Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jovial Foods Tagliatelle: Review

I received some samples of Jovial Foods gluten-free pasta back in January, lasagna noodles and tagliatelle. Jovial Foods started making gluten-free items recently. They also make wheat-full pastas.

*Contact Jovial Foods directly to find out if they are safe for your needs. If you are unclear about your medical diagnosis, talk with your board certified medical provider about your diet and your personal needs.*

I’ve tried Jovial GF pasta before with wonderful results; they have a yummy product to be sure. This time around I loved the tagliatelle, the lasagna noodles less so.

 I quickly cooked up the lasagna, it’s the first lasagna I’ve made since 2005 when I cut wheat out of my diet as I was having some stomach issues (turns out I’m slightly wheat intolerant so I’ve maintained a wheat-free diet since then).

Sadly, over half of the lasagna pasta noodles were broken. I don't know if that's a function of shipping or of the GF-nature of lasagna noodles. Then when cooked, the noodles were fine, just not super spectacular, like I want to run out and make lasagna every week. That might be me though and not the noodles; maybe I'm no longer a lasagna person.

My patchwork of Jovial Foods GF lasagna noodles

The finished Jovial Foods GF pasta lasagna
Now the tagliatelle, I would use this product every week and serve it to friends and family. The nests of noodles were all intact and usable. Once cooked, the noodle is bouncy and light; it has the right texture, that eggy look and flavor. It cooked up perfectly. Overall, the tagliatelle is an excellent addition to Jovial Foods gluten-free family of pastas.

Is that a gorgeous plate of pasta!
 Thank you Jovial Foods for continuing to innovate with gluten-free noodles!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#IWNY Visit: Food52

Food 52 cookbooks one & two at their offices

During Internet Week New York 2013, my colleague Anna Curran of Cookbook Create - a site that helps you create custom cookbooks - lead an exclusive group of bloggers on a visit and on-site chat with the masterminds Merrill Stubbs & Amanda Hesser behind the brilliant Food52 site.

Food52’s first book quickly became one of my kitchen staples and I had already been using their recipe crowd sourced website awhile when Stacy Harwood, friend and fellow Bennington College MFA colleague, curator of the Best American Poetry’s blog and I made a video about hosting a food allergic person with a Food52 recipe for fried chickpeas. Here’s that video. (Music by James Carney.)

Food52’s first book is *not* a food allergy friendly focused book nor website; Food52 *is* focused on good solid recipes submitted by home cooks that, to my eyes and needs, are easily adaptable to a food allergic person’s needs.

Here’s part of the Food52 “manifesto”: We love spending time in the kitchen, and we believe that memorable cooking doesn't have to be complicated or precious. It's about discovering that frying an egg in olive oil over high heat gives the white a great crackly texture, that slashing the legs of a chicken before roasting allows the dark and white meat to cook evenly, that maple syrup adds not only sweetness but depth to an otherwise ho-hum vinaigrette. I wholeheartedly agree

Here’s even more about what Food52 does and who they are but really all you have to do is flip through Food52’s gorj food photos and read the recipes that have a “twist that makes it genius and unexpected” as Merrill says. It’s easy to see that you can make a lot of these recipes at home and safe for your needs.

Put on some jazz as I take you on a quick tour of Food52 and my afternoon with them.

A wall of kitchen tools and butterflies upon entry to the Food52 offices

Bookshelves in the Food52 offices from reclaimed wood, sourced in Queens, NY

A warm reception from Food52's Amanda in light blue, Merrill in black and Cookbook Create's Anna in purple


Merrill looking on at Food52 senior testers in their purpose-built test kitchen, all objets d'art are real and used


_MG_1868 - Version 2
The group looking on at demo of test kitchen, me in journalism mode, taking notes (This photo copyright Clay Williams)



Food52 knife rack

Tea and coffee station, with cubed brown sugar

Flowers on the Food52 walnut wood workstation

Thank you to Food52 and Anna Curran of Cookbook Create for the lovely afternoon.




