Applegate HALF TIME™ Kits Make Lunch Easy

I’m just going to be honest here.  I don’t like packing lunches.  Every day I pack a lunch for myself and my two children (and occasionally the hubby), and it gets monotonous.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many fun and “easy” ideas I find online, I usually don’t have the time or money to make them look like the picture I saw.   However, in full disclosure, I wish I was able to work magic with lunches like so many of you do…I’m a little jealous at how you make it look so easy.

Lindsay at Applegate contacted me about reviewing their snazzy HALF TIME™ lunch kit.  According to the company, “A recent survey found that 88% of parents thought pre-packed lunch kits were convenient, but 79% of those parents were concerned about the nitrates, preservatives and artificial ingredients in those kits.”

I’ll admit to having those thoughts and taking it one step farther with my worries about food allergies.  So, I emailed Lindsay with some food allergy questions and here is what she had to say:  “Regarding the top-8 allergen list (Milk / Dairy, Egg, Fish, Shellfish, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Wheat, and Soy): Stonyfield Squeezers contain Milk, but do not contain any other top-8 allergen. They are produced on equipment that processes Milk / Dairy, but no other top-8 allergen. They are stored in a facility that contains Milk / Dairy, Tree Nuts, Wheat, and Soy.”  When I specifically asked about peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and chickpea/garbanzo, she told me the HALF TIME™ lunch kits do not contain peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, or chickpea/garbanzo.  SCORE!

So what do the boxed lunches contain?  HALF TIME™ includes Applegate natural meats and cheeses (which have no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and are antibiotic- and hormone-free), Annie’s Homegrown crackers and snacks, and Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers.

Applegate Half Time Lunches (4)

The lunches are not gluten-free, so I had to rely on my kiddos for this review.  My kids LOVED the lunches so much that when they got home from school that day and declared lunch as “awesome,” they wanted to know if they could bring one again the next day.  That’s what we call a hit at my house!

Applegate Half Time Lunches (3)

The kids devoured the entire lunch and I even packed a little side (fruit, cookie, etc) for my fifth grader to get him through the afternoon.  From a mother’s point of view, I could see how much they loved having a boxed lunch to take to school that so closely resembled the other popular boxed lunch brand that many of their classmates bring.

After my kids taste-tested the lunches, I did look for the kits at H-E-B and found them for $4+ each.  Because I can make a SunButter tortilla rollup/sandwich a little cheaper, Applegate’s HALF TIME™ kits won’t be an every day occurrence but something that might be a once a week or every other week treat.

Overall, my kids loved this product and it will be something we will buy from time to time.  And I won’t lie…when 11pm rolls around and I still haven’t had a chance to pack lunches for the next day, it will be wonderful to know that, actually, lunch is already packed.

Now here comes the really great part!  Applegate is giving away a special HALF TIME™ lunch kit to one of you!  This special kit includes:

Applegate Half Time Lunches (2)

All three varieties of HALF TIME: Turkey & Cheese, Ham & Cheese, and Bologna & Cheese

  • A draw-your-own lunch bag
  • A set of permanent markers
  • Coupons
  • Activity book

Interested?  Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Go to my The Food Allergy Mom facebook page and comment on one food allergy safe thing you are doing for Halloween.  Then share my status about Applegate’s HALF TIME™ lunch kit giveaway!

Winner will be announced on Halloween!  Good luck!

Vermont Smoke and Cure RealSticks A Food Allergy Find

Having peanut and nut allergies can make life challenging in general.  But one of the things I struggle with the most is how to make sure my constantly on-the-go ten-year-old son gets enough protein in his diet.

If we’re coming home after an hour and a half of hot, sweaty soccer practice, sometimes a glass of ice-cold chocolate milk can be just the right protein to help my son’s muscles recover and repair.

But what about the times when we aren’t at home and we need something protein-packed and safe?  What about when we are traveling and we want a safe and filling snack for the road?  What if we need something that doesn’t have to be temperature controlled so that it’s more conducive to life on the go?

Believe it or not, I may have found the answer!

photo

I became intrigued when I saw the Vermont Smoke and Cure ad in the most recent edition of Allergic Living Magazine.  The advertisement for their RealSticks made it look like the equivalent of beef jerky…but a safe jerky.  I’ll admit to getting a little overly excited at the prospect of this new protein-packed, all natural, portable snack.  (It’s the little things that make The Food Allergy Mom happy!)

