Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Food Allergy Post-Thanksgiving Wrap Up: Coping with Family and Food Allergies

With Thanksgiving behind us, now is a good time to review how things went so that we can anticipate the winter holidays and how to safely participate in family events. Family gatherings can be stressful for those with food allergies as well as for those hosting our families.

It's a rare food allergy family that faces smooth sailing with regard to holiday gatherings involving food, at least at first. Most of us have run into difficulties at one time or another. Common scenarios include: being "uninvited" from a family dinner due to food allergies, lack of understanding from family members about hosting people with severe food allergies (they feel like a kid with food allergies is too fragile to be around) and isolation due to family members not understanding the real dangers that food allergies present, forcing us to stay away from the gathering.

Even though I will always try to find a positive solution that involves inclusion with family, I know  this approach doesn't always work. Not everyone is going to be willing or able to cope with our kids who have food allergies. If that happens, we do the best we can, either by hosting meals ourselves or by opting out of certain food-focused events and finding other ways to connect with family.

However, I feel like some of the problems we encounter can be either minimized or avoided with some open discussion. What is at the heart of someone telling you not to come to their house for a holiday meal, because it's "not safe?" Ask yourself: are you giving a message that the responsibility for the safety of your child is not your responsibility? Or are other people simply interpreting it that way? Take a look at what you're saying to each other and how you're saying it.

Sometimes people hear one thing when we say another. I'm no relationship expert, but when it comes to food allergies and family relationships, many times there is something going on between the lines that has nothing to do with what is being discussed.

Fear is a factor. While we want compassion for our situation at the holidays, we need to feel equal compassion for those who don't live with food allergies each day. It's a long process of education, so if you feel like you haven't been treated very well this year, give it time. Have a talk with your family members who handle the food. What can you do to help?

For example, even though I've dealt with food allergies for years, if you told me to host a dairy-free Thanksgiving, I'd be fearful of cross-contamination and ingredients because I don't shop, cook or deal with dairy allergies each day.

Looking at this way, I  can see how others might be afraid and have a lot of  questions. If family  are open to talking about it, try to have a calm discussion about what the problem is with making the holiday allergy-friendly.

Here are some things you might want to discuss:

What do you think it means when we ask you if the meal can be allergy-friendly? Do you interpret that as the entire meal is available to the allergic diner, or just part of it? Can we work out a compromise that will be OK with both of us?
This isn't about treading on tradition, it's about wanting to participate in a family event. Take the other person's suggestions and feelings into account regarding food. They might not understand that you view food differently than they do. For those with food allergies, food isn't a fun, happy tradition if it contains an allergen. It's a threat to health and well-being. It has nothing to do with them, personally. Many people don't understand this and feel like you're "ruining" their meal if you request, say, no Chex mix with peanuts on the table.

How can I help with this meal? Would you feel better if I brought my own food? Would you be offended? Why? Be sure to explain that you love this person and their cooking, but that food allergies are a medical condition and not a food preference, so they require appropriate caution. Just like diabetics, those with food allergies have certain foods they must avoid or they will face a medical emergency.

What can we, the family dealing with food allergies, do to make this easier? Do you want us to host an event over the holidays? If others host, can we collaborate on the menu? If not, why not? One of the most difficult things to get across is that you don't want to be in control of the food just for the sake of being in control. You might have to repeat this point, often. This is NOT about control. It's about health and safety. You aren't asking for things just to be difficult, you're asking because you have to ask.

Ask your family member (s): Do you think a child with severe food allergies is too fragile to even enter your home because your kids eat peanut butter or tree nut products like granola bars? What can we do to make this work? Can I help wipe down the toys? Right before we come over, can your kids wash their hands? Just having this discussion is a huge help because some people are so freaked out at the thought of a child having a reaction in their home, that they don't even want them in the house. If this attitude persists, so be it, but at least talk about how to minimize exposure or reactions.

And remember, you can always host people if they just don't feel comfortable. Never try to force or "guilt" someone into an invite. A food allergy education can help, but if someone is saying "no"even after they have the facts and you feel like they understand the issues, then you have to go with that. It's about health and safety.

