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Me and Virginia at The Met Spring Gala 2018


"When you think of a ballerina, attributes like graceful, talented, athletic, strong, hard-working and world traveling spring to mind. Add to that list “food-allergic” and you could be describing 19-year-old American Ballet Theatre (ABT) corps de ballet dancer, Virginia Lensi." 

This is an excerpt from an interview I had the pleasure of conducting with Virginia Lensi, an Allergic Girl book fan, a fellow allergic girl and a TOTAL inspiration. 

If you're looking to be inspired by a young person who isn't letting anything stop her from achieving her dreams, including anaphylactic food allergies, read more on Allergic Living Magazine's website.

Thank you, Virginia!



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Chana masala over steamed rice with a side of arugula. And a bonus yogurt sauce!


An Indian Spiced Chickpea Tomato Stew that is made from pantry ingredients and comes together in about ten minutes? Oh yes, please. 

Seriously, you could walk into the front door, exhausted and throw this together with some rice and some greens et voila, a yummers dinner that is satisfying, inexpensive and yum. You know, I love those. Well’ here’s another winner in my household.

I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen with what I had on hand in my pantry and what I like.

My version is a less traditional chana masala and more of a gently spiced chickpea tomato stew so I titled it as such. 

I topped it with a simple yogurt sauce, made on the fly. Plain whole milk yogurt, a dash or turmeric, a dash or cumin, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.   

***

Recipe: Indian Spiced Chickpea Tomato Stew, Allergen-Free, Vegan
Lightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 inch fresh ginger, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons smoky paprika

1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
A splash of water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 lemon, juiced 


Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet or medium sized pot. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until fragrant and translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the cumin, cayenne, turmeric and smoky paprika. Cook the onion-spice mixture for a minute until fragrant, then add the tomatoes with their juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pot. Add the drained chickpeas. Add a splash of water. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 
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DOT page to send your comment



From the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

***

Animals on planes have made big headlines in the past year. As more people travel with animals, more people with asthma and allergies triggered by pet dander are concerned about having serious reactions while flying.

  • Has the increase in animals on planes made travel difficult for you or family members with asthma or allergies? 
  • Have you had to change travel plans or leave a plane because of animals on your flight? 
  • Have you had an asthma attack or severe allergic reaction on a flight because of sharing a cabin with animals?

If so, we encourage you to share your story with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). They are asking for public comments on pets on planes.

***

How Can I Send My Story to the DOT?

The DOT is asking for comments through July 9, 2018

Traveling by Air with Service Animals Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM)

Docket ID: DOT-OST-2018-0068Agency: Department of Transportation (DOT)
Summary: 


This rulemaking would address the appropriate definition of a service animal and include safeguards to ensure safety and reduce the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim that their pets are service animals. This ANPRM follows up on air travel accessibility issues discussed in the preamble of the 2008 Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) final rule. This rulemaking covers one of the topics initially proposed under RIN 2105-AE12. The Department is required by statute to issue a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the items identified in RIN 2105-AE12 by July 15, 2017.

Go to this link to add your comment through July 9, 2018:.

***

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also wants to hear from you: 

"We would also like you to share your story with AAFA. We are collecting your stories to advocate on your behalf with the DOT." . 




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After making these delicious Namaste Food cupcakes, I thought: instead of making whoopie pies, like I planned, what if I made a make-your-own-sundaes bar for a brunch I was hosting? Everything can be made ahead of time and frozen or chilled and then served a la minute, which I love. No baking the morning of. 

And everyone swooned over these, just look at my Instagram feed at my most recent brunch for eight people last Sunday. These can be your new treat for your July 4th celebration, go ahead I dare you!


Recipe Notes:

This recipe uses dairy and eggs. Otherwise, it is allergen-friendly and free from the other top six allergens. (I imagine you could try it with non-dairy “butter” and “cream” and an egg substitute; however  I cannot vouch for how it will come out. But totally worth a try if you have those ingredients handy and make substitutions regularly.)



The elements for my homemade sundaes are:
Whipped Cream

Below are my two versions of sundaes, but go with what you have on-hand and what you love - it's a sundae that's allergen-friendly for you! Safe sprinkles, marshmallows, fruit, more chocolate - go for it all!