So I contacted the company directly to inquire about their allergy statement.  The representative I corresponded with was absolutely wonderful and assured me the RealSticks were indeed gluten, peanut, nut, sesame, chickpea/garbanzo, and dairy free.

The sweet folks at Vermont Smoke and Cure were kind enough to send me some samples of their protein packed RealSticks so I could review for my readers.   And in full disclosure, I may or may not have checked my front porch every day twice a day for a week to see if they had arrived.

So what is a RealStick you might ask?  Good question.  For all intents and purposes, it’s a meat stick filled with quality meat and delicious blend of tasty spices.  The product comes in six different flavors (Cracked Pepper, Chipotle, BBQ, Turkey Pepperoni, Turkey Honey Mustard, and Turkey Ancho) made with quality ingredients that contain 50% less fat and 40% less salt than the leading snack sticks, no MSG, no preservatives, and no artificial anything.  The sticks even work well for those who are following a Paleo diet or Weight Watchers.

It’s small enough that you could put some cheese and crackers with it to make it a meal.  Although I’ve eaten it that way, my favorite way to enjoy a RealStick is for a snack when I’m on the go.  My son loves it for a post-soccer workout snack.  To be honest, I don’t know if there is a bad time to eat one.  :)

My favorite flavor hands down is the Turkey Honey Mustard because it just bursts with flavor and satisfies my snack craving.  Ironically, my son’s favorite flavor is also the Turkey Honey Mustard.  Runners up for both of us include Turkey Pepperoni, Cracked Pepper, and BBQ.  I will warn you that the Ancho and Chipotle flavors pack a little punch of spice, but both my son and I still enjoyed them.

Bottom Line:  This will definitely be a product that becomes a staple in our house.  I’m beyond pleased with the customer service the company provided me with as well as the quality and price of their RealSticks products.

Thank you to Vermont Smoke and Cure for such a wonderful food allergy find!

Letting Go of Fear

Fear.  It’s a debilitating feeling we are all familiar with.  And if you’re a parent or caregiver to someone other than yourself, you know what it’s like to fear for others as well.

This week I’ve watched my children go back to school, contemplating the usual worries.  What if I don’t know anyone in my class?  What if I can’t find my classroom?  What if I don’t have a good teacher?  What if I can’t find anyone to eat lunch with?

Those with special situations such as asthma and food allergies often experience additional worries.  What if someone sits next to me that’s eating peanut butter?  What if I have an asthma attack at school?  What if someone bullies me because of my food allergy?

I have a love hate relationship with what if questions.  My husband says I should make a career out of them.  I’m a planner so I love to think about them, but I hate that I feel the need to.  Honestly, if I don’t make myself simply be still, I am the queen of worry.  No really.

Huh.

Did you notice the transition of the above paragraphs?  I went from talking about children’s back to school worries to discussing my worries.  Interesting.

The transition, although unplanned, illustrates my point beautifully.

You Are Being Watched

As a parent, I often internalize my children’s fears because I hurt for them.  As children, they often internalize my fears because they sense my emotional stress and feel discord.

  • Do you fill out all your son’s back to school allergy forms for school with deep sighs and a furrowed brow of concentration?  How must that look to him?  How does it make him feel?
  • Do you go into crisis mode when she talks about the class field trip coming up?  How must that look to her?  How does it make her feel?
  • Do you hover with your son’s asthma inhaler at his soccer game so much that you never really see him play?  How must that look to him?  How does it make him feel?

If you are guilty of any of these, welcome.  Pull up a chair right next to me.  You are not alone!

Don’t believe me?  Check out this outstanding article “When Allergies Make You: Afraid of Food” by Jennifer Van Evra from Allergic Living.  I absolutely love Dr. Gordon Cochrane’s quote on page three about the consequences of over-protecting our children.  It’s a sentiment I often need to remind myself of.

How Fear Finds Us

In the last month, I have seen approximately five stories about individuals dying from asthma complications, a bee sting, ingestion of a food allergen, and more.  As a parent, especially as a parent of a child with asthma and food allergies, my heart skips a beat or two as I read these stories and think of my own precious babies.  My stomach clenches.  I can feel the blood pumping through my veins with a surge of adrenaline.  Fear has paid me a visit…and is thinking about moving in.

These stories are heartbreaking in ways so gut-wrenching that most of us simply cannot even imagine.  So many affected by these kind of situations have great resilience and strength which they gracefully use to educate others with a life-saving message.  There are no words capable of describing how truly amazing and selfless these individuals are.

