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.


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.


-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.


  • 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!

Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week

Today begins Food Allergy Awareness Week!  Some will celebrate their family or friend living with food allergies and pay acknowledgement to the struggles they face each day.  Some will fundraise for their local FARE walk so there will be more funding for education, advocacy, and research.  Some will simply use this opportunity to educate others about food allergies.

For my family, we are celebrating my son and his success at not letting food allergies define him!  He lives every day with a smile and seldom, if ever, complains about his diagnosis.

To kick off Food Allergy Awareness Week, The Food Allergy Mom Team registered for the Houston FARE walk.  Want to support us?  Visit our fundraising page here.

What will you do this Food Allergy Awareness Week?  Need a few ideas?

  • Register for your local FARE walk
  • Make a donation to support a friend walking for FARE
  • Make a new allergy-friendly recipe for your loved one
  • Write your state representatives to let them know you need their support with food allergy legislation
  • Give your family/friend with food allergies a hug and tell them they are loved

Want to educate others with some fast food allergy facts?  Check out the below statistics and visit FARE for some fantastic resources and tools for food allergy awareness to share with others.

  • 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy. That’s two in every classroom.
  • Every 3 min, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER – that’s more than 200,000 visits per year
  • Eight foods account for the majority of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish
  • Food allergies can begin at any age and affect children and adults of all races and ethnicity. Learn more:
  • The number of people with food allergies is growing, increasing 50% among children between 1997-2011

How are you participating in Food Allergy Awareness Week?  Please comment below and on our Facebook and Twitter pages to share.

It’s World Asthma Day: Where Is Your City On The 2015 Asthma Capitals™ Report?

Today is World Asthma Day.  My son lives both with multiple food allergies and asthma and so the folks at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and their work are very important to us.

Courtesy of AAFA

Courtesy of AAFA

Check out the below report which ranks the most 100 challenging cities to live in the U.S. with asthma.  Is your city on the list?  Wondering what you can do?  Check out the below press release and learn more.

Thank you to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for all they do!


Reprinted with permission from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Memphis, TN, is Named the New 2015 Asthma Capital™, but Asthma Can be Controlled Everywhere, Everyday

Today, on World Asthma Day, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released the 2015 Asthma Capitals report which ranks the 100 most challenging cities to live in the United States with asthma. The report looks at 13 critical factors relating to asthma prevalence, environmental conditions and healthcare utilization. Asthma is
a chronic inflammatory disease of the large and small airways of the lungs causing wheezing, coughing and other symptoms that make it difficult to breathe. But with proper diagnosis, treatment and care, people with asthma can successfully manage their asthma to prevent and control symptoms, lessen the severity of attacks, improve lung function and breathe better no matter where they live.

Memphis, TN, is the #1 Asthma Capital this Year
Several significant factors contributed to Memphis’ #1 spot this year such as poor air quality, inadequate public smoking bans, high reliance on asthma medications and many emergency room visits for asthma. The top twenty-five most challenging cities to live in with asthma this year are:
1. Memphis, TN
2. Richmond, VA
3. Philadelphia, PA
4. Detroit, MI
5. Oklahoma City, OK
6. Augusta, GA
7. Knoxville, TN
8. Chattanooga, TN
9. New Orleans, LA
10. Chicago, IL
11. Indianapolis, IN
12. New Haven, CT
13. Fresno, CA
14. Providence, RI
15. Tulsa, OK
16. Atlanta, GA
17. McAllen, TX
18. Dayton, OH
19. Allentown, PA
20. Cleveland, OH
21. Louisville, KY
22. Milwaukee, WI
23. Springfield, MA
24. Toledo, OH
25. Jacksonville, FL
To view the full list of 100 Asthma Capitals and the ranking methodology, visit

“Each year for our report, we look at the largest cities across the country and measure the things that people with asthma care about the most,” says Mike Tringale, AAFA Senior Vice President of External Affairs and principal investigator for the report. “Obviously we look at pollen, pollution, and ozone because nature affects adults and kids with asthma. But we also look at poverty, uninsured rates and city smoking bans because public policies matter too,” said Tringale. “Communities can press release work to make progress on many of these factors and we want our report to provide communities with a blueprint for change.”

“The good news about asthma today is that it can be controlled in patients regardless of where they live,” says Tringale, “and having a serious conversation with your doctor is the first step.” The U.S. asthma care guidelines from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (NHLBI) emphasize the importance of assessing and monitoring patients with asthma, education, avoidance of environmental triggers and proper medication. The NHLBI guidelines recommend a “stepwise” approach to asthma treatment which begins with a daily inhaled corticosteroid, also called a “controller,” which is the cornerstone of modern asthma management for adults and kids. Good care also includes having emergency inhaler medication – a “quick-relief” inhaler – on-hand when needed. The Asthma Capitals report also looks at medication usage by patients across the country and identifies which cities have higher or lower asthma medication utilization.

