The Next Chapter: AllerCoach Training

While I have dealt with food allergies for many years, my soy allergy diagnosis in February was the most life-altering experience I have ever had. At first, I was spending 60-80 hours per week researching, learning to cook all over again, and calling manufacturers about products. I was working part-time and I realized that there were so many people out there that were working full-time and/or trying to raise a family (some of which also had food allergies.)

I have said that finding my soy allergy was the worst thing that has ever happened to me and the best thing that has ever happened to me. The miraculous transformation that took place in my mind, body, and spirit is mind-blowing. I believe that this experience combined with over 10 years of experience in teaching, training and student development has led me to find my calling: helping others navigate their own special dietary restrictions and find their way to transformation.

After a lot of research and consideration, I am very excited to be participating in the 14 week Food Allergy Gal AllerCoach School and am already in my second week of training.

Beginning in January of next year, I will be launching my own business as an independent coach and consultant to support those with food allergies and special dietary needs. I will not be a medical professional or dietician, but I will be someone who has been there and can help clients with everything from advocacy to meal planning and shopping. For more information on the program and what AllerCoaches provide, please click here.

I plan to continue my blog, so stay tuned for more information later this year! I am also on Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, and Facebook.

Recipe: Soy Free Chicken Peas and Pasta

Sometimes my job requires me to work long 16-hour days due to events, so I like finding dishes that I can make the night before to eat for dinner and then reheat for lunch/dinner the next day. This dish makes great comfort food and also a good hearty meal for days when you are on the go. As usual, because of acid reflux, I substitute real onion for onion flakes.

chickenpeas

Chicken, Peas and Pasta

8 chicken tenderloins

1 package of frozen peas

1 package of Tinkyada brown rice pasta (I prefer the spinach pasta)

1 package of shiitake mushrooms, chopped (optional)

1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream

Spices: garlic powder, pepper, onion flakes

Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

Shredded parmesan cheese (topping)

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a separate, deep skillet, cook chicken on medium, about 6-7 minutes on each side with garlic powder, pepper, and onion flakes. About 2-3 minutes before chicken is done, add shiitake mushrooms while defrosting peas. Add peas when defrosted. When all ingredients are warm, add 1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream depending on how much sauce you would like. Continue to cook on medium heat until cream is bubbling. Reduce heat to simmer until sauce is desired consistency, about 3-5 minutes. Add cooked pasta and stir. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Serves 6-8

Soy Free Body Wash Reviews

Body Wash Soy Free Body Wash Reviews

The day after my soy reaction, I took a day to discard everything in my house that contained soy, including bath & body products, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and hand soap. Because those with soy allergy know that soy is really in everything, I basically threw out everything in my house. I noticed that the rash (Keritosis Pilaris aka “chicken skin”) that had plagued me for years despite interventions from my dermatologist was gradually disappearing.

I think it is well worth getting rid of all soy in your home, especially with the dramatic improvements that I found soon after eliminating soy. (I always like to begin a review article with my usual disclaimer: product ingredients can change at any time and may even vary by distributor. When in doubt, always call the manufacturer, and also test a small area of skin before fully using a product.)

I like to switch body washes from time to time, especially since there is some research out there that suggests that some allergies could stem from using the same products or foods too frequently.

Below are my go-to products and when I use them. Note: These reviews are my personal opinions and I do not have any current relationships or agreements with any of these brands.

California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo & Body Wash

California Baby makes lots of great products from sunscreens to body wash to diaper cream. It’s not just for babies, and it’s great for those of us with sensitive skin. Since I also have seasonal allergies, I use California Baby in the heat of Spring and Fall allergy season when I want to be extra careful of fragrance exposure. It’s also great when you are going to be outdoors and don’t want fragrance to attract insects. I have heard that Target carries this brand, although I am not sure if they carry  the fragrance free version. You can also order directly from California Baby’s website or from Amazon.

Hugo Naturals Shower Gel (Vanilla & Sweet Orange or Lavendar)

Hugo Naturals is my go-to brand for reasonably priced soy free bath and body products. They make lip balm, shower gel, hand sanitizer, shampoo/conditioner/gel, deodorant, lotions, and more. I love their vanilla & sweet orange shower gel for morning showers, and their lavender shower gel is great for a relaxing evening shower. If you haven’t tried Hugo Naturals, I highly recommend it!

Acure Unscented Sensitive Skin Body Wash

While Hugo Naturals is my go-to brand for everyday bath & body, Acure is my go-to brand for keeping my face in tip-top shape. Acure is also widely available in specialty and health food stores, so you don’t have to wait on a shipment for their products. While there are soy free makeup brands out there, I have made the decision to go without makeup for the most part as a personal choice for my body. Acure helps my skin look great so that I can skip the makeup. Their unscented body wash is another great choice for pampering your skin.

Calling all Soyvivors: Do you have other favorite soy free brands for body wash? Share in the comments below!

What Does “Soy Free” Really Mean?

When I first found out that I was allergic to soy, I would simply ask, “Is your product soy free?” If the answer was yes, I thought that was all I needed. WRONG.

Companies will not always tell you the truth. Some companies will do everything they can to present their product in the best light, even if that means that they do not tell you everything you need to know about the soy content in their product. In fact, many manufacturers have so many distributors of their products that they do not even know if their ingredients are derived from soy.

