Monday, July 30, 2012

Fresh Allergy-Free Farmers Market Recipes

by Kelley Lindberg

Aren’t farmers markets and roadside farm stands great? All those wonderful-looking fresh veggies! But sometimes it’s a little daunting to try to come up with ideas for how to cook what you find there. I know I get overwhelmed in a hurry.

So here are some quick and easy ideas for fresh veggies that may help inspire you to grab that bunch of Swiss chard or that pound of fresh green beans next time you find yourself standing in front of the veggie stand. (Only two recipes involve turning on the oven, so that’s great, too!) Enjoy!

Bell Peppers: Here are two recipes for stuffed bell peppers (one vegetarian, one not). 1) Cut tops off peppers and seed them. Stuff with cooked bulgur, crumbled tofu, sautéed garlic and onion, olive oil, parsley, tomato, and mint. Bake until peppers are softened. (From Sunset magazine's website.) 2) In this recipe for Easy Stuffed Peppers from, you stuff the peppers with cooked ground turkey, 2 cups of cooked brown rice, and a half-jar of spaghetti sauce.

Corn on the Cob: Got a cooked ear of corn left over? Cut off the kernels, then add them to a jar of your favorite salsa. Voila! Your own special-recipe salsa! You can also add a half-can of black beans, rinsed, if your family likes black beans. Just eat it up quickly – with the fresh corn in it, the salsa will only last a few days.

Beets: (This is my mom’s favorite recipe for beets.) Wash a couple of whole beets thoroughly. Cut off the greens (you can cook these, too – see below), leaving an inch or two of the leaf stems still attached to the beet. You can leave the root curl on the bottom, too. Wrap each beet tightly in foil. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour. To see if they’re done, poke a fork through the foil into the beet. If it goes through (kind of like a baked potato), it’s done. If it still feels hard, bake for another 5 or 10 minutes until the fork test feels right. Then plop the beets into a bowl of water (foil and all) to cool off. When cooled enough to handle, unwrap the beets, then use your fingers to rub off the skin under running water. Slice and serve! Great cold or room temperature.

Greens (spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, etc.): Wash leaves and, if you want, tear out and discard the ribs (stems). Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, then fill the skillet with the leaves and put a lid on it. Stir every minute or two – you’re sautéing/wilting the leaves, but you don’t want them to burn. (The lid helps keep the steam in so that they cook more quickly and evenly.) You can add a little fresh garlic, coarse salt, or even a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or safe balsamic vinegar (optional). Use the whole bunch of leaves – they wilt down to a small amount! If you want, throw in some fresh diced tomatoes and maybe some chopped onion, too, and let them sauté together. Delicious served over a bowl of cooked safe pasta. (Top with sliced grilled chicken for a complete meal!)

Farmer’s Market Salad: Cut raw snow peas into thin strips, and mix with similarly sized strips of carrot, cucumber, and scallion. (Also try jicama, bell peppers, or zucchini.) Toss with a splash of orange juice, a dash of safe balsamic vinegar or safe soy sauce (or safe substitute), and a teaspoon of sesame or olive oil. (Based on a recipe from Local Food Guide to Rhode Island.)

Green beans: Rinse beans and let dry in a colander while you snap off the stem ends. Dice a slice or two of bacon, then cook the bacon pieces in a skillet until almost done. Add in the beans and sauté for 3 – 5 minutes until they are emerald green. I think they’re best when they’re still firm – not mushy. The bacon pieces give the beans a great Southern flavor, but if you don’t want bacon, just sauté the beans in olive oil. Steaming is another great way to cook them – just put the beans in a steamer set into a pot of water. Cover and bring to a boil, and steam for about 5 minutes or until they are the consistency you like. (You can also throw some pieces of cooked bacon in the steamer, if you like a little bacon flavor but not quite as much grease.)

Carrots: In this recipe for Sauteed Carrots with Lemon and Marjoram from the Food and Wine website, you just sauté a bunch of sliced carrots in oil with some minced garlic, a little sugar (which I would leave out), a dash of salt and pepper, and fresh or dried marjoram. Sounds delish!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thanks Sen. Hatch! Now on to Rep. Matheson!

by Kelley Lindberg

Last week, I wrote about UFAN’s efforts to encourage Senator Orrin Hatch to co-sponsor Senate bill 1884, “The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.” This bill would encourage states to ensure that epinephrine is available in schools and that school personnel are trained to administer it in an emergency.

