Monday, November 25, 2013

It’s a Law! The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act Is Official

By Kelley Lindberg

This Thanksgiving, we have another reason to be grateful: on November 13, 2013, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This law is important because it recommends that states pass their own laws requiring schools to stock epinephrine auto-injectors. Read FARE’s announcement and watch a video of the President signing the bill here: “School Access to Epinephrine.” 

Why is it important to ask schools to stock their own epinephrine? A big reason is because studies show that 20 – 25% of all of the epinephrine injections administered in schools are given to students or adult staff WHO DIDN’T KNOW THEY HAD AN ALLERGY, and who therefore didn’t have their own medication. All too frequently we read about another child who died from a food allergy reaction because they didn’t have immediate access to epinephrine. This law will encourage schools to make sure that scenario never happens to one of their students.

Anyone can develop a food allergy at any time in their lives, often to foods they’ve been eating uneventfully for years. I developed allergies to avocado and brewer’s yeast in my 20s and to barley in my 30s. Then I developed a contact allergy to aluminum and other metals in my 40s. Just because a student hasn’t even shown signs of a food allergy doesn’t mean they won’t develop one. And if it happens at school, the consequences can be tragic.

This new law doesn’t, in and of itself, require schools to stock epinephrine. Instead, it encourages states to pass their own laws requiring stock epinephrine auto-injectors, and it provides incentives for states to do that. It raises the priority level of dealing with food allergies across the nation, pointing a spotlight at this very serious problem and illuminating a very simple way to deal with it – consistent and effective school policies that require epinephrine autoinjectors be added to each school’s medical first aid kits.

Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPen auto-injectors, is supporting this effort with a program called EpiPen4Schools, which allows eligible schools to receive up to 4 EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. auto-injectors at no cost. With this program, any school, no matter how tight their budget, can make sure they have the medication on hand to save lives.

So as you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember to offer a word of thanks for the tireless advocates and legislators who worked hard over the last couple of years to make this Act into a Law. And many thanks to President Obama and his peanut-allergic daughter Malia, who recognized the importance of this law and its potential to save lives.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Allergy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes 2013

By Kelley Lindberg

The food-oriented holidays just keep coming, don’t they? Thanksgiving, more than any other, is ALL about the food. There’s simply no way around it. The crazy thing is, the food is also wrapped up in traditions. Some folks get downright militant about those food traditions. Even if they don’t particularly like sweet potato casserole, for example, they’ll serve that dish or die trying, because it’s tradition, darn it!

Yeah, I don’t really get it, either. But most of us do it anyway.

