One blogger's opinion FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) for those with food allergies, this has been a name that has been part of many aspects of the food allergy world. We have seen them praised on social media for all of their help, they have held walks and donated to food allergy research but (yes, there is a but) in my opinion, there is another side to this organization. For a long time, I bit my tongue because I felt it may make me seem unprofessional to air my differences. Then it occurred to me- I don't need FARE to like me, I just need them to do their job correctly and help my fellow food allergy families.
I'm Not Bitter, I'm Flat Out Angry With the recent announcement of James Baker stepping down, thoughts that I've had pushed way down for a long time came back to life. I'd like to say that this article is purely based on my experiences and those that I have spoken with that will remain anonymous. When I see injustice out in the open and nobody feels safe speaking up, it makes me angry. I have spoken with food allergy parents, persons that have had dealings one way or another with this organization directly and indirectly, doctors that have helped them and yes, I am one of them as well. Has FARE done some good for food allergies? Of course but the way that people were treated is not the standard that they should continue to bring going forward. My purpose of this article is not to bash them but hopefully to let them know that they are not doing the best job that they can do for us. From what I have heard and been told, it is my opinon that the majority of the food allergy community does not feel that the organization is working in the best light of our community and that the end of the current CEO should bring to the surface multiple areas that need to be and should be fixed before going forward if FARE truly wants to make a difference. All of the people that you have been talking down to, all of the people that have been met with anger and negativity, all of the people that felt intimidated not to work with other organizations while working with you and all of the countless volunteers that get paid nothing NOTHING to help your organization that don't even get a pat on the back are all of the people that you are failing. The saddest thing about all of this is that it's discussed often within the food allergy community but your organization has become so unapproachable that nobody can tell you this. Volunteers that have spoken up have been abruptly released from their services directly after wards. People have contacted your support staff when they needed direction for their walks or events and got no support, not even a pleasant hello. I have even been told that speakers that were scheduled to speak at one event had to cancel because it was frowned upon due to a conflict of interest with FARE. This baffles me- the last time I checked, our food allergy community was supposed to rally together to build a stronger community. These actions are quite the opposite. It's not me- it is, in fact, you FARE.
Is Anyone Else Looking at Numbers?! When people hear the term "Non-Profit", they assume that the organization doesn't make much money for themselves but instead, gives most of their profits to their cause, right? To be specific, the dictionary describes a non-profit as "not established for the purpose of making a profit; not entered into for money." This being said, we assume that all of those walks, events, dinners, etc. are bringing in a bunch of money for food allergy research and education which it did, yay! This being said (again) what do you think a CEO of a non-profit would be making for an annual salary? Wait for it......
Not bad for a non-profit, huh? And this in addition to his $225,000 salary as seen on UMSalary.info
I could be stretching my thoughts but isn't this kind of how the whole Epigate thing started? That's a lot of money and FARE you can argue that I don't understand the logistics, what money was made and donated versus salaries and overhead and blah, blah,blah but in the end, it is my opinion that our community is seeing a number that seems far too large for a non-profit employee to be bringing home. It seems that this is a number that means more money in his pocket and less toward the purpose you started out to serve. Does Mr. Baker deserve to get paid for his time- absolutely but holy cow FARE.... I am just shaking my head. FARE's 2016 Form 990 can be seen here but seeing $225,000 and thinking about all of those volunteers not getting paid for their time just doesn't add up morally to me.
Just to prove that I do my research here is a wonderful and precise article on this very topic shared on ThoughtCo. which points fingers at other non-profit CEO's not doing their organizations justice. In the same breath, if you try to tell me it's not uncommon for this salary range to be the norm, let me also quote from the same article just so you know I am not just spitting out useless information "the lowest paid President/CEO/Commissioner was The Salvation Army's Commissioner Todd Bassett who receives a salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing the $2 billion organization.That means about $0.93 per dollar earned goes back out to local charity causes."
