New Jersey Gluten & Allergen Free Expo (Sept. 2013)

Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo Secaucus New Jersey 2013 Food Allergy Allergen Allergy Friendly

Join me @ NJ Gluten & Allergen Free Expo!

Counting down the weeks until the first Gluten & Allergen Free Expo on the East Coast, taking place in Secaucus, New Jersey from September 7-8, 2013. I am so excited that the GFAF Expo will be making it to my side of the country this year.

I am even more excited to have been selected as an Official GFAF Expo Blogger for the event! With the new iPad that my loving husband gifted me for my birthday a few weeks ago, I hope to share some of my favorite finds at the Secaucus Gluten & Allergen Free Expo LIVE via Twitter and Facebook! So be sure to Follow or LIKE Nom Yum & Free so you don’t miss out!!

And I hope all of you on the East Coast will be able to join me in New Jersey at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo! If you’re debating whether it’s too far of a trip, know that I enjoyed the 2012 GFAF Expo in Chicago so much that I am set to drive four plus hours to make it to the 2013 GFAF Expo in New Jersey this year!

Last Year’s Gluten & Allergy Free Expo (Chicago 2012)

I went to my first Gluten & Allergen Free Expo last year in Chicago, a few months after being placed on a nursing mom’s elimination diet due to Baby Girl’s, then, multiple food allergy restrictions. Towing Baby Girl in a baby carrier, I got there expecting a couple dozen booths and a hundred or so attendees. I was not at all prepared for what I was about to walk into – a full hotel hall jam packed with vendors and attendees. I had no idea that there were so many others like me who love someone with food allergies, and I had been even less aware of the number of food allergy friendly options out there – ranging from everything from snacks to beer to even lipstick!

I also had a chance to attend one of the many gluten free, allergy friendly live cooking demonstrations during the Chicago 2012 event. I think that was where I first learned about quinoa (and now I can’t stop using this amazing allergy friendly, protein-packed grain in everything – I mean breakfasts, lunches, cookoutsdinners and desserts)! :) And everyone was so accommodating of my food allergy restrictions. When I shared that I couldn’t eat the pine nuts featured in the main course, the kitchen made me a special nut free plate!

Allergy Friendly Corn Free Gluten Free Dairy Free Wheat Free Allergy Allergen Free Friendly Mexican Taco Salad

Quinoa (discovered at GFAF Expo) in a Healthy Vegan Taco Less Salad

I think the most rewarding part of the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo was realizing that I was not alone in my journey as a mom new to the world of food allergies.  Even though (I am an introvert by nature) I only may have talked to a handful of other parents at the expo, the feeling of camaraderie was there. I remember a mother with her 8-year old daughter standing in line like Baby Girl and me, waiting to taste some allergy friendly baked goods. When the vendor shared her daughter’s long list of multiple food allergies that inspired her creations, the mother next to me (whose daughter made me think of mine in a handful of years) started listing off her daughter’s equally impressive list of food allergies. Overhearing them trade allergies like Kindergartners compare scars was a relief – my daughter and I were surrounded by others who had been there and understood.

This Year’s Gluten & Allergy Free Expo (Secaucus, New Jersey 2013)

I am looking forward to all that the Secaucus Gluten & Allergen Free Expo has to offer this year! Just looking at the list of sponsors, alone, makes my mouth water. Many of my favorites from last year’s Chicago GFAF Expo will be in New Jersey, including sponsors Udi’s, Enjoy Life, and So Delicious. And I cannot wait to also try out new allergy friendly products from the dozens of other companies signed up as sponsors or vendors for this year’s New Jersey Gluten & Allergen Free Expo.

From the class list, it looks like two days’ worth of yummy-sounding gluten free demonstrations also have been scheduled for the Secaucus Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. Fingers crossed that some of the dishes to be prepared might be dairy free and otherwise friendly to those with food allergy restrictions beyond gluten – selfishly, so I have good cause to take a break from my new (trying to cut inches) limited calorie diet! 😉

If you already have registered to attend the 2013 Secaucus, New Jersey Gluten & Allergen Free Expo or plan on doing so soon, please leave a comment below letting me know. I would love to say hi at the GFAF Expo. Or if you live on the East Coast and are still debating whether it’s worth traveling to New Jersey, how about still letting me know so I can try to talk you into it! 😉

And don’t forget to find Nom Yum & Free on Twitter and Facebook for LIVE updates straight from the 2013 Secaucus, New Jersey Gluten & Allergen Free Expo! Hope to see you in September!!

