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Category Archives: Living Soy and Milk Free

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 20,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

CeraVe Skincare Line is Soy-Free/Easily Make Your Own Liquid Foundation Using Mineral Makeup

CeraVe Skin Care Line

All CeraVe skin care products are soy free. Shown are Moisturizing Cream, Hydrating Cleanser, Moisturizing Lotion, and Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM.

CeraVe Skincare Line is Soy-Free

I have been looking for more affordable versions of two excellent soy-free skin care products from Dermalogica (Ultracalming Cleanser and Active Moist; see my skincare and makeup post). I love those products, but my wallet does not.

Imagine my glee as I discovered CeraVe skin care products while shopping at Target earlier this summer. At the time, there were four products available (see the picture above). While writing this blog today, I discovered three more products on the CeraVe website I will be sure to check out. I’ve tried each of the products in the picture above and I have discovered them to be wonderfully gentle…and they are soy-free (I verified this with the company, directly)!  Can you hear the angels singing?!  As of today, the CeraVe line includes:

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM (with SPF 30)

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM

CeraVe Renewing Lotion

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

These products may also be found at CVS and Walgreen. The CeraVe website has a store locator, in case you need it.

Of the seven products CeraVe currently has on the market, I have been primarily using the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion for the last 3 months. My skin never feels irritated or greasy after using the products – in fact, it often feels calmer and moisture-balanced. The cleanser is creamy and it doesn’t lather. It removes makeup really well! I keep one bottle in the shower as my primary soap and one by the sink for my face. It is quite gentle and may be rubbed into the skin with your hand/fingers, but I find occasionally I need to use the cleanser with a washcloth or sponge to remove deodorant or dirtier skin.

Note: As a reminder,  you’ll find the ingredient, “tocopherol” in nearly every skin care and makeup product on the market. Tocopherol (Vitamin E) is usually derived from soybeans, but not always. The best way to know for sure your skin care or cosmetic product is soy-free is to contact the company directly through their website by phone or email.

Easily Make Your Own Liquid Foundation Using Mineral Makeup

On a related tangent, I have been having a terrible time looking for soy-free foundation that I’m happy with. Bare Essentials Bare Minerals and Laura Mercier Mineral makeup are soy-free but application of the powder seemed to make my crows feet look more pronounced and didn’t cover my dark circles very well. I used to fix this problem by dabbing liquid foundation under my eyes and then applying the mineral makeup to the rest of my face. Unfortunately, the liquid foundation reacted terribly to my skin (it wasn’t soy free) and it made my eyes water. BUT!  Last week, I discovered by accident that I can make my own liquid foundation out of the CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion and mineral makeup. I just sprinkle the amount of mineral makeup I’d normally use into my hand and pump a small dollop of the moisturizer on top. I mix them with my finger. The result is an incredibly light and creamy foundation that I have been very, very happy with. Add more powder to the mixture for more coverage of problem areas or use less powder for lighter coverage (essentially, a tinted moisturizer). My quest to find soy-free foundation has finally come to an end.

I haven’t tried this with other moisturizers, but I suspect the result will be similar. Let me know how you like it!

In wellness!

Les Miserables Spoof, Just For Us

As a musical theater lover and someone striving to enjoy alternative-to-mainstream foods due to allergies, I must say, I LOVE THIS PARODY! Do yourself a favor and watch this video on YouTube for a good laugh.

The following song, “One Grain More,” is a parody of, “One Day More,” from Les Miserables.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9QbC41oQRo

*******************

“The Les Misérables food allergy parody that will knock your hypoallergenic socks off! When Marius, Cosette, and Epipen are invited to an allergy-friendly party at the house of Jean Valjean, each must create a dish absent of all possible allergens.”

LYRICS

VALJEAN
One grain more
A dash of millet flour might be the key
This never-ending road to gluten free
This horrifying food I eat
Will never taste the same as wheat
One grain more…

COSETTE
A quarter cup of cornflake crumbs
To meet my carbohydrate quota

VALJEAN
One grain more

MARIUS & COSETTE
A teaspoon of some xanthan gum
And still it tastes like…baking soda

EPIPEN
One more dairy substitute

MARIUS & COSETTE
Will I ever eat again?

