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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Superhero Chocolates

Superhero Chocolates

I’ve been GEEKing out on these chocolates.

I found a silicone Batman ice cube tray at a local comic book store a couple months ago.

At the time, I couldn’t see past what it was…an ice cube tray. I used it to make Batman apple juice cubes for my almost-three-year-old. I thought it was a brilliant idea because he asked me for the “Batman Cubes” over the host of sweets in my pantry.

Then…I read a blog just before Easter about how to make chocolate bunnies out of chocolate chips. It seemed easy enough but I didn’t have any candy molds in my house…but wait…yes I did…I could use the Batman ice cube tray as a chocolate mold!! It was such a hit with my boy (and unexpectedly, a few grown adult men – more on this later) that I needed to explore the possibility that there might be other superhero “ice cube trays” out there. It turns out, there are! I found the website Entertainment Earth, which carried my Batman mold, a Superman mold, and a host of Star Wars molds too (but R2-D2 was out of stock last week – boo!). While writing today’s blog, I discovered Amazon.com sells them too (search for “Kotobukiya Silicone Tray”).

Now for the chocolate. I found soy-free, dairy-free, and nut-free chocolate chips that are REALLY GOOD and no one I’ve offered these too have noticed what’s missing: EnjoyLife Mini Chocolate Chips. Ingredients: Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Non-Dairy Cocoa Butter.

I really like the flavor of this chocolate and would buy this over any other brand even if I wasn’t allergic to soy and dairy (something I rarely say nowadays). To fill one tray, I put about a half-cup of chocolate chips into the microwave for about 60-90 seconds until they look a little wet.

Then mix it with a spoon until the chips are creamy and well blended.

Drop the chocolate into each symbol with a spoon. I put a layer of chocolate inside to cover the symbol, put a layer of marshmallows inside, and then cover them with another layer of chocolate. I may crumble some pretzels in there next time.

Put them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. If you are impatient like me, you’ll likely take them out too soon and end up with deformed superhero symbols. Fair warning.

Then peel them out of the molds. They are easy to take out because the trays bend nicely.

These chocolates have made me a SuperMom in my son’s eyes. What’s more, I’ve learned boys of all ages like Superhero chocolates. One friend asked me to freeze him a few chocolates for a visit we’ll have in a couple weeks. Another took me out to lunch. Maybe THIS should be my strategy for finding the man of my dreams: offer potential suitors Batman chocolates? Ha! And…”snort”.

In Wellness!

A Handy Collection of Fast Food Allergen Statements

Sunset at the Pier

3 1/2 months ago, had someone asked me if I consumed soy, I would have said, “No. Except when I occasionally eat Japanese food…edamame and/or sushi with soy sauce.” I didn’t eat tofu and I didn’t drink soy milk or use soy-based products.

Yet, in January of this year, I figured out I was allergic to soy (after already dealing with an allergy to milk products for a year). Momentarily, I wasn’t too worried about eliminating soy from my diet, because I thought I didn’t eat very much of it. However, since then I’ve rapidly discovered soy is in nearly everything I used to eat regularly. I threw away bags and bags of items containing soy from my pantry. I am a very busy gal – single mom with a full time job – so cooking my meals at home was not always a convenient option…So…I guess you would have called me a fast foodie, even though I did my best to order the healthiest options at various fast food restaurants. Little did I know, I was allergic to ingredients in every meal I ordered at every fast food restaurant I frequented.

It turns out it is quite difficult to avoid soy and milk while eating at most of these joints. Soy is a common ingredient in the sauces, marinades, salad dressings, seasonings, frying oil, and breads. Plus, the meats are marinated in sauces with soy, and they likely come from animals that are soy-fed. I JUST learned that super-allergic-to-soy people can get anaphylactic and need an epi-pen from ingesting meat and eggs from soy-fed animals (Thank you, SprinklesandAllergies). Of course, most of the entrees also contain contain milk ingredients, making it even harder for many of us to order.

You will see, most fast food restaurants will not have a soy- and milk-free option for those of us who need it. However, someone pouring over the ingredients list and allergy statements at each of these restaurants (see below) might be able to get creative with what they order. You could really test the idea of them “Making it your way”, but beware of cross contamination with the grill and frying oil. I’ve only found one place to easily order a presumably soy- and milk-free entree: In-N-Out (see my blog about this: Hooray for In-N-Out! Soy- and Milk-Free Options).

