Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mashed Potato Warning!

Thank you for the tip, S. Stonebridge.
Some Idahoan mashed potatoes contain coconut oil.  Make sure to read all ingredients on all packaged food!
For example, the "buttery golden selects" seem to be sharing secrets on making buttery flavor from our old nemesis, movie theater popcorn!


Idaho® potatoes (russet and gold varieties), partially hydrogenated oil (contains one or more of the following: soybean, cottonseed, sunflower), corn syrup solids, salt, maltodextrin, coconut oil, sugar, nonfat dry milk, whey powder, sodium caseinate, butter powder [butter (sweet cream, salt, annatto color), nonfat milk solids, sodium caseinate and disodium phosphate], mono and diglycerides, calcium stearoyl lactylate, natural and artificial flavor, spice, sodium acid pyrophosphate (preserve freshness), sodium bisulfite (preserve freshness), dipotassium phosphate, soy lecithin, artificial color, citric acid, mixed tocopherols (preserve freshness) and less than 2.0% silicon dioxide added as an anti-caking agent.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Morrocco Method Shampoo and Conditioner

Our friends at Morrocco Method sent me a sample of their Chi Essence Shampoo and Pearl Essence Creme Rinse to try out and review honestly.  In the end, I liked them both in some ways. . . but they are not mainstream and definitely not what I am used to.  But, some are COCONUT FREE.

The Shampoo looks kind of like a mud masque, and the cream rinse like lotion.
The Morrocco Method website has special instructions about shampooing and de-toxing your hair, which I skimmed over before using the products.  I used them together, and separately, and tried them a few times.

First, the SHAMPOO!  It is a little bit gritty, and it doesn't lather.  You have to use your fingers like a superstar salon shampooer to work it around your scalp.  Then rinse, and do it again.  Once the water gets in there with the shampoo, it works pretty well.  It smells mildly eucalyptus-like, but it doesn't have any smell at all after it rinses out. Once my hair dried the first time I used it, it seemed matted down.  It was greasy, matted, and static-y all at the same time.  It was yucky- like my hair had just soaked it all up and wasn't letting any of it go. But, my scalp was ironically totally clean. My scalp was feeling better than ever.  It didn't have that gross scalp build up that all the other shampoos leave behind. It was my actual hair that was nasty.   THEN, the second time I used it, it was much better.  By the FOURTH time I used it about 10 days later,  my hair was amazing.  A MAZ ING.  I never thought I would have a trial of faith by shampoo, but in the end, this one came through.  In theory, what happened was my hair going through detoxification. After my hair reached some sort of equilibrium, it was super happy, swingy, and healthy without being the least bit weighed down or greasy.  It also seems thicker, not all stripped out anymore.
This is about 10 hours after washing (without the conditioner), no styling products, no blow dry.
Second, the CREAM RINSE.  I used about a nickel-sized amount because I have long, fine hair and usually need quite a bit of conditioning.  It did add a healthy amount of weight to my hair and made it take a little longer to dry, but it looked like sparkly mermaid hair.  Mermaid hair was actually my exact thought.  Then, I noticed that there is actually a mermaid on the bottle. Duh.  When you squirt the conditioner out of the bottle and initially smell it, it has the distinct scent of shea butter - which I would describe as a sunscreen-type smell.  However, the craziest thing happens when you rub it in your hair.  It turns into a strong, overpowering sandalwood incense smell (I think it's probably actually cedarwood since that is what is listed in the ingredients).  Definitely NOT my favorite smell.  It was like I had a cone of burning incense instead of a head.  I am not going to scientifically blame it for giving me a headache every time I used it, but it probably did.  My husband started actually teasing me about how strong it smelled even two days after using it.  But, if you like the smell, it is a very luscious conditioner.

They have sample sizes if you want to try them out for a week or two before making a plunge on a whole bottle.  I think I'll write to Santa to see if he'll leave some more of the shampoo in my stocking!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Coconut-free Thanksgiving

Ahhh, Thanksgiving!

I am sooo domestic.

The time when those of us with food allergies are forced to have those special conversations with our relatives about what they put in their mysterious whippy looking desserts.

I find that it works best when we say, "Oh, that looks yummy!  What did you put in it?"
Then, if there is coconut in it, just don't eat it.  Don't make loved ones feel bad about their recipes or make them feel like they were inconsiderate for not thinking about your "special needs."  I'm sure there will be plenty of other stuff to eat.

Family is more important than food.

