Monday, January 28, 2013

Auvi-Q Epinephrine Injector

by Kelley Lindberg

There’s a new sheriff in Allergy Town.  He’s packing epinephrine, and he’s not afraid to talk about it.

And that’s what makes him cool.

Auvi-Q is a new epinephrine auto-injector from Sanofi. It’s about the size and shape of a smartphone (so it can slide easily into a pocket), but what really sets it apart is that fact that it has a voice. It will literally talk you through the process of administering the epinephrine. When you take it out of its plastic case, the voice guide automatically begins to tell you what to do (remove the red plastic guard, place against outer thigh, press and hold for 5 seconds).

The Auvi-Q also has visual cues, like lights that point you in the right direction and let you know when the injection is finished. And the instructions are also printed on the case, for people who are hearing impaired or if you’re somewhere too noisy to hear the audio instructions, like a night club or concert.

The FDA approved the Auvi-Q in August 2012, and it’s now available in U.S. retail pharmacies across the country. You need a valid prescription from your healthcare provider to obtain one. They are sold 2 to a package, and each pair comes with a non-active demo unit that you can use to practice with or train other caregivers with. The Auvi-Q also comes in 2 dosages: 0.15mg for patients who weigh 33 – 66 pounds, and the adult version of 0.3mg for people who weigh 66 pounds or more. It hasn’t been studied in children smaller than 33 pounds.

Check out the Avui-Q website for more information about Auvi-Q, and be sure to watch the Auvi-Q demo video. While you’re there, you can also sign up for their Let’s Talk Auvi-Q Support Program, which includes savings offers that they say will make it so that “most patients will pay no more than $25 for an Auvi-Q prescription.”

Here is a link to the Sanofi press release describing Auvi-Q.

I haven’t seen one in person yet, so leave a comment if you have one and what you think about it.

And I welcome this new sheriff to town. We can never have too many good guys on our side in the battle against food allergies.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Chili Recipe Round-Up

by Kelley Lindberg

It’s perfect chili weather. At least it is here in Utah, where it’s cold and crisp, and the snow sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight. If you’re somewhere tropical right now, I don’t want to hear from you.

Anyway, if, like me, you’re in the mood for some chili this week, maybe you can try some of these recipes I’ve found.

"Easy Chicken Chili with White Beans," from Campbell’s Kitchen. This one whips up fast with mostly canned ingredients you might even have hiding in your panty already. Perfect for weeknights.

"Thick & Hearty Two-Bean Chili." Another super-fast recipe from Campbell’s Kitchen, this one uses ground beef, Pace Picante sauce (but any salsa will do), and canned beans and tomatoes.

"Authentic Texas Crockpot Chili." This recipe claims to be authentic Texan, but it has pinto beans in it. As an authentic Texan myself, I know that only non-Texans put beans in their chili. Whatever. It still looks yummy, either way.

"A Fantastic No Bean Chili Recipe." Now this looks more like an authentic Texas chili recipe – beef chuck, spices, and tomatoes. Plain ol’ goodness.

"Super Easy Vegetarian Chili." And if you like your chili without any meat at all, try this recipe for vegetarian chili that features black or pinto beans, kidney beans, and diced tomatoes, in addition to all the spices that make chili…well, chili!

Remember, even though cheese and sour cream are common toppings for chili, you don’t need ‘em. Try crushed tortilla chips, chopped olives, or sliced green onions for a pop of color. Serve your chili with safe cornbread, rolls, or tortillas, or you can spoon it over a bed of hot rice or plain grits. (And if you miss grated cheese and sour cream, you can always use Daiya’s dairy-free shredded cheese and Tofutti’s soy-based sour cream.)

So cozy up with a bowl of chili tonight, and stay warm!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Another Heartbreaking Food Allergy Death of a Teen

by Kelley Lindberg

It’s a tragic way to start a new year. The Daily Mail website reports that William Luckett, a 15-year-old boy in Great Britain, died on December 29 after eating two bites of take-out food from a Chinese restaurant. He ordered spare ribs that were cooked in a peanut sauce. He did not have his EpiPen with him. (See “Nut Allergy Teenager, 15, Dies After Two Bites of Chinese Takeaway Spare Ribs Marinated in Peanut Sauce.”)

The family says he had ordered them before without problems, and that they didn’t know the ribs were cooked in peanut sauce. The restaurant says they were clearly labeled on the menu as having nuts. The restaurant owner even added, 'If a customer has allergies then they have to tell us and we are very careful not to include what they are allergic to in the dish. I know how important it is because my son has allergies.”

How awful for the boy’s family. And how awful for the restaurant owner, cook, and servers.

The Daily Mail also reports that another U.K. teen, 18-year-old Emma Egerton died after eating Indian food cooked in nut oil and containing ground almonds in December. And another student, 22-year-old Preethi Koshy, spent three days on a life-support machine last year after eating a “nut-free” cake that actually contained 55% peanuts. (Fortunately, Koshy recovered.)

These deaths and near-deaths are tragic, and I hope that someday, with new advances in food allergy treatment and cures, these stories will stop. In the meantime, if there is anything we can learn from them, it must be to:

1. Never assume, and always check! (Even if you’ve eaten that food before.)

2. Always carry your EpiPen.

We’re often told the most common victims of anaphylactic death from food allergy are teenagers who aren’t carrying EpiPens. If you know any teens who are food allergic, please show them this article. Carrying an EpiPen may not be “cool” and it might be a little inconvenient, but it’s not nearly as inconvenient as dying. Please don't leave your friends and family mourning a promising life cut short.