Is your child at risk for a serious undiagnosed food allergy?

Last month, I shared a frightening press release that reported that most pediatricians felt they were not informed enough to identify the most common food allergy in infants: cow’s milk (dairy) allergy. This is a very sensitive topic to me, because, among other allergies, my infant daughter has been diagnosed with a milk allergy. As a mom new to food allergies, I understand that the consequences of not being diagnosed or properly treated for a food allergy can be devastating. Beyond merely causing distress for my child and me, being unprepared to handle a serious allergic reaction could be life-threatening!!

In response to the London press release, which reported that approximately 70% of surveyed pediatricians in the UK felt they are not informed on identifying the delayed type cow’s milk allergy in children, Allergy UK (a national charity in the UK) is urging doctors and parents to educate themselves on cow’s milk (dairy) allergy, the most common food allergy in infants. In an effort to increase awareness, Allergy UK now has produced a video to help educate parents.

Watch Allergy UK’s Educational Video on Cow’s Milk Allergy in Children!

Please share this with every loving caregiver of a child that you know, especially those with infants! And if you are a parent, grandparent, guardian, or other loving caregiver of an infant, please educate yourself on milk allergies (even if not yet diagnosed)! (Feel free to start with my posts that include helpful tips in recognizing symptoms of cow’s milk allergy or symptoms of an anaphlylactic allergic reaction.)

For More Information About Cow’s Milk (Dairy) Allergies in Children:

Thanks, Devin

Serious Infant Allergy Going Undiagnosed – Cow’s Milk

Allergy UK, a national charity in the UK, is urging doctors and parents to educate themselves on the most common food allergy in infants: cow’s milk allergy. This urge for allergy awareness follows a comprehensive new report that shows a widespread lack of awareness and understanding in the UK of cow’s milk allergy, and its symptoms and effects.

London press release, issued today, reports that of the UK parents surveyed, whose children have been diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy, on average had to visit their pediatrician 5 times (with approximately 1 in 5 having to visit 10 times or more) before their child was diagnosed with a cow’s milk allergy.  According to the press release, approximately 70% of pediatricians feel they are not informed on identifying the delayed type cow’s milk allergy in children.

Having my own infant daughter with serious milk allergies, I find this report to be extremely frightening and concerning, because the serious consequences of not being diagnosed and treated for a food allergy can be life-threatening, beyond merely causing distress for the child and parents.

If you’re a parent of an infant please educate yourself on milk allergies (even if not yet diagnosed)!  Please read my recent experience learning about the seriousness of my own daughter’s milk allergies.  This is not a concern to take lightly!

Watch This Educational Piece from Allergy UK on Cow’s Milk Allergy in Infants


Symptoms of Cow’s Milk Allergies To Watch Out For (can be immediate or delayed)

  1. Red itchy rash around baby’s mouth
  2. Swelling in face
  3. Hives (red itchy lumps) on the body
  4. Runny nose
  5. Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e., vomiting, diarrhea, or cramping)
  6. Eczema
  7. Reflux
  8. Colic
  9. Constipation

In most severe reactions, there may be breathing difficulties.

For More Information About Cow’s Milk Allergy:

She Could Have Been My Daughter: Death of 7-Yr Old Inspired EpiPen Bills

Although you were expecting a recipe today, I hope you don’t mind that instead I wanted to share some exciting news for children with food allergies. I will try to post a recipe tomorrow.  (Also revisit this website later this week for other good news.)

VA Legislation for Epinephrine Auto-Injectors in Schools

Last Thursday, April 26, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell signed the “EpiPen bills” into law!

House Bill 1107 and Senate Bill 656 were inspired, in part, by the death of 7-year-old Amarria Johnson, who died at her Virginia elementary school in January 2012 after suffering an allergic reaction during recess from eating a peanut given to her by a friend.  Amarria’s mother had told reporters that she had tried giving the school an EpiPen in case of an emergency, but the school had refused to accept it.

Commonly referred to as the “EpiPen bills,” the legislation requires Virginia school boards to establish policies for keeping EpiPens on hand at every school.  That way a school nurse or other employee can administer an EpiPen to any student thought to be having an anaphylatic reaction.  The Virginia state budget passed last week allocated $200,000 to public schools to buy EpiPens.

