About Tiffany deSilva

Tiffany deSilva, MSW, CPC, is the Founder of Fantastically Free, a Make Difference Divsion of BrightFire Network, LLC. Tiffany is on a mission to help children, families, and adults live safe, healthy, and happy lives despite food allergies.

7 Tips for a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving with Food Allergies

I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away! Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays because it is all about spendingThanksgivingfeast time with family, reflecting on everything we have to be grateful for, and of course, enjoying a great meal. Despite all of the warm feelings that the holidays bring, the holidays can also be a little stressful with all of the travel and preparation that goes into pulling off a special get together.  When you add in food allergies, the stress level often gets ratcheted up a notch. The good news is you don’t have to let food allergies stop you from enjoying Thanksgiving.

Here are my top 7 tips for having a safe and happy Thanksgiving:

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It’s Not Too Early to Teach Your Preschooler How to Manage Food Allergies

I had a “proud mom” moment yesterday when I picked up my 4-year old daughter from Pre-K yesterday.  She told me that her class had cucumbers andfantasticallyfreekidswithdough ranch dressing for snack yesterday.  I felt a brief lump in my throat because although my daughters have outgrown their dairy allergies they all have an anaphylactic egg allergy.

To my relief, she also told me that she informed her teacher and her friends that she could not have ranch dressing because she is allergic to egg. Whew!

I was impressed that she remembered that ranch dressing often contains milk and egg ingredients.  I was even more impressed after she told me that her classmate told her that the ranch dressing was okay for her to eat but she insisted that she could not eat it.

That shows a lot of awareness for a young 4-year old, which brings me to my point:  It is never too early to teach your preschooler how to manage food allergies.  They soak things in like a sponge and grasp concepts quickly.  While I would never expect a child to be able to handle food allergies with the same level of maturity and skill as an adult, it is beneficial to teach them how to be their own self-advocates when you are not around.

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The Columbus 2013 FARE Walk for Food Allergies

The 2013 Columbus FARE Walk for Food Allergy was held this year on Saturday, September 22, 2013.  I must say, the girls and I had a great time! TheFantasticallyfreefarewalk weather was perfect and there was a great turnout for the walk.

The best part is that we Columbus walkers met and exceeded the goal of raising $30,000 for FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education)!  The official total is $31, 985!

If you haven’t participated in a FARE Walk, you definitely should.  Not only is it a great way to raise money, but it also a lot of fun for the kids.  My girls had a blast walking, dancing, and jumping in the bounce house.  It’s also a great way to meet other families who are also living with food allergies and build your support network.

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The New and Improved Enjoy Life Soft-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I first saw the new Enjoy Life® Soft-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies I almost had a heart attack because I didn’t recognize the packaging and I thought my grocer had stopped carrying my “go-to” packaged cookies.  These are particulary convenient (and tasty) if you don’t have time to bake a batch from scratch or if you are traveling.

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Tips for Getting Along with the Nastiest of Neighbors: Ragweed

In our household, we have multiple food allergies and environmental allergies.  When I lived in Kentucky, my allergies seemed to be worse in the springFantasticallyfreeragweed with all of the tree pollen visibly covering every horizontal surface outside. Living in the midwest, I have gotten acquainted with one of the nastiest neighbors you can have.

You see, our yard backs up to a nature preserve–which is awesome.  However, when our house was being built, the builders cleared a little too much brush and, being the opportunistic weed that it is, ragweed moved in very quickly. You can see it in the center of the photo to the right.

Ragweed is extremely hard to get rid of because it is a rather tenacious and invasive weed, and in our particular circumstance, it lies on  a protected  nature preserve.  This wouldn’t be so bad if our whole family wasn’t allergic to it.

Ragweed is responsible for widespread and severe allergies across the U.S from the late summer/early fall until frost.  Each plant produces about a billion highly-allergenic pollen spores that can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles.  It is commonly considered to be the most heinous pollen allergens there is. Needless to say, it is very difficult to avoid.