The hearts and prayers of the entire food allergy community go out to the families of these unfortunate young people.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Allergy-Free Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings’ Cake)

by Kelley Lindberg

Once again, I found myself up to my elbows in bread dough and candied fruit yesterday. My son’s Spanish teacher, who is from Spain, wanted to serve the class Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings’ Cake) today, January 6, as she teaches them about the huge Epiphany cultural celebration in Spain. The Epiphany is a Christian feast day that celebrates the arrival of the three Wise Men (the Biblical Magi) after Jesus’ birth. In some cultures, such as in Spain, the Epiphany can be as big (or even bigger) holiday than Christmas Day. There is a parade in Madrid that rivals our Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, but instead of Santa, the Madrid version brings the three Wise Men on floats. Children get presents on January 6 in many cultures, too.

While some local Mexican bakeries probably offer Rosca de Reyes, I volunteered to make them because there are a few kids in the teacher’s classes with food allergies (my son included), and I don’t want them to miss out on this cultural experience. I did some research to find out how to make a safe Three Kings’ Cake for my son’s teacher, and discovered that the Rosca de Reyes that is served in Spain on the Epiphany is basically the same thing as the Three King’s Cake served in New Orleans on Mardi Gras. It’s a simple bread shaped into a ring (to represent a crown), lightly glazed and decorated with candied fruit and sugar. There are as many recipes as there are chefs, naturally, but last year I practiced making several different cakes for a couple of weeks until I developed a recipe that was simple and free from egg, milk, and nuts.

Another fun tradition with the Rosca de Reyes is that the baker always tucks a small plastic baby Jesus, or a coin, into the baked (and cooled) cake. Depending on the region’s traditions, whoever finds the coin or doll will either: 1) have good luck, or 2) have to bring the cake to the next celebration.

The simplest recipe I finally created uses frozen bread dough. Kroger’s frozen white bread dough (available locally at Smith’s) is free from milk, eggs, and nuts, so that is what I used. Rhodes dough had a milk warning, so I didn’t use that one. If you need a gluten-free recipe, just substitute your favorite gluten-free bread dough. All Rosca de Reyes (or Three Kings’ Cake) recipes call for candied fruit – the best is home-made candied fruit (like orange rinds), but I don’t have the patience to make my own, so I used the candied cherries you find at Christmas-time that people use to make fruit cake. But not everyone likes that kind of candied fruit. So a better option might be to use maraschino cherries – everyone loves those! And they’re easier to find any time of year. You can also use raisins or dried cranberries.

Start a new tradition in your family this year, and serve a Rosca de Reyes for the Epiphany this week, or make a Three Kings’ Cake for Mardi Gras (which will be Feb. 12 this year). It is surprisingly easy, the kids can have fun decorating the “crown,” and you’ll find a new way to connect with cultures near and far who celebrate these fun holidays.

(I ended up making cakes for all 5 of the teacher’s Spanish classes. Because each cake had to serve about 25 kids, I used two loaves to form each cake, so the photos show larger cakes than a single loaf will make.)

Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings’ Cake)
1 loaf frozen bread dough (or make your own dough for regular white bread)
1/4 c. candied fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, or maraschino cherries cut in half (or a mix of your favorites)
2 T corn syrup (like Karo syrup)
1 – 2 tsp hot water
1/4 c. granulated sugar
Food coloring (optional)
Small plastic baby or coin

Heat your oven to 175 degrees, then turn it off. Place the frozen bread dough in a greased loaf pan, and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray. Put the pan in the oven and let it rise for several hours, until it has risen about an inch higher than the top of the bread pan.

Grease a large cookie sheet, or put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. (Parchment paper is the best!)

Dump out the dough onto the parchment paper or greased cookie sheet, and gently stretch out the loaf until it is 12 – 15 inches long. You don’t want to handle it too much, but you need a long-ish rope. Then form the dough into a circle. Pinch the ends together well so that it doesn’t come apart while baking.

To make a glaze, put the corn syrup in a small bowl or cup, then add a small amount (1 tsp or so) of hot water and stir it. It just needs to be thinned a little so that it will be easier to brush onto the top of the cake. Then use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over the dough.

Place the candied fruit, raisins, or cherries along the top of the crown. Press them down into the dough a little so that they stick to it, but are still showing – otherwise they might fall off during the baking. This is where the kids can get creative – the candied fruit are the jewels in the crown!

Finally, you can use either white sugar or colored sugar to finish decorating the crown. Mardi Gras cakes usually have green, purple, and yellow sugar. The Spanish version served on the Epiphany uses white sugar. If you’d like colored sugar, use a small glass jar to shake the sugar with food coloring, or purchase colored sugar at the store. When you put the sugar on the cake, don’t be shy – it isn’t really sprinkled on, it’s dumped on, usually in bands around the cake! Google some images of Rosca de Reyes or Kings Cake and you’ll find hundreds.

As soon as you’ve finished decorating the cake, bake it for 20 -25 minutes at 375 degrees. (If you’re at sea level, you might start checking it after 15 minutes. I’m at 4500 feet, so things always take longer to bake up here.) It should be just turning golden, like bread, but don’t let the bottom burn. When done, place it on a wire rack to cool.

After the cake cools, carefully lift up one edge of the cake and slip the plastic baby or coin (I like to wrap the coin in aluminum foil) under the edge so that it is hidden. Warn your guests/family about the prize in the cake so that you don’t have to make any unplanned trips to the dentist.