Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Bagel Line Simply Delicious

Good gluten-free bread is hard to come by.  Really good gluten-free bread is even harder to come by.  In my opinion, Canyon Bakehouse is one of the best gluten-free breads on the market.

When I tire of regular toast for breakfast, Canyon Bakehouse’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread is my go to.  It has just a touch of sweet and is the perfect thing to brighten up a Monday morning!

Actually Canyon Bakehouse uses 100% whole grains and no GMO’s in all of their products, so it’s something I feel good about eating.

Since I’m gluten-free, the company contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I would mind reviewing their new line of gluten-free bagels and brownies.  I jumped at the chance since this is one of my favorite brands.  And while they are a favorite, please know that this product review is an honest one and no compensation was received other than the free sample I am writing about.

Canyon Bakehouse Bagels and Brownie Bites (2)

Before I get to my product reviews, let’s talk allergen statements.  I asked the company to discuss the allergens at Canyon Bakehouse and this was the response:  “All of Canyon Bakehouse products are free from the following allergens: gluten, dairy, casein, all nuts (tree nuts, peanuts) and soy. Their production facility is also free of these allergens; they never enter the facility so there is no chance of cross-contamination. Additionally, they do test their final products for all of these allergens.  However, please note, they do use eggs.  Specific to gluten Canyon Bakehouse’s standard is ZERO gluten. The best testing available today can detect gluten down to 5ppm (parts per million). The results of their tests are “undetectable,” meaning, at least below 5ppm. This is the strictest standard available.”

I also asked about the use of sesame and this was the company’s response:  “We do use sesame seeds in our Everything Bagels but have recently removed them from the Cinnamon Raisin and Hamburger Buns. Although they are not considered a “Top 8 Allergen” we do treat sesame seeds like an allergen in our facility. We clean thoroughly after every run that contains sesame seeds and verify that all equipment is allergen-free by doing an allergen surface swab before beginning production on the next product.”

I have to say, I truly LOVE Canyon Bakehouse’s commitment to thoroughness in their allergen statements.  If only all companies went the extra mile and were this honest with their consumers…

I’ll start with reviewing the Canyon Bakehouse Brownie Bites. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for these because most of the store-bought, ready-to-eat brownies can be, well, let’s say lacking in taste.  But, fortunately this was not the case with Canyon Bakehouse’s Brownie Bites.  These are positively and sinfully delicious…so much so that I’d almost swear it was a regular gluten-filled brownie.  They have great texture and are not the least bit crumbly like some gluten-free products can be.  Let me just say, these are dangerous.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you.  Seriously, I ate the sample in…ahem…record time.

Now let’s chat about Canyon Bakehouse’s Everything Bagel.  I’ll be honest again, I don’t have much love for gluten-free bagels in general because they usually don’t resemble anything close to an actual bagel.  But once again, Canyon Bakehouse surprised me.  Th Everything Bagel is probably the best gluten-free bagel I’ve tried to date.  Not only does it have great texture (doesn’t get crumbly and fall apart), but it is bursting with taste.  With hints of garlic and onion it is the PERFECT way to add a little zip to whatever you are making.  Although I’ve had half a bagel for breakfast a time or two, my favorite way to eat this bagel is by using half for an open-faced sandwich.  It is simply delicious!  I’m so excited about this bagel and plan to make it a staple in my freezer!

Canyon Bakehouse Bagels and Brownie Bites (1)

The last item I’m reviewing is Canyon Bakehouse’s Plain Bagel.  All that I said about the Everything Bagel still applies here, minus the hints of garlic and onion.  Because it doesn’t have that seasoning, this bagel is a favorite for breakfast.  I’ve also used it for half a sandwich some days and although I haven’t tried it yet, I think you could make a fantastic appetizer out of these as well.

Canyon Bakehouse Bagels and Brownie Bites (3)

So, yes, I am a Canyon Bakehouse customer for life as they have a tremendous dedication to making quality products with real ingredients that taste amazing.  Thank you for all you do, Canyon Bakehouse!

Universal Studios in Orlando Florida: A Food Allergy Destination Review

My family and I were blessed enough to vacation in Florida a few weeks ago with Disney and Universal Orland as our destinations.

Our first day of vacation we spent at Universal.

The main draw of going to the park was to see Harry Potter World.  My son and I are both HUGE fans of the novels, so a trip to Hogwarts and Diagon Alley was a dream come true for us.

*Special Note:  The below review is primarily dining-centered.*

Before I begin with my review of our dining experiences at Universal Orlando, it is worth noting that a month before our trip I did contact someone at the park to inquire about dining with food allergies.  I received a short form letter with only a personalized sentence or two at the bottom from a chef.  Although I did appreciate the response, I felt it did not adequately answer my specific questions and ultimately left me somewhat disappointed.