So if you’re aiming for traditional this year, but you’re dealing with food allergies, I’ve put together another round-up of traditional Thanksgiving recipes that can be made allergy-safe. To see last year’s Thanksgiving recipes, see “Allergy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes 2012.” This year, I tried to go for different recipes to give you more choices. So check out last year’s post, too, to double your options!
  • The turkey: Turkeys, especially the self-basing kinds, are injected with solutions that make them tender. However, those solutions can harbor allergens like milk, wheat, soy, or corn. So check labels before you buy. Read the very helpful article at called “Before You Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey” for some great advice.
  • Stuffing: The type of stuffing you like probably depends on where you’re from. Southerners might go for cornbread stuffing, while East Coasters might indulge in oyster stuffing, for example. So here are some variations. (Be sure you substitute safe ingredients, such as your family’s favorite safe bread, for whatever the recipe calls for):
    • Traditional-Style (bread, celery, onion, spices): Try these: Traditional-Style Vegan Stuffing, Traditional-Style Vegetarian Stuffing (YouTube video), or this nifty recipe for making your own Instant Stuffing Mix that you can store in the pantry and cook up any time.
    • Herbed Oyster Stuffing: Try this recipe, but use a safe cornbread recipe for the cornbread (see below), use safe margarine instead of the butter, and make sure to use a turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock that is safe for your allergies.
    • Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffing: Again, be sure you check the labels on your bread and stock, and substitute safe margarine for the butter. 
    • Quinoa stuffing: Skip the bread completely and try this gluten-free quinoa stuffing with zucchini, butternut squash, dried apricots, and cranberries. Yum! 
    • Wild Rice Stuffing: Skip the pecans in this recipe and make sure your chicken broth is safe for your family. 
    • Cornbread Stuffing: This recipe from The Pioneer Woman is very similar to my grandmothers (except my grandmother’s recipe calls for biscuits instead of French bread). So use whichever white bread is safe for you, use safe chicken stock or broth, and safe butter. Lots of photos!
  • Cornbread: If you need a good cornbread recipe to use in your cornbread stuffing, try this one for Albers® Corn Bread, which I’ve been using for years. However, skip the sugar (unless you like sweet stuffing – but I prefer savory, and I’m originally from Texas, so you’ll never find me putting sugar in my cornbread!). Also, you have to make two substitutions: replace the egg with Ener-G egg replacer or other egg substitute, and replace the milk with soy milk or rice milk. I use rice milk, and it works great.
  • Mashed Potatoes: To make mashed potatoes allergy-safe, use any basic mashed potato recipe and replace the butter with a safe margarine and replace the milk or cream with rice milk or soy milk. Or, ditch the whole butter-and-cream idea completely and use chicken broth instead to flavor them. Here is the super-simple recipe from Campbell’s Kitchen for Skinny Mashed Potatoes. Or for something a little fancier, try this dairy-free recipe for Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Gravy: This is the same recipe I wrote about last year, but it’s a great, simple Allergy Free Turkey Gravy from that explains the steps well. You can use either regular wheat or wheat-free all-purpose flour in this yummy Thanksgiving staple. YouTube has lots of videos showing how to make turkey gravy if you’re not sure of the process.
  • Cranberry Relish: How about a no-cook Cranberry-Raspberry Relish? Throw everything in a food processor, and voila! Or this Cranberry-Raspberry Relish is even easier, using only 2 ingredients (a can of whole berry cranberry sauce and raspberry Jell-O).
  • Sweet Potatoes: Tired of the traditional mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows? Try Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Apples (just use safe margarine or olive oil). And here’s a delicious version of Candied Yams that uses orange juice and brown sugar. Heaven! Just use safe margarine instead of the butter. 
  • Green Bean Casserole: Whoever does the marketing for those French-fried onion rings is a genius, because they’ve managed to convince us all that green bean casserole is a traditional food. I’m so over that. Personally, I’d much rather indulge in this traditional Greek recipe for Fasolakia, which is green beans, tomatoes, and onions all sautéed together with a little garlic and olive oil. Super easy, healthy, and delish! And personally, I replace the water with a can of safe chicken broth. This recipe calls for fresh green beans and tomatoes. Here’s a secret: this works equally well with 2 drained cans of green beans (look for Whole Green Beans instead of cut) and 1 can of diced tomatoes. Shhh…don’t tell. You can always sprinkle some safe breadcrumbs or crushed Chex cereal on top after it's done cooking if you want it to look more "casserole-ish."
  • Pumpkin Pie: This recipe is a repeat from last year, but really… allergy-free pumpkin pies are hard, and this recipe works: “Mom’s Pumpkin Pie” from the Kids with Food Allergies website.  This recipe is in the “free recipe” section of the website, so you don’t have to be a member to access it!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Egg-Free, Milk-Free, Nut-Free Root Beer Cupcakes

By Kelley Lindberg

I’ve posted this super-easy allergy-friendly recipe for cupcakes before, but since I just made them in a different flavor for my son’s birthday, I thought I’d post it again. The cupcakes have only 2 ingredients: a box of safe cake mix, and a can of soda. I promise, it works, and it is ridiculously easy! Forget the instructions on the box, which call for oil, water, and eggs. Just use a can of club soda (my usual recipe) or regular soda. In this case, since I was making Root Beer cupcakes, I used a can of root beer. For the frosting, use your own recipe (or Pillsbury Creamy Supreme vanilla frosting, which contains soy), and add in some root beer concentrate.

