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)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Update 2016: Olive Oil, Fraud, Food Allergies

Olive oil is my main cooking fat, baking, too and I even use it as a moisturizer, especially in winter when I get eczema (works wonders and no side effects), but how do I know that I’m really getting real olive oil? This isn’t something I would have questioned a decade ago, not until these stories started popping up.
2008 NPR - "Italian extra-virgin olive oil has become so lucrative that adulterated olive oil has become the biggest source of agricultural fraud problems in the European Union."
2008 Allergic Girl Blog story - "We came across cans of olive oil that were for sale in Connecticut that had, after testing, these other oils in there — peanut oil, soy oil, hazelnut oil..."

And last week, January 2016, CBS did another story on olive oil fraud yet again.

So unless you’re getting your EVOO straight for the mill’s tap (which I did do in Southern France; incredible cloudy miraculous special EVOO), what’s an Allergic Girl or Guy or Family to do? For me, I found one purveyor that I like and that is safe for me, Lucini. I asked them how do they ensure safety and this is their reply.


California Olive Ranch, the producer of both California Olive Ranch and Lucini Italia brands of extra virgin olive oil, prides itself on producing and selling only the highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Here are a just a few of the steps we take to ensure the quality and authenticity of our oil:

  • All of our oil is California grown.  We own three ranches (totaling about 5,000 acres) and work with over 60 area farmers who grow to our specifications on long term contracts
  • We mill all of the oil sold under our brand at our facility in Artois, California
  • We store all oil in nitrogen flushed, stainless steel tanks in a climate controlled environment to ensure quality
  • Our oil is certified as Extra Virgin by the California Olive Oil council
  • Our investment in traceability ensures we can trace the history of each bottle we sell to the tank it was stored in, and ultimately the fields that contributed to the tank

Lucini Italia Brand
  • Every bottle of Lucini contains only 100% Italian extra virgin olive oil, and only that. We, along with our Italian family producers, take great pride in the quality of our products, as well as their authenticity
  • The olives used for Lucini extra virgin olive oil are 100% Italian olives, harvested and crushed within 24 hours for optimal quality
  • We store all Lucini oil on our producers’ estates in Italy in nitrogen flushed, stainless steel tanks in a climate controlled environment to ensure quality
  • All lots of Lucini extra virgin olive oil are tested for quality and authenticity and pesticides in strict accordance to exceed both IOC and EC regulations
  • We test each lot (at least) once quarterly at our lab in California for quality to ensure it matches our strict quality specifications, as well as conduct a secondary reference check for authenticity and pesticides. This is to verify the results provided continue to be accurate
  • Each of our family producers have traceability capabilities which are tested annually to confirm traceability from the bottle to their supply
  • Each of our family producers are randomly audited throughout the year by the EC for compliance with their regulations on quality, authenticity, labeling, and traceability 


Contact your favorite EVOO about your needs.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Allergic Girl Book Event: Sloane Miller & Eleni's New York FREE event March 12, 2016

Eleni's nut-free color me cookies

Allergic Girl, Sloane Miller, LMSW & Eleni's New York FREE event March 12th from 9:30am to 10:30am - email to RSVP.
From the Eleni’s New York press release:
Come to Eleni’s New York store in Chelsea Market on Saturday, March 12th from 9:30am to 10:30am to join Sloane Miller renowned author of Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011) and decorate St. Patrick's Day cookies with edible ink markers, all peanut and tree nut free.

You can also buy a copy of Sloane’s book Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011) and have it signed.

Admission is free but seats are limited and RSVPs are required by February 29, 2016. 

Please email to reserve your seats.



Monday, January 18, 2016

Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Buttercream, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free

Namaste Foods kindly sent me some samples of things to try. Namaste is a top 8 free food company and they have their own dedicated facility, more about them on the Namaste Foods website.

I use the Namaste Foods spice cake mix and make all kinds of variations - here’s my cinnamon spice swirl and pumpkin spice cake with marshmallow frosting recipes. Everyone loves those cakes and they say, "Oh wow, this doesn’t taste allergen-friendly or gluten-free!" But they are and I can make the Namaste Foods  spice cake and serve it with confidence knowing it’s safe for me and my guests will love.

So recently, Namaste Foods sent me their chocolate cake mix to try. My review is: it’s decent. A little bouncy, a little bland, not fantastic, but okay. I gave it to taste testers who do not have specialized diets and they liked it and said the same thing I said: bouncy texture, chocolate taste was bland, but they gobbled it down. One reviewer said: "Sloane baked a magical and delicious cake and wow!"

Namaste Foods is safe; tremendous plus! And very easy to make which is another plus. Two rounds or 24 cakes come in one package, which is a great deal; another plus.  And as a blank canvas to create culinary, food allergy safe treats, the chocolate cake mix works; another plus. 

