Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Sample Food Allergy Letter to School Nurse -

 Sample Food Allergy Letter to School Nurse-- Preliminary to Meeting

Dear Ms. Y:

I wanted to touch base with you as these health forms are returned since CXX, my son, has severe, but controlled food allergies. I hope that what I've sent along doesn't feel like overkill-- I felt that you should have a variety of ways to put the information in your files.

I would like to come in and talk to you about CXX's allergies and hand over medications--whatever date is convenient for your schedule.  Our pediatrician, MXX, is available for further information if necessary and has told me that CXX will be in very capable hands at Independent School.

Thank you for your time and please feel free to call me at 877-4724.


Jody Falco
(re: CXX, Kindergarten 98-99)


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Split Pea soup-- Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving here and gone-- we had a blast with family, friends, and the occasional near-disaster--like my setting a pie on fire in the broiler-- but at least it was hot! Or the fact that my oven konked out: BUT the turkey and ham were cooked.
 And, speaking of ham....
Yesterday I got a bag of split peas-- I use GOYA brand. 
I chopped up a small onion, three small carrots and threw these into a 6-8 oz pot with the ham bone. 
I let this sizzle on high heat for about 10-15 minutes, turning it a lot,  so nothing burned.  The fat from the ham will help the vegetables soften.
  Then when the smell is very delicious and the ham looks browned-- pour in 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. 
Add an entire 16 oz bag of split peas, bring to boil again, then turn down to a simmer.
Let simmer for  30 minutes, then pepper to taste, and add a bay leaf should you wish; sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
 Stir frequently, and cook for another  30 minutes -- or until the peas are soft and soup starts to become thick.
  Ham --whatever little was left on the shank--should be falling off bone.
Again, add pepper to taste.

And there you go--
It's free of all major allergens-- but I know some folks can't eat legumes.
And, we sometimes have it with cornbread [made without milk or eggs]--but then, it's not wheat free.

However-- this soup is hearty, great for cold weather and delicious all on its own.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

FARE TEEN SUMMIT and FARECon coming up!

As always, I am looking forward to seeing my 'people" at the Teen Summit! I hear it's 500 strong for the kids this year-- which is tenfold from when it started over 10 years ago! which is great!
There's so many great symposia from:
Innovation Tank-- where teens share their very creative ideas for products to help themselves and others in this food allergy world-- to industry experts trying to answer our questions about cross contamination on food lines and why ingredients change year to year.

But, as always, the greatest part is the community.  The give and take and TALK among the parents about how DO you send food to Camp.  Or make a gluten free eggless birthday cake that travels well. or how to ask relatives to NOT make anything unsafe-- or simply laughing at your worst flops-- like that cake I made that literally was liquid inside... ewww.

 And the sounds of happy kids finding friends for the weekend or BFFs who share not only food allergies-- but interests in music and clothes and dating and video games and sports and rebellion and school and reading and --well, you get the point! Food Allergies are there-- but they ain't the only thing in the room!
We always say:
We're All In This TOGETHER!
Hope to see you in DC!

And--Happy Halloween-- stockpile those Smarties and Twizzler packets and lots of stickers to hand out! Or get ready with change to "ransom" your kid's milk, nut and other unsafe booty! Have a safe and fun time--

More for Thanksgiving and a FARECon sum-up, next time!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sporting Events--REDUX!

I misspoke.
When I was noting that there was only one option at the USOpen Tennis in New York, I had not researched fully.
Actually-- At this year's USOpen there are two fabulous salads from ANGRY TACO [ no clue about that name] which were delicious, fresh and loaded with interesting vegetables. 
Crunchy asparagus tips, wax beans, green beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, baby spinach, radishes and either chicken strips with a light chipolte rub or beef strips with lots of salt. 
These were available at all locations-- and were made carefully with no cross-contamination!
  So, actually there was selection --and wonderful, if hot, tennis to watch.

I'm looking for the correct Open food service team/ department to contact to offer my appreciation and comments.
Glad I could update. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Sporting Events-- again!

US OPEN Tennis

This event-- which I love-- comes to my town and takes over--it seems every third person is carrying a racket and wearing tennis whites.  My son and I love to go and wander all the courts for these sweltering last days of August into early September.  Such amazing athletes to watch and such a lovely atmosphere to enjoy... but really really hard to find some safe options to eat!