EPIPEN
Drinking oat milk from a carton

MARIUS & COSETTE
What I’d give for pizza pie

EPIPEN
Now I spend my days confused

MARIUS & COSETTE
Or a slice of beef on rye…

EPIPEN
Wond’ring how you milk an oat

VALJEAN
It’s so good to see you, Quinoa!
You’re the protein source I chose
Still, you look as if I’ve seen ya
Coming out of someone’s nose

MARIUS & COSETTE
Flax instead of eggs
Try to make it whip
Now what do we use
Instead of chocolate chips?
Carob doesn’t work
Carob is a trap
Anyone who’s had it
Knows it tastes like crap!

VALJEAN & EPIPEN
When the hell is this stuff dated?

MARIUS & COSETTE
Burned and bloated day and night

VALJEAN & EPIPEN
Why’s it smell like something died?

COSETTE
What on earth is “lecithin”?

MARIUS
Love, I fin’ly defecated!

EPIPEN
This does not feel like a bun…

ALL
Do you hear the people sneeze
And cough and wheeze
From allergies?

VALJEAN
One grain more!

MARIUS
(simul)
So I added wheat — I’m sorry
We still had some left in stock
Nothing says “it’s time to party”
Like anaphylactic shock
So I guess this must be Quinoi
It’s not so gross, I suppose
Still it looks as if I’ve seen ya…

COSETTE
(simul)
Will I ever eat again?
What if there’s a trace of tree nuts?
Someone get my Epi-pen
I’m not supposed to breathe in peanuts!

EPIPEN
(simul)
Have you ever milked an oat?
Guess it’s better than a goat
Try a little nog
Smoother than a silk
Even though it’s made
Of neither eggs nor milk!
Have another roll
Harder than a rock
Better hold your breath,
Because it tastes like-

VALJEAN & MARIUS
Tomorrow we will bitch and moan
Tomorrow we’ll need cortisone

ALL
Tomorrow we’ll discover foods
That even vegans have forsworn!
Wish me luck
Mother(BLEEEEEEEEEP)
One grain more…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9QbC41oQRo

Itchy and Irritated Freshly Shaved Skin – Allergic to the Razor?

Check the manufacturer’s website for the ingredients in the lubrication strip of your razor.

I have always hated shaving my legs and my underarms. Why? Shaving caused irritated, itchy, and bumpy skin. In February, I discovered my shaving cream contained soy (most of them do). I am allergic to soy on my skin, so this was a problem! I switched to using a soy-free soap or shower gel instead, hoping my problem would go away…but the itchy skin continued. Exasperated that my skin was so sensitive, I began contemplating alternatives for my wardrobe choices…avoid wearing shorts, dresses, and skirts? Only wear pants, jeans, and leggings? I won’t be single forever(!)…and it’s warm and sunny a lot of the time here in California…I needed to get to the bottom of this.

I got to thinking about the lubrication strip on my razor. What is in that thing? The packaging doesn’t say a word about the ingredients in the strip. I searched the internet until I found my answers. It turns out my razor contained THREE different ingredients derived from soy. Basically, I got in the hot shower, which opened up my pores, shaved off a layer of hair and a thin layer of skin, and simultaneously filled all those open pores with the very substance I am allergic to. Niiiiice.

Fortunately, a friend sent me a link to a blog about how Bic “Sensitive” razors contain no lubrication strip. This is a good thing for those of us having allergic reactions to the strip! Vic Sensitive shaver is a single blade disposable razor. Admittedly, it is not an ideal solution, folks, but it does the job.

Bic Sensitive Shaver does not contain a lubrication strip, so it is free from allergens.

Some notes about this choice:

1. There is no lubrication strip, so be sure to use plenty of allergen-free soap or shower gel before shaving. If you’ve found a soy-free shaving cream/gel, please pass it along! LUSH makes a ridiculously expensive shaving cream for the upper lip/face called Ambrosia, which I like. For my legs, I use LUSH’s It’s Raining Men shower gel (also ridiculously expensive – but don’t you just love it’s name?). I found a much cheaper option for body wash (although, I must say it doesn’t even compare to the luxurious LUSH shower gel), Dove VisibleCare Softening Creme Body Wash, which does not appear to contain soy either.

2. Shave only about 3 inches at a time. This is a single blade razor. Shave cautiously and rinse often. Do not shave if you have goosebumps. Enough said.

