Tag: Advocacy

Allergen Safe Easter Celebration


With the Easter holiday around the corner and grocery store aisles filled with Easter candy chock full of allergens, it is important to post about how we have a fun and allergen safe Easter in our home every year.  Not to mention, still celebrating the true meaning of Easter and Jesus.

The picture above depicts chocolate covered mini eggs and I’m yet to find these that are dairy, nut and egg free.  For the last eight years I have pre-ordered Easter (and most of my holiday chocolates) from these two vendors:

Amanda’s Own Confections

Premium Chocolatiers

I have written about the delicious chocolates both of these companies offer several times in the past.  Amanda’s Own Confections products are all (except Sunbutter Cups) FREE of the top 8 allergens.  They are delicious and taste like real chocolate!  You would never know they do not contain dairy.  Furthermore, Premium Chocolatier’s products are FREE from: NUTS, DAIRY, GLUTEN and EGGS.  Both companies use dedicated equipment and can guarantee their products are free from the above listed allergens.  Each company makes molds of Easter bunnies that are chocolate during the springs season that are absolutely adorable in various sizes.

This year I even ordered a new product from Premium Chocolatiers called Cream Eggs!  The description sounds like the ever-famous Cadbury eggs we all grew up eating, just without the Allergens!  I’m so excited for my boys to try these on Easter morning!

In addition to the above products, I like adding a few packages of Surf Sweet gummies and/or jelly beans to my children’s Easter baskets: Surf Sweets Candy.  For my local followers the Grain Train and Oriana (in Traverse City) carry them.  These candies are free from the top 10 allergens and are delicious gummy treats!

Now for the Easter Egg hunt that traditionally kicks off Easter morning for our boys. I typically purchase about 50-60 plastic eggs (they can be reused year after year) and fill them with a variety of items such as: money, erasers, bouncy balls, gum, safe Easter bunny marshmallows, little safe chocolates, jelly beans, trinkets, Peeps (be sure to check labels as some have dairy; the yellow peeps are safe for sure!), etc.  I don’t go too crazy.  Additionally, I like to add several non-food items to their basket because it adds variety and little toys and educational items are fun for the boys to work on throughout the day of celebration.

Have a wonderful Allergen-Safe Easter Celebration and please feel free to contact me with any questions.




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Small Town Allergy Mom is Interviewed During “Live Podcast”

Just prior to Halloween on October 24, 2015, I was interviewed by Sean Miller at the Petoskey News Review for the “Teal Pumpkin and Food Allergies” live Podcast.  Please click on the link below to listen to my live interview and learn more about food allergies in general.

Enjoy and thank you for your listening support!





Classic Pumpkin Pie

I cannot imagine a Thanksgiving meal without pumpkin pie for dessert.  I have had several requests for my pumpkin pie recipe which I have borrowed.  My go-to for the last several years is from Kelly Rudnicki’s  The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book.  Her pie is easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser!  I however, cut corners a bit and use the store bought Pillsbury pie crust or Spartan brand.  If you want to make everything from scratch I have also included her pie dough recipe below.

Oh and do not forget to top each individual sliced piece of pumpkin pie off with a dollop of So Delicious Coco Whip!  You can read my review of the product here:  http://smalltownallergymom.com/2015/06/18/vegan-whipped-cream-finally-a-1st-for-our-boys-boy-is-it-so-delicious/


pumpkin pie


Classic Pumpkin Pie

½ recipe Best Pie Dough for 9 inch pie

1 ½ c. silken tofu, whipped in blender until creamy

¾ c. packed light brown sugar

½ tsp. good quality vanilla extract

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)- I use organic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit chilled pie dough into 9 inch pie plate and trim dough to form a rim. Crimp with fingertips. Line dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until crust is very light brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. In the large bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine ½ c. whipped tofu, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, spices and canned pumpkin  Add remaining 1 c. whipped tofu and beat well. Pour mixture into prepared pie plate and bake 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 50-60 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature on wire rack, then refrigerate.


¾ c. cold dairy free shortening (buy in stick form, and cut into small pieces)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 c. all purpose flour

4-5 T. ice cold water

 Combine flour and salt in a food processor. Add chunks of shortening and pulse a few times until mixture is crumbly. Add water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until dough just comes together. Transfer mixture onto floured board, and divide into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour or frozen up until one month.



Do You Practice What You Preach?

Scout on trail

It’s Thursday morning and the majority of Americans are more than halfway through a standard work week.  That means we should also be more than halfway through our weekly workouts also, right?  How many people have been telling themselves each and every day this week, “I’ll just get back into exercising tomorrow.”  Procrastinating just one more day to spend more time on the couch watching TV, playing with electronic devices or spending extra time at the office sitting in an office chair perched in front of your computer with terrible posture.  Who has time to exercise in this fast-paced society with work, children, extracurriculars, etc?  Right?  We’re all guilty of making excuses of why not to exercise.  I know I have been known to do this on more than one occasion.  “It’s too cold outside, I don’t have enough time, I’ll do it tomorrow…”   The list goes on and one.

