind of green and some kind of cheese - mine is with frozen peas. As a food allergy coach, I encourage my clients to have go-to dishes that are easy to make, free of their allergens and yummy.

This version of this basic recipe meets those criteria and I especially like it for the addition of frying the capers and the red chile flakes, two things I always have on hand and forget to use. Lemon at the end is a must – it brightens the kale and the lifts pasta.  I altered the recipe to suit my food allergies and food intolerance needs - I’m fish allergic and wheat intolerant and it called for wheat pasta and anchovies. Alter it to suit your own food allergy needs and pantry dinner is served in no time!


Pasta with Kale, Garlic and Chiles
Adapted from A Pasta Dish Straight From the Pantry by Melissa Clark
Yield 2 servings

Salt, as needed
1/2 pound pasta (I used Tinkyada organic rice pasta)
3 tablespoons good olive oil, more for drizzling
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, to taste
4 fat garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry with a paper towel to encourage   browning
1 small bunch kale, chopped (or use 3 large handfuls chopped kale)
Black pepper
Squeeze of lemon
Grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional and omit if dairy allergic)

1. Bring a heavily salted pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add chiles and a pinch of salt and toast until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add smashed garlic and capers. (Picture 1.) Cook until everything is golden and the capers look crisp around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Add kale and 2 tablespoons of the pasta water and sauté until kale wilts and cooks in the pan and is well coated with oil, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Picture 2.)
4. Add drained pasta and toss well. (Picture 3.) Add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. I like it with some grated Parmesan cheese, but it's not vital.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Food Allergies: A Complete Guide, Dr. Scott H. Sicherer

Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It by leading allergist, clinician and researcher in the field of food allergies, Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, is a must read and personal library necessity for every family newly diagnosed with food allergies.

Written in a question and answer format, Dr. Sicherer, as Dr Hugh Sampson’s forward states: “…has distilled these experiences here to answer virtually every possible question about food allergies, from questions you may have wondered about to, more important, many questions you should be asking.” It’s the questions that one should be asking (but often doesn't) that I often concentrate on in my food allergy counseling sessions with clients. And the ones that need some special attention. I’m thrilled that Schierer gives so many of these necessary questions a voice, in print.

Sicherer delves deep into many pertinent issues and concerns facing the food allergy community, including: the facts about the definition of a food allergy; demystifying food allergy testing methods and efficacy rates; defining anaphylaxis; chronic health problems related to food allergy like FPIES and EoE; how to successfully avoid food allergy reactions in multiple scenarios; anxiety and food allergies and adequate feeding habits; questions about food allergy resolution and prevention and discussions about cures and treatment and on going research.

One of my favorites parts of the book, and there are many, is that the discussion in Chapter 2: "What Do I Need to Tell the Doctor to Help Get a Food Allergy Diagnosis" includes the steps, tools and strategies I’ve written about in my book, Allergic Girl and that I’ve been teaching my food allergy counseling clients for years.

  • Keeping a medical history handy of adverse food reactions and bringing with you to your doctor's appointment
  • Preparing a list of questions ahead of time to bring to your appointment
  • Preparing a food diary (or as he calls it a diet record) to bring to your appointment
And he adds the suggestion of bringing relevant food labels; a minor or hidden ingredient of a previously trusted food could be the reaction culprit.

No one book about any medical diagnosis can say it all, explain it all, be all about your exact food allerg situation, at all times of your life. It's not possible.  And Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It is in no way a substitute for a visit to the allergist office. But 9 Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It by Dr. Scott H. Sicherer is a valuable tool to educate and inform anyone with food allergies about their disease. It would also make an excellent gift for caregivers, school nurses, grandparents, spouses, etc.

Thank you Dr. Scott H. Sicherer

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Food allergies and Eating Disorders

This is not a topic talked about often, openly nor easily. But think about it: with all of the emphasis placed on eating, what not to eat, what happens if you eat the “wrong” thing, messaging about food can become confusing to children, especially as they grow into tween years and social pressure for commercial version of beauty becomes more pronounced.

I'm talking about food allergies and eating disorders.

I spend a section of my book Allergic Girl, exploring the issue as I've had several food allergy counseling clients over the years who struggled with new diagnoses of food sensitivities and allergies and were already struggling or in recovery from previously diagnosed eating disorders.

