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Posts from the ‘Reviews’ Category

Angry Birds Birthday with Surf Sweets Allergen Free Candy

My son Tristan is a raving fan of Angry Birds. He had never even played the game (we have since shamelessly given on this), just heard all his friends at pre-school talking about it and so he jumped right in on the fun. He was drawing Angry Birds at school and talking non-stop about the piggies and making all the totally non-annoying sound effects.

So, naturally, when I asked him what kind of party he wanted for his fifth birthday last summer, he jumped up and down shouting ANGRY BIRDS! Me: “What? No, way!!! I NEVER would have guessed. Are you sure?!” Much giggling ensued.

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Namaste Foods Review and Giveaway!

Have you heard about Namaste Foods?  They make pasta meal kits, baking mixes and coating mixes that do NOT contain wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy, casein, peanuts or tree nuts. All their products are made in a 100% dedicated gluten and allergen-free facility, owned and operated by Namaste Foods themselves. And all their products are genetically modified (GMO) free. Pretty impressive!

Namaste kindly sent me a couple of products to review. Since my family loves trying new things, we were thrilled. But sending pasta and a cake mix, my kids were over the moon! Read more

Enjoy Life’s Decadent Soft Baked Bars – Review & Giveaway

If you’re not familiar with Enjoy Life and you’re living with food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances, then you either live overseas (where the brand is not available) or you life under a rock. They are one of the most influential food allergy friendly brands out there. Their CSO/CMO, Joel Warady is going to be speaking at the Food Allergy Blogger’s Conference I’m attending in Last Vegas in November, so I can’t wait to meet him!

Enjoy Life makes a huge variety of safe cereals, snacks, and sweets and everything they make is free of the top 8 common food allergens AND is free of sesame, sulfites, and GMOs. Their website is full of helpful information about living with food allergies and celiac disease.

Personally, my family is a big fan of their Mini Chips for baking. It’s so hard to find chocolate chips without soy lecithin, so big kudos to Enjoy Life for making a healthier chocolate chip. Yes, I did use “healthy” in the same sentence with chocolate because chocolate chips without GMO ladden soy are a win in my book.

But we’re not talking about their chocolate chips today. Enjoy Life sent my family four boxes of their new Decadent Soft Baked Bars for us to try out and give our feedback.

Enjoy Life Decadent Soft Baked Bars

When they arrived, my son (who has multiple food allergies) was beside himself. He has a real sweet tooth, like his mother, so I had to hide the bars for safe keeping until we had time to sit down a conduct a real taste test.

Enjoy Life Taste Test

Let the tasting begin!
From left to right: Cherry Cobbler, Chocolate Sunbutter, Cinnamon Bun, and S’mores

Ready for taste test

Very patiently waiting for me to give the OK to try out the bars.

The verdict?

All four of us agreed on a clear winner….

1st place – Chocolate Sunbutter. They were decadent, just like the name suggests, with a rich chocolate brownie taste. Really, REALLY delicious and sinful tasting.

2nd place – Cherry Cobbler. They had a nice slightly tart, but sweet flavor, although I’m not sure I’d know the fruit was specifically cherry.

3rd place – Cinnamon Bun. They tasted very cinnamony and were sweet, but didn’t taste like cinnamon buns to me. Just Cinnamon instead of Cinnamon Bars would have been a better name. We still really liked them.

A distant 4th place – S’mores. Oh, I wanted to love these – who doesn’t love a good s’more. And we’d recently gone camping and indulged with fireside s’mores, so I had the taste for them still fresh in my taste buds…..maybe that’s what ruined these for me. But my family agreed, they just weren’t as good as the first three flavors. There was no chocolate taste, no marshmallow taste, no graham cracker taste. Sadly, I can’t say we’d buy this flavor again, but hey, maybe someone else will find them delightful!

Overall, we really liked the bars, so we’ll keep them on hand for special treats. Have you tried these new Decadent Soft Baked Bars? What’s your favorite flavor? Or do you have a favorite Enjoy Life product you’d like to recommend?

*****GIVEAWAY******

One winner will receive (4) boxes of Enjoy’s Life’s Decadent Soft Baked Bars, one box of each flavor: Chocolate Sunbutter, Cherry Cobbler, Cinnamon Bun, and S’mores. Contest is open to contestants in the US and Canada. Contest ends October 8, 2013.

