Monday, March 20, 2017

My Top Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free Must Have Foods!

Two of our basic yet taken for granted needs are to breathe and to be nourished to sustain life. My fragrance and food allergies challenge those two basic needs.  People are fearful of what to feed me.  I am often asked to bring my own food as my hosts fear they may do me harm.

This led me to think of my "Top Egg, Soy, Gluten and Dairy Free Must Haves".  These products I have searched for and some I have previously, shared on my blog.  The following is a compiled list, not necessarily in order of importance.

1.  BFree Bread 

If you have ever searched for delicious gluten free bread you know that this search can be horrendous.  Gluten free bread is often heavy with the density of baseball leather. Now add the need for the bread to be egg and soy-free too, this challenge is insurmountable.  

Finally, last Spring I found this bread at the #GFAF Gluten Free Allergen Friendly Expo in Schaumburg, IL.  I wondered why the line to this booth was extremely long. I sat families leaving with bags of this bread.  When I finally reached the table they were almost sold out.  Now I understand the long lines, this bread is absolutely wonderful.

2.  Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread

This delightful buttery spread is soy-free, non-GMO and Vegan.  There are two of the Earth Balance buttery spreads labeled soy free.  In my opinion butter can make any recipe taste good, although this is not cow's milk yet it emulates and sustains my desire for cow's milk butter. 

3.  Califia Farms Almond Milk

If you read this blog at all you will know how much I love Califia Farms Almond Milk.  This almond milk is "yummy".   I cannot always use this almond milk as a substitute for "cows milk" as my daughter is allergic to almonds.  I, however, love this "stuff".

4. Swaggerty's All Natural Preservative Free Sausage

You would think that finding soy-free sausage would not be difficult. It is. I made my own but I didn't like them, then I found these. I am not vegan although, often I find myself looking at vegan products to find ingredients that are egg-free.  In time, when I eat nitrate free preservative free meat I have less headaches and migraines. This sausage is gluten, soy, msg and preservative free.  It is the only sausage that doesn't cause me stomach and intestinal harm.  I love using this sausage to season collard greens.

Recently, as I would be traveling out of state, I checked out out their website to locate the sausage where I would be visiting in CA. I was surprised to find that the place that has "everything" didn't have everything so I found it necessary to bring boxes of the breakfast sausage with me.

5.  COLEMAN NATURAL® Uncured Hickory Smoked Bacon 

Besides butter, bacon makes anything taste good. I like Coleman Natural no nitrates or nitrates added.  No nitrate bacon can be quite pricey compared to bacon with nitrates. Purchasing in bulk at stores like Costco is a money saver.  Not all Costco's are created equal. The only Costco, thus far, I have this at is the one located at Orland Park, IL.

6. Trader Joe's canned coconut milk
Coconut is a good substitute to cow's milk and I use it quite a bit in sauces.  Trader Joe's brand does not contain any guar or xanthan gums and preservatives.

 7.  Just Mayo by Hampton Creek
Making mayonnaise isn't as easy at it may seem and a dry sandwich is unacceptable.  I was so happy when I found this soy and egg free mayonnaise from Hampton Creek. Again, this is the only mayo I found that I can use. 

These are some of my top foods must haves.  Most main entrees, I  have to make from scratch, it was getting very old, though, having to make condiments and bread as well. Alternatively, I do enjoy creating my own homemade pesto sauce.  Yet I have not a found a good dairy free cheese. 

This journey and freedom from food Russian Roulette has been a challenge and has reduced me to tears with began.  As time proceeded, it became easier finding the some of the foods I needed that many take for granted and makes my tummy a happy tummy!

Gluten-Free Allergen Friendly Expo 2017

This is an exciting year 3 for me to attend the Gluten-Free Allergen Friendly Expo in Schaumburg, IL April 22 and 23.  I have been 95% gluten free for 3 years now.  I am not celiac, nonetheless, I do have an gluten intolerance as when I eat gluten it can knock a body part off-line.  
30% OFF until Midnight 3/21/2017

The more seasoned I become, the more I need my body parts and brain cells to function at optimum capacity.  Gratefully, I found that consuming gluten was one of the reasons I had a pain in my left foot that would not go away, a contributor to brain fog and, of course, intestinal issues.  I won't digress to details of that story.