So what do you do to minimize exposure to ragweed?

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Allergy Eats Mobile App

The Allergy Eats mobile app is a great tool to find allergy-friendly restaurants when you’re on the go. It is free and available for both iPhone and Android devices.  Just like the website, www.AllergyEats.com, the mobile app allows you to search for restaurants by entering a location, but it also hasfantasticallyfreeallergyeats a “Find Near Me” search option that will automatically find restaurants in your vacinity based on GPS technology.   This comes in handy when you are exploring a new city or aren’t familiar with the area.

It is simple to create an Allergy Eats member profile.  Basically, you just need to enter your contact information and establish a password.  The only “hiccup” I encountered in setting up my membership profile was a couple of broken links to the Allergy Eats Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

Once you have logged in, you can choose your food allergies or intolerances, enter your search, and off you go! After you have entered your search, the site loads restaurants based on the criteria you have entered.  Each restaurant is rated on its ability to accomodate food allergies.  The ratings are based on reviews submitted by other members who have eaten at the restaurants listed.

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Bill to be Introduced Would Allow Stock Epinephrine in Ohio Schools

I received an email yesterday from FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) regarding a newfantasticallyfreeepipen bill that would allow Ohio schools to stock epinephrine.  This is very important legislation that will undoubtedly save lives, if passed. 

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Meet Sharon A. Kane

Meet our Freatured Food Allergy Advocate, Sharon A. Kane.  Sharon is highly sensitive to gluten, as well as to many common foods. Not wanting to give up eating bread, she discovered a way to make her own nourishing and satisfying gluten-free sourdough baked goods using only healthful, non-allergenic ingredients.FantasticallyFreeSharonKane

There was no information available when Sharon began experimenting with gluten-free sourdough bread so she took what she  learned from rye sourdough bread  technique and began working with it using gluten-free flours. After one year of much trial and many errors she succeeded! Her book, The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking is the result of 5 more years of experimentation and development.

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Garlic Brussel Sprouts

I don’t eat white potatoes so this is one of my “go to” sides when I want some savory vegetables to sink my teeth into.  Garlic Brussel Sprouts are a great source of vitamin C.  They also contain fiber, Vitmin A, Calcium, and and Iron.  This recipe equals about 3 servings. This dish is free from the following: Dairy, Peanut, Tree Nuts, Egg, Soy, Fish, Shellfish, Wheat, and Gluten.FantasticallyFreeBrusselSproutsandGarlic


3 cups of brussel sprouts

1 clove or 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

2 tbsp of extra light olive

1 tbsp of water

pinch of pepper

pinch of celtic sea salt

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7 Tips for Eating Out with Kids with Food Allergies

Eating out with young children can be stressful.  Add in food allergies and it can be down right anxiety-provoking!  Sometimes it can be quite a Kidatdinnertablechallenge to find a safe place to eat, especially if you are dealing with multiple food allergies.

Eating at restaraunts and other establishments is a big part of our culture and not participating in social acitivities that involve food can feel very isolating.  So how can you and your family minimize the risk of an allergic reaction while still enjoying the opportunity to dine out once in a while?

Here are my top 7 tips for eating out with the kids:

1) Do your research before you go.

Search online to find restaurants that are allergy-friendly. There are websites dedicated to making your search a little easier.  I particularly like www.AllergyEats.com. They have a great mobile app that comes in handy when traveling. Always take a look at the menu before heading out.  It saves you the hassle of getting to a restaurant only to learn that there is nothing on the menu for you to eat.

I always look for menus with simple dishes. I love when a restaurant has a kids’ menu because those dishes are pretty simple fare.  To limit the risk of cross-contact, avoid eating at places that use your particular allergens in a large number of their dishes. You will also want to avoid buffet-style restaurants and self-service food areas that are prone to cross-contact between foods, such as salad bars.

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