Yesterday, there was exactly one option-- a lovely salad with veggies and grilled chicken [Farm to Fork].  But one item, from a regular menu, that was safe. 
AND-- let me say that I am GRATEFUL for that one safe option! ***
Sigh... at least there are always safe fries!

I just want to get it out there that sporting events can be tough. Again, it takes planning, and supervision, and that willingness to ask, observe, and WAIT. 

That's how it often goes-- at the burger concession, you can ask that they give you the burger only--no bread, no condiments, and you can wait for that-- but I mean WAIT. It's just that anything different for a food court operation is difficult and needs to be addressed individually-- and there are  literally hundreds of people waiting.
  Of course, in past, I have waited for that burger, and I am grateful for that one option, for that server who takes the time to give me a plain burger.

 But of course, I'm human, and after 25 years, I want my kid to have options, to have a selection, to be able to feel safe easily, without picking through the salad to make sure there's no cheese.

But push through we must, and try to prioritize the good things, the happiness at being together at a great arena or event.  Knowing that  your kid's "I got this" attitude is going to buoy them for their whole lives, not just through food allergies at the US Open.

 ***And, possibly a brisket sandwich, from Hill Country BBQ.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Food Allergy Conference and Teen Summit


let's remember the Teen Summit-- which has community plus lots of good stuff to learn and share.

see you there!


Thursday, June 21, 2018

it has been a while...

It has been a while; I've been distracted, though not with food allergies issues which can arise all the time!
Big news for our "mothership" organization is the new CEO Lisa Gable.  Can't wait to meet her at the Teen Summit which is incorporated into FARECon
 I'll be there!

Summertime is finally here and I've been experimenting in the kitchen with some easy ways to make summery foods like pasta salads and the like.
 For my last pasta salad-- I use Luigi Vitelli farfalle-- I roasted thinly sliced red and yellow peppers, zucchini [green and yellow] and onions, and halved cherry tomatoes,  on a cookie sheet with olive oil and salt and pepper.  High heat-- about 450-- for approximately 30 minutes.

Boil the pasta-- I like it a little "al dente" which is not crunchy but not mushy, and mince some garlic and toss it into the bowl when the pasta is done.

Add in the veggies and toss gently-- season with some fresh basil if you'd like or nothing at all-- viola!
  This dish is delicious warm or at room temperature-- so a good picnic or outdoor meal food.

More to come, as my coast finally acts like it's summer [today is the first day of that season].

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New Recipe: Lamb Meatballs, Spicy and Allergy-Free

HI folks--
Just a recipe this time--one I adapted from the New York Times at that. My family enjoyed these as a Sunday afternoon snack-- without a cooling cucumber salad (recipe below)which might be good if these are served for lunch or dinner. The browning process helps keep the meatball from becoming too greasy when they've cooled down.  So, snacking or putting out for a picnic is possible.

1 pound ground lamb
1/3 cup Gluten Free breadcrumbs-- or PANKO if gluten is allowed
1-2 Tbsp of olive oil
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp kosher salt, to taste
4 Tbsp golden raisens

1 tsp cumin seeds-- grind if you'd like-- I don't
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup[ chopped parsely
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves

Put all in mixing bowl and mix by hand
Form small -- little smaller than a ping pong ball-- meatballs

Brown well-- giving room around them-- in a frying pan on medium high
Turn so all sides get browned.
When browned on all sides, turn heat to medium, and put a cover on the pan-- but TILTED-- not fit on tightly, so that steam escapes.

Cook for about 6-8 minutes.

Cucumber Salad-- a refreshing side for these meatballs

2 European cucumber washed and sliced thinly
If using regular cucumbers, use 3, and peel skin in stripes for color, 
Slice thinly.