Moreover, this expo is such a great source to find new gluten, soy, and dairy free foods as well as the rest of the top allergen foods.

One of the most exciting perks to the event, is the "Blogger" sponsors this year, BFree Foods.  Yeah!  Their bread is delicious and is the only bread I have found that I can eat without repercussions, not hard as a baseball and suitable for vegans.  I admit the bread is somewhat pricey for a half loaf, but my stomach is ever so grateful. I love BFree Foods. The complete list of sponsors for the event are HERE.

If you haven't attended a Gluten Free Allergen Friendly Expos in your area, I encourage you to do so.  Not just for the free samples and new products, the educational content at the classes are very informative. Check out the link here for the class list and times.

Furthermore, I first learned about the app "Find Me Gluten Free" from my first expo.  This app has aided my finding restaurants in my area that have a gluten free menu and other allergen friendly foods.  Keep on the look out for my blog post about "Biaggi's Italian Restuarant".  I found that restaurant through the app. 

I look forward to seeing Kiki's Gluten Free Pizza there.  Dairy is on my allergen list.  However, this pizza is so good. 

See the photo below and meet the folks from @Sprigati.  
 Below are additional photos for a taste of spoils I received from the 2016 event and many of the vendors I met there. 

Milton's Chips.... I love these.

From the page of the #GFAF Expo ....

What do you get with your Expo Ticket?

  • Entry into the vendor fair with over 100 brands
  • Valuable coupons at the vendor booths
  • Samples from the vendors are considered to be gluten free.
  • Discounted products available for purchase
  • Informative classes related to the gluten free and allergen-friendly lifestyle
  • Free reusable bag to carry your goodies
  • Meet your favorite vendors, authors and bloggers
Why buy your ticket online?

  • Guarantee that you don’t miss out on the Expo – limited tickets available each day
  • No need to wait in line at the Expo to buy your ticket

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fragrance Free or Unscented? Natural or Organic? Not All Are Equal!

Re-post of Fragrance Free or Unscented? Natural or Organic? Not All Are Equal!


Below is a re-post of a blog post I wrote with Fragrance Fighters. The information is still so relevant today. Please read...

Fragrance Free or Unscented? Natural or Organic? Not All Are Equal! May 16, 2008 by fragrancefighters

Janet says: My four year old came to me looking for a toy doll bottle with what she says has yellow cow’s milk. As I looked into her bright eyes (I felt like a deer in headlights), I told her that I had no idea what is she talking about. She looked at me, rolled her eyes and said “Mommy, let me explain it to you”; and she did.

On our Savvy FAQs page we addressed two questions:

1. What is the difference between fragrance free and unscented?
2. Should I purchase only organic and products labeled natural?

Well let me explain something to you and let’s go a step further. Products labeled no fragrance or fragrance free usually are free from synthetic or chemical fragrance. The label does not purport that the product is odorless.

Let me give you an example. Although I often use a popular brand of baby products, on March 31, 2008 I spoke about a hypersensitive day that I was experiencing. I was unable to use either their Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash or the Everyday Lotion because of the odor I detected. According to the label, this product does not have sodium lauryl sulfate, formaldehyde, fragrance, scent masking agents or clear formula chemicals, yet I detected an odor. The product has aloe vera, extracts of corn, coconut and palm. Whatever the source, there is a detectable smell or odor which on that day annoyed me. The odor or smell was a source of irritation to Nancie and my husband (who do not share our sensitivities) as well. For those with sensitive noses, you have to smell the product to find your level of sensitivity and tolerance.

Unscented products usually add a masking agent, another chemical, to disguise the chemicals in the product. Even though the masking agents mask the scent they can trigger allergic reactions in chemically sensitive people.

In my quest to find natural or organic products with no odor, I find many of these products tend to use essential oils although they do not use synthetic fragrance. Essential oils are concentrated oils extracted from herbs, plants or fruit. These oils have the distinct scent that comes from the plant from which they are derived. For some, essential oils are aromatherapy. For people like me it can trigger headaches, migraines, nausea and the like. For Nancie it can trigger the same or even worse; vomiting or an Asthma attack.

