Monday, March 23, 2015

Safe & Happy Family Product Review and Giveaway #MySafeFamily

I am very picky about the products I choose to review – I only review products that are appropriate for a food allergy audience and that I think you will love. When Safe & Happy Family asked me if I’d like a sample of one of their food allergy plates to review I was skeptical until I checked out their website. I immediately fell in love with the idea and the designs, and I think you will too!

Disclosure: Safe & Happy Family sent me a plate to review and they are giving one away to a reader here.

Before I transformed my meals to be completely allergen-free, I had to contend with the “separate plate” phenomenon – making sure that the one dish that must be allergen-free was indeed safe. It never occurred to me to use a different plate (a concept that leading food allergy chain restaurants are embracing) – perhaps that was because I didn’t have one of these beauties:

If you are preparing separate meals, I always recommend preparing the food allergy plate first. But I know I’ve had occasions where I had four plates on the counter and then completely forgot which one had the casserole prepared without dairy… it’s easy to do. That’s just one of the reasons I love these plates.

These 10-inch plates are just the right size for any meal. (Some designs also come in a smaller 8-inch size and sets are available too!) They wash beautifully and are dishwasher safe (I know, there’s new research that says those who don’t use the dishwasher may have fewer allergies, but we already have allergies and the dishwasher can sanitize). They are BPA-free. (They can’t be used in a microwave.)

The designs are beautiful. I love the use of our favorite food-allergy teal color across the patterns. I chose the “retro green” for my review, but here are a few others you might like:

I made pancakes from The Allergy-Free Pantry with blackberry maple syrup topping.

To make the syrup: mash 5-6 blackberries in a small saucepan, add ½ cup maple syrup and warm it up.

Now, for the giveaway:

One lucky reader will win a 10-inch food allergy plate from Safe & Happy Family.

No later than April 1st at midnight
(yup, April Fool’s Day, but no fooling on the giveaway) leave a comment here about why you think you'd love these plates.

For extra entries:

1. Share this post on facebook with hashtag #MySafeFamily and @SafeHappyFamily (leave a separate comment here that you did so).

2. Share on twitter with hashtag #MySafeFamily and @SafeHappyFamily (leave a separate comment here that you did so).

One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on April 2nd. (Please make sure I have a way to contact you.) The winner can choose the retro-green pattern or another 10-inch plate (value $21.50).

And, in case you don’t make it over to the website, I need to show you this mug that I adore:

I know dozens of food allergy moms that need that mug!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Upcoming Events

Oh where oh where will I be speaking and signing books this spring? I've got a number of events planned including a mini-tour of the AAFA support groups in the New England area. Here's where you can find me:

Tuesday March 31st (7:00 pm) – Pawling Library, 11 Broad Street, Pawling, NY
Demo, talk, and book signing

Monday April 13th (6:45 pm) – AAFA New England Chapter, Metro-Northwest Asthma and Allergy Support Group, Beth Israel & Children’s Hospital Medical Care Center, 482 Bedford St., Lexington, MA
Talk and book signing

Tuesday April 14th (7:00 pm) – AAFA New England Chapter, Metro-Boston Asthma and Allergy Support Group, Newton-Wellesley Hospital
2014 Washington St., Newton, MA
Talk and book signing

Tuesday April 21st (12:00 pm) – Falmouth Women’s Club, John Wesley Methodist Church, Gifford St., Falmouth, MA
Demo, talk, and book signing

Wednesday April 22nd (7:00 pm) – AAFA New England Chapter, Boys & Girls Club of Marshfield Family Center, 37 Proprieters Drive, Marshfield, MA
Talk and book signing

Stop by and see me, if you can!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust for Pi Day #Pi4All

Geek alert!

It’s almost “Pi” day. What is that, you ask? In mathematics, pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter (and is represented by the Greek letter π, known as “pi”). The really cool thing about the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is that the result is always the same – 3.14159265358979323846… and it goes on. This number is generally shortened to 3.1415 (or 3.14).

So why am I writing about Pi? Well, it’s almost “pi day.” Once a century on March 14th in the 15th year of the century (3/14/15) it is Pi day. And the folks at So Delicious Dairy Free thought this the perfect day to celebrate with pie and they asked me to create a pie to help them get this party started!

Disclosure: I was compensated by So Delicious for creating this recipe.

First, a little bit of math:

Pi = 3.1415 = c/d where c is circumference and d is the diameter (of a pie or any other circle).

Therefore, if I wanted to calculate the circumference of my 9-inch pie, the formula would be:

3.1415 X 9 = 28.27 inches (or approximately 28 ¼ inches).

Useful, right? Perhaps not, when we are waiting to take a bite of a fabulous pie made with So Delicious products!!

