Baking! Cookies!

My feet hurt… But I don’t mind because it’s from standing in the kitchen making cookies. Not only did I feel well enough –  no migraines – no sick – no allergic reactions – to bake but I managed to be smart about it too. It’s amazing how much easier it is to bake cookies if you have a stand mixer AND measure out most ingredients before you start mixing.

Furthermore, everything I made is guaranteed free of anything I’m allergic to. Thank you Enjoy Life foods and Sunbutter.

It’s surprisingly hard to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe that doesn’t have something extra in it – like espresso powder – or nuts. Martha Stewart has a very good recipe though. I’ll use it again.

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Give the blog some love and create a poll

I decided to do some blog updating and give the blog some some love in general. I updated the header image and also checked out the settings to see what else you can do on a free wordpress blog. (I do want to have this on my own domain, SOME DAY!) A poll asking people what kind of food allergies they have seemed like a good one to start with. It’s more interesting than asking people if they have a college degree, right?

Why Whole Foods needs to train their employees on food allergies

or: Why Chopped Beef is Vague Terminology

other titles include:

“Why people with food allergies must always be vigilant of everything related to their food” or “why people who are supportive to people with (multiple) food allergies are awesome” or “Why my husband is my hero” or “Why grocery stores that supply prepared food need to be better about identifying all ingredients” or “Even the grocery store can be stressful when you have food allergies”

Ok. So. I’m going to talk about my food allergies, if you don’t care, stop reading, go up to the top of your browser and close the page, continue on with life.

My husband and I went to Whole Foods after work on the way home for some light grocery shopping. We do this often. We decided to get food at Whole Foods for dinner, this happens depending on what’s available. I got to what I’d call the “barbecue counter” if I was me – and I am – and found out they still had baked potatoes. So I ordered a baked potato with chopped beef. I also gathered up a small salad at the salad bar. My husband collected much of our other purchases because my foot was sore and throbbing. No one wants to walk all over the grocery store on a sore throbbing foot.

We get home, we’re putting away groceries, you know. Like you do. I explain to my husband what I purchased for dinner. A baked potato with chopped beef. He asked “Brisket?” No, I explained the beef with the sauce. Not brisket. I elaborated, pointing out how I thought all the meat at the barbecue counter was safe for me to eat. He said no, the chopped beef has Austin’s own barbecue sauce in it which has Worcestershire sauce in it. Worcestershire sauce commonly has fish in it so it’s off-limits for me.

Mentally I sigh and remind myself to be calm. Because I was tired and hungry and didn’t remember to bend over and check the very small print of the ingredients card I didn’t see that I shouldn’t have ordered the chopped beef which has the sauce in it. I was just happy to get a baked potato I guess?

So we debate and come up with options:

1. remove the beef and chance the potato, but the potato has also started soaking up the juices/sauces/etc so that’s not really a great option.

2. get something out of the pantry which would be canned soup or a cold sandwich or a noodle bowl like I had for lunch yesterday, none of these are all that fantastic either

3. just eating the salad is not a legitimate answer because it’d leave me hungry later

4. Call Whole Foods and try to get the ingredients

So phone number to Whole Foods found I call and ask to speak to someone at the barbecue counter. I get transferred. I explain I just purchased a potato with chopped beef and I’d like to know the ingredients of the chopped beef – not the brisket. I explain that by the words barbecue counter I mean hot food. I explain I just purchased it and want to know the ingredients. The girl puts me on hold. She comes back and says “Yes we still have some available.”  I’m thinking, “SERIOUSLY!?!?!? REALLY???” and just say Thanks and hang up. After I hang up I explain to my husband, “I give up, the conversation went from me asking what the ingredients are to yes they have some available.” He (rather calmly) asks for the phone and calls himself. He confirms the present of Austin Own’s barbecue sauce. So, because it’s 2013 I go look up Austin’s Own barbecue sauce on the Internet. They have a website. However they have no food allergy information and do not provide a transparent explanation of ingredients. (I filled out the Contact Us form asking that they post food allergy information on their website.)

Then my husband offers to go out to Jason’s Deli and get me a potato so I can still have a potato. I agree, because that sounds like a fabulous idea. I check the Jason’s Deli website and also ask that he order a cup of beef stew if it’s available since Jason’s Deli has all food allergy information (the major eight) as part of the nutritional information on their site.

