Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

On the Radio – Food Allergies: The Deadly Dish September 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 10:23 am

Image result for CBS radio logo

This summer, I visited our local fire department to learn more about how epinephrine is carried on ambulances [see Does Your Ambulance Carry Epinephrine?].

I discussed my findings – and surprise – with Megan Lynch, fellow food allergy parent and reporter for CBS Radio.  Megan created a series about food allergies with topics ranging from an introduction to and insights into the realities of living with food allergies to issues of concern to the food allergy community such as bullying and emergency care.

Megan and I discussed many things related to food allergies, but one subject that we circled back to was emergency response.  I shared with her what I had learned in my research and at the fire department.  In short: not every ambulance carries epinephrine and not all emergency medical personnel are authorized to use it even when it is present.  More than one medical professional I spoke with mentioned an unfortunate irony.  Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of heroin (and other opioid) overdose, is widely available (without a prescription in several states) and yet epinephrine is not universally available even to ambulances and EMTs to save the life of someone suffering anaphylaxis who may have accidentally eaten a trace amount of peanuts or milk, taken the wrong medication or been stung by a bee.


Narcan (by PunchingJudy via Flickr)

We spoke at length about the rising cost of EpiPens and the effect that has had on low-income families  [Read: The High Costs of High Prices: EpiPen’s Real Cost to Families].  Megan asked me what advise I had for lawmakers and for parents.

  1.  More transparency is needed so the public can understand why epinephrine isn’t available on all ambulances and to discuss how it could be; and more communication is needed to inform us where it is and isn’t so people can have appropriate expectations.
  2. Consider making epinephrine available to all emergency personnel and training them on its use.  (*Kudos to Illinois who joined several other states in allowing public venues to keep stock epinephrine (just as they do defibrillators) and for allowing the police to carry epinephrine.)
  3. I reminded parents to familiarize or RE-familiarize themselves with how to use their epinephrine auto-injectors and when to use them.  Train everyone who cares for your children as well: babysitters, family members, after school program managers… If you have a pre-teen or teenager, now is a great time to train their close friends on the signs of a severe allergic reaction and prep them on how to respond.
  4. Finally, carry your epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times.  Even when it’s inconvenient.  This is especially important to underscore to teenagers and college age students.  In a life-threatening situation, every minute counts.  Having epinephrine on hand is critical during anaphylaxis.

Check out Megan’s five part series about food allergies – it’s sure to be both interesting and informative.  Be sure to listen all five episodes, airing this week both on the radio and on the internet.

Listen on the radio (locally in the St. Louis area): KMOX NewsRadio 1120


Online at CBS Radio St. Louis

Food Allergies: The Deadly Dish – Part 1

Food Allergies: The Deadly Dish – Part 2

Food Allergies: The Deadly Dish – Part 3

Food Allergies: The Deadly Dish – Part 4

Food Allergies: The Deadly Dish – Part 5


No Bake, Almost Everything-free Granola Bars  September 20, 2016

Filed under: Recipes & Cooking — malawer @ 11:43 am

It’s only the third week of school and I’m not going to lie: packing school lunches are weighing me down.  Each day I struggle with not just what to pack each day but how to streamline the process so I can get the kids out the door on time.  After I make five meals inside 40 minutes (not to mention rounding up shoes and homework and instruments and sports equipment…), there isn’t time to think about baking safe snacks.  I’m exhausted just writing about it…


Food allergic families cannot often rely on convenient, pre-packaged foods like breakfast bars and snack bags due to unsafe ingredients or cross-contamination.  Here’s an easy no bake recipe for peanut-free, tree nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free and optionally gluten-free granola bars that you can make ahead of time and freeze for your child’s lunch box or a quick after school snack.  These granola bars are the perfect combination of salty and sweet; I dare you not to eat one once the kids jump on the bus!


No-Bake, Almost Everything-Free Chocolate Chunk Pretzel Granola Bars (Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan and optionally Gluten-Free)



Granola bars are traditionally hard to find without dairy or cross-contamination with nuts. And, gluten-free varieties are costly. These no-bake granola bars are as easy to make as they are to consume! Once made, you can wrap and freeze the bars so that they’re ready to pop into a lunchbox in the morning or into a hungry mouth in the afternoon.



¼ cup honey

¼ cup dairy-free butter

¼ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp Sunbutter or other safe peanut butter substitute

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 cups regular or gluten free quick oats

1 cup Rice Krispie cereal or Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice cereal (a gluten-free alternative)

1 cup pretzel or gluten free pretzel pieces

1 cup dairy free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks)



Place parchment paper in 9×13” baking pan.


In large bowl, combine oats, cereal, pretzel pieces and chocolate chips. Set aside.


Over low heat, melt honey and butter together. Remove from heat and whisk in brown sugar, Sunbutter and vanilla extract. Pour over dry mixture. Fold repeatedly to thoroughly coat dry mixture.


Pour contents of bowl into baking pan. Press down firmly and evenly to distribute the mixture. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour before cutting into squares or rectangles (like supermarket bought granola bars).


Wrap unused bars in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for best quality.




Always Allergy-Friendly Philly Swirl September 1, 2016

Filed under: Grocery and Supermarkets — malawer @ 12:00 pm

This is a sponsored post.


Summer’s not over yet!  I, for one, am riding out my free-wheeling, fun-loving summer mentality well into September.

Which is why we said “yes” to trying new PhillySwirl products that are always allergy-friendly and easy to share.


First, we shared PhillySwirl’s Lemonade Swirls with my kids and their playdates.  I’m a sucker for lemonade flavors.  My particular favorite was the Pomegranate pop, which offset the tartness of the lemonade with the gentle sweetness of pomegranate.  There are a few clever pairings, like Blueberry and Watermelon Lemonade pops.  But if you’re a classic combo person, you’ll be happy to know these come in Classic Lemonade, Strawberry and Lime.

Next, we handed out PhillySwirl’s Icee Mix It Up pops at our barbeque.  My daughter loved the Green Apple & Watermelon both for the flavor combination and the colors (she’s going through a pink thing!).  The Strawberry & Kiwi got rave reviews.  And the Red & White Cherry and Blue Raspberry & White Cherry flavors would have been perfect for our 4th of July party!

Finally, we sampled the Organic Jungle Swirls.  The interesting flavor combinations got my children’s attention.  But the organic and always allergy-free ingredients got mine!  These would be great for a post-game or a back-to-school classroom snack.  My son even wants me to bring these into school for his birthday treat – what a great, easy idea!

Gluten-free, peanut-free, dairy-free, and containing no high fructose corn syrup, it’s easy to say yes to PhillySwirl.