Monday, May 27, 2013

KFA: Disaster Relief Committee

After Hurricane Sandy here in New York in October of 2012, there was a clear need for disaster relief and emergency supplies for the food allergic community. For example, very often peanut butter is sent in by the Red Cross as it’s nutritious, shelf stable and inexpensive. However for the millions of families coping with a severely peanut-allergic child, when hit with a natural disaster, displaced from homes and safe foods, a PB&J is the exact opposite of what they need. (Sunbutter or Soynut butter might be better alternatives). So I along with many of food allergy leaders and advocates have banded together to create a disaster committee to help get food allergy safe supplies to disaster zones:

"Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), has created a Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Readiness Committee that will address the needs of the twelve million people in the United States with food allergies, and the 20 million who suffer from asthma. With natural disasters on the rise, this committee will consult with national relief organizations to assist food banks and emergency response personnel with the special needs of adults and children with asthma and food allergies in the event of disaster, like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma."

You can read more about the committee here.

And you can read about to donate directly for the Moore, OK residents here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

CNN: Dining Out With Food Allergies

Today my article on dining out with food allergies was published on  CNN.com.

Here’s an excerpt:

Whether it's a special occasion or a Saturday night, for many Americans, dining out is one of life's great pleasures. However, for the millions of Americans with severe life-threatening food allergies, dining out can feel like a minefield. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the top eight foods that cause 90% of food allergic reactions are: dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts. However, anyone can be allergic to anything at any time. So how do you avoid your allergens without avoiding your life? Here are my top strategies for dining out with a severe, life-threatening food allergy -- keeping in mind that if at any point you don't feel heard, understood or safe, don't eat; never risk it.

Read more on CNN.com.




Monday, May 13, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: How To Play

As one who manages severe life threatening food allergies every day (and asthma, allergies and eczema), sometimes, on certain days, it can seems like I have to manage them every minute. I don’t actually but it can certainly feel like that; “No, I can’t eat that,” “No I can’t join you there,” No, that won’t work.” Nos, buts and howevers.

In this last decade of my adulthood, after a lifetime of Nos, I started to ask for more Yeses; asked for them, sought them out, even found them within a however. The more that I sought them out, the more they showed up, in abundance. And the more I found them, the more I challenged my food allergy counseling clients to seek them out as well.

And so I now I ask you: where are your places of ease, rest, joy and play?

This recent New York Times article underscores that human children learn by creating play. “Playing for All Kinds of Possibilities”: "Studies suggest that free, self-directed play in safe environments enhances resilience, creativity, flexibility, social understanding, emotional and cognitive control, and resistance to stress, depression and anxiety.

This last year, I’ve upped my adult "play" quotient by throwing myself into improvisational comedy and musical improv.  (Here’s a blog post about doing improv and here is a fun comedy video I made with musical improv maven and comedian, Rebecca Vigil.)  In a few weeks, my improv team will perform somewhere in NYC; it'll be invigorating, playful and have nothing to do with the part of my brain that manages food allergies. Don’t worry, my teammates are all well aware of my food allergy needs. But see, see! Even that is part of my point: when it can feel like every, every moment is managing a life with a chronic disease, everyone needs a break, a time for the brain to play in safe[r] space.

I’ve created several safe spaces in my life to play, learn, grow and relax.

What's an activity that stretches you/your family emotionally or physically outside of food allergies and into a playful, fun, free zone?

***

Have no idea where to even start? Need ideas, help, assistance or support finding that safe place to play while managing food allergy risk? Please contact me about food allergy counseling today.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Counter, NYC


Recently, I was invited to try out the new gluten-free menu at The Counter in Times Square. I  had a long chat with both the general manager and Chef Eddy about how they handle severe life-threatening food allergies (here are their online allergen policies and listings) as well as food intolerances and gluten-free requests. Satisfied with my conversation with The Counter Burger in Times Square team, I taste tested beef burger and bison burger on Udi’s Gluten-Free buns. All was delish!