We ate breakfast prior to arriving at the park (in our hotel room) to cut down on cost.  And let me just say, you will need to save every dime you can for once you are in the park.

One of our “have to” experiences was to visit the Hog’s Head for a mug of butterbeer.  After extensive research, I felt reassured that the beverage would be safe for both my son and I.  The butterbeer was delicious and came in a cute souveneir cup.  The Hog’s Head had a great atmosphere that very closely mirrored both what I remember seeing in the movie and reading in the books.

For lunch, we ate at the Leaky Cauldron.  Despite eating early (which I highly recommend) the line was long for this counter-service establishment.  As we approached the front of the line, I let the hostess know we would need to speak with the chef about our dietary restrictions.  She was very kind and collected the chef who was gruff and seemingly irritated with having to make a personal appearance.  He did visit with us though as we asked about the specific dishes we wanted to try.  The women at the register, thank goodness, were ironically more knowledgeable than the chef appeared to be and took great care placing our order to ensure the safety of our meals.  Both my son and I ordered the same thing, a grilled chicken sandwich on a gluten-free bun.  It wasn’t anything fabulous, but we were grateful to have something safe to eat.

After our less than stellar lunch chef/dining experience, we opted for a late dinner after leaving the park.

It is worth noting, that while we did not experience them personally, I’ve heard that the Universal Resort Hotels and restaurants of CityWalk are simply wonderful about accommodating those with food allergies and special dietary restrictions.

Overall, the park was all that a regular amusement park should be.  However, for the amount of money it cost to experience the park and eat there, I felt the dining experience lacked satisfactory (if any) food allergy/special diet training to park chefs and staff.  For those reasons, it is not someplace I’m eager to visit again soon.

That said, if Universal Orland were to establish a required and effective food allergy/special diet training program for park staff, I would be willing to give it another try.  Such a program, I believe, would lead to an entirely different experience and one that would make patrons sincerely appreciative of their efforts.

If you feel so inclined, take a few minutes to contact Universal Orlando to let them know what an effective park-wide food allergy training would mean to you and your family.

Disney World’s The Wilderness Lodge A Great Hotel For Those With Food Allergies

This summer my family and I were blessed enough to vacation at Walt Disney World.  In my opinion, Disney is fabulous in and of its own right, but the amazing vacation experience they provided to visitors (especially those with food allergies) is simply unparalleled.

For this trip, we stayed at The Wilderness Lodge (a favorite spot of ours as it is where my husband and I stayed when honeymooning in Disney World).  The hotel is like walking into a wilderness mansion where no detail is overlooked.  Everything from the building materials to the light fixtures adds to the overall experience.

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We ate at two establishments at Wilderness Lodge during our stay.  Our absolute favorite was a full-service restaurant (sit-down meal) at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  What an experience!  Where else can you get up mid-meal and do the Hokey Pokey and ride stick horses around the dining tables…and not get into trouble?  Pixie Lizzie, a friend and fabulous travel agent who understands food allergies firsthand, highly recommended this particular restaurant and I’m so thankful she did.  We did the dining plan and so our reservations were already set and my son’s food allergies and my gluten-free accommodations were already on record.

We were seated at Whispering Canyon Cafe in less than five minutes and the waiter said he would be bringing the chef to our table to discuss safe menu items…without me even mentioning we had food allergies.  Talk about having your ducks in a row!  Within minutes Sous Chef, Williere Justin, arrived at our table to discuss safe menu options for my son and I.  Mr. Justin was extremely knowledgeable and understanding and made it clear from the beginning that he would do whatever he could to ensure that my son and I had a fabulous dining experience. Never once did he act rushed or frustrated with our special orders (food allergy parents…you know what I mean).  Even more refreshing, was the spirit of fun in which Mr. Justin conducted himself.  He smiled always, laughed often, and was unfailingly kind.

My son ordered the quesadillas and enjoyed an indulgent fudge-filled chocolate cake topped with ice cream for dessert.  (And no I don’t have a picture of his dinner, because it really was consumed that fast!)  I was able to snap this picture of his dessert, even though he was already halfway through it when I took the picture.

The smile and enthusiasm on my son’s face gave me so much joy, I doubt I will ever fully be able to put into words the gift Mr. Justin gave our family that night.  I ordered roasted chicken, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and baked beans.

When I completed my order, Mr. Justin asked if I’d like some gluten-free cornbread with that.