So, when I read this article back on February 27, 2013 in the New York Times Motherlode column called "Six Ways to Spot an Eating Disorder Early" by KJ Dell’Antonia, I knew it was something to be explored on this blog as well. The article talks about how to spot the early signs of eating disorders. It’s worth reading for food allergy parents. 

An excerpt from "Six Ways to Spot an Eating Disorder Early": "Act on your own instincts. 'Parents do notice,' Dr. Hagman said. 'They just don’t know what they’re noticing.' Suddenly, they’re buying less at the grocery store, or having different conversations with their child, or seeing changes in appearance or physical ability like those Madi described. 'If something has changed, say something,' Dr. Hagman said. 'Ask what’s happening. Don’t be afraid to talk. Sometimes teenagers will say, "No one noticed anything, so I thought I must be fine." Notice. Open the door to the conversation.'"

How children translate the messaging parents tell them about food, danger and safety, can be confusing. Add to the mix if there is a family history of compulsive behaviors, anxiety disorders or maladaptive eating disorders, and/or if there has been a major life shift (a move, change of schools, a divorce, a death), all of this can trigger a child’s desire to control their world (and adult's too). Very often food is one thing that feels like it can be controlled.

If you suspect these kinds of behaviors, contact a mental health professional for an evaluation. You can find reputable and licensed mental health professionals and information on my Allergic Girl site, from national organizations such as:
American Psychological Association (APA) 
American Psychiatric Association (APA)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Food Allergy Coach: Having a Life with Food Allergies

My motto is: Just because you have a restricted diet, doesn't mean you have a restricted life.

What this means to me is: even though someone with severe food allergies can’t eat certain foods, it doesn’t have to limit how they can live life to the fullest, however they define that where they are right now.

I counsel my food allergy coaching clients to help them see the wholeness of their lives where they are right now (or where they'd like to be in the near future). I also guide clients to find their "Yes, and...".  A "yes, and..." statement might be: “Yes, I have food allergies. And I also love running and traveling to exotic locations; I adore eating fresh papaya; I lovingly care for my aging aunt; I volunteer as a Big Sister; I practice Jujitsu…” (You get the idea.)

For me, one aspect of "Just because you have a restricted diet, doesn't mean you have a restricted life" means engaging in all kinds of non-food focused activities like art – the process of creating it as well as being a consumer of it. So, in this space and on Facebook or Twitter, or Google+ , I may mention a show, a movie, a play, an art show that I found interesting, thought provoking and/or moving.  In the last two weeks, I saw and enjoyed the following here in New York City, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity; at the The Museum of the City of New York - Stephen Burrows, When Fashion Danced; at The Rubin Museum - Brainwave series with Zakir Hussain, Tabla and Seth Horowitz, PhD.


How do you have a life with food allergies?

Friday, April 12, 2013

7 Essential Ingredients for French Toast

I don’t make French Toast often but when I do I make sure I have the best essential ingredients I can get. Due to my food allergy and food intolerant needs, everything on the plate is naturally tree-nut free (food allergy), gluten-free (food intolerant) and lactose-free (food intolerant).* Also, six out of the eleven ingredients are organic.

Eggs – I used extra large organic eggs that have eaten vegetarian feed. Yum.

Milk – I use lactose-free organic skim milk when I can, today was two-percent  Lactaid milk (non-organic).

Vanilla – I use Tahitian vanilla from Nielsen-Massey. It doesn’t get better than Nielsen-Massey.

Cinnamon – I also have been know to grate from cinnamon sticks myself, you wouldn’t believe how more fragrant fresh grated cinnamon tastes and smells. This week I used organic cinnamon from Fairway Market.

Maple syrup – I use the darker, richer tasting Grade B maple syrup.

Bread- If I could I’d use day old egg Challah bread (oy, so good). As I’m wheat intolerant, I maintain a wheat-free diet and I use Udi’s Gluten-free white bread.

Ten-inch Frying pan – You need a great pan, the right size and able to take and distribute heat evenly to brown these slices perfectly. I use an Anolon 10-inch Nouvelle Copper skillet, sent to me by the company and I love it. It fits three slices of bread, just the right portion for a Sunday morning lie-in.

Use your favorite French Toast recipe - and happy eating!