Time Travel Let's backtrack for just a moment to my personal experience. I hosted a FARE Walk back in 2013. Bear with me as some of this may sound catty but this is not a bitching session, just a very honest session. Did I have help from the coordinators before or the day of the event? Nope. In fact, my coordinator showed up 2 hours late and did nothing. Did FARE include our walk in their social media and mailing- nope. I was later told it was because it was such a new walk that other larger walks took precedence. Regardless of all of the negative crap that happened before, during and after I fulfilled my obligations to my community- we had an amazing day and I did manage to raise just $150 shy of $10,000 which (from what I was told) is seen as an acceptable amount for a first time walk. And as soon as it was done and I was exhausted, I already had plans on how to make the following year bigger and better. Not for myself, not even for FARE but for my community because they are the reason we rally together and support each other.
The next year did not happen. Unbeknownst to me, FARE had decided to remove me as Walk Chair and replace me with a corporate donor that they felt would bring in more money. They also informed me that they were including a new team member that happened to be a local person that I shall not name who called FARE and told them malicious, horrible untruths (read here) and yet, FARE found this person to be the type of person that they wanted representing them. So you see FARE, I was angry for a long, long time but I got over it. I didn't want to make waves or ruffle feathers and I chalked it up to a bunch of bad decisions that were made on your part. I forgot and moved on. Until I began to hear many, many others describing similar grievances.... It's not me- it is, in fact, you FARE.
So FARE, the ball is in your court and all of us are waiting to see how you advance. I'm sure most won't feel comfortable stepping forward to you but I'm putting everything out there for you to chew on. I will send you positive thoughts in hopes that you will emerge a better organization and take us all by surprise this time.
Back in 2013, I was approached by Valerie Johnston of Healthline who offered to write a guest post for my blog. Because of my own personal battles of difficult-to-diagnose symptoms and years of consulting with so many others that had similar things happen with their health, I felt Valerie's share of The Strong Link Between Allergies and Hormones was a perfect fit to try to explain why some of us need to take our health one step further for answers. As she so perfectly put it "Because the immune system and the hormone system are pretty closely related, when one changes, so does the other." Some of you may scoff and I've had a ton of people tell me that there is no evidence that foods and hormones are linked but as I tell them- there IS proof. I have and am living it. I have counseled people who are living it.
Then, I came across an article by Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS "The Definitive Guide to Foods For Hormone Health". It's one of those articles that you read and shake your head in agreement and then want to share it, screaming from the rooftops See?! I told you so!!! for those who are skeptical. I get that not everyone can understand when it doesn't happen to them but in the very least, be kind enough and open-minded enough to listen and consider what happens to others because some day, it may be you needing answers like these. And regardless of how you may have dismissed us before, we will be waiting to listen and help you when you need it. Still unsure of what I mean? Let me share a few excerpts from Dr. Axe's article:
"In some cases, medications might mask the symptoms of hormonal problems and not address the underlying cause." Why is this important? Because when your body is not functioning well, it also begins to become hypersensitive to other things, such as medications. Often this leads to a new set of symptoms that are difficult to identify.
"If your diet doesn't supply enough energy or "materials" to make all the hormones you need, it'll prioritize production of stress hormones first because they're essential for survival." This was a dead-ringer for me personally... two years, $10,000 of unnecessary medical bills, procedures and prescriptions because doctors kept telling me it was stress. Never be afraid to question anything that you feel is not in your best interest.
"When the immune system is overactive due to high stress levels, genetics, or an inflammatory diet, you may develop autoimmune reactions as your body attacks its own tissue or glands." This statement alone is all the proof that I need for those who tell me food intolerances are not a real thing. As I've stated before just because food intolerances are not life-threatening, it doesn't mean they are not life-altering.
Now is the part when most of us read the article but say I can't do this, it's too difficult and I get it- I was one of those people too. Luckily Dr. Axe includes the foods that should be on your shopping list, tips on healthy eating and sample menu ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (very similar to my food allergy consults- great minds think alike!). Not only is this helpful but it's crucial- the foods that you put into your body can literally be what makes you feel better or worse. If you feed yourself the inflammatory foods, your body will not get well. The truth is- when we don't feel well and we aren't getting answers quickly enough, we need someone to point us in the right direction. Especially when we are at the point of being stressed, easy is the best thing until our body equalizes and we can think a bit more clearly again.
