With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.


19 July 2015

Peanut-Free, Nut-Free Coffee Ice Cream #NatlIceCreamDay

 
Every few days, I make a batch of peanut-free, nut-free ice cream for my son with our Cuisinart Ice Cream. His favorite flavor right now is coffee ice cream, and I just made a new batch today--National Ice Cream Day!

If you use a Cuisinart Ice Cream machine, it only takes 30 minutes to make. I try to always keep the bowl in the freezer ready to use. It has to stay in the freezer for at least  8 hours to successfully make a batch of ice cream.




Ingredients:
1-2 teaspoons Autocrat Coffee Syrup (or your fav brand!)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Milk

In a mixing bowl, add each of the above ingredients mixing one in at a time. I find a whisk works best. When the ingredients have been mixed thoroughly, quickly pour into your Cuisinart Ice Cream Machine, insert the mixing paddle, and put the cover in place. Turn on machine for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, immediately scoop ice cream from the ice cream machine bowl into a storage container. I recommend freezing the ice cream for about 15 minutes in order to solidify the ice cream a bit more.

NOTE: If you like to add in bits of candy or cookies, you can add them after the ice cream has mixed for about 25 minutes and let the candies or cookies get combined with the rest of the ice cream ingredients for the last 5 minutes

My son especially enjoys adding in Enjoy Life Foods Dark Chocolate Morsels or Mega Chunks. For toppings, we use Mrs. Richardson's Hot Fudge and any nut allergy safe brand of Whipped Cream. Today, we added about a half cup of Dark Morsels to our Coffee Ice Cream--an awesome ice cream treat to end a hot summer day. Talk about the perfect weather for National Ice Cream Day! To make it extra special, we are using these adorable personalized bowls from Personal Creations.  See the below photos--it was hard to slow down to take a photo before they gobbled their ice cream up! You can have two lines of up to 10 characters per line and you can select a character to accent your bowl. You can even choose hair color, skin color, etc. My teenage son got a teen boy character and his name on a bowl (bottom photo), my younger son got a bowl with a boy and his name (below photo)--which is really cool since we never can find his name on anything!--and I got a cute mom character with the word Mom (bottom photo).  It's such a fun gift for a child (or a grownup!) and makes having your own homemade allergy safe ice cream even more special.


The bowls are a bit like giant tea cups with cute handles and they scream brownie sundae to me because they are so big! If you are looking for an adorable, fun, and personalized gift, these ice cream bowls are wonderful! I noticed they can be microwaved, so they could also double as big soup bowls for a winter treat in the colder months! The bowls are $16.99 and personalization is included in that price. I peeked at some of the other Personal Creations products and I saw a number of gifts that would be great for a lot of different people and occasions. (I am thinking of future gifts for some people in my own life too!)

Thank you to Personal Creations for these lovely bowls and making our ice cream treats extra special on this hot humid summer day!
FTC Disclosure Image from Louis Gray (love these!)

11 July 2015

Food Allergy Consumer: Philly Swirl

My two sons and I enjoyed sampling Philly Swirl products and are very happy to share our experience with you! Philly Swirl was even kind enough to send their frozen treats direct to us, which was both impressive and exciting on a warm summer day. We found each Philly Swirl product to be as delicious and fun to eat as the next. The flavors are different than Popsicles or other freeze pops-- distinct fruity combinations and the CottonCandy flavor actually tastes like cotton candy! Some of the flavors include: Rainbow, CottonCandy, Sunburst, Hurricane, CherryMelon, and Blueberry Jam. Not only are Philly Swirls tasty but they are also dairy free, gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free (except for coconut), egg free, soy free, and fat free, and are manufactured in a peanut free facility. The facility is also tree nut free, except for coconut. 

In their email to me, Philly Swirl stated:

"PhillySwirl frozen novelties are free of the top 8 allergens and are made in a peanut and tree nut free facility.
  • Fat Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Peanut/Tree Nut Free (with the exception of coconut)
  • No high fructose corn syrup"
They also sent the following information:

"Our products are manufactured in a dedicated peanut-free facility on lines that also run dairy. Before manufacturing the PhillySwirl products without dairy, the lines are cleaned with our CIP system on a daily basis and sanitized before start up. We use a Neogen Reveal 3D Total milk test kit after each dairy run before we start a regular run. We run the dairy products at the end of a day, then clean up before a regular run. PhillySwirl is also egg-free and soy-free. "
 
In addition, if you are counting calories: a Swirl Popper is only 68 calories, a Philly Swirl cup with  Candy Spoon is 98 calories, and a Swirl Stix is  only 48 calories.

We think Philly Swirl is fantastic. They are free of the top 8 allergens, taste delicious and are a wonderful refreshing frozen treat!

FAB Review: Philly Swirl
Dedicated Facility: Yes. Package states: "Manufactured in a Peanut Free Facility"

Appearance: Eye catching purple box in freezer section with photos of product on package. Clear easy to find labeling states "GLUTEN FREE", "FAT FREE","DAIRY FREE", "PEANUT FREE" and Kosher Pareve. The package has a "Best by" date approximately 2 years from present.

Taste: Sweet, refreshing, and delicious! All of the flavors are excellent. My two sons and I each have a different favorite flavor; our favorite flavors are Rainbow, Orange Dream, and Cotton Candy. We tried Swirl Popperz (8 in a box), Original Philly Swirl Italian Ice Swirls with Candy Spoonz (6 in a box), and  Swirl Stix (6 in a box).

Texture: Just right! Easy and fun to bite or eat with a candy spoon, and they don't melt too quickly.