To complicate matters even further, on March 14, 2008 the Organic Consumers Association released the following to the press: Carcinogenic Found in Leading “Organic” Brand Personal Care Products. .

1,4-Dioxane is a petroleum based carcinogen known to cause cancer and is also suspected as a kidney, central nervous system and respiratory toxicant. In the Organic Consumers Association Press Release, the OCA urges consumers to search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names.

Even though a product is labeled natural or organic doesn’t mean it is safe. The products may have natural or organic in the name but unless it is labeled Certified Organic USDA it probably isn’t.

Where does that leave us? Frankly, I don’t know. I keep trying to remind myself that “Balance is the Key” but the challenge is great. All I want is safe non-odorous products that don’t make me sick. Is that too much to ask? Well, explain it to me.

Remember the toy bottle my daughter was looking for with the yellow cow’s milk? Well, I threw it out. It was on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall list for hazardous toys

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

43, Chronic Illness and C-Section Tidbit

In speaking to someone who was about to give birth via unexpected c-section, I decided that although this was not a scent-free or food allergy discussion it merited a quick blog post. 

I was 43 1/2 years with a chronic illness when I gave birth to my daughter.  Three weeks before my due date I had to make the decision to have a c-section or allow the doctor to turn her in the womb. Whether, I was ready or not she was coming out butt first. With the seasoning of my age and a few chronic illnesses under my belt, I thought best to have the c-section done. By that time, I was due I was ready to cut her out myself with a butter knife. I was done. I actually started having contractions the day the c-section was scheduled. 

In retrospect, one of the mistakes I think I made was sleeping in a recliner. Sleeping in the bed was very uncomfortable.  The recliner, however, allowed me to pop myself up and out and pee for the 100th time in a day. Nevertheless, I don't think this allowed my baby to properly turn during gestation.  Again, this is my take on it.

During the c-section, it was apparent she was stuck (under the rib cage, I presumed) because she had a line in her head diagonal which did go away with the gentle rubbing of her head.  It appeared that the doctors had difficulty getting her out.. both doctors needed to tug. She came out... and is beautiful I might say. That was 12 years ago. I have nothing to compare healing time to as she is my first, my last, my everything... (ok, Barry White said that, but it fits).

Don't deny yourself the help of family and friends. It still takes a village. Two things.... First, as soon as you get the Dr's ok to exercise do it.. work on the abs... . you will be sorry later. I realize I am older and many a body part has taken their decent to South America, but a little exercise...might have kept the decent from seemingly permanent.

Secondly, the ride home from the hospital is the worst. If you can find something to brace up what remains of the belly, you will be all the wiser and in less pain. My friend told me about the ride home as she also had a c-section and she was right, every bump, nook and cranny of the road you will feel. ok... 3 things... figure out the car seat, stroller and any other contraption ahead of time. You almost need a PHD in baby gear.  

This list is up to 4. Tell someone to check your hair before photos and make sure your hair does not stick up like a Velociraptor... you will be too drugged out, post birth, to know what is happening but mad later when you see the photos. Ok that is my 2 cents worth or more. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Fragrance Free Company is Hiring!

Isn't networking great!  Through networking, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging ... a networking source found Holy Lamb Organics, a Fragrance Free Company, and they are hiring!  

Photo provided by Holy Lamb Organics

Last month Scent Free Savvy's blog made a plea HERE looking for Fragrance Free Connections that  included a search to find Fragrance Free Employers.  Through networking, Facebook, Twitter and blogging ... a networking source found Holy Lamb Organics, a "Fragrance Free Company", and as of this blog post they are currently hiring!  We are happy to know there are fragrance free companies out there that do exist.  Holy Lamb Organics states on their website and Facebook page as to their choice to be a Fragrance Free Company. 

Photo provided by Holy Lamb Organics

If you are seeking a fragrance free position with a company that state their commitment "to an enjoyable, diverse, safe, and scent-free working environment" here's your opportunity.

We hope to find other companies with this commitment...we'll keep searching, keep your eye opened and be savvy and scent free.

Disclosure:  Scent Free Savvy Life intent is to connect potential employee candidates with potential fragrance free companies and/or companies that have a fragrance free policy in place.

