If you’ve read a good part of this blog you’d know that I have a younger sister known as Chef Flower and she is a student in Chef Froggie’s Gluten Free Culinary School. Well, the culinary school has been on a long break, but Chef Flower has still been learning. We come back to bring you a new post from the school, one where we especially needed Chef Flower’s help for. A product review.
Part of being a student at the culinary school involves not only learning baking stuff, but learning how to write stuff about what you bake and cook and taste. A few months back someone from Enjoy Life Foods contacted me asking if I’d like to try their new Decadent Bars and write a review on them. I told them that sadly, I’m allergic to one of the ingredients in them, but that my sister isn’t and she would be glad to try them. A week or so later I received this package and Chef Flower excitedly brought it to me and asked if she could open it. “Well actually, yes, you can open it because it’s actually for you.” She was more than thrilled and surprised and couldn’t wait to try the bars.
Unfortunately, she was sick at the time, so I didn’t let her try them till her taste buds were working normally again. And then our mom heard about the bars and insisted she wanted to try them as well. So, both tasted them, analyzing them, thinking about how to word the feelings coming from their taste buds, and then writing them up. Things have been crazy around here and I’ve had 1/2 of the text on one computer and the other half on another till today. So, without further introduction, I present you with Chef Flower’s analysis!
It tastes like cherry pie with cinnamon. Though, after you let it sit in your mouth, you feel a grainy texture, kind of what gluten free pies taste like. [Chef Froggie’s note: not all gluten free pies taste like this… just she hasn’t had the really, really amazing crusts apparently… guess I’d better work on that!] Not does it just taste like cherry pie, but it smells like cherry pie! It does taste good but it’s not my favorite.
I am not that fond of chocolate [Chef Froggie’s note: that was till a week after she wrote this, now she has fallen in love with chocolate unexpectedly], but this chocolate sunbutter bar is the best chocolate bar I have ever had! With the taste of sunbutter I also am not fond of peanut butter or sunbutter, but in this case, its delicious! With a nice and crispy taste!
Even though I am not fond of chocolate, I love S’mores. And even more, what is even better is Enjoy Life S’more bars. I like the chocolate taste with the crunchy graham cracker taste, though I don’t taste the marshmallow that much. I compared this to the Quaker brand that had artificial ingredients in it. I did not like it as much as the Enjoy Life ones. This chocolate marshmallow S’more bar is sooo good!
Cinnamon bun bar:
Very good, but it does not taste like a cinnamon bun. It tastes more like a cranberry bar. The texture is very different. This bar is good, but not as good as the S’more bar!
Now, remember our mom insisted she wanted in on the action. My mom doesn’t have any food allergies (nor does my sister), so they came at it from the view of some used to “regular” food.
Overall, very good. And I don’t usually like cherry deserts. But the balance of ingredients is very good. When you start eating you can tell the cinnamon. Though when you finish eating there’s something like a grainy/powdery texture. But I would definitely go for more.
I don’t like it at all, I can’t explain it, but it might be that it seems too dense for my liking.
I like the texture. I like the taste. I like the color. It’s perfect.
Very good texture. Very good taste. Overall very good product.
In the end, Enjoy Life Foods, I think your ELFs did a good job and really made some amazing stuff!
No, I don’t mean a soup to go with a sandwich. I mean a soup made out of a sandwich. And by that I don’t mean a soup with chunks of sandwich in it, I mean a creamy, really delicious, soup made entirely from a sandwich. The best part? It not only tastes like a sandwich but it’s ready in minutes.
Due to the fact my esophagus has taken offense for some reason at solid food, I’ve been on a non-solid food diet for 8 weeks. Actually, today is day one of week 9. It does drive me crazy because I miss solids. I can’t go pick up a safe snack or treat at whole foods and eat it on the way home. I have to wait till I get home, and throw it through the blender first. There’s no more snacking as I cook an MC safe dinner. And, menus have changed. Some things I just don’t want to eat to be quite honest.
When I first started throwing things in the blender 2 months ago, I quickly learned that not everything tastes good pulverized together. Yes, I LOVE quinoa, but, I do not like the taste of it with other things in the blender. You know how some adults will tell picky eaters, “why do you have to separate everything when you eat it? It all gets mixed together in the stomach!” Well, here’s the answer:
The stomach doesn’t have taste buds!!
One dish may taste great together, even mixed together, but when you go to throw it in the blender, it really doesn’t taste good. So, I’ve set out to maintain some degree of sanity in the whole not-allowed-to-eat-solid-food thing over the last 8 weeks and I’ve been doing some kinda crazy experimenting here and there and discovered that some of my favorite foods in solid form really do taste really good as a creamy puréed soup! When I suggested some of them to my best friends they both looked at me like I was crazy. But I was desperate for some variety in what I was eating!