3. I have fine hair so I can use one disposable razor for about 4-5 shavings. However, I suspect someone with thicker/courser hair may only get 1-2 shaves out of a razor. The package I bought contained 12 razors, and it only cost me about $2.57, plus tax.

One final note…as I was writing today’s blog, I found that Bic has a double bladed razor for sensitive skin: BIC 2 Sensitive. I’ll be checking this out soon.

In Wellness!

Rena

Allergen-Free Pre-Made Foods: Ian’s Alphatots

I found a brand for us to pay attention to at Whole Foods Market (and elsewhere): Ian’s. Ian’s foods are clearly and boldly marked “Allergen Free” and “no wheat or gluten, no milk or casein, no eggs, no nuts, no soy”. You can imagine my excitement when I found a whole case of products with this claim. My iPhone was handy so I snapped a shot:

Ian’s products, found at Whole Foods Market

In the photo are chicken tenders, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, space nuggets, mac and no cheese, fish sticks, popcorn turkey corn dogs, alphatots, and chicken nuggets kids meals. I piled a stack of these into my cart (and then put a few back when I realized I wouldn’t have room in my freezer for all of them).

Tonight my son and I ate Alphatots, with chicken left over from last night, as well as steamed broccoli and carrots.

Ian’s Alphatots, fried in safflower oil and salt

The Alphatots were so easy to make. I’d never fried any potatoes before, so I was having my own little adventure in the kitchen. I fried them in safflower oil and salt for about 4 minutes. Then I dabbed them in some paper towels to remove the excess oil. They were moist and crispy at the same time. And they tasted soooo good.

My son’s plate

My 3-year old and I took turns stealing the letters off of each other’s plate. Seriously…we did! I was hoping he’d get full so I could eat whatever he didn’t eat. Meanwhile, he got a chance to show off that he knew his letters. Well…not quite…but it provided me with a valuable teaching moment at the dinner table. Win-win.

My plate

In case you’re wondering, the Alphatots contained the following ingredients: potatoes, modified palm oil, rice flour, salt, modified cellulose. I’m certain those ingredients are better than those in the fries at McDonald’s. Ha! This makes me happy.

In Wellness.

A Simple Chicken, Kale, and Orange Salad (Soy and Milk-Free)

I have been salad-deprived. Mainly because I haven’t been to the market in way-too-long and so I’ve been eating out a lot more than usual. Salad dressings in restaurants usually contain dairy and/or soy, and I am not one to eat a salad without dressing…so, I order other things.

I finally made time to go to Whole Foods Market. I was happy to discover that Whole Foods sells warm baked whole chicken dressed with allergen-free seasoning or no seasoning at all. Today I bought a whole chicken that was only seasoned with sea salt and pepper. I decided that I would use my own Rena-safe seasonings to spice up the chicken when I got home.

Actually, I cheated. I made this kale, chicken, and orange slices salad with some Trader Giatto’s Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. It is my favorite and I call it my “crack” dressing since I can’t get enough of it, and it’s made with canola oil instead of soybean oil.

A simple salad…in a pretty bowl. What would have made this salad perfect is if I had crumbled up some graham cracker sticks (instead of croutons). They taste so good with the vinaigrette and kale! I would have added some this time but I had just eaten a small bagful of them on my way home from the market (I was starving), so I didn’t want the extra calories by adding more to the salad. Here’s the brand I use: Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks, which are soy and milk-free.

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks: soy and milk-free

Even without the graham sticks it was a delicious salad. I feel healthier already.

Living a Soy and Milk-Free Life: 4 Month Progress Report

I started this blog 3 months ago. It’s time for a progress report on my health and what I’ve learned. Here’s a “before” the discovery…and “after”.

The Before

4 months ago, I discovered I had an allergy to soy, one year prior to that, I discovered I had an allergy to milk. I am in my late thirties, and after seeing several doctors about this, I am able to confidently attribute my newfound allergies to enduring 4 years of intense chronic stress. When I ingest anything containing milk or soy (even the smallest amount), my skin will itch.

Throughout 2011, my skin felt like it was on fire. The only relief I could get came from an application of cortisone cream to my entire face and back.

I had already worked to eliminate milk from my diet that year, but I was still feeling intensely itchy. Once I discovered my allergy to soy, I made drastic changes in my diet and cosmetics, and I felt instant and major relief.