Scent Free Savvy Life including its originator, contributors, administrators, and sponsors (Scent Free Savvy Life) makes no claims about the accuracy of a company's policies or employment positions that are available.  Scent Free Savvy Life will be held harmless as to the said outcome of a potential employee's hiring opportunities. Scent Free Savvy Life shall not be responsible for any employment decisions, for whatever reason, made by any company or entity posted on this site.

Scent Free Savvy Life cannot guarantee and does not promise any specific results from use of the Site. No advice or information, whether oral or written, obtained by a User from any potential employer or through Scent Free Savvy Life shall create any expressed or implied warranty.  User assumes all risks associated with applications, employment opportunities and hiring from any employer mentioned on this site. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Fragrance Twin and I

Quite a few months back, I had the privilege of living with my fragrance twin and her family at their home. We have always teased each other that we were twins separated at birth. However, as it ended up a 4 month work stay, I found out that we were more fraternal than identical twins. Let me explain.
Illustration by Lana Willison
While someone with a fragrance allergy/intolerance are affected by fragrance, how the symptoms and reactions manifest can be quite different. My twin may encounter, eyes and lips burning, rosacea, headaches, and the all around "I need to get out of here fast" mode. I may encounter migraines, nausea, dizziness, irritability, spitting up, and of course, the all around "I need to get out of here fast" mode. We both have found that coffee can counteract some of these symptoms as it can act as a natural antihistamine.

Case in point, we went to Follow Your Heart, health food store, in the San Fernando Valley area near Los Angeles.  At the entrance of the store were candles by the register. Upon entering, we were both "hit" by the odors. Why "health food" stores display odor offgassing merchandise at the entrance is a wonder to me, but that is a blog post for another time.  

Follow Your Heart sells loose herbs, which I like to purchase to make my own hair products. I was able to obtain most of what I needed, but the effect of the fragranced merchandise in the store was taking effect on my ability to think. As I was attempting to pay, the closer I moved towards the front register, the onset of symptoms was evident. Not thinking clearly, I found my "fragrance twin" told her the situation and I left the store immediately before my symptoms entered the next phase. Usually, the next phase can consist of chest pains, throat closing and or losing my voice and the immediate need for a dye free antihistamine and/or a 911 call (definitely didn't want that).  

The checker at the counter was sympathetic, she came out of the store to check on me and ask if I needed anything, and supplied me with water.  Nonetheless, my body had entered crisis mode and I was afraid to re-enter the store. My friend paid for the products and she managed to stay a bit longer and look for her other needed items. How she was able to stay in there for longer is still beyond me. As I lost my voice, we went to another store and purchased coconut water as I was not in possession of a dye free antihistamine which would have slowed the reaction. Eventually, we made it to her house and I laid down.

On the flip side, if someone enters her house with hair spray, fragrance hair products, fragrance clothing from laundry detergent she has to escape to her bedroom for safety because those scents render her useless. Whereas, I have barely been affected, except for the fragrance laundry detergent (for me Tide and Gain are some of the worst odor affecting laundry detergents). 

She also can not tolerate some cooking oils, animal fat in meat, whereas I have no problem. It went to a point where I was confused as to what to cook for myself because I did not want to make her ill with food smells. I also have food allergies/sensitivities which make my eating choices limited. 

People with sensitivities to smells, odors, fragrance and the like, for safety, tend to be isolated. Least of all, with this sensitivity, being fully aware of the complexity of the situation, I did not want to be the person to make her ill. I know how it feels when people "don't get the issue" and are offended that it is their choice of product that we do not like.  

Many of us, like my fragrance twin have families, friends that stop by, or employed.  With that said, we risk daily our encounters with others, "count our spoons" and decide what task we can accomplish that day.  Amazingly, although we are similar in many ways, we were still quite different in the situations, products and odors that cause a reaction. 

It was a very enlightening four months, we were able to consort, brainstorm and assist each with our challenges. We both came out with a sincere and a better understanding of each other, a love and friendship I will cherish deeply as we both continue to be savvy and scent free. 

#fragrancefree, #perfumefree, #MCS, #fragrancesensitivity, #sensitivities, #scentfree, #allergenfree, #chemicalsensitivities, #foodintolerance,#chronicillness, #invisibleillness, #migraines, #spoonies