The first try was pizza. It was actually really good!!! Then I tried cinnamon buns with ice cream floating on top. That was really good. Brownie soup with ice cream (or without) was really great too. Then I took bacon, potato, Daiya cheese and some coconut milk. It. Was. Amazing. At another time I’ll post the recipe for cream of bacon soup. I also made chocolate cereal soup. That was really good and nice and creamy. But today, the star of the show would be my favorite.
Sandwich soup. Yup. It’s really simple.
You can prepare the sandwich like a regular looking sandwich like this, but it is totally NOT necessary. I usually just stick the stuff straight into my vitamix.
1. Tear/cut up the sandwich material and toss it in your blender.
3. Turn blender on low and slowly increase the speed till you get to the very highest speed. Leave it on high for a minute or two.
4. Pour, serve & enjoy.
Now, a few notes. I’m sure you all are wondering what it tastes like. Really, it tastes like a sandwich! I’m totally serious!!
However, unless you want to make tomato soup (which is really good too), don’t put tomato with the sandwich. The tomato has a tendency to overpower everything else when thrown in the blender so if you want to taste everything else, leave it out.
Also, I haven’t tried mustard, pickles and the like. But, I bet they’d make a good addition!
And, lastly, those of you who know me know I love frogs and know about Super Froggie and the Frogland gang (kid frogs with food allergies (and without) who help each other out and learn from each other). I love working on stuff related to them as a way to encourage others. But a friend decided to ask for a drawing of Super Froggie, with his cape and all (yes, including his belt and epipens!) for some secret project she was working on to encourage and cheer ME up as it’s been rough with not being allowed solid food for so long! And in the mail yesterday came THE most AWESOME glass I have ever seen which she had custom ordered from Starr Parnell. (It looks kinda not straight but that’s due to the angle I took the picture at. In real life it’s perfect). It was a complete surprise. But it was perfect! There is no way I can’t help it but smile when I drink out of this glass, even when I’m really not feeling great.
“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, over the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
It’s the last part of the last line in the US national anthem. But what does the national anthem have to do with food allergies? Looks like it’s time for a short history lesson.
Back during the war of 1812, in 1814, the British came and burned Washington DC. Then, they dropped off soldiers at North point and then sent their cannon ships up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore. De to the earthworks the citizens of Baltimore had dug, the soldiers on land couldn’t get to Baltimore without help from the Navy, but, the Royal Navy couldn’t get into Baltimore without first passing by Fort McHenry. On September 13th the ships stopped a certain distance from the fort and started the bombardment. Just before all this, a lawyer (Francis Scott Key) sailed toward the ships in a boat with a white flag to discuss the release of a prisoner of war. The release was accepted, but neither Key nor the prisoner released were not allowed to leave the ships till after the battle. It was from this location that Key watched the fort that protected his city be bombarded.
All day and all through the night, the Royal Navy sent bombshells at the fort as well as rockets (these rockets gave off red light, hence the line in the song “rocket’s red glare”). The fort’s cannon could not fire back as well. They were basically at the mercy of the British bombing. They tried to fire back as best as they possibly could, but they didn’t manage to take out the Royal Navy. Still, they were brave. They stood their ground. And they never gave up, even though a storm soaked them all night long as the bombardment continued.
Finally, in the morning, the Royal Navy stopped firing and there was silence. The air was covered in smoke that was hard to see through. As Key looked at the fort in the early light of dawn through the smoke from the cannon, he wondered what flag he would see. It was the American flag. And it wasn’t just a little flag, the troops at the fort raised up the large flag (which you can now see in the Smithsonian), and it was clear that the victory was won by the troops at Fort McHenry. The British sailed away, and the US was spared from the Royal Army burning Baltimore and working their way up North through the rest of the states. Key, penned a long poem, which later got put to music, and grew in popularity, and then officially became our National Anthem.
Now, back to how this relates to food allergies. I’ve grown up singing it. But the part at the end that always seems to stick out is how America is the “land of the free”, so I never really thought much about the next few words, “and the home of the brave.”
It took incredible bravery to fight in that battle when it seemed hopeless. The US’ cannon was no match for the Royal Navy’s cannon and rockets. But they didn’t give up. And they kept going despite the odds being against them. The pouring rain and storm. The smoke filled sky. Having less ammunition than the Royal Navy. Having less experience. Being outnumbered. But still, they held their ground, and they stood firm. And their bravery is now of what we sing in our anthem.