Honestly. . .  no one really notices who eats what at Thanksgiving.  Or, how much they eat.  Truly.  Most of us are too busy chasing the toddlers around and around and making sure the gravy doesn't run out.

But, I thought I'd just give a friendly reminder that Cool Whip is off limits on that gorgeous piece of pie.  They also make a non-dairy squirt whipped cream, too, so keep your eye on the ingredients of all whippy stuff.

If anyone has dairy allergies among family and friends, be very aware that the non-dairy milk of choice lately seems to be coconut milk.  My brother's family puts it in everything-- so pay attention to who made the mashed potatoes- my lactose intolerant brother is usually the master of mashed potatoes. . . made with coconut milk!  However, with punch in the arm and a little reminder, he will forgo the coconut milk as I diligently separate out cheese-free portions of everything I make for him.  For my sister, I leave out the eggs she is allergic to; my mom can't have shellfish; and no onions for my father in-law.  Food is love, but food can kill.  So, does that mean love can kill?  Hopefully not this year.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

All About Rashes

Our skin can be such a mysterious thing and sometimes it acts as a flag to warn us about what is going on inside.  Not all rashes are from allergies. 
Click here to read an article about 10 Causes of Rashes from

Monday, May 14, 2012

Greener Clean Sponges are safe!

I was kind of hesitant to use the new Scotchbrite sponges for fear that they were made with coconut fibers, but no worries, they don't have any coconut in them. Phew!
Here is the note I got when I wrote to them:

Thank you for your inquiry on the Scotch-Brite(TM) Greener Clean Scrub Sponges.

The Natural Fiber non-Scratch Scrub Sponge scouring side is made of 50% agave plant and 50% polyester.  The sponge is made of 23% recycled office paper and 77% cellulose from wood pulp.  The product does not contain any coconut fibers or pulp from any coconut trees.


Shawn O.
3M Home Care Division

Saturday, May 12, 2012

All kinds of things made from coconut! AAGH!

Karen at "Avoiding Allergens" sent me links to a list of a bunch of non-food items made from coconut on her Chemurgy and Allergen Blog posts.

 Non Food Items that Contain Coconuts
Cleaning Products Made From Coconuts

 Insect Repelants Containing Coconuts

Laundry Detergent Made From Coconuts

Air Filters Made From Coconuts

Instruments That Have Coconuts in Them

Candles made From Coconuts

Soap Dishes Made From Coconuts

Furniture Made From Coconuts

Monday, May 7, 2012

How To Eat at Baskin Robbins and live

I thought I'd give you my dialogue for surviving going to ice cream with the kids and actually eating something.  I have done this about four times at three different scoop shops and it works GREAT and I've never had a problem at all.  You can read the allergens right on the counter, or go online and read all ingredients before you go in.  My husband sometimes calls them to make sure they have my favorite flavors that I can eat before we go in (we can always go to a self serve yogurt place instead).

B&R EMPLOYEE:  What can I get for you?

ME:  I'll have chocolate fudge in a cup.  But, I'm allergic to lots of stuff besides chocolate fudge.  So, it would be really awesome if you could help me out so I don't have an allergic reaction.  It's really easy, don't worry.  If you could first wash off the scoop for me using the sink instead of the bucket.  Then scoop a scoop in an area that has never been scooped and put that in a cup for my son.  Then, scoop a second scoop from the exact same spot and put it in a cup for me.  That would be so perfect. I would love that.

B&R EMPLOYEE: Sure, no problem. 

------2 minutes later------------- (I watch him/ her rinse the scoop under the faucet and do 2 scoops in a row)

B&R EMPLOYEE: Okay, this scoop is for your son, this one is for you!  ( big smile)

ME: You are the best ever.  (leaving tip in tip jar)


If you don't have a kid, you can ask them to scoop a scoop and set it aside to get down to the virgin ice cream level.

We are not alone!

Hello everyone!  I just moved to another state where I have to figure out what restaurants are safe to eat at. I had to explain to all the new people I meet why I am having nothing but ice water (LOVE that yummy ice water) at last night's dessert party my family was invited to.    I was so happy to get a little note from a blog reader named Whitney.  Her first coconut allergy was movie theater popcorn, just like me (and mine was when I was about 26 years old), years later I started finding out more things I'm allergic to.  We are like twins born apart!  LOL!   It reminded me that none of us are alone. No matter how many things we end up being allergic to, we can always be grateful for the things we are not allergic to.  For example, I can still eat chocolate.  Sure, it has to be pure chocolate not processed on the same equipment as anything I'm allergic to, but I still have that and many other foods left to eat.  This is just one example of the many sweet letters all of you send to me, so thanks, readers, we're all in this together.  I just wish I had more answers about the perfect shampoo for all of you. Oh, and I can't even begin to talk about makeup. . . last time I experimented with mascara it felt like my eyelids were being peeled back over the top of my head.  In any case, you'll like hearing from Whitney:

Dear Becky,
My name is Whitney and I am allergic to a lot of foods.  And as of Easter this year- I can add coconut/coconut oil to my list.  I went to the movies and had movie popcorn (for probably the first time in a very, very long time) and my tongue swelled up so badly that it was impossible for me to speak without being in a huge amount of pain.  My tongue also turned really white and looked almost like blisters on the side.  I had no idea what was going on- other than that I needed benadryl (and my mom!) right away.  I knew that something was wrong just because of the other allergies that I've developed in the past 7 years.  (I later called the theatre to see what the popcorn was made in to confirm the allergy- I would have never thought!!!).  I am turning 27 pretty soon, and when I was a sophomore in college I became allergic to nuts. One day I could eat them, one day I could not.  I was to avoid all nuts from that moment on.  I am always developing new allergies now... sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, all nuts, some raw fruits and vegetables.  I had always avoided coconut in the past because I wasn't sure if I was allergic or not.  But now I know for sure that I am.  Even last week, I picked up some veggie burgers at the store, cooked one, took one bite, realized that I hadn't checked the back of the box for ingredients.  Within a few moments my mouth was tingly and I had to take a benadryl... the ingredient?  Coconut oil!! 
Last week I started my research on this new allergy that I have, and came across your blog.  I wanted to say thank you, because I learned a lot about new foods to stay away from (cool!) and that I am not alone with this allergy.  I have days where it doesn't bother me (my allergies in general), and others where I just break down in a "why me" kind of fashion.  I have to be thankful that I am still able to eat eggs, wheat, dairy, gluten- which so many others are not able to.  Your blog was a breath of fresh air, and I wanted you to know how much it meant to me to see something written about some of the issues that I am constantly learning about. 
All the best, and thank you, 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thought provoking. . .

I don't know if any of you are NPR lovers like we are here, but this prologue to last week's This American Life actually made me kind of chuckle and feel a little bit better about my allergies. Go ahead and listen if you have the time. It's about people who eat what they are allergic to even though they know they shouldn't.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Coconut vinegar? Am I allergic to that?

Here is an interesting secret ingredient in some baked goods: Coconut vinegar.
What a weird concept. Take some coconut water and make vinegar out of it. Now, I'm not an expert on vinegar, but this stuff is not distilled, so it has to contain some sort of coconut-ness or else why would people bother choosing it over other types of vinegar?
Supposedly, like all these other coconut ingredients, it contains no proteins so you technically can't be allergic to it.
So what did I do? I really wanted to try some of these gluten free hamburger buns made by a San Antonio bakery called the "Little Aussie." The problem was, they had coconut vinegar as practically the last ingredient. So, by the time I ate it with the yummiest, biggest bison burger in the world at a restaurant called "The Cove", there was very little coconut I was actually eating.

The good news is, not only did I live, but I had no reaction whatsoever. No mouth itching, no hives, no face swelling. So. . . I am a human guinea pig I guess, and this stuff might possibly be harmless to the coconut allergic crowd, at least in tiny amounts.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Am I going to have an allergic reaction to this shampoo?"

I know this might sound obvious to some of you, but you don't have to wash your whole body or head in a new product just to try it out. That could be really ITCHY and maybe even dangerous! Actually, PLEASE don't buy a brand new shampoo that you have never tried before and jump in the shower and scrub your whole head with it and let it get all over you without doing a simple little test first.

Take your new shampoo, and put a small dime-sized portion of it on your inner forearm. Rub it in with a Q-tip and leave it there without washing it off for 15 minutes. If it starts itching or burning before the 15 minutes is up, wash it off and put on some hydrocortizone or benadryl cream!! You are allergic to it and can now feel free to return the bottle to the store. If it doesn't bother you at all, you can feel pretty confident that the shampoo probably won't mess you up. That is, unless you have sores on your head or scratches. . . or get it in your eyes or mouth, that is a different case because your healthy skin can only absorb so much.

Also, some allergies are based on the quantity used. But the point is. . . start SMALL and don't have a huge allergic reaction blow up all over your body if you are trying new things.

Or, you can ask your allergist to skin test you in his/ her office with a new product. Just thought I'd state the obvious here because sometimes we need to be reminded of the basics of being an allergic person.