Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mondolez International Acquires Enjoy Life Foods: What Does This Mean For Those With Top 8 Allergies or Celiac Disease?


Many of you might have heard the news. An internationally publicized buyout that will hit those of us in the food allergy and Celiac communities hard and not knowing what the future has in store is hitting many of us bloggers, food allergy moms and severely sensitive ones with agita.

For years, we've looked at Enjoy Life Foods as the leader in the food allergy community. My trust was even more solidified when I had the pleasure of hearing Joel Warady speak at FABlogCon 2014 about Enjoy Life's strict manufacturing practices

We're more than a bit leary about a allergy-friendly company being bought out by an international powerhouse company like Mondolez International.

Many of us try a new product which is labeled 'soy free' or 'gluten free' only to be burned by a reaction soon after because the gluten parts per million also known as PPM is too high for the extremely sensitive among us. Or maybe there is a soy derivative like tocopherol acetate or guar gum which contains up to 10% soy protein yet labeling for soy is considered 'unnecessary'.

If we know we can die or get sick, we're skeptical. Can you blame us?


The acquisition of Enjoy Life Foods by Mondolez International is actually a turning point for the food allergy and gluten-free community.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Out of the Darkness: The Positive Side of Food Allergies and Celiac Disease

I know you've all experienced it. That sweet nostalgia of picking up Taco Bell just before they close since they just so happen to be the only thing open. Or those memories of going out for late-night pizza after a club or night out with your besties. You might think that with multiple food allergies or Celiac disease your gluten-free and allergy-friendly options are severely limited. And yes, to the outside world, they are. But the truth is, with a little creativity, anyone can become a 'Kitchen MacGyver' and never feel deprived.

If Macgyver could do it with three ingredients, so can you.
Those of you in your twenties and below might not know Macgyver, but growing up, I watched his show on USA in wonder at his ingenuity for resourcefulness. Seriously, MacGyver was the God of DIY projects having to do with survival. If you're curious, the show is now on Netflix.

We have the resources nowadays to even make shrimp lo mein gluten-free, soy-free and whatever else free your food needs to be.

You just have to find it...or a variation of it and tweak it to your diet.






The other night, I came to an epiphany.

I have zero willpower when it comes to food and am no stranger to putting on weight. My pictures from middle school and high school prove it. I wasn't extremely large but I was a bit on the chubby side and my jeans fluctuated between a 31-34 waist and size 11-12 dress. I would order chinese food with my friends and eat like a champ; sesame chicken, shrimp fried rice and chicken with broccoli in a garlic white sauce. It was pure heaven.

One time I even went into anaphylactic shock about five hours after eating while I was trying to go to sleep, probably from cross-contamination from peanuts. Of course as a teenager, that didn't stop me. I took risks, many of them and it honestly is a miracle I'm alive. I wasn't going to let an allergy stop me from enjoying this food that I was deprived of as a child. I was a bona fide foodie, and fatty because no matter how many times I went to the gym, it wasn't going to stop the fact that I loved my pizza, Chinese food and all-you-can-eat buffets.

 I went from being able to only eat chicken, broccoli and bananas as a toddler to in my teens being able to eat everything except peanuts, tree nuts, all types of peas and lentils. I could even eat soy back then and I remember the only symptom I had when I drank soy milk was an itchy throat, which would cause me to make strange, gutteral noises with my throat to try to 'scratch' it.

But just about ten years ago, things began to change. First, my soy allergy got worse. I went into anaphylactic shock from pureed tofu in dressing at a Japanese restaurant and it took me years to figure out my 'mysterious' allergic reactions and numerous other health issues were from hidden soy derivatives.

I cannot eat at buffets anymore. Too risky.
I went from being able to eat soy and all soy derivatives, gluten, tomato sauce, and dairy to becoming so sensitive to all of those that now, I cannot even eat meat, fish or dairy fed with soy or gluten or else several various allergic symptoms or gluten issues ensue. But I don't want violins, no. Quite the contrary.