None of these issues are easy, but talk to your family. Don't sit in isolation and wish things were better if you think there is any chance that others will work with you to find safe solutions. Bring your own food if that's the safest option or host parties on your own. It all comes down to your individual situation, but at least be open to a discussion and ask others to be open. If you don't try, you won't know.

In the coming weeks, I will be co-hosting a live chat on this topic. More details on that in future posts and on FB and Twitter, so stay tuned!

What about you? Have you had these discussions? How did it go? Have you made headway or are you at a stalemate?

My e-book talks about educating others, finding safe foods, keeping your cool and living a happy life with severe allergies. It's on sale for the holidays and many readers have told me they've shared it with grandparents and other family members. Click the link to find out how to get it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Food Allergy News: Cyber Monday Savings from Allergy-Friendly Retailers!

Save big on allergy-friendly foods, medical ID jewelry and more.

In case you hadn't heard (wink, wink) it's CYBER MONDAY!!! To help us all with our holiday shopping, I want to share a roundup of some allergy-friendly retailers having Cyber Monday sales.

There are many more sales going on today than those listed here, but this should get you started. If you know of any good deals not listed here, please feel free to give them a shout out in the comments section below! For more information on any of the retailers mentioned in this post, please contact them directly with questions. Thanks and happy shopping!

Allergy-friendly Cyber Monday Deals:

Food: Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates
(Peanut-free and tree nut-free treats, plus baking chocolate)
Cyber week-end sale continues through Monday November 26. 10% off everything by using the code CYBER in the key code box while shopping at

Premium Chocolatiers (nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free chocolates for all occasions) Cyber Monday: 20% across the board and free shipping over $100. Let us know if you like this or what we can do better to serve you this season! Coupon code: Cybermonday International shipping to over 20 countries!
SunCups (Chocolate candy with SunButter sunflower seed butter filling. Like a Reese's only safe for nut allergies--and tastier!)Cyber Monday: WEBSITE SALE of 35% Discount on all 2 Cup flavors. Through Monday, use coupon code CYBERSALE.

Indie Candy (allergy-friendly online candy retailer, free from many top food allergens) It's time for our biggest coupon of the year! Cyber Monday - 20% off your entire order!
Coupon code is "NOV26" and it is good through the end of Cyber Monday.

Sweet Alexis Bakery (Nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free) CYBER MONDAY! 25% off Today only!!!! Promo code: sweetcyber

Parenting e-book for nut allergies:

The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Nut-Allergic Child
by Jenny Kales, creator of The Nut-Free Mom Blog (that's me)
Now at a reduced price for the holidays! No coupon required. Click link to find out how to buy. 

Allergy Apparel, Awareness Products and Gear:

Peanut Free Zone (allergy awareness products)
Cyber Monday Sale is starting today and running until 11:59 pm (est) on Monday. BOGO tattoos (50 tattoos for ONLY $8)
BOGO chef cards (50 chef cards for ONLY $5)
BOGO signs (8 signs for ONLY $12)

Must use the link above for the savings

Hope Paige Medical ID Jewelry (personalized bracelets, dog tags and more)
20% off all merchandise! Coupon Code: Cybermonday Sale runs until Tuesday, 9 am EST. Plus, design your own bracelet is now here! for more details.

Onespot Allergy: (Convenient, wearable belts for allergy meds, plus other allergy gear)
Cyber Monday Sale today only! All Onespot Allergy products are 15% off. It's a great time to try our Best EpiPen Belt or EpiPen Carrying Case, try out a different color for a change, or buy some to give as Christmas or Chanukkah gifts.

Epi-Essentials(Fashionable carrying cases for allergy meds)
Our Holiday Savings have begun! Save $20. on your new essentials. Choose the versatile "Grab & Go" Handbag or Accessory Case. Safe, simple, stylish and available in 4 luscious colors. 2 organized compartments keep epinephrine auto-injectors & allergy essentials next to your daily basics. Gift wrap for the holidays (it's super-cute and always free) + Priority ship anywhere in the U.S. for $6. International flat-fee shipping also available. (Check website for details.)

