I just had a conversation with my parents as they are preparing dinner for tonight. One of the guests let them know that she can’t have peanuts, dairy or gluten and they needed help finding alternatives for a recipe. One of their ingredients said May contain milk so I asked whether she had an intolerance or a severe allergy but she had not provided that information. For most, a food sensitive individual could have a “may contain” but a food allergy makes that a definite no.
I’ve also heard complaints from chefs recently who make a special diet meal only to see that client eating off someone else’s plate. What do you think that chef will do the next time a special diet meal is required?
I think we’re doing a disservice by not communicating our special diets effectively like calling Celiac disease a gluten allergy or a food allergy as “minor”. If we don’t educate about the realities, how do we expect the general public (and those who serve us food) to understand and react appropriately?
I attend a lot of Gluten and/or Allergy Free Expos and every time I go, either as a vendor or as a consumer, I always get something good out of attending. Here’s why you should consider attending one in your area:
1. You’re Newly Diagnosed: Overwhelmed, having a hard time knowing what’s correct information on the internet or where you should start? Expos always have a roster of great speakers who can help demystify the new world you’re entering whether with information or wonderful recipes to try. Try to attend as many talks as you can to get a superb overview of how you can take your next step.
2. You Were Diagnosed Ages Ago: You too should try to attend as many talks as you can at the show. There have been so many studies of late with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance and food allergies that you just may learn something new.
3. Taste Does Count: There are samples galore at these shows, it’s actually a good idea to come with an empty stomach or you’ll be full really fast. I heard a child say to her parent, “I can eat EVERYTHING here?” with wonderment. It just doesn’t get much better than that. And whether you’re newly diagnosed or old hat, you’ll be surprised at how good specialty diet food is these days and just how much variety is out there.
4. Discover a Small or Local Food Processor: Big grocery stores are getting so much better about offering gluten free and allergy friendly foods and that makes it easier to get your groceries done in one place. Yet at the same time, they all carry mostly the same items and those are the bigger names in the special diet world. At a trade show you’ll find smaller processors with innovative offerings and wonderful local restaurants and bakeries that have delights you just won’t find in your large grocery store.
5. You’ll Be Surrounded by People Just Like You! Really, imagine a world where everybody “Gets It”. Every booth you go to, all of the speakers, all of the people around you are experiencing the same issues that you do. You can strike up a conversation with any friendly stranger and discover that you’re not alone. Priceless!
A study published in October’s issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association says that American children get almost half of their daily energy from fast food. http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/2403/20101005/40-of-american-childrens-diet-is-fast-food.htm
This is the one time where I think that it is positive that my family has food allergies. Those same allergies that keep us up at night also mean that it’s not easy to just grab fast food between activities. Therefore I believe that we eat more healthfully and with more thought and that’s definitely a good thing.
I am very pleased to announce that we are removing soy from the Nonuttin’ facility.
Soy has been very helpful for many food allergic consumers as a high protein replacement for nuts. However, many customers have contacted us or spoken to us at trade shows about their increasing allergies or intolerance to soy. Soy is known to be cross-reactive for those with peanut allergies and Celiac Disease.
After carefully reviewing these requests and scouring the planet high and low for high quality ingredient replacements, the decision was made to transition away from soybeans and soy lecithin.
Throughout March, we will continue to package the soybean based Energy Explosion trail mix in both 30 g snack packs and black zip top pouches.
April 1, 2012, we will begin our transition by removing the dry roasted soybeans from our production floor. All Energy Explosion trail mix finished packages will remain in our facility and be sold on a first come, first served basis until all stock is depleted.
Once the production facility has all soybeans removed, soy allergen testing protocols will be implemented so that some Nonuttin’ products will have the May contain: soy absent from their labels.
Soy lecithin will remain in the facility (present in our chocolate chips and chunks) until we finish using the packaging that indicates contains or may contain: soy. While soy lecithin is suitable for many with soy allergies, it is not guaranteed risk free and it is prudent to continue labelling all products that are on lines with chocolate until the change is complete.
I expect that the finished transition to a completely soy free facility will be completed in 2013 and we will keep you up to date when that final date is determined.
