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Archive for Green without Nuts
May 9th, 2011
Eight years ago, when my son was one, he was given his first peanut; a rice cake smothered in peanut butter. That moment defined the starting point of our foray into the overwhelming world of food and seasonal allergies. He became lethargic, covered in hives and his face swelled. It was later confirmed that he had had an allergic reaction to the peanut butter. Further testing indicated that he was allergic to all nuts and many environmental allergens; plants, trees, dust and mold.
The first few years after that diagnosis were challenging. We knew our lifestyle, filled with eating out and not reading food labels, needed an adjustment. Our first priority was to find a way to keep our little boy safe in a world filled with nuts.
Fast forward 8 years to a healthy, well-adjusted nine year old boy who has found a way to live his life without much interference from his allergies.
Over the past 8 years we have learned a lot about living with allergies, with more learning to come I’m sure. In hindsight there were things we could have done differently, but overall we are in a good place. There’s a world of options out there and sometimes it’s challenging to navigate through. We have explored different routes and remedies and have resorted to natural allergy relief and prevention as much as possible.
Natural allergy relief and prevention
Breast feed. Breast-feed exclusively — give your baby only breast milk for the first 6 months of life using hypoallergenic formulas to supplement breastfeeding if necessary.
Take a daily dose of acidophilus. Acidophilus is a probiotic has been touted for having many health benefits. It comes in a pill and powder form. There have been suggestions that probiotics help prevent the development of allergies. Yogurt is probably the most well known food containing acidophilus.
Cut back on dairy. Dairy products contain casein, a mucus-forming agent. It has a glue-like texture and histamine-creating properties, both of which cause increased mucus production and nasal congestion. Seasonal allergies cause runny noses and watery eyes. The last thing we need is another source for adding more mucus.
Reduce chemical exposure.
- Cleaning products. Make the switch to safe cleaning products. Many conventional cleaning products contain harmful chemicals such as chlorine bleach, ammonia, petrochemicals, and VOC’s. Breathing in the fumes from these products is toxic and can complicate allergic reactions.
- Personal care products. Check out all of your personal care products on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. The world’s largest resource on personal care product safety just got a makeover and it will help you figure out which of your personal care products are toxic and which are safe.
- Lawn care. Chemical weed killers, pesticides, and other lawn care products are not only killing our weeds, they’re and making us sick and killing the earth. Many of the symptoms we attribute to seasonal allergies and asthma could be from a chemical sensitivity to the chemicals lurking in our yards. These toxins are then tracked into our homes and absorbed into our foods. Our yard is now chemical free. I can say with certainty that our yard isn’t the most beautiful yard in the hood, but I love being able to let my kids and dog run around outside knowing our yard is a safe haven for them to play.
It takes a village and without these resources I would have been ( and would be) lost.
Healthy Child Healthy World-inspiring millions of people to take action and create cleaner, greener, safer environments where children and families can flourish.
FAAN-the most trusted source of information, programs, and resources related to food allergy and anaphylaxis.
What do you do when seasonal allergies kick in?
Do you have food allergies? Any tips to share?
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[Top photo used under Creative Commons from SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget/Flickr]
December 15th, 2010
I am always on the look out for new personal care products that fit into my groovy green lifestyle. I have spent endless hours researching brands and trying different products. Some work and some don’t.
Miessence is put to the test
Erin Ely of Miessence was kind enough to send me a sampling of products to review from the company. This is a new product for me-but Erin has been selling Miessence since 2005. I decided to put her products to the test.
Background on the company
Miessence products are manufactured by the Organic and Natural Enterprise Group (ONEgroup). The products are sold through Independent Representatives-think Avon or Tupperware-and Erin Ely is an independent representative. All links in this review go directly to her site.
How did Miessence hold up?
- Nut-Free-many personal care products contain nut oils. My son has a life-threatening nut allergy so anything with nuts stays out of our home.There were two nuts listed as possible ingredients on the Miessence site: shea and tamanu nut oil. The Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk did have shea butter-everything else was clear.