Enough said!  I know I have preached in many of my posts that because of food allergies we tend to eat clean, healthy, low fat, and organic.  I can proudly say that I do practice what I preach when it comes to cooking for my 2 food allergic boys and husband.  Additionally, I haven’t posted very much on the importance of ALSO living a heart-healthy lifestyle by incorporating daily exercise into your program.  Whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours daily exercise is essential for living a well-balanced life.  You have to find the right balance for YOU!

Thankfully, I grew up an athlete from a young age and was very successful with my athletics throughout high school and college.  Although I chose not to ski race in college at the varsity level I did participate in our school’s club ski race team.  We even qualified for Nationals 2 years in a row which was pretty exciting considering we were not a school sponsored sports team!  The point I’m trying to make is that for me exercise has always been easy, enjoyable and a MAJOR part of my life! When I don’t exercise I feel TERRIBLE, crabby and I’m sure I’m just not a nice person.  Just ask my family.

When my children were first diagnosed with food allergies over 7 years ago I may have taken my exercise levels to a place that most people would think was a bit obsessive.  I trained for countless numbers of hours 6-7 days a week preparing for triathlons in which some days I would even complete 2 hard workouts.  In the end, I placed in the top 3 in most of my events and even won a race.  What the heck— I felt that all of the hard work definitely paid off!  I grew to love the sport of triathlon as an adult and during my training sessions I was able to focus on something I loved and not be distracted by the constant worry of my children’s food allergies and the potential of an anaphylactic reaction.  For me, exercise IS and WILL always be a way for me to control my anxiety of worrying about my little boys. Exercise is a way of life for me.   I’m sure this anxiety about the constant worry of my boys will never go away as long as I am a parent.  I have, however, toned down my trainings a bit over the last year and a half and have learned to find more balance with my workouts.

I’m extremely lucky to live in an area where I can road bike, mountain bike, trail run, water ski, playing tennis or paddle ball, skate ski and downhill ski, snow shoe, etc…it’s a playground for outside activities!!!  Exercise has become more enjoyable for me.  I know this is not likely the case for most people but YOU HAVE to make an effort to seek out something that you enjoy and is a good workout.  Whether it’s pumping iron in your local gym or walking the dog at a fast pace in your neighborhood there is something for everyone!  Just give it a try or try a new class of some sort.  MAKE THE TIME!  Get up just 20 minutes earlier in the morning.  Whatever it takes YOU have the POWER!

Now if you haven’t broken a sweat this week and have been eating garbage all week this is the time to take a stand for yourself and make a positive change!  For mind, body, and soul!

Do you like the picture of my running partner this morning on the trail?  I tried talking myself out of running because the wind chill was about 30 degrees with 15 mph winds but thankfully our dog Scout kept looking at me with guilty eyes that basically said, “Take me for a trail run!”


Sample School Letter Sent Home Regarding Safety & Food Allergies in Classroom

I apologize for getting this letter out after the start of the school year.  Below is a sample template of a letter that should be sent home by the principal prior to the start of every school year.  This letter should be mailed to the parents of classmates with food allergies as a reminder of the severity of food allergies.  Please note this classroom below is completely “Nut Free.” 

August ____, 2015

Dear “School Name” Kindergarten Parents,

Your child has a classmate this year that has life-threatening anaphylactic food allergies to: all dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs. We want to inform you a little about food allergies to ensure a safe and healthy school year for everyone.

Over 14 million Americans have food allergies which affects 1 in every 13 children (under age 18) or roughly 2 students in every U.S. classroom! Allergic reactions can be life-threatening, and in rare cases deadly. While emergency treatment is available for allergic reactions, there is no cure yet. The only treatment for food allergies is strict avoidance of allergens. Sometimes a small amount of allergen can cause a deadly reaction.

Benadryl and an Epi-Pen will be kept in the kindergarten classroom for immediate access as well as the school office if your child’s classmate should have an allergic reaction.

Please do not send any peanuts or tree nuts (i.e. almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, etc.), peanut butter or foods containing peanut/tree nuts or peanut butter to be eaten as snacks or for lunch in the classroom. Healthy alternatives are: Soynut butter, Sun Butter, or Biscotti spread. Additionally, please check all food labels for the listing of peanuts or various tree nuts, especially on crackers, cookies, and dessert treats.

I would ask if you’re bringing in food for a party or special event that might not be allergen-free, please let your child’s teacher know in advance so that a safe alternative option can be provided for the classmate with food allergies. (In particular, because homemade baked goods are so likely to contain traces of allergens from previous baking, they’re not safe options for children with food allergies even if they don’t contain ingredients with milk, nuts, and eggs.)

I would also ask that you discuss food allergies with your child. Please ask them not to share or trade food with any of their kindergarten classmates during lunch time. Please also assure your child that children with food allergies are no different than other children. They can do everything anyone else can.

Finally, if your child eats foods containing dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, or eggs for breakfast, please ask them to wash their hands and brush their teeth before coming to school.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at  XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Best regards,

Principal ____________________