But all too often, I not only hear the crucial life-saving message, but store it away in the corner of my brain to eat at me day after day after day after day.  When I replay it over and over daily in my brain, it manifests itself in my actions and it creates new worries and fear that can be all too readily observed in the lines of my face…even by a child.  Fear takes over.

Older children already online and active on social media may see these stories on their own, and so often process them alone.  If we experience worry for our children, imagine the worry they must feel themselves when the issue affects THEIR own health.  Fear takes over.

Personal witness to or experience of an allergic reaction and/or asthma attack doesn’t even give you to time to realize Fear is in the room.  The experience itself is extremely stressful for the individual as well as onlookers and often paves the way for residual fear and anxiety…and understandably so.

We must pay tribute to tragic loss of life and loved ones’ messages that can save lives.  We must be respectful and understanding of those who have encountered a life-threatening and sometimes near-death experience.  We must learn from these situations and evaluate our own circumstances.  Then we must move on and tell fear it is no longer welcome here so we can get on with life.

Confronting Fear

Knowing that you need to send fear packing is the easy part.  Doing it can be the hard part.

Dealing with fear is not a one-size fits all solution, but you can find a solution that works for you.

  • For myself, I lean heavily on my faith in God.  He sustains me and is my rock and shield when I’m too overwhelmed to take that step of moving forward.  And for what it’s worth, it’s something I have to remind myself of every day…even after 10 years on this journey.
  • Sometimes a cup of hot coffee with a close friend that offers the amazing gift of listening (and maybe a shoulder to cry on) can do wonders for the soul.
  • Consulting a licensed physician and/or counselor and discussing your anxiety, can be a source of comfort.

Still have questions?  Check out this informative post by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) about social and emotional issues regarding food allergies.

Wishing you peace and comfort, from one food allergy mom to another.

Colorado Scenery

New Enjoy Life Packaging for Allergy-Friendly Cookies

We are big Enjoy Life fans at my house…especially when it comes to their seed trail mix and crunchy cookie lines!  Both are perfect any time of year, but especially perfect for back to school snacks and/or lunches.

Enjoy Life Cookies(A little aside here.  I’ll be the first to admit that my photography skills are sometimes lacking, but can I just say how much I LOVE that these four cookies surround the word HOPE in the background?  Enjoy Life is one of those companies that gives hope to those of us with food allergies.  Hope that there will be something yummy and safe to eat.)

A little information about Enjoy Life products.  They are free from wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, and shellfish.  They are certified gluten-free, verified by the Non-GMO Project, Kosher and Halal certified,  and are made in a dedicated nut-free and certified gluten-free facility.  Whew.  Talk about dedication to the food allergy community!

Enjoy Life cookies have a brand new look and the packaging is beautiful!  Thanks to Enjoy Life for sending me some samples.  My kids were so excited to see them and are probably opening their lunches right about now hoping to see one of those little goodies in there.  Although, my kids may not see many Vanilla Graham or Sugar cookies, because those are my favorites.  :)   Shhhh!  Don’t tell!   Though the packaging has changed, the cookie recipes have not, so read my previous review of the cookies here.

On a separate, but similar topic, if you haven’t tried out Enjoy Life’s seed and fruit mix…it is a great source of protein for kiddos and adults alike.  My favorite is their to go size pouches that make snacks on the run easy and nutritious.  Our pantry is stocked full right now and ready for snack duty!

If you’re like me, you’re already thinking of ways to include Enjoy Life goodies into all kinds of recipes and I so excited to say that the company is giving you a head start in the recipe corner of their website.  Don’t forget to check it out!

Thank you Enjoy Life for all that you do!

May all of you have a safe and blessed start to the new school year and may it continue the whole year through!

Back To School With Food Allergies

It pains me to write a post for back to school when it is still July, and we have about five more weeks of summer left here in Texas. But, as most of you already know, there is much to do in advance of that first day of school…especially when your child has food allergies.

Below is a compilation of information on back to school forms, school and food allergies, prescriptions, lunches, and even allergy literature for kids!

Please be sure to use the social media buttons below to share on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

What are some of your tried and true back to school tips for parents of children with food allergies?  Please share them below in the comments section!

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Here are a few back to school posts (oldies but goodies) that I refer to at the beginning of every school year.

-Getting Your Forms In Order

-Food In The Classroom

-School and Food Allergy Basics

 

Filling Prescriptions For The New School Year

Need your EpiPen refilled and already dreading back to school expenses?  Don’t miss this offer for the EpiPen.

Epi $0 CopayWhat’s For Lunch?

