Archive for ‘Causes and Awareness’

March 27, 2012

It’s almost here!

I would like to invite you to walk with us at Cincinnati’s first annual FAAN Walk for Food Allergies on April 28! I know. I haven’t written in a long time, but I swear it’s for a great reason. I’ve been really busy making some HUGE changes to Phro*Zen, which I will announce as soon as I have more details (The changes include a retail site. Prepare for overuse of exclamation points on that post!). For now, however, you can still find our pints at Essnecha, or send us a custom order (

But back to the walk. My last post was about the walk, so if you need a quick refresher, just scroll and read so I don’t bore you with repetetive details. This post is mostly just to remind everyone to sign up for a team fast because as hard as it is to believe, the walk is just about a month away! It’s going to be so much fun – you really don’t want to miss out. There will be free allergy-safe food samples, circus acts, a bounce house, and more! Plus, if you raise enough donations you get a t-shirt. Pretty cool, right?

So, how do you sign up? Follow this link to our walk site page, and click “create a team,” or “sign up as an individual.” Or if you would like to join team “Kai’s Good Karma” and walk to represent Phro*Zen, you are more than welcome to join! The process is pretty simple, but if you have any questions you can contact FAAN through the website, or post your question here. Then all you have to do is collect donations!

And whether you can be there with us at Friendship Park, or you sign up as a “digital walker,” I am so grateful for your support. You have shown Phro*Zen so much love, which is why it is able to continue growing in such exciting directions, and the community has wrapped its arms around the food allergy cause just as lovingly. As a friend of a family affected by food allergies it means the world to me to know that the cause is not just theirs, but ours, and together we can raise the awareness and education that’s necessary to save lives.

December 16, 2011

A really big little announcement!

I didn’t want to announce it too soon in case anything changed, but I can’t wait any longer to tell you all about….this really cool…..really big deal…..that Phro*Zen gets to be a part of….and you can be a part of too….do you want to know what it is? Are you sure? Do you really want to know?

It’s Cincinnati’s first FAAN Walk for Food Allergies!!!!!

 As made obvious by the excessive use of exclamation points above, I am pretty excited about the walk. It’s a great way to show support for members of your community affected by food allergies, plus it’s going to be a whole lot of fun. I hope you’ll consider creating a team and joining all of us on April 28, 2012 at Friendship Park for a beautiful walk by the river, as well as a few other fun things we’ve got planned. I’ll be keeping everyone up to date on what our board is working on here, but you can also follow @FAANwalkCinci on Twitter, “Like” the Facebook page, and check out the website for more info or to donate. If you have any questions that you’d like answered about the walk, feel free to email me at Love, Meg


September 1, 2011

Food allergy post: August 2011

Well, the end of the month is here and so is this month’s food allergy post. We have some really REALLY exciting news about a food allergy event we’re working on, but we’ll save that for it’s very own post.

This post has a few tips for those families sending kids with food allergies back to school (it’s that time of year again already). Not having a little one myself, I asked a few friends what they were doing to prepare, and here are the best tips I got about that big backpack-toting day:

1) Plan ahead- If your child has food allergies, it is always, ALWAYS best to take preventative measures against a reaction. So, if possible, setup meetings with teachers, administrators, anyone that would be supervising your child at any point during the day. Obviously the nurse should also be directed as to how best to handle your child’s allergies.

2) Provide information- There are a whole lot of people that have no idea what or how severe allergies can be. And those people are adults. Children? Probably don’t have a clue. Ask your child’s teacher if they can perhaps take a little time to discuss respecting each other’s space, and differences, without alienating your child. There tend to be class rules set in lower grades, so it might be something that they can incorporate fairly easily.

3) Create a dialogue- Your child is going to school and taking on new responsibilities. It might help ease the transition if they have a set of questions to ask or a set answer if food is offered to them. Try practicing a conversation at home with them before they leave for school everyday.