You did it! Enough of us called Senator Hatch that his staff realized how important this legislation is to Utah families. His staff met with FAAN executives last week, then recommended to Sen. Hatch that he support the bill. And guess what? He has now decided to co-sponsor S. 1884! That is great news!

It’s incredible to watch our political system in action, and see that our individual efforts really do make a difference!

So this week, we are trying to get U.S. Representative Jim Matheson to support and co-sponsor the HR version of the bill. In the House of Representatives, the bill is called HR 3627. Almost 80 U.S. Representatives, both Republican and Democrat, have signed on as co-sponsors, so we need to make sure Rep. Matheson signs on to support Utah families.

The person to contact in Rep. Matheson’s office is Joel Bailey. His email address is:

By phone, he can be reached at:

So pick up the phone again and make another quick phone call. It’s painless, easy, and life-saving. How often do you get to do something like that?

Here is the email I just sent to Joel Bailey:


I am a Utah constituent. I understand you can help Rep. Matheson decide on legislation to co-sponsor.

HR 3627 is life-saving legislation that can help prevent more food allergy tragedies at school, such as the one that took first-grader Amarria Johnson’s life last January in Virginia. This bill would encourage states to ensure that epinephrine is available in schools and that school personnel are trained to administer it in an emergency.

Statistically, food allergies now affect approximately one student in every Utah classroom, and more than 15% of school-aged children with food allergies have had an allergic reaction in school. That’s a lot of Utah kids having reactions at school, despite our best precautions.

The scary part is that allergies can develop at any time, and some students may not even know that they are allergic, so they won’t have epinephrine available. 25% of epinephrine administrations in schools involve individuals with a previously unknown allergy. Those injections usually come from bystanders who happen to have EpiPens with them, or from emergency personnel who arrive on the scene – but because anaphylactic reactions can kill within minutes, emergency personnel may arrive too late, like in Amarria Johnon’s case. Having epinephrine immediately available is crucial.

Anaphylaxis (a severe life-threatening allergic reaction) can also be triggered by venom (such as bee or wasp stings), by medications (such as antibiotics), or even by physical activity in some individuals. So it isn’t just food-allergic children who may be helped by this law. Fast access to epinephrine injectors can mean the difference between a close call and tragedy in all of these cases.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that epinephrine injectors should be part of the emergency medical kit kept in all schools, and that school staff should be trained in its administration.

Those of us affected by food allergies hope that you will agree that having epinephrine injectors in schools is an important step to saving the lives of our children.  Almost 80 Republican and Democrat Representatives have already signed on to co-sponsor HR 3627. Please encourage Rep. Matheson to strongly support and co-sponsor HR 3627.

Kelley Lindberg
Mother of a 13-year-old Utah public school student allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts

Monday, July 16, 2012

Make a Call, Save a Life (Support Senate bill “S. 1884”)

by Kelley Lindberg

It’s scary to think your child could have an anaphylactic reaction to food when you’re with him or her. It’s even scarier to consider what might happen if they have an anaphylactic reaction at school. Will anyone be able to find and administer the epinephrine that can save your child’s life?

Last January, Amarria Johnson, a first-grader in Virginia, died from a peanut reaction at school. The school had told her mother she had to keep her EpiPen at home, so none were available at the school to save little Amarria’s life. This tragedy could have been easily prevented.

U.S. Senate bill 1884, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, is life-saving legislation that can help prevent more food allergy tragedies at school. This bill would encourage states to ensure that epinephrine is available in schools and that school personnel are trained to administer it in an emergency.

This is even more important for kids that may have a food allergy reaction for the first time – since allergies can develop at any time during an individual’s life, you may not know your child is allergic until they’re having a deadly reaction. In those cases, their life may depend on the school having its own epinephrine auto-injector available.

