Category Archives: Product Reviews

Website Review: Well Amy

WEllAmy

As an AllerCoach, I am continually on the lookout for new products and sites that could help my clients. I heard about Well Amy during an online food allergy conference last fall, and they have some really great items. Just one word of caution that I always like to use before reviewing any product: ALWAYS read all of your labels and cross contact statements regardless of any other information that you have received and regardless of how many times you have eaten the product. I have seen the same product have different ingredient labels on the same store shelf, so it’s best to always be vigilant.

Well Amy has a search feature that collects all foods based on the allergies you select. You can choose separate US Top 8 Allergens plus sesame, sulfites, yeast, corn, potato, rice, and gluten free. You can also choose from special diets such as Feingold, no refined sugar, vegan, vegetarian, and kosher. There also options for non-GMO or organic products.

After I “checked” my allergies, I received pages and pages of all kinds of products from baked goods, snacks, pastas,  and meals. I ordered several things, and they were all delicious. I also started to notice that some of the items were available in my local stores that I had never noticed before, so it helped me get ideas to expand my kitchen pantry.

The main weakness of the site is that you will need to scan through each page to see everything there is to offer. There are some ways to sort the pages, but there are not many food categories to search from. I was also unable to find a way to search for a particular brand or food.

However, if you don’t have time to browse through the pages, you can purchase a “Right Start Box” that contains items based on allergy categories.

I would definitely recommend this site for anyone who is looking for new and different ideas for their respective allergies from a site that has many products to offer. Just make sure you have enough time to browse.

(As always, I do not receive any goods or services from my reviews.)

 

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Review: Tasterie Mail-Order Allergy Friendly Treats

Tasterie

If you have been anywhere on the web, you have seen advertisements for mail order companies that will send you a box of gourmet foods each month directly to your home. While they look delicious and seem tempting, anyone with food allergies knows that there could be lots of potential problems with a subscription to one of these services. Not only do most of them not offer allergy-friendly options, but you do not have much control over what is sent to you each month.

About four months ago, I found Tasterie, a company founded by a pediatrician mom of a child with food allergies. There are a few options to choose from in your monthly package: Top 8 Allergy; Gluten & Wheat Allergy; Gluten, Wheat & Dairy Allergy; or Nut Allergy.

At first, I kept trying to convince myself that it was a frivolous expense. Eventually I came to realize that food allergies can take a lot of the “surprise” and fun out of your food, and I wanted to get some of that fun back into my life. I subscribed to the Top 8 Allergy box.

I have to say that I was excited when my package arrived. It was great to see real foods that I could actually eat, and the great part was that none of it was in my local stores. I was really seeing treats in my box that I would not have found anywhere else, and that was exciting.

My Tasterie box helped me to realize that there are a lot of options out there that are waiting to be discovered.

According to Tasterie’s website, the company goes to great lengths to find allergy friendly products, but as far as ingredients go, there were still a few items on the label that concerned me. I would say that they worried me not because I did not trust Tasterie, but because I know how many times companies have given out wrong information about their products. I did try to reach out through Facebook and ask some questions about a few items, but I did not receive a reply.

I have been receiving my box for about four months now, and I have received an assortment of cookies, chips, sweets, pastas, and drinks. Baking mixes have included muffins, pizza dough, cakes, and cookies. You also receive product information and a recipe with each box. Everything I have tried is delicious and I have not had any problems with any of the products so far. As always, everyone is different and it is always best to reach out to the manufacturer if you have any concerns.

I now look forward to my Tasterie box each month, and every time I open my box throughout the month, it gives me joy. Tasterie is an expense, but if you are looking to add some variety and surprise to your food, I would highly recommend it.

 

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!

Soy Free Dishwasher Detergent

Guess what most dishwasher detergents contain? You guessed it…soy. Some of you may find that this is not an issue for you, but I do not want to take any chances. I have actually heard of folks becoming sick after changing their dishwasher detergent to one containing soy.

I believe that any time you can get rid of soy from any product, it is worth it.

Many brands that you would think are soy free may not be. If you are using anything you can find in a store, including Method, Seventh Generation, or Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, do yourself a favor and call them. You may be surprised at what they tell you. In fact, many “green” or “natural” products contain more soy since the company is going for plant-based ingredients.  Click here for tips on how to call companies about their products. As always, I strongly encourage everyone to call the manufacturer before using any product including the ones mentioned on this site, since product ingredients can change at any time.

There are two brands of dishwasher detergent that I will review here.

Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel

This product is a liquid, and I would not recommend. The directions say “Fill just one detergent cup. If excess sudsing occurs, use less.” Unfortunately I learned the hard way what “excess sudsing” meant. Granted, I do not have hard water, but I used about half of a detergent cup, and my dishwasher overflowed with suds. It was a mess. After several loads of trial and error and more excess sudsing, I finally realized that I would have to use as little as a teaspoon (yes, really!) to keep my dishwasher from overflowing.

Earth Friendly Products has new Wave Automatic Dishwasher Packs that could be worth a try, but I will not be purchasing any more of the gel.