So, because:

1. for a split second I wasn’t ever vigilant and missed one ingredients label

2. Austin Own’s doesn’t have a full ingredient list or food allergy information posted online

3. Whole Food’s employees seem to be mostly ignorant of food allergies (beyond other things like how to properly hold a knife when slicing meat)

4. chopped beef may or may not be beef with barbecue sauce

I got to send my husband back out into the cold so I could have a hot meal for dinner that didn’t come out of a can and I feel stupid. Ultimately I feel stupid because I forgot to read just one label. I’m so grateful he offered and was willing to go back out in the cold and get me dinner – before eating his own.

In which I complain about not having enough time to…

I want to blog more but life keeps being crazy. I’ve been knitting regularly and getting tired regularly and reading comics, sort of. Spring time is hard to because of allergies and spring storms popping up. (Spring is definitely interesting in TX. See tornadoes in April 2012. Go, ask Google.)

Ultimately, I think I’m just happy to have an income again – as long as I don’t think of the horrendous amount of student loan debt I have from 2 college degrees, very little scholarships and not very much grant money. Money leads to yarn, yarn leads to knitting, knitting leads to happiness. Does that make yarn part of the force?

The amount of books I’ve read so far this year saddens me. I should do a blog post about knitting projects…. I just need to grab the pictures on my phone and on my DSLR and get them on my computer. Something I was going to do last weekend. Turns out the whole writing thing isn’t working out like expected/intended since I’ve had to completely rearrange not at work/sleeping/eating time. I am still applying my creativity to something though, it’s just knitting instead of writing. Eventually, I suspect, I’ll come up with something I actually WANT to write about/on… even if I decide to take the time to do writing prompts. I guess I could do writing prompts 2-5 times a week sort of like exercising 3-5 times a week but then that’s probably the wrong approach. And on top of all that, I’ve restarted the food diary cause I’m wondering if there’s another food I’m allergic to. Increase in headaches is either spring time (and pollen allergies) or something else like food.

I did get to reading some of Anathem last weekend! I’m still not even halfway through!

I’m almost done with a(nother) pair of socks.

I think the next thing I need to do is buy that yarn ball winder and swift so I can wind yarn at home and continue with the projects I’ve got started. Then, once I can wind the yarn I can actually plan out projects. Wonder if I’ll bother?

Pictures don’t do this yarn justice.

I could gather up all the comics I’m reading too… Some are The New 52 (reboot) from DC but not all! I guess I haven’t done this yet because I haven’t gotten into a lot of the new ones. (Like Dark Shadows.)

edit:

I added a new category! COMICS! So yea, maybe I should write up something about being a woman and reading the DC reboot. (Batwoman’s anti-gravity breasts (in her armor) bother me.)

Recent food allergy experience

I’m allergic to tree nuts.* I tested allergic to ALL kinds of tree nuts and I had symptoms like dry cough, scratchy throat after eating some kinds of nuts. So, my doctor told me to eliminate tree nuts.

One of the difficulties I’ve run into so far with my tree nut allergy (was diagnosed summer 2011) is not knowing how to handle all the words you get on food labels about how this food was processed in the same place that manufactured something with tree nuts or this food was on the same equipment as something with tree nuts. Or this food was introduced to tree nuts once and we can’t confirm nor deny whether there are tree nuts present in this food.**

May favorite one is: “May continue tree nuts or peanuts.” I call that one the lazy CYA*** statement.

Anyways, I like chocolate and what usually comes in chocolate? NUTS! Any good decent chocolate (more expensive than the candy section at the convenience store) will probably not be tree nut free. For example, regular M&Ms? No nuts. However, peanut M&Ms? Might continue almonds! (gods I hate that!)

I picked up a box of dark chocolate truffles to try from a “high end” grocery store we shop at somewhat frequently. Anyone not familiar with chocolate truffles needs to know they are about bite size – 2 bites if you want to savor them and coated with cocoa so they don’t stick. The truffles I grabbed had a warning that said:

I'm so glad I'm not allergic to soy.

“Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk.” Ok I’m thinking, been in the same room as nuts – that’s ok. (Being around nuts hasn’t caused any kind of problems for me.)

Anyways, few days later, after dinner, I open the box, grab 2 truffles for a snack/to try, etc. You know, what you do when you want a little bit of chocolate or little bit of dessert.