4) Repeat, repeat, repeat- It’s not a bad idea to print out a list of dangerous triggers for teachers to remind them, as well as any “room parents” that plan parties, etc. which foods are dangerous. Reminders are important.

5) Make it fun- It’s hard to be different in school. Or, well, at all…ever. But you know what makes being different better? Having fun with it and embracing it. Take a look at some of the products on They’ll help keep your child safe while they get to show their style.

So that’s a little bit of what I have learned. Well, that, and taking deep breaths and one step at a time. How about you moms out there? What helps you send your little one back safely? love, Meg

August 1, 2011

Food Allergy Post: July 2011

This month I had the privilege of getting a more in-depth look at the food allergy program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Whether you love Cincinnati or not (yes, that’s a shout to all of you with the “Cincinnati’s just ok” bumper stickers), the city is lucky to have such an innovative clinic available to those that need it. 

I shadowed Dr. Assa’ad for her morning rounds, which were hectic to say the least. Between the tests and the evaluations, plus the time spent discussing patient status and possible solutions with colleagues, she has her work cut out for her. 

The day started with an evaluation of a patient who was previously tolerating soy milk, but began having stomach upset after strenuous exercise which might have correlated with his breakfast that included soy milk. Confused? Me too. How do you know if it was the soy milk, or another part of his diet, or  the allergens in the air at his activity? Eight hours of testing, that’s how.

That testing began with blind sampling of either soy milk or rice milk, only one of the nurses knew which was which. A few milliliters were taken in specific intervals to determine if he was in fact allergic to soy. The patient came prepared with a movie, used to the long wait associated with the test. 

Another patient came in for a skin test, which involved pricking her skin with a sharp that had been dipped in an allergen extract. If it was a positive reaction, the skin would raise into a bump reminiscent of a mosquito bite or worse. Negative would just look like a little red dot. 

I followed and took notes and tried to absorb every bit of knowledge from all of the staff that I could. What I learned was this: every family that comes through that clinic is worried. Everyone has questions and they all need answers because their well-being depends on them. And as far as our product goes? I need to do everything I can to make it safe for all of those kids and adults alike that come through testing and trials to find out what they can’t have, so that they can find out that they can still have ice cream.

June 27, 2011

Food allergy post: June 2011

Before you read this month’s post, please either click over or scroll down to my last post titled, “Two Phro*Zen fans that will make your heart melt.”

Ok. Back? Alright, so those two little cuties with the cones are frequent customers, reason being that Kai (the little dude giving a thumbs up) has some food allergies. When I was approached waaay back last year about creating a safe dessert for him, I was a little confused. I knew that lactose allergies were fairly common and I had heard a little bit about gluten-free foods, but when I got a list of what making a safe batch would require I felt fenced in to say the least. There were so many “no” foods, and even the ones that were ok were only ok if they were made a certain way or had a certain label! I’ll admit that at some point during the experimentation phase, I had a small fit.

Spoon-throwing aside, when all was said and done I felt I was much more knowledgeable not only about allergies, but about ingredients and food in general, too. And you know what? All of that work, mostly on the part of the incredibly helpful and informative parents, has allowed us to create a more allergy-friendly ice cream (“Kai’s Good Karma”) for kids to enjoy…and there are probably a whole lot more kids out there with food allergies than we previously knew.

A recent study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that eight percent of children in the U.S. are affected by food allergies. Of the 5.9 million children with food allegies, nearly one-third have multiple allergies, and 39 percent have a history of severe reactions. It’s the largest study of its kind, and those findings are pretty startling. Considering the care it takes to ensure the safety of any food, and the number of items recalled every year (you’ll find a link below to the most recent list of recalls), there are some real strides to be made in the ways we process, label, and consume our food.

But enough preaching. The point I’m trying to make is that I was completely unaware of how severe these allergies could be. I had no idea how extensive the lists of unsafe foods were. I didn’t realize that even allergen to skin contact would create a reaction. But now I do, and I really hope that more people will help to get the word out about what food allergies are, and how reactions can be prevented. For some really helpful information, head over to FAAN’s website:

We’re working on some allergy-friendly ice cream sandwiches and other goodies, so watch for another update soon!

List of recent recalls and alerts:

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

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 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 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.

April 19, 2011

Adventures with Ida and an invitation to you

I would like to take this particular blog opportunity to introduce you to one of my four-legged friends, Ida.

Ida’s smiling at you.

If you follow us on Twitter, you know a little bit about her already, seeing as a lot of my tweets seem to focus on our craft time together (and by craft time I of course mean she just puts up with me being in the same room with whatever I’m doing, and sighs when I show her what I’ve done). A few of you might have even met her, as she’s often at the other end of a leash on her way downtown to Park+Vine with me. But for those of you that don’t know Ida, here’s a little bit about her (this is leading up to a bigger point, I promise).

Ida is about two years old, and she’s an adopted greyhound. A few months back, Derek (taste-tester and boyfriend o’ mine) searched through a whole bunch of websites, breeders, adoption organizations, etc. for a greyhound. He’d always wanted one, and while I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the thought of one more responsibility at a time when I was holding a full-time job and running Phro*Zen, I am so glad we got Ida.
Derek found her through the Greyhound Pets of America (Greater Cincinnati division) adoption program, where she was taken from the race track, to a foster home, to an adoptive home that was right for her – which happened to be Derek’s!
Now, even though I spend a good portion of my day alone, running around Cincinnati, and doing whatever I have to do that day, I’ve got Ida to hang out with. We go to Park+Vine together, we go for rides in my car, and we go to Neon’s for a drink at the end of a long day.
So many smells to smell.

So, you must be wondering why Im writing about a greyhound, no? Well, first off, she is not just any greyhound – she rocks. Secondly, the organization we got her through is having a fundraiser at Neons on the 29th of April in order to raise funds so that more greyhounds can go from the track to loving homes, and more people will get to adopt these great animals. Ida will be there, as will I, armed with an ice cream scoop and plenty of Phro*Zen for those that attend. You don’t have to buy tickets or anything, just show up from 5 to 9 pm at Neo’s on April 29th, and maybe donate the dollar you save at happy hour to the group. Ida would love to meet you, you can bring your dog if youve got one, eat some good food and drink great cocktails. There will be some pretty cool two-legged friends there, too! Please join us?Come see Ida at Neon’s 5-9 on April 29!

April 15, 2011

April Isn’t Just Earth Month…

…it’s also Autism Awareness Month. I personally have seen plenty of public awareness ads about autism, even read a few chapters about it in one of my psychology courses in college, but when it came down to writing this, I had to do a whole lot of research about what exactly autism is. Unfortunately, that sense of confusion about the condition is not uncommon in modern medicine, either.

While I don’t know anyone affected by autism, the prevalence of the disorder is increasing with each passing year, so it’s unlikely that that will remain the case for long. According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC) in 2007, autism affected 1 in every 150 births. That seems like an awfully high and worrisome number to me, especially considering that the cause of the disorder is thus far unclear.

From what I understand (and it really isn’t much aside from a general idea), autism doesn’t affect just one group or another based on any one characteristic. It does, however, affect boys more often than it does girls, and there seem to be some genetic connections.

As far as the symptoms, autism is a spectrum disorder, so the extent to which the social and communication skills are affected is dependent on the severity of the disorder. Just as each person with autism is unique, so is their experience with the disease.

Honestly, I feel overwhelmed and little lost about what autism is, how it develops, and how I can help this month and in the future, but I’ve found a few really great resources, one of which is Helping Families With Autism. I’ll be writing a little more about the subject, and I hope you all will enjoy them and learn along with me! If anyone has any information or helpful links, I’d be grateful for those, too!