This is a celebration! Why?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Allergens in the Bedroom: Soy Allergy, Mattresses and Mattress Topper Shopping PART II




Oh, this keeps getting better and better. 

quote "the truth will set you free but first it will piss you off"

Going back to soy foam or polyurethane foam (which makes up most foam products), it's so flammable, its nicknamed 'solid gasoline' by firefighters. What does this have in common with what the National Fire Protection Association describes as the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in US history?


Monday, January 12, 2015

Allergens in the Bedroom: Soy Allergy, Mattresses and Mattress Topper Shopping (featuring documentary video)

Does anybody else do outlandishly hypocritical things when they're in a mischievous mood? Like this morning, I was writing an article about the toxic chemicals in processed sugar and all I wanted to do was go bake something so sweet, my teeth fall out from just mixing up the ingredients (which reminds me that I really should stop crunching on my YumEarth Organics Lollipops like potato chips. Because then the bag is finished in like...a day?)

I'm going to feed this addiction and only buy the Watermelon
ones from now on.

It just seems the more I learn, the more I really don't know. Like about foam. Do you know anything about foam? Well, I heard years ago that many popular car manufacturers use soy foam for their car seating. Apparently, as of 2014, all furniture in cars by FORD are made with soy plastics and foam.
If you have soy allergy, don't buy a Ford. Even if the pretty girls tell you to.

If you have soy allergy, you really need to know what the soy industry is making so that you can attempt to avoid reactions. Here is the link to the official book that the Soy Allergy Board put out for 2014.

Then after reading that, here's a link to my funny boards on Pinterest.You'll need it to stave off the depression.



But now I am at a loss. I've been spoiled on years of pricey Posturepedic Mattresses.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Independent Living With Roommates As An Adult With Food Allergies and Possible Celiac

allergy friendly soy free products for Maya's Christmas Giveaway worth over $50Congratulations to K.B! You are my Christmas giveaway winner! Look out for an email in your inbox this week! To all who participated, thank you and all those who signed up for my mailing list are automatically entered into every holiday giveaway I do from now on!

Now to the topic at hand, a recent study at the University of Maryland actually made me a bit ill when I read it. It was a study about children with food allergies learning helplessness. They say that when something causes an emotional response, its because its a part of you and something you hate about yourself. So if you get angry catching someone on the highway picking their nose, you're a nose-picker. And just because that nose-picker now provoked a serious need to pass them, you step on the gas, except now...uh oh. That light just turned red and you're forced to slam on the brakes and sit at the light next to them. Of course, you're livid that they made you floor it to begin with and against your better judgement, you turn to look one just one...more...time. A spasm twists your face into Picasso contortions of disgust as you watch them dig for gold, then with lightning speed look back at the light realizing they cannot catch you judging them.

Well. I don't believe in judging others' appearances or gross habits in public. Some of them can't help it. Like people accidentally letting one rip. Many of us, especially among the gluten-free crowd can empathize. Of course, this is completely different from someone who infringes on your safety or health.

Enter, the most disgusting sound on the planet.

nail clipper

My biggest peeve in public is beyond the shadow of a doubt, people who clip their nails.
I don't care if its hands or toes. But the second I hear that nail clipper clip, you will see me transition. Literally.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Allergy-Friendly Gluten-free Amanda's Own Chocolate REVIEW and Holiday GIVEAWAY!

 Ahh, the after-effects of Thanksgiving are now upon us and now we can domino into other holiday celebrations without the guilt.  Kind of like ordering a Super-Size with that diet soda back when you used to be able to eat fast food and junk.

Sure, those recipes on Pinterest made you saute, bake, fry, marinate and broil your way into a full season of PMS cravings where all you can think about is food. Even after you just ate, you're thinking about what to make later that day to excite your taste buds. Then you think about going to the gym and coming out dripping with sweat. You even changed into your gym clothes while thinking about it. So much so, that you actually felt your heart rate go up and broke a sweat at that very thought. No kidding (insert sarcasm here).

 Seriously, though, I don't blame you.



So you plop right back down and turn on Netflix because God knows you deserve it. And its cold out. Plus they just released another season of American Horror Story/Orange Is The New Black/Big Bang Theory/___________.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Traveling To Europe or Living in Europe With Food Allergies? Well You're In Luck.

