Tag Archives: Soy Free

Enjoying an Allergy Friendly Summer

Pawleys Island

Summertime will be here soon! For many of us, summer brings a lot of sun, fun, and travel. It also brings with it some allergy-related situations that we may not have to deal with as frequently at other times of the year. Below are some tips and tricks for a safe summer.

Packing Needs Preparation

Sometimes I long for the days when I could be packed and ready for a trip at a moment’s notice. However, when I arrive at my destination and relax on my own sheets and use my own towels and toiletries, I quickly realize that it’s really nice to have the comforts of home when you’re away from home. For those of you that are new to food allergies, be aware that foods are only the beginning of the products that may contain your allergen. Household products, personal care products, crafts, and many other items could contain your respective allergens and should be avoided. Below are some things to consider as you pack:

  • Toilet Paper (this is a big allergen for me!)
  • Dishwashing Liquid
  • Dishwasher Detergent
  • Hand Soap
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Sheets washed in your detergent
  • Towels washed in your detergent

If you are traveling for more than a day or two, it can be well worth the expense to upgrade to a room with a kitchen and washer/dryer. When I am using a vacation to de-stress, I am even more vigilant about avoiding allergens so that I can truly enjoy my time away. Having a kitchen and washer/dryer allows me to prepare the foods I need and keep my personal items free from allergens.

Enjoying the Outdoors

Sunscreen and insect repellent are also major concerns during the summer. Finding a sunscreen and insect repellent that actually works, is non-greasy, and does not contain your allergens can require a lot of research. For sunscreen, I find that California Baby has a soy-free suncreen option but is quite greasy. I am trying a soy-free, fragrance-free spray sunscreen called Kinesys this summer, and will post a review in a few weeks.

Cooking and Eating Out

It’s also helpful to do some research before your trip on things like grocery stores and restaurants. Using apps like Allergy Eats can give you some ideas on allergy-friendly restaurants, and many of your favorite chain restaurants will also have store locators and allergy menus online.

Packing some non-perishable products and easy meal plans will also help you keep your vacation hassle-free.

I will have more tips and tricks on vacation meal-planning in future posts. Here’s to safe and allergy-friendly travels!

Smoothies: A Great Way To Use Your Leftover Fruits and Veggies

smoothie

Before my soy allergy, I had never really tried smoothies at home. I started having smoothies on Saturday mornings as a way to use any produce and leafy greens that were going to need to be thrown away before my weekly trip to the grocery.

There are lots of smoothie mixes and protein powders and other bells and whistles, but you guessed it…many contain soy and other common allergens. I simply use the whole foods I have on hand, and they really taste delicious no matter what I try.

There are few things that I use regularly in smoothies:

  • Alternative Milk (Try Coconut, Almond, Oat, Rice, or Flax depending on your allergies)
  • Frozen Bananas
  • Frozen Mangoes
  • Frozen Blueberries
  • Leafy Greens (fresh or frozen spinach, kale, bok choy, etc.)
  • Some kind of protein (soy free seeds like pumpkin or flax, almonds, raw almond butter, etc.)

There are also a few things that I usually have on hand that I add to the smoothie to make it more tasty.  I usually pick one or two (or more) from this list. Those things are:

  • Fresh Ginger
  • Organic Vanilla Flavoring
  • Spices (cinnamon, apple pie spices, garam masala, etc.)
  • Soy free cookies or coconut macaroons — if you don’t mind the calories 🙂
  • Chocolate (Try Enjoy Life–Theo is also soy free, but may not be free of other top allergens)
  • Lime or Lemon Juice
  • Apples
  • Avocado

I do try to choose organic fruits and vegetables whenever I can since soy can be contained in pesticides. However, keep in mind that organic fruits and vegetables can be coated in soy to make them look shiny. I recommended washing in a spray bottle of one cup of water to 1 tbsp of vinegar, and you can also peel them depending on your comfort level.

Just a note about peaches and cherries: Frozen peaches often contain citric acid which can be soy derived, so it is best to use fresh. Even if your cherries are frozen and pitted, check each one first to make sure that the pits are really gone, because there’s controversy over whether the cherry pits can be poisonous when blended.

It’s really a fun experiment to get creative and see what kind of concoction my ingredients produce. You can keep tasting your creation and adding ingredients until you like what you taste. Plus, I feel like I have a lot of energy and am ensuring that I start the day with good nutrition.

You don’t need a super expensive blender to make a delicious smoothie. Just do some research on a brand that has good user reviews and a price point that is feasible for you.