Need lunch ideas for your child’s lunchbox?  Check out some of these fantastic recipes from guest blogger, Tracy from Sugarcrafter.

Courtesy of Tracy at Sugarcrafter

Courtesy of Tracy at Sugarcrafter

 

Educating Children About Food Allergies

Looking for a great book about food allergies to give your child’s classroom?  Check out Stephanie Sorkin’s Book, Nutley the Nut-Free Squirrel.

Food Allergy Awareness Week Part 3: “Don’t Scare.”

Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week!  It starts May 11th and goes all week long!

I’ve been contemplating my posts for this week for quite some time.  What issues should I cover?  Who should I reach out to?  How can I positively raise awareness for food allergies?

Finally, my husband and I worked together and came up with the following slogan for this week’s posts:  “Be Aware.  Be Prepared.  Don’t Scare.”   It’s short, sweet, and covers just about everything.

For information on how to “Be Aware” and “Be Prepared” please take a few minutes to read my previous posts.

For this final Food Allergy Awareness Week post, let’s focus on how we, “Don’t Scare.”

I’m going to come clean here, this post is one that is so very near and dear to my heart.  And this is why.  I’m going to say something wildly unpopular and controversial here…so you might want to sit down.

I don’t think bullying is something only between children with and without food allergies.  I think as food allergy caregivers we sometimes unintentionally bully each other.  We can scare each other into wrongfully thinking that if I don’t follow your way, or vice versa, we are not doing our best.  Making someone think that they aren’t doing everything they can to protect their loved ones from food allergies…that IS scary and heartbreaking!

Let me clarify.  At some point, we are all guilty of thinking “our” way (whatever way that may be) is the best way to handle the food allergy life.  And although it may very well be the way that works best for OUR family and OUR diagnosis, it doesn’t make it the best for ALL food allergy families.  Just because it’s not my way or your way, it doesn’t make it wrong.  It just makes it different.  Because out of the whole food allergy community and even this great big world, not any two of us are exactly alike.

As a whole, I think every caregiver’s goal is to keep their loved ones safe and happy.  It is possible to impart the seriousness of having a life-threatening food allergy to others without making them feel threatened.  For example, think of how it would feel to be caring for a child with a diagnosis you knew nothing about.  Would you want their caregiver to calmly and carefully walk you through caring for their child or instill in you a fear so great, you feel too immobilized by panic to act?

It is my own personal experience that living in constant fear is really no life at all.  Living in a constant state of awareness and vigilance is absolutely necessary.  Fear doesn’t have to be.  In the beginning of my son’s diagnosis, I was so immobilized by fear that I made myself and those around me sick with worry.  It is not a stage of my journey I recall fondly, yet going through it is what eventually bridged the gap to where I am today.  Almost ten years into our family’s food allergy journey: I am educated (but continuing to learn new things every day), I am responsible, and I rely heavily on my faith.

I don’t have my head stuck in the sand.  I realize it won’t always be a perfect life.  But all of these things combined, give me and my family the peace we need to live a positive, common-sense approach to the daily food allergy life…one day at a time.

Courtesy of FARE

Courtesy of FARE

Here are some of the “Don’t Scare” techniques we employ in my family:

-Literature for kids:  “Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel”  by Stephanie Sorkin is a wonderful picture book for young children learning about food allergies.  It can also be used as a learning tool in peer groups.

Nutley

-Literature for caregivers:  My favorite food allergy book for caregivers of all time is The Food Allergy Experience by Dr. Ruchi Gupta.  It is not a book of here is what you should do and here is what not to do.  It is simply a wonderful compilation of quotes from parents from various places on the food allergy spectrum.  No one is condemned or hailed superior.  It is a way for caregivers to see the many different sides of living with food allergies.  Personally, I found myself in many of the quotes…each at a different stage in my family’s own food allergy journey.  I absolutely love this book!

-Fundraising:  Participating in the annual FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) Walk is tradition for my family and I!  (If you want to support us, click here.)  It began as a way to find camaraderie…to find others that knew the same struggles my family struggled with on a day to day basis.  Then it morphed into a wonderful opportunity to learn about medical and grocery vendors serving the food allergy community.  Now, we walk every single year for the opportunity to meet new friends, find new products and services, and raise money for a cure!  There are FARE Walks happening throughout the year all across the nation.  To find the event nearest you, click here.

