Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Festive and Fun Snacks – Halloween Edition October 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 11:15 am

With only three more days until Halloween, I can barely contain my excitement.  I love getting creative with safe Halloween food for our annual Trick-or-Treating party.


In addition to the seasonal pumpkin seeds (see recipes for The Classic and Salty Sweet here) as well as the Skull and Crossbones Jello Bites, I also included a savory Black Bat Chip and Vampire Salsa Dip.  Sometimes, festive is all about presentation!




But my favorite treat of all were my peanut-free, tree nut-free, sesame-free, dairy-free Marshmallow Dippers.  True, these could be made for any occasion.  In fact, because we liked them so much, I may make them for ALL future occasions!  And, they couldn’t be easier.



Fun & Festive Marshmallow Dippers from Allergy Shmallergy

Fun & Festive Marshmallow Dippers



Large sized marshmallows
Coffee Stirrers
Dairy-free chocolate chips
crushed graham crackers
crushed salted pretzels
crushed oreos
coconut flakes


Prepare marshmallows by inserting coffee stirrers into one end until almost through the other end.  Place your preferred topping or toppings in a shallow dish.


Place 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave again for 30 more seconds.  Stir and continue as needed until the chocolate chips are melted.


Dip the lower half or third of marshmallow skewers into chocolate to coat.  You may find it easier to twirl the marshmallow in the bowl of a spoon filled with chocolate.  Immediately dip each chocolate covered marshmallow into your topping of choice.  Place on foiled covered tray.  Repeat with remaining marshmallows.  Once complete, place marshmallows in the freezer to set.




These were so incredibly good!  My 8 year old loved the colorful, sprinkled varieties.  My personal favorite was the pretzel covered.  My husband loved “The Reverse S’more” – the chocolate dipped marshmallow covered in graham cracker crumbs.  We’re planning on making these again on Halloween using orange-colored frosting instead of chocolate to suit my oldest son’s taste buds.  It’s clear that these are going to become a new obsession for us.



I want to see photos of your Halloween table and hear about all the safe snacks you come up with!  Please leave a comment or shoot me an email with photos!  Happy Halloween everyone!




Halloween Snacks: Safe and Perfect for the Classroom or Party October 27, 2016


I had so much fun prepping for our Day of the Dead themed Halloween party!  Not only was it fun to lay out the decorations and style the table, but I loved coming up with fun and festive food to serve.


I planned carefully to create snacks that reflect the season and are fun – food that fits right in the spirit of Halloween!  The Halloween table – like all dining tables – is meant for everyone to be included – for me, fun, festive and inclusive food is especially important because my oldest son’s food allergies sometimes leave him without a candy option as he trick-or-treats.  As such, I needed to serve things that are food allergy-friendly.  And themed, safe food can be hard to come by.


First, I put our pumpkin innards (“pumpkin guts”) to good use.  We scooped and separated out the seeds. In a bowl filled with water, we strained out the rest of the pumpkin core and dried the seeds in a kitchen towel.


Above, you’ll see two versions of pumpkin seeds – both are nearly everything-free.



The Classic:img_5770

Pumpkin seeds (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
2 Tablespoons dairy-free butter, melted
pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 F degrees.


With your pumpkin seeds already in a bowl, pour the melted butter substitute over the seeds and stir to combine.

Arrange the seed mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast the seeds slowly, stirring occasionally.  At 25 minutes, add salt.  Roast for another 15-20 minutes, bringing the total roasting time to approximately 40-45 minutes.



Salty Sweet Pumpkin Seeds:img_5775


1 1/2 – 2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons dairy-free butter
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.


Combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

With your pumpkin seeds already in a bowl, pour the melted butter substitute over the seeds and stir to combine.

Arrange the seed mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast the seeds slowly, stirring occasionally.  At 15 minutes, add sugar mixture and stir.  Roast for another 20-30 minutes, bringing the total roasting time to approximately 40-45 minutes.



Next, I threw together some easy, no-brainer jello.  Good ol’ fashioned jello.  But check these out…


…using the Skull and Crossbones mold, I made fun shapes that my kids gobbled down.  Tip:  spray the inside of the mold with cooking spray before pouring in the jello.  Use a little less liquid than recommended to keep the jello firm.  My larger sized box called for 2 cups of water – I used 1 1/2 cups instead.