- Scored well on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database-Miessence rocked this category-scoring between 0-2. The ingredients are pure, mostly organic and sound good enough to eat. Many of the products are certified organic through ACO (Australian Certified Organic). One of my favorites- Miessence Mint Toothpaste -uses Stevia, a natural sweetener with no calories.
- Price-These products are expensive-an 8.5 fl. oz. bottle of shampoo costs $22.00. There are trial sizes for purchase for around $6.00.
- They did their job-Once a product makes its way into my house it goes through a battery of additional testing by a group of relentless judges-me, my husband and my 3 kids. My hair felt clean with the Miessence Dessert Flower Shampoo and Miessence Shine Herbal Hair Conditioner. The Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk took a while to absorb into my skin and it was a bit sticky.
- Lather-The Miessence Dessert Flower Shampoo surprisingly had great lather -I have found most organic shampoos to be lacking in this department since they don’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Smell-all the products smelled clean and fresh with no overpowering scent. The Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk had a coconut scent, which I liked.
- I am a label snob. Their labels are pretty.
- Packaging-The containers are plastic. I am not a fan in general, but they come in recyclable plastic bottles and tubes which state “100% Recyclable non leaching Plastic”. Guess I can live with that.
- Their products are never tested on animals.
Overall, I really liked their products. The Miessence Dessert Flower Shampoo, Miessence Shine Herbal Hair Conditioner and Miessence Mint Toothpaste were my favorites. I didn’t care for the he Miessence certified organic Tropicana Body Milk. The cost of the products is a factor and won’t fit into everyone’s budget. The company does offer sample sizes for most of their products-giving you an opportunity to try them out without committing big bucks. There are many more products to peruse on the site.
Miessence and Disclosure
Erin Ely of Miessence Organics sent me an assortment of goodies for review. I am not affiliated with Miessence in any way and any opinions you find here are my very own. Click HERE for more information on my product review policy.
December 3rd, 2010
Just in time for the holidays- I am happy to welcome a new blog sponsor to Groovy Green Livin. Starlight Creatives creates whimsical, decorated sugar cookies that are truly deliciously unique and impossible to resist. I know first hand since many have passed very quickly through my house.
Starlight Creatives was started 6 years ago by company founder, Sandra Rhoads, in her kitchen in Massachusetts. She thought there was a need for a delicious cookie that would also look great and be fun. She now has a dedicated nut-free bakery where the cookies are hand made and decorated with many custom designs.
What makes these cookies so special is their use of local ingredients, including organic cage free eggs. The cookies can be decorated with natural food colors (as supplied to Whole Foods). In addition to the decorated sugar cookies, Starlight also makes Lil Snappers, Marblehead Mix, All Razzed Up, Irish Oaties, Snickerdoodles and Gingerbread.
I began to buy these cookies at our local Whole Foods when I noticed they were made in a nut free facility. My son has a life-threatening nut allergy and it is very difficult to find safe bakery products for him. They have traveled with us on all of our vacations to ensure my son had a sweet treat available.
You can find these adorable cookies in stores all over the Boston area and the rest of you can put in your orders and have them shipped. The cookies are perfect for bridal showers, birthdays, corporate events and any other special event.
Mouth watering yet? Check out Starlight Creatives for all your yummy cookie options. These are not to be missed!
Have you tried them?
Interested in more information on nut-free living?
The Nut Free Mom
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
Peanut Allergy Kid
November 15th, 2010
Healthy Child Healthy World is a non-profit involved in raising awareness and responsibility, inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals. Their site provides a forum which informs and inspires millions of people to take action and create cleaner, greener, safer environments for children and families. It is a place to find up-to-date information on current topics concerning children and their environment. Healthy Child Healthy World is my go-to site for so many topics.
I was thrilled when they asked me to host one of their Healthy Home Parties and then blog about it. These parties were created as way of educating and empowering family, friends, schools and the community to create healthy living environments for children.
One afternoon a big box arrived at my door and I couldn’t wait to see what was inside. I knew that Klean Kanteen and Luna were the biggie sponsors -but there were samples, coupons and information from so many others.
