More Graphics for Food Allergy Bloggers Conference 2014

50 Days until FABlogCon!
50 Days until FABlogCon!

It has been a month since I shared some of the graphics I put together to promote aspects of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference and I have come up with some more I thought I’d collect here.  I hope they are helping people to see the value of what we’ll have at #FABlogCon.

In addition to the graphics, we recently shared a video from last year’s conference that may be useful if you are preparing for back to school – Dr. Mike Pistiner and Lynda Mitchell spoke about allergies and education in their presentation viewable here.

With contributions from friends and family I wrote out some ideas of things to do and see in Las Vegas as well!

Four Stages of a Food Allergy Mom

Four Stages of a Food Allergy Mom

Do you have a favorite graphic?

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As always, feel free to contact me with questions if you are considering attending as I’m a co-founder and co-organizer of the conference (FABlogCon.com) along with Jenny Sprague of Multiple Food Allergy Help).  We are offering single day tickets to Las Vegas locals in case that is an option that works better for you.  You can follow the conference on Twitter or Facebook (or both!) to see new graphics as they come out.  Register to attend today and remember this is not just a blogger event!  See the schedule here for more information.

The Allergy-Free Pantry (Review and Giveaway)

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One of my favorite people has a new cookbook coming out early next month and I was able to snag an advance copy!  That means the page number references are missing and certain aspects may change by the time the book goes to print but even in that form I can tell you “The Allergy-Free Pantry” by Colette Martin (amazon affiliate link), to-be-released September 9, 2014, is everything the tagline promises:

Make your own staples, snacks, and more without wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, or nuts.

Advance Review Copy

ARC could mean “Advance Review Copy” or “Already Really Creased”

I’ve baked from Colette’s prior book, “Learning to Bake Allergen-Free,” (amazon affiliate link) so I was excited to choose a recipe out of this book that leaned to the “staple” side of things.  My kids would have rather I made the toaster pastries (I may yet still!)   and I eyed the potato puffs with interest but our decision was made by recently listening to the audiobook of “Little House in the Big Woods.” (amazon affiliate link)

My daughter was fascinated by the stories of pioneer life, especially the detailed descriptions of chores like churning butter.  We’ve even watched some videos online of old fashioned butter making so Colette’s “Homemade Buttery Spread” was just the ticket.  This is dairy free and even corn free.  I remember when my daughter still would react to corn (she’s grown out of that allergy) it was hard to find corn free options of staples.  This includes as ingredients: coconut oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, flax, water, lemon juice, and salt.   Oh, and in honor of Colette doing all her own photos, I tried to use some manual settings for these pictures!

Ingredients for Colette's Homemade Buttery Spread

Ingredients for Colette’s Homemade Buttery Spread

Colette explains everything – she even discusses at length on the subject of “flax eggs” how you can replace the flax for those that are allergic (chia seeds may be an option).  Her tips on creating a permanent emulsion were especially helpful for this recipe and are applicable to dressings and her homemade mayo recipe as well.  Thank you to my mother in law for slowly drizzling the oil in while I tried to get a good shot.

Emulsion in progress

Emulsion in progress

I used our Vitamix to blend this up but a food processor or immersion blender are listed as possibilities as well – I just wanted to work in that we’re giving a Vitamix blender away this year to one lucky attendee at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (where Colette will also be speaking as well as signing books!).

Heart shaped molds for vegan coconut buttery spread - 1 tablespoon apiece

Heart shaped molds for vegan coconut buttery spread – 1 tablespoon apiece

Just like Ma in “Little House in the Big Woods” (amazon affiliate link), we used molds for our buttery spread.  (Milk is now safe for us but my daughter prefers vegetable spreads for toast since she is used to them.)

I love the little flecks of flax and the coconut oil smells wonderful.  My mother in law remarked, “It’s perfect!  Not that I doubted it for a minute anyway.”  My daughter loved the finished spread, as did I.  My son was not in a taste testing mood.  The flavor does come through strongly but you can always substitute other oils as discussed in the book.  I won’t share the recipe here but I hope you’ll check out the book!  Amy Tracy at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie does have her own review as well as Colette’s homemade mayo recipe on her blog if you’d like to check it out.

Out of the molds

Out of the molds

Colette advises that you may be able to substitute this for shortening when chilled for pie crusts or cookies but doesn’t recommend using it for frosting or syrups.  The book is filled with tips and many were new to me even though I have been baking and cooking allergy friendly for over 4 years now.  At one point she mentions, for example:

I don’t recommend paper liners when baking with gluten-free grains, as they have a tendency to hold in moisture.  Instead, bake directly in the muffin pan and add the paper cups, if desired, after cooling.

Giveaway!

I am not only, courtesy of Colette’s publisher, giving away 1 copy of “The Allergy-Free Pantry” but I will also include, purchased from the affiliate link proceeds of this blog (see my disclosures), one USD $20 Amazon.com gift card to spend as you like!  I hope you’ll take Colette’s suggestion in the book to buy a scale to weigh out your flours but then I thought readers might already have one.

How to Enter:

Leave a comment letting me know something you make from scratch in your home – open to entries until August 13, 2014 at 12 p.m. Pacific Time.

I’ll assign numbers to each comment to represent their order and use a random number generator to pick the winner.  This giveaway is void where prohibited and open to residents of the United States and Canada.  I’ll need you to include your e-mail address  (it will not be shared or used for any other purpose) so I can reach you if you win.  Any winner that doesn’t respond within 24 hours of contact forfeits the prize and I’ll choose another winner.

Thank you and good luck!

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Elsewhere: If you follow my vegetarian and vegan friendly reviews at vegbooks.org, I have a few new ones to check out!  Julia’s House for Lost Creatures (I adored this one),  Sleep Tight, Anna Banana, I Love You Just Enough, The Zoo Box, The Girl and the Bicycle, and Peep and the Big Wide World

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UPDATE 8/14/14 – Our winner is comment 11 from Mary!  Thank you all for your comments – Mary, your book and gift card will be on their way soon!

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UPDATE – Epi-Pen and Auvi-Q Expiration Dates

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I wrote to both Mylan (EpiPen) and Sanofi (Auvi-Q) and shared my previous post “Epi-Pen and Auvi-Q Expiration Date Frustrations” along with the wonderful and informative comments I received from readers and received the following responses I wanted to share here.  Please, depending on which product you purchased with an expiration date that was unsatisfactory, read below (for Auvi-Q purchasers, you may be able to get a savings card that offers an up to $400 benefit and for EpiPen purchasers, be sure to call customer service).  Both companies understand that expiration dates are very valid concerns for purchasers of epinephrine auto-injectors.

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Child doses of Auvi-Q and EpiPen

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Epi-Pen

From makers of the EpiPen, Mylan Specialty:

To help facilitate consumers providing us with the necessary information, please share our customer service contact information. Consumers can call Mylan Customer Relations to speak with a representative at 1-800-395-3376 or email at Customer.Service@mylan.com.

We also wanted to provide additional information related to product expiration dates to support you and your readers.

When picking up epinephrine auto-injector prescriptions, we encourage patients or caregivers to check what is dispensed at the pharmacy prior to leaving. If there are concerns about the expiration date, they should speak to the pharmacist immediately.

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Auvi-Q

From makers of the Auvi-Q, Sanofi:

Patients or caregivers who, within the last 31 days, purchased an Auvi-Q that expires in less than 12 months are eligible to receive a savings card with a maximum benefit of $400 off one two-pack of Auvi-Q for each Auvi-Q purchase that meets the terms and conditions. Savings cards are valid for useJanuary 1 – June 30, 2015.  Patients or caregivers who purchased an Auvi-Q in the past 31 days with 6 months or less of dating may receive a replacement Auvi-Q or they can opt to receive a savings card.  For more information, including terms and conditions, patients or caregivers should call Sanofi Customer Service at 1-800-633-1610.

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Our collection of expired Epi-Pens and Auvi-Qs, the ones in the belt are current through early next year.

Our collection of expired Epi-Pens and Auvi-Qs, the ones in the belt are current through early next year.

In the meantime, it is my understanding that both companies are following issues about epinephrine expiration dates and are taking all consumer comments and concerns into consideration.  They want to hear about issues people may or may not be having as they get prescriptions filled.

No matter what hurdles you face in filling the prescription, by the way, you need to be carrying epinephrine.  See this great post by “Marketing Mama” Missy Berggren: Why do people need to carry EpiPens? Why not just call 911?

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Disclosure: I attended Mylan’s Summit in April but my opinions are my own – more detailed disclosure here and here.  Sanofi and Mylan have both been sponsors of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference, of which I am a co-owner.  My opinions, as always, are my own and are not representative of my position at Food Allergy Bloggers Conference LLC or the real or perceived benefits from either company.  Representatives from both will be at the conference this September 2014.

Chocolate Sunbutter Fudge by EGW

EGW's "Allergy Friendly Snack Book" Cover

My daughter is hard at work at her own cookbook, or the “Allergy Friendly Snack Book” as she calls it.  I love seeing her practicing her writing as she gets ready to enter first grade next month (she turns 6 on the second day of school this year) and just owning the idea that she can write a book if she wants to.  This is her first recipe in her book, she calls it “Fudge Cobbler” because at the moment the word “cobbler” is her favorite new kitchen term (we made some actual Apple Cobbler the other day when I didn’t feel like wrestling with my usual broken pie crust) but also just refers to it as “fudge.”  Her recipe is pictured below, I’ve expanded a little more on her steps but even at age 5, heating the ingredients aside, there’s a lot for a kid to do hands-on with measuring, mixing, and pouring.

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She wrote this up in May so I’m behind in posting it but we’ve had a busy summer.

Supplies

Metal saucepan and metal bowl (or double boiler)

Small baking dish or pan lined with parchment paper

Spoon and 1/4 measuring cup

Ingredients 

1/4 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (top 8 allergen free)

1/4 cup Brown Rice Syrup (we use Lundberg brand)

1/4 cup SunButter (or other sunflower seed butter)

Vegan and Nut Free Fudge

Directions

Heat a saucepan (or double boiler) with water on high on your stovetop and place a metal bowl over the top of the saucepan and melt the chocolate chips (or chunks) over the heat.  Mix in sunflower seed butter and brown rice syrup once chocolate is melted until combined.  Pour the mixture into a pan lined with parchment and freeze (or refrigerate if you’re not in a hurry) until firm.  Slice into portions of your choice (pictured are small bite sizes).

I think these are chewier than a normal fudge because of the brown rice syrup – if you’re looking for that spot-on fudge texture, the wonderful Elizabeth DiBurro at EBL Food Allergies has an amazing fudge recipe that melts in your mouth (we don’t have a microwave and did fine with her recipe on the stove) but there’s probably room for both varieties in your kitchen.

And E, if you’re ever reading this down the line, know that  I’m so proud of you and love that what is often a challenge for me (cooking and baking) is something you approach with gusto and excitement.  Seeing you and your brother grow, learn, and embrace this life is one of the keenest joys I have ever known.

Disney’s “Frozen” Party Favor Idea

If you enjoyed my lightsaber valentine idea (glow sticks and Star Wars valentines), I have another idea that my daughter helped me come up with as we have been planning her “Frozen” themed 6th birthday.  When it worked so well she asked me to share it here.  Who knew the day would come when she’d say “can we post this on your blog, Mom?”  She is writing her own cookbook right now and you may even see some of those recipes in this space.

Frozen Bubble Favors

This doesn’t work with all cupcake rings, the plastic needs to be a little bit pliable, but it did work with the “Frozen” cupcake toppers we’d purchased on Amazon (amazon affiliate link or ebay search link) and these mini bubble bottles from Oriental Trading (search: hexagon bubble bottles and choose your favorite color).  Just work the ring over the top of the bubbles and there you go.  Easy peasy way to give a theme to the bubbles but also works as a food-free idea for party favors.

(For R’s 4th birthday we’re doing Chinese paper yo-yos and Power Rangers rings – his were too sturdy to work with bubble bottles.  I love August birthday planning!)

Graphics for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference 2014

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I’ve been having fun making some spotlight images for this year’s Food Allergy Bloggers Conference and thought I’d share what I’ve done so far here.   Just about 10 weeks until the event so I am hoping these build interest – previous attendees should know we’ve got a fresh mix of topics and speakers and new attendees should know they will be welcomed with open arms.  I saw someone online ask if this was the sort of event where they’d be staying in their room the whole time and to that I would offer a resounding “no!”

As a co-manager of the event, please feel free to contact me with questions if you are considering attending.  Be sure to follow the conference on Twitter or Facebook (or both!) to see new graphics as they come out.  I can also do another roundup in a couple of weeks.  Register to attend today!  If you’re local to Las Vegas, we can work out single day passes if those are a better fit, we also might still have volunteer slots open in exchange for passes.  Just let me know.

 

Alisa Fleming

Colette Martin

Dr. Ehrlich

Erica Dermer

Dr. Gupta

Henry Ehrlich

Keeley McGuire

Dr. Stukus

Susan Weissman

vitamix

Lynda Mitchell

Vegan Slow Cooker Potato Leek Soup

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Thank you to Sarah Norris of Gluten Free Dairy Free Walt Disney World for pointing me to this recipe – I had purchased Yukon gold potatoes and trimmed leeks at Trader Joe’s because the idea of soup when it is 100 degrees out is oddly appealing.  I adjusted it to be more calorie friendly and thought I’d share my version here.  First, let me direct you to the inspiration, Gluten-Free Goddess’ 2009 recipe.  Her post has wonderful pictures (with leeks for a garnish) and suggestions for a stove top method as well.  Also check out our Food Allergy Bloggers Conference post featuring Sarah, it was great to meet her last year!

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Ingredients

1 cup rice milk

4 cups vegetable broth

2 leeks, trimmed and sliced (I used a 6oz pre-trimmed pack from Trader Joe’s)

680g Yukon gold potatoes, washed and quartered (I leave the skins on)

1 tsp dried tarragon

1 tsp dried dill weed

1 tsp granulated garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste (depends on how much salt is in the broth you use)

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Supplies

Slow cooker or crock pot

Cutting board, knife

Teaspoon measurement

Immersion blender

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Directions

Start your crock pot on high, set it for 5 1/2 hours.  add the oil if desired and then the chopped leeks.  No need to worry about large rounds when you are chopping the leek, you will be blending this recipe up!  Add your quartered potatoes and then the 4 cups of vegetable broth.  You’ll see the ingredients are just about covered.  We don’t want the soup to be watery so trust me on this.  Cook on high and when when the 5 hours of cooking time has elapsed (I set it for a little longer so I have time to chop and prep while it heats up) you’re going to blend the soup in the crock pot with your hand immersion blender.  At this point add the 1 cup of rice milk, adjust your salt and pepper to taste, heat until warm throughout (shouldn’t take long) and you’re ready to serve.  Great with a salad.

Calorie and Nutritional Information

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The batch I made came to 1,763 grams and we like to do 100 gram servings in MyFitnessPal so it was 47 calories per 100 grams.  I didn’t list the spices and herbs in the recipe so that may have added a trivial amount of calories.  I’ve managed to put all my lost weight back on in the last year but I am still trying to fight my way back.  Here’s hoping!

EpiPen and Auvi-Q Expiration Date Frustrations

(Update from 7/30/14: Click here to read statements from both companies referenced below)

When we re-fill epinephrine auto-injector prescriptions it feels a little like checking a scratch card – what will the expiration date be?  I think many of you are in the same situation.

Auv-Q Purchased 5/12/14 with 1/2015 Expiration Date

Auvi-Q Purchased 5/12/14 at Target Pharmacy with 1/2015 Expiration Date

This is not a new issue, I mentioned it in my post about the most recent Legislative Healthcare Committee Meeting and in my Mylan Summit post, but as I type this is I have just returned from paying $233.86 (after the $100 copay card, Mylan has one as well) for an Auvi-Q epinephrine auto-injector set  of two that expires January 2015.  The last Auvi-Q I obtained had an expiration date fourteen months out from the date of purchase and this one is 8 months.  So I know it is possible to be 12-14 months out on an auto-injector.  Anything less than a year is a problem considering the costs for families alone and that the high cost may cause families to stop filling their prescriptions.

Our Voices are Louder Together

I am fortunate that I can pay the cost of the medication (our insurance does not cover or alleviate prescription drug costs) but that does not mean it is ideal.  I specifically requested that they order the Auvi-Q last week in hopes of getting a newer one but it was not enough.  I would love to gather your experiences and submit them to both Mylan and Sanofi as there has to be a better option in all of this. 

When I saw the Auvi-Q expiration date I asked to see an EpiPen one and it was February of 2015 to the Auvi-Q’s January 2015.  I stuck with the Auvi-Q because the voice guidance puts my daughter’s teacher at ease and because the expiration date was not that much better (February 2015).  Still a significant amount of time less than the 12 months we all aim for.  After, I called Jenny and vented and she suggested that I should have left the medicine there and called around town to find a better expiration date but we’re already 12 days into May and my daughter’s injector expired April 2014.  So here I am, hoping that when the time comes in January to obtain a refill that there will have been true changes in the system so that other families as well as ours are not in the same boat.  Also feeling grateful that I have people I can call and know they will share my frustration about things like this.

Anecdotal reports include hearing that pharmacies in town offering a discount on injectors that expire sooner (like 50% off on one that is six months out) but I don’t know which pharmacy that would be.  We only buy one set every time we need a refill because of the cost and because my daughter self carries.  I carry an expired set in my purse just because something is better than nothing as a backup.

Let’s Discuss…

At any rate, please let me know either at my email homa at woodrumlaw dot com or here in the comments about your experiences and I would like to put together a letter to both Mylan and Sanofi asking about our options.  I have a feeling that the issue is on the pharmacy side of things because reps from Mylan and Sanofi have mentioned that the dates should be at least a year out.  I am not placing blame as much as feeling baffled that if companies are telling me all pharmacies have to do is exchange older injectors for newer ones, why are they not doing it?  Why discount them or force them on consumers that aren’t going to risk not having them in the event of an allergic emergency.

Thank you in advance for your input on this one, I will keep you posted.

Disclosure: I attended Mylan’s Summit last month but my opinions are my own – more detailed disclosure here and here.  Sanofi and Mylan have both been sponsors of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference, of which I am a co-owner.  My opinions, as always, are my own and are not representative of my position at Food Allergy Bloggers Conference LLC or the real or perceived benefits from either company. 

Food Find: Pascha Chocolate

Beautiful packaging
Beautiful packaging

I came home recently to find a box marked “perishable” on my doorstep and whisked it inside.  Those of you in Southern Nevada will know that the shipping window for perishables here is very limited and has already passed for 2014 (that is, until November or so rolls around).  I was so surprised to find I was the lucky recipient of some unsolicited chocolate!

In early 2013 I had read on my friend Colette’s blog Learning to Eat Allergy Free that there was a new allergy friendly chocolate and it was fair trade to boot.  I did not find Pascha Chocolate in stores at that point but was the lucky winner of a giveaway hosted by Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free at the end of last year and I loved what I received.  I wonder if I got into the system as someone that will gladly consume large quantities of chocolate and when I received the box this past week and realized I never had the chance to write about my take on Pascha Chocolate.  It was time to remedy that (see also: Disclosures).