And, finally, my favorite snack of all….  Stay tuned!  It’s worth the wait!


Day of the Dead Halloween Party October 25, 2016

Disclaimer: Allergy Shmallergy received these goods in exchange for an honest review.  I only feature products that I use myself and believe would be useful to the food allergy community.


Trick or Treat banner from Oriental Trading



Halloween is almost here!  I hope you are all busy painting and decorating your teal pumpkins.  Teal pumpkins are a great way to let food allergy families know that you support them by offering non-food treats.  And by now, you all know that Oriental Trading has an enormous selection of non-food treats to fill your Halloween buckets.  These trick-or-treat items have a huge impact on kids with food allergies who often cannot collect almost any candy.  Food allergic kids can feel very left out at Halloween which is why it’s important to find ways for everyone to have fun safely.


My middle son sporting a pair of glow in the dark vampire fangs…

[Oriental Trading supports the Teal Pumpkin project.  Check out their Halloween selection here.]


And, don’t forget to check their coupon page (you never know!):  Oriental Trading Coupon & Promo Page


We have a tradition of hosting an annual Halloween party at our house.  I began this as a way of ensuring that my son had plenty to eat and lots to celebrate when he was a young trick-or-treater.  Initially, he was allergic to so many foods that I couldn’t find a single candy he could enjoy safely.


I’m happy to report that he has since outgrown a few allergies.  Most candy is still off limits to him.  But surrounded by great friends at a pre-trick-or-treat dinner and post-candy-swap, he doesn’t mind.   Every year, the party grows and grows to include more families and more fun!


This year, I’ve create a Day of the Dead themed Halloween table.


The playful patterns and colorful sugar skulls dress up any table.  Check out the cups!



I couldn’t resist these plates and napkins – so I infused a little of the traditional Halloween with the addition of these irresistible black and white plates and napkins.



Just like an outfit, accessories can make a table.  This sugar skull bowl and small skulls were a great addition to the black and whites at play.


Are you looking at this table runner?!  You can’t quite tell from the photos, but it has spiders at the center of the webs and glitters in the light.  And, that pumpkin?!  I’ll be using it on my table through Thanksgiving!



I also picked out this silicone mold – which can be used for ice or to dress up snacks!



Here’s a list of the items I used to create my Day of the Dead Halloween table:


Day of the Dead Candy Dish

Glittered Spider Table Runner

Foam Orange Pumpkin

Skull & Crossbones Ice Cube Tray


“Trick or Treat” Halloween Cardboard Pennant Banner

Spider Web Dinner Plates

Large Polka Dots Dessert Plates

Boo Beverage Napkins

Day of the Dead Disposable Cups

Glow-in-the-Dark Vampire Teeth

Colorful Halloween Spider Rings

Day of the Dead Skull Wall Decoration



Now that the table – and the mood – are set, stay tuned later this week to see what I’m serving!











Okay, I Give… What is Aquafaba? October 24, 2016

Filed under: Grocery and Supermarkets — malawer @ 10:43 am
Tags: , ,


I keep hearing about this wünder-ingredient called aquafaba.  Aquafaba is showing up everywhere these days from cooking shows to fitness magazines.  People are obsessing over it.  It’s clearly the hot new thing, the ingredient du moment … which admittedly made me want to ignore it for a little while.


But after all of this exposure, I’ve been worn down!  I give… What is aquafaba?


Aquafaba is the thick liquid that forms as a result of soaking or cooking legumes (such as beans) for a while.  You know the viscous liquid you find in canned chickpeas?  That’s aquafaba!  And to think most of us have probably just poured it right down the drain.


As it turns out, aquafaba is one of the best egg substitutes, swapping for eggs in everything from meringues and mayonnaise to waffles, cappuccinos and cocktails.



How do you use it?

If the aquafaba is already fairly thick, you can begin using it right from the can.  Otherwise, you may wish to reduce the water to thicken the liquid on the stove (by no more than 25%).

Substitute Amounts:

1 Tablespoon aquafaba = 1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp aquafaba = 1 egg white
3 Tbsp aquafaba = 1 whole egg


I finally understand why aquafaba is blowing up in vegan circles.  It will be fabulous as a substitute for those allergic to eggs.  Start playing with it and send me your best concoctions!  I can’t wait to hear how it’s being used!