A few minutes after I finished 1 truffle – I was suddenly extremely stuffy (I had a 24 hour allergy pill that morning) and breathing heavy even though I was sitting quietly in my living room. Used my inhaler, started feeling a little bit better. Took a benadryl. Waiting for the benadryl to kick in seemed like forever.

Sometime that evening I also used my nebulizer. (I have asthma.) Freaked out a little, calmed down. That also involved admitting I was freaking out about the reaction and then making myself calm down. Thankfully I wasn’t alone – in case the drugs didn’t do what I needed them to do. (I do also have an epi-pen per my doctor’s orders.)

Next day I woke up feeling like I had lost a marathon and a food eating contest in the same day. I still needed allergy and asthma medicine and I was horribly tired.

This reaction wasn’t severe. This reaction was not caused by eating food that clearly stated had tree nuts in it. This is why manufacturers should be more clear about food allergy statements.

This post is not meant to advise anyone about anything, it’s meant to share my experience since many people do not understand food allergies. This experience demonstrates a few things that my doctor told me – allergies are dose independent. It does not matter how much you eat, it can effect you. It  also demonstrated that food allergy reactions can come in stages – there is the primary stage that is a few minutes to a few hours from the exposure to the food and the secondary reaction that can be 8 to 12 hours later. I think I experienced both since I didn’t actually start feeling normal/better until over 24 hours after the initial exposure/reaction.

*I’m not allergic to peanuts. Peanuts are also not tree nuts.

**That might be hyperbole.

***Try Google.

I know my food allergies

It’s amazing how many little things that were wrong before I eliminated the foods I turned out to be allergic to.

It’s been less than 2 months since I cut out tree nuts.

1. Less headaches
2. more focus
3. not so tired all the time
4. maybe less asthma symptoms
5. better, more stable appetite
6. less allergy symptoms (?) – this one is hard to say cause of time of year too
7. better mood
8. beer tastes better
9. ability to do housework again (beyond simple things like sort/wash laundry) and not feel utterly wiped out
10. more energy – this is different from not so tired all the time because more energy means being able to think about other things beyond today, tomorrow, the weekend and all the stuff I need to do. like planning.
11. possibly my joints are better too. hard to tell yet.

[updated] Tree nut allergy: other things not food

I was recently confirmed allergic to tree nuts. I have to eliminate them from my diet. I know that nuts were a problem…but I didn’t realize how serious it had become. I’m glad I caught this before the symptoms got worse than burny/itchy/scratchy throat, cough, and/or rash.

I used to use a body lotion that smells great, has no added fragrance and seemed great on my skin. (which you can now buy online and not just from Bath and Body Works) I loved it cause it has no extra chemically stuff to set off my already sensitive skin. Not long after I started using it…I realized it made my legs break out when I used it right after shaving. Not bad mind you. Just. there. And the lotion burned when I used it after shaving my legs. (That’s normal right?)

Anyways. I figured out the burning isn’t normal after I started looking at ingredients on lotion labels. (I checked with my doctor protein is bad, oil is ok.)

Bath and Body Works refunded me the big containers of lotion I’d purchased…and I spend that store credit on some body wash (Incidentally, that’s cheaper at Bath and Body Works) that I already know is safe for my skin (and smells wonderful). Very glad I was able to do the store credit.

Anyways, I’m emailing C. O. Bigelow through their website asking them, at the very least, to make their labels more allergy friendly. Here’s the email, word for word:

Hi,

I’m contacting you to ask that you update your label for the C.O. BIGELOW LEMON BODY CREAM NO. 005 to reflect that there is a tree nut ingredient in it. The sweet almond protein in this cream can cause allergic reactions for someone allergic to tree nuts.

For me personally, I was just confirmed allergic to a number of foods, including multiple types of tree nuts. This lotion has actually been causing rashes…. and now I know it’s because I’m allergic to it. Since (food) allergies can be very dangerous, I’m no longer able to use it.

If you cannot change the almond protein ingredient to something that is tree nut allergy friendly then at least please update your label so that it is more allergy friendly.

Thank you!

Sounds friendly right? It’ll be interesting to see when I get a response and what kind of response I get.

And here’s the lovely response I received:

We appreciate you taking the time to contact us in regards to our policies, services and products. We value your inquiry and your interest in Bath and Body Works and The White Barn Candle Co.

We have passed on your suggestion to identify the use of nut oils in our products to our product managers for consideration.

If we can be of any further assistance, please reply to this email or contact us at 1-800-395-1001, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.