Some specifics about The Counter in Times Square:

The restaurant does not serve peanuts or tree nuts in the main entrees.  There is peanut butter at the bar to make milkshakes and there is Nutella also for one dessert item.
-Always remind your bartender about your food allergic needs, as well.

They have a Mahi-mahi “burger” – it’s cooked in a pan; the burgers and marinated chicken are cooked on the grill.
-Great news for those burger lovers who are also fish allergic, like me. Double check with your The Counter outpost.

When an allergy order is made, one cook handles the entire order from beginning to end, including starting with a fresh pair of gloves.

One of the fryers at The Counter in Times Square is dedicated to fries only (gluten-free).
-Nice; however I didn't try.

They use soybean oil to fry their fries.
-Soy-allergic people, ask your doctor about soybean oil and your food allergy needs.

The Counter in Times Square's desserts are made off-site, therefore no allergen-free options there.
-Desserts tend to me an allergic minefield and I rarely if ever eat dessert out.

Right now, they are using buns made by Udi’s Gluten-Free.
-Double check with the chef or manager at your The Counter outpost. When I was at The Counter in Times Square, they had a copy of the Udi’s label ready to have a look in a binder. Great job and excellent disclosure!

Here’s a picture of my delicious The Counter in Times Square beef burger and bison burger. Yes, I ate both; I was at a tasting and they were both delicious!



The Counter in Times Square burgers and Udi’s Gluten-Free bun brought separately for my ease
I split the bun and had one burger on each half - so good!

Chef Eddy and GM Nelson couldn’t have been nicer, they walked me through every menu item, ingredients and sub-ingredients, were kind, patient and happy to help and I’ll be happy to go back!

Thank you, The Counter
7 Times Square
(41st & Broadway)
New York NY 10036
212 997 6801

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Recipe: Spiced Chickpeas, Roasted Vegetables & Knife Giveaway

Vegan, top 8 allergen-free goodness

Spiced Chickpeas

1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 T olive oil (or a neutral oil of your choice)

A mixture of cumin, sweet paprika, turmeric, cayenne, Kosher salt and pepper  - to taste

In a large skillet, warm the tablespoon of olive oil for 30 seconds, then add a sprinkle of each spice to your taste. Lightly toast the spices for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the drained chickpeas and warm through. Easy and yum!

I paired the chickpeas in the picture above with a roasted sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and baby broccoli. The technique for roasted is equally easy. Here’s a breakdown about the basics of roasting veggies on Salon.com.

Roasted vegetables

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Rinse, pat dry (with a paper or kitchen towel) and top and tail your veggies and halve or cut in smaller, uniform pieces. Place pieces on one layer in a pan, sprinkle liberally with olive oil (or an neutral oil of your choice), Kosher salt and pepper. Place in hot oven and roasted until caramelized and yum, about 45 minutes or until soft and fragrant.

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CONTEST NOW CLOSED

Join me today, May 7, 2013 on my Allergic Girl Facebook page for a chance to win the Wüsthof 3.5 inch paring knife with serrated edge that I used to prep all these lovely veggies. Contest rules: leave a comment on my Allergic Girl Facebook page telling me what veggies you'd like to cut with this fab knife. The contest is open for 24 hours from 9:45am EST on May 7, 2013, winners will be picked using random.org and the contest is limited to United States residents.

Wüsthof 3.5 inch paring knife

Friday, May 03, 2013

Dairy-Free Buttercream: Video with Rebecca Vigil

If you’ve been reading this blog since last year, you’ll have noticed that I started doing improvisational comedy these last twelve months at The People’s Improv Theater in New York City. It’s expanded my mind and my self in ways I didn’t even know I needed or wanted. I wrote about it here in this post, "Yes And".

Part of my training has been to do musical improv, where you make up an entire musical based on audience suggestion. Thrilling and terrifying all at once and a lot of fun. One night, at The People’s Improv Theater, I saw Rebecca Vigil perform with her improv rock band (yes, totally) and was hooked on what Rebecca Vigil and The Vigilante does. NB some of what she sings about is NSFW nor G-rated but it’s all fun. If you have a chance to catch her group The Vigilante or her part in Broadway’s Next Hit Musical – go go go!