Those with food allergies understand well this feeling. Sometimes it seems like they are doing everything they can do, and they are still overwhelmed, bombarded with feelings of fear, doubt, “what ifs”, of possible reactions and more. Staying alive and staying sane requires bravery. But for them, giving up is just not an option. For me, despite having been through so much, having nearly not made it several times, giving up is not an option. I’ll keep fighting till the day they find the cure.
America is not remembered and defined by all the battles fought and every challenge and obstacle faced (if you study history there are a LOT of battles that have occurred since the American Revolution), but by the fact that while not every individual battle was won, they never gave up. It is their courage and bravery that is remembered and honored.
And, like that, so are those with food allergies more than every food they can’t eat, more than every reaction they’ve had, more than every challenge they’ve faced, but they are heroes because they never give up, they have courage, hope and bravery.
In math, ‘i’ is the square root of -1. It is an imaginary number. Remember, if you multiply two negative numbers together, the end result is positive. Same happens when you multiply two positive numbers together. When you have a square root, you have to multiply it by itself in order to get the perfect square and remove the annoying square root sign and get a whole number. Well, here is the problem. There is just no way that you can multiply two positive numbers to result in a negative number. And you can’t do that with two negative numbers either. This is why the square root of -1 is an imaginary number.
It doesn’t matter what insanely high power you raise ‘i’ to. You can raise it to the largest number you can fit on your piece of paper. But in the end, you’ll just end up with one of four answers: i (what you started with), -1, -i (the negative of what you started with), or 1. Which really, is a pretty small number, especially if you compare it to the power you had raised ‘i’ to.
Imaginary powers and fears may seem huge and overpowering and overwhelming. But often in the end, when you simplify and reduce it to more common terms, you realize it’s actually not as scary as it had seemed in your imagination.
Living with food allergies can be scary. And that’s normal. But it is easy to let the fears get multiplied exponentially and let your life be controlled by fear of the ‘what ifs’ and the unknowns. Then there is the opposite extreme of throwing caution to the wind and thinking you are invincible. Neither of these are good places to be. But finding a healthy balance in the middle is hard.
But when things see too scary or something, think more deeply about it and reason through it and you’ll probably notice that the situation which had previously seemed like a huge storm and mountain looming ahead isn’t quite as scary. Simplify the math equation into something that is a lot easier to understand and not as scary.
There are situations where it is just not safe to do something or go somewhere. But often if you take the right precautions and keep your epinephrine auto-injector with you, keep your wits about you, make sure others know if you’re having a reaction and take quick action if you do have a reaction, you don’t have to live in a bubble all. the. time. And living in a bubble can foster even more exponentially increasing fears. For some people, it just isn’t safe for them to go outside of the house. But for the majority of people, they don’t need to stay hidden away kept away from every possible trace of their allergens. So, talk with your allergist if you have concerns about being super sensitive to allergens. But fear doesn’t have to rule your life.
Three years ago I had just finished my freshman year. On campus. And I had loved it. Uh, yes, I had 5 ER trips over the two semesters. Once because I didn’t know that people actually mop stairs and I didn’t see the yellow sign that said “slippery when wet” and fell down a flight of stairs and missed 2 1/2 days of classes. And the 4 others were due to asthma and allergies. Over the first summer break, I was hopeful that I could go back there in the fall. But it became clear that wasn’t going to happen. I begged. My parents vetoed. And in the end I was thankful for their veto. As much as I loved the school academically, it didn’t work out great at all when it came to dealing with the dining hall and dean of students regarding my dairy allergy. In fact, it was pretty much a nightmare.
So, I switched all my classes over the summer to still taking them with the same school, but all online as I transitioned to applying to Liberty University’s online program (which is awesome btw!). I changed all my classes to different classes that i could take online. All except for one that was at the beginning of the semester. I can’t even remember the name of the class. But I’ll never forget the experience. We drove for hours and hours out to Colorado Springs for a Deaf convention. I loved every single minute of that trip. I was surrounded by ASL, and there were only a few people there who didn’t really know ASL, so I could sign to pretty much everyone. And I learned a ton on that trip. When we got back to campus, I was sad that I was leaving the next day to fly back home, but the prof asked me to come to the ASL 3 class I would have been in had I remained on campus that semester. It felt a bit awkard at first, but I sat off to the side downloading pictures to my prof’s computer as I watched her teaching class and joined in at times.
She handed a foam squishy ball to the two students in the class then handed one to me. I was speechless. And thrilled. And I watched as she explained in American Sign Language the meaning behind the ball that to most people would mean summer fun with water games.