I was amazed to see how many companies had jumped on-board, offering samples and information -ready to make the world a safer place for our kids.
We were eager to try out the products and use the coupons. Each family was set up with a goody bag filled with an assortment of samples, coupons, information and instructions from me: try out the products and let me know what you think.
There is nothing like trying out a new, exciting product with your children-especially when there is no question that the products are completely non-toxic and safe. Here are some of our children checking out the goods. Sometimes a picture says a thousand words……..at least when sampling snacks is involved.
Here is one happy guy enjoying the Clif Kid Organic Twisted Fruit. My kids loved these too. Not only do they taste yummy they are also allergy friendly for those of us with food sensitivities in our families.
Nothing like some fun bubble bath from Yes to Carrots to provide hours of non-toxic entertainment in the tub. Check out these two cuties on the right-someday they will be completely mortified that this photo was used.
These two red-headed brothers were willing to try all the samples their parents were willing to share. They admitted to loving the Luna bars.
Lots of delicious samples were had by all. Each sample was yet another example of how snacks can be healthy, non-toxic and taste great. I think they all agreed! The non-toxic bubble bath and floor cleaners were also a big hit.
My guys showing their support for Klean Kanteen water bottles.
There were many other products highlighted-cleaners, Klean Kanteen water bottles, CleanWell Hand Sanitizer and many others. It was nice to share alternatives to the many harmful, toxic products on the market. Hopefully, with the information and coupons, we can all make at least one simple change that will create a safer world for us all.
If you are interested in hosting your very own Healthy Home Party click HERE.
October 26th, 2010
Photo used under Creative Commons from s5ky
Most of us know someone with a food allergy. I certainly do-two of my children have been labeled with life threatening food allergies; one to peanuts and tree nuts and the other to soy. Every time I head to the grocery store I spend a tremendous amount of time reading each and every label-including labels that I am familiar with to be sure they haven’t changed. This is a necessity to keep my family safe and healthy.
In January, 2006, the new Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) took effect. The law requires food manufacturers to identify all ingredients in a food product containing one or more of the eight major allergens.
The eight foods identified by the law are:
- Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
- Crustacean shellfish (e.g. crab, lobster, shrimp)
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
The law states that the name of the food source of a major food allergen must appear:
- In parentheses following the name of the ingredient.
Examples: “lecithin (soy),” “flour (wheat),” and “whey (milk)”
– OR –
- Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a “contains” statement.
Example: “Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy.”
Most companies are very clear in their labeling and use the “contains” language in bold after their ingredient list.
HERE’S WHERE IT GETS REALLY CONFUSING
Photo used under Creative Commons from Gabriel Lima
I have been scrutinizing food labels for years-I am noticing that I have to squint these days to read the fine print. Many labels contain language about cross-contamination-if the food was processed on shared equipment or shared processing lines with one of the 8 allergens.
But not all manufacturers are listing cross-contamination information. The reason being- companies are not required to include this information. There are no particular regulations on whether they need to add statements such as “may contain traces of peanuts,” for example, for foods that aren’t supposed to contain such allergens. It is a company’s choice whether or not to include this information, and how to word it.
How to decide if cross-contamination is an issue
So the bottom line is YOU will need to determine what degree of risk you are comfortable with when purchasing foods. That is a lot of pressure when you are buying food for someone else.
Here is my internal checklist for deciding whether or not to buy a product:
- I first check the ingredients list for the 8 common allergens.
- If there is no cross-contamination or “may contain” information I then look at the other same brand products on the shelf. If there are other products that have either nuts or soy I will more often than not assume there might be cross-contamination.
- I might contact the manufacturer on occasion to ask specifically about a cross-contamination issue.
Let me know how do you decide which products are safe to purchase?
My Go-To Food Allergy Sites:
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
The Allergic Kid
The Nut-Free Mom
The Food Allergy Mama
Peanuts in Eden
Food Allergies: What You Need to Know
How to Shop Safely