**Enter the giveaway HERE**

Good luck everyone!

Allerbling Review & Giveaway: Adorable Allergy Bracelets for Kids

With Tristan going off to day camp this summer, I searched for an allergy bracelet he’d want to wear. Something that would handle the wear and tear and the pool! Plus, we wanted something durable so it would last him through the school year as well. My son is pretty shy about his allergies and a bracelet would just further set him apart from the crowd, but I knew it was important for his safety, so, I was looking for something that was both fun for him to wear and easy for him explain to anyone that asked him about it.

What did we find? Allerbling, allergy bracelets for kids!

Full Allerbling Kit

Allerbling bracelets feature multiple charms you can add to customize the bracelet and make it unique to your child’s food allergies. At the beginning of the summer we added the medical alert charm, tree nuts, dairy, and wheat. By the end of the summer we were able to remove wheat as it no longer triggers a reaction, yay!

Allerbling Allergy Alert Bracelet

My Take:

What I love about these allergy bracelets for kids is that they are bright (medical professionals will notice them), feature cute kid friendly designs, they’re waterproof and perfect for school, camp, sports, etc. I think it’s great the charms can be added and removed as needed. So many kids either develop additional allergies or grow out of existing ones, so Allerbling can be modified to accommodate these changes. And Allerbling will last as your child ages – if you buy the Full Allerbling Kit (shown above), it comes with two sized bracelets (as well as charms for the top 8 food allergens – other charms can be purchased separately), one for a smaller child and one for a larger child. The name of the allergy is written out in English on each charm, but the images clearly depict the allergy, making these bracelets useful in any language.

My Son’s Take:

Honestly, he wasn’t thrilled at first. As I said above, he’s quite shy about his allergies and doesn’t like to call attention to the fact that he’s different in any way. BUT, he’d seen Kyle Dine (who is AMAZING!) sporting an allergy bracelet at a food allergy concert at a local school, so that helped a lot. Then he saw a kid wearing an Allerbling bracelet at camp and then suddenly, wearing one was no big deal.  Now he’s proud of it and has asked to wear it on a couple of occasions outside of camp and school.  He’s had a few close calls recently, so allergic reactions are very real for him and I know the bracelet makes him feel more in control and empowered. When he meets someone new and he’s wearing the bracelet, he shows them the pictures of the allergies and explains what they are. So, I can say, he’s definitely comfortable and more confident in his Allerbling bracelet.

If you’re looking for a cute, but functional allergy alert bracelet for your child, I’d highly recommend Allerbling. You can find their online store, here. Or you can enter our giveaway to win one!

*****GIVEAWAY******

One winner will receive (1) Full Allerbling Kit, containing two bracelets, 8 food allergy charms, and 1 medical alert charm. Contest is open to contestants in the US and Canada. Contest ends September 10, 2013.

**Enter the giveaway HERE**

Good luck everyone!

Dining out in NYC with Food Allergies

Back in the early spring, I spoke with Sloane Miller, food allergy expert, coach, and blogger, in preparation for my trip to New York with my food allergic son. She was incredible and really helped me feel empowered for the trip and less overwhelmed by the thought of dining out. You can read about her great advice here.

I emailed quite a few restaurants in the NYC areas I knew we’d be in – most were recommendations from Sloane’s website, Allergic Girl Dine’s Out. I was quite surprised to receive replies from 5 out of 6 restaurants. Now, not all of them were positive, but hey, a response is still an acknowledgement, not an immediate dismissal. At the time, my son had allergies to dairy, all gluten, soy, tree nuts, and corn. Obviously this extensive list would prove a bit challenging, but not impossible, for a willing chef.