***


Version 1:
 Vanilla ice creamHot Fudge SauceSalted caramel sauceNamaste Devil's Food Cupcakes


Version 2:
Vanilla ice cream + Hot Fudge Sauce + whipped cream + Namaste Devil's Food Cupcakes


Recipe by Namaste Foods

Ingredients
1 package (or 13 ounces) Devil's Food Cake Mix 
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
3/4 cup milk


Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-muffin muffin tins with non-stick spray or wipe with butter or oil. Combine eggs, butter and milk. Add cake mix and blend until smooth. Fill cups 3/4 full. Bake for 16-19 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. These freeze exceptionally well, too.

To assemble: split the cupcakes, add one scoop of vanilla ice cream, make a little sandwich, drizzle hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce. Bonus round: sprinkle some flaky salt on top. Really, it's fab!



Without caramel sauce but with whipped cream


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I saw this recipe for Hot Fudge Sauce on Smitten Kitchen’s social media feed back in January 2018 and thought I really should make this: it looks easy, uses mainly pantry ingredients and I could make it with safe nut-free chocolate. 

Well, this week I tackled this Hot Fudge Sauce recipe and by tackle, I mean threw together in between meetings. Within a few minutes, this hot fudge sauce was cooling on my windowsill ready to pour over all of the goodness. It's that fast, easy and delish. Go make this and enjoy it all year long!

Namaste Foods cupcakehomemade vanilla ice cream, fudge and whipped cream 


Recipe Notes:
This recipe uses butter and cream. Otherwise, it is allergen-friendly. 

I imagine you could try Hot Fudge Sauce with non-dairy “butter” and “cream”; however,  I cannot vouch for how it will come out. But totally worth a try if you have those ingredients handy and make substitutions regularly.

Once my hot fudge sauce cooled completely and sat in the fridge overnight, it became a little grainy. After some trouble shooting with Deb of Smitten Kitchen, I realized the sauce needed to be remelted, that the fudge was in fact perfectly fine, just needed warming through. 

But I will add in Deb of Smitten Kitchen's directions to make sure to throughly "bring to a simmer on low, stirring, for 3 to 5 more minutes after everything has melted" and it has a glossy shine. That will eliminate any graininess

Ingredients I used that were safe for me and probably you, too:
Unsalted butter Horizon Organic
Heavy cream from Whole Foods
Domino sugar packed dark-brown sugar
Hershey’s cocoa powder
Semi-sweet chocolate chips by Enjoy Life Foods
Nielsen Massey vanilla extract

***

Recipe: Smitten Kitchen’s Hot Fudge Sauce, Allergen-Friendly

2 tablespoon (30 grams) unsalted butter Horizon Organic
2/3 cup (155 ml) heavy cream, Whole Foods
1/2 cup (170 grams) honey
1/4 cup (50 grams) Domino Sugar packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup (20 grams) Hershey's cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine or table sea salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips by Enjoy Life Foods
1/2 teaspoon Nielsen Massey vanilla extract

Combine the butter, cream, sweeteners, cocoa, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer on low, stirring, for 3 to 5 more minutes after everything has melted, and the sauce has a glossy shine. Then remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Stir in vanilla. Let it cool. Then serve over ice cream or jar it for a later use.



Namaste Foods cupcakehomemade vanilla ice cream, fudge and salted caramel sauce 


Or you could just drizzle it over this Namaste Foods cupcake, add homemade vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce

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I have very few appliances here in my tiny New York Kitchen, because…tiny kitchen.


Here's one of only two counter spaces I have.

I had a Oster blender but after many years it died and I haven’t yet replaced it.

I have a Toastmaster hand mixer that was my mom’s, so it’s maybe 30 or 40 years old and still runs just fine, thank you. I use it for whipping cream and making cakes, mainly.

I have a Braun immersion hand blender from my high school years that I use for creaming soups and bean dishes and it still works well.

But a food processor or mini chopper? I don’t have one of those. Do I need one? Would there be enough room? Would I actually use it?

Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus

The answer is yes, yes and yes!

I’ve had this little Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus beauty a week and have already made a bunch of things that I could have made by hand with elbow grease (or with my blender if I still had one) but boy, is this easy.

I made nut-free pesto, sesame-free hummus, whipped cream and guacamole in a snap!

And this little precious pinkie takes up very little room. Some more pros and cons.

Pros:
Inexpensive
Great color
Takes up little counter space, small footprint
Dish washable
Makes small amounts of the desired recipe, which for one or two people dining in is great
Is quick, in a few presses of a button, the work is done

Cons:
Noisy
The entire device shutters when working so place your hands on the closed cover while it works

Now my question is: after the honeymoon period and after a few weeks, will I be using the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus  on the reg? Unknown but I’ll check back.