Blue Bear Aware (allergy apparel and much more) Cyber Monday Nov 26, receive 40% off selected allergy gear. Use the code blackfri in the coupon box at the check-out and save.**
includes all regular priced short sleeve and long sleeve t-shirts, accessories, badges & labels and wristbands.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First Thanksgiving with Food Allergies? Check Out These Tips

You can learn to manage food allergies at Thanksgiving...
and you can eventually even have fun. No, really.
Dealing with food allergies at Thanksgiving for the first time this year? This can be a tricky business, but take heart: you can manage it and you are definitely not alone. As you sit down with the family this year, just keep in mind that millions of other parents are in the same situation.
Any holiday with a food allergy is difficult, but since Thanksgiving is focused almost entirely on the food served, this one is particularly challenging for families facing a new food allergy diagnosis. Any type of food allergy is cause for concern at Thanksgiving, but peanut and tree nut allergies can give you some heartburn as these foods show up with more frequency and as part of "secret ingredients" in recipes at this time of year. Autumn, especially, equals "tree nuts" so be careful!
Once you've been through a couple of holiday meals with the family, you will be better able to anticipate some of the pitfalls. However, if you are just starting out, both you and your family are still learning what it means to create a food allergy-friendly meal. The best policy is caution. Don't feel pressured to serve your child anything you can't verify is safe for them. A food is never worth risking your child's health for, so don't feel compelled to feed your child anything you have doubts about. This is a good policy to maintain at all times, and especially at the holidays where such a huge variety of different foods may be on offer.
While you are getting used to food allergies and family meals, it is always a good idea to bring a separate meal or at least some food items that you know are OK for your child to eat. This is much easier than trying to determine if every food you didn't make or bring is safe. The fact is, many times you have no way of determining that. Not having nuts as an ingredient is only one piece of the puzzle. A recipe may have no actual peanuts or tree nuts, but it may have had cross contact with these allergens during the preparation process. Sometimes even the cook is unaware that there may have been cross contact, or what that means, especially if they are unused to dealing with severe food allergies.
Unless a food has a label or you made or brought the food yourself, there is a risk factor there. Avoid the ER and avoid these unknown foods.
What else to watch out for while navigating Thanksgiving with nut allergies?
Turkey stuffing. Turkey stuffing often contains tree nuts such as walnuts or pecans. If a turkey has a nutty stuffing, this renders the entire turkey unsafe to eat because the stuffing can permeate the meat. Some breads are unsafe for those with nut allergies, too. If you are not hosting, you will want to be careful of stuffing.
Sauces and gravies. These often contain hidden ingredients, so be careful!
Buffet-style meals. A family favorite, but if utensils are used for more than one dish and anything contains nuts or other allergens, the other foods can be cross contaminated.
Desserts. Desserts are high-risk for nut allergens and other food allergens. Bakery desserts may be cross contaminated due to the environment in which they are made; the same goes for homemade desserts. Bring a dessert for your child to make sure they can have a "safe" sweet treat with the other kids; even better if you bring enough to share.
Any food with unknown origins, or catered foods. If you don't know what's in something or how it was prepared, don't serve it to your child.

Difficult situations.