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Eczema Book Review & Giveaway- Malcolm Finney Medical Detective: The Case of the Itch and the Rash

“The Case of the Itch and the Rash” is a new eczema children’s book, part of the Malcolm Finney Medical Detective Series, for children ages 6-11. It was written by Registered Nurse, Erika Kimble and is available for sale at Amazon.com

…but, we’re giving away one copy of the book to one reader. To enter the contest, please simply add a comment to this post and tell us about your child’s eczema. Contest ends April 30, 2013.

malcolm finney medical detective the case of the itch and the rash

About the book

“The Case of the Itch and the Rash” takes some of the medical jargon typically used when discussing eczema and explains it in an easy to understand format along with illustrations. The story is about Malcolm Finney (a forth grade medical detective) and his mission to identify what caused his friend, Carlita, to develop a rash and itchy skin. In the end the two sleuths are able to determine that Carlita has eczema and with the help of Carlita’s doctor, they find the right moisturizer and skincare program to clear up Carlita’s skin before her ballet recital.

malcolm finney eczema book

reading eczema children's book

Although the book is targeted for slightly older children, my 4.5 year old was really interested in the book when it arrived. He “read” it cover to cover alone and then asked me to read it to him. He listened intently through all 50 pages. I thought the medical explanations would be too much for him, but he was interested and asked questions. I guess he’s heard the word eczema in our house for so long and had never really seen a medical diagram of the condition or heard the condition explained in terms he could understand, so he was enthralled.

Don’t forget to add a comment to enter the giveaway for a copy of this book! Contest ends April 30, 2013!

Allergic Solution Baking Mixes: Review

Something that really irritates me about dealing with food allergies is that baking mixes and prepared foods made specifically for those with food allergies are often very unhealthy. They are usually loaded with starches, sugar, and grains with little to no fiber or protein. I am happy to tell you, there are healthy alternatives out there for those looking for baking short cuts. Bye-bye rice flours, hello Allergic Solution!

allergic solution allergy-free mixes

Allergic Solution sent me each of their baking mixes to try at home. I just love to bake, so I was quite excited to give their products a try. Before my full review, just what makes Allergic Solution different from the other mixes on the market?

  • All Allergic Solution baking mixes are Vegan, Kosher AND free of: corn, dairy, eggs, gluten, peanuts, tree-nuts and soy. Very safe for my little man.
  • No need to add egg or egg substitute. Usually only need to add a liquid of your choice, oil, and sugar. So easy and fast to prepare.
  • Contains no added sugar. You control the type of sugar and how much you want to use. We are a refined sugar-free house, so this was HUGE to me.
  • Contains high fiber and protein – good for everyone, but especially diabetics.
  • The company is one of the few food manufacturers with an Allergen Control Program in place. To learn more about their production standards, certifications, and Allergen Control Program, visit this webpage.

 So, how do they taste?

Carob Cake Mix

The carob cake mix was the first of the Allergic Solution mixes I tried. I’ve never tried carob before as I’m definitely a chocolate girl. I just never understood carob really. I can eat chocolate, I adore chocolate, so what’s the point of going chocolate free? I was delighted to try this carob cake mix and finally give carob a go. But, I must say that carob is not chocolate. It may look like chocolate (and I was able to fool my four-year-old son), but it does not taste at all like chocolate in my opinion. However, those looking for a chocolate alternative – this mix would be great. It was very dense, but with a nice mild flavor. Maybe my mistake was treating this more like a brownie without a frosting when adding a frosting to this cake would have been very tasty. I opted for a coconut milk whipped cream instead and for me it was not enough.

I used extra-virgin olive oil, unsweetened flax milk and 1/2c. maple syrup. It seemed very runny and not thick enough for cake batter after mixing it up, but I poured it into an 8×8 in pan and baked it for 45 min. It came out with a great texture. Personally, next time around I’d use coconut milk, up the sugar, and add 1/8tsp of salt to make it super tasty.

allergic solutions carob cake mix

allergic solution carob cake

Pancake & Waffle Mix

I chose to make pancakes, but these babies didn’t brown at all. I just couldn’t get them nice and golden brown, which I often find is a problem when making gluten-free pancakes. The flavor was quite beany and they were dense, not light and fluffy, but considering the amount of protein and healthy flours, I’ll take that any day. Just add some good toppings and you’re set. We added unsweetened apple sauce, strawberries, flax, and maple syrup. YUM!

I used light flavored extra virgin olive oil and original (sweet) hemp milk. Next time I’d also add maybe 1/4 tsp of vanilla and 1/8tsp of salt. These made 20 – 4″ pancakes.

allergic solution pancake mix

Vanilla Cake Mix

I made cupcakes, which had a very nice, mild vanilla flavor. Topped with amazing allergy-free vanilla butter cream frosting from Cybele Pascal, my favorite allergy-free baker. Sorry, no photo of these little cupcakes – they were so good they didn’t last long enough for a photo.