Dress these cucumbers with:
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
Blend together, until sugar and salt melted,
pour over cucumbers and let it steep for an hour or so-- stirring gently a few times.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Homemade EASY candy

I have found a way to cheat on making homemade candy for my food allergic folks.
It's easy -=- but it helps to have the right "equipment"-- which in this case is:

  •  WILTON's ceramic candy melting cups-- available at Michael's crafts stores/ Joann's for under $12.00.  
  • Vermont Nut Free semisweet chocolate chips [in baking products section]
  • Vermont Nut Free dark chocolate candies [coins are what I use]
  • mini cupcake liner cups -- I like the foil ones
  • mini cupcake baking pan-- OPTIONAL 

So, I set up the little gold foil cup liners in my mini-cupcake pan. Then I melted the two kinds of chocolate together, exactly as the directions on the Melting Cups said.
While the chocolates were melting, I put a mini marshmallow or two in each foil cup-- it actually cuts the sweetness.  When the chocolate was pourable, I poured enough to half-way full for each foil cup-- and put it all in the fridge.
About an hour later... handmade, homemade candy-- which everyone loved.  and the gold foil cupcake holders (minis) made the treat a little more fun.

Happy Easter!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Birthday party experiments

So-- my young man is about to turn 25 and we are hosting a party for him,
Obviously, he is old enough now-- unlike in grade school-- to have a say in every part of the planning. [Except the secret silly things I am doing, like making buttons with his picture on them!]

So, we have discussed that many of the party platters are not for him--pates  Cheeses. However, I did make special beef tenderloin skewers with garlic and mustard and chicken skewers in lemon and capers. Those too will be surprise, I hope.

But he knows there will be Italian prosciuttos and cotto ham, sopressata and salame that he can have as well as lots of crudite-- for which I plan a special black bean and salsa dip, instead of ranch or sour cream and dill.  He wanted 'elegant' appetizers and not chips et al  that usually accompany the words 'Millennial' and "party."

So-- the birthday cake-- should there be a cake for an open house type party? Hmmm-- his cakes have always been delicious but definitely homemade looking.  Not only am I a pretty useless baker, but there can be no dairy, no eggs, no wheat, no nuts --which comes together into a charming but very low cake.  I won't say flat... but low. 
  So, I've been experimenting. 
    First, mini-cupcakes: well the lemon ones came out OK.. but not great, At least they rose over the top of the paper holders.  Unlike the chocolate ones which basically refused to rise, then sunk into themselves as they cooled.
Stuck all of that  in the freezer for a rainy day snack.
  Then I had the brilliant idea of brownie bites!  So I made the delicious Glutino double fudge brownie mix, gently spooned it into mini-cupcake pans and baked....
Wellllll, not exactly a slam dunk. 
  The brownies looked good-- just like little bites of chocolately goodness.  Brownies don't have to rise and have a little peak that you can frost at the top-- so that was great.  But-- and this is a big 'but'-- these brownies wouldn't pop out of the paper cupcake cups.  They just stuck in there. I froze them, hoping it would help... it didn't. In fact, made it worse-- couldn't even dig it out with a spoon.
Those went into the garbage-- after I struggled and  consoled myself with a few.
    Third, I tried chocolate chip cookie mix.  I use, and always have, CherryBrook Farms Gluten Free mix.  It's easy and delicious and requires only vanilla and margarine and some water.  So totally safe,
This time: A winner!  The batter rose over the mini cups and held their shape after they cooled. They looked adorable-- and tasted delicious.  Yay; They froze well [don't want to be cooking
day of the party] and came out of the paper wrappers with ease! Double Yay!

So,along with the Italian antipasto, and the Prosecco and Champagne, there will be chocolate chip minis to enjoy-- And lots of friends to raise a glass and celebrate!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Holidays and Leftovers

Holidays are in full swing. Lots of homemade treats our kids can't eat, and lots of cooking on our parts so they can have something delicious.
Here's a new recipe --born out of leftovers from a party we had.
The spinach --tons of it-- was the "nest" for a lovely crudite presentation (in a crate, very nice). As I was dismantling after the guests had left, I noticed, as I put all the peppers aside to make stir fry, I noticed that the "nest" was all baby spinach. Two huge bags full--
I rinsed it all and set it aside to dry.

Then I sauteed garlic in some olive oil, with a few diced tomatoes --I used canned-- and let it cook for about 10 minutes.  Then I added stock [ShopRite boxed stock, without wheat or whey or any allergens at all and made in a safe facility] and let it simmer for about 10 more minutes.
Then I added pepper-- lots of shakes-- and a 15 oz can of chick peas [ cannellini beans will do nicely as well].  In about 5 minutes I stirred in handful after handful of that baby spinach.  I let it wilt in the broth, seasoned for taste. and Viola--dinner.