Chocolate with Maca

Chocolate with a new to me ingredient: Maca

 

By the way, both Alisa and Colette are taking part in a new spin on ice breaking at this year’s FABlogCon – we are having a morning roundup of Saturday “breakout sessions” that will be limited mostly to groups of 10-15 per topic where you can really get some one on one insight from some brilliant folks.  Colette will be offering information on using that fancy DSLR you are scared to switch into manual mode and Alisa is going to be covering monetization across blogging, writing, and magazine platforms.  You’ll be able to register for the breakout sessions soon, I am having a hard time deciding which one I want to sit in on so I may claim planner’s privilege and hop in and out of sessions to “see how things are going.”

Beautiful packaging

Beautiful packaging

Ahem.  So, what did I receive?  Twitter recap to the rescue because most of it is already gone four days later. . .

I even found myself enjoying the coffee variety and I don’t drink or like the aftertaste of actual coffee.  The coffee flavor makes me think of my mom.  She works nightshifts as a registered nurse (labor and delivery) and has done it for many years so coffee is her mainstay.  There’s something comforting about the aroma of coffee and chocolate that says “mom” to me.  I wonder if my kids are going to smell frying onions in olive oil as adults and think of me?

The 100% cacao chocolate chips are a wonderful addition and the chips will be coming out later this year.  I am so glad to have a 100% alternative to Baker’s chocolate (which is not totally safe for milk allergic families given the “may contain” warnings on the packaging) for baking and cooking).  I tried the 100% chips in my vegan chocolate chili recipe (a lot like this recipe, just with chocolate and agave in the mix) yesterday and it was nice to not have to chop chocolate since the chips melted in perfectly.

Pasca Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chips Coming Soon

My favorite of the bars was the 60% with Maca variety and I have to say I like the infused flavors much more than the varieties I’ve tried in the past with Goldenberries or Cacao Nibs (two of the types I received from Alisa’s giveaway, which were very good as well).

The children are not fans of darker chocolates, especially E, but I love seeing allergy friendly chocolate diversifying.  Even Pascha Chocolates suggests their 55% bars for the younger set and R did like the 60%.  These options are vegan, peanut free, tree nut free, and more with a great texture and taste.  Hope to start seeing these in stores locally, be sure to comment if you’ve seen them out and about so I can track some down.  Highly recommended.

Mylan Summit 2014 (and My Trip to Washington, D.C.!)

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I’ve created a new Disclosures page to cover in greater detail what Mylan Specialty covered for the trip I’m about to discuss as well as other benefits I’ve received related to this blog.  Their provided disclosure is as follows but I didn’t think it covered everything a reader might ask about so feel free to scroll to the bottom of the disclosures page for more detail (though there is a spoiler in there about the DC leg of my trip that I covered myself):

I disclose in any communication made by me about EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injector and/or the Mylan Specialty Blogger Summit that such communication is at my own discretion and based on my own opinion.  I also disclose that my travel expenses were compensated by Mylan Specialty in exchange for evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting.

It is odd to say on the one hand my opinions are my own (they are) but in reality I do think I left the summit with a more favorable opinion of Mylan Specialty than before.  I don’t think it was because I had my travel covered as much as the act of traveling there and meeting with people passionate about food allergy awareness and advocacy in conjunction with their product (the “EpiPen”) did impact me.  I can see now why Jenny‘s story of starting the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference began with her experience gathering with other bloggers at a prior incarnation of the summit.  When she approached me about helping her bring the conference to life, she even said that she wanted the experience of connection and education to be available to not just the invited few but a broader audience.

It was such a boost to visit with some wonderful advocates on April 10th and 11th.  They say much of business is conducted before or after actual business hours in the form of relationship building but like true multi-tasking food allergy moms we made every minute together count.  Studious notes were taken, suggestions were made, and there were more than a few laughs thrown in for good measure.

So!  My husband points out to me that there’s the regular, concise way of saying things and then there is the “Homa” way.  I’m going to go with the latter though never fear, I won’t be pasting my type-written notes from the summit for readers to get through.  Thank heavens for small favors, right?  I won’t overload any of my e-mail subscribers with this full post because it is l-o-n-g so here’s the debut of my first ever “read more” tag on the blog, something I really can’t stand on other sites but I’m hoping you will click through and I promise it isn’t a pageview grab or anything.

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