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, January 30, 2014

Food Allergy Counseling: Interview: No Nuts Mom Group Founder, Lisa Rutter

I met Lisa in person last year at the EpiPen Blogger Summit where I was a featured speaker (more on that here); however, I had been hearing about her Facebook page for some time as it provides a space for parents of food allergic children to connect and share resources. Recently I had a chance to ask Lisa more about her group, NO NUTS MOM GROUP (NNMG).


Allergic Girl: Tell us a little about you, Lisa?

Lisa Rutter, NO NUTS MOM GROUP (NNMG): I live in MI with my husband and my 4 and 6 year old boys.  My 6 year old has food allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. I am a stay at home mother, Founder of NO NUTS MOM GROUP (NNMG) and Co-Leader of a local support group called FACES of Michigan

AG: Tell us about why you created

NNMG: I started the group as soon as my son was diagnosed at 3 years old. It was a way for both us to connect with others dealing with the same thing. I wanted playmates for my son and I didn't want to have to worry about being around peanuts and nuts at play dates.  Shortly after the group started, I became more actively involved in the food allergy community and as I learned more, I wanted to help more. The group started as just a playgroup, but has now become so much more. 

AG: What is the NO NUTS MOM GROUP mission?

NNMG: The No Nuts Moms Group is a group dedicated to connecting others, educating and raising awareness throughout our communities. We are also a great online support community.

As the Website states: "Welcome to No Nuts Moms Group!  We are a group dedicated to learning, educating and supporting others.  We have 53 peanut and tree nut free groups for all ages.  If you are looking to meet other families that are dealing with life threatening food allergies, please check out our groups tab located at the top of this page.  They are FREE to join!"

AG: What can we look forward to in 2014 from NO NUTS MOM GROUP?

NNMG: We would love to see more groups pop up in other cities. We will continue to raise awareness and connect others dealing with life threatening allergies.

AG: What aspect of NO NUTS MOM GROUP are you most excited about?

NNMG: Connecting and helping other food allergy families. But the group is also not just for peanut tree nut allergic. We are open to all with life threatening food allergies. I don't get paid to do any of this. It is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. I feel very close to so many of these families. It helps me and it helps others and it just feels good.  And I love my family and my son and I know I am making the world a better place for them.

AG: How can we find NO NUTS MOM GROUP online?

NNMG: Website:


Thank you, Lisa of NO NUTS MOM GROUP and every food allergy parent for your tireless work to support your children as they grow into young adults living confidently with food allergies.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Food Allergy Counseling: Interview with Eleanor Garrow-Holding: FAACT

Eleanor Garrow-Holding and I have had the pleasure of working together for many years, especially when she worked as the Vice President of Education and Outreach for Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc (FAAN) and when I was a featured speaker for the FAAN conferences (amongst other projects). 

Recently, sensing a need for deeper community engagement and outreach, Eleanor and her team have created the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT). I had a chance to get the scoop from Eleanor all about FAACT:

Allergic Girl: Tell us a little about you, Eleanor?

Eleanor Garrow-Holding: I have worked, educated, and advocated in the food allergy community for almost 10 years. I was inspired to start this work after my son, Thomas, was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies to tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and sesame; eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) triggered by milk and wheat; asthma; and environmental allergies. 

After Thomas was diagnosed in 2004, I established a food allergy support group in a southwest Chicago suburb, Parents of Children Having Allergies (POCHA) of Will County, focusing on education and advocacy; chaired the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy in Chicago in 2007 and 2008; was awarded the FAAN Muriel C. Furlong Award for Community Service in 2008; and advocated in the Illinois state legislature on food allergy and EoE issues. Thanks to the efforts of myself and other patient advocates, legislation to ensure insurance coverage for elemental formulas was signed into law in 2007 and legislation establishing food allergy management guidelines for Illinois schools was signed into law in 2009.

I joined the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network™ (FAAN) in 2009 as Vice President of Education and Outreach, where I oversaw educational initiatives, all food allergy conferences, the Teen Summit, Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang), a Teen Advisory Group, support group development, and more. I advocated for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) in Washington, DC, with her son Thomas as part of FAAN’s Kids Congress on Capitol Hill. I also advocated on Capitol Hill for the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. I’ve conducted numerous radio, television, and print interviews on food allergy issues and wrote articles for Allergic Living and Living Without magazines. I presented at national and regional conferences about food allergy management in school and restaurant settings and educated personnel in schools and school districts across the country on food allergy management in school. I have also educated staff from numerous food industry companies and entertainment venues about food allergies, such as McDonald’s Corporation, The Hain Celestial Group, Mars Chocolate North America, and all SeaWorld Parks.