Our staff thanks you in advance for your patience with the transition. We’re very excited to become free of ALL of the top 10 food allergens!
Here’s our press release from today. Look out Grammys, here we come!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GRAMMY STARS READY TO TAKE A BITE OF NONUTTIN’
DUNCAN, BC – What snacks would you feed hungry music stars at the Grammy Awards this Sunday? Organizers of the dressing room snacks were asking themselves this question while trying to juggle all of the special dietary needs that many artists require. To solve this dietary challenge, they gave Vancouver Island’s own Nonuttin’ Natural Foods a call.
“With artists from Sir Paul McCartney who is vegetarian to Lady Gaga who eats a gluten free diet, it’s not easy to provide food to the world’s greatest music stars. That’s where Nonuttin’ granola bars and trail mixes came to the rescue,” says Alana Elliott, President and Founder of Nonuttin’ Natural Foods. All Nonuttin’ products are free of 9 of the top 10 food allergens and are certified gluten free in the US.
Elliott sent over 500 granola bars and trail mix packs to the Staples Center in Los Angeles where Sunday’s Grammy Award Show will take place. With 50 dressing rooms and a green room, Nonuttin’ products will be available in all of the rooms whether they hold a single artist or a band and their entourage.
“My two daughters are the ones who are most impressed with our involvement in the Grammys,” laughs Elliott. “They thought their mom wasn’t up to date on the latest music trends. Now they can’t wait to see if their favourite artists, like Adele, will be enjoying our snacks.”
My husband and I watched a fascinating documentary on David Suzuki’s, The Nature of Things on CBC this weekend. It was about the latest in autism research that shows that gut health may be the link. Some parents are already putting this into action with gluten/dairy free diets for their autistic children.
This documentary also brings up illnesses in infants and the onset of autism with anecdotal information from different parents of autistic children. It is especially poignant for those whose children were developing normally and then autism took over.
Rob has always felt that our youngest daughter’s life-threatening food allergies were created by an unknown illness just before she turned 1 when she was in Pediatric Intensive Care in the Isolation Wing and she was dosed with massive amounts of antiobiotics. Her food allergic reactions showed up shortly after that. Watching this documentary just gave him even stronger feelings that he is correct.
Here is the link to watch the documentary online at CBC:
If you’ve been following our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nonuttin-Natural-Foods/159162014110203, you’ll see that I’m heading off next week to a trade show for a Canadian natural foods chain.
After the trade show, I get all of the owners and managers of those stores for an hour and a half to provide them with an overview of food allergies and gluten free diets, what the needs are for consumers and what they need to do to earn the confidence of those of us looking for special dietary foods.
I certainly know what gains my trust in a store. And putting the peanut butter alternative (ie. soybutter, sunbutter) smack dab in the middle of all of the peanut butter isn’t it. I don’t really expect any service or knowledge about food allergies when I go to a mass chain grocery store (even if they have a natural or gluten free section) but I certainly do when I go to a smaller natural foods store or health food store. But any major grocery chain that did come up with a better understanding of special diets, such as putting a dietician in their natural foods section, (as one of our clients in the Midwest, Hy-Vee does) would have my business in a heartbeat. And please, clean up the bulk sections so that potential allergens aren’t spilled all over the floor!
So what do you need? Special sections? Items placed throughout the store but with good signage? Special dietary tours with samples and coupons so you aren’t stuck in your same old rut? Would you prefer a trained specialist in the store? Do you appreciate contained bulk bins? Do you want the store to have product documentation on special diet products? How about demos – do you run from them when they’re in an aisle?
Anything that you share with me will be added to my presentation next week (without names of course) so that these store owners/managers can hear from the people that count. Food allergies and gluten free diets are here to stay; let’s begin the revolution with willing stores who want to serve you better.
An article published earlier this month indicated that a recent UK study shows that food allergic children and their families feel isolated, stigmatized and unfairly excluded. To read the total article, you can link here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/17/kids-nut-allergy-teased-excluded_n_929809.html
I would have to say that overall, we’ve been lucky not to have many issues happen with our allergic child but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been there. There was the time that a good buddy at school told our child that she couldn’t have her to her birthday party because her mom didn’t want to deal with her peanut allergy. It took all of my strength not to phone that mom and have a little discussion. I didn’t in the end since I didn’t really think it would change anything except mortify my child even further.