I have an obsession with Paris, France. I have no idea why. I've never been there. However, when it came time to pick a language in middle school, I got yelled at by everyone (except for my dad) for choosing French. Of course, I had no idea why.

The fact that my dad had chosen French also made me realize how similar we were and made me wonder over the years, "Why?" My dad is very much an artist at heart so was it an artist thing?

It turns out that being part Filipino with a family who spoke two Filipino dialects, Spanish was kind of a 'cousin' of the language. If I knew Spanish, I'd also know many words in Ilocano. That's why they were mad. When would I ever use French?

So I took the class. And of course in lieu of memorizing the verbs and affinatives, I daydreamed about gorgeous scenery, hot 'copains,' romance and art. While drawing at my desk.



And then, of course, the 'Mademoiselle' professor brought me back to reality with a question that I could not answer, breaking the spell.

All I wanted to do was draw, paint and write. And so that's exactly what I did.





So now I'm not fluent in French. Far from it. In fact, I just started using Duolingo to brush up on the basics I barely remember from high school in my spare time. And now, I better get a move on it because apparently the European Union (EU) seems more aware of food allergies and just might be a bit safer than the USA.

Maya's Infamous Apple Crisp (Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Peanut-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free)


I call this recipe 'infamous' with good reason. Sure it looks like a hot mess, but never judge a book by its cover! This is what the 13x 9 x 2 inch Pyrex looked like in a matter of fifteen minutes. I kid you not.

I've brought this homemade apple crisp to holiday gatherings and Thanksgiving feasts as my 'safe' food and have survived on it alone. The buckwheat flour and oats help keep you full until you can duck out quickly to eat at home or sneak back to the table 30-45 minutes later for another serving. Don't wait longer than this or else you might find its already disappeared!

There are a few 'tricks' to making the most amazing apple crisp anyone has ever had. The first one is to definitely use Granny Smith apples (the sour green ones). I just didn't happen to have any on hand, so I subbed, which was a bad move. The puckery-sweet taste rounds out the other flavors perfectly and if you use different apples, your tasters might not notice the difference, but you definitely will...especially if this is normally your favorite dessert as it is mine. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween and Food Allergies: My Bittersweet Favorite Holiday

I never had a Halloween growing up.

You might say, "Oh, me either." But the truth is, it wasn't just about the candy or the food and festivities.

My family was Jehovah's Witness and raised me as such. I think I remember the first note sent home about a party in kindergarten, I came home crying because of all the planning going on that I wasn't allowed to participate in; not only for religious reasons but back then, I was one of only two people in an entire school who had anaphylaxis to peanuts. I didn't participate in any holiday projects and the teacher knew to give me an alternate assignment. And when it was someone's birthday, I got extremely uncomfortable and felt guilty, like I was doing something wrong or once again, I was banished to another classroom. I would also end up in the nurses' office every other day from hives and allergic reactions that didn't seem to ever give me a break; either from environmental triggers like pollen or dust or quite possibly from the peanut proteins in the air all over the cafeteria.

I was left out so much, I created my own realities...through my art.


I was born anaphylactic to peanuts and tree-nuts along with bad hives to Red #40 so candy was out of the question. As a young child, I was allergic to almost everything except olive oil, chicken and broccoli. So in a way, keeping me home during Halloween was my family's way of protecting me from not only the candy and food but also from the pain of feeling left out of everything.

Food Allergy Wellness Online Summit November 2014

Many of you may have seen my tweets and Facebook page posts about a particular food allergy summit coming up. Or maybe you haven't because you've been crazy busy sewing costumes, painting teal pumpkins and making teal cupcake icing and turning everything in your world teal in honor of your beloved and to support FARE in its efforts for food allergy awareness. Or maybe you're the one with food allergies just like me.

Well for those of you who don't know, last month I had the honor of speaking at FABlogCon and this November, I'm going to go even more in-depth about what dating with severe food allergies is like. I will answer questions you probably hadn't even considered, based upon my own very personal experiences and tell you about dangers that might not even come from a kiss...