(OK, I lied. If you live at high altitude, you'll want to add 2 Tbsp of flour to the cake mix. So there are 3 ingredients for high-altitude cooks.)

Duncan Hines makes several flavors of cake mix that are free from eggs, milk, and nuts. For my Root Beer cupcakes, I used the Duncan Hines Classic Yellow cake mix, which contains soy and wheat.

I haven’t tried it with a gluten-free cake mix yet, so if you try it, let me know if it works!

Root Beer Cupcakes

  • 1 box safe cake mix (such as Duncan Hines Classic Yellow cake mix)
  • high altitude only: 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 can root beer
  • 2 tubs Pillsbury Creamy Supreme vanilla frosting (or other safe frosting)
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp root beer concentrate (sold in the baking aisle, next to the vanilla extract)
Put the dry cake mix in a mixing bowl. (If you’re at high altitude, add 2 Tbsp flour to the cake mix.) Pour in the can of root beer. Beat on low for 30 seconds until mixed, then beat at a higher speed for 2 minutes. Pour into cupcake papers in a muffin tin. Bake according to the directions for cupcakes on the box (usually 350 degrees for 18 – 21 minutes). Cool on a rack.

When ready to frost, dump both tubs of frosting into a bowl, then add 1 Tbsp of the root beer concentrate and mix well. Add more root beer concentrate if you want a stronger flavor.

Frost. Serve. Enjoy. Smile gracefully at the compliments. Hand out seconds.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Allergy-Free Soup Recipes

By Kelley Lindberg

Snowflakes were falling this morning outside my window. There’s a fresh layer of snow on the mountains, making the few remaining yellow and orange leaves look especially lovely. Fall is giving way to winter everywhere I look.

It’s turning into soup weather.

So let’s try some new allergy-free soup and stew recipes together, shall we?  
  • Minestrone. Those Italians are wizards with veggies, and a good minestrone is a thing of veggie beauty. Try this recipe from the Food Network magazine. Just skip the parmesan cheese, which is just a garnish, and make sure your chicken broth and pasta are safe for your allergies.
  • Creamy Vegan Baked Potato Soup. For me, potato soup is the ultimate comfort soup. This recipe from Marni Fogelson-Teel on is dairy-free but still has a creamy texture, and it is as straightforward as it gets, plus it has step-by-step photos! For toppings, you can try dairy-free cheese, like Daiya brand, crumbled bacon, diced green onions, sautéed kale or spinach, or anything else you like on a baked potato (even salsa or chili!).
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. Steph Davis, at, serves up this great-looking bisque-type squash soup. She describes the recipe as “ridiculously easy,” because “it requires almost no actual cooking, uses 5 ingredients, and tastes like it’s from a gourmet restaurant.” Works for me!
  • Southwestern Corn Chowder. This recipe by Knorr, on the Yummly website, only takes a half-hour to make. Just use a safe margarine and safe chicken stock (or another type of broth/stock if you’re avoiding chicken). Believe it or not, a can of “cream style corn” doesn’t contain any cream, so it’s safe (at least the Del Monte can I checked was dairy-free – be sure you read the ingredients before you buy it!).
  • Beef Stew. If you're looking for something filling and warm, this recipe from Martha Stewart couldn’t be simpler, and you can cook it in either a crockpot (my favorite cooking buddy!) or in the oven. Yep, that’s right. The oven. My carnivorous husband will love this one! (It calls for 2 Tbsp of all-purpose flour, mainly for thickening, so if you can’t have regular flour, try it with gluten-free flour, or skip the flour altogether. It will probably work out just fine without it – just perhaps not quite as thick.) Also, note that the crock-pot variation neglects to mention that you should add water, so be sure you add water or beef broth/stock (like the oven version says).
  • Chili. Craving some chili? I posted a Chili Recipe Round-Up last January, so check it out for ideas.
Got a favorite soup or stew recipe? Post the recipe or a link to it in the Comments. In the meantime, get out those fuzzy slippers and toasty throws and stay warm!