Sun & Earth Dishwasher Detergent Concentrated Pacs

I have mentioned before that I use Sun & Earth for everything from hand soap, laundry detergent, cleaning wipes, carpet cleaner, and everything related to the kitchen. They were also rated as Best All Natural All-Purpose Cleaner by Good Housekeeping.

Sun & Earth’s “dishwasher pacs” clean my dishes far better than any of the store-bought products that I have used. The packs are convenient and leave no mess, although I would recommend keeping the package away from moisture or heat since they are “quick dissolving.” I would recommend buying several packages at a time, because sometimes you will find that some of Sun & Earth’s products become temporarily out of stock for a few weeks at a time, and I like them enough that I do not want to run out.

Calling all Soyvivors: Are there other soy free dishwasher detergents that you use? Please leave your favorites in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Food Allergy Guide To Soy

UPDATE as of 4/29/17: Amy’s website no longer offers a search feature for soy free meals. It does offer allergen information for each product, but it does not offer customized search options for specific allergens.

I was really excited to see a new book dedicated to soy allergies on Amazon! It’s called Food Allergy Guide to Soy: How to Eat Safely and Well Soy-Free by Bill Bowling. It’s available in paperback as well as a Kindle edition. I immediately started reading so that I could pass along my thoughts, and I believe this is a “must read” book for anyone allergic to soy. Even if you have been dealing with your soy allergy for a while, I believe there will be something new for you in this book that makes it worth the purchase.

Bill Bowling’s wife has been allergic to soy for quite some time, so this book contains a lot of great information based on research. The author refrains from “bashing” soy, and gives you an unbiased view on the history of soy and its relationship to our food supply. His ingredient information is thorough, although as we all know, it is almost impossible to list all soy ingredients and their derivatives. Glycerin and Citric Acid are two that I have personally dealt with that were not included in the book, but the list is more comprehensive than most I have seen. I believe it will be helpful to everyone.

There is a great practice section where you are presented with a real product and its ingredients, and you have the opportunity to test your knowledge to see if you can tell if there is soy in the product or not. Then the author explains the ingredient list and explores whether or not the product contains soy. This is a great section for those that are new to soy.

The author also includes discussions on soy in medications and non-food products, which are items that have been big issues for me. There is also a discussion on how it seems that once you find that you are allergic to soy, you start questioning the ingredients in all of your products. I have definitely found this to be the case for me, and it was reassuring to see that others were also shocked by the number of unknown and harmful substances in our food supply.

The final portion of the book contains a resource section on everything from helpful books to websites. I actually had an “Aha!” moment when the author mentioned the Amy’s website for food products. I had always loved Amy’s products, but had not had the time to research soy free options. Amy’s website allows you to search for a particular allergen and generates recommendations for you. I had one of my favorite Amy’s dishes for the first time today since my soy allergy diagnosis and it was a great feeling. I believe that the resource section alone makes it worth purchasing the book.

There are a couple of items that I would like to see in the next version of the book. In the Kindle version, there are some formatting and grammatical issues. I would also like to see more discussion about soy free non-food products and medications, and a mention that medications are not required to label for the top allergens (as I found out the hard way with more than one medication.)

Overall, this book was very informative, and yet it was a quick and easy read. If you would like to purchase, here’s the link to my Amazon Store.

Calling All Soyvivors: Are there other books about soy allergy that you would recommend?

Enjoying A Soy Free Summer

Enjoying a soy free summer can require a lot of planning, packing, and patience. My husband and I plan out-of-town day trips a few times a month, and it can be stressful but worth it. We are going to be taking a week’s vacation in August, and I am already planning! Below are some of the tips that I have learned that will hopefully save you some time and planning.

Items You Will Need

  • Coolers and ice packs are essential. You can even buy electric coolers that have an adaptor for electricity and your car, but I just use an old-fashioned cooler.
  • Storage containers
  • Silverware: I stash any unused plasticware that we get at fast food chains and keep it in my car’s glove compartment for emergencies.
  • Other soy-free summer traveling essentials: sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer, travel soap; Note: most commercial products contain soy. See my reviews below for product recommendations
  • A good chain restaurant available at your destination just in case the food you have packed isn’t enough. For me, I eat a garden salad and baked potato at Wendy’s. Occasionally I will eat chili with my baked potato, but beware that the chili contains soybean oil for those that are allergic. And for those of you looking for dessert, the Frosty is soy free (and who doesn’t want dessert?!)

Food

Freezing complete meals is great, but I also try to cook and freeze some items that can be used in many different recipes.