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

For the Chocolate Cookie Dough Pie Crust:

128 grams of gluten-free flour blend or:
  • 48 grams brown rice flour
  • 30 grams sweet rice flour (preferably superfine)
  • 30 grams tapioca starch
  • 20 grams potato starch
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (leave out if your flour blend contains a gum)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I prefer natural unsweetened)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons shortening, cold (I like Earth Balance vegan shortening)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make sure it’s gluten free, or make your own)
up to 3 tablespoons cold water (I used exactly 2)

For the Chocolate Mousse:

4 tablespoons shortening
1 cup So Delicious Chocolate Coconut Milk Beverage
1 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer
4 ½ teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons water
2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips (I prefer Pascha)

Make the Cookie Dough Pie Crust:

Combine the flours, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour until crumbly. Add the vinegar and vanilla. Add up to 3 tablespoons cold water as needed, ½ tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms. Wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a pie plate with oil. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment (about ¼ inch thick) and then transfer it to the pie plate. Fix any broken pieces and form an edge with your fingers. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookie crust is done. Let the crust cool.

Make the Chocolate Mousse Filling:

Melt the shortening in a saucepan over low heat. Add the coconut milk beverage and creamer (make sure they are room temperature) and whisk together. Raise the heat to medium and bring it to a boil. As soon as the mixture starts to boil add the egg replacer mixture and whisk together for 20 seconds as it starts to thicken. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate chips (1/2 cup at a time). Whisk until completely blended.

Let the mousse cool for no more than 15 minutes (don’t let a crust start to form on top of the mousse) before spooning it into the cooled pie crust. Let the filled pie cool completely (about an hour), then cover it with plastic and refrigerate for at least 8 hours prior to serving. Serve it with a dollop of So Delicious Coco-Whip!

This recipe is enough to make one 10-inch pie. If you use a 9-inch pie plate (as I did) bake cookies with the remaining dough as you are baking the crust and spoon any leftover mousse into serving cups, then chill.)

By all means go ahead and make my pie to celebrate, but you can also participate in #Pi4All for a chance to win $314 (recognize that number?) just by snapping a photo of your pie and posting it on Instagram. But there’s more – So Delicious will donate $3.14 for every photo posted to Kids with Food Allergies (a division of AAFA).

Pie For All Instagram Contest – #Pi4All (by So Delicious Dairy Free)

Over the weekend of Pi Day (3/13-3/15), So Delicious is hosting an empowering Instagram contest called #Pi4Al. Here's how to participate:

To Recap:

Dates: March 13-15 (Over the weekend of Pi Day – 3.14.15)

$3.14 will be donated to Kids with Food Allergies for every photo of allergen friendly pie uploaded to Instagram between 3/13-3/15 (up to $3,141.59). I can't think of a better reason to participate!

Prizes: One lucky entrant will win $314 for their photo. 10 random winners will each receive 3 VIP coupons.

1. Snap a photo of allergy-friendly pie.
2. Upload the photo to Instagram between 3/13-3/15.
3. Include a description of your allergy-friendly pie (e.g., “This is my #dairyfree #glutenfree cream pie).
4. Photos must include #Pi4All and @so_delicious to be counted.
5. Limit one entry per person per day (3 total)
6. Winners will be selected randomly by So Delicious Dairy Free by 5pm PST on Monday, March 16.

Let’s all eat pie!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Allergy Eats Announced the Top Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains

Once again, Allergy Eats has released their list of the top restaurant chains for individuals and families with food allergies based on real customer experience and ratings via the Allergy Eats app.

Although the list was updated for 2015, you will recognize some familiar names:

Most allergy-friendly large chains:

• Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.41 rating)
• P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.39 rating)
• Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.39 rating)
• Outback Steakhouse (4.32 rating)
• Mellow Mushroom (4.29 rating)

Most allergy-friendly small chains:

• Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.74 rating)
• Burtons Grill (4.69 rating)
• Legal Sea Foods (4.64 rating)
• Joe’s American Bar & Grill (4.63 rating)
• Not Your Average Joe’s (4.63 rating)

I must point out that this list only includes chain restaurants (you won’t find your favorite local family-run restaurant here). Also, note that the ratings (out of a possible score of 5.00) are actually higher for the small chains than the large chains.

As I noted, the list doesn’t differ considerably from last year… or the year before. I can argue that is a good thing. If there is one thing I look for in a restaurant when eating out with food restrictions – after safety and honesty – it’s consistency. There is something very comforting about being able to order my “bacon burger with a lettuce wrap/no seasoning on the fries” week after week at my local Red Robin and know that it will be prepared properly.

And yet, I’d love to see more newcomers to this list. I must try Mellow Mushroom when I travel south!

View the full announcement post at Allergy Eats, and don't forget to rate a few restaurants while you are there.