There was also the time that one child wiped his hands down all of the bus seats as he got on the bus, telling everyone that he’d just had peanut butter. We were really pleased with how that got handled by the students on the bus themselves, many who had been riding that bus with our daughter for years and were very protective of her. Every child on that bus turned on that young man and kicked him off until he spoke to the bus driver. We then let the principal know when our child got home and told us what happened but peer pressure really made the difference that day. He never tried anything like that again.
But it’s also the incidents that aren’t so easy to quantify; when everybody else gets the birthday treat in the classroom or someone’s sharing candy with all of their friends but my child can’t take it. It’s definitely isolating, even when there is no evil intent. All kids need to learn (often the hard way) that life isn’t fair and sometimes bad things do happen to good people but there are plenty of opportunities to learn that out there without the added exclusion that food allergies can certainly bring.
Some of you are probably hoping to avoid the whole back to school mindset for a little while longer but I have to say that it’s been on my mind for a while. That’s because Megan is heading off to high school next year for grade 10. What compounds the normal food allergy issues is that it is a self-directed school where students work through modules and may have different schedules from each other.
This means that Megan is not attending her regular feeder high school but a magnet school where children come from all over the school district. For the first time, she will be without her regular posse of friends who have been very protective of Megan and her allergies. Further, as a self-directed school, there are not set lunch hours so we’ve already been told that kids eat everywhere and that food allergens may be difficult to monitor. The school itself is in a rural setting, about half an hour from our home by highway.
Statistically speaking, teenagers are at a higher risk of anaphylaxis than younger children. Throw in the regular teenage desire to not be different (which is often amplified for food allergic teens) and an assumption by adults that food allergic teens need to start becoming more responsible for their own safety and you can get a recipe for disaster. This is what worries me despite the fact that we know we’ve trained our child well. It’s still no guarantee, as many parents who have lost their teen allergic children can attest.
I’m not trying to be a scare monger but I’m finding this change really difficult. Even more so than when we moved to our new home here on Vancouver Island or when Megan went to junior high. Perhaps it’s a lack of control that I’m feeling, especially since it won’t be easy to just drop into the school and be as involved as I have been in the past.
On the bright side, we had to fill out a new food allergy form this summer to send into the school so I see that our school district’s food allergy policies are being followed. Megan’s epi pens are up to date and her alert bracelet is in good order. We informed the school as to her food allergies in the spring and we have another meeting at the end of August before school starts in September so we’re certainly doing all of the right things.
I’m not sure what the alternative is: home schooling, move to Antarctica or the biosphere, buy a teen size plastic bubble? We’d all be driven nuts in short order but maybe I’d sleep a little better at night.
I got a request on our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nonuttin-Natural-Foods/159162014110203) to put up a peanut free satay sauce that I refered to but Facebook is really not set up to write out a recipe so here it is instead.
I am one of those cooks that adds a dash of this or that and substitutes all of the time so you may need to adjust this to your taste. I use it on pasta, with chicken and vegetables on rice and for a fondue dipping sauce. And since it’s free of all of the top allergens except soy and/or easily adjusted to substitute safe ingredients, anybody can enjoy it.
Smooth or chunky peanut butter substitute: 1/3 cup
(I tend to use NoNuts Golden Peabutter when cooking and if you use this, you’ll need to add extra liquid as this substitute really soaks it up)
Oil (olive, canola, etc.) 1 Tbsp
Soy sauce 2 Tbsp
Seasoned rice vinegar (can use white) 1 Tbsp
Crushed Garlic clove (1) or garlic powder 1/4 tsp
Honey 1/4 cup
Water (or chicken broth for extra taste) 1/4 cup+ depending on your substitute and/or the consistency you like
Hot pepper sauce 1/4 tsp or to taste
Mix it all together, taste, adjust and that’s it. I hope you enjoy and are able to add a little Thai flavor to your cooking in a way that’s safe for your family.