When I paused and smiled at the thought of getting to indulge in my favorite gluten-free treat, he smiled and said, “You have to!  It’s vacation!”  For dessert, Mr. Justin made me a decadent crustless cheesecake.

 

All I can say is Y-U-M!  Both my son’s and my dinners were absolutely delicious.

My son and I left the restaurant that night with two “safe” breakfast muffins for in the morning.  And sadly, I have no pictures of those either because they disappeared even faster than my son’s dinner the night before.  The muffins were chocolate and a gluten-free grain muffin with chocolate chips, and were such a treat for breakfast the next morning!

Our dining experience at Whispering Canyon Cafe was one of the top dining experiences of our trip.  It was most definitely the perfect way to kick it off in style.

My absolute love and thanks to Sous Chef Williere Justin and his incomparable service to all diners and their right to a delicious, fun-filled dining experience.

Sir, Disney is truly blessed to have you on staff!!!

 

The second restaurant we visited at The Wilderness Lodge was Roaring Fork.  This is a counter-service meal for those of you utilizing the Disney meal plan.  I simply asked the manager on duty if he would be able to accommodate my son’s and my special dietary restrictions (we did not have a reservation) and he was more than happy to comply.  He reviewed our dining options with me verbally and then let me review ingredients lists for meals in an organized food allergy binder they keep on hand at the register.  It took less than five minutes to order and the manager personally prepared our meals to ensure our safety.  The meals were delivered quickly and were great.  My son ordered a flatbread pizza that didn’t last very long (aka…no I didn’t even have time to snap a picture). You work up quite an appetite walking all over Disney!  I ordered a turkey sandwich that was divine with a fabulous cucumber side salad.

The cucumber salad had great flavor and was one of my favorite side dishes of the trip!

Thank you Walt Disney World and The Wilderness Lodge for an amazing stay.  It just isn’t the same now that we are back at home.  We are already counting the days until our next trip!

 

Auggie Maturo An Ambassador for Mylan’s EpiPen® On Location™

A few weeks ago, I was blessed to attend a Mylan Blogger’s Summit in Disneyland.  Be looking for a future post to learn more about this summit and the things I learned and want to share with you.

One of our activities for the summit included an up close and personal look at Mylan’s EpiPen® On Location™ intiative with campaign ambassadors Auggie and Maha Maturo.

Auggie Maturo is a 7-year-old actor on “Girl Meets World,” that knows first-hand what it’s like to live with food allergies.  As a young child, he experienced anaphylaxis before being diagnosed with multiple life-threatening allergies.  Maha Maturo is Auggie’s mother.

The goal of Mylan’s EpiPen® On Location™ initiative is to help people with potentially life-threatening (severe) allergies and their caregivers understand the importance of avoiding allergic triggers and having access to two epinephrine auto-injectors, such as EpiPen® (epinephrine injection) Auto-Injectors, at all times — whether at home, school, work or on vacation.

I have to say, I am truly impressed with this mother-son duo, and not because anyone asked me to say so.  Maha is both endearingly kind and very down-to-earth.  Although she is a paid spokesperson for the EpiPen® On Location™ campaign, there is no denying her personal commitment to educating others about food allergies.

When listening to Maha, I felt as though I was chatting with a close friend over a cup of coffee.  Maha understands the triumphs and obstacles families with food allergies face today…and she knows what it is to walk in those shoes.

As an every day mother, I think of all the daily things I take into consideration for my own child’s allergies:  meals, activities with friends, school, travel, sports, and more.  Then I think of Maha doing each of those things for Auggie PLUS taking on Hollywood and all the food allergy obstacles that must come along with it.  Yet, the number one thing I picked up on when Maha spoke was her willingness to educate others with kindness and the opportunities those actions have afforded her family.

Maha and Auggie Maturo bottom center on front row *Photo Courtesy of Mylan*

Maha and Auggie Maturo bottom center on front row
*Photo Courtesy of Mylan*

Then, there is Auggie.  This is a truly an amazing kiddo that sounds so much wiser than his seven years.  Honestly, it was a joy to see this young man walk in a room and show the same kindness and wisdom his mother exhibits and see how that shapes his world view of food allergies.

Photo Courtesy of Mylan

 

Auggie is a child who loves lemonade, enjoys school and spending time with his family, and…oh yeah has multiple, life-threatening allergies.  Auggie most definitely does NOT let his food allergies define him and lives life with great gusto and enthusiasm.  He knows his allergies, understands the triggers, and still lives a very full life!

As the parent of a child it was a pleasure to visit with Auggie and I wish children living with food allergies across the globe could hear his message of positivity and perseverance!

