Monday, November 10, 2014

Homework BEFORE the Holidays- avoiding ANAPHYLAXIS

Thanksgiving and Christmas are often the allergic person's most feared social events of the year. Unless you make everything yourself, you really never know how allergy- safe holiday food is.

In past years, I've discussed Surviving the Holidays with a Coconut Allergy.  But, I mainly focused on which coconutty foods to avoid.  This year, I want you to give yourself the gift of enlisting your family or friends in becoming your allergy advocate.  

Here is how you can train others to make your life less lame during social meals:

First, show your family or friends this interactive guide on Healthline:

This guide will help them know what life threatening symptoms could possibly be caused by your allergy.  

Second, dig out your PRACTICE EPI PEN and all of your other meds (Benadryl, Steroids, etc). And show them how to save your life if it ever happens to you.

Next, tell them how NOT FUN it is for you to always have to be the one defending yourself against potential allergens in food.  Give them lists of foods you are allergic to on paper, or keep a list on your iPhone that you can text them. 

Finally, when it's time to eat, put THEM to work.  It will now be their responsibility to make sure you easily find safe food.  Ideally, your loved ones should come up to you at the beginning of a shared meal or party, point out what they brought to eat,  and tell you whether or not it is something that you can safely eat.  Remind them that it's totally fine if they bring something you can't eat, as long as you know you can't eat it.

The icing on the cake comes when you go out to eat and your companions get the allergy menu for you, they remind the server of how serious your allergies are, or they call the restaurant ahead of time to make sure the chef can prepare something you can eat.  

Allergies are rough during the holidays.  Hopefully, once you enlist and train others who are willing to go to bat for you, it can be less lame.  Friends who stick up for friends with allergies are showing so much needed love during a holiday; and that is a gift money can't buy. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Coconut free soap fan mail from Melissa

Thank you again for your note, Melissa!  With her permission, I will share her email since it is pretty much how we all feel about slimy alternative soap (see below):

I wanted to thank you for your blog at  My husband has a coconut allergy, which seems to be somewhat uncommon as he’s not allergic to any other kind of nuts, only coconut.  His throat will swell if he eats whole coconut, he will get sick to his stomach if he eats movie theater popcorn that’s popped in coconut oil, his skin will break out on contact if he uses shampoos or other products that contain coconut oil.

I’ve gotten away from using most commercial or non-organic cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, and soaps.  If my local health food store won’t carry it, I don’t want it on my skin.  My biggest stumbling block has been bar soap.  The vast majority contain coconut oil, because of its moisturizing properties and the thick, rich lather it creates.  My only alternative has been castille/olive oil soap, but my husband doesn’t like it because it’s ‘slimy’.

I’ve finally found a solution, and that’s soap made by One With Nature ( ).  I use the lemon sage and love it!  It has an amazing scent and is husband approved.  Much better than the ‘slimy’ Kiss My Face olive oil soap I was using before.

Just to be sure before I purchased the soap, I contacted the company to be sure that they were coconut free.  They confirmed that the formula for all their soaps (except for ‘Coconut Lime’) did not contain coconut.  Most use palm oil, and some also contain argan oil, but no coconut.  You can see the response below.

Hope this helps!



Good Morning Melissa, 


Our Bar soap products (4oz and 7oz size ) are both made in Jordan and then

shipped to the United States.  Our lotion, Hand Washes and Body Washes are

made in the United States with Dead Sea Salt brought in from Jordan.  The

same can be said for our Dead Sea mineral Bath Salts. 


We do have a line of our products that is called Coconut Lime.  As you are

aware, we recommend you to not use this line. 


We used to have a bar soap called Coconut Milk but this was discontinued 


All of our other bar soaps SHOULD be Coconut Free.  There SHOULD not be

cross-contamination.  But we do not guarantee the production line in the



We recommend that you test a small area on your body to double check for any

allergies that some people have to natural fragrances. 


If there is a particular scent which you prefer, I can provide the

ingredients list to you. 


If you would like more in depth information on the ingredients used, One

With Nature utilizes the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients

(INCI) I have provided the link for your reference.



Thank you for your inquiry. 


Stacie Swarner

One With Nature

Director of Business Operations 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to Substitute Out the Coconut in Recipes

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is the amount of coconut oil showing up in recipes.  I often joke with people that I totally wouldn't mind being a vegan, but I can't, because I'm allergic to coconut. Seriously, it's in everything these days because it's been marketed as the newest "healthy" fat.

I would like to provide some reassuring yin to the yang for all of us who are longingly wishing we could march along in the coconut oil parade.  I cook pretty much everything from the periodic table because of my allergies, so, not to brag, but my time in the kitchen has taught me many things about making good food that doesn't taste at all tropical.

  • Virtually ALL oils contain less saturated fat than coconut oil.  It's considered a SOLID fat even though it is liquid at room temperature.
  • One tablespoon has 11.8 g of saturated fat, .8g monounsaturated fat, and .2 grams of polyunsaturated fat.  It has only trace amounts of nutrients.  It also has 117 calories.  Genuine butter has 102 calories, and 7g of saturated fat, .4 polyunsaturated, 3g of monounsaturated, and .5 g of trans fat. 
  • Coconut oil has a neutral, not beneficial effect on cholesterol.  It raises both good and bad cholesterol.
Now that we are less sad that we are allergic to it, what do we do with it in recipes that we want to try?  Well, it depends entirely on the recipe!  
  • Coconut Oil-  substitute butter, shortening, or other vegetable, canola, etc oils.
  • Coconut Milk- substitute whole milk, or non-dairy milks (paying attention to the flavor of the milk)
  • Shredded coconut- this one really depends on what you are making!  For example, if you want to alter the frosting on a german chocolate cake, just add extra nuts to the frosting instead (try slivered almonds), OR sunflower seeds, dried shredded fruit (like thinly sliced apricots), or rolled oats.
  • Coconut flour- regular wheat flour, or a combination of gluten free flours (let me know if you need help with this because you'll need to keep it high in protein and fiber, so adding flax seed and soy flour will help any rice flour mix)
For stand alone cake forms, look for a pound cake type recipe with real butter. 

When subbing coconut oil in baked goods, look at the end result and the amount of fat in the finished product, for example:
MOST FAT= like brownies  - use butter or margarine
HIGH FAT= like cookies or biscuits- use less butter or margarine
MODERATE FAT= like muffins - use oil
LOWER FAT= cakelike - use oil or cream
NON FAT= like cardboard if you leave it out

Usually, you can make baked goods hold together and have a slightly more cakelike texture if you substitute applesauce.

In baked goods, depending on the item, you can use melted butter, shortening, cream, yogurt, applesauce, milk, or milk substitutes.  It all depends on what you are making and how much fat you want to eat.  The end texture will be more like cake as you remove the saturated fats.  

What is killing me recently is the amount of recipes that call for butter AND coconut oil.  That gets kind of confusing.  I usually just add milk or cream and end up with something slightly more (and delightfully) fluffy than it is probably supposed to be.

 If you have a recipe you want to send me, I can give you advice on what to sub out.