Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: Oscar's Lunchbox by Pam Houssenloge

What a special day--I received a copy of Oscar's Lunchbox By Pam Houssenloge in the mail! 
It's always a good feeling when you receive a package. 

Reading through this fabulous children's book, I couldn't resist holding back a childish smile. It reminded me of the good-ol' days when life seemed so much simpler. When Oscar was having some doubts about his lunch at school compared to the visually-appealing lunches of his peers, I couldn't help recalling the similar struggles that I went through. My struggles with bringing my own lunches, (often lunch which needed to be warmed in the microwave all the way at the nurse's office) started in middle school when I was diagnosed, and lasted all throughout high school. College was much more accepting, and being self-conscious about what I was eating quickly wore off.

I think this book is right on target with it's message! I love the approach that Mrs. Houssenloge takes when Oscar's mum teaches him that what he eats is his own healthy formula so that he can perform his best. That is a vital realization that those with food allergies have to hold on to. Personally, I would always say that the best thing about having food allergies was the fact that I was eating so much healthier! Of course, that was before more processed allergy-friendly options were available, but regardless, we typically still have healthier diets than those around us. It's important to know that, and to be proud of it. Honor your body, listen to what it has to tell you, and you'll be living a happy, healthy life.

I highly recommend this book for all children! Please visit Pam's website to purchase a copy for your family or a friend:’s-lunchbox/oscars-lunchbox/

Thank you! Have a great weekend.

Andrea Garza

Monday, July 16, 2012

Refined Peanut-Oil Used for Chick-Fil-A Chicken

My mom sent me a text earlier today, telling me that Chick-Fil-A uses refined peanut-oil to cook their chicken. I was surprised to see that a main restaurant chain would use peanut oil with so many individuals being allergic to peanuts. I didn't know this, and if I wasn't vegan, I could have easily have consumed a lot of that chicken by now (there is a Chick-Fil-A right on the ASU campus).

Luckily, I do not have anaphylaxis, so it would not have been a life-or-death situation if I had reacted. What does Chick-Fil-A have to say about it? I checked their website, just to verify that they do in fact use peanut-oil. They do. What else? I was surprised to see an entire argument below their initial statement which addresses why refined peanut-oil is basically ok for those with food allergies to consume. They go on to say that because the peanut oil is a "high-temperatuer, heat-processed, fully refined peanut oil (refined, bleached and deodorized)," that the proteins are "stripped out" through this intensive process.

Interesting that they would take such great efforts to convince those with allergies, that it would be perfectly safe to eat. They go on for several more paragraphs, quoting notable references such as the Food and Drug Administration, reassuring their chicken-lovers that it's ok for those with peanut allergies to continue consuming their product.

This didn't seem right; that they would try and persuade people that it's completely ok. From what little business mind I do have, I would think they would be more interested in covering their back--stating that it may not always be completely safe, and that the customers should take caution. Not necessarily the case.

So, I did a quick search of my own on PubMed. The first several articles basically reveal that, yes, highly-refining peanuts to make peanut oil will denature many of the proteins. That, I knew. (Remember, in an allergic reaction, the body is reacting to those proteins. Remove/kill the proteins, and theoretically you'll be ok). But, in a couple other studies, they concluded that although nearly all of the peanut protein was denatured, not 100% of it was denatured. Thus, a small amount of individuals could still react, especially if they are highly sensitive.

So...what does it all mean? Basically, scientists are still debating about it, and trying to get down to the root of the problem. Based on the 3 top articles that I looked at, it seems that as time goes by, more articles are citing that although refining will denature proteins, it's never 100% guaranteed that ALL proteins will be de-natured. Which makes complete sense. It depend on how manufacturers are running their refining plants. Maybe some didn't get mixed well, or it was un-evenly "heated," etc. Peanut oil is widely used, so I would imagine it is processed in large processing plants. That leaves more room for error. Newer articles are emphasizing to use caution--because there are some "sensitive" individual who may still react.

Personally, I would never risk the life of my child if they had anaphylaxis or any severe allergy to peanuts. It's almost a gamble to allow them to consume these refined oils (if allergic). Although the odds are in your favor, I wouldn't want my child to be the odd one out.

Crevel, R. W. "Allergenicity of Refined Vegetable Oils." National Center for Biotechnology 
     Information., Apr. 2000. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih->.
Ramazzotti, M., N. Mullinacci, and L. Pazzagli. "Analytic Investigations on Protein Content in Refined
     Seed Oils: Implications in Food Allergy." National Center for Biotechnology Information.  , Nov. 2008. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih->.
Ring, J., and M. Mohrenschlager. "Allergy to Peanut Oil-- Clinically Relevant?" National Center 
     for Biotechnology Information., Apr. 2007. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://www-ncbi->.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hard Times and Brownie-lovin'

I don't know what it is, but this year has been THE hardest for me as far as living with food allergies goes. Seriously, I've been really bummed out about the food I can't eat, especially the healthy foods. I would do anything to be able to eat a healthy, cheap, fast, over-easy egg in the mornings instead of a piece of toast with jam. Anything! Not to mention all these delicious treats that I see, and scrumptious, healthy meals that I can't eat. I'm trying to live healthy, and I just don't see the fairness in not being able to eat a perfectly healthy meal. I'm probably going to make a video blog soon to talk more about this. I've never been this distressed about it before! Maybe it's because I'm 21 and going to be a college senior--all these years in school of nearly similar meals have finally worn me out? Who knows.

On a brighter note, these cravings lead me to really want some brownies! I made my first batch of allergy-free brownies away from home, and they were delicious! I'm proud of myself :) One of my friends (who doens't have allergies) was looking for a healthier alternative to "regular" brownies, so I thought I would make this blog post for all the brownie lovers out there! Try something new, you never know if you'll love it!

I buy Pamela's brownie mix:

And all you need is to combine this mix, 1 egg (egg substitute: 1 tablespoon of arrowroot flower and 3 table spoons of water = 1 "egg," and I think it was 1/2 cup of water and 1/3 cup of oil. Have no fear, exact instructions are on the package ^_^ Bake for about 20 minutes and there you go! A beautiful, delicious batch of allergy-friendly alternative brownies.


-Andrea Garza

Blogspot is Our *Permanent* Home

Up until 15 minutes ago, I was under the assumption that my blog was deleted by the evil Blogger bots. Apparently, we have been resurected! And honestly, I really like the new modifications to the website.

So? This will PERMANENTLY be our home! I'm going to delete the wordpress blog I was forced to start back in November (read post). Bear with me as transfer all of the old posts!

Welcome home! :)

-Andrea Garza