-Support Groups:  It is crucial to find credible online and in-person support groups.  Even more important is to find positive and credible support groups.  Case in point, I once joined a local support group thinking it would be just the thing to get me thinking positively.  Do you know that when I left, all I heard was an earful about how hard life would be from this moment forward?  Ugh.  NOT what I was looking for.  Several of my favorite uplifting blogs to follow are:  Mom vs. Food Allergy, Keeley McGuire, and Dr. Ruchi Gupta.

-Thanks:  Thank those around you who work so hard to keep your loved one safe from allergens.  Thank your teachers, nurses, restaurant servers, Sunday School teachers, doctors, allergists, family, and friends for giving of themselves to protect another.

Courtesy of AAFA and KFA

Courtesy of AAFA and KFA

Thank YOU for all you are doing to raise food allergy awareness and serve the food allergy community!  Smile on, friends!

Food Allergy Awareness Week: Be Prepared.

Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week!  It starts May 11th and goes all week long!

Courtesy of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)

Courtesy of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)

I’ve been contemplating my posts for this week for quite some time.  What issues should I cover?  Who should I reach out to?  How can I positively raise awareness for food allergies?

Finally, my husband and I worked together and came up with the following slogan for this week’s posts:  “Be Aware.  Be Prepared.  Don’t Scare.”   It’s short, sweet, and covers just about everything.

For information on how to “Be Aware,” please take a few minutes to read my previous post.

Today, let’s focus on how we can “Be Prepared.”

In my opinion, it is critical for those with and without food allergies to be prepared.  The number of individuals diagnosed with food allergies is on the rise and it is imperative that we, as a community, know how to educate, protect, and take action.

If you or someone you know has food allergies, here are some great tips on being prepared:

Medication and Emergency Forms

  • ALWAYS carry your prescribed epinephrine autoinjector (and antihistamine medicine your allergist prescribes you).  Always check for money-saving coupons like these for the EpiPen and Auvi-Q.
  • Register your medications online (if they offer that service).  EpiPen will allow you to register your epinephrine injector and set a reminder for when you need to refill the subscription.  This is especially handy for those prescriptions sent off to school.
  • Download the EpiPen app available on iTunes.  The app provides a short video demonstration of how to administer an adrenaline auto injector, a picture-based user guide to walk you through the administration of the auto injector, and multiple allergy profiles complete with offending allergens and symptoms that may indicate an allergic emergency.  My favorite part of the app is that it allows you to share the allergy profiles you create with anyone via email.  This means you can email it to grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters, teachers, soccer coaches, and everyone in between.
  • Download and print the new Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan from FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) here.  Don’t forget to include a color picture!  I usually make several copies at the beginning of the school year and give two to each of my child’s teachers:  one for them and one for their sub folder.  I also provide one to the school nurse.
  • Store your epinephrine wisely and accessibly.  My son carries his EpiPen via the SPIbelt, an amazing product that works beautifully for him and is very durable.
  • Consider a medical ID bracelet.  My son has a medical bracelet we purchased from Survival Straps and we have been extremely happy with it.

Food

  • ALWAYS read and reread labels.  It is not uncommon for a company to change their ingredients or the labeling of their ingredients.  Need help learning how to read labels?  Read this document from FARE to brush up.
  • Bake and freeze.  The freezer is my friend…and it should be yours too.  I bake safe versions of cookies, breads, and even casseroles and then freeze so there are safe foods available at a moment’s notice.  It comes especially in handy when mom is sick, because all dad has to do is warm and serve.
  • Consider purchasing allergy cards such as these from FARE to help you and others identify potential allergens when grocery shopping and dining out.  I keep these in my wallet and find them extremely helpful!
  • Plan ahead.  Whether you are going out to eat, to visit relatives in the next town over, or on a vacation half way across the country…make sure you research and plan ahead of time.  It will make traveling so much easier and more pleasant.  (Check out some of our great vacation posts on this blog.)

My last post, and possibly my favorite, in this series will be posted Thursday night or Friday morning.  This post will focus on the “Don’t Scare” component of our food allergy awareness week slogan.  So don’t forget to tune in…

And don’t forget to share this post with someone for Food Allergy Awareness Week!

 

Food Allergy Awareness Week: Be Aware. Be Prepared. Don’t Scare.

Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week!  It starts May 11th and goes all week long!

Courtesy of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)

Courtesy of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)

I’ve been contemplating my posts for this week for quite some time.  What issues should I cover?  Who should I reach out to?  How can I positively raise awareness for food allergies?

Finally, my husband and I worked together and came up with the following slogan for this week’s posts:  “Be Aware.  Be Prepared.  Don’t Scare.”   It’s short, sweet, and covers just about everything.