And we where live it's been about 15 degrees-- so a warm easy soup -- I had some safe Italian bread I had made-- makes a wonderful welcoming meal. And not wasting the spinach made me feel good, and so easy.
 Enjoy-- and a happy safe new year to all.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

High Heat Pork Roast: Yum

Here's a recipe that's easy and quick(er) for a pork shoulder.
9-10 lb. pork shoulder/ pernil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475
In a roasting pan, Have the Pork at room temperature-- out of the refrigerator for an hour or so.
Peel and half 3-4 garlic cloves and make slits in the roast and stuff in the halved cloves.
Rub the top of roast with olive oil, squeeze the juice of an orange over the roast
And salt and pepper
Tent the pan
Put in 475 oven for 35-40 minutes
Reduce heat to 425, for another 25-35 minutes
Reduce heat to 350 and roast for 2-21/3 hours more.
Baste with juices as you wish.

Roast should be crisp and golden brown and be super tender--
If you want it more brown, take tent off for last 20 minutes or so.
Let it rest 10-15 and enjoy!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Challah --allergy free

No Eggs
No Diary
The trick to the burnished crust--maple syrup!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Memory Lane: Food Allergies on the Move

We are on our way to Chicago to look at colleges, and I am stopped, as I slip back into my loafers, and watch my carry-on being X-rayed. Again.

 My son nods to me, questioning--Epi-Pens? No, I say, think it’s the food bag.  And the security guard pulls out the rectangular soft case meant for keeping baby bottles cool—ours happens to be plaid—and unzips it.  Inside she finds a Ziploc bag of frozen steak, strips of chicken and ½ pound of roast beef.

My son has food allergies—multiple food allergies—so we travel with food.  Everywhere, every trip.

It’s a strange territory this food allergy world—it’s not intolerance, you explain, he could stop breathing if he eats an egg or something made with an egg.

My son is anaphylactic to Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Sesame, Shellfish—that means if he eats these foods in any of their multi-various forms, his throat will close, he will need a shot or two of adrenaline and a hospital visit.

As for other allergies—he’s allergic to wheat, soy, peas, strawberries, barley and so on—to these he merely vomits until they’re out of his system.  But at least we know he won’t be guzzling beer at all these colleges we’re visiting. 

But it also means that he’s never had pizza or ice cream or birthday cake at a party. Or ever sat down in a restaurant without a frisson of anxiety—prior research and experience notwithstanding.  But at least we go to restaurants; some allergic families do not.

In the large scheme of bad things, food allergies are not the biggest deal.  But the devil is in the details.

In the everyday details of life—breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the bring-your-own-food-to-every-event-you’ve-ever-been-to details. The change-every-meal-in-your-family-tradition –from lasagne to chopped liver to chicken soup. The details of the ship-your-own-food-to-every-travel-destination, and by the way, get a doctor’s note for carrying that food the airport security is now squeezing back into your little plaid insulated case.

Food allergies are isolating, dangerous, exhausting and frustrating.

 What it’s really about is finding a balance, like most things in life.  Finding a balance between anxiety and self-confidence. Between anger and restraint.  Between self-pity and joining the parade. Between avoidance and risk.

But, this day, as I step back from the virtual edge—the security guard smiles at me and waves me through.  “It looks like good eats,” she says, and I smile back and say “thanks.”

Friday, June 30, 2017

Good Things with Food Allergies

It's been forever, I know. Life gets like that as we all know. 
Good things: someone made a cassoulet for us that was the centerpiece of a great dinner party. And all was well; the cook thought it was no big deal-- AND it was delicious!
  Restaurants have been easier-- sometimes with allergen guides; sometimes with just maturity and experience. 
  Sometimes there's one safe thing on the menu then out-of-the-blue "Boom!" Someone else's dish is safe and they're going to share!
    Of course, there's still nights when work leads to drinks out and then an event-- and all of a sudden it's 10:00 and my kid has had a hard cider and maybe some french fries-- but sometimes that's okay. Especially if the company's good!
  As we always say in my family-- and rememebr we're Jewish on one side and Italian on the other, so food counts!--but as we always say: it's not WHAT's on the table but WHO's at the table that's important.