Occasionally, you may have to do some fancy footwork to deflect a difficult situation while celebrating the Turkey Day feast. Here are a few common scenarios and how to handle them:
Friends or family who baked something "nut-free" especially for your child.  Awkward! Unless you have personally schooled this person in detail on allergy-free baking and they have a kitchen that never sees peanuts or tree nuts cross the threshold (hardly anyone, in other words) anything home baked by others is at risk for cross contact. And keep in mind that many people believe that "nut allergies" mean peanut allergies, only! If you must avoid tree nuts as well, you run twice the risk of cross contact from a home baked item.
What to do if offered a treat "that doesn't have nuts in it"? Not everyone is as invested in your child as say, grandparents are, so if this is a relative or friend you don't see often, you can just sidestep the baked treats.  Say something like, "Thank you so much. That was so sweet and thoughtful. I'd love to try one of your cookies." Then don't give any to your allergic child, whatever you do!
What if this is a close friend or family member? You can be a little more detailed, especially if this is someone you see often. Explain that because of cross contact risk, you are under doctor's orders to avoid any homemade treats but that you love the thought and you appreciate the effort. Offer to have them over to bake a treat with you and your child if this is an activity they would enjoy.
Questions about "why so many kids these days have allergies?" or "what will happen if little Susie eats peanuts?"
Let's face it: discussing life-threatening food allergies doesn't exactly make for appetizing table talk. If people are truly interested and are sincere in wanting to help you, offer to discuss your family's personal situation at a later time. You can always tell others that no one knows why there are so many allergies these days, but in the meantime you are following your doctor's advice on keeping your child safe. Then change the topic to a light hearted subject--or switch the discussion to politics or religion. Whatever it takes! (Just kidding, don't do that). A simple answer and subject change usually do the trick.
Resentment from others about a food item banned from the meal. This is a tough one, because many people don't understand that the mere presence of certain foods might pose a risk. Thank your family and friends for avoiding anything on your child's behalf and offer to work together in the future so that everyone can be happy with the meal while also keeping it allergy-friendly.
If this type of thing is a big problem for those in your circle, you can always host the meal yourself and make it clear that it is "free from" whatever you need to avoid. Then anyone who attends has fair warning and can make other plans if they would like. After dinner or the day after Thanksgiving might be a better time to gather if prohibited foods become a big issue for family members. Thanksgiving is about tradition, so many people have strong ties to foods. If everyone communicates and realizes there are no "perfect" solutions, you can usually work out some sort of compromise.
For more information on educating others about allergies and navigating life in general with nut allergies, check out my e-book The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Nut-Allergic Child." 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Two Nut-Free Thanksgiving Recipes!

Recently, I featured a Thanksgiving turkey-shaped pan that I use for cornbread on my Facebook page and the response from readers was "give me a cornbread recipe!" So I'm sharing one that I love--the cornbread turns out divine. You can serve it as-is or use it to make cornbread stuffing.

You don't need a turkey mold to make this recipe, but it will fit exactly in the Nordic Ware mold I used for the cornbread pictured above. or sells this mold. Psst...Amazon is quite a bit cheaper!  However, the recipe will also work in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or even two 8-inch baking pans. Or bake a lot of corn muffins--you can probably get 24 out of this recipe.

This recipe is nut-free only, as that is my area of expertise. Dairy-free and egg-free bakers will probably have some ideas on replacements for the ingredients used in this recipe. Plus, anyone looking for nut-free, egg-free and dairy-free baking should check out The Food Allergy Mama. Her baking book is wonderful! Check out Divvies for a wonderful egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free baking book, too. Another terrific resource.

OK, here is a cornbread recipe I have altered from a combination of recipes I've used over the years. This one is a family favorite. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Cornbread


Baking spray with flour--I use Pam
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal -- I use Quaker brand or Aunt Jemima yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder--I use Clabber Girl
3/4 teaspoons baking soda-- I use Arm and Hammer
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cup buttermilk, (shake it up good before adding to batter)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray turkey pans or other pans suggested above with baking spray.

2. Melt butter and let it cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients. Set aside.

4. In another large bowl or extra large Pyrex measuring cup, whisk buttermilk, eggs and cooled, melted butter.

5. Slowly stir buttermilk, egg and butter mixture into dry ingredients until well combined.  Do not over mix.

6. Pour batter evenly into turkey molds if using, or into other prepared pans. Fill about 2/3 full for any pan you use, including muffin pans. Don't overfill or you will have a big mess in the oven. (If you have extra batter, you can always pour it into additional muffin pans. A few extra corn muffins--nice!)

7. Transfer to oven and bake until a tester comes out clean. Estimated times depending on pan: Turkey pan, 30 - 35 minutes. 9 x 13 pan, 30 minutes. 8 inch pans, 18 - 20 minutes. Muffin pans, 16-18 minutes. Of course, it's always better to under bake and correct it than to over bake. Check cornbread frequently near the end of baking time.