In 2013, I joined the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders (CCED) as Senior Specialist of Program Management at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. There I led day-to-day clinical operations, clinical research projects, program development, marketing, and development.

Now, as CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), I provide leadership, development, and implementation for all of FAACT’s initiatives and programs, including Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) – a summer camp for children with food allergies and their siblings that I founded in 2009.

AG: Tell us about why you created FAACT?

EGH: Since my son Thomas was diagnosed with food allergies almost ten years ago, I've been blessed to make connections with families across the country living with food allergies. We helped each other cope with the emotional roller coaster of food allergies, sharing everything from recipes to safety tips and how to deal with food allergies at school. I appreciate so much the support of food allergy groups and advocates nationwide and all the wonderful work they do. I came to realize, however, that there was no way to connect these groups together to share the lessons learned through decades of living with food allergies. That was my "Aha!" moment – and the day I began creating the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT).

I wanted to create a place where you can find the information you need right now, the legislative initiatives that will help your family in the future, the truth about your rights and your child’s rights at school, programs for the entire family, and more. I’m thrilled that FAACT can be that place for you and your family – your home and voice for food allergy awareness.

AG: How is FAACT is different from other national food allergy national non-profit organizations?

EGH: FAACT is a national nonprofit focused on education, programs, civil rights advocacy, government relations, awareness, support group development, and more. Providing conferences regionally based throughout the country gives many families the opportunity to attend, learn, and meet others. FAACT is the first organization to focus on civil rights advocacy in schools and have an attorney leading that initiative. The Leadership Team members are all experts in their fields, but also have personal connections to food allergy and anaphylaxis. Everyone has a child/ren with food allergies. FAACT's Board of Directors all have a personal connection and are well known in the community. FAACT has a world-renowned Medical Advisory Board, which is an interdisciplinary board with board-certified allergists, psychiatrist, psychologist, and we will be adding RN's and RD's. Having the psychological, nursing, and nutrition component is very important and an absolute need!

AG: What is the FAACT mission?

EGH: FAACT's mission is to educate, advocate, and raise awareness for all individuals and families affected by food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis. FAACT is also your voice for food allergy awareness.

AG: How will FAACT fulfill its mission?

EGH: FAACT will be focusing on many initiatives. Keeping children safe at school, responding to food allergy bullying, dealing with workplace issues, providing school and restaurant education, and offering education and civil right advocacy resources and tools at your finger tips. FAACT has all the facts you need to manage food allergies and stay healthy. FAACT is here to support you in managing your food allergies – today, tomorrow, and into the future.

AG: What can we look forward to in 2014 from FAACT?

EGH: FAACT is offering four food allergy conferences this year in Anaheim, Atlanta, Denver, and Philadelphia. The conferences offer education and support for parents, grandparents, school personnel, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and teens.

There will be a teen conference in Chicago (Date to be determined). The teen conference weekend is all about teens, their siblings, and their parents. The weekend offers an informative program full of fun activities. Teens will learn about managing their food allergies and, more importantly, spend time with peers who have food allergies.

Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) will be held in Williamstown, NJ the week of July 28 through August 1. Camp TAG provides a safe place for children with food allergies and eosinophilic disorders and their siblings to have fun – with no worries about allergic reactions – and meet other children who share similar experiences. It is a bonding and empowering week for all campers, including parents.

There will be many programs and materials developed this year, so you will have to stay tuned.

AG: What aspect of FAACT are you most excited about?

EGH: I'm most excited about helping all the families and individuals who are affected by living with food allergies. Connecting with them is very important to me and always has been. Knowing that I've helped one family or person means the world to me.

AG: How can we find you online?






How can we find out more?
Our website, FB page, and Twitter account.
Email Eleanor at
Email FAACT at


Thank you Eleanor, can't wait to see more from FAACT in 2014!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Westchester FARE Walk Sponsored Event: Managing Food Allergies in School, March 17, 2014

I received this notice from my colleagues at the Westchester FARE group. Sounds like a fantastic event.  