*Here's an explanation of the difference between food allergy and food intolerance from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the National Institutes of Health, and WebMD.*

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Easy Black Beans and Rice

Even though I have a small New York City kitchen (you can see it here in this video I did with Boar’s Head), I always have a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator. So, when I came home last night for a cozy night in with no recent grocery shopping, I went into my trusty pantry and within 20 minutes we were sitting down to this dish:

Vegan, food allergy free: beans and rice with broccoli

Classic Black Beans & Rice
(Adapted from a can of Goya Frijoles Negros)

2 T  olive oil (I use Spectrum organic olive oil)
½ cup onion chopped
1 small bell pepper chopped
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, undrained
¾ cup water
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried cumin powder
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add in onions, pepper garlic and sauté until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then simmer for about ten minutes until flavors have melded.

Serve with steamed organic brown rice (or millet, quinoa or grain of your choice), steamed greens, (like spinach, broccoli, or kale) and even some cheese (or dairy-free cheese substitute like Daiya) would be welcome here.


Monday, April 08, 2013

Food Bloggers Against Hunger, 2013

Whether it’s dining out in New York City on a weekly basis; buying, making and creating recipes from fresh food staples; or buying allergen-free-for-you processed foods, products many of the food-restricted community rely upon, we as a community typically spend our money where our mouth is, that is, on safe-for-us food.

But what if you, or I, were one of the millions of American families with a medical dietary restriction and living on a government subsidy program like SNAP or WIC, essentially on budget of $4 per day to feed yourself or food allergic child? Could you do it – could I? Could I even get to less than $4.00 per meal? As a social worker, food allergy coach and advocate, I joined Food Bloggers Against Hunger today, April 8, 2013, to blog about hunger in America and food allergies.

Some facts about hunger in America from "48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.  Millions of Americans who participate in the nation’s food stamp program are limited to an average of $3 or $4 per person each day to supplement their food budget. Additionally, the government subsidizes products like soy beans, wheat, and corn..." – which for those with food intolerances or food allergies means big trouble.


So, I looked at what I eat on a typical day and priced it out using costs found through my most recent bill from Fairway Market (NB: all prices are estimates and my math may be off):

Breakfast total: $1.62
2 organic eggs - $0.66 for two eggs
Organic extra virgin olive oil - $0.05 per teaspoon
2 slices gluten-free bread - $0.91 for two slices

Mid-morning snack total: $2.32
1 cup strawberries - $0.83
3 ounces - blackberries - $1.49


Lunch total: $7.60
½ cup organic cottage cheese - $1.53 per ½ cup serving
½ cup Dole pineapple chunks - $0.63 per ½ cup
12 rice crackers - $0.87 per 12 crackers
2 medium carrots  - $0.64
2 bell peppers – $1.25
1 Persian cucumber - $0.69
1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes – $1.99

Teatime total: $0.74
1 T Enjoy Life Foods Mega Chunks - $0.31
1 serving K-Kritters cookies - $0.43

Dinner total: $16.12
6 ounce lamb chops - $9.99
2 T EVOO - $0.32
3 ounces organic fingerling potatoes - $4.32
3 ounces Brussels sprouts  $1.49

DAY TOTAL:  $28.40

I learned, I could not feed myself eating how I currently eat on $4.00 a day; I couldn’t even get past 11:00am.

Here are some posts from Food Allergy Buzz, Food Allergies on a Budget, 5 Dollar Dinners and Food Allergies on about eating food-allergen free on a budget. And here are some ways you can get involved or help:

1. Tell congress Federal nutrition programs are crucial for hungry children

2. Think about becoming a food philanthropist – we need more advocates in the area of specialty dietary needs.

3. For food allergy support group leaders:
- Round up specialty items from your groups to donate to locate food banks (make sure they are marked as allergen-friendly foods)
- Do fund raisers with your food allergy support group for your local food bank
- Ask for donations from your favorite companies to support your local food bank

5. Living Without magazine talked about gluten-free and food banks, they had some great suggestions on how to help: "For additional ways to offer meal assistance to those with special dietary needs, check around your community. Many organizations have food banks. Contact neighborhood churches, your area’s “board for aging” and the WIC program (Women, Infants, Children) in your region. See if your local Meals on Wheels program has options for those on special diets."

Helpful links to learn more:
Feeding America -
WIC programs -
SNAP programs -
Food pantries:
Meals on Wheels for the elderly -

Friday, April 05, 2013

Food Allergy Coach: Thankfulness

I was a sick kid. Allergic asthma and environmental allergies since I was four years old kept me struggling for breath and health into my late teens. Being ill with asthma and allergies and on daily medication also left me open to other viruses. When anyone in my class got sick, I got very sick. I missed a lot of school, after school activities, play dates and birthdays; generally, I missed out.