For today, let’s focus on how we as a community can, “Be Aware.”

When I think of raising awareness for anything, I think the key is to do so in a positive way.  Let me say that again, because I think it is absolutely worth repeating.  When I think of raising awareness for anything, I think the key is to do so in a positive way.

Being positive doesn’t diminish your message or take away from it’s importance.  In fact, in most cases, it increases reception with your audience and, at times, can establish a motivation for their involvement in the cause.

As we begin food allergy awareness week, remember that you are acting as a face and voice for the food allergy community.   We want to communicate the definition of food allergies and anaphylaxis.  We must communicate the life-threatening seriousness of food allergies.  We need to communicate thanks for all that is already being done to help those that make up the food allergy community.

Whether you have food allergies or not, here are some ways you can help create food allergy awareness this week:

  • Wear the color teal today and all week long.  It is the official color of ribbon worn for Food Allergy Awareness Week.  If someone asks you about it, take that opportunity to share why you are wearing teal.
  • Use social media like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to share this post (see the share buttons below this post).
  • Use social media to share a food allergy fact every day.  Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) has some great suggestions for Twitter and Facebook here.
  • Read and then share Kids with Food Allergies’ (KFA) informational graphic titled, “Children With Food Allergies: What Parents Need to Know.”

Especially if you have a family member with food allergies, consider these additional ways to raise food allergy awareness this week:

  • Join FARE’s Twitter Party on Monday, May 12th at 3:30pm, ET by following @FoodAllergy and #FAREChat.  With members of FARE staff moderating, Ruchi Gupta, MD, PhD and Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD will answer questions submitted by parents or individuals with food allergies, or anyone else interested in the topic.
  • Post a note of thanks (which you can find at here courtesy of KFA) on social media.  It is a fantastic way to positively raise awareness.  Thank you is always nice to hear!
  • Thank a friend, teacher, nurse, doctor, or family member for all they do to keep your family member healthy and safe!

What will you do to make a difference and positively raise awareness for food allergies this week?  Have a great idea that others might benefit from duplicating?  Be sure to share it here!

World Asthma Day Is Today

Today is World Asthma Day!  Take a few minutes to read this post because chances are, if you don’t have asthma, you DO know someone who does.

So, what is asthma?  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), “Asthma is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become blocked or narrowed causing breathing difficulty.”

Still think the asthma issue isn’t applicable to you?  Maybe you don’t know your family, friends, and co-workers as well as you think you do.  According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), “About 1 in 10 children had asthma and 1 in 12 adults had asthma in 2009.”

And asthma appears to be on the rise.  According to Talisa White, AAFA External Affairs Manager, on average, nationwide, between 2001 and 2010, asthma prevalence increased from 7.3% to 8.4%, an increase of over 4.3 million new cases.

I used to think asthma didn’t apply to me.  I’m not proud of it, but I’m willing to admit it so that it will resonate with someone out there reading this.  Then my son was born, and everything changed in what felt like heartbeat.  For the last ten years, he has battled asthma and together we have learned far more about nebulizers, inhalers, steroids, and so on than we ever knew possible.  And, for the most part, we’ve done it with a smile…determined not to let this chronic disease define us.

So on this World Asthma Day, take 60 seconds to do one (or all) of the below and show someone else with asthma that when you are educated about this disease, it loses its power to define you!

Thank you!

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A special thanks goes out to Mike Tringale, SVP External Affairs AAFA, and Talisa White, AAFA External Affairs Manager, for letting me share the below press release and all that they do to support the asthma and allergy communities!

CITIES THAT TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY

Courtesy of AAFA

Courtesy of AAFA

New List of 100 Most Challenging Places to Live with Asthma Highlights the Burden Nationwide, and it’s not Just About Air Quality

World Asthma Day comes in May when everyone wants to be outdoors enjoying the breathtaking sights, sounds and smells of springtime. But for the 25 million Americans with asthma, breathtaking is what they’re trying to avoid.

The national burden of asthma costs Americans over $50 billion per year in healthcare expenses, missed school and work days, and death. With asthma rates continuing to climb – now over 8% of the U.S. population – the burden of asthma on our cities is also growing. But it’s not just about asthma prevalence and air quality.