8. Let cool slightly in pan if using turkey mold, then remove from mold and set on wire rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, you can stand up each turkey pan half to create a "whole bird" (pictured above). For other pans except muffin tins, let cool on wire rack until ready to serve. For muffins, let cool five minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. (All but the turkey-shaped cornbread can be served warm, too. My favorite way to serve cornbread.)

One more recipe!

Since many of us need to prepare separate foods for our allergic kids, I've found that the following recipe really comes in handy. No, it doesn't have marshmallows, but it does have brown sugar (or maple syrup, or in our house, both!). It's yummy and fast, plus you won't be fighting over the oven space.

Speedy, Nut-Free Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons canola oil or butter (you can also use dairy-free margarine)
2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice, or a few tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, shake the container and continue to microwave at 2-minute intervals until the sweet potatoes are very tender. Serve hot.

Congratulations once again to all of our giveaway winners and thanks especially to Hope Paige!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Food Allergies and Thanksgiving: Libby's ® Brand Pumpkin and Nestle® Carnation Brand Evaporated Milk

I love to bake my holiday pies with Libby's® brand pumpkin puree.
Read on for the company's nut allergen statement.
Holiday bakers, start your engines! It's pumpkin pie season!  Who's with me? Thanksgiving comes early this year, so I've been gathering seasonal baking ingredients for the annual Turkey Day indulgence.

But wait--what about ingredients? Everyone's favorite pumpkin pie recipe is on the back of the Libby's®  brand pureed pumpkin and it always includes Nestle®  Carnation Evaporated Milk. Since so many of us end up baking our own pumpkin pies for the holidays (including me), it was time for my annual ingredients check-in for these products.

I wanted to share my findings with all of you so we can get on to the fun part: baking pies. Both of these popular seasonal products are made by Nestle; I e-mailed the company last week and got a detailed e-mail response. Here's what Nestle had to say about Libby's Pumpkin and Carnation Evaporated Milk with regard to tree nuts and peanuts (and general food allergen labeling):

Dear Ms. Kales,
Thank you for contacting Libby's® Pumpkin.

Our NestlĂ©® Carnation Evaporated Milk and Libby's® Pumpkin products do not contain peanuts or tree nuts nor are they at potential for cross contact.

Labeling regulations require that if any of the eight recognized known allergens, such as peanuts and tree nuts, are in the product, they must be listed in the ingredient statement. We always list the allergen by the common name.

Additionally, our factories, that use any of the recognized allergens as an ingredient, take all precautions to avoid cross contact of products that do not contain them. We always add a cautionary statement at the end of our packaging ingredient listing if a product is made on the same line or factory of those products containing a recognized allergen. It is recommended that you always check the label before purchasing a product.

Holiday bakers: Please make a note of the last line of the e-mail above because it is an important one: always check the label before purchasing a product.

For example, while the canned items I contacted Nestle about do not contain nut allergens (see full statement from the company, above), Libby's and Nestle's baking kits that include the pumpkin puree and canned milk, respectively, have nut allergen and other food allergen warnings on the label.

While the canned items are safe and we can use them to make a pie or cake from scratch, it looks like the culprits in these baking kits are the pumpkin bread mix and the pie crust mix, respectively. Avoid the baking kits when baking for people with nut allergies. Note: these kits are extremely well marked for allergens. If you read the label, you'll see the warnings underneath the ingredients list.

This is what the Libby's® Pumpkin Bread Kit looks like. The label on this kit has warnings for nut and other food allergens:

Check each label--even if certain ingredients in a baking kit
might be OK, other components might carry nut allergy warnings.

Click the link for a nut-free pumpkin bread recipe from my blog that uses Libby's brand pumpkin--almost as easy as a kit, and best of all -- no nut allergens to worry about!

The prevalence of allergy warnings on prepared baking kits only reinforces that holiday baking needs to be carefully monitored for anyone with a severe allergy. That's why I volunteer to do so much baking--I know what's in my kitchen and what goes into our food, so we can enjoy our desserts without any concern for cross-contact or allergenic hidden ingredients.