Now if none of that appeals to you or maybe your kiddo is way too young and you're covering your ears going "La, la, la, la," there are ELEVEN other speakers participating in this FREE online summit. And not only that but there are a ton of free gifts. Learn more by clicking the picture below!

http://mayashappyplace.hubpages.com/hub/Food-Allergy-Wellness-Summit-2014

Hopefully you will be listening in on the summit and my interview! I would love to hear your thoughts about it once it is all over so feel free to comment and ask any questions you have below!

Monday, October 20, 2014

ATTN Comedians and Journalists: Peanut Allergies Are NOT Funny or Satire.

I recently came across this article by Alison Stevenson, a comedian, about how food allergies are destroying Halloween in MUNCHIES online 'magazine.'


It reminded me of the scathingly cruel and ignorant article, "Nut Allergies: A Yuppie Invention" written back in 2009 by Joel Stein. Don't bother looking it up. In 2010, he experienced nut allergy first-hand with his son and wrote an apologetic article for Time magazine.


People have to be more careful of the power of karma. And while its sad his son was diagnosed with nut allergies, a part of me is relieved that a journalist like Joel Stein now understands.




So today, I had just woken up and not even had my first cup of coffee. Bad move, Alison Stevenson.

And yes, right now I need those 27 minutes because you hit a nerve.

This is my rebuttal.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eating Gluten-Free With Food Allergies in Las Vegas

So many of you know recently I had the honor of speaking at the FABlogCon 2014 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada about dating with food allergies.

Maya at the podium talking about her dating experiences
Talking about my experiences in 'Tell Then Kiss'
 After the conference, my mom and I had booked a couple more days at MGM Grand. Little did I know the severely limited options for someone with anaphylactic allergies and a severe soy allergy. Oh and let's not forget my severe gluten intolerance.


  • Can't have eggs unless USDA Organic, tried and tested (due to hives and eczema from soy feed).

  • Can't have bacon unless its Applegate Farms brand (due to hives and eczema from soy or gluten reaction from gluten feed)

  • Can't have dairy (due to mild cumulative allergic itchy, peeling skin reaction and gluten reaction)

  • Can't have olive oil at any restaurants because its usually fake and diluted with vegetable oil or soybean oil. (Read more about this here) unless its USDA Organic or tested and known to be safe.

  • Can't have fruits that are not USDA Organic due to soy waxes on most regular fruits.

  • Can't have drinks due to 'natural flavors' (usually GMO soy)

Can't have...can't have...can't have.....and the list goes on...


I found myself having a breakfast of a Banana Nut Chia Bar and an Americano at Starbucks an hour later, my Amazing Grass with water. YUM. #eyeroll (It was good, until I was forced to eat it daily). I had a gluten reaction early on for 6 out of the 7 days in Vegas and did my best to eat as carefully as I could since this along with an allergic reaction (from the clouds of soy-laden cigarette smoke everywhere and taking Zantac (which contains soy derivatives..but of course I forgot) the two nights leading up to my speaking event had already caused a drop in my immune system along with hand eczema and a bit of mouth eczema.

So I came back having lost about 7 lbs and one dress size. That's my new diet plan. To travel more often.

Female skeleton in a hat and dress which looks like its from the Titanic time period.
Don't I look skinny? I was channeling the Titanic exhibit.

Friday, October 3, 2014

BEST Soy-Free Gluten-Free Chinese Fried Rice EVER!

Since I do have some Asian blood (Filipino), I guess you could say I know good Chinese food. For two decades I was able to eat it without an allergic reaction, until my soy allergy became much worse and I could no longer eat soy sauce or anything made with soy. Because of my experience and passion for Asian cuisine, I am extremely particular with my Chinese food and was incredibly disappointed to visit P.F. Chang's about a year and a half ago (since apparently they print out a menu specifically for you once you tell them your allergies) and all I could eat there was a plate of rice and steamed frozen vegetables which they didn't even bother to put any spices or herbs on (which were....GASP! frozen!) FYI: No decent Chinese place uses frozen vegetables. It was that horrible experience that forced me to figure out my own homemade recipe for one of my favorite dishes, Chinese Fried Rice. Please see my update below if you are allergic to peanuts or soy.

And since coming from Vegas and hearing my mom complain about the Chinese food everywhere she went, I realized its time to share my homemade soy-free gluten-free Chinese Fried Rice recipe with all of you. So I made it tonight....
Maya's Soy-Free Gluten-Free Chinese Fried Rice

Friday, September 26, 2014

FABlogCon 2014



Cheesy arrival at Vegas airport! 
How Jenny and Homa pulled off an entire 'free of the top 8 allergens' weekend with FABlogCon 2014 is beyond me. Well, ok, not actually. They were lucky enough to find South Point Hotel and Casino in Vegas whose food safety manager is truly one of a kind. Keith Norman is a happy, friendly chef who will go through the utmost care to make sure you can eat safely without a reaction.

I talked to him briefly about the stringent precautions he takes for people with single food allergies or people with multiple food allergies.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Superfoods: The Convenient Option For Traveling With Food Allergies

Lately, I have become a permanent fixture at either Starbucks, Barnes and Nobles or Whole Foods. I don't go to places like Panera because I cannot eat there (everything is contaminated with soy or peanuts) and at Starbucks, I only have a menu choice of 1 item....buttered popcorn. I stare longingly into the Boulangerie case hoping that some soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free buttery piece of yummyness, hopefully with chocolate (without soy-lecithin, of course) just magically appears with a magical sound effect of what sounds like a herald of angels singing. Because yes, that would be heaven. Unfortunately, as someone living with a soy allergy in the 2nd largest soy-producing country in the world, I'm in my own version of hell.

Nope. I open my eyes and its still there. Gluten, soy and nuts everywhere.














I'm usually close enough to home that I can go have lunch, but when deadlines loom, I really don't have time to cook or prepare. 

I completely believe that every food or drink you take in is healing or killing your body. As an example, just because someone else can handle eating or drinking dairy, doesn't mean that you will be fine after eating that cheesy Italian food you've been craving.

I think all of us with food-allergies or severe gluten-intolerance can relate to this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Soy Allergy and Dimethicone Allergy: A Makeup-Artist's Dilemma

Food allergies and eczema affect every aspect of one's life. For people with an allergy to something like soy, you not only have to look out for things you eat or drink, but anything you touch.

I became a makeup-artist soon after high school and continued to work in the cosmetics industry for about thirteen years. During those last few years, the trend of companies using soy as a filler and turning it into everything from crayons to foam carried over into the cosmetics world and soon, soy was turned into many various chemicals used to do practically every conceivable thing under the sun, including binding, preserving, texturizing, thickening and of course as a filler so companies could get more bang for their buck. The list of soy derivatives used for cosmetics and beauty products is literally exhausting and new 'ingredients' are developed and will continue to be for as long as the soy crop continues to be planted and sold for dirt cheap.

Is there silicone in your face products?

Add to this the fact that I am severely allergic to dimethicone and silicone derivatives; a discovery which started back in the late 90s when I first applied the new and exciting Colorstay lipsticks and makeup by Revlon.

Having oily skin, I was their target demographic of a teenager who just didn't want her makeup coming off after 3rd period, but little did I know which ingredient was actually causing the reaction until years later. Over the years, allergic reactions to makeup were hit or miss and my biggest wake-up call to this allergy was when face primers were first introduced to the public.
For those of you who don't know, a primer is a base used before the foundation makeup. The silicone microspheres have a silky, slippery-smooth feel which also softens the look of very fine lines and pores. It is this immediate visual gratification that caused many skincare companies to jump on the silicone bandwagon.The first really well-known silicone-based primer was introduced by Smashbox and many other companies soon followed suit. In hair products, it 'smoothes' down the frayed cuticle giving it a smooth outer surface under a microscope like we used to see in those old Infusium and Pantene ads. People think nothing of using all these products on a daily basis, but are they really safe?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Endoscopy Nightmare Part II: Weaning Off Gabapentin

Continued from 'My Endoscopy Nightmare - Part I'

So last month, I went to my neurologist after an emergency ER visit from severe withdrawals after trying to wean off of the Gabapentin too quickly. I was on Gabapentin (aka Neurontin) for a seizure I had during an endoscopy in December. The Gabapentin was literally making my thoughts different and my anger so severe I wasn't myself. Since I am so extremely sensitive to foods, it seems I am extremely sensitive to chemicals and medicines and the Gabapentin was causing severe hostility/anger and depression. None of this happened until I was about 3 months on the medication and being that my doc put me on Prozac around the same time, I had thought all of the anger/aggression/extreme moods was from Prozac, so I weaned off of that. But some of the same symptoms didn't go away, including dark thoughts that I had never experienced before.