Calling All Soyvivors: What other ingredients do you like in your smoothies?

 

Soy Free Macaroni and Cheese

Need an easy dish for your holiday dinner? This macaroni and cheese recipe is super easy, delicious, and it’s my Mother’s recipe, so I can assure you it’s good! It’s also a great weeknight dinner idea.

 

Maraconi

Soy Free Macaroni and Cheese

One package of pasta (Rice pasta or 100% whole wheat pasta work great and should be soy free.)

2 packages (8 oz) extra sharp cheddar, grated (I use Cabot Seriously Sharp)

Two Eggs (I have found soy free eggs at Whole Foods)

1-2 cups milk as desired(grass fed or unsweetened alternative milk)

Butter (optional-I use Kerrygold grass fed butter)

Boil pasta according to package directions. In a bowl, add egg, milk and optional butter and whisk until blended. In a deep, 8 x 11 baking dish, layer macaroni and cheese without placing top layer of cheese. Pour milk/egg mixture evenly into the dish until the mixture is at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the dish. Bake on 350 for 15 minutes. Top with final layer of cheese and bake in five minute increments. You will know that the dish is done when you place a spoon on the side of the dish and the milk mixture is no longer liquid but also not dry either.

Serves 6-8.

 

Holiday Meal Ideas

Maraconi

The holidays are almost here! While it is certainly an exciting time, there are some challenges that anyone with food allergies will be navigating over the next few weeks. I have been having many conversations with family and friends about get-togethers: Should I bring my own food? What are you preparing and what ingredients are you using? What ingredients to I need to substitute to make a dish that is safe for me?

I have three main issues that I am personally dealing with right now:

1. This is my first Thanksgiving without soy, and watching others eat traditional Thanksgiving food that I can no longer eat is more than I can handle at this point in my journey.

2. I am severely allergic to poinsettias (the red flowers you see during the holidays) and cannot go near a grocery store, shopping mall, restaurant or someone’s home that has  poinsettias. Yep, that means that hubby has to do all the grocery shopping and label reading. (He’s definitely a keeper!!) Side note: poinsettias can sometimes be cross-reactive to latex, so be aware if you are allergic to latex.

3. I have no time to think through how to make alternative dishes with substitute ingredients that are safe for me, not less cook that much food.

The thing is, instead of getting me down, I remind myself constantly that:

The reason why the holidays are important is not because of what is on the plate but because of who is sitting at the table!

I am very excited to be spending time with my family, and I am also very thankful that they are so supportive and also recognize that the food is not what is important. We have decided to have a spaghetti dinner with homemade banana pudding for Thanksgiving. I am supplying the spaghetti sauce (Whole Foods 365 Organic Pasta Sauce), and I will be bringing my own pasta to go with it (Whole Foods 365 Organic Spaghetti.)

Here are some other ideas for Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Meals that everyone can eat. (Place each ingredient in separate bowls with separate spoons, and prepare each ingredient with clean utensils and cooking surfaces.):

  • Build Your Own Tacos (Try Garden of Eatin’ or Bearitos taco shells.)
  • Build Your Own Salad
  • Build Your Own Pasta (With a couple of sauce, pasta and veggie options)
  • Build Your Own Baked Potato or Sweet Potato Bar
  • OR, invite everyone over for a build your own Sundae or Fruit Salad bar. So Delicious and Haagen-Dazs have some soy free ice cream options, although not all are soy free. You could also make delicious banana ice cream from just a couple of ingredients. Google “one ingredient banana ice cream” for ideas.

Calling All Soyvivors: How are you handling the holidays and what are you eating?

 

 

Easy Soy Free Snacks

kale chips

There are lots of easy soy free homemade snacks out there, and my snacks need to be easily stuffed into my lunch bag for work. Here are some of my favorites:

  • A piece of fruit (apples, pears and bananas are especially easy)
  • Cheese slices
  • Fried cheese (take shredded sharp cheddar, sautee dry in a skillet on medium heat until it turns into a crunchy treat.)
  • Kale chips (easy to bake!)
  • Lara Bars
  • Nuts or Seeds(check for cross contact statements)
  • Homemade Granola
  • Smashed avocado with some sea salt and cilantro (serve with chips)
  • Salsa and avocado stirred together and served with chips
  • A slice of toast with nut butter and banana (makes a great sandwich too!)
  • Cucumber slices
  • Carrots
  • A side salad
  • Rice cakes with nut butter

Calling All Soyvivors: What are you favorite snacks?