I used EVOO, flax milk, and maple syrup. I’m not sure I’d change anything – it was really a good, basic cake and would pair well with any frosting really.

Yeast-Free Bread Mix

YUM! This was my favorite! Just a quick note – I’d never made bread with vinegar before (and had no idea it could be done) and it honestly could not have been easier. I am quite a failure at making ANYTHING with yeast, so I was eager to try this bread mix out and I was not at all disappointed. I was expecting this to yield a typical bread dough, but it was very wet and more like a batter than a dough. I was very apprehensive when I put it in the oven, but it came out perfectly. Great texture – firm and dense, with a nice crusty top. I used rice vinegar (I was out of apple cider vinegar – I know, horror!), and a few other ingredients to the mix and ended up with my own recipe! The seeds gave this bread a lovely crunch and the cranberries blended really well with the flavor of the bean flour. Excellent for toast or sandwiches (roast turkey comes to mind).

allergic solution yeast-free bread mix

cranberry sunflower seed bliss bread

Cranberry Sunflower Seed Bliss Bread

Makes one loaf of bread

2 tbsp ground chia seeds
3 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup warm water
1 Yeast-Free Bread mix from Allergic Solution1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS maple syrup (up t0 1/4 cup if you want a sweet bread)
1/2 cup of apple juice sweetened, dried cranberries
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (soaked overnight is best)

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease bread pan.

In a large bowl, add ground chia, vinegar and 1/4 cup of warm water. Stir and let sit for 1 – 2 minutes.

Add oil and 1 cup of water to bowl and stir until combined. Add entire contents of pouch, plus cinnamon and maple syrup, and stir until completely combined. Stir in cranberries and sunflower seeds. Pour into bread pan.

Bake for 1 hour.  Allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes.

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Overall I was very pleased with the Allergic Solution mixes and would highly recommend them for a healthy, allergy-free baking option. I’m thrilled to give you the chance to try them too!

 

Oliver’s Labels – Review & Giveaway

Now that Tristan is in school, I’ve learned quickly (and have been reminded time and again from the teachers) how crucial it is to label EVERYTHING that enters through the doorways of the school, IF we ever wish to see it again. Writing labels by hand takes time and writing names in clothing with a Sharpie marker is not only ugly, but not always legible either. Add to that the fact that Tristan’s food must be carefully identified due to his food allergies, and it’s enough to make me wonder how much of my life will be spent with a hand cramp after much late night labeling.

Thankfully there is a company like Oliver’s Labels who takes the pain and misery of labeling away. Yay!

olivers labels

They sent me a variety of labels to try out and I’ve been very impressed. The labels actually stick and stay on! And they are very customizable, with various styles and images to choose from that kid’s love. I chose the Transportation style, which features cars, trucks and trains (my little guy’s favs).

Here is the Original label on Tristan’s Calendulis Cream for his eczema, which he takes to school. Note: I edited out Tristan’s last name and is distorted the road in the image slightly.

Oliver's Labels Original Label

This is the Stick-eez Clothing label, which really sticks with no need to iron-on. Very convenient.

Oliver's Labels Stick-eeze Clothing Label

And a Shoe label

Oliver's Labels Shoe Label

My favorite items are the food allergy labels, which can be customized to list your child’s specific allergens and any other indications. They also have some great bag tags for anyone or to indicate food allergies.

Oliver's Labels Food Allergy Label

Oliver's Label Food Allergy Label Close

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A Note from Lisa of Oliver’s Labels:

As parents, we know that kids have a tendency to lose things. It’s practically in their DNA! They have fun, get caught up in the moment, and before you know it, hats, mitts, scarves, water bottles, sweaters – even shoes – get lost. Labeling your child’s belongings can help lost items find their way back to you, and save you the hassle and cost of replacing them. But, if you’re a parent of a child with an allergy, who carries an EpiPen or other crucial medical resource, it’s vital that it doesn’t go missing. It’s also very important for others to know where the life-saving medication is located and, possibly, even how (or how much) to administer. Seemingly simple things like sending your child to school, attending parties and going on play dates take on much greater significance when your child has allergies.