However, my senior year of college, when I was abroad at Oxford University something happened; an asthmatic and allergic fog lifted and I was able to join in the world in ways I hadn’t been able to before. (NB: Asthma cycles so it wasn't anything special that I did or drug I took.) This new cycle has lasted twenty years – basically, being the picture of health. I help it along by living as this Harvard University researcher suggests: “Treat your body like you are going to need it for 100 years.”

And, every day that I am well, I am actively thankful. This thankfulness is part of the driving force that keeps me healthy, keeps me expanding my life, my food choices, trying new experiences – striving to enjoy it all as much as possible. Because I remember what sick was like, I’m that much more focused on maintaining a balanced, healthy-for-me lifestyle. And thankful when everything works as it should.


Many of my food allergy coaching clients are newly diagnosed with dietary restrictions like celiac disease, food allergies, EoE, EGID or FPIES or food intolerances and looking for clarity about their medical diagnosis. I help them learn how to talk to their medical providers to get that clarity. Or many of my food allergy coaching clients may have just cycled out of illness and need support in their new life and assistance to reinforce those new choices to keep them healthy. Some are even like me, a lifetime "allergic girl" or "allergic boy" and are looking for new strategies to keep expanding their lives. In my role as a food allergy coach, I’m committed to being the biggest supporter, faithful cheerleader, reliable facilitator and guide for all of my clients as they achieve their goals and the lifestyle, the balance and the health that they desire.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Kettle Brand Potato Chips, Reveiw

I met Kettle Brand at Food Fete, a food industry event wherein they launched two new flavors of Kettle Brand  chips, maple bacon and sweet and salty. 

Their description of maple bacon: "Maple Bacon combines the deep smokiness of bacon, the rich sweetness of real maple syrup and the subtle spice of chili pepper for a truly iconic comfort food combination." I found the flavors diffuse and unclear – I tasted sweet and smoke but my tastebuds weren’t tickled by either in this combination.

The sweet and salty is described thus: “Sweet & Salty strikes the perfect balance by pairing natural sea salt and cane sugar with golden, crunchy potatoes to create a fresh, buttery sweetness capable of satisfying salty cravings and sweet tooths alike” I liked this flavor slightly better, but sweet on a potato chip didn’t really appeal to me.

The potato chips themselves were large, crispy, not overly salty or greasy - just these two flavors were "meh" for me.

However, Kettle Brand gets a big thumbs up for their clear allergen policies. As stated on their Kettle Brand website under the FAQ:

Are your products safe to eat for people with peanut allergies?
Kettle Brand ® Potato Chips and Kettle Brand ®TIAS!™ are processed in an environment free of peanuts and other nuts. We consider them to be safe for people with peanut allergies to enjoy.
Kettle Brand®  Nut Butters and
Kettle Brand ® Quality Handcrafted Nuts are made in a separate facility from our various chip brands. All nut products share roasting and grinding lines with peanuts, and we include the following statement on the packaging: "Processed on equipment shared with peanuts and other nuts."

Brand transparency, careful food handling and good manufacturing processes are excellent to have and what I look for in a food manufacturer.

So these flavors didn’t thrill me, but how Kettle Brand created them does.

Thank you Kettle Brand, I'll be back to try something else!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking, Review

Food allergy-free taco dinner party
Cybele Pascal's latest book, Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking is an instant classic and must-have for every food allergic family. (It would make an excellent gift, too.) All recipes are free from the top nine most common allergens, and only take 30 minutes to make.

Unlike many other allergen-free cookbooks, Cybele's book Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking not only explores ingredients in detail but gives a list of reliable resources; invaluable to new cooks and even experienced ones. Her writing is easy to read, her instructions clear and her recipes simply brilliant in their re-creations of classics in delicious completely-allergen-free ways.

In my household, the taco recipe, using organic ground dark meat turkey, has already entered into my weekly dinner rotation - in fact, my last dinner party was family style tacos (see the picture above). I substituted organic beef for turkey and it was equally delish. I made an easy cilantro lime rice as a side, served organic shredded Monterey Jack cheese, gluten-free soft corn tortillas as well a gluten-free organic blue corn chips. Everyone loved it!

Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking is a must-have if you are a newly diagnosed person/family with food allergies, or like me, have had food allergies your entire life. The recipes work for a family dinner, dinner solo or for family celebrations. 

Thank you Cybele for this excellent book, Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking!