Welcome to Allergy Free & Cheap Like Me!

gluten, dairy, egg & soy free

I’m so happy you are here! I hope to create a place for you to find lots of information about food allergies, as well as, lots of goodies to help you not only eat better, but more affordably! Please feel free to share all of your own tips, tricks, and recipes too! Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again very soon! You can read more about my allergy story here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Healthy Crumbs Week: Feedback Friday: Gluten: Where to Find It


Gluten: Where to Find It!

I often get ask, what foods contain gluten? Here is a list of foods and ingredients that often contain gluten. You must become an excellent label reader, gluten is hidden in so many ingredients. 

The following are the grains and starches gluten is found in:
Wheat Germ
Wheat Grass
Graham Flour
Oat Bran*
Oat Fiber*

*Oats may contain gluten due to easy cross contamination. Oat fields frequently have wheat or rye growing in them and therefore most oats show gluten contamination when assayed. If contamination doesn't happen in the fields it often occurs in transport or at the manufacturing facility. You can find certified gluten free oats from a few companies. Bob's Red Mill, Creamhill Estates, and Gluten Free Oats.  Bob's being the most readily available. Bob's offers certified gluten free oats as well as oats that are not gluten free, so check the packaging to make sure you are getting the oats specifically stated as gluten free.

The following is a list of foods/ingredients that MAY containing gluten (check labels!):
Meat Balls
Self-Basting Poultry
Coating Mixes
Meat Loaf
Soup Bases
Communion Wafers
Meat Substitutes (Tofurky, etc…)
Soy-Based Veggie Burgers
Crab Cakes
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Soy Sauce
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein ("wheat")
Processed Meats
Textured Vegetable Protein ("wheat")
Imitation Bacon
Roux (common sauce base)
Imitation Seafood
Malt or Malt Flavoring, Malt Vinegar(usually from barely and corn)
Vital Wheat Gluten (found in imitation meat)
Caramel Coloring
Vinegars (often a derivative of gluten containing grains, especially distilled vinegar.)
Vegetable Gum
Rice Syrup
Blue Cheese (the mold usually originates on old bread)
Vitamins and Supplements

Beer is made from grains therefore it contains gluten. Alcohols such as scotch, rye, and vodkas, while made from grains that contain gluten, have been distilled removing the gluten, making them safe to consume. Keep in mind that alcohol when mixed with gluten in food seems to magnify the reaction of gluten and should be avoided. 

Soy has some negative characteristics. Soy foods are one of the most common sources of hidden gluten. Seitan and most soy-based veggies burgers contain "vital wheat gluten", the ingredient that gives those foods the texture and taste of meat. Despite being gluten free, soy beans often provoke digestive bloating, gas, and allergic symptoms. As a bean they contain the same lectins that grains have. 

You must become an excellent label reader. Many products say they are gluten free but contain ingredients such as oats, hemp, wheat grass, malt or wheat starch with may contain gluten. Also be wary of food additives labeled as "natural flavorings", "spices", or "extractives of…" If in doubt don't consume the product unless you have written the company or called to verify the product is indeed gluten free. Most companions are forthcoming about whether or not their product is gluten free. So do your research!

I hope this helps shed some light about the foods and ingredients gluten is in. Whether you are new to a gluten free diet or have been following one for a while it is always good to remind ourselves how many foods and ingredients do contain gluten and make sure we are reading our labels. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Healthy Crumbs Week: New Product Thursday: Snyder's of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks


Snyder's of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks

I recently found pretzel sticks by Snyder's of Hanover. I couldn't wait to get them home to try them. The Snyder's of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks are GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization, a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG)) certified, which means they are tested and certified to contain less than 10-ppm of gluten (5 ppm gliadin). They are also dairy-free, casein free, and egg free!

So, what's in them? Here are the ingredients as listed on the bag: 
  • Corn Starch
  • Potato Starch
  • Tapioca Starch
  • Palm Oil
  • Carboxymethycellulose
  • Baking Powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch, mono-calcium phosphate)
  • Salt
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Citric Acid
  • Yeast
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Soda

How did I think they tasted? Great! The first thing I noticed was how crunchy they were. I know it has been a while since I have eaten gluten filled pretzels but If memory serves me correct, they tasted the same, if not better! I didn't notice any weird taste or after taste at all that you can sometimes get from gluten free products. They would make a great snack to eat by themselves or to dip in a sauce like pesto. So next time you are at your local grocery store pick up a bag of Synder's of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks! To find a store in your area that carries Synder's pretzel sticks click here. (I found mine at my local Whole Foods!)

*The opinions in this post are mine and have not been influenced by anyone or anything and I have benefited in no way by this review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Healthy Crumbs Week: Guest Blogger Wednesday: Food and Pet Allergies and Behavior of School Age Children


This month as we start getting ready to send our kids back to school, I couldn't think of a better guest blogger for this month than my dad, Dane Way. He has been an educator in the public school sector for over 35 years and has seen it all. In his post he highlights how important it is to include allergy testing as part of your child's medical workup. He has also included a number of great links to check out if you think your child may be suffering from allergies, an intolerance or a food sensitivity. The articles discuss how food can have an effect on your child's behavior and are a must read for any parent! I hope you enjoy!

Food and Pet Allergies and Behavior of School Age Children by Dane Way

As an educator in the public school sector for over 35 years, and someone that has dealt with allergies all my life, I am elated when I hear that the parents of a youngster having trouble in school include allergy tests as a part of their efforts to help their child.

If you are the parent of a child that is having trouble settling down or staying on task or focussing on an activity for any length of time, I would suggest that you do some research on your local area physicians and naturopaths and find one that will include allergy testing as part of their workup of your child.  Although family practitioners are getting better at including allergy tests when dealing with child behavior issues, many times your normal family doctor is not trained to think about allergies or to find the best solutions when allergies are indicated.

It is in your child's best interest if you take the time to find a doctor that isn't going to make a snap decision to quickly throw drugs at the problem.  Don't get me wrong, I have seen situations where the correct drug with the correct dosage has turned a child's life around.  But for as many of those success stories there are as many that didn't work out.

There are simple blood tests that can show allergy tendencies as well as scratch tests.  I tend to put more weight in the accuracies of the blood tests over the scratch tests, but you can make that decison when talking to the physician of your choice.

I have included a few links that will hopefully give you food for thought and more information to help you make the best informed decisions for your son or daughter.

Elizabeth's thoughts; I hope you enjoyed this post and found it informative. If your child is having difficulty with behavioral problems in school this might be a good, inexpensive option for you to check into and discuss with your physician. And remember since allergies tend to be a genetic thing maybe as a parent you can get tested along with your child to ease some of your child's fears about getting tested. Who knows it might just turn into a bonding experience for your whole family! Do you have a school aged child with allergies?  Have you noticed a difference in behavior in school since finding out? I would love to hear your stories, as always, please feel free to comment and share with your fellow readers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Healthy Crumbs Week: Cheap Tip Tuesday: Coupons!

Healthy Crumb: Cheap Tip Tuesday

My Cheap Tip Tuesday this month is all about couponing. Many people hate using coupons, and I completely understand. The world of couponing can be overwhelming at first. Most people think it takes too much time to find them, cut them all out, organize them, and then remember to use them at the store before they expire. I get that and honestly some of the time I completely agree. But when I see all the savings coupons can bring it reminds me how much it really is worth it. Especially when the money saved by using coupons can be used for something fun like family vacations and trips. 
The two things to remember about couponing are to buy low and stock up. Pretty simple. You want to buy at the lowest price possible for the products you need. Once they reach rock bottom price, you simply stock up to last until the next sale! Add a coupon to the mix and it gets even cheaper!
My first tip is to start off slow. A lot of people want to dive right in, but end up getting burnt out quickly because they spend way too much time at it in the beginning. You don't need to find and get every deal every week. Start of by just seeing if you can find coupons for the items you already buy on a regular basis. Then you can gradually dive in further.
Where do you find coupons? Check out manufacturer websites, the weekly Sunday papers, websites of your favorite stores, coupon codes online for online stores, and coupon websites such as, coupon cabin, mambo sprouts, smart source, and red plum for coupons. 
The next step after actually finding the coupons on products you use regularly is to know when to use them. This requires you to know your prices. This is key to getting the best deal possible. Start out by paying close attention to the prices at your local grocery stores for a few weeks on the top items your family buys, everything from cereal to pasta, and try to get a general idea of when prices are at their lowest. This will help you save whether you are couponing or not. You might be surprised at how much prices fluctuate. And always remember just because it is "on-sale" doesn't mean it is at it's cheapest. For example last week at Fred Meyer I noticed Freschetta Pizza was on sale for $4.99. This week Freschetta Pizza is also on sale but for $7.99. Both weeks it was advertised as a sale but obviously one week the sale was much better. When you see something you use regularly hit its lowest price, buy a little extra to get you through to the next sale, most likely every 4 weeks or so.

My second tip is just because you have a coupon, it doesn't mean you have to use it. Don't buy something you never buy just because there is a coupon for it, that is not saving money, it's spending extra money. Only buy things you need and use. I see so many people stocking up on a product they never use, because they have a coupon, and end up with 50 boxes that sit on the pantry shelf and expire. That is a waste of both money and food. Yes, it may be a good deal, but it doesn't mean it is a good deal for you. Know what you eat and the quantity you eat, there is no use for a product to go to waste because you couldn't eat it before it expired.

Here are a few allergen free product coupons to help get you started couponing!
Manufacturer coupons from their websites:
Mambo Sprouts has coupons on all kinds of natural products you can download and print out to use at any store, they change regularly so check back often!
Also check out the Whole Foods websites for coupons if you shop there, they change regularly and can save you money when shopping at Whole Foods!
For more tips on how to save money on an allergen free diet check out my earlier Cheap Tip Tuesday blogpost; Saving on the Cost of an Allergen Free Diet!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Healthy Crumbs Week: Mindful Monday: What's in Your Water?

Healthy Crumb: Mindful Monday

What’s in Your Water?

Did you know, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), testing  done by water utilities found there to be 315 pollutants in the tap water Americans drink daily. If that is not bad enough more than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to health or safety regulations and can be legally present in any amount in our tap water. The government has not set a single new drinking water standard since 2001. Because it has not, the EWG launched a 3-year project to create the largest drinking water quality database in existence. It contains 48,000 communities in 45 states and the District of Columbia. 
I was curious how my water stacked up. I live in a dry cabin, in Fairbanks, Alaska, meaning I don’t have running water. I was disappointed to find the company we haul our water from was not listed as being tested by the EWG. However, I was still curious to see how the town of Fairbanks local water utility stacked up as well as the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Here are my findings. 
First up, Golden Heart Utilities: Fairbanks, Alaska: 13 different contaminates were detected. 8 chemicals exceeded health guidelines while no chemicals where over the legal limit. The chemicals found included, Barium (Industrial Pollutants), Chromium (Industrial Pollutant), Bromochloromethane (Industrial Pollutant), Dibromoacetic Acid, Bromochloroacetic Acid, Arsenic (which is an agricultural, industrial, sprawl and urban pollutant by pesticides, fertilizer, factory farms, road runoff, lawn pesticides, and human waste.) Dicholoracetic Acid, Trichloroacetic Acid, Total haloacetic acids (HAAs), Chloroform, Bromodichloromethane, Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), (the last six are all from water treatment and distribution byproducts, i.e.: pipes and fixtures, treatment chemicals and byproducts) and Benzene (Industrial Pollutant, sprawl and urban pollutant). The EPA has not established a maximum legal limit in tap-water for both Bromochloromethane, and Bromochloroacetic acid. They also had one EPA violation in monitoring.
Next up, the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska: 16 different contaminants were found, 10 chemicals were over the health guidelines and 3 chemicals where over the health standard LEGAL limits. The chemicals found where, Trihalomethanes, chloroform, arsenic (these first three being the ones over the legal limit), bromodichloromethane, haloacetic acids (HAAs), dubrinicgkirinetgabem dichloroacetic acid, benzene, trichloroacetic acid, bromoform, monochloroacetic acid, nitrate, monbromoacetic acid, dichlorobenzene, dibromoacetic acid and xylenes. They also had 9 EPA violations, 5 in MCL and treatment, 2 in reporting and 2 in monitoring. 
Was I happy with what I found? No, not really. At first I thought well, these two sources don’t really affect me since we get our water from another source. But the more I thought about it the more I started to consider different scenarios. For example, I don’t usually drink water from the tap while I am out and about in the town of Fairbanks at drinking fountains etc. but, I do order water an awful lot when I go to restaurants and if they are using tap water, well, I guess now I know what I’m drinking! Also, I use the gym at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to both work-out at and shower (since I live in a dry cabin), so I both drink and bathe with the water provided from them. I wonder how much I am ingesting by showering, it's been found that 60% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream, that must count for water too, right?  No, now that I think about it, I am not happy at ALL!

So what can we do? There are a few things we can all do to help minimize our exposure to these chemicals through our water. One easy way is to use a water filter in our homes. There are many kinds, from ones that fasten right to the sink facet, to a filtered pitcher you keep in your fridge, to a newer refrigerator with a filtered water dispenser built right in. Choose a filter that is certified to remove contaminants found in your water. To find the best filters go to  www.ewg.org/tap-water/getwaterfilter. There are many different kinds of filters but the most common type of filter is a carbon filter (pitcher or sink mounted). Carbon filters are affordable and reduce many common water contaminants, like lead and byproducts of the disinfection process used to treat municipal tap water. You can also choose a whole house filter, which filters water as it enters the house for a wide range of uses including, tooth-brushing, showering, and other uses missed by just a standard kitchen filter. Whichever filter you choose make sure you change your filter on time. Old filters aren’t safe, they can harbor bacteria and let contaminants through. 

When you are on the go, carry stainless steel or other BPA-free bottles. Don’t reuse bottled water bottles. The plastic can harbor bacteria and break down to release plastics chemicals. Hard plastic bottles (#7 plastic) can leach a harmful plastics chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) into water.

A note on bottled water, you can read the bottle label, but you still won’t know if the water is pure and natural, or just processed, polluted, packaged tap water. EWG found 38 contaminants in 10 popular brands. Many popular brands are nothing more than bottled tap water, tainted with the same pollutants.  The huge growth of the bottled water market has increased the nation’s solid waste stream with vast amounts of plastic, causing phenomenon's like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, if you haven't heard of it, please read about it in my previous blog post here, everyone needs to be aware of what is happening in our oceans!
So now are you curious to find out what’s in your water?
Go to www.ewg.org/tap-water/whats-in-yourwater to find out how your local water stacks up.

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