Soy Free Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken With Cream of Mushroom

chickenpeas

I love to use the slow cooker in cooler months. I can make meals in bulk that freeze well for days when I am too busy to cook. I usually cook an whole container of brown rice and freeze in 1 cup servings for later use as well. As always, read your labels carefully as they can change at any time, and note that some folks report issues with eating chickens that have been fed soy.

Many people swear by browning your meat before placing it in the crock pot, but I think that defeats the purpose of a quick and easy meal with little clean-up. Also, make sure that once you start the crock pot, you do not take off the lid until it is done. I have read that every time you take off the lid, it adds 20-30 minutes of cooking time to the slow cooker.

It’s also super easy to make your own cream of mushroom if you have an extra couple of minutes. You really just need some milk or heavy cream, sliced mushrooms, some spices, and a little soy free flour in case you need to thicken the sauce. Just add it to the crock pot, and voila!

Slow Cooker Chicken With Mushroom Gravy

16 pieces chicken tenderloins

1 cup mushrooms (you can use any mushroom here, but I use shiitake)

2 containers 12 oz. Pacific Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup and 12 oz. milk

Onion Flakes, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper to Taste

I also add: Penzey’s Old World Seasoning (1 tsp) and a pinch of Penzey’s Berbere

2 cups Brown Rice (pasta is also great)

Green peas and carrots also make great additions to this recipe.

Place all ingredients except rice in crock pot and cook on high for four hours. Cook brown rice according to package directions. Serve or freezer in individual servings.

Makes 6-8 servings. Great side dishes include spinach or english peas (be careful of other legumes if you haven’t tested them.)

Enjoy!

 

 

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!

What Does “Soy Free” Really Mean?

When I first found out that I was allergic to soy, I would simply ask, “Is your product soy free?” If the answer was yes, I thought that was all I needed. WRONG.

Companies will not always tell you the truth. Some companies will do everything they can to present their product in the best light, even if that means that they do not tell you everything you need to know about the soy content in their product. In fact, many manufacturers have so many distributors of their products that they do not even know if their ingredients are derived from soy.

Is it because they don’t care that you could have a life-threatening reaction? Probably not. It’s more likely because they have no idea how dangerous it is to avoid fully disclosing the ingredients in their product. It is also likely that they believe they are doing the right thing by following FDA guidelines, which require very little disclosure about the soy content in a product.

I had an issue with a company a few weeks ago that makes widely known and dermatologist- recommended lotions and creams. I had called them a few months ago and they confirmed that their product was soy free. Last week, I emailed them, and they once again confirmed that their product was soy free. Then, I heard from another soyvivor that the same company told her that they could not tell her if the glycerin in the product was derived from soy.

I once again contacted the company, and while they continued to assert that their product was soy free, they also asserted that they could not guarantee that there was no trace amounts of soy and they could not guarantee that their glycerin was not derived from soy.

Bottom line: The term “Soy Free” is not regulated and means nothing, especially when it comes to non-food products.

It reminds me a lot of “organic” food. There are many ways to state that a product is organic, but unless it is certified to be organic, you cannot believe the claim. Unfortunately there are no requirements for labeling a product as “soy free” unless you are considering FDA guidelines, which are in my opinion virtually useless for those allergic to soy.

It is very important to always ask about specific ingredients when you call companies. For more information on calling manufacturers, read this post.

Are Widely Available Soy Free Eggs Coming Soon?

I was thrilled to walk into my local Whole Foods a few weeks ago to find a reasonably priced egg that was clearly labeled “soy free.” I thought, “Finally, I can safely eat eggs again!” Unfortunately, those eggs were gone within a couple of weeks. Because of that, I started thinking that maybe there are a lot of folks other than soyvivors that are trying to eat soy free eggs.

soyfreeegg

From what I have heard, chickens have not always been fed soy and it was unheard of a few years ago for soy to be included in chicken feed. I have also heard that soybean prices are on the rise, and that brings me hope that American manufacturers and farmers will soon be giving up their love affair with the soybean.

In the meantime, I had a great conversation with a staff member at my local Whole Foods. He told me that the reason why they had no more soy free eggs was because the demand was so high. He also said that he had advised one of his friends at a local farm that he had better get rid of the soy in his chicken feed pronto or he would be out of the egg business within a year or two. He said that everyone is growing more conscious of GMOs and soy and  he predicted that soon the eggs on the shelf would be very different than they are now.

I am going to continue to watch not only for the soy free eggs, but for more hope that soy’s popularity is waning!

Calling All Soyvivors: Has anyone else seen a surge in popularity of soy free products?