Monday, June 25, 2012

Allergy-Free BBQ Recipes

by Kelley Lindberg

With the 4th of July coming next week, barbeques will be firing up all over the place this weekend. So I went hunting for allergy-free recipes for all of those festive get-togethers or family fun, and found some delicious-looking options that are free from the top 8 allergens (or can be made that way easily by substituting safe brands), and best of all, they look EASY.

So light up that grill and put on your reddest, whitest, and bluest togs, and celebrate our nation’s birthday in allergy-free yet super-delicious style!

Garlic & Lime Grilled Chicken Skewers (from Campbell’s Kitchen)

Spicy Beef Skewers (from Campbell’s Kitchen)

Guacamole – choose from a variety of recipes from the official California Avocado Commission website (if these guys don’t know jack about guac, who does?)

Snap Pea Salad with Basil Pesto Vinaigrette (from Shanon Hilton’s “Food Farm Health” blog)

Vegan Potato Salad (from Savvy Vegetarian)

Southwestern Bean and Rice Salad (from

Louisville Rice Salad -- but leave out the almonds (from

Grilled Zucchini and Squash (from Martha

Raspberry Mousse (Dairy Free) (from Shanon Hilton’s “Food Farm Health” blog)

Chunky Peach Popsicles (from The Kitchen Daily)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Restaurant Success

by Kelley Lindberg

Ten years ago, restaurants seemed completely unaware of food allergies. I’d ask about allergies and receive blank stares or statements like, “no, there are no nuts in this ice cream. It’s just pistachio flavored.” Hunh?

But now, many restaurants seem to be much more informed, as a rule. It doesn’t mean they’re perfect or completely safe, of course, but more and more restaurants are training their chefs and wait staff to take allergies seriously. They are publishing ingredients lists, special menus, or warnings if they can’t accommodate allergies.

The Cantina Southwestern Grill is a restaurant in Layton, Utah, that we’ve begun frequenting because of their attentiveness to my son’s food allergies to peanuts and nuts.

Now that my son is old enough that he’s no longer interested in the children’s menu, his choices are getting more creative, and the risk of nut contamination has grown tremendously. (I miss the days when he was happy with a plain – and cheap – cheese quesadilla.) And Mexican restaurants are often a challenge because mole sauces are made with ground nuts, and often enchilada sauces have a nut contamination warning.

So the first time we tried the Cantina Grill, my son decided he wanted the pan-seared tilapia. I tried to talk him out of it, thinking the contamination risk was too high, but he begged me to ask the waiter about ingredients anyway. So I did. She told me she would talk to the chef.

A minute or two later, the manager was at our table, asking us about my son’s specific allergies, discussing ingredients, and assuring us she would personally make sure the meal was prepared safely. The dish arrived, my son loved it, and the manager came out another time or two to make sure the meal was to my son’s liking.

Since then, we’ve been back a half-dozen times, and each time we receive the same treatment. This weekend we went again, and again the manager (a man this time) brought out an ingredients list for the dish my son wanted, including all the spices, and went over it with us. The food was prepared perfectly, there were no nut contamination issues, and everything was just the way we like it.

My husband commented on how surprised and pleased he was that every time we go to this restaurant, we get the same attention, regardless of which managers appear to be on duty – they are all pleasant, concerned, careful, and responsive. We never get the brush-off, and the manager always comes out to talk with us personally, armed with the ingredients list so there are no mistakes.

The owners/managers of the Cantina Southwestern Grill have obviously figured out a key ingredient for running a successful restaurant: if you keep your customers happy, you’ll earn their return business. And when it comes to food allergies, taking your customer’s allergies seriously and taking the extra few minutes to make sure they stay safe will not only bring that customer back, but chances are good they’ll share their experience with other food-allergic people.

So guess what? That’s what I’m doing today. If you’re in the Layton area and want to call them to ask about your specific allergies and check on any menu items that might be safe for your family, here is their contact info. (It looks like they also have a Sandy location in Jordan Commons, but I haven’t experienced that location, so I can’t vouch for it.) Remember that accidents can always happen, and mistakes are part of being human, so there is no guarantee that your experience will mirror mine, but I still wanted to share this story because the employees at this location have earned my business.

Cantina Southwestern Grill
296 N. Main St.
Layton, UT

Monday, June 11, 2012

Utah Food Allergy Conference: June 23, 2012

by Kelley Lindberg

If you or a family member has food allergies, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Utah Food Allergy Conference, on Saturday, June 23, 2012.

Hosted by the Utah Food Allergy Network (UFAN), this annual conference is THE place in Utah to hear from experts on the latest news and research, learn about available resources, pick up helpful ideas and tips, and connect with other people in our food allergy community. It will be held at the Doty Family Education Center in the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, UT.

And best of all – it’s free!

The conference is only a half-day long, so it won’t take up your entire Saturday, but you’ll get a ton of useful information in that short time-span. The planned conference schedule is below.