The state of Virginia has already enacted its own law consistent with S. 1884. But we don’t want other states to wait until they lose one of their own students before they recognize the importance of asking schools to stock their own epinephrine. That’s why the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has been working with several Senators to build support for S. 1884. So far, about 35 Senators, both Republican and Democrat, have signed on as co-sponsors of this important bill. And the following organizations have all joined FAAN in endorsing S. 1884:
We in the food allergy community can help this bill become a law by letting our Senators know how important we think it is. All it takes is a one-minute phone call.

In Utah, UFAN is targeting Senator Hatch, who is not yet a co-sponsor. But he has two staff members responsible for recommending whether he should co-sponsor the legislation: Hayden Rhudy and Karen LaMontagne. After several of us called Hatch’s office this morning, his assistants have directed us to contact one of these two staff members directly so that they can see how important this legislation is to Utah children.

So take a quick minute and call one of these staff members. It’s easy:
  1. Call 202-224-5251 and ask for Hayden first. If she’s not available, ask for Karen.
  2. Just say you’re a Utah voter and that you’re calling to ask Senator Hatch to strongly support S. 1884, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine. That’s all you have to do!
  3. If you leave a voicemail, you can send a quick email follow-up, too:

When I called Hatch’s office earlier this morning, the assistant who answered said that Hatch isn’t necessarily opposed to it, but that he might prefer that it be a state law instead of a federal law, so he wondered if that’s why Hatch hasn’t signed on as a co-sponsor.  But I reminded him that it’s not really an education issue but a health issue, and that I really hope Hatch doesn’t oppose it when it goes to a vote. I also reminded him that statistically Utah is up to 1 food allergic kid in every classroom. The assistant seemed understanding and supportive, and he suggested I also contact my Utah legislators.

If you can, call as soon as possible so that they receive a significant number of calls. A few UFAN members have already called this morning, and we’ve been told by Hatch’s assistants that the more calls they receive, the better it is for our cause – it lets the Senator see just how important his constituents believe this bill is. We’d love to have at least 50 calls, and 100 would be even better!

So take just a minute out of your busy schedule and make a fast phone call.

Then tonight when your spouse or a friend asks “What did you do today?” you can honestly answer:

“I helped save a child’s life.”

Monday, July 2, 2012

American Girl®’s Allergy-Free Lunch

by Kelley Lindberg

Depending on the statistics you read, food allergies affect anywhere between 1 in 12 and 1 in 25 kids these days. They have, unfortunately, become so common that almost every classroom, soccer team, scout troop, or summer camp has at least one kid with an allergy.

Because of the tireless work of folks like the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, Kids With Food Allergies, the Utah Food Allergy Network, and the dozens of organizations and hundreds of bloggers that have surfaced over the last decade, more people are aware of food allergies than ever before in history.

And here is a sign that not only is awareness rising, but there is a genuine effort to reach out to adults and children with food allergies. American Girl®, the maker of those wildly popular dolls, has just come out with the ultimate accessory set for any food-allergic girl:
The American Girl® Allergy-Free Lunch!

Now your American Girl® doll can indulge in a make-believe lunch that is allergy free. The set contains plastic play-food that represents food items that are free from the top 8 allergens. It includes a fake berry smoothie, a container of vegetables, and two “sandwich skewers.” Even better, it also comes with a medical bracelet for the doll, allergy stickers, and even a fake allergic epinephrine “shot” in case the doll has a pretend reaction. The whole thing comes in a fabric lunch bag.

I think it’s great that this has come out just in time for back-to-school shopping. If you’ve got a food allergic first-grader who is a little nervous about carrying her lunch to school this fall, this could be a perfect “get ready for school” gift. Or just a “thanks for being strong” gift. Or a “because I love you” gift. Or do you really need a reason?

But it’s not just for food-allergic girls. This lunch set might make a great birthday present for a food-allergic girl’s best friend. She would see that food is still yummy (and fun!) no matter what, and that it’s easy to keep her allergic friend safe by choosing non-allergic foods. And the fake epi-shot will remind her how serious it is, so that maybe she’ll take even more interest in being a helpful friend.

Obviously, my teenage son is not interested in this innovation, so I guess I won’t be buying it. But I sincerely appreciate American Girl® for taking this progressive step in constructive, positive, self-esteem-building play. I know a lot of girls will love this new accessory for their favorite doll.