August 10, 2011

A little something to enjoy

 

Hello out there! I wanted to introduce you to our newest product, the vegan ice cream individual cup (pictured above).

Not only is the stuff inside the cup really tasty and exciting, but the cup itself is pretty neat too. It’s made of plant materials, so it’s actually biodegradable. So why should anyone be excited about that? There are plenty of reasons, including knowing it will eventually break down instead of adding to the tons of trash we create everyday, and then there’s this:

Yep. After you finish enjoying your Phro*Zen, you can clean out the cup, poke a few holes in the bottom, and start your cold weather plants in it. The sugar cane fibers will break down and you’ll have some happy little seedlings. You can find these cups at Caffeine Dreams, next to the bike trail in Loveland.

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.

July 21, 2011

A forgetful moment turns unforgettable

 Last week (was it last week already?!) I was a guest speaker at Wyoming Youth Services summer camp program. I brought in samples of Phro*Zen sandwiches, spoke about how I started the business, what my experience was like in the Wyoming school system, etc. Then, after a rousing game of dodgeball with the campers, I was on my way back into the summer heat – sans my reusable containers, extra stickers, and other supplies.

The camp leader was sweet enough to collect all of my items for me, and along with the package arrived a card signed by all of the campers. I thought the kids were great when I left them, but this little thank you note gave me new hope all over again.

“Thank you so much for showing us different ways of making ice cream and for caring about others and their ways of eating ice cream.”

“The ice cream was so so good!”

“Thank you for looking out for everyone’s needs.”

All I can say is that I’m blown away by the level of understanding and acceptance of others shown by the kids I was lucky enough to meet at this camp. They had so many questions, so many ideas to share, and every single one inspired me. I feel like I should write a thank you note for their thank you note. Love, Meg

July 13, 2011

An event worthy of review: Yelp Eats Iron Chef Cook-Off

If you read the last post, either below, or < back a page, you’ll remember seeing those cute little Grateful Graham Phro*Zen sandwiches we made for the Yelp event last Thursday. Well, all of those are gone. All 400. Devoured. And no, I did not eat them.

All you Yelpers did! And I’m so glad. I had a blast handing out free sandwiches and talking about Phro*Zen with some happy people. I also really appreciated the feedback, and the questions, and will look forward to many events in the future. To read more about the Yelp! event, and maybe join if you’re not a Yelper (who doesn’t love a good review and free party now and again?), click over to the event page. Oh, and while you’re there, give us a review on our Yelp! page, too!

July 7, 2011

Something cold, something new…

…something really tasty too! We’re heading out to another awesome Yelp! event tomorrow, and you know what we made? They’re almost too good to be true. Almost. But here they are…

They're chilly. They're vegan. They're free tomorrow night.

 Grateful Grahams made some mini grahams for these tasty little Phro*Zen sandwiches we’ll be slinging for free tomorrow evening. We hope to see you at the Yelp! event – we promise to try to save you one of these tasty little ‘wiches, but get there early because we can’t guarantee they’ll last long!

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: http://www.foodallergy.org/

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:

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/faalerts.php

June 20, 2011

Two Phro*Zen fans that will make your heart melt.

It’s a very lucky person that finds a job that they not only love, but that they find rewarding as well, and on days when I get to see people enjoying Phro*Zen I feel like there’s no one in the world as lucky as myself. Why do I say that? Because of smiles like this:

Say, "Vegan soft serve!"

Phro*Zen is now available as soft serve at Meals To Go on Winton Rd., and I’ve had the most adorable customers (and their lovely parents!) come in for a cone.

Gluten-free goodness. Yum!

 Kai, of “Kai’s Good Karma” fame, and his little sister had an allergy-friendly, totally vegan summer treat, and they gave us pretty good reviews!

A thumbs-up from Kai! Good karma does come around.

Making ice cream is a fantastic job as it is, but I couldn’t be more grateful for our Phro*Zen fan club. Thank you all for the support, and if you’ve got Phro*Zen photos you’d like to share, send them to us at phrozenicecream@yahoo.com! Love, Meg

June 10, 2011

It’s the latest thing.

We’ve been alluding to it via Twitter for a few days now, so all of you who have been following along may have guessed – but maybe not – that we’ve got an announcement to make about our latest project.

WE’VE GOT VEGAN SOFT SERVE!

Seriously! Some hard work and experimentation has resulted in a ridiculously creamy, oh so dreamy, totally dairy and egg free soft serve!

So where can you get it and when? Meals To Go on Winton Rd. in Finneytown, where you’ll find me, Meg, behind the counter Saturday 11-3 ready to serve you a cone or a cup with plenty of additional toppings for you to choose from. I’ll add photos here after I create a few combos on Saturday – please come see me!

Oh, and for those of you that are wondering, yes, it’s gluten-free, and the stuff is good.

Hope to see you Saturday 11-3! Love, Meg

June 7, 2011

Featured flavor: June 2011: Colonel De’s Cosmic Caramel

I don’t get excited about too many things. Ok, I lied, I get excited about lots of things, and use plenty of exclamation points and gestures to make that clear, but I’m trying to express my utter love-love relationship with this month’s featured flavor. So here I go:

If I was the grinchiest, unhappiest person, who didn’t love anything (no, not even kittens or sprinkles or rainbows), I would love this flavor.

Why? Because….it’s salted caramel! Yep. A vegan salted caramel sauce is swirled into vanilla Phro*Zen to create Colonel De’s Cosmic Caramel.

For those of you who don’t know who Colonel De is, you have got to go to Findlay Market to meet this character. He has a shop full of nothing but – well everything! He has spices you’ve never smelled, powders you didn’t know existed, salts from all over the world, and teas and oils that Cleopatra might have demanded at her table. His stall is where I found some beautifully dark turbinado (a coarse grain) sugar that was infused with vanilla. I took that and created a completely dairy free caramel sauce, added some sea salt, and combined it with our vanilla flavor to provide a subtle background to the sweet and slightly salty caramel. It’s the star in this flavor, and I really hope you’ll enjoy it!

Our featured flavor is available at Picnic and Pantry in Northside right now, and will be making its rounds to Park + Vine and Meals To Go this weekend. Speaking of Meals To Go, I have some really great news about what’s coming up there….but I’ll write about that tomorrow….

Love, Meg

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