This isn’t the exact word for word way she explained it (its been 3 years!) but the same general idea. She explained that we had all been through 2 semesters of intense ASL classes with class 4 hours a week and that’s not counting our own practice time and other events. Now, we were veterans in a way. We had survived year one. And now there were new students coming in for their first year. During our first year, we had soaked in information and signs and facts and learned and learned till our brains were overflowing as we couldn’t hold it all in. Now, it was our turn to take the stuff we had learned and squeeze it out and help the new students and teach them the things we had learned.
In other words, our brains are the sponge ball. We had soaked up information. Now it was time to squeeze it out to help others.
But it doesn’t end there. Because as we are squeezing that ball out, we still kept continuing to learn, and thus refilling the sponge with water to keep teaching and helping others.
Because when you think of it, if you learn a bunch of stuff, but don’t use that to teach others and help others, what good does it do to keep it all to yourself??? And, if you only learn a little, you can only help others a little. But when you keep learning, you expand and what you’re able to do just grows by leaps and bounds.
And, really, that’s the fundamental reason I started this blog. I’ve learned a lot through life experiences. And I want to help others out with what I’ve learned. I’m not a doctor. I’m not an expert. I’m not a parent or relative of someone with food allergies. I am someone with food allergies. I’m only 22. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do little things to help change the world!
So how are you going to take what you’ve soaked up and use it to squeeze water into someone else’s life to help them out or teach them something you’ve learned?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my short life so far. But, like my aunt and Mrs.Frizzle say, that’s how you learn. Some mistakes have been not funny at all, others quite funny, and others have been funny only after the fact. And this is one mistake I’ll never make again and I’ll always chuckle at when I remember though at first I didn’t know what I should do.
Two or so years ago I had traveled to help some friends put on their annual fair for Deaf kids and their families. I love getting to help with it, it’s so much fun to be surrounded by ASL everywhere, especially seeing kids using it as their first language. But back to the story.
A few weeks before I had realized that my shampoo had gluten in it, so I changed it to one that didn’t. And boy am I glad I did! Not only is it a good idea to not be putting gluten on the skin of a celiac, but sometimes you can make other mistakes. The night before the fair, after we had finished setting it up, everyone went out to eat. I had planed ahead and ate dinner before going, but when we got to Skyline I ended up having a conversation with the waiter and he was amazing and after much deliberation, we figured out that the fries were one of the things that were safe for me. It was amazing to have a plate of fries from a restaurant and be able to eat it and not have a reaction.
Now, I also had a sinus infection and was on antibiotics, and due to inactive ingredients(lactose), I couldn’t have the tablets, only the icky liquid. But, I had discovered that by putting jelly or honey in the liquid, it made it taste less nasty. So, before going on the trip I poured honey into one bottle for this purpose. I also had poured shampoo into another bottle, which was exactly the same size and shape. Both were tinted with the same colors too. Realizing I could get them mixed up, I took a sharpie and labeled them.
When we got back from the restaurant, I was itchy due to the tree pollen and the benadryl wearing off. So, I was in a hurry to first off take the antibiotic as well as take some ore benadryl. I measured out the antibiotic and then poured the honey into it, slightly puzzled why it seemed a bit different than I remembered honey being. More puzzling was why it tasted so horrible.
All of a sudden, I realized I had poured the shampoo into the antibiotic, not the honey!! OOPS!! My friend and I were both freaking out about what to do. She pulled a book off her shelves and found that shampoo was NOT on the “induce vomiting list”. Still rather concerned especially that I felt like I was going to throw up, she called poison control. All turned out ok, thankfully the stomach ache only lasted 15-20 minutes and after that all I was left with was a really soapy taste in my throat. And my throat was rather dry for a day or so. So I kept munching on food to try to get it to go away (chocolate chips worked the best).
Thankfully there was no gluten in my shampoo, otherwise I’d have felt much much worse and for much longer too!
So from that I learned several things.
1. My friend and I, though both conversationally fluent in ASL hadn’t a clue what the sign was for shampoo. Both quite curious, she hunted it down in one of her ASL dictionaries and it’s a sign neither of us will ever forget.
2. Make sure your shampoo doesn’t have your allergens in it, and if you have celiac, make sure there’s no gluten!
3. Label things a whole lot better and before pouring something into anything when you’re traveling, double check to make sure you are pouring what you think you are!
I’ll never forget the look of shock on the face of the lady I was helping the following morning when I explained why I was munching on chocolate chips every 5-10 minutes! And while at first my friend and I were horrified about what happened, we later ended up laughing really hard about the whole event. It’s something I’ll never forget!