Archive for May, 2011

May 30, 2011

Food allergy post: May 2011

It’s hard to believe, but the end of May is here, and so is my promised allergy-related post of the month. I thought I’d start with a few of the more basic things I had to learn related to food allergies, and it all started with labels.

So for those of you out there that don’t follow any particular diet or have any restrictions as far as nutrition, reading the label is probably not high on your list of priorities when you hit the grocery. Of course, packaging plays our purchasing habits whether you read the back of the box or not, but for the most part that’s due to buzz words like “whole grain” or “no trans fat” plastered all over the front panel. What concerns those affected by food allergies or on a restricted diet, however, is usually in smaller print than the “calcium enriched” splash across the label.

Reading ingredient lists is extremely important for those on special diets, because even if there are big words on the front, or claims that the product is free of certain allergens, the ingredient list may tell a different story. There have been any number of recalls due to what is essentially false advertising when a product identifies itself as allergen-free on the front, but lists an allergen in the ingredients list. Cloudy, confusing, overwhelming stuff, huh?

It’s not all so bad, though. To tell you the truth, I’ve found a lot of comfort in looking more carefully at the ingredients of products, because it allows me to understand so much better what it is that I’m eating. Yes, there have been some disturbing moments in the various aisles as well as brief moments of disbelief as I deciphered all of those mono- tri- cyclo- glyceride- gum things. Finding out what stuff is really made of can be frightening. Overall, though, knowing what you’re getting so that you can make a more educated decision is more positive than negative, and if you’ve got a food allergy, it’s an absolute imperative.

That said, I’ve made a list of some common terms I’ve seen on allergy-friendly and not-so-allergy-friendly food packages.

  • “May contain”: This is a safeguard for both the company and the consumer. It is a voluntary admission that lets the consumer know that if they’ve got allergies, this product probably isn’t safe, but to me that puts a big X on that food because who wants to take a chance?
  • “Processed in a shared facility / shared equipment”: This is another common labeling technique that warns food allergic consumers that the food may contain trace amounts of whatever allergen is listed after it.
  • “Gluten-free”: This is also a voluntary term used to identify foods that are free of any wheat, barley, or rye. A lot of foods are naturally gluten-free, so reading the label can actually help you discover some options that don’t come right out and put that term on their labels.

That’s my short list of important terms on food packaging to look out for. I’ll write again with more food allergy info next month!

And before I finish this up, I’d like to share my appreciation for all of the hard work and sacrifices made by our military men and women. Without the brave sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers that volunteer to protect us, we wouldn’t have the freedom that we so enjoy. Thank you to every active duty, veteran, and family member of military personnel out there. Love, Meg

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May 24, 2011

Food allergy facts and more

Food allergies are a scary thing when you think about how many ways a person could be affected, and the possible severity of the reactions, but what’s been worrying me lately is the whole labeling issue involved with allergens.

Recently we’ve been looking into some packaging improvements, including what the FDA requires as far as ingredient listings, etc. There are some pretty strict rules, as there should be, because let’s face it – shouldn’t the consumer know what they’re getting?

Well, in a perfect world, all of the ingredients would be listed clearly in every product, every time. Unfortunately, especially for those with food allergies, sometimes allergy-inducing ingredients get into foods that were previously safe. Whether it’s traces of that ingredient that somehow made it into a batch, or an ingredient that has changed and wasn’t listed, what may seem like a small error can cause huge health problems.

Most recently, my friend Heather alerted me to the fact that Silk soy milk may contain almonds. Um…yea. That soy milk that you thought was safe to buy for your family member with nut allergies – well – isn’t. (By the way, those of you out there with nut allergies, we don’t use Silk.)

While I don’t personally have allergies, nor does anyone in my family who I might share food with, I care very deeply about doing all I can to keep our products safe. One family in particular has inspired me to take on food allergies as a cause of sorts, and they’ve shared not only their experiences, but a whole lot of information that I have learned so much from.

One site that I started clicking through the other day is http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org. Frustrated about the Silk nonsense, I read the list of recalls first, which may have been a bad decision because it only served to make me more upset. There is a recall almost every day!!! Do you know how many products are out there with misleading allergen warnings?! Aaahhh!!