Register for free at For questions about the event, please contact

The below is from a press release.  

March 17, 2014

Managing Food Allergies in School
What you need to know

What:  A FREE allergy educational event in Westchester NY. Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear from national experts about keeping our kids safe in school while creating a supportive community.

When:  Monday, March 17, 2014

SCHOOL NURSE SESSION: 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Open to school nurses and other school administrators & teachers

GENERAL SESSION: 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Relevant for anyone who has contact with children with food allergies including,
but not limited to teachers, parents, administrators, aides, doctors, food service employees, friends of food allergy families.

*Doors open at 7:00 pm. Come early to mingle and meet others and chat with the speakers.

Where: Hommocks Middle School (130 Hommocks Rd, Larchmont, NY)

Dr. Hugh Sampson - Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute & Chairman of FARE’s Medical Advisory Board
Dr. Michael Pistiner – Pediatric allergist in Boston & co-founder of
Maria Acebal – Former CEO of FAAN & Member of the Board of Directors of FARE

Register for free at

Money raised from the Westchester FARE Walk is funding this event.
For questions about the event, please contact

These sessions are open to people from any school district. All are welcome to attend!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Food Allergy Counseling: Interview: Cherrybrook Kitchen

**Stay tuned to my Allergic Girl Facebook page for a chance to win a grand prize of three [3] Cherrybrook Kitchen products of your choice. Details will be on my Allergic Girl Facebook page here.**

When I cut out wheat from my diet back in 2005, Cherrybrook Kitchen was one of the first nut-free, wheat-free baking mixes I found on the shelf at my local Whole Foods and tried and loved. (NB: I’ve been nut allergic since infancy, wheat intolerance is something way newer. Here a quick primer on the difference between an allergy and an intolerance.)

I’ve been writing about Cherrybrook Kitchen on my blog since 2007, here a list of those blog posts

Cherrybrook Kitchen has had some recent ownership changes and expansions and I had a chance to chat with them about what continues to makes Cherrybrook Kitchen an excellent option for those of us who need allergen-free treats. And really, who doesn’t need a safe treat once in a while? 


Allergic Girl: Cherrybrook Kitchen was started in the 2000s by the Rosenberg family. It is now owned by Healthy Brands.  Can you tell us more about your company, why Healthy Brands decided to acquire Cherrybrook Kitchen?

Cherrybrook Kitchen: Healthy Brands Collective was created from the need that co-founders Dan and Donna Ratner recognized when the 2008 recession hit the economy. As a result, good brands were unable to keep producing their products due to a loss of funding and access to investment. These were healthy brands in need of a sustainable solution in order to thrive.

“Our goal was simple,” said Dan. “My background in healthcare finance had given me experience working with medical practices where many doctors often share the resources of one office. Seeing potential in that industry’s standard practice, we wanted to recreate that model for health food brands. This is how Healthy Brands Collective was born.”  

Healthy Brands Collective includes brands that have similar points of distribution, retail customers, and share a common purpose – creating healthier foods for healthier lifestyles. Cherrybrook Kitchen was the first company to be rescued and natural, allergen-free treats were integrated into the Healthy Brands Collective mission.  The founder’s mission for Cherrybrook Kitchen has not changed since new ownership. 

“We decided to acquire Cherrybrook Kitchen because it was a respectable brand that had plenty of opportunity to grow and we felt that this target market also deserved to have its cake & eat it too!” Donna said. 

AG: What has changed with new ownership? What hadn’t changed with ownership?

CBK: Cherrybrook Kitchen was started in 2004 by the Rosenberg family. Since becoming part of the Healthy Brands Collective family, Cherrybrook Kitchen’s individual grassroots mission has not changed and the founder’s story is celebrated today. We continue to keep the essence of the brand in its original form. Recognizing the concerns of our audience, our social media has become an interactive forum and source for information on food allergies, and related topics. 

It’s a new experience for Cherrybrook Kitchen to be part of a family of brands that includes nine other siblings: Cell-nique Super Green, European Gourmet, High Country Kombucha, Living Harvest Tempt, Bites of Bliss, Lisa’s Kitchen, Funky Monkey, Healthy to Go and Yumnuts. In addition to the growing number of brands, the wellness-conscious team of people that manages and facilitates the growth of these brands is also increasing in numbers. Another new benefit is that Cherrybrook Kitchen now has the marketing funds to spread the word. 