My Inspiration

To the many friends and family members who have asked me why I am sharing my recipes, a lot of it has to do with Amarria’s unfortunate story.  Shortly after discovering that my daughter suffers from multiple food allergies, I started hearing reports of a local 7-year old girl who died from eating a peanut.  I couldn’t help but wonder what drove Amarria to eat that peanut.  Did she know it was a peanut?  Was it curiosity?  Had she succumbed to the pressure of friends?  Was it out of the yearn to “fit in” for just a moment?  Might she have believed a little taste couldn’t hurt?  Or was she just certain that the adults around her (e.g., teachers and school nurse) could protect her from harm?  (With my daughter now in daycare, I worry a lot about this last one.) 

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is until you have a child with food allergies that you realize the seriousness of them.  (This is a serious mistake, as a study found that approximately 25% of allergic reactions in schools occur in children who were previously undiagnosed with a food allergy.)  So the answer to what inspired me?  I realized that Amarria’s story could have been my daughter’s story.

My hope is that sharing YUMmy allergy-friendly recipes will provide tasty options to children, while teaching them and others (especially those without food allergies) the seriousness of what having a food allergy means.  (And no, just brushing the cheese off the salad I ordered isn’t good enough.)

I am thankful that Virginia passed the EpiPen bills and that the loss of Amarria’s family was not in vain.  I pray that other states (and DC) pass similar legislation soon.

Help Raise Awareness of the Dangers of Food Allergies

On a related note, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is encouraging similar national legislation.  The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (Senate Bill 1884 and House Bill 3627) encourages states to ensure that “stock” EpiPens are available in all schools and that school staff is trained to administer them.

How YOU Can Take Action:

  1. Download one of FAAN’s sample letters of support for national EpiPen bills, personalize the letters, and send them to your senators and representatives;
  2. Join or donate to FAAN and other organizations dedicated to building awareness to children with food allergies (see “Charities” list);
  3. Consider these fundraising activities during Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 13-19, 2012) to support organizations dedicated to helping children with food allergies; and
  4. Bring attention to the issue of food allergies by showing off in Nom Yum & Free wear (portion of proceeds support organizations dedicated to helping children with food allergies).

Some Related Articles:

CNN Blogs: Experimental Treatment May Help Children with Food Allergies Blogs: Experimental treatment may help food allergies

Food allergies are on the rise in the United States, especially in children.

Some children – like my allergy-stricken infant daughter – are allergic to many foods.  Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know, even with preventive testing, whether a child will have a mild or severe reaction. Health Writer/Producer, Elizabeth Landau, blogged:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University are working on a treatment that may one day allow kids with allergies to safely eat the foods that cause them life-threatening reactions. It’s still in the early stages, but Dr. Robert Wood of Johns Hopkins, who has been on the forefront of food allergy research, estimates the treatment could be brought to the public within six to eight years. . . .

Wood and colleagues found promising results from this small experiment with 30 children ages 6 to 18. . . . Wood presented the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology this weekend.

The results suggested that children who went through a year of sublingual therapy followed by one to two years of oral immunotherapy were less likely to have significant allergic reactions when undergoing the oral immunotherapy. Still, it did not eliminate all symptoms.

For more information, visit:

How YOU Can Take Action NOW:  Consider making a tax-deductible donation to an organization dedicated to helping children with food allergies (see “Charities” link on my homepage).

New Legislation to Bring Attention to Food Allergies in Children

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) is authoring new legislation designed to raise awareness of the dangers that food allergies pose to millions of people.

SCR 67 designates May 13-19, 2012 as Food Allergy Awareness Week in California.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is sponsoring SCR 67.  And according to the organization, as many as 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies.  It is estimated that nearly six million of these people are children under the age of 18.

The Huff resolution states: “According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergy reactions result in more than 300,000 ambulatory care visits each year involving a child under 18 years of age.”

How YOU can take action:

  1. Make a tax-deductible donation to FAAN and other organizations dedicated to helping children with food allergies (see “Charities”)
  2. Bring attention to children with food allergies by showing off in your own Nom Yum & Free wear (portion of proceeds support such organizations)
  3. For more information about SCR 67, visit:

School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act – FAAN

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN™) is working on federal legislation that would encourage states to adopt laws allowing schools to have on hand “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors – meaning epinephrine that is not prescribed specifically to a single student but can be used for any student and staff member in an anaphylactic emergency.

School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act – FAAN.