Anyway, after I freaked out a little, I felt so frustrated. Being frustrated does no good though, so I’m going to try really hard to do what I can, and to make more people a little more aware about these issues. While I can’t promise it (let’s face it, my schedule gets crazy sometimes), I’m going to make an effort to write monthly and hopefully more about some food allergy issues. I know not everyone is interested in learning more about them, but I really hope that some of you will at least consider reading because it may not sound like the most exciting topic, it’s a pretty important one for anyone that knows someone affected. Plus, I might include some photos of ice cream, or Ida, or some adorable kittens just to get you to scroll.

Thank you for reading and for learning along with us! Love, Meg

May 19, 2011

Invading a freezer near you…

Well, we’ve been lucky enough to be busy again this week, and we’ve got news for you. Phro*Zen is now available at Picnic&Pantry!

Yep – we’re in the super-cold freezer near the food bar, so after you’ve stopped by Melt for a tasty lunch, or shopped at one of Northside’s eclectic shops, cool off with a pint of Phro*Zen.

In another development, we’ve gotten special requests for our anise flavor featured at the two Please events we’ve collaborated on. You’ll be able to find that at Park+Vine very soon!

That’s all for now, thanks for sticking with us, and watch for more updates soon! Love, Meg

May 13, 2011

This is what we call prep.

Dance to this: Mr. Little Jeans \”Rescue Song\”

While eating these:

Minutes required to arrange those tasty little buggers for a photo: 3 Minutes required to eat them all: 4

And making this:

You're staring into salted smoky vanilla bourbon caramel sauce. It knows you want it.

What else are we prepping for Saturday’s event? Oh….you’ll just have to come to our dessert event to see and taste it all.

May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day moments of reflection

I won’t be writing too much today, because I don’t want this blog to turn into a personal diary, but keep it a resource for info about us, our events, and good causes, etc. But since today is Mother’s Day, and none of what we do would be possible without our mom, I want to take a moment to say thank you to her, and to every mom.

To every mom out there, though many of these may be Mama S. specific, thank you for the following:

Thank you for bringing us safely into this world.

Thank you for holding us and keeping us warm.

Thank you for teaching us not only to speak, but also to speak our minds.

Thank you for telling us stories, letting us fill in some details of our own, and helping us grow our imaginations.

Thank you for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into triangles packed on top of the apple so it wouldn’t get smushed.

Thank you for having a hug for us when we really needed one. Really big thank you for that.

Thank you for the photos and the haircuts that will always keep us humble.

Thank you for believing that we could do more, be better, grow stronger.

Thank you for believing that what we have done, and what we are doing, is important, because it’s what we love.

Thank you for your support. It means so much, and it never ends.

Love, to every mom out there, every day. Meg+Ellen.

May 5, 2011

Phro*Zen and Please are teaming up – do you have your ticket?

You’re invited to an upscale vegan ice cream social.

What: Phro*Zen vegan ice cream, including some flavors created exclusively for the event, will be served alongside playful vegan dessert accompaniments by Please and paired with coffee from Park+Vine.

When: Saturday May 14th 6p.m.

Where: Park+Vine

Cost: 20 tickets for $25 each get you in to a unique dessert experience and are available at the front desk at Park+Vine.

May 1, 2011

May’s Feature Flavor: Daisy Mae’s Market Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