  • Soak, cook, and freeze dried chickpeas to make hummus. Then, when you’re ready to travel, you can just throw the chickpeas in the blender, add a little olive oil and some spices (garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper) and you are ready to go. You can make hummus roll-ups with tortillas or add veggies and chips to hummus for a complete meal. (Just a reminder that some folks that are allergic to soy are also allergic to other legumes like chickpeas.)
  • Bake a cookie sheet of organic chicken tenderloins and freeze them. When you’re ready to travel, add defrosted chicken to a green salad or see my recipe for soy free curry chicken salad with yummy grapes, apples, and celery.
  • Another great on-the-go recipe: Mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil and olive oil. Slice the mozzarella and tomato, top with fresh basil, drizzle with olive oil, and serve with a side of soy-free chips. It makes a great snack or meal.
  • Another idea that I want to try: Cold soups like gazpacho. They would freeze well, pack well, and be a great addition to your cooler.
  • Fruit: It packs well and is a great snack with a protein like nuts, pumpkin seeds, or string cheese.

Other items that do not need a cooler:

  • LARABARS (Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Soy Free)
  • Soy Free Nuts or Pumpkin Seeds (watch for “may contain” statements)
  • Travel Packets of Almond Butter
  • Rice Cakes or Rice Chips (Rice cakes and almond butter are great and filling!)
  • Corn Tortilla Chips or Popcorn

Sunscreen, Bug Spray, and Soy-Free Travel Kits

Sunscreen

My sunscreen of choice is California Baby’s sunscreen. It is highly rated through the Environmental Working Group and is free of peanuts, soy, and dairy. I also reconfirmed with CeraVe that their entire product line is free from gluten, wheat, milk, soy, nuts, and egg. Note as of 7/1/14: I no longer recommend CeraVe as a soy free product. I usually need to order my sunscreen, so it is good to know that there is a product in pharmacies and grocery stores that I can grab in a pinch.

Bug Spray

A great bug spray is also made by California Baby, and it has a great, light citrus smell. I haven’t tested it in mosquito-infested areas yet, but the reviews are very good.

Soap and Hand Sanitizer

Sometimes I think that I react just as badly to the soy in bath and body products as I do to foods. Commercial hand soap can be the worst for me. I carry a small squeeze bottle of soy free soap in my purse when I travel and go to work. My favorite soap is made by Sun & Earth. I also recently discovered that Hugo Naturals makes soy free hand sanitizer. I ordered two varieties and like them both, but if you are like me and are sensitive to fragrances, I would recommend the Lavender. The scent is a little milder than the Vanilla Peppermint.

Soy-Free Travel Kits

Gone are the days when I can run into a store and grab travel size products for my trip. Two companies to try: Hugo Naturals and California Baby.

I hope you all have a safe and soy free summer!

Calling All Soyvivors: Do you have other great travel foods or products? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

Soy Free Product Reviews: Hair Care

Update 6/28/14: I have now tried the Acure dry shampoo and LOVE it. Most dry shampoos contain fragrances and make your hair sticky, but this one is fragrance free and makes hair feel and look natural. This is a must have for a busy soy free lifestyle!

I was shocked when I first found out that most shampoos, conditioners and styling products contained soy. Finding soy free hair care products was challenging, but it was worth it when my once oily, itchy scalp became calm and needed less care. I have always been advised to alternate hair care with two good sets of products, but finding soy free options took some time. Below are three unbiased, unsolicited product reviews from companies that make hair care products and lot of other great soy free products that I plan to review in the future.

As always, I encourage you to do your own research, as companies can change their ingredients at any time.

Best All Around: Hugo Naturals

Hugo Naturals has a great line of soy free products, and I have not found anything that I have tried from them so far that I do not like. Since I have highlights in my hair, I use their Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner in Mango. It has a great tropical smell and I find that I can go longer between washes with this shampoo. The price is incredibly reasonable compared to the other soy free hair products I have had experience with. I follow my shampoo with the Medium Hold Styling Gel, and my hair always looks fantastic. Definitely give Hugo Naturals a try!

Honorable Mention: California Baby

Whenever I am a part of conversations about soy free bath and body products, California Baby is always mentioned by several folks as being their go-to brand. I use their Super Sensitive Shampoo & Body Wash and the Super Sensitive Hair ConditionerThen,  I follow with the Calming Jelly Mousse for my styling product. The downside to this product is that it is more expensive, and I find that I can get a little more time between washes with Hugo Naturals. I will definitely keep buying this product, but I will likely use it more sparingly.

One more mention for California Baby since it is time for beach season. California Baby has great sunscreen! Check it out!

Great All Around, But No So Great Shampoo: Acure Organics

Acure Organics was the first line of products that I tried, and they really do have a lot of great products, including soy free skin care, body wash, and sunscreen. I am currently using many of their products that I will review later. For hair care, I tried their Moroccan Argan Stem Cell + Argan Oil Shampoo, their Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Conditioner, and their Leave-In Conditioner. The great thing about Acure is that, at least in my area of the country, their products are prevalent in health food stores. The downside is that the shampoo left my hair dry and frizzy, which isn’t normal for my hair. My husband also tried it, and he thought the same thing. I would recommend their conditioner and leave-in conditioner if you are looking for those products, and they also have other shampoos that may be a better fit. I am also anxious to try their dry shampoo as well.

Calling all Soyvivors: Are there other products that you would recommend? Have you tried any of the products above?