Now, musical improvisational comedy genius Rebecca Vigil has started doing a cooking show on YouTube, with writing by Josh Hurley.

A Cooking Show with Rebecca Vigil
 
I was honored to join her on her show. We made dairy-free buttercream (the recipe is here). But we needed to frost something, so I made cupcakes using King Arthur Gluten-Free chocolate cake mix pictured below.

Offset knife icing the cupcakes

You can see all four of the dairy-free buttercream ingredients to my left, in the picture below. That huge bottle of Tahitian vanilla was sent to me by Nielsen-Massey - thank you for the vanilla love Nielsen-Massey

The recipe is so easy, we had to laugh!
 Here we are in-between shots.

Rebecca's hair is like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, no really.


Here’s the finished comedy video, YouTube fun for the whole family. All of the music is by Rebecca Vigil and remember: the recipe is real, the comedy bits are just for fun:


Buttercream + Rebecca + me = allergen-friendly fun!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Dairy-Free ButterCream Frosting: Recipe

Buttercream recipe from Domino Confectioner’s Sugar

In the last few years I’ve used baking mixes by the King Arthur’s Gluten-Free line to finish off a dinner party. Made in a dedicated, top eight allergen free facility the King Arthur Gluten-Free mixes are delish and my guests never know the difference. (NB: you have to add eggs to many of the mixes; however, there are instruction on substitutions on the King Arthur site).

And I’m lactose intolerant, not dairy allergic - here's a link about the differences. However, when I have dinner parties, very often I have guests who are: dairy allergic, dairy intolerant, soy allergic, soy intolerant, gluten intolerant, wheat allergic and/or kosher which means no dairy with meat - or any combination therein. So ensure that everyone can join the party, I make dairy-free buttercream to top those delicious King Arthur’s Gluten-Free cake, cupcakes or create frosting filled chipwiches.

King Arthur’s Gluten-Free chocolate cupcakes


I first was introduced to this dairy-free buttercream concept by dairy-allergic Heidi of Brooklyn Allergy Mom blog. After I saw her make her version, I realized it was very close to the Domino’s recipe on the box with two substitutions, rice milk and organic palm shortening.

After you make substitutions to fit your needs, the most vital ingredient is the vanilla, especially as the sugar, rice milk and palm shortening are relatively flavorless. You want, need, to get the best vanilla you can. I used Tahitian Vanilla sent to me by Nielsen Massey. Here’s more about vanilla and Nielsen Massey and their allergen statement. And here’s a post about choosing vanilla from Huffington Post

There's the Tahitian Vanilla on the right in the cream & aqua bottle


Here’s the recipe on the box of Domino Confectioner’s Sugar with my substitutions in parentheses:

***

Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Domino's Sugar

3 3/4 cups - (1 lb. box) Domino® Confectioners Sugar
1/2 cup - butter softened (Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening)
3 to 4 tablespoons – milk (Rice Milk)
1 teaspoon - vanilla extract (Tahitian Vanilla by Nielsen Massey)

***

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: Speaking at Montclair Health Department


May 6, 2013 I'll be speaking in New Jersey. Come join us!

From the Montclair Health Department:


In recognition of Food Allergy Awareness Week the Montclair Health Department will host a discussion with author Sloane Miller on “Living with Food Allergies,” Monday, May 6, 7:00 p.m., in the Montclair Municipal Building Council Chambers, 205 Claremont Avenue. Ms. Miller, who wrote the book Allergic Girl: Adventures of Living Well with Food Allergies, will talk about her experiences as a food lover with multiple food allergies.

Ms. Miller is a licensed psychotherapeutic social worker who has a private counseling practice that focuses on helping people with food allergies live well. She author will have signed copies of her book available for purchase.


Please call the Health Department to reserve your seat 973-509-4974.