That’s why Oliver’s Labels offers Allergy Labels, which provide important reminders to anyone caring for your child. They have ample room to write all your child’s allergies and emergency information, and are essential in helping to protect your child. They are waterproof, scuff-proof and can go on items that go in the dishwasher, microwave, fridge or outdoors. They stick on almost anything – and stay there! We also have Safety Wristbands in a variety of designs, too.

We also offer many of our other labels and tags in designs indicating Food Allergies, No Nuts, No Dairy, No Eggs, No Gluten and No Seafood.

Give us a try today and be sure to check out Found-it™, our exclusive, FREE online Lost-and-Found system. This optional code can be added to most of our products and is a unique number that connects you to your lost item via your email address. If someone finds an item you’ve lost, Oliver’s Labels acts as an intermediary between you and the finder so you never have to share any of your personal information. Find out more about it here.

Feel free to visit us online or on FaceBook or on Twitter. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have, so please connect with us!

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**Now for the Giveaway**

I have one (1) $35 gift certificate for any purchase from Oliver’s Labels to giveaway.

Open worldwide (except Quebec).

**Enter the giveaway HERE.**

Good luck everyone!

Book Review: “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics – Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies”

I’ve had a number of eczema and food allergy parents recommend a book to me. “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies – The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders” by Kenneth Bock, MD and Cameron Stauth. Let me first say that I’m not one to sit down to read any sort of non-fictional book. I’ll admit that I much prefer fictional novels that carry me to a far off world or to another reality. But, I decided to make an exception with this book as it was so highly recommended and it speaks to alternative treatment methods for health conditions that affect my child. So, I put down my copy of Divergent (which was AMAZING) and reluctantly picked up my first ever medical book and set to filling my brain with knowledge. Read more

Steeltainer Review & Discount – Lightweight, Functional, and Eco Friendly Food Containers

With Tristan heading off to school, I had to start seriously thinking about his lunches away from home. Food allergies would make it impossible for him to eat anything from the school menu. It was time to wrap my head around preparing his meals for school everyday. I searched for some eco-friendly, reusable food containers for my little man’s daily lunch and two snacks. At home we use glass containers for food storage, but those suckers are heavy. Can you imagine 2-3 of those packed in a four-year-old’s back pack? No,I don’t think so – my son is definitely not a mule.

I found a great solution in Steeltainer’s products. I tested out the Compact Divided Snack Container and the Deluxe Sandwich Salad Container.

How are Steeltainer containers different and what makes them so fantastic? Here are the winning points in my book:

1) While the exterior and lid is made from dishwasher safe, BPA-free plastic, the interior is composed of leak-proof stainless steel. Who wants their food touching plastic that could potentially leech into their food? Not me!

Steeltainer’s Deluxe Sandwich Salad Food Container

2. The Compact Divided Snack Food Container has a removable divider for easy cleaning. Also, simply remove the divider to use the full container for something other than veggies and dip. You can change the size of the compartments too!

Steeltainer’s Compact Divided Snack Container

3. They are super lightweight – just like plastic.

4. I love that the lids are clear. There is absolutely zero guessing about what lies inside. No surprises for the teachers or for my child.

5. All parts are dishwasher safe – a MUST for any family, I imagine. We washed ours on the top rack and they came out in perfect shape.

6. Very easy to clean, even without a dishwasher. The stainless steel liner can be easily removed to remove every speck of food. No chance of food build up here.

7. They come in great sizes for kids. The Compact Divided Snack Container and Deluxe Sandwich Salad Container fit perfectly in most lunch boxes.

8. An added bonus, all parts are recyclable. That’s one less household item eventually (years and years from now) headed to the landfills.

The only negatives for me are 1) they are not microwave-safe. Hello! Metal in the microwave, not a happy coupling.  And 2) the containers are made in Korea. Ideally, I’d love to supply my home with only locally made goods, but sadly, that’s just not a reality. My motto is: Buy local when you can, but don’t feel too guilty when you can’t.

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Exclusive Discount offer:

Steeltainer is offering It’s an Itchy Little World followers 10% off any of their products. Simply mention this review and call or email the company to place your order.

Email: info@steeltainer.com

Phone: 514-694-7283 (Montreal, Canada)

Offer valid until October 3, 2012 for orders shipping to the US or Canada.

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