How does a restaurant keep their customers with food allergies safe and happy?
They listen to Chef Keith Norman
I had the honor of reading a preview of Chef Keith Norman's book due to be published soon titled Allergen Awareness A Chef''s Perspective ... it's so new, I can't even share the cover! Beginning with his very first sentence "The reality that a life can be lost by eating a certain food item should be motivation enough for training, advocacy and spreading awareness." I knew he put his heart and soul into it. Although Keith's book is written as an amazing manual for food allergy safety, it's so much more than that. Keith shares some of his own family life including heart-warming tidbits about Big Ma and a toe... I could tell you, but you will have to grab a copy and find out.
Who This Book is Written For Although Keith's book contains bunches of chef/dining/waitstaff information, I feel this book is also a wonderful guide for anyone having to learn about food allergies and safe food preparation. No kitchen, group or staff is too big or too small to have such a precise understanding of down-to-earth information coupled with cross-contamination tactics that may surprise you. Keith keeps everything in simple steps so that everyone can utilize his years of experience within the food allergy community.
Why You Need This Book
He includes testimonials from parents as well as others that he has worked alongside and all share how much dedication Keith gives to keeping all of his customers safe and well fed
Chef Keith has an impressive list of food memberships, awards and recognitions that clearly prove his dedication
Offers scenarios for customer and waiter situations (this includes how to say no to a customer)
Step by step instructions for procedures as well as signage
Samples of banquet and catering allergen guest lists as a starting point for allergy newbies
Even more crucial allergy safety information that will get any kitchen ready to feed safely
What I Love About This Book Many of us can get confused with all of the food allergy information that we need to learn and can easily make a mistake without thinking about it. For instance, Chef Keith takes the precautions list a step further away from the kitchen. When you travel or when you have a food allergic guest, do you also consider the spreading of allergens in areas such as the waitstaff, concession stands, front desk or valet? Keith points out that our kitchens can be ready for safety but unless everyone is on board, that valet who was snacking on nuts and then shook your hand could mean the end of a stay before it's even begun.
My Favorite Quotes Throughout his book, Chef Keith uses statements that are so very strong but also so very specific and to the point- with food allergies, this is an absolute must. For anyone to understand how to keep someone safe with food allergies, there needs to be a perfect mixture of compassion, professionalism and a touch of subtlety. This book touches on all of those points. As a parent of a child with multiple food allergies, I read his book and found myself continuously nodding my head wishing more people could be in this mindset. Some of my personal favorites include
"One allergen affects the entire family and every friend."
"We have created a heart centered culture, an environment, a safe place for food allergic guests."
"Treat all allergies the same- a mushroom allergy should be handled the same way a peanut allergy is handled."
"Proactive is not a reactive approach."
Final Thoughts I will admit, I am personally biased. I met Chef Kieth a few years back and I admittedly knew he was just the type of person that always wanted a hug and to feed everyone safely. I have never seen him give anything less than 100% and anyone who is meeting him for the first time will absolutely feel the exact same way. If you are a person with food allergies or a parent of a child with food allergies, connect with him and you will understand. If you are an organization or a dining facility that is in need of guidance without flaw, contact him and he will exceed your expectations. You can find Keith on Twitter as well as LinkedIn and if you are in Las Vegas, stop in and see him at the South Point Hotel and Casino. One thing is for sure- Keith will keep you safe but he will also make sure you are in his heart for life.
There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a family; this is how I feel about our food allergy community. I am grateful to have watched as our family has grown leaps and bounds over the past sixteen years (NutriSon's age) and I never cease to be amazed at how we simply continue to unite with each other. Let's take a moment and travel back into mommy time with me (I will try not to get all sobby and teary-eyed). I know there were many sleepless nights... months. I know there was a lot of tummy aches and projectile vomiting. I know that so many people tried to tell me that my son was just "a normal baby. Babies cry." But I knew, even as a brand new mother and all of you knew too. And we all remember that there were sleepless nights and worry and fears that kept us awake. But it's funny how so much of the the bad memories have faded and been replaced with better memories, more positive memories. Don't get me wrong- I clearly remember how exhausted I was from not sleeping because my son never slept and cried instead. I absolutely remember watching him as I unknowingly fed him baby yogurt and didn't realize until after a few times what hives were. And I positively remember when I fed him a baby food with egg in it and the immediate return call from the pediatrician's office asking "Is he breathing ok?" All of this feels so very long ago....