Even though it’s free, you need to register to attend so that UFAN will know how many people to accommodate. To register, go to the UFAN website at, click on the link to the Conference, and then click on the registration link. The registration form just takes a minute to fill out (don’t forget to choose which breakout session you want to attend), and then you can print your own tickets!

The conference promises to be educational, helpful, and fun! If you have any questions, contact See you there!

Conference Schedule:

2nd Annual Utah Food Allergy Conference
Saturday June 23, 2012
8:30am – 1:00pm
Intermountain Medical Center - Doty Family Education Center
5121 Cottonwood St, Murray, Utah

8:30 – 9:00 am            Registration

9:00 – 9:10 am            Welcome
                                    Michelle Fogg, President – Utah Food Allergy Network

9:10 – 10:10 am          Food Allergy, Anaphylaxis Management, & Research
                                    Rafael Firszt, MD, MBA – Allergy & Immunology

10:10 – 10:20 am        Break

10:20 – 11:20 am        Concurrent Sessions (choose one to attend):

                                    * Allergy and Asthma Safety at School and at Home
Andrea Johnson, CHES - Environmental Health Educator, Utah County Health Department, and mother of a son with food allergies and asthma, will address strategies for creating a safe environment both at home and at school. Topics to be covered include basics of setting up an allergy and asthma friendly home environment, working with school personnel to establish an allergy and asthma friendly school environment, and Utah laws and resources that can be used to aid in accomplishing both of those goals.

                                    * Developmental Stages of Kids with Food Allergy
Kristen Kauke, MSW, LCSW. Understand how children accomplish tasks and growth at each developmental stage and how food allergies can impact this. Gain strategies to cope with bullying and how to be a supportive adult along the way.

                                    *Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders (EGIDs)
Jan Bernhisel-Broadbent, MD – Allergy & Immunology, and Kathryn Peterson, MD – Gastroenterology. Learn the fundamentals of EGIDs and how they relate to food allergy, current treatments, studies & research findings, and support/resources available.

11:20 – 11:30 am        Break

11:30 – 12:15 pm        Avoiding Food Fights
                                    Kristen Kauke, MSW, LCSW

12:15 – 12:50 pm        Question & Answer Discussion w/ Panel of Presenters

12:50 – 12:55 pm        Awards Presentation
                                    Tiffany Scherbel, Vice President – Utah Food Allergy Network

12:55 – 1:00 pm          Closing Remarks

Monday, June 4, 2012

Paperwork vs. A Life

by Kelley Lindberg

Summer vacation has either started or is just around the corner for most kids in the U.S. now, but a couple of recent incidents have reminded me of why it’s so important to make sure teachers, principals, lunchroom staff, and even bus drivers are aware of children’s food allergies.

In Minnesota, the quick thinking of a bus driver and his assistant saved a little girl’s life when she got on the school bus with red blotches on her skin. They called the school nurse, who was nearby, and they quickly administered an EpiPen. That quick thinking was possible because all three knew that 4-year-old Grace was allergic to tree nuts, and they had a medical sheet about the little girl that explained her allergy information. See the story at “School Employees Honored for Saving Little Girl’s Life.”

On the other hand, another school incident, this one in Florida, was nearly tragic, all because of some unsigned paperwork. (See “Nurse Refuses Student Inhaler During Asthma Attack.” A high school student, Michael, had a severe asthma attack, but the school nurse refused to administer his own inhaler to him because the medical release form didn’t have his mother’s signature on it. The school dean had found the inhaler in the boy’s locker, and it was in its original packaging, including the prescribing label with Michael’s name on it, but the school took it away because his mother hadn’t signed the form allowing him to use it.

Then when the boy had an allergic reaction, school officials called his mother – not 911 – and the nurse locked him in a room, stood on the outside and watched through the window as he collapsed to the floor. She never called 911. She never gave him the inhaler. No one helped him at all until his mother arrived, and that was almost too late. All because the nurse says she wasn’t authorized to help without the parent’s signature on this year’s form. (Never mind that he’d been in the school system for years and had signed forms from previous years.)

The mother has filed charges against the nurse.

It shouldn’t come to that. We don’t know all the details of the story, and there may be circumstances we aren’t privy to, but I still am appalled at this event. Locking the boy in a room by himself and watching him through the window instead of helping? Unfathomable.

There’s a GIANT learning lesson here for all the rest of us. Make an appointment right now with your allergist, and have them fill out that Food Allergy Action Plan immediately. (Most allergists have them, some schools have their own form, or you can print the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s form here: English Food Allergy Action Plan, or Spanish Food Allergy Action Plan.) Make several copies, and set up a meeting with your child’s principal, teacher, and lunchroom manager for the week before school starts to give it to them. Make sure you attach a photo of your child to the Action Plan and introduce them all.

This simple step saved little Grace’s life. And it almost cost Michael his.