Note: the allergen information given in this post is for these specific brands, only, and refers to peanut and tree nut allergies.  If you have questions about Libby's, Carnation or any other store brands, with regard to their practices or for other allergens, please contact companies directly. It is always up to the consumer to decide if a specific product fits your allergy needs. Thank you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Peanut Allergy Parenting Guide: The New Nut-Free Mom E-Book! Reduced Holiday Price!

A concise, effective nut allergy guide, written for parents and caregivers, by a parent who has "been there."
Each day I hear from more parents who have just found out that their child has severe peanut and/or tree nut allergies. A new nut allergy diagnosis is a very overwhelming time and it helps to hear from a parent who has been successfully navigating allergies for years. It's even better to have this guidance in a quick, easy-to-follow format for busy parents -- and who isn't a busy parent these days? My book picks up where your doctor's appointment leaves off, to offer you the lifestyle guidance you'll need as you adjust to your new "nut-free normal."
That's why I wrote my e-book: "The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Nut Allergic Child." Now, you'll find the book at a reduced holiday price of $7.99!
 The holidays are a time when many food allergy questions arise and this book has got you covered with information on how to determine what foods are safe, how to educate other about your childs' food allergies, dealing with relatives who don't "get it" and much more practical advice to help steer you through the holidays and beyond.
Below is information on how to get the book, plus see what others are saying about The New Nut-Free Mom!

New to Nut Allergies? You're Not Alone.

Written by a parent who has been in your situation and lives it every day, "The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Nut-Allergic Child" by Jenny Kales is the concise and easy to follow guide you need.

How to buy my e-book:

Purchase directly from Amazon Kindle:

Click this link to buy my book "The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Nut-Allergic Child" on the Kindle.

Or click here:

Buy directly for the Nook from Barnes and Noble:

Here is the direct link, on the Barnes and Noble web site.

No Kindle or Nook? No problem.

Luckily, you don't need a Kindle or Nook to read my e-book. There are many free downloads you can use to read my e-book on your MAC or PC, android phone, iPad and more.

FREE Apps from Kindle

Click the link below to find free apps from Kindle that will allow you to download my book. Note: You do NOT need a Kindle to download these apps:

FREE Apps from Nook:

Click the following link for a list of free Nook apps available that will allow you to download my book. Note: You do NOT need a Nook to download these free apps:

Book synopsis:

"Trying to cope with raising a nut-allergic child? Here comes the Nut-Free Mom to the rescue. This is the one book that gives a "crash course" on what you need to know – from a mom who’s “been there”.

The book offers heart, humor and hard-won experience to help caregivers cope with nut-free living. Learn how to handle play dates, grocery shopping, meal-planning, dining out, family gatherings, and many more practical, real-life situations. Written in a lively format, the book includes scores of tips that’ll boost your — and your child’s — confidence.

As a professional writer for nearly twenty years and as a parent currently raising a child with life-threatening nut allergies, Ms. Kales is uniquely qualified to author The NEW Nut-Free Mom. Kales has advised thousands of parents, grandparents, teachers and caregivers from all over the world via her award-winning blog “The Nut-Free Mom”.

This is the book that Kales wishes she had when her daughter was first diagnosed with a life-threatening nut-allergy. For anyone wishing to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child with nut or other food allergies, this book will be an indispensable guide."

Praise for "The New Nut-Free Mom" from food allergy advocates:
Susan Weissman, author of the food allergy book Feeding Eden and a Huffington Post contributor, reviewed "The New Nut-Free Mom" on her web site.

"Jenny about as savvy about the challenges of nut allergies as anyone I can think of. Sometimes people write handbooks because they can. Better to read advice from an author who should write the book and really and truly lives it day to day. That is this book. It's succinct, direct and never preachy. Allergy parents will get exactly what they need so they can move on, be safe and enjoy life."

