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Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Let Down My Guard

Good morning:

It is a rainy Sunday in Nashville and what better time than to share a story and a link with you.

I was at my Mom's on Friday and was starving.  I went to her pantry and she had some honey-roasted peanuts (but only like 4 in the jar - why she didn't finish them or throw away I do not know).  I read the label, all was good, but hey, 4 peanuts did not curb the hunger.  So she had a new jar of Dry Roasted peanuts - I did not read the label - so stupid on my part.  I was really starving. 

So I popped a few in my mouth and within seconds I felt my blood pressure dropping and my tongue started minor swelling.  I ran and looked at the jar and at the bottom of the ingredients list "Gelatin".  Why on earth would Gelation be in peanuts?  So I ran to my car and grabbed a Zyrtec, 2 steroids and my Epi-Pen.  I took the Zyrtec and the steroids and sat with the Epi-Pen ready to go.  It was scary! I have been so good and so Diligent in my efforts to not have another attack.

Well I probably pushed it but I did not want to go to the hospital - it took over an hour for things to start settling down and I walked around with the Epi-Pen in my pocket all day just in case.  If the gelatin had been closer to the top of the ingredients list there is no doubt I would have been in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

So lesson learned - never stop reading labels and paying attention to what you are eating!

Also I was featured in a story about "Alpha Gal" on the "Today" show over the weekend.  Here is the link

Stay Safe and Eat Well!

Have a great Sunday - September

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Grocery Store Maze

Good afternoon:

It is amazing to me what brings people together.  I have in recent weeks talked to so many new and interesting people who - unfortunately - have been diagnosed with Alpha-Gal.

The two questions I am asked are "Where do I start?" and "How do I determine what I can eat?"

The first place I tell people to start is in you refrigerator and pantry.  Read every label thoroughly.  If you cannot decipher if the product is safe for you - call the company's 1-800 number and ask.

If they cannot give you a definite answer - then give the food items away or toss them.  It is not worth the risk.  For example, shortly after being diagnosed I went through everything including my vitamins.  I discovered that Centrum Multivitamins contain pork and my calcium supplement contained beef.  Yikes!  I even found an all natural cereal that contained Gelatin.  I have a list below of some safe foods that work for cooking, baking, etc. 

My sensitivity to dairy and  mammal meat is very high.  One day I was grocery shopping and had been buying the Lundberg Rice Cakes - well the Quaker brand was right next to them and they were $2 cheaper and I read the label and it looked clean.  After eating one I had to take everything in my arsenal (Zyrtec, Cingular, Benadryl and Pepcid) to keep from having to give myself an Epi-Pen.  I just did not want to go to the hospital for a third time.

I called Quaker and they said the plain rice cakes were made in the same facility as their cheese rice cakes (the label mentioned nothing about the product being manufactured in the same facility where dairy was present) - but their cleaning requirements for the equipment were very stringent and no contamination should exist.  They were wrong - there is always a chance for human error and apparently it happened in my case.  So guess what?  I do not buy the Quaker product any longer.

I use to be a speed shopper at the grocery.  The first couple of times I went after being diagnosed with Alpha-Gal I spend over 2 hours in the store reading labels and determining what was safe.  My doctor warned me just because it is safe now - does not mean they might not change manufacturing and next month it could be manufactured in a facility that  processes dairy items.  So it is always about being diligent - when it comes to your health and more importantly - your life - it is worth every minute.

The Safe List (they are many more but I will add some every time so as not to overwhelm):
(I have tried other products and have tossed them because they did not work or did not taste good - I am hoping this will save you some time and money)

  • Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (replaces butter perfectly in recipes - plus it contains Flax oil and olive oil which are super healthy for you)
  • Rice Milk (use it to replace cows milk in anything you bake, cook ,etc.  No taste  - so it works great - I even use it in my mashed potatoes)
  • Almond Milk - I use this in smoothies - it does impart flavor so not good to cook with unless you are making something with almond/nut flavoring
  • Coconut milk - I use this in my Carrot cake pancakes (I will share this recipe in the next blog)
  • "So Delicious" Coconut Yogurt and Ice Creams - Excellent!
  • Ezekiel Breads - they make sandwich bread, English Muffins, Hamburger Buns (contains no dairy)
  • Stacy's Pita Chips
  • Kettle Brand Chips
  • Garden of Eatin Tortilla Chips
  • Trader Joes Turkey Bacon (I had a bad reaction to Butterball's brand)
  • Trader Joes Chicken Sausage - no pork Casing (read the labels though because they do have a chicken sausage that has pork casing) (great replacement for Italian Sausage)
  • Kikkoman Panko Bread Crumbs (regular bread crumbs contain dairy)
  • Dark Chocolate Dream - a rich, creamy chocolate bar that contains no dairy - (my splurge :)
  • Enjoy Life Chocolate chips - a dairy free chocolate chip for baking and melting
  • All plain canned (except Pork n Beans) and dried beans, tomatoes, canned and frozen plain vegetables (no sauces), plain pastas, plain rice, couscous, quinoa, basic condiments (no salad dressings), pickles, canned tuna.
  • Paul Newman's Marinara Sauce
  • Plus more to come.
Please let me know if you have specific questions about recipes, food items, etc.  I will be happy to help in any way I can.

Stay safe and Eat Well!