Is it because they don’t care that you could have a life-threatening reaction? Probably not. It’s more likely because they have no idea how dangerous it is to avoid fully disclosing the ingredients in their product. It is also likely that they believe they are doing the right thing by following FDA guidelines, which require very little disclosure about the soy content in a product.

I had an issue with a company a few weeks ago that makes widely known and dermatologist- recommended lotions and creams. I had called them a few months ago and they confirmed that their product was soy free. Last week, I emailed them, and they once again confirmed that their product was soy free. Then, I heard from another soyvivor that the same company told her that they could not tell her if the glycerin in the product was derived from soy.

I once again contacted the company, and while they continued to assert that their product was soy free, they also asserted that they could not guarantee that there was no trace amounts of soy and they could not guarantee that their glycerin was not derived from soy.

Bottom line: The term “Soy Free” is not regulated and means nothing.

It reminds me a lot of “organic” food. There are many ways to state that a product is organic, but unless it is certified to be organic, you cannot believe the claim. Unfortunately there are no requirements for labeling a product as “soy free” unless you are considering FDA guidelines, which are in my opinion virtually useless for those allergic to soy.

It is very important to always ask about specific ingredients when you call companies. For more information on calling manufacturers, read this post.

Soy Free Recipe: A Cabbage Steak Taste Test

Before I found out I was allergic to soy, I really didn’t enjoy cooking very much. It was just another chore on the to do list. Now that I see food differently, I like to have fun with my food and experiment in the kitchen.

Today’s experiment is with cabbage steaks. I have never tried them and have heard that they are delicious. However, most of the recipes I see online are basted with oil, salt, pepper, and maybe some garlic thrown in. So, I decided to try out different types of seasoning to see if I can “elevate” the cabbage steak to new levels of flavor.

cabbagesteaks

First, I basted each piece with oil. Then, I tried different seasonings:

On the left-hand side (starting in the back), you have Bragg’s organic seasoning, Penzey’s Old World seasoning, Penzey’s Greek seasoning.

On the right-hand side (starting in the back), you have curry power followed by plain salt/pepper/garlic powder.

So who won the taste test? Actually, my husband and I had completely different favorites:

Alanna:                                                  Chris:

1. Curry Powder                                1. Penzey’s Old World

2. Bragg’s Seasoning                      2. Curry Powder

3. Penzey’s Old World                    3. Salt/Pepper/Garlic Powder

4. Penzey’s Greek                             4. Bragg’s Seasoning

5. Salt/Pepper/Garlic Powder     5. Penzey’s Greek

Bottom Line: Definitely check out the curry powder and Penzey’s Old World seasoning!

Are Widely Available Soy Free Eggs Coming Soon?

I was thrilled to walk into my local Whole Foods a few weeks ago to find a reasonably priced egg that was clearly labeled “soy free.” I thought, “Finally, I can safely eat eggs again!” Unfortunately, those eggs were gone within a couple of weeks. Because of that, I started thinking that maybe there are a lot of folks other than soyvivors that are trying to eat soy free eggs.

soyfreeegg

From what I have heard, chickens have not always been fed soy and it was unheard of a few years ago for soy to be included in chicken feed. I have also heard that soybean prices are on the rise, and that brings me hope that American manufacturers and farmers will soon be giving up their love affair with the soybean.

In the meantime, I had a great conversation with a staff member at my local Whole Foods. He told me that the reason why they had no more soy free eggs was because the demand was so high. He also said that he had advised one of his friends at a local farm that he had better get rid of the soy in his chicken feed pronto or he would be out of the egg business within a year or two. He said that everyone is growing more conscious of GMOs and soy and  he predicted that soon the eggs on the shelf would be very different than they are now.

I am going to continue to watch not only for the soy free eggs, but for more hope that soy’s popularity is waning!

Calling All Soyvivors: Has anyone else seen a surge in popularity of soy free products?

Restaurants with Allergen Menus

It’s time for school to start, which means that life is about to get busy for a lot of us. My husband and I were accustomed to eating out a lot before my soy allergy, and there are days when I want so badly to grab takeout and forgo the cooking.

Many chain restaurants are now posting their allergen menus. However, there is one thing that I have found to be necessary:

No matter how much information is contained in an allergy menu, it is still important to notify your server and/or a manager that you have allergies.

The thing about soy is that there are some foods containing soy that the FDA does not require manufacturers or restaurants to report. Your meal could still contain soybean oil, soy lecithin, ingredients derived from soy, or “proprietary” ingredients like spices, natural flavorings, and artificial flavorings. There are also cross-contamination and food preparation issues to discuss. I have also had situations where allergen menus were wrong, and of course, we all know that ingredients can change at any time. :-( The restaurant manager is your best resource for catching any recent changes or errors.

With that in mind, if you are still feeling adventurous, below is a list of restaurants I have found that either provide their allergen menu online or have one to review in their restaurant. This does not mean that I have eaten at these restaurants or endorse them. I highly recommend the Allergy Eats website and app if you want to find out how others rate restaurants in your area.

When eating out, I generally avoid salad dressings and substitute extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for my salad dressing. It’s also best to check to make sure that your salad has not been coated with preservatives (a hidden source of soy.) Stay away from complex carbohydrates like bread, chips, and hamburger buns.  Always make sure that your hamburger is 100% pure beef.

I will also share one restaurant that many soy allergy survivors talk about, and that is Five Guys Burger and Fries. Many of us have tried their plain fries (cooked in peanut oil) along with a bunless burger.

Calling All Soyvivors: Are there other restaurants with which you have had good experiences?