For the 11th year in a row, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released its Asthma Capitals report, ranking the 100 most challenging cities to live in with asthma. The annual study is the most comprehensive nationwide longitudinal analysis of metro area asthma data for the largest cities in the U.S. AAFA looks at 13 critical factors regarding asthma prevalence, environmental conditions and healthcare utilization. No place is completely safe from asthma, and AAFA’s report shows that where you live can make a difference on exposure to asthma triggers, quality of life, costs and access to care.

Richmond, VA, is in the number one spot for the second year in a row. Memphis, TN, came in at #2, followed by #3 McAllen, TX, #4 Oklahoma City, OK, and #5 Philadelphia, PA. The ranking assesses factors such as asthma prevalence, morbidity and mortality, local smoking laws, air quality, pollen counts, number of asthma specialists, medication use and the number of emergency room (ER) visits for asthma. Richmond’s final score based on all factors contributed to its top ranking again this year. To see the ranking methodology and details for all 100 cities visit www.AsthmaCapitals.com.

Severe asthma patient Kenny Beyer has lived with asthma his entire life and understands the risks. “I have been hospitalized 24 times in the past 7 years, and admitted to the intensive care unit 8 times,” says Beyer. “I felt like I had to live in a bubble so I wouldn’t have an asthma attack.”

“There are many things that we can improve now to make life better for people with asthma,” says AAFA spokesperson and asthma patient, Talisa White. “Some patients have a hard time avoiding their triggers, others just don’t take daily medications like they should or they don’t have access to proper asthma care and education,” says White. “Our Asthma Capitals report helps to shed light on the asthma burden in each city, but it also provides a roadmap for improvements.”

New Top 25 Asthma Capitals™ (To see the full report visit www.AsthmaCapitals.com)

1 Richmond, VA
2 Memphis, TN
3 McAllen, TX
4 Oklahoma City, OK
5 Philadelphia, PA
6 Chattanooga, TN
7 Fresno, CA
8 Tulsa, OK
9 Chicago, IL
10 Detroit, MI
11 New Haven, CT
12 Allentown, PA
13 Atlanta, GA
14 Augusta, GA
15 Pittsburgh, PA
16 Louisville, KY
17 Bakersfield, CA
18 Springfield, MA
19 Milwaukee, WI
20 Jacksonville, FL
21 Dayton, OH
22 New Orleans, LA
23 Cleveland, OH
24 Stockton, CA
25 Toledo, OH

 

Gerbs Allergen-Free Granola: Product Review

Granola.  It and my family have a love-hate relationship.  We love granola and hate that we can’t find a safe and tasty granola all of us can enjoy.  I am gluten-free and my son is peanut and nut-free (also chickpea and sesame free).  As most of you already know, it’s not easy to find a granola that meets all of these dietary requirements.

Until I found Gerbs.

IMG_3633The blurry photo is so attractive, I know.  But that’s what happens when you are trying to take a picture and hold the family back from early taste testing.

The company is family-owned and operated and owns all of their own machinery.  Because of this, they are able to guarantee every product they sell is made from all-natural ingredients and is free from the top 8 major recognized allergens:  gluten, peanut, tree nut, soy, dairy, milk, egg, sesame, shellfish, and crustacean.

That “free-from” list is enough to impress all on its own.  Still, I was skeptical because I haven’t found a granola yet that is free from the top 8 allergens that doesn’t taste like a clump of sawdust.

Despite my skepticism, we ripped this package right open when it arrived.  Hope lives eternal, I suppose!

And thank goodness for that…because Gerbs granola is a total WINNER!  The granola has a great rich, crunchy texture with just a hint of sweetness.  We received the Original Blend Granola which is composed of roasted oats, roasted sunflower seed kernels, sunflower oil, honey, roasted pumpkin seeds, and roasted brown flax-seed.  It was fabulous!

We are nearing the end of our bag which makes me a little sad, but we have put it to excellent use!  So far, we’ve used the granola on cereal, mixed with yogurt, and mixed into cookie dough.   Every single combination experiment was a hit!

Liking what you are hearing about an allergy-friendly granola?  Well there’s more!  Gerbs also produces seeds, salad fixings, snack mix, oats, flours, rice, crackers, pretzels, and a whole host of other allergy-friendly goodies.

Bottom Line:  This is the best gluten, peanut, nut, and sesame free granola I have found on the market to date and imagine I will be a repeat customer.  I love that the company is so allergen-friendly and takes great pride in their products!  Thank you, Gerbs!