It doesn’t take much to elevate something from yummy to Oh My Gawd. A few days ago I cooked up blackberries that weren’t really tasty to eat raw into a quick “jam” (quick jams are so easy: washed fruit, sugar and lemon juice, cooked until cooked.) I thought, hmm how about if I added this preserve to buttercream frosting? And voila genius born.

If you like raspberries and chocolate as a pairing, it’s like that, but deeper. The blackberries turn the frosting a beautiful, deep pink; some of the fruit was still uncooked and made the frosting juicy with drupelets that pop in your mouth (no dearies, I didn’t strain it; I like to taste fruit!) and I created this.

I made a gorgeous blackberry buttercream frosting and that turned a plain, safe, allergen-friendly chocolate cake into something really special. This isn’t so much a recipe as a concept: take something that’s a plain canvas and elevate it with ingredients that are safe for you, delicious to your palate and make something beautiful.


Blackberry Buttercream
1 stick organic butter, softened
1 box Dominos confectioners sugar
½ cup blackberry preserves (not jam)

Whip the softened butter first (I do by hand, work those muscles!). Add the sugar cup by cup and keep whipping. After cup two, pour in ¼ cup of the preserves, then alternate with cups of sugar and preserves. Taste along the way, the fun part.

Note: You are looking to add moisture, like macerated berries or pureed fruit, not anything with gelatin so not jam!

Other flavor ideas, lemon, orange, other berries, cinnamon, coffee. Go crazy, allergen-free bakers!


Thank you Namaste Foods for the many delicious mixes and goods your company creates for everyone!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Interview: Food Allergy Counseling Client in South Florida, Working with Sloane Miller

Every day, I receive emails asking me how I work as a psychotherapist and
specialist in food allergy management. To answer this, I interviewed some current clients and asked them three simple questions:

What brought you to counseling with Sloane Miller, LMSW?
What did you hope to happen or change?
What changed for you/how are things different after working with Sloane Miller, LMSW?


From a South Florida Mom of Two:

What brought you to counseling with me, Sloane Miller, LMSW? 

I am a mother of two small children with food allergies (7 & 9).  My son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and my daughter is allergic to milk and egg. Although we have been aware of their allergies for years, managing them has always been a source of stress, worry, guilt and concern. I initially contacted Sloane regarding her concierge services because my daughter and I were planning a trip to New York to visit the American Girl Store, but before Sloane and I were able to meet to plan our trip, my daughter experienced her second bout with anaphylaxis.  She was hospitalized for two days and the aftermath of the experience left our family reeling. My son was fearful and experienced stress and behavioral issues after seeing his sister sick, my daughter no longer trusted her father because he was the person who accidently gave her the wrong ice cream, I was overwhelmed after having to give my daughter the epi pen and watch her struggle and my husband felt an enormous amount of guilt regarding his mistake. I knew right away that we were not equipped to handle this on our own.

What did you hope to happen or change? 

There were several issues and topics we were looking to change.
  • Support to educate my husband and family members around the seriousness of food allergies in a way that would be well received.
  • Helping the kids manage their stress without adding additional stress
  • Helping my husband and I partner as advocates for the kids, our communication had broken down completely.
  • Improved relationships with their doctors, teachers and other support people

What changed for you/how are things different after working with me?

The biggest change for me personally was my ability to properly manage risk. After my daughter’s reaction I was paralyzed and everything around me seemed like an overwhelming risk. I was afraid to leave her alone, afraid to send her to school, afraid to try new foods, afraid to do anything. Sloane worked with me to ensure that I was armed with education, training and tools to properly assess risks. She also empowered me to understand that it was ok to say no if I was uncomfortable; to know my limits.

For my husband and our parenting, Sloane helped us both become advocates for the kids. Often in food allergy homes one parent is the quarterback and the other parent follows their lead. But in life and death situations everyone needs to be equipped to “call the play”. Sloane helped us partner together and rebuild the trust that was lost.

Lastly, Sloane gave us tools to help the kids express their fears and concerns without judgment. She enabled us to speak to them in their language and allowed them to uncover feelings or emotions they weren’t able to communicate through exercises like drawing and storytelling.

Thank you, South Florida Mom of Two!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Recipe: 3 ingredient baked ziti: nut-free, gluten-free

After my genius Cinnamon Swirl Iced Spiced Loaf idea, I had a hankering for an easy baked ziti. Something I could make, casserole-style, for the holiday season when stores would be closed and, frankly, I wanted to laze around and not do major cooking. So, I invented the three ingredient pasta bake.

OK. "I invented" is an exaggeration but I did recall reading somewhere (maybe The Kitchn) that you could make a pasta bake without cooking the pasta first. Oh, the days of boiling lasagna, to al dente, cooling, layering it and then adding the filling, and waiting another hour for the whole thing to bake, are a thing of the past. And you don’t need special dried, par-cooked pasta like Ronzoni would have you believe.