It's 2018 and most of my memories now are about all of the amazing products that my son can eat safely. My head is filled with product names and ingredients and flashes of new recipes that I have come up with to make sure that my family and yours feel more at ease. And the people that I have met along the way, both in person and simply online- so many wonderful, supportive people that just feel like they truly are your family. And they are, to me. So when a company that I have known since NutriSon's food allergy diagnosis has also been with our family, holding our hand and telling us that they promise to keep us safe and they do, I can't help but get that same mommy moment feeling, knowing that they are one of our rocks. So what is one of the easiest ways to let a person with food allergies know that they have your back? Pick the one thing that they rely on it and use it to make their life easier- visuals.
We have been ingrained to automatically look for ingredients and read labels and look for the color teal for unity and comfort. This year, Enjoy Life Foods announced that they were embracing their food allergy family by repacking their products with the color teal. Why? Because they are a part of our village and are helping us place the bricks to support our village. How often have you been just so tired or had a really trying day and you are paranoid that one of those days might end up in a bad memory of a product that you thought you had checked the label? With the new teal packages, Enjoy Life Foods has taken the guess work out of it. It's like they knew we would have an occasional bad day, put their arm around us, covered us with a teal blanket and silently said "We have you." Do I sound corny right now? Maybe a little but this is my inner food allergy mom peeking out and I am ok with that.
What should you be looking for?
This may take you a moment because we are creatures of habit. Look for their logo and groups of teal boxes. After all, this is not a typical color on the grocery shelves.
Check out their social media pages*- they posted a chance to win a free product coupon when you share on Instagram (oooh, I want one!)
Sign up for their newsletter for a $3 off your next Enjoy Life Foods treat
Watch for giveaways and Twitter parties (fuzzy socks recommended but not required)
Ask your local stores when they will have the new teal packaging. Maybe they don't know about it or maybe they haven't stocked Enjoy Life Foods before (gasp!!)
If you see someone who has a new teal Enjoy Life Foods product, ask them where they got it!
MOST importantly watch out for those family members that find your Enjoy Life Foods items before you do! Often, they will try to get their hands on everything and act as if nothing is out of the ordinary. As a mom, I have always taught my children that sharing is not ok but there are a few exceptions and Enjoy Life Foods is one of them.
Have YOU seen the new Enjoy Life Foods teal products?
What a wonderful way to begin 2018 with a smile on my face from No Nuts Mom Group- They have nominated me for the Brotherhood of the World Blogger Award. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! The best part? I get to share some of my favorite food allergy blogs with all of you so you can feel the food allergy support too.
Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to his/her blog
List the rules of the award and post a picture of the award
Answer the questions from your nominator
Nominate other bloggers and be sure to let them know
Write a list of questions for your nominees to answer
Questions & Answers:
What is your favorite vacation spot and why? The beach- the water makes me feel so calm and destressed. I love being near the water, hearing the water and allowing myself to reflect.
What are your top 2 favorite allergy friendly products that you cannot live without? Enjoy Life Foods and SeabuckWonders - one that always keep NutriKids happy and one that keeps me feeling pretty.
If you could pick any animal that you were in a past life, what would it be? A bird- I always wanted the ability to fly.
What is your motivation for continuing to be a resource to so many in the food allergy community? I have this voice inside of me that won't let me quit, ever. I truly feel that this was meant as my mission- to help others so that their journey can be a little bit easier.
My Nominees for the Brotherhood of the World Blogger Award (order does not reflect preference):
It's been a crazy year this year, in good ways and in bad. The new year always makes me think about how I could have made better decisions and hopefully carry those thoughts over to the next year to improve. I do this not only as a blogger but as a mother, a wife, a consultant and as my own person. I think about what I did to help our food allergy community this year and honestly, I felt it wasn't what I consider to be up to par for my standards. I was dealing with some health issues and I only made it to one event...one. I didn't share enough of my fellow bloggers information. I didn't take part in as much as I should have. That sucks. But it's not because I didn't want too- I am event geek and I absolutely love meeting new people; people I already know and sharing all of the new products that are here for us. That didn't happen this year. This year, it will happen more. Doing these things keeps me pumped up and ready to take on every day with even more vigor.
I know that everyone has different availability and levels of energy. I know that no one person can do everything, all of the time. But for me, trying to help my food allergy community has been the one thing that has made me want to get up each and every morning and continue on until I can continue no more. For sixteen years, I have watched as products have vastly improved and how amazing our community has become a closer knit family to each other. I have seen my own growth in writing, recipes, pictures and videos (because although I am proud of my ebook, I shudder now when I look at the older photos, ugh! Apologies but I do hope to get to a second edition and I do promise the information is truly helpful).
And each year, I get kind of quiet for awhile and ponder on what life is all about. So hokey, right? But true. I think as we age, we realize that what we thought was important may not be and vice versa. We realize that it's ok and completely unselfish to want to do things to make yourself happy too. I guess my whole point of this article is to say that sometimes the person that you need to support the most, even if only for the moment, is you. So how do we find the strength when we need it? How do we pick ourselves up and carry on during our darkest days? Life is so short- we truly need to treasure every single moment. While thinking, I remembered one of my favorite books and I thought it was perfect to share with all of you.
As written by Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements ~
Be Impeccable With Your Word This is something that I have always tried to do. I understand that what I say and do, what products I do and don't promote and what I share directly reflects on me. Most of the people that I have met always tell me that I am exactly like what they see and read on my posts and pages. If I don't like a product, I will not promote it and I will not tell people that I like it. If there is an issue that comes up or a topic that is a new hot button, I try my very best to voice my honest opinion and not to crush anyone else's. We don't have to agree with each other but we should respect each other enough to listen. I do not engage in Twitter battles or bullying - we are a family and family supports each other. No bashing aloud just because you decided to do something different that works for you. Even if we don't agree, I will be that person that you can call upon and my only question will be "How can I help?"
Don't Take Anything Personally This is soooo incredibly difficult on so many levels; personal, blogger vs. blogger, companies, etc. The blogging world is this strange collection of friends who both support each other and can instantly turn on you for the top tweet or story. This is not true of everyone but it is a business and it's be top dog or get burned out. So when a fellow blogger is getting picked to work on projects that you are not, it's sometimes a difficult tightrope to walk. You wanted that but you also want to be happy for them because they earned it. And as far as the food allergy community and support- again, we need to listen more and strike out against each other less. Just because one family chooses not to try a new therapy or questions someone who does has nothing to do with you personally. Every family is different, every allergy is different and every choice is different and nothing at all is based on what they thought you would say to them when they shared with you.
Don't Make Assumptions This can travel in many directions- reading labels, product packaging, how someone reacted to you saying you don't understand OIT, if your post offended someone and so on. Discuss things, ask questions- LOTS and lots of questions and who cares if people get annoyed. Ask until you get an answer that makes you feel that you are satisfied with the response. Don't assume that people will advocate for you exactly how you would want them too- communicate. Don't assume that something is ok, even when it's not written down- write it down. Need a perfect example? Read this story.
Always Do Your Best Every. Single. Day. Granted, this was difficult for me this year but looking back, I unknowingly did do my very best. As quoted from the book "Under any circumstances, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good." So you see, even on what you think are your worst days, you are still doing your best. All of those parents out there that just found out their child has a food allergy and you feel helpless, you are doing your best. All of those who are trying to learn how to help others, read labels, be compassionate- you are doing your best. And all of those who have lost a loved one from a complication or an allergic reaction and you feel as if you can barely remember to breathe yourself- you are doing your best. You have to remember to be kind and gentle to yourself. You have to remember that there are others out there that can and will help you. And you have to remember that not being ok is also ok too.
To those of you who need help, please know that I am here. To those of you who need someone to listen, I am here. To those of you who want to connect so that we can band together and do even more good for everyone, tell me. I may be silent sometimes but I am always listening and always thinking of how to do better and I want the same for all of you.
What is one thing that you will choose to do differently in 2018?
We all see them- the boxes at our local food stores. Around the holidays, they pop up like mad and you want to help, you want to give to a family that needs a little extra TLC. Who doesn't? Next time, stop and look inside those food donation boxes- what's actually in them? You will see multiple items from the food store that hosts it (which is wonderful) but mainly, you will see a lot of items that people with food allergies cannot use safely. As I have shared before, imagine being that person that has to make a choice between starving or eating a food that you know will make you sick. Or worse (yes, there IS something worse) being the parent of a child with food allergies and having to make this choice for them.
As a mother that has a child with food allergies, I cannot even fathom being in either spot. No matter what our budget or situation is, I make it a point to donate what I can, when I can. It's important. It's necessary. And the more that you donate allergy-friendly products, so will others. It's a visual share- those without allergies don't realize that other products can and should be donated. It's about raising food allergy awareness without even saying a word to anyone. The best marketing is seeing it, talking about it so why not be a part of it?
How to Donate on a Budget I am never one to judge because all families have their own time of need. Sometimes, we simple cannot donate as much as we want to fill the entire box for someone else; it's a choice between our family and another so we must choose our own for that space in time.There are ways to help others, even when you are in a tight spot as well. I am happy to share some tips here but in the meantime, just know that even donating one box is better than nothing. In your mind, you are probably asking "What can one box do?" but for a family that has nothing, that one box could mean dinner or several meals.
Donate Coupons This may or may not be obvious but I got the idea when I had a bunch of SunButter® coupons. Why not share them? If someone is receiving the product because they need it, then why not include coupons so that they can get more at a lower price? Or, for those who may not have tried a product like SunButter before, a coupon is a wonderful way to help that person try out a product and not feel as if they are going above their budget, especially if it is already limited. Shelf-stable products are acceptable within the food stamp item list as well which means SunButter would qualify as a healthy food that is allergy-friendly and increases protein without increasing money spent. All you have to do is attach some coupons to the jar and place them into the food pantry donation box.
Donate A Piece of Your Heart Since it is the holiday season, I also got the idea to attach an easy recipe using SunButter as well. Yes, my donations of SunButter were THE only donations that looked like holiday gifts but I was proud of that. If someone is not familiar with SunButter, then they may not know how versatile it can be as either. By sharing a personal recipe, you share additional choices that could help them through a rough patch but you are also sharing a a small piece of your heart. Essentially, you are letting them know that you cared enough to put it all together for them to share with their family, hoping they might start a new recipe tradition.
Why I Donate SunButter Our family has been a long time SunButter family. Their products have gotten us through times of need, inspired us to create new recipes and from a mother's point of view- it's a really easy way to add extra protein into the foods that any child eats (muffins, cookies, pancakes). I wanted to donate a product that I know we personally trust and that I know tastes goes too. My goal is to ensure that whatever I give can be enjoyed by many safely. SunButter is a company that works behind the scenes on so many levels to give back to our community. They are a part of amazing partnerships like Mend Hunger and SnackSafely.com to ensure that nobody has to be fearful of their foods. Because SunButter is top 8 allergy free I know I am sharing products that will leave a smile on someones face at the end of the day. And if giving a jar of SunButter can accomplish that, imagine the faces across the US if all of us shared our SunButter....am I corny? Heck yeah but am I sincere? Absolutely!
I am lucky enough to be approached by companies for samples and my opinions. What could be better? "Eat this and tell me what you think", right? But I am picky about what I do and don't try out. Does our family eat perfectly all of the time? No. Do I strive to find products that are healthier for us but will also save me time and not break the bank? Always. I guess you could say that I like products that multitask so I don't have too.
The wonderful people at Tree Top sent me some of their products but check out this adorable lunch kit and reusable Rubbermaid containers that they included as well. They must have done their homework because I am a self-professed Kitchen Geek who adores all kitchen items, especially those that are reusable. They thought one step ahead, knowing that NutriFamily are lunch packers and that the Lunch Blox kit and the adorable apple-shaped cookie cutter and container that also holds a dip for your apple slices (not pictured) would make me squee (yes, squee is a technical term). Just in time too as NutriDaughter was in need of a new lunch bag! Although TreeTop sent me their squeeze pouches of their apple sauce, they also make apple juice, other juice, organic juice boxes and fruit snacks (gummies, who doesn't love gummies?!).