But Auggie isn’t the only one with a life-saving message about food allergies, when you visit EpiPenOnLocation.com you can also read and watch testimonies given by Chef and Restaurant Owner Amanda Freitag and “Project Runway” Judge and Marie Clair Creative Director Nina Garcia.

To learn more about the campaign visit EpiPenOnLocation.com, and share the Ambassador videos to help spread the word.  In addition to sharing important information about anaphylaxis, participants could win a vacation to Walt Disney World® Resort from Mylan during the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival between Sept. 25 – Nov. 16, 2015. For each share include #OnLocationTips and #promo. Up to three shares per week will be counted as entries for the sweepstakes. For the official sweepstakes rules, visit www.epipen.com/EOLTC.

PhillySwirl Frozen Novelties A Friend To Those With Food Allergies

A few weeks ago, Brian at PhillySwirl contacted me to see if I’d be willing to try out a few of their products and then share my reviews with you, the reader.  Although PhillySwirl did send me the products to try at no cost to me, my reviews of this product are my own and my family’s own, honest reactions to these products.

My family and I live in Texas and gets downright HOT here in the summer months…and early fall too.  We are all about cold, frozen snacks that help lower our internal temperature a little bit.  I wouldn’t be totally honest here if I didn’t fess up that I’m a Blue Bell girl through and through (and will be again when they are up and running).  But that’s ice cream.

PhillySwirl falls into the Italian ices category, and boy, is it a delicious one!

There are three categories of these frozen novelties that I’ll be reviewing.  Brian told me all three of the items I sampled are free of the top 8 allergens and are made in a peanut and tree nut-free facility.  In addition, he said they are fat-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free and contain no high fructose corn syrup.

  • PhillySwirl Stix – swirled Italian ice bars
  • PhillySwirl Popperz – assorted Italian ice flavors in a squeeze up tube
  • PhillySwirl Candy Spoonz – classic Italian ice in a cup with lollipop-like candy spoons

The PhillySwirl Stix swirled Italian ice bars were fabulous and boasted a variety of flavors like cotton candy, very berry, orange dream, banana split, rainbow, and even a mystery flavor.  My kids (and husband) loved the flavors.

The PhillySwirl Popperz were also a hit.  I especially loved these…they brought back a lot of childhood memories!  My kids were equally fascinated with popping the flavored ice out as they ate it.

But hands down, the favorite in my family was the PhillySwirl Candy Spoonz. And when I say favorite, I mean they didn’t stand a chance.

My husband ogled the box first, our two kiddos were right behind him.  The box was gone in a matter of days.  And let me tell you…it was a monumental decision for them to decide what kind of spoon to have with their Italian ice…candy (a variety of flavors) or plain with no candy.  This box was open and devoured so fast, I never even had a chance to try one!

My favorite thing about all of these frozen novelties is that they have a burst of flavor but are generally a much lighter fare in terms of the “heaviness” of a snack.  It’s the perfect summer treat!

It is worth noting that not all PhillySwirl products are top 8 free as not all products are Italian ices.  For example, the Fudge Swirl Stix and Sweet Delites products do contain dairy.  As always, be sure to carefully read the ingredient label on each box.

I discovered in a subsequent visit to my H-E-B grocery store, that they carry some PhillySwirl products.  In fact, PhillySwirl is in a number of grocery stores.  Check out their listing here to find a retailer near you.

Bottom Line:  The rain here in Texas is finally subsiding and we have warm sunshine forecast for the entire week.  Somehow I think the PhillySwirl Italian ice products I reviewed above will be a welcome part of our “it’s almost summer” celebration.

Mylan Offers Free EpiPen 2-Pak® Carrying Case

My son carries the EpiPen 2-Pak® and we are big fans of Mylan (the maker of EpiPen) and their support of those with food allergies.

One of my favorite things Mylan is doing right now is the $0 Copay Card.  The card enables you to save on up to three EpiPen 2-Pak® or EpiPen Jr 2-Pak® cartons (with a maximum benefit of up to $100 per EpiPen 2-Pak®) every time you fill your prescription, now through December 31, 2015.

The card is incredibly easy to download.  I actually did it while sitting in the pharmacy parking lot before going in to get my EpiPen 2-Pak®.  It has saved me so much money and for that I am particularly thankful as most of you know firsthand, it is not inexpensive to live with food allergies or dietary restrictions.

Once you have your EpiPen 2-Pak®, you will need a way to carry it. While there are several different options available to you, with your registration on My EpiPen® (free) and while supplies last, you are eligible to receive a free EpiPen® 2-pack carrying case available in a variety of colors and patterns.