Our growing family is what’s new!

AG: What are the core values of Cherrybrook Kitchen and of Healthy Brands?

CBK: Our core mission at Cherrybrook Kitchen is to create allergen-free sweets in a dedicated, safe facility where ingredient quality is of the utmost concern and focus. As a family-owned company, Healthy Brands Collective is comprised of a dedicated and passionate team, and products that promote healthier options for consumers. 

“The people who watch over these brands are all parents, the core of the family nucleus,” Donna said. “Every brand is treated equally as the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ This is our village.”

AG: What’s your best sellers? What’s your newest products?

CBK: All Cherrybrook Kitchen products are equally popular and we’re proud to offer a diversity of allergen-free baking mixes that includes a gluten-free line. New products include the ready-to-spread frosting and the carrot cake mix. Another big update is that our audience has grown tremendously and we’re always listening to the ideas that our fans love to share. They help give us direction and we will continue to facilitate dialogue and support awareness on topics related to food-allergies.

AG: What can we look forward to for the future of Cherrybrook Kitchen?

CBK: In the future, we look forward to growth and innovation here at Cherrybrook Kitchen! We’re present at many allergen-free events and actively work to introduce new people to Cherrybrook Kitchen every day. We plan to stay true to our roots, while continuing to explore new allergen-free products, share recipes, and alert our audience to resources that could be beneficial for the allergen-free food community. 


Here is Cherrybrook Kitchen's allergen information.

Please contact Cherrybrook Kitchen directly about your needs. 

And lastly,  Cherrybrook Kitchen has a box top rewards program and my book Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011) is part of their program. Thank you, Cherrybrook Kitchen for the support


Thank you Healthy Brands Collective and Cherrybrook Kitchen for all that you do for our community!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Recipe: Kinnikinnick Oreo Chocolate Bark

Ooh la la!

For my holiday party this year, I made three new desserts: King Arthur Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cake with Orange Buttercream frosting, Dark Chocolate and Pomegranate bark and Kinnikinnick Oreo Chocolate Bark.

This last recipe was but far the easiest: just two “ingredients” yields fantastic results: perfect for vegans and gluten-free peeps as well as Kosher, nut-allergic and dairy-allergic friends. Also it was beloved by children and adults. The dark chocolate kept the bark from being too sweet and the sandwich cookie, well, it’s just everyone’s favorite cookie hands down. OK, maybe just me. But my 3 year old guest and my 80 year old guest both had three servings of the bark. The Kinnikinnick version of a sandwich cookie tastes so close to the “real” thing that your guests won’t know the difference. Mine certainly didn’t.

Food Allergy Tips:

Use only clean bowls and utensils to make the dessert. Give an extra wash with hot soapy water if there’s any doubt.

Once made, store away from any “allergenic” foods in your fridge by using a clean, enclosed Tupperware container that's properly labeled (e.g. Sloane's Nut-Free Dessert).

Hold on to the 
Enjoy Life Foods and KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies bags with the labels and ingredients for anyone who asks, so they can determine if this treat is appropriate for their needs.

I used KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies but you could use their vanilla vanilla cookies or their chocolate chocolate ones depending upon your taste. (You could also use Oreos, if suitable for your food allergy needs). 

I used the 69% dark chocolate morsels from Enjoy Life Foods which are vegan, top eight food allergen free but you can use any safe-for-you chocolate.
Now go make this right now. And try not to eat it all. 

Kinnikinnick Oreo Chocolate Bark

10 minutes, plus chilling


9 ounces (1 bag) dark chocolate morsels by Enjoy Life Foods
10 KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies coarsely crushed, reserve a little to sprinkle on top


1.  Fit a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir until fully melted, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove the bowl from the pot and stir most of the coarsely crushed cookies into the melted chocolate.

3. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour melted chocolate mixture onto the sheet. Use a spatula to smooth the chocolate into one even layer about 1/4 inch thick (it does not need to fill the entire sheet). Sprinkle chocolate with remaining cookies and press into the chocolate. 

4. Chill the chocolate for 20 to 30 minutes or until firm. Break or cut into pieces and store in an airtight container.