Anyway, after spending WAY too much time figuring out how/if I could eat fast food anymore, I have collected nutritional and allergy statements for the major fast food joints I frequented. I thought I’d post these statements in one easy-to-access place in case someone else is on the same journey as I am. It turns out, after all my research,  I’ve found I really can’t eat at fast food joints anymore (save In-N-Out) and so I do my best to cook at home, bring my lunch to work, and order carefully at non-fast-food restaurants.

I hope this list is helpful to someone out there! This list will continue to grow as time goes on and I collect more nutrition and allergy statements (in pdf form – feel free to download and print these). I’ve learned that not all fast food restaurants have allergy statements on their websites…that really must change. Don’t you think?

For more detailed tips about eating allergy-free while dining out, I recommend the site, AllergyEats – Your Online Guide to Allergy Friendly Restaurants.

In Wellness!

Nutrition and Allergy Statements for Major Fast Food Restaurants

Arby’s Nutrition and Allergen Info – Also see my blog about Arby’s: Can’t Avoid Soy and Milk at Arby’s

Burger King Product List for those with Gluten Sensitivities

Burger King Menu and Ingredients List 

Carl’s Junior Menu. As of 4-29-12, Carl’s Junior has not posted a allergy statement, however, they do post “Alternative Options” which includes a gluten-free burger.

Green Burrito Allergen Info

In-N-Out Food Quality Statement – Also see my blog about In-N-Out: Hooray for In-N-Out! Soy- and Milk-Free Options

Jack In The Box Ingredients List – Also see my blog about Jack in the Box: “Welcome to Jack in the Box. May I take your order?”

McDonalds Ingredients List – Also see my blog about McDonald’s: McDonald’s Soyland

Popeye’s Nutrition and Allergens List

Taco Bell Allergens List

Wendy’s Allergens List


I’ve Been Cheating (A Little)

Yes, that’s right. I’ve been eating foods that I should not be eating. Allergic-reaction free. How?! My doc gave me some pretty heavy duty meds (prednisone, if you must know) for my laryngitis last week. This medication is often prescribed to those with serious allergies…and I discovered after about half the bottle was consumed all my allergies went away.

It was like being given permission to cheat.

Before you get carried away with assumptions about the way I ate, you must know, I didn’t cheat THAT big. I didn’t outright order anything milky, cheesy, or soy-filled. Truly! One would expect that I would binge on all my favorites: vanilla bean ice cream, Burrito Supreme, edamame, sushi with soy sauce, sausage supreme pizza, and chocolate milk. I actually had plenty of opportunities…I was traveling on business and eating out on the company dime provided me with plenty of temptation.

Instead, I cheated on things that would normally give me milder reactions, like bread, salad dressings, or chocolate (each made with soy/dairy). No, please, I’m not fishing for a medal for making such unnecessary sacrifices. In fact, I’m writing about this today a little perplexed why I didn’t cheat bigger and more often during those 5 symptom-free days. Three months ago when I discovered my allergy to soy I would have done anything to go back to eating the way I was without the consequences. And here I was, with a free ticket to do so, and I didn’t really take it.

So…why? My brain is newly wired! I can’t help but read labels, ask questions, and find alternatives to the foods I’m offered. I am challenged to find a soy and dairy free meal and am satisfied when I do. I have a new respect for my body and I want to take care of it. Plus, to be symptom free for several days in a row was GLORIOUS and I didn’t want to risk messing it up with a big bowl of fettucini Alfredo.

One might think…maybe Rena should go on those meds more often. NO WAY! That stuff messed up my stomach and I gained about 5 pounds in water retention and bloat. No thank you. The meds are leaving my system now and I see I need to go back to being extra careful.

What’s the moral of the story? I guess it was just nice to discover about myself that my cravings for what I’ve been missing weren’t as strong as I thought they were. Given the opportunity to cheat in a big way, I chose to cheat relatively small. There’s something powerful knowing this about myself. It might even help get me through when I’m offered a cream puff or a cheesy hors d’oeuvre.

Oh who am I kidding?!

In Wellness!