The cases look sporty enough for a kid to proudly carry and it has clips for easy attachment to belt loops, backpacks, and more.  But my favorite feature of the this carrying case isn’t the case at all, it’s all the information that comes with it.

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I simply love these allergy info cards that Mylan provides…all pre-punched for easy addition to key rings.

I also love these EpiPen® emergency contact information cards…also pre-punched for easy addition to key rings that come with the free carrying case.

When you register for My EpiPen® you will receive the free carrying case and information cards AND you will receive expiration date reminders via email, the My EpiPen® email newsletter, and My EpiPen® free emails and information.

My family and I are fans of Mylan because of their willingness to give back to the food allergy community they serve.  Their $0 Copay Card and free carrying case are just a couple of the reasons why.

Look for more information this summer on how Mylan is working to create awareness of food allergies and partnering with companies to provide families living with food allergies a better quality of life.

Disclosure:  While this information is readily available on the web, Mylan did discuss the above efforts at the Mylan Blogger Summit which was sponsored by Mylan, who paid for my travel related expenses related to my participation in the event.  I am not a paid spokesperson for Mylan and am not required to blog about anything for my attendance at the Mylan Blogger Summit.  My post above is a reflection of my personal view about the information Mylan presented.

Eating Fabulous, Affordable, and Gluten-Free at H-E-B

If you follow my blog, you know I am a HUGE fan of the H-E-B grocery store chain that we have here in more than 150 communities in Texas.  Not only do I think they have the best prices in town, I think they also have one of the largest selections.

When you or someone in your family has special dietary restrictions, it can make grocery shopping both expensive and limiting.  When I shop at my H-E-B, I thankfully find neither of those situations to be true.

When Scott McClelland, the President of H-E-B’s Houston and Central Market Division, stops to speak with you personally about gluten-free shopping and then offers you a bag of his favorite brand of gluten-free cookies on the house…well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.  Talk about customer service!

A few weeks ago, H-E-B reached out to me and asked if I would put together a gluten-free meal with products from their store (sponsored by them) to share with my readers in May for Celiac Awareness Month.  I jumped at the opportunity as I love to share my passion for finding great deals on fabulous tasting gluten-free products.  I want my readers to know that delicious gluten-free products don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

When thinking about what kind of meal to make, I thought about making a grand, fancy dinner but decided against it because at my house we are often so busy that time doesn’t allow for such meals.  Instead I wanted to share a complete meal that is still easy to throw together when you have only 15 minutes to get dinner on the table for your ravenous crew.

I finally decided on the menu:  chicken fajitas with all the fixings, seasoned pinto beans, and cupcakes for dessert!

Although my son does have food allergies, I am the only one at my house that eats gluten-free.  I enlisted my husband and son for grocery shopping and label reading.  H-E-B makes label reading a snap with their easily identifiable gluten-free symbol next to product price tags and on the products themselves.

Here’s what our cart looked like (please note that because I had shopping “helpers” not everything in this picture is gluten-free).

Here are all my gluten-free H-E-B brand goodies for our gluten-free dinner (although there are always quite a few their items in my cart each week):

It’s finally dinnertime!  Mexican food is this gluten-free girl’s absolute favorite!

And of course, no dinner is complete without dessert.  This part of the meal was a no-brainer because my family loves the H-E-B gluten-free brand baking mixes (vanilla cake, chocolate cake, brownies, and more).  My daughter decided we should definitely go with chocolate cupcakes…and so we did.  My brother-in-law joined us for dinner and said he couldn’t even tell the cupcakes were gluten-free.

There just don’t seem to be enough words to adequately tell H-E-B thank you for all they have done to easy the price and availability of gluten-free (and food allergy-friendly) shopping over the years.  You impact the way my family eats every day and I am so very grateful for all that you do for the celiac and food allergy community.

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

Courtesy of KFA and AAFA

Courtesy of KFA and AAFA

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.

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.

Courtesy of KFA and AAFA

Courtesy of KFA and AAFA

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 soon.  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!

 

2015 Food Allergy Awareness Week: Be Aware. Be Prepared. Don’t Scare.

Courtesy of KFA and AAFA

Courtesy of KFA and AAFA

Much of the below is part 1 of a series of posts I came up with to celebrate Food Allergy Awareness Week 2014.  And these posts and this slogan are so near and dear to my heart, I’m sharing it again this year with some updated information. Enjoy!

I’ve been contemplating my posts for Food Allergy Awareness 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.
  • Visit Kids with Food Allergies’ (KFA) for some great Food Allergy Awareness Week tools and resources.

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

  • Post a note of thanks on social media to those who make life with food allergies a little brighter.  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!