The Asthma Capitals report is an independent research project of AAFA sponsored this year by Teva Respiratory and QVAR® (beclomethasone dipropionate HFA) Inhalation Aerosol. QVAR® is an inhaled corticosteroid used in the ongoing treatment of asthma as preventative therapy. It works by helping to reduce airway inflammation. QVAR® has small particles of asthma medicine that are designed to reach the large and small airways, where asthma inflammation exists.

Raising Awareness on World Asthma Day and Everyday
AAFA raises awareness about asthma and provides education and support for the 25.9 million Americans living with this disease. The prevalence of asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups. Each year, asthma accounts for more than 8 million doctor visits and 479,000 hospitalizations; and the annual cost of asthma is estimated to be $56 billion. These statistics prove one thing – there is a need for better asthma control.

For the past twelve years, AAFA’s Asthma Capitals report has served as a checklist for cities to identify the political, environmental and healthcare implications of asthma. The Foundation is pleased that this “blueprint” has made both a national and local impact. From inquiries about what can be done to improve the outcomes of asthma in some areas, to the development of new technologies to reduce the burden of asthma in others, the Asthma Capitals is paving the way to protect the quality of life for asthma patients, and improve the economic effects it has on the nation as a whole.

Get Educated and Get Treated

There are more than 3,300 deaths each year due to asthma, many of which are avoidable with proper treatment and care. Patients need to visit with their doctor to develop an asthma action plan to help prevent, manage and control their asthma symptoms. Working closely with a doctor ensures that patients are receiving the best personalized care. In addition to learning behaviors that minimize the risks of experiencing asthma symptoms, patients can learn about all of the available treatment options.

There is no cure for asthma, but asthma can be managed with proper prevention and treatment. Visit with your doctor to discuss the best treatment method for you.

About AAFA
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the leading national nonprofit consumer and patient organization dedicated to fighting asthma and allergic diseases. AAFA provides free information to the public, offers educational programs to consumers and health professionals, leads advocacy efforts to improve patient care, and funds research to find treatments and cures.

Showing Thanks for Teacher Appreciation Week

If you have a child with food allergies that goes to preschool, day care, elementary, middle, or high school, THIS is the week to give thanks to your child’s teachers (and school nurses) for all they do to protect our kiddos on a weekly basis.

Every July as I’m completing the bazillion and a half forms required for my son to go to school, I begin to pray for my child’s teachers and school nurse.  That they will:

  • Have a special heart to care for my son and be a good steward of his health
  • Know the proper emergency action plan and be able to implement if necessary
  • Recognize my son is like any other student in the classroom and will not let food allergies define him

Regardless of all my intense preparation and planning I’ve done with teachers, nurses, and faculty, it is never an easy thing to entrust my child to someone who will be caring for my child five days a week and trust that she/he will care for him like you do.  Yet, it is a part of growing up…for us and our children.

This week, take a few minutes to do a small act of kindness for a teacher (school, Sunday School, swim, ballet, gymnastics…you get the picture) who truly loves and cares for your child and their unique food allergies.

Need some fun and inexpensive ideas?  Here are a few:

  • Bring school supplies for the classroom
  • Bake your child’s favorite food allergy-friendly treat and share with the teacher
  • Bring a small potted plant or fresh flowers
  • Have your child write a note or make a special drawing for their teacher
  • Write a note of thanks for all the teacher does to take care of and teach your child
  • Write a note to senior school staff to let them know what a great job your child’s teacher is doing
  • Donate a children’s food allergy book such as Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel to your teacher’s classroom

Your words of thanks and acts of appreciation for teachers do more to raise awareness of food allergies than you could ever possibly know!  Better yet, you are paying it forward for the next child with food allergies comes through this teacher’s class.

Do you have something special you do to celebrate your child’s teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week?  Be sure to share here or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Frenemy Jane, The Sometimes Friend: A Book Review

One of my most favorite children’s authors on the face of the planet is Stephanie Sorkin.  She has the unique ability to appeal to and comfort parents and children alike because she writes with her heart.

And when I say heart, I mean it…Sorkin donates a portion of, if not all, proceeds to organizations that actively work on behalf of children’s issues.

To date, Sorkin has released three children’s books:  Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel, Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces, and Frenemy Jane, The Sometimes Friend.

Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel is a precious tale about a squirrel with food allergies and his friends.  Sorkin graciously donates 100% of the author proceeds from this book to F.A.R.E., an organization dedicated to food allergy research and education.  If you aren’t familiar with this particular title, be sure to read my review here.

A portion of the author proceeds from Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces, a book about a boy who finds himself accidentally wearing chocolate shoes, goes to Soles4Souls, an organization that supplies new and gently used shoes to those in need both domestically and abroad.

In 2015, Sorkin released Frenemy Jane, The Sometimes Friend, a children’s book about bullying.  A portion of the author proceeds are donated to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.

Her heart for helping children with the words she writes and book proceeds puts her a step above the rest in my book.

Stephanie was so kind to forward me a copy of Frenemy Jane, The Sometimes Friend and I’m so honored to share my review here with you.

Frenemy Jane is a story about a young girl named Maddie who thinks she is friends with Jane until she realizes that Jane is only a “sometimes” friend.  Rather than the book telling a child exactly what to do about bullying, it opens the dialogue between parents and children so that they can come to a solution TOGETHER!