You Wanna a Pouch in the Mouth?! This is an inside joke with my family but I digress.... TreetTop sent me their pouches. So you may ask "Nutrimom, why should I buy TreeTop products instead of my typical brand?" Good question because that was the first thing that popped into my mind too. Upon researching their website, I noticed that TreeTop applesauce pouches have some labeling information that your current brand may or may not have:
Their pouches are BPA free (this is HUGE to me, isn't it for you?)
No sugar added
No high fructose corn syrup (..shouldn't it just be apples? Pat on the back TreeTop)
No artificial colors or flavors
The ingredients? Just three- apples, water and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).
TreeTop sent me three flavors- Apple, Strawberry and Tropical. Now, I am not a huge applesauce person although I use it for baking and recipes. And NutriKids are both teenagers now so I was kind of looking at the squeeze pouches like "Ummmm, yeah... do I pack one in one of the kids's lunches? Is that ok to do in Middle School? Will she even eat it?..am I over thinking this, I should just pack it and see what she says." To be fair, I also packed one in my lunch so that I could get the full experience too. I mean, if I was worried about using a product that may not be age appropriate, then me bringing it to work would have the same atmosphere, right?
Just Squeeze It The results? NutriDaughter reported similar thoughts that I had and both pouches were consumed. We both concur that A) it's a bit of an adjustment to go from a spoonable applesauce to a squeeze pouch but it's not a bad thing and B) we both assumed that because there was no sugar added, the apple sauce pouch would be tasteless. I can assure you that no sugar does not mean no taste. These little pouches taste like they were just picked off the tree that morning, smooshed and whatever else they do and delivered right to our fridge. When I tried the Tropical- WOW! What a great flavor combination! The Tropical pouch was more like special drink and not an applesauce at all. Again, the flavors popped and tasted very fresh. No funky aftertaste, just freshness in a pouch. Their products are also free from: crustaceans, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat.
Fruit With a Purpose You know I am also a sucker for companies that give back so when I saw the community information on TreeTop's information I smiled from ear to ear. Their videos explain how giving back is a huge part of their team mission and how they get their employees involved in their approaches. Can I just say that I wish they were located in North Carolina?! I would be banging at their door - This just in, Nutrimom found peering into the windows of local manufacturer. News at 11." (face pressed up against the windows, eyes wide) ... does this seem a bit creepy? Totally not meant that way! I would have ideas, so many ideas..TreeTop, we should collaborate to avoid that news headline.
Yes, it's November already and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Some of us live in areas that already got their first snowfall while others are basking in the toasty, sunny rays of the South. Regardless of where you are, there is one thing that we all have in common- Thanksgiving means having empty time on your hands and not knowing what to fill that space with. Especially when younger children are involved or visiting relatives that need an easy way to pass the time and bond, it can be challenging.
I stumbled across this adorable, allergy-friendly pastime shared by Gimbal's Fine Candies. I love the simplicity of it and the fact that it's something that will end in being able to nosh while you create. Let's face it, we all love to eat and Thanksgiving is all about having those treats that we normally don't allow ourselves to eat too much of during the rest of the year. This food activity hits on all of the parental must-have's for holiday sharing amusement.
It's that time of year when fall leave us with less options on how to spend our Saturdays but I have great news - THIS Saturday is the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event in Greensboro. NC! What does this mean?
You have instant, budget-friendly plans ($10 adults, Children under 13 free and $8 Seniors/Military with your ID at the door)
It's inside (so weather is not an issue)
You get a bag of swag upon entering with your ticket
You get samples, information, meet product vendors, can attend open lectures & more
You can find ME in my SunButter shirt and I will give you a great big hug and some SunButter samples & coupons
...tell me this doesn't just sound like an amazing Saturday?! PS- for those who don't know, "swag" is a bag containing free gifts.