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At my recent adult bat mitzvah, I wanted to make sure everyone's food allergy needs, dietary restrictions, dietary choices and religious dietary needs were included in my celebration, down to the goodie bags. 

I had adorable bags, blue and green.

Photo by Joe Curry Photography

Here are three besties, holding them up.

Photo by Joe Curry Photography
I had the cutest baseball caps made in turquoise by BS Headworks. Here’s my rabbi cousin wearing it, isn’t he great?!

Photo by Joe Curry Photography

And Enjoy Life Foods kindly gifted me MY FAVORITE CHOCOLATE BARS, YAY, that are allergen-free, vegan and Kosher parve, so everyone had an extra special treat to take home. 


Thank you, Enjoy Life Foods for everything you do!
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After returning from the Columbus, OH road trip, and having eaten very simply and plainly, I wanted steak with balsamic reduction sauce for dinner. Don’t know why exactly, I’ve never made it before but it sounded luscious. I did a quick google search and found this super easy recipe from Epicurious. All I needed were steaks which I purchased at Whole Foods, everything else I had in my pantry. I do love a pantry based meal. I served with roasted asparagus and steamed buttered rice. Simple and lovely balanced meal.

Recipe Notes:
I use Morton’s Coarse Kosher salt.
I didn’t measure out 2 T of peppercorns, I just ground some pepper in my mill until it looked like enough.
I used Horizon Organic butter.
I used Lucini Olive Oil.
I used Fairway Market Balsamic vinegar.
Whole Foods has steaks on sale, huge three inch steaks that were about one pound. Oof too big. I asked the butcher to cut one of those steak into thirds, each weighing about 1/3 of a pound, much more manageable and a much quicker cook and cheaper, too!


Recipe: Steak au Poivre with Balsamic Reduction Sauce
Adapted from Epicurious

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 3/4-inch-thick steaks (1/3 pound each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar


Coarsely grind peppercorns in mortar and pestle or using in your pepper mill, grind until you have a little mound of ground pepper. Pat steaks dry and coat both sides with peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Season with kosher salt.

Heat oil with 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to moderate and cook steaks, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks to a platter. Add vinegar to skillet and deglaze by boiling over high heat then reduce to a simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in 1-2 tablespoons butter until melted and the sauce is luscious. Drizzle over steaks.

Swooning is allowed.

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Parents of Allergic Kids is a 1200+ member nonprofit located in the Charlotte, NC metro and they are doing a series of interviews with educators, entertainers, and innovators in the food allergic community. I am honored to be one of them!


***

Here’s a snippet: Parents of Allergic KidsWhat advice would you give a newly diagnosed family?

Allergic Girl: Know this: You are not alone. And there is plenty you can do right now to arm yourself with the necessary medical knowledge and tools to help your child and your family navigate this diagnosis, such as:

· Connect with an allergist who is familiar with food allergies, and up to date on the latest research and interventions.

· Get a personalized anaphylaxis action plan from your allergist.

· Make certain you understand your diagnosis fully; if you don’t schedule a consultation with 
your allergist to go over questions.

· Communicate your food allergy needs to those around you in a clear and factual way.

· Carry your emergency medication with you at all times.


***

You can read more on the Parents of Allergic Kids site and more about them here or on Facebook here.

Thank you, PAK Charlotte, keep up the excellent work!
 





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With 55 guests attending, eating and drinking at my recent adult bat mitzvah, I felt it was important to have plates, cups and flatware that would not contribute to mountains of landfill or the mounting islands of floating garbage in our oceans.

I wanted party tableware that was not merely disposable but compostable, made from corn or soy or bamboo that would break down easily in our environment and leave little to no waste. 

Here are some explanations about the different options from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Enter Repurpose products, 100% compostable party ware, and they have everything I needed to be able to serve lunch and drinks, guilt-free.

Repurpose family of products

Here’s more about Repurpose products:

Repurpose products are made from plants - which are annually renewable resources. Repurpose compostables are currently produced from the annually renewable resource corn (maize), the lowest cost and most widely available fermentable sugar in the world as well as sugar cane and bamboo. 

***

You can find Repurpose products here:

Twitter: @repurpose
Instagram: @repurpose

***

Thank you Repurpose products  for all that you do to reduce the amount of plastics in our environment and offer high quality, durable, and guilt-free renewable alternatives!

***

*Disclosure: Samples of Repurpose products were gifted to me for this event and this is a sponsored post; however, I was not paid for this post and opinions remain my own. Here are my policies regarding my sponsored posts.*

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