Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make Your Own Allergy Free Cards!

My friend whose daughter is on the SCD diet made these AMAZING cards to hand to restaurants. She has a few that are laminated which she keeps in her wallet and she has a few dozen that are just printed on card stock which she gives to the server to bring to the kitchen when food is prepared. The unlaminated ones she doesn't need to get back making the process easier because it can go directly to whoever is preparing the food.

I am hoping to make some gluten free/dairy free cards like this for our upcoming trip to Italy--but I need an Italian translation of the following. If anyone is fluent in Italian, please email me. (See link on the right side with gmail address.)

You can make your own card to take with you and customize it for your particular allergies. Sometimes when people see and hear information it is easier than a game of phone tag.

NO - Not Allowed
• Gluten- Wheat, Rye, Barley
(no wheat or white flour)
• Dairy (Milk, Cheese, Cream, Butter)
• Any foods containing the above as an ingredient

YES - Allowed
• Proteins: Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Eggs
• Fruits and Vegetables
• All Oils (Olive, Veg etc.)
• All Herbs and Spices
• Honey, Nuts, Dried Fruits
• Vinegars

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pip's Place: A Gluten Free Bakery in NYC Review

Pip's Place is a new gluten free bakery on the Upper East Side. Sparkling stainless steel, white cake boxes and pink ribbons are a wonderful backdrop for the fresh baked goods served on shiny white trays. The owner, Denise, serves gluten free cakes, cookies and assorted pastries in her bakery on First Avenue between 90th and 91st Street.

The open kitchen allows patrons to watch the bakers in action. It is a fun show, for sure, and allows everyone to vicariously be a part of the bustling bakery. The open kitchen also makes Pip's Place one of the more transparent gluten free eating establishments I have ever been to. As we sampled the cookies and muffins, we watched Denise make rice crispy treats and another baker frost a large, special order cake.

"The cake is divine!" "The frosting is AMAZING!" announced the gluten free tasters I brought with me. We tried the toffee, bars, brownies, raspberry pinwheels, chocolate cake, vanilla cake and cheesecake. The taster's favorites were the toffee bars, raspberry pinwheels and cheesecake. The cheesecake has a crunchy chocolate cookie crust with a traditional layer of cheesecake and homemade heath bars on top.

Our tasters, Emily and Zoe even got Denise's autograph!

Denise, the owner of Pip's Place, with Emily and Zoe--the gluten free tasters.

Pip's has several gluten free items that are also dairy free--two muffins, a chocolate chip cookie and an olive oil bread. She is working on adding more in the future and I am looking forward to trying the gluten free/dairy free cupcakes.

It's wonderful that Pip's is a short walk from our house, but it's worth making the trip if you are anywhere in Manhattan. Pip's Place is going through extensive testing to get certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group--which is reassuring for those with celiac and those who have reactions to traces of gluten.

Pip's Place-The Gluten Free Cakery
1729-31 First Avenue
New York, NY 10128
(212) 360-6400

As always, pros and cons are always part of every review...

PROS: Pip's Place is an immaculate bakery that is completely gluten free! (Babycakes is famous for having gluten free baked goods but they are not a gluten free bakery.) Also amazing is how unbelievably accessible the owner is--Denise even has So Delicious coconut milk for coffee for customers who are dairy free. Another huge plus of Pips is that everything tastes different. So the two gluten free muffins I tried had completely different tastes to them. I have noticed in other bakeries that everything tastes the same. At Pip's everything has a unique, distinct, delicious taste. For sure, the best gluten free bakery in NYC. The packaging is quite spectacular. And they have monthly specials--like Red Velvet Cake!

CONS: The gluten free people I have spoken about Pips have all requested that ingredients be listed so they know the ingredients in each item. A lot of people with celiac have secondary things they need to avoid (like corn or soy.) The staff will inform you what the ingredients are if you request, but I do agree that it might be simpler to have a list of ingredients on front or back of label or a list of ingredients that customers can look at so that the process is more efficient.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Q&A: About SPEAK SpeechNutrients

Q: I saw your post about trying the SPEAK SpeechNutrients, I came across your site while searching reviews on it before buying. I didn’t see anything further past 3/18/2010 about it. Did you try it and if so did you think it was better than fish oil? I currently have my son taking Nordic Naturals. Also, someone posted something in the comments about it causing seizures but it’s not a valid link, is that really true?

A: SPEAK SpeechNutrients has helped a lot of children and is a good supplement for some. Unfortunately, we did not see positive benefits from SPEAK. My son was over agitated on it and did better on regular fish oil. I can only think that he did not need the high levels of vitamin E and vitamin K. Vitamin E can be stimulating in this way for some but for others it is remarkably effective. We have had great success with Nordic Naturals products. Currently, my 11 year old and I take Nordic Naturals EPA Xtra. I take 3 capsules and my 11 year old takes 1 capsule. My 6 year old takes 2 strawberry DHA capsules which are not the child's size but smaller than the EPA Extra.

I think it is worth trying the SPEAK. But, it is good to be working with a nutritionist or doctor who can oversee treatment if possible. Vitamins in high dosages can act very much like drugs and you need to monitor carefully to make sure you see benefits. A good practitioner can help you with dosages and oversee treatment. Or, if you decide to go ahead and try it on your own just watch to monitor reaction to make sure that your child is benefiting from SPEAK.

As far as seizures, there is some information on the SPEAK website about seizures here. While fish oil is something that can be started on your own following the dosages on the bottle--SPEAK is a product that you might want to consult your pediatrician or health care provider about--especially if you are concerned about it triggering seizures. While fish oil is a whole food product, SPEAK is formulated and contains high dosages of vitamin E and K. Because it is not a whole food product it is trickier to use on your own without guidance. Again, if you do try this product on your own monitor progress carefully. Also, you can call the company and get guidance. Many companies that make supplements offer great phone support that is very useful. The company can advise you about dosages and how to increase it and what to watch for when you begin.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Q: What is Soy Lecithin? Is it okay?

Q: What's your thought on soy lecithin ? Do you do it at all or do it with an enzyme? It's in so many things that would otherwise be ok. Do you have a thought there?

A: Soy lecithin is a byproduct of soybean oil production that is used as an emulsifier in many processed foods. So, if you have cocoa with cocoa butter in a candy bar it will keep them together so they don't separate. Because it is used in such trace amounts in products and because it is derived from the oil, most people who are sensitive to soy are okay with soy lecithin. Of course, everyone is different so the fact that most people are okay with it doesn't mean that everyone is okay with it. Some people do react to soy lecithin--but in general it seems okay for people who soy is a secondary intolerance.

We were on a very strict gluten free, dairy free, soy free diet for years but we were actually always able to include soy lecithin without a problem. Digestive enzymes would certainly be helpful as any food that contains soy lecithin is probably a processed food with many components.

I want to emphasize that in general most soy found in processed food is to be avoided especially forms like "soy protein isolate" and soy milk. But, trace amounts of soy lecithin are okay. SOY LECITHIN IS THE ONE FORM OF SOY THAT SEEMS TO BE OKAY FOR MOST WHO ARE SENSITIVE TO GLUTEN, DAIRY and SOY.

I do recommend digestive enzymes with meals for children who are sensitive to these types of proteins, based on our amazing experience with Houston Enzymes Tri Enza, recommendations by top nutritionists and books like "Digestive Enzymes for Autism and Other Neurological Conditions" by Karen Defelice. In the book, they say that some children do better on a wider diet with enzymes than a more restricted diet without enzymes. Enzymes would help the body process soy lecithin but it would also help break down other components in the food so that more nutrients were extracted.