The book is relatively short, but extremely well-written and is easy for children to understand.  The illustrations, by Susan Robinson, are soft in color and beautifully done.  The book closes with a list of classroom discussion questions and a recipe for Smiley Face Cupcakes, with some suggested modifications for those with food allergies.

I truly love the way Sorkin opens a conversation on bullying with her story and supplements the book classroom discussion questions.  She addresses the issue of bullying, encourages students to troubleshoot together, and then introduces cupcake decorating as a team building activity.

My 7-year-old daughter thoroughly enjoyed the book and decided to read it to her “class” that afternoon when playing teacher.  And I even caught my 11-year-old son listening in as she read it.

I very highly recommend Frenemy Jane, The Sometimes Friend and think it will make a wonderful addition for your home, classroom, Sunday school, local library, and so, so much more.  Even better, your purchase of this book will touch the lives of the children it is read to and the lives of children helped by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.  It’s simply a win-win.

The BEST news is that Stephanie Sorkin is giving away one copy of Frenemy Jane, The Sometimes Friend.  To be eligible, leave a comment here on this post letting me know which of Stephanie’s books listed above sounds like it might strike a chord with you and why.  One comment will be chosen at random and the author will receive a free copy of Sorkin’s newest book, Frenemy Jane, The Sometimes Friend.  The winner will be announced here on this post and on Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday, May 6th.



ZEGO Bars: A Product Review

I love to read about new allergy-friendly products.  Sometimes it’s a product that’s not for me, or one I’m already familiar with, but every now and then there is a product that is new-to-me and intrigues me.

Such was the case when I came across ZEGO Bars.

And with a description like the following that can be found on ZEGO’s website, who wouldn’t be interested?  “Allergen friendly protein bars made without peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg, and gluten.  Great for nut free schools.  Organic.  Vegan.  Kosher.  Low-glycemic.  Celiac, Diabetic, Paleo, and Macrobiotic friendly.  Each batch tested for cross contact.  Made on shared equipment.  See Allergen page for more.  Contains coconut.”  It’s also worth noting that ZEGO donates a portion of every purchase to improve nutrition for low-income kids.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Allergen page referenced in the above quote from Zego’s website states the following, “ZEGO bars are crafted without the most common allergenic ingredients.  Our shared facility has careful allergen control procedures to minimize cross contact with peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, egg and seeds which are processed on the same equipment as ZEGO bars.  We also take the extra safety step of testing each batch for the allergens below and linking the results to each bar so you can decide if ZEGO bars are right for you.”

I quickly contacted ZEGO bars to learn more about their product and asked if they would send me a few bars to sample and review (for consumption of the product as much as checking out the testing standards they use).

Colleen Kavanagh, CEO and Co-Founder of ZEGO, was kind enough to quickly send me two ZEGO bars (Chocolate and Sunflower) for review.  The delivery and customer service were exceptional!

Before opening the bars, I wanted to check out the individualized allergen testing results for each bar.  Both the chocolate and sunflower ZEGO bars came with a Z-Code on the front of the package.  I used a QR code app on my phone to find out the allergen testing results for my specific ZEGO bars.  The allergens tested by ZEGO are:  gluten, peanuts, dairy, almonds, soy, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, walnut, cashews, egg, and GMOs.  However, my specific batch of bars also tested for the presence of sesame.

Here is what a sample of test results looks like.

Both of my bars showed no measurable amount of most of the allergens, but not all.  The testing results did yield a presence of almond and sesame.  My son has life-threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and chickpea/garbanzo so for those reasons the bars are not something I felt comfortable with him consuming.

I have celiac disease and the bars did not show any measurable amount of gluten.  So I, my husband, and daughter (hubby and daughter have no allergies) tried them.  I’m sorry to say that taste and texture of the bars did not agree with my husband’s or my personal preferences.  That said, my 7-year-old daughter did think the bars were “good.”

When I contacted Colleen about the presence of almond in the bars I received, she said she plans to meet with the manufacturer to discuss where the cross contact originated.  As for the sesame, ZEGO does not claim their bars to be sesame-free but simply added the test as a courtesy to consumers who may be living with a sesame allergy.

As the mother of a child with food allergies, I certainly appreciate ZEGO’s efforts to be transparent in the allergen testing of their products.  What a wonderful feeling it would be to scan the wrapping of a food your child is eating and instantly know if there is any measurable amount of an allergen present.  Talk about peace of mind!

While I am thankful for their hard work on behalf of those with food allergies and others with dietary restrictions,  ZEGO bars is not something that I feel is a good fit for my family.

It is worth noting that Colleen did offer that the chocolate and suflower ZEGO bars are the two flavors the company launched with, but that they will be introducing two more bars in the fall with a different taste profile and texture.

Colleen and her staff are currently working within the food industry to encourage transparency beyond just ingredient labels and encourage other companies to begin offering allergen testing results directly to the consumer.  I wish them the very best of luck and can’t wait to see how it will transform the food allergy community!