The Discovery

Products containing milk seemed to be far fewer than those containing soy. Soy is in everything. EVERYTHING. Well, almost everything. It was extremely frustrating to learn that all my favorite foods and restaurants are not good for me. So, label reading ensued. I threw away bags and bags of products in my pantry containing the pesky culprits. [Check out this fantastic summary about soy allergies (thank you to my newest reader, Dania), which includes a list of foods that contain soy: Living and Eating Well with Food Allergies - Soy Allergies]. I stopped eating fast food (except for a special order at In-N-Out). I discovered it was quite difficult to find any entree at any fast food joint that does not contain soy, and near impossible to find an entree without soy AND milk.

Then, I learned about my body’s reaction when soy touched my body. Hoping I was doing something healthy for my skin after scratching it raw, it seemed reasonable to apply pure vitamin E directly onto the problem areas to aid in the healing. After 4 days, my skin felt worse than before. “What is in this vitamin E anyway?” Pure soy. Yep. Vitamin E gels are derived from soy. Ohh! Then I discovered that my makeup, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razor blade, skin care products, and sunblock each contained soy (look for the ingredient tocopherol, which is the vitamin E ingredient, and is most often derived from soy). Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies…and my skin was absorbing a great deal of soy every day. See my post, “My Lipstick Contains Soy!” and Other Soy-Laced Beauty Discoveries”.

So. No touching soy. No eating soy. No eating milk products. Got it.
I soon discovered other foods caused my skin to itch. Almonds. Grapes (and all forms of it including wine…boo…). Some candies — I suspect it’s the food coloring, like red 40? Eliminating those foods have helped keep my skin happier. There are a few more foods that give me mild reactions, but I am in denial about them and someday I will have to pull up my big girl panties and admit I should cut them out of my diet too. Hmph.
Oh. I should also say…my chronic stress is gone and what’s left is a day-to-day normal level of stress. How? I’ve done my best to:
(a) eliminate the sources of stress (Actually, this part was largely out of my control, but I did make decisions to bring balance into my work/home life, and to make choices to not overbook my calendar)
(b) enjoy the people in my life (my son, my dear friends, my new sweet boyfriend (!))
(c) spend more time doing the things that give me peace (playing the piano, singing worship songs, praying, painting, doing photography, etc.)
(d) exercise whenever possible, and
(e) sleep more than 6 hours/night

The After

Relief. Sweet relief. I haven’t used cortisone cream in a couple of months. Woo hoo! My skin has healed from the intense scratching. My reactions are milder when I have an accidental bite of the no-no foods (OK, perhaps they’re not all accidental), and the reactions don’t last for days anymore. I suspect this is because my body isn’t being overloaded by the allergens anymore. Perhaps my liver needed some time to clean out. Today I ate an iced animal cookie (I couldn’t help myself) with full knowledge that it contained soy and dairy and that I would have a reaction. My skin itched instantly, but the itching went away after 30 minutes. So I ate another one. (OK, please. Stop laughing. I’m PMS-ing so I can’t be held responsible for my lack of self control.)

I’ve noticed I’ve been able to tolerate small doses of milk products again — like using butter in the pan for cooking eggs. It’s a good thing, because my 3-year old will not eat his eggs if I use any butter substitutes, like safflower oil or sunflower oil.

And here’s something unexpected: I’ve struggled with thinning hair since I was in my early 20’s. My hairdresser noticed last month that my hair is thicker than it was in December. Hmm…
I lost a lot of weight initially because I was afraid to eat and I hadn’t discovered many options for me yet. Now that I have plenty of options for meals and snacks, I’ve gained some of the weight back (and I’ve been told I look healthier now). I feel comfortable in this size, despite the fact that my new size 4 jeans I just bought in March don’t fit any more.
Hey people, I’m reaping the rewards of a soy and milk-free life! Tell me about your progress! Let’s encourage each other!

The Blog

I must mention something I find super cool: I started this blog in February, 2012. Since then, I have received over 2,300 hits from people in 42 countries. I haven’t written in 3 weeks (sorry about that), yet the blog now gets between 40-60 hits per day due to various Google searches and Pinterest re-pins. Wow. Just wow. I’m so happy that others are benefiting from what I’ve learned. I look forward to continuing this journey and learning from each other.

In Wellness!

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