Now, I’m off to make chocolate chip cookies – egg-free!  (And, I may or may not be eating the dough with a spoon…it IS worry-free, afterall!)




What Does it Feels Like to Live with Food Allergies? October 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — malawer @ 5:30 pm

If you don’t have food allergies, it’s hard to fully understand what it’s truly like to live with them.  Even as the parent of a food allergic child, I sometimes forget how hard it is to face this life threatening and socially stigmatizing disease every day.


On Monday morning, all it took was french toast to remind me.


My husband had gotten all the kids dressed and ready and ushered them to our favorite breakfast spot in town.  By the time I met them, everyone had ordered and was eagerly awaiting their meal.  My oldest son – who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds and dairy – departed from his usual breakfast and ordered french toast.  He loves french toast – especially the kind with cinnamon sprinkled into the batter.  We almost always have to custom order this: first looking to see if the bread is safe, double checking that there is no milk in the egg batter, then asking the kitchen not to use butter in the pan (or to use non-dairy margarine).


Although they are both very good at ensuring a safe meal, I couldn’t help but ask my husband and son if all of the proper questions were asked when his meal arrived.  Because my son had ordered french toast all summer – at a similar, but different, restaurant – they had totally forgotten.


No problem!  My son held his fork as I flagged down the waitress.  “Can you grab the ingredient list of the bread in this french toast? My son has multiple food allergies.”  Unfortunately – as in many restaurants – there was no ingredient list.  The bread had come from a supplier and the ingredients were not listed on the packaging.  Even if everything else was safe, this meant the meal was a no-go.  The possibility of dairy or sesame, in particular, made this entire meal a risk not worth taking.


The reaction was immediate.  My son, a mature 11 year old, slumped into the corner of the booth and looked at the wall sullenly.  Disappointed isn’t a word that covered it.  Defeated.  Gently and with a lot of love, I repeated to him that he is my most precious gift and there was no way I would take a risk just for, in this case, french toast.  I offered every alternative on the menu.  I told him I’d head home that moment and make a big batch of my world famous french toast.  He remained ashen and silent and just shook his head no.  And, though I tried to give him space, I watched heartbroken as a tear rolled down his cheek.


Sometimes, it just takes a small thing, like french toast, to bring all those buried feelings of rejection, disappointment, and injustice to the surface.  It’s HARD having food allergies.  It’s hard not having the freedom to choose what you’d like.  It’s hard to watch others jump in excitement over a class treat/birthday cake/ice cream truck you cannot have.  It’s extremely hard to live both yearning for the ability to eat anything you want and fearing what will happen if you accidentally took one wrong bite.  It’s hard enough being a kid – nonetheless one who must have the composure and control to keep him or herself safe all the time.


In a moment of real clarity months ago, my son articulated what it’s like to have food allergies.  “It feels like you’re in detention for something you didn’t do.  Like you need to stay home doing homework while you miss the class trip to the water park.”  Having food allergies, can sometimes, feel like you’re being punished for no reason.


But surprisingly, having food allergies is not all rain showers.  On more than one occasion, my son has pointed out that he is who he is because of his food allergies.  They have made him resilient and patient.  They have taught him to be empowered and bold.  They have highlighted our family’s support for him and made him grateful for good friends and the extraordinary lengths they go to include him.  And, at times, food allergies have even made him feel special.


So, what does it feel like to have food allergies?   It appears to be different day to day.  As a parent, it may be impossible to protect our children from experiencing all the emotions that go along with growing up with a food allergy.  But as long as we maintain an open line of communication, provide a safe environment for our kids to express their thoughts and emotions, and continue to try t0 empathize, we can help make sense of whatever they’re feeling and keep them on the path towards growing into confident, healthy adults.




New and Safe for Your Lunchbox! Enjoy Life Mini Cookies October 8, 2016

 This is a sponsored post.

We have a hard time finding safe baked goods.  Between actual ingredients used in the items and processing issues (may contain, made on equipment with…), it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack trying to buy something off the shelf for a family managing multiple food allergies.

I often find myself baking late into the night so that my son has fun and delicious treats to eat after school or to share with a playmate. But, homemade products aren’t always a practical option and worse, they don’t last that long.

I know most of you can relate.  Well, problem solved!  Enjoy Life, who produce food always free from an amazing number of allergens, just released a line of Mini Cookies.


