Tag: Awareness

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!”


Teal Pumpkins Are Painted at Our House- Have You Taken The Teal Pumpkin Project Pledge?

Teal Pumpkins Painted

My boys painted their Teal Pumpkins for the FARE’S Teal Pumpkin Project to raise awareness for food allergies on Halloween.  This national campaign will ensure that every child has a safe Halloween.  Have you taken the Pledge?  Please visit FARE’s website below and join the thousands who have already taken the Pledge.


Heart Healthy Panko Crusted Chicken Tenderloins

What child does not LOVE chicken fingers?  What adult doesn’t love them for that matter?  I have developed a heart-healthy/allergy-friendly recipe I guarantee everyone will love and they will beg for seconds, I promise!  I usually serve my Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders with steamed organic brown rice and steamed broccoli.   It’s fun to serve with a few different vegan dipping sauces like honey mustard, my ginger dipping sauce or even ketchup. Place them in cute ramekins for serving and enjoy!

Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders

 Prep Time: 20 minutes                                                                                   Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6-8 servings (leftovers are good!)


2 pounds organic chicken tenderloins

2 cups organic soy milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

3 cups Panko Japanese Style Bread Crumbs

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon olive oil or olive oil spray for greasing the pan


Preheat a conventional oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the soymilk and the vinegar in a glass bowl and set aside to form a buttermilk consistency. Then set up a “dredging” and “bread crumbing” assembly line.

Mix together the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper with a spoon. Set aside. Grease your baking sheet or place a piece of parchment paper on it. Set the baking sheet at the end of your assembly line station. Once your station is set up, take each piece of chicken separately and (1) dredge into the buttermilk mixture (2) then coat the chicken with the panko mixture on both sides (3) place neatly on the baking sheet. Repeat these steps until you have coated all of the chicken.


Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken has clear colored juices and is cooked through. Once the chicken is cooked, turn the broiler on high heat and broil until the chicken is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Be sure to watch it so it does not burn.  Look at the beautiful golden brown crust below.

panko 3

Serve with my garlic ginger dipping sauce and enjoy!

Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes                                                                                               Serves: 4-6

Cook Time: 20 minutes


4 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger minced

1 teaspoon shallot minced (if you have on hand)

¼ cup scallions (roughly 2)

¾ cup Low Sodium San-J Tamari soy sauce

¼ cup water


Add the water and soy sauce to a sauce pan and gently bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling whisk in the garlic, ginger and shallots. Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Once the ingredients are nicely softened add the scallions and turn off the heat. Pour into separate dipping ramekins and serve warm with Panko Crusted Chicken for Dipping.  Note:  If you would like to add a little kick to your dipping sauce add a pinch of chili peppers.

Find Homes in Your Neighborhood Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project™ [MAP]

Find Homes in Your Neighborhood Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project™ [MAP]



My boys have now been back in school this fall for about 4 weeks and today is their first field trip to the high school football field for a Homecoming Pep Rally.  Looking back a few years when my oldest son was in kindergarten, I remember feeling quite a bit of anxiety leading up to his school field trips.  Its silly to think about the stress these school functions caused me but I’m sure most parents of kids with food allergies can relate in one way or another to my elevated anxiety levels on the subject. Even though I chaperoned almost all of the field trips,  I think most of my stress came from thoughts about my son riding on the bus and the potential of food that had been left on the bus prior to him riding it, and/or allergen oils on the bus seats.  Additionally, the is an added element of stress knowing that your child may not be as close to he hospital in case there is an allergic reaction.

In preparing my children for today’s school outing I referenced a very helpful checklist provided by FARE at www.foodallergy.org.  I have included this helpful checklist in the “Food Allergy Folder” I prepare for each of my children’s teachers at the beginning of each school year.  It’s a wonderful reference guide and I hope you will find it helpful to ease your mind while your children are safe and enjoying their school field trips.  ~Erika

Field Trip Tips

For Parents

  • Keep yourself up-to-date on upcoming special events in your child’s school. The more time you have to plan ahead, the better.
  • Remember that you and your child’s teacher need to work together as a team to keep your child safe.
  • Role-play with your child and practice what your child should do if a reaction is occurring.
  • Often times children are reluctant to mention that they’re having symptoms of an allergic reaction for fear of creating a scene. Teach your child to be persistent. In the event of a reaction, rapid treatment is essential.
  • After the event, briefly call or meet with your child’s teacher to discuss what went well and what, if anything, should be changed in the future. Be sure to give praise for a job well done; a thank-you note reinforces the idea of teamwork and builds a positive atmosphere.

For Educators

  • Update the food-allergic student’s Food Allergy Action Plan. Ask the parents to review the plan you have on file and note any updated information. Also ask parents to check the expiration dates on any medications.
  • Review the Food Allergy Action Plan with regard to the upcoming event. Find out where the nearest hospital is and discuss how a student would be transported there in case of an emergency.
  • Brief the staff and chaperones that will be supervising students during the event or trip. Identify the food-allergic student, discuss what foods must be avoided, explain the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and review the Food Allergy Action Plan. Designate a staff member to check the safety of any food served to that student.
  • The day of the event or trip, carry the food-allergic student’s medications wherever the student goes. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, known as “anaphylaxis,” speedy access to medications can be the difference between life and death. Keep all staff and chaperones informed about who will be carrying the student’s medications.
  • Carry a cell phone to place emergency calls, if necessary. Make certain all staff and chaperones know where the phone will be kept.
  • Take all complaints seriously. If a food-allergic student notifies the staff that he or she is not feeling well, compare the symptoms with those listed on that student’s Food Allergy Action Plan. If the student is having an allergic reaction, activate emergency procedures immediately. Remember, if epinephrine is administered, but not needed, the student may experience increased heart rate and nervousness. If epinephrine is needed, but not administered, the student may experience a severe or fatal allergic reaction.

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 ____________________