Jennifer B., allergy advocate and author of the popular blogs, Food Allergy Buzz and Peanut-Free Baseball, had this to say about my e-book:

 "Jenny is a calm voice of experience and reason in an overwhelming world of nut allergy fears, conflicting information and controversy. Her book helps steer parents and caregivers through all of the questions that arise following a diagnosis of peanut and/or tree nut allergies. It is really a treasure trove of valuable tips, accumulated through experience over the years.  If you are new to managing a child's peanut and tree nut allergies, you can't ask for a better and more thorough summary of need-to-know information. It's especially wonderful to have Jenny's wisdom so conveniently packaged in an e-book to take on-the-go too!"

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone for the support of my e-book, "The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Nut-Allergic Child." I appreciate the great feedback, reader reviews and general well wishes! This book is for parents of kids facing a diagnosis of life-threatening nut allergies for the first time, but it's also useful for any caregiver: grandparents, relatives, close friends.

I hope it is helpful to you all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Food Allergy Book Review: Marty's Nut-Free Party

Newly released: Marty's Nut-Free Party
Lots of you ask about good children's books that deal with food allergies, so I'm happy to be able to recommend a newly released children's food allergy picture book: Marty's Nut-Free Party by Katrina Roe. With both a kid-friendly story and food allergy facts and information for caregivers, this is a great addition to your peanut allergy parenting bookshelf.

Ms. Roe, a Australian writer and mom to a child with a peanut allergy, has created a charming story about a spunky little monkey named Marty. Marty has a peanut allergy and he loves parties. Unfortunately, Marty keeps running into foods that land him in the hospital. The hospital visits are not handled in a scary way, but in a way that is matter-of-fact and reinforces to children that they must avoid certain foods.

One of the things I liked best about this book (and that my daughters liked--of course they read it, too) was that it discusses the issue of how foods become cross-contaminated. At one party, Marty picks off the "peanut sprinkles" but again winds up in the hospital. Avoiding even trace amounts of food is important and is often misunderstood, so I'm glad that the author covered this aspect of peanut allergies.

Katrina Roe, left, at her book launch. Fun fact: Marty's fur was inspired by the author's wonderful red hair!
Eventually, little Marty learns to advocate for himself and decides to host his own peanut-free party. Marty's friends would rather hang out with him than eat peanuts or peanut products and I liked this aspect of the book, too. Marty worries that no one will want to come to a peanut-free party, but his fears turn out to be unfounded. I know that a lot of our kids worry that food will get in the way of friendship, so again, I'm glad the author acknowledged this issue in an upbeat way. On a personal note, I've found that most kids will want to accommodate their friends and do not mind giving up a food just for a few hours. Books like this can help non-allergic kids understand their friends' concerns, so it would be a good choice to read to a classroom.

The holidays are coming up and Marty's Nut-Free Party would make a nice gift for a young child struggling with peanut allergies. Plus, "Marty" provides parents with  a non-threatening way of opening up some good discussions about staying safe, following the doctor's rules and speaking up for yourself when you have food allergies.

Click this link for information on buying Marty's Nut-Free Party and don't forget to "like" the author's Facebook page.

And if you're looking for guidance on managing birthday parties and life in general with severe nut allergies, I hope you will check out my e-book, The New Nut-Free Mom!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Food Allergies Affect a Marriage: My Guest Post on Reboot This Marriage!

Today, I'm excited to share a guest post I wrote for the web site Reboot This Marriage by Tanja Pajevic, my college buddy! Reboot This Marriage is a terrific site dedicated to the topic of how kids affect your relationship. It has lots of good info on parenting, relationships and life in general.

Tanja's son has peanut allergies, so she wanted my input on how this can affect the relationship with your spouse. In fact, this is something I talk about in my e-book. It's a big topic! How you and your spouse work out the details of food allergy management makes a difference in everything that you do together. Naturally, you want to have a system everyone can live with, but it also has to be one that keeps your child safe and healthy.

It's not always an easy balance to strike. In fact, many of you have e-mailed me, commented on this blog or posted on Facebook about family and spousal issues with regards to food allergies.

Here is the link, if you want to read the complete article:

With the holidays coming up and family issues on the horizon, it helps to have your spouse on your side, no question.

Thanks again to Tanja for the opportunity to write about this issue!