As many of you know, every month we try to team up with a local business to create a flavor that highlights their products in an effort to create more awareness about both of our businesses through cross-promotion as well as feed our creative appetite. This month is no different. We’re so happy to say that we’ve teamed up with Daisy Mae’s Market right down at Findlay Market to bring you Daisy Mae’s Market Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Yes, it’s a little out there, it’s different than what you might find elsewhere, but so is Cincinnati!
The flavor was inspired by a trip to Findlay Market that I took a while back with my mama, when Barb mentioned that the rhubarb would be coming into season, and we could probably even get some from local growers. That made my brain start ticking, because I seriously love local stuff, and if we could double on the local love, what’s to lose?
So, the rhubarb, the strawberries, and I went to the kitchen. I whipped up some vanilla Phro*Zen, and swirled in a strawberry-rhubarb frosting along with some pieces of vegan pie crust and extra slices of sweet strawberries, and there we go! Daisy Mae’s made the whole idea work, because a fruit-based flavor can’t be great unless the fruit is fresh, and full of flavor. The rhubarb was beautiful, and the strawberries along with the staff at Daisy Mae’s Market could not be sweeter. We hope you’ll enjoy a scoop and head down to Findlay to see what else is fresh at Daisy Mae’s.
Q: So first, please introduce yourself and let us know what you do. 
I’m Barb Cooper from Daisy Mae’s Market. My husband Barry and his brother Jeff are the owners of Daisy Mae’s. I handle marketing for the company and also take care of some of the office responsibilities.
Q: When did you start your business? What inspired you to do so?
Barb: We started Daisy Mae’s Market in November, 2009. Barry and I have spent the last 23 years in the homebuilding business. When the economy soured, we decided to start a second venture. Barry’s brother Jeff had been in the wholesale produce business most of his life and always hoped to open his own company. Since Findlay Market was also looking for a full-time fresh produce merchant about that same time, all the pieces fell into place and we decided to take the plunge. Barry and I joke now that he’s the only local homebuilder who also sells tomatoes!
Q: What do you find to be the most challenging part of running a business?
Barb: In any small business, the most demanding aspect is the number of hours you have to put into each day. The challenge is to prioritize the tasks that need to be done. If you’re not careful, you can get moving in too many directions at once and lose your focus.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding part of running a business?
Barb: I honestly think the best rewards are when people tell us they like what we’re doing. It’s amazing how a genuine compliment can re-energize the whole staff.
Q: Is there anything about being a business in Cincinnati that you especially like?
Barb: We absolutely love Findlay Market—the history, the creative energy of the other vendors, the central location, and the fact that we’re filling a need in the neighborhood. It’s great, too, how so many Cincinnati businesses go out of their way to support each other.
Q: What’s the most unique thing about your business? What makes it special?
Barb: We say we have a “fresh approach to fresh produce.” We’re trying to be a lot more than just another tomato stand. We’re big believers in social media as a way to connect with our customers, and we use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and our own blog in order to do that.
Another unique aspect of Daisy Mae’s Market is that we deliver our fresh produce to individuals and corporations throughout the downtown Cincinnati area. You can order any of the 100 items or so that we have at our Findlay Market location and have them delivered to your home or office the next day. You can find out more about these and other services we offer at www.daisymaesmarket.com.
May 1, 2011

The First Greyhound Pets of America Benefit

Last night was the first of what I hope will be many benefits for Greyhound Pets of America, which is the greyhound adoption program that we got Ida from. Supporting the program that saves so many dogs after they’re retired from the race track was something we really wanted to do, and Derek was the guy to put it all together.

Derek and Ida. My man and my dog. Love them both.

He set everything up with Neon’s Unplugged, a bar off of Main in OTR that is dog-friendly (which gives it so many points, as do Molly Wellman’s expertly mixed cocktails). The GPA of Greater Cincinnati rounded up some troops, Derek pulled together donations from Buffalo Wild Wings, Maggiano’s, and more, and the event was on.

We wanted to support it too, since I love Ida, and Derek is my guy as well as one of our taste-testers, so we whipped up a batch of Ida’s favorite flavor of Phro*Zen – Peanut Butter Peace Train. Owners and greyhounds alike enjoyed free scoops!

"Pitt" the greyhound enjoying some Phro*Zen

“Pitt” in the photo above and her foster parent hung out very close to the cooler for much of the night. She needs adopting by the way! She’s so sweet, and definitely a cuddler, so if anyone out there is thinking about a dog, please consider Pitt!

While the night was full of good food, fun conversations, and plenty of  new dogs and people to meet, it was really all about getting these dogs into safe and loving homes after they’ve been on the race track. The donations received from the silent auctions, donation buckets, etc., will all be put toward getting more pups like our Ida off of the track and into a family. We’re so glad to have her, and we were so excited to see more happy party animals out at Neon’s last night – we loved the greyhounds too!

The greyhounds and their owners out on the bocce ball lawn.