The Mini Cookies line include: Soft Baked and Crunchy Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate Brownie, Crunchy Double Chocolate, Crunchy Vanilla Honey Graham, Snickerdoodle, and Sugar Crisp.  They are Kosher, Halal, are non-GMO and use no artificial ingredients!  They’re better than homemade!





The Soft Baked Snickerdoodle cookies were perfect for toting along to my daughter’s playground play date.  They kept fresh in their pouches, despite the muggy weather and the kids DEVOURED them.  The parents were able to get in on the action and loved this flavor.  Bonus:  safe for every kid there despite varying food sensitivities!


Enjoy Life’s Mini Cookies are a lifesaver in the  morning.  I can’t tell you how happy my tired brain was when I remembered to throw in this surprise snack into my son’s lunch!  He was thrilled!

These Crunchy Sugar Crisps were an easy snack to supply for the whole flag football team. No matter the allergy or sensitivity, everyone (including siblings) could enjoy a pouch of these crispy, crunchy and satisfying cookies.

Go out and give them a shot.  I think, like me, you’ll be hooked.  The Crunchy Double Chocolate flavor is already on my grocery list for this week!


Motivations: Dr. Douglas McMahon, Doctor, Inventor and Entrepreneur October 4, 2016

Filed under: Preparedness — malawer @ 7:30 pm

Dr. Doug McMahon is more than your average allergist.  His out of the box thinking led him to create an affordable epinephrine auto-injector whose practical design could save lives. His device, named AllergyStop, is a palm-sized auto-injector – small enough to attach to a key chain.  Read about his journey below: what led him into allergy and immunology; the inspiration for his invention; and how you can follow the process of getting AllergyStop to market.



1.  What led you to become an allergist?  Did you feel a connection to the field?

When I was very young I had food allergies, environmental allergies and asthma.  I was under the care of various doctors who said that  I should be home schooled, shouldn’t play sports or go to friends houses.  My mother knew that there were many other kids in my situation living a normal life so we found a specialist to work with and I lived a ‘normal life’.  This impact made me want to become a doctor and an Allergy specialist in particular.

2.  Have you experienced an allergic reaction yourself?  Anaphylaxis?
Yes, I have had a few significant reactions.  Thankfully no anaphylaxis in the last 25 years.  Most of the severe anaphylactic reactions were when I was very young and they didn’t know yet I was allergic to tree nuts.
3.  What led you to develop AllergyStop?  Describe your “Aha!” moment.
When I was in high school and realized I needed to start carrying this bulky device everywhere. I took apart my EpiPen and realized it didn’t need to be so big.  I started playing around with parts over the years and when I became a doctor I realized the small amount of epinephrine needed.  I was busy in medical school but still toyed around with it.  In residency, I learned how inexpensive the medicine and parts were so I started building prototypes.  AllergyStop is the best one I developed that is efficient, compact and inexpensive.  We will be working on other improvements on the device through the years.
4.  How does AllergyStop differ from current epinephrine auto-injectors?
It is more compact and you can have an adjustable needle as some patients are too big for the EpiPen needle length and it does not go intramuscular as intended.  Some are too thin and it goes into the bone.  AllergyStop has resolved this issue.
5.  Where does the product stand now?
We have a functional prototype that I currently carry on my keychain.  We have a patent pending and are finalizing the patent.  We are contracting with manufacturers that will make the device and fill with epinephrine and have a few bids in right now.  Once secure we have an outline of the regulation tests required by the FDA and then we will submit to the FDA ‘fast track’ via 505 b2.
6.  What hurdles remain to overcome?  How can those interested stay informed on its progress?
Hurdles include the money for the testing that is estimated at upwards of $3 million.  The problem is that venture capitalists are interested but they often expect a large return on their money and would want AllergyStop’s price to increase.  We want to keep the cost affordable for patients.
7.  How has your experience both having food allergies and developing AllergyStop changed/enhanced your relationship with your patients?
I can relate well to my patients that have had reactions and have the burdens of watching what they eat.  I think it makes the patients more appreciative and comfortable.  It’s actually tough to see some of them wanting my device now and yet the FDA advises against giving it out without all of the regulatory steps.  Hopefully soon.


If you want to help support the process of getting AllergyStop to market, please visit AllergyStop’s IndieGoGo page.