I used dried pasta straight from the bag, pre-made sauce and fresh mozz slices, and within 5 minutes of assembly and 45 minutes of baking, dinner and lunch for the next two days was done-o! 

*I used the brands that were safe for me, use whatever’s best for your dietary needs.* 

This is a small casserole; I used a 1.5 quart dish, all of the sauce and two thirds of the pasta. It made 4 meals for me (plus side salads and fruit). It has endless variations. The main trick is to have more sauce, more than you think you need, as the pasta has to cook in the sauce. 

Got to it you easy, breezy, allergen-friendly chefs!

 3 Ingredient Baked Ziti: Tree Nut-Free, Gluten-Free

1 bag 12 ounces Tinkyada Organic Rice Penne 
1 25.5 ounce jar Lucini Rustic Tomato Sauce 
6-8 ounces of slices of fresh Belgioioso mozzerella 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a 1.5 quart casserole dish with a lid (you can also tent with aluminum foil), spoon in some sauce and swirl over bottom. Add a layer of dried pasta, cover with more sauce and layer one third of the cheese. Repeat these layers ending with sauce and cheese. 

Use up all the sauce, you'll need it. And you will use only two thirds of a 12 ounce bag of Tinkyada. Make sure all the pasta is submerged under sauce as any pasta left poking out will be crunchy and not in a yummy way but in an uncooked, this hurts my teeth way.

Cover with the lid and place in the middle of the oven. And walk away. Read a book. Draw a picture. Have a short nap.

It will start to bubble and be fragrant with wonderfulness around 45 minutes. Take a taste, make sure the pasta is cooked through. If not, pop back in for a few minutes. 

Serve while piping hot with a fresh salad and some veggies. Try not to make this every week. I dare you. 


Monday, January 04, 2016

Food Allergy Counseling: Hosting A Birthday Party When You Have Food Allergies And Everyone Has Other Needs, Too

This year I hosted 26 friends and family for my birthday party. We were a group with tree nut allergies, peanut allergies, one vegan, four Kosher diners (each with different requirements), and dairy, wheat and egg intolerances. It may sound like a lot to coordinate but you can make it all happen, safely and easily.  I talk about this in my book, Allergic Girl, as well.

It comes down to communication:
Communicating with yourself - what do I want?
Communicating with your guests - what do they need?
Enacting that in an easy, simple way that is safe and fun for all.


1. I wanted some delicious BBQ and chocolate cake for dessert. I started there. I remember that Hill Country did BBQ, I had eaten there once with no issues. Also recently, I had been there for a social event (not dining) but did meet a GM who said he’d happily walk me through everything whenever I wanted to dine there. So, I contacted him and went in at a non-busy time and had an hour long sit-down. We went over ingredients, kitchen processes and how my food would be prepared. I then talked to one of the chefs, who cut off a slice of some incredibly succulent brisket. Pictured here. 

I tasted it and thought, oh yes, this will be perfect. And no allergens present. 


2. I built up my menu based on my meat-and-cake concept of the perfect birthday meal.

Brisket and short ribs with a dry rub of salt, pepper and cayenne 
Rotisserie chicken (commercially made)

Corn (butter on side)
Baked beans (vegan, cans kept for ingredient labels) 
Martin’s soft potato rolls (with labels)
BBQ sauce on the side (with labels)
organic mesclun salad with Lucini olive oil, lemon juice salt and pepper

Chocolate cake - commercially made
Cookie pie - Sloane-made (nut-free, gluten-free)
Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream - Sloane-made(nut-free, gluten-free)
Fresh strawberries and red grapes
Top 8 allergen free chocolate bites, kindly provided by Pascha


3. I emailed everyone the confirming details of the event and menu, with a caveat to let me know about any restrictions or special requests and to not bring in outside food. This last request is a crucial one, because, who knew, but people *love* to bring non-sanctioned food treats, even to an Allergic Girl's party. This simple reminder to not bring outside food cuts down on nutty, fishy treats walking through my door and hurt feelings. 


4. I then privately messaged everyone who I knew at the outset had a special need or request, told them what on the menu was safe for them, what wasn't and asked if they'd like/need something different than what I was planning. (No one did.) Since these were many of my bestie besties and their kids, I knew everyone's everything but I wanted to make double/triple sure that I had their details correctly.


5. When I served the menu, buffet style, I pointed out all of the dishes to everyone, and ingredients and labels and asked them to be mindful not to swap spoons between dishes.


It was all so delicious, one, people still ask me where I bought the BBQ, and the recipe for my cakes and two, I forgot to take pictures! No one had any issues with any of the meal and all was wonderfully well! Such an easy menu and everyone (tree nut allergic, peanut allergic, vegans, Kosher, and dairy, wheat and egg intolerances) enjoyed.