Some medications can cause extreme personality changes.


They were so bad they scared me and although I told my doctors, nobody would trace it back to the Gabapentin. But I did. So I went from 900mg to 600 in two days then to 300mg in two days. Very bad idea. I ended up in the ER because of withdrawal symptoms so bad, the nurse who was working with me literally threw the urine cup at me because she thought I was withdrawing from street drugs or alcohol. I'm talking shaking, sweating, severe diarrhea, severe nausea, severe confusion and a feeling of jumping out of your own skin, severe body aches and just couldn't stop crying. They ended up simply giving me an extra pill of Gabapentin and sending me home after they saw all the tests were negative for drugs and alcohol.

The next day, I went to my primary who immediately called my neuro and explained the symptoms.

Natural Remedies For Allergies

Growing up with eczema and allergies makes you pretty desperate to figure out a way to combat the dreaded itch and skin inflammation. Over the years, I heard natural allergy relief suggestions ranging from specific odd-sounding herbs to eating honey or even pieces of honeycomb from a local beekeeper. We all have different physiologies, so the truth is, these remedies may work for some, but not others. I also found some studies associated with some of the more popular ones, so that you can print them out and show them to your doctor.

1. Stinging Nettle

A while ago, I bought Organic Nettle Leaf tea, an herb that someone had once told me they had read helped calm allergic reactions. Stinging Nettle is a prickly herb that is used to treat hay fever, allergies and eczema, along with a host of other ailments. It also helps aid pain from excess uric acid in the joints, so it is very good for arthritis. It will also help aid muscle recovery after a workout, but is also a diuretic so it is important to replenish fluids after drinking. There is also a study I found which confirms it reduces cytokines, the hormone-like protein substances released during an allergic reaction. Cytokines are also responsible for blocking the release of serotonin in the brain (which plays a pivotal role in causing allergy-related depression). Now I'm not a medical professional, but if that's the case, couldn't that mean that taking stinging nettle could not only help aid inflammation, but also improve the mood of those of us having an allergic reaction? Hmm...

Stinging nettle for allergies...does it work?


I had severe eczema on my hands a while back and drank this stinging nettle tea after steeping it for a few minutes. Within ten minutes, I felt a bit of relief and it minimized my need to scratch. I also applied the teabag to my rashes although that doesn't seem to work as much as drinking it.

You can also buy stinging nettle in tincture (alcohol drop base) form, in capsule form or dried herb form. Its a good idea if you are particularly sensitive like me, to try the tea first or go for tincture form, which allows you to control the amounts and which usually contains the purest and least amount of ingredients. Dosing instructions are usually included on tincture bottle. Stinging Nettle Blend Extract Liquid, 1 oz, Herb Pharm

Friday, June 27, 2014

5 Rules To Make Gluten-Free Pasta Taste BETTER Than The Real Deal.

As I scan through Pinterest and look at all these amazing recipes, I ponder whether people know some of the tricks I have up my sleeve whenever I cook my gluten-free pasta. Many of you might already know these tricks, but I promise you, after reading this, you and your family won't believe how delicious gluten-free can be.


You will never cook gluten-free pasta the same again.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Be Careful Where You Sit If You Have Severe Food Allergies

This post applies mostly to those who are anaphylactic to anything; never in a million years would I have thought where I sat in a public place would be an issue.

A few months ago, I had an experience that terrified me. Since I could not drive due to a health incident that happened in December, I had family who would drive me to places like the bookstore, Starbucks or Whole Foods, which all have an internet connection which allows me to write.