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, November 17, 2014

Food Allergy Counseling: A Letter to my Musical Improv Teammates

Request re: Sloane's tree nut & fish allergies

Dearest Teammates and Coach,

This hasn't come up yet but eventually someone's going to eat a Kind bar or some raw cashews before a practice or show and then wonder why I don't want to touch them during a scene.

Trust me, it's not you; it's the nuts.

I'm severely allergic to tree nuts (cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.) and salmon.

If you wouldn't mind refraining from eating food items containing these ingredients before or during our practices or shows, I'd deeply appreciate it.

Any questions or concerns, I'm here!



Back in September, I auditioned for and was cast in a musical improv house team; "house" means we are regular players at a particular place. There are eight of us on a team, plus a coach and a pianist. We practice weekly and perform twice monthly. It's so fun I can’t even contain my joy in being able to do this regularly.

I have been in classes learning this new skill for the past two years and over that time have watched many of my classmates snacking on raw, roasted, candied nuts in various forms during practices and before shows. Nothing ever happened, a severe anaphylactic reaction from casual contact would be highly unlikely (read more about that in my interview with Dr Dave Stukus), and it hasn’t happened yet in my life and I go out socially at least 5 nights a week.  However, it didn’t make me feel super comfy about rolling around with everyone especially when their nutty hands reach out to touch my face.

Since I’m on a team now, with regular performers, performing weekly I thought I should mention something, mainly because I want to be able to be close to them and not fear spitty talker or nutty hands. *Again, nothing serious nor life threatening has ever happened with casual contact with me, maybe a hive or two or an itchy cheek but nothing near systemic nor anaphylactic. This is more about mental comfort than a physical reality.*

So, I sent the above note. I saw everyone two days later for rehearsal and there was one collective thought from my team: “Cool, no problem. We don’t want to hurt you.”

What a wonderful feeling to put out a clear direct request and receive a clear direct reply.

And I’m back to rolling around with my team!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Recipe: Tree-Nut Free, Gluten-Free Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

Birthday cake perfection
I start celebrating my birthday pretty much the moment after Halloween until around Thanksgiving; that is, the better part of November. I start thinking about my birthday cake way earlier. I’m not a chocolate looooover, I’m more of a vanilla person but for some reason I do love chocolate cake with white icing and that is my recent (like last twenty years) choice for birthday cake. 

I usually make cupcakes because everyone can have their own mini-cake and they are easy to transport or set out on a pretty platter. And also, let’s get real, there's a higher ratio of frosting to cake in a bite per bite level. At least in my household.

I did a trial run of whoopie pies earlier in the month, thinking maybe that would be something fun to do but it didn’t feel celebratory enough. I wanted cake. But that marshmallow–based frosting for the middles turned into a small obsession. (More about how the Durkee Marshmallow fluff factory works here.) I decided to make cupcakes with a new frosting recipe and everyone who has tried it has gone gaga for it. One rave from my pilates instructor: “Every cake should be that cake. Every frosting should be that frosting.”

I agree. 

Is this a recipe? Not exactly.  More like semi-barely-not-really-homemade-but-I-did-use-my-mixer-and-bake-it homemade and all delicious. 

CAKE: I use King Arthur Gluten-Free Chocolate cake mix. I use their instructions on the back. It’s made in a top 8 facility, even though the package doesn’t say it anymore. They changed the label because they don’t test for those allergens and didn’t want to be unclear; they only test for gluten. I emailed with them this week to triple check. And yes, all the same. Please call them directly if you have any questions.

MORE CHOCOLATE: I add Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips to the batter, a handful or two for funsies.

FROSTING: I made two batches of this frosting recipe that I slightly altered.

Marshmallow Frosting

By Lori Karavolis and further adapted by me

1 C Domino’s confectioners’ sugar

1/2 C Spectrum organic palm shortening

1 C Durkee’s marshmallow fluff

1 t Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract

2 T hot water

Pinch of kosher salt

Mix well and try not to spoon directly into your mouth.

The result is above and here again.

It’s so easy to throw together and everyone, with dietary restrictions or without, loves. Most of all this birthday girl.