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)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recipe: Quick Strawberry Jam, Food Allergy Free

“Too acidic. Too many. About to turn.”

That’s what I saw when I looked at the huge clamshell of organic Driscoll strawberries that I purchased at Costco recently. What to do with them? Easy. Make a quick jam.

Also called a refrigerator jam, these are made with few ingredients, no pectin and no sterilization of jars. This jam is meant to be eaten within a few days of making and trust me, it won’t last longer because you will be gobbling it down and spreading it on everything.

For the OAS amongst us (a nice explanation of Oral AllergySyndrome here on Allergic Living Magazine) cooking ripe fruit in the summer can allow you to eat it without local allergy symptoms. I’m that way with stone fruits: peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, all become more edible, less mouthy-hurty, when cooked.

Here are some recipes for quick strawberry jam. The Kitchn, Martha Stewart and Real Simple Magazine.However, I make these quick james often, without a recipe. And you kinda can’t go wrong. But here’s a loose recipe of how I put it all together.

Quick Strawberry Jam
16 ounces (or 1 light pint) Strawberries, rinsed, topped and halved
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup of turbinado sugar (start with less sugar, you can always add more)

In a heavy non-reactive pot, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. You may mash some of the fruit with the back of a spoon if you like but I like whole chunks and they cook down quite nicely without mashing. After about 10 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning e.g. you might like more sugar than I do. Place into a jar or non-reactive container to cool. Try to avoid spooning 12,000 tastes but do ladle over some buttered bread, yogurt or ice cream just to make sure it’s delicious. (Oh yes, it will be.)

Here’s a lovely article from Epicurious giving you 26 ideas of where to use a jam like this.

I made strawberry yogurt with mine. See above and try not to drool. But go, go cook up some ripe fruit right now.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Food Allergy Counseling: Confronting Versus Avoiding Your Food Allergy Fears

Recently, I went to a business lunch with two women who work in the food allergy sphere and I was feeling nervous. Not about meeting with them; they were lovely and we had an excellent bonding conversation and lunch. No, I felt nervous about eating. Even though I picked the restaurant, called ahead, the restaurant has my food allergy needs on file and they double-checked with me when I arrived. 

Still. I felt anxious. 

Sometimes, I can do all of my dining out steps and everything can be fine and still I feel nervous.   Sometimes, I can do all of my best anxiety management strategies to calm myself down and still I feel nervous. 

So what to do then? 

The natural tendency would be to avoid the situation that is causing discomfort i.e. cancel the lunch. But that wouldn’t make me feel less anxious, it would simply keep me home, alone and anxious. I’ve done that many times; many years of my life were spent avoiding the scary thing.

But here and now, I did the opposite: I confronted the anxiety head on and shared it, out loud.

When K. arrived at our lunch, sat down and settled in, I said:

Me: “Just a heads up, I’m feeling a little anxious about dining out today. I spoke with the staff and they’re all ready for me and I’ll order but I may not eat if I don’t feel comfortable and just eat afterwards.” 

K1: “OK. I understand. Do what you need to do. Is everything okay?”

Me: “Totally. Sometimes I just feel extra nervous about dining out with food allergies and today is one of those days.” 

That was the extent of the conversation. And then we all moved on to other topics and a lovely lunch. (And yes, I dined and it was safe and yum.)

How did I go from being someone who avoids to someone who confronts

There’s no easy answer, and it will be different for everyone, but for me it came down to making a very conscious decision to try another strategy. And then trying it. 

It’s not enough just to think about doing something different: you must *do* something different e.g. have a plan and enact a series of actions to back up those thoughts especially if you want a different outcome.

I wanted to meet these women for lunch and I was nervous about eating. So I did everything I needed to do to ensure my safety as much as possible and I created an emotional out-clause while still going to the lunch. That emotional out-clause (telling my lunchmates how I was feeling) created a valve: it decreased some of the anxious feelings and allowed me to sit at the table.


What has allowed you to sit at the table with your anxiety about food allergy risk?

Monday, July 06, 2015

Recipe: 4 Ingredient Pulled Pork

I have never made pulled pork before. In fact, I rarely make pork or even eat it. Except for bacon occasionally (at landmarc at Time Warner Center or purchased to be cooked from Marlow & Daughters in Brooklyn), I’m hardly a pork aficionado but I saw this recipe on my Allergic Girl Facebook feed a few weeks back and thought: this looks dead easy and delicious.

Brown sugar, salt, pepper and pork but plus time – what could be simpler? For this July 4th, my family did a small picnic and I asked my mom to make this – I made dessert. She made the pork butt (really a rolled up shoulder) in the oven and that worked out perfectly.  She added only 2 T of kosher salt and we both thought a touch more sugar wouldn’t have hurt but the result as is was stupendous. 

As we tore into the cooling shoulder to hand shred, tastes kept falling into our mouths. I’d make this again in a second for a crowd or for a pork loving partner.

Here's the cooling "butt" just before we started shredding. Oh my!

Best part, it’s top 8 allergen free and with five pounds of meat you can make all kinds of dishes family for days.

After we hand shredded and had many, many tastes

Here’s the original recipe from Epicurious, below with my mom’s variations:

Brown Sugar BBQ Pork Butt Recipe 
by, adapted by my mom

YIELD: Serves 4–6
ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 hours (plus overnight seasoning)

1/4 cup sugar in the raw (option use ½ cup sugar)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 /1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-5-pound) bone-in pork butt

Combine sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Place pork in foil tray and rub all over with sugar mixture, then cover tray with foil and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and roast pork in large roasting pan, basting with any juices from pan every 30 minutes until pork is very tender, 4–5 hours. Let stand at least 15 minutes before shredding.

Do Ahead

Pork can be kept covered in the refrigerator after grilling for up to 5 days. When ready to serve, Preheat oven to 250°F. Place pork in a roasting pan with a few tablespoons of water. Cover with foil and rewarm pork until hot, 20–25 minutes.

Close-up of shredded porky perfection