Touch of Sea Salt Pumpkin Seed Kernels
Light Sea Salt Whole Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Sunflower Kernels Lightly Sea SaltedSalad Fixin’s:

Cape Cod Antioxidant Mix
SuperSeeds Mix
Cracker Crunch Mix

Snack Mix Collection:

Crunch Monkey
Sweet & Salty
SuperFruits

Granola’s:

Original Blend
Cranberry Harvest
Banana Dark Chocolate

, but please check out our online ordering page, you will see we have over 12 flavors available for sale in Whole & Kernel Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds, plus we offer:

Flax Seeds
Hemp Seed Kernels
Whole Hemp Seeds
Raw Black Chia Seeds
Dried Blueberries
Dried Cranberries
California Raisins
Cherries
Goji Berries
Banana Chips
Pumpkin Butter
Sunflower Butter
Hemp Butter
Granola Collections
Salad Toppers/Fixin’s
Snack Mixes
Seed Meals/Powders – See more at: http://www.mygerbs.com/about-us/default.aspx#sthash.JPircPgn.dp

Our top priorities are customer satisfaction and taste. We accomplish this by using only the finest all-natural ingredients to deliver you a delicious snack that’s both healthy and fun to eat. Gerbs are high in fiber, packed with protein, and naturally low in carbohydrates. As well Gerbs seasoned lines are dry roasted without any added cooking oil, and packaged on our dedicated equipment in our facility by our caring staff, ensuring your Gerbs are as fresh as the day they were roasted! Another benefit of owning our own equipment, is we guarantee each product we sell is free from the 8 major recognized allergen’s: gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, dairy free, milk free, egg free, sesame free, shellfish free, and crustacean free! – See more at: http://www.mygerbs.com/about-us/default.aspx#sthash.JPircPgn.dpuf
Our top priorities are customer satisfaction and taste. We accomplish this by using only the finest all-natural ingredients to deliver you a delicious snack that’s both healthy and fun to eat. Gerbs are high in fiber, packed with protein, and naturally low in carbohydrates. As well Gerbs seasoned lines are dry roasted without any added cooking oil, and packaged on our dedicated equipment in our facility by our caring staff, ensuring your Gerbs are as fresh as the day they were roasted! Another benefit of owning our own equipment, is we guarantee each product we sell is free from the 8 major recognized allergen’s: gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, dairy free, milk free, egg free, sesame free, shellfish free, and crustacean free! – See more at: http://www.mygerbs.com/about-us/default.aspx#sthash.JPircPgn.dpuf
Our top priorities are customer satisfaction and taste. We accomplish this by using only the finest all-natural ingredients to deliver you a delicious snack that’s both healthy and fun to eat. Gerbs are high in fiber, packed with protein, and naturally low in carbohydrates. As well Gerbs seasoned lines are dry roasted without any added cooking oil, and packaged on our dedicated equipment in our facility by our caring staff, ensuring your Gerbs are as fresh as the day they were roasted! Another benefit of owning our own equipment, is we guarantee each product we sell is free from the 8 major recognized allergen’s: gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, dairy free, milk free, egg free, sesame free, shellfish free, and crustacean free! – See more at: http://www.mygerbs.com/about-us/default.aspx#sthash.JPircPgn.dp
Our top priorities are customer satisfaction and taste. We accomplish this by using only the finest all-natural ingredients to deliver you a delicious snack that’s both healthy and fun to eat.Gerbs are high in fiber, packed with protein, and naturally low in carbohydrates. AswellGerbs seasoned lines are dry roasted without any added cooking oil, and packaged on our dedicated equipment in our facility by our caring staff, ensuringyourGerbs are as fresh as the day they were roasted! Another benefit of owning our own equipment, is we guarantee each product we sell is free from the 8 major recognized allergen’s:gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, dairy free, milk free, egg free, sesame free, shellfish free, and crustacean free! – See more at: http://www.mygerbs.com/about-us/default.aspx#sthash.JPircPgn.dpu

Our top priorities are customer satisfaction and taste. We accomplish this by using only the finest all-natural ingredients to deliver you a delicious snack that’s both healthy and fun to eat. Gerbs are high in fiber, packed with protein, and naturally low in carbohydrates. As well Gerbs seasoned lines are dry roasted without any added cooking oil, and packaged on our dedicated equipment in our facility by our caring staff, ensuring your Gerbs are as fresh as the day they were roasted! Another benefit of owning our own equipment, is we guarantee each product we sell is free from the 8 major recognized allergen’s: gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, dairy free, milk free, egg free, sesame free, shellfish free, and crustacean free! – See more at: http://www.mygerbs.com/about-us/default.aspx#sthash.JPircPgn.dpuf