Convenience: Available at many supermarkets around the U.S. They are currently on sale at my local supermarkets in southeastern Massachusetts--2 boxes for $5.00. Top 8 allergen-free, 2 boxes for $5? Not bad at all!

Buy again? Absolutely! It's a no brainer for me--a dedicated peanut free/tree nut free (except coconut) facility, does not contain top 8 allergen ingredients, and a super taste!


Philly Swirl website: www.phillyswirl.com
Philly Swirl Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/PhillySwirl



30 June 2015

Are Epinephrine Injectors Affordable?

As a mother of a child with life threatening food allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, I am always searching for new safe foods made in dedicated facilities. That's the gold standard to me, so when I find a new safe food, I feel victorious! Unfortunately, they are always more expensive than the "regular" versions, but I am still so glad to find the products at all.

What about those life-saving epinephrine injectors? They are not free either. Currently, both Mylan and Sanofi offer coupons to make the cost of purchasing epinephrine injectors more manageable. For some, the coupon brings their out-of-pocket cost for Epipens or Auvi-Q down to $0! Their health insurance pays the rest, and that is an ideal situation for the consumer. For others, the coupon lowers the out-of-pocket to a few hundred, and if there is a deductible for prescriptions, when and if the consumer hits their deductible, then the insurance will cover the cost of the epis and the consumer pays his or her co-pays. There are a number of variations on this theme of high deductible health insurance. None of them are terribly affordable, since most people need more than one set of epinephrine injectors. Children, in particular, tend to need several sets--at least 1 for school, 1 for home, 1 for additional caregivers, etc. It can become extremely costly.

Gas prices in my area are about $2.73/gallon, a dozen of eggs are nearly $5.00. It seems the prices of everything are just going up, and I don't see incomes or salaries increasing at the same pace. The time has come for the food allergy community--as a unique group of consumers--to get organized and voice our shared concern about the cost of epinephrine injectors. Put simply, the prices are out of control.

What are your thoughts? What has been your experience with purchasing epinephrine injectors? Does your insurance cover the purchase? Are you able to use the coupons from Mylan or Sanofi? Are you one of the many stuck with high deductibles? Please share in a comment below. Thank you!

23 June 2015

Food Allergy Parents Celebrate the End of Another School Year

Another school year has come to an end. Parents of food allergic children visit Facebook support groups and networks to share their gratitude for a school year ending with the retrieval of two unused Epipens from the school nurse. If you don't have a child with life threatening food allergies, it's probably something you don't even think of. And why would you? The last day of school is always an exciting, joy-filled one. It's the end of one stage and the beginning of another. Gowing up, with all its milestones--from preschool to kindergarten, from elementary to middle school, and middle to high school, the end of every school year is a milestone. When you have a child with life threatening food allergies, however, and you pick up those two epinephrine injectors from the school nurse, it's a different sort of milestone. It's so fundamental, most people take it for granted--another allergy safe, allergic reaction free school year! We are grateful for the support from the teachers and school staff who helped care for our children and kept them safe, and we hope next school year is even better!

19 June 2015

Is that a Hive?

You know those hives that appear so subtly around the edges of your mouth, you almost doubt you're seeing them? You think to yourself "Are those hives?" And then you think, "No, that's just from eating a sandwich with toasted bread" or "that's the ketchup" or "that's from the sauce." But you keep watching and the pinkness around the edges of lips begins to swell ever so slightly until you realize you are certain that's a hive or two. The unmistakable shinyness of puffy pink skin around the edges of one's mouth right after eating or even during eating--yep, it's hives. But it's not itchy, you say to yourself. Maybe it isn't an allergic reaction. But you know it really is. You told everyone you needed to about the food allergies, every server who attended to your table. You checked with the manager beforehand. And nothing more happens. Just a few hives. After a while, after you have left the restaurant, the hives fade away. Phew! Just hives.

Eating out with food allergies can be stressful. You never realized before you managed food allergies, that eating out with abandon, not worrying about having a life threatening reaction to a food was a luxury. You didn't appreciate that luxury while you had it and suddenly one day, it was gone. 

Do you return to the restaurant? Is it worth eating out? It's a very personal decision. It's all about your own personal comfort level. Whatever you decide, please take a moment to share your dining out experience--good or bad--on the AllergyEats website. It's such a tremendous resource and just keeps getting better! The more reviews, the more helpful the site will be for individuals managing food allergies, and the more options we'll have, so please be sure to share your reviews!

09 June 2015

Allergy and Asthma Awareness Initiative of Peabody Would Like Your Input!

Noticed a Facebook post earlier today which I thought might interest Food Allergy Buzz readers. The author has given me permission to share it with you.

I am copying and pasting the message from Kirstie D. below:

"Hi all! I need your help. I'm the President/Founder of the Allergy and Asthma Awareness Initiative of Peabody, Inc. We are trying to gather some information regarding Epi-Pens and put together this survey. We need as many participants as we can get to collect usable data. Our goal is to determine if the cost of Epi-Pens is a factor in families filling their prescriptions. Ultimately, our concerns are around how many families go without an epi-pen because they can't afford it. This keeps me up at night. Thank you so much!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TYLKG2N"

Please help by completing AAAI's short survey! Thank you!

02 June 2015

More Competition for the Epipen

Very interesting article on MedCityNews.com about a new alternative to the Epipen which is under development by Windgap Medical. This is great news! More options, and possibly better options! Take a look:

Watch Out, Epipen: A better auto-injector for severe allergies is in the works
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