Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ceramic Waffle Iron & Other Safer Kitchen Picks

If you have been around here for awhile, you know that I did a major kitchen overhaul in recent years.  Not a remodel.  A pots, pans, utensils, textiles, and appliances redo.  :)  

I did so much research on what materials are safe.  I threw out all the teflon, nylon, metal, and most of the plastic.  

For pots and pans, I invested in cast iron by Lodge and Le Creuset (outlet store!).  Enameled and raw.  

For cookie sheets and pizza pans, we went with this baking stone made in the USA.  

I bought bamboo utensils and cutting boards along with enameled stone baking dishes by Le Creuset at TJ Maxx.  

My muffin tins were replaced by 100% silicone muffin cups by Regency.  

Water bottles were replaced by stainless steal Thermos bottles.  

But one thing was amiss.  Mr. Waffle & Pancake (that's my hubs) was desperately missing the waffle maker that I threw out.  Teflon, no good!  So he set out on his own mission to find a safer waffle maker for Saturday morning breakfasts.  

He came up with this Oster Ceramic Flip Waffle Maker, and I wanted to give him several months to try it out before we gave it a review.  And now I've been given the green light to recommend this kitchen appliance to you. 

Hubs says it doesn't get quite as hot as he is used to, but that's not a deal-breaker.  It makes both soft and crunchy waffles depending on the batter you use.  It releases waffles cleanly and cleans up well.  I like that it stores vertically, taking up less space.  

The 4 stars on Amazon is right in line with our thoughts.  I love that this is not teflon.  And the fun colors like red, pink, and brown are extra cool.  

In case you are wondering, this is hub's favorite waffle recipe.  And here is a simple waffle recipe free of egg and milk from back in the day.  

Hope this helps!

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Dairy-Free Brownies ~ Enjoy Life

Our family was asked by Enjoy Life to review some of their new and exciting allergy-free baking mixes.  And our Facebook readers voted that we start with the boxed brownies.  Good choice!  

These are not your normal brownies from a box.  They include ancient grains, protein, and probiotics!  They do NOT include GMO, artificial ingredients, gluten, or any of the top 8 allergens. Come to mama!

First off, these could not have been more convenient.  You just add water and oil.  Easy peasy.  

Second, the texture was the perfect mix of gooey and cakey.  Sure to please both preferences. I know, because hubs and I are at opposite ends of the brownie texture preference spectrum.  And neither of us had a complaint.  

Third, the taste of these was rich and tasty.  They include Enjoy Life's delicious chocolate chips! However, they do have a unique taste especially when you aren't particularly used to gluten-free. BUT, my kids thoroughly enjoyed this rare brownie treat.  We ate the whole pan 8x8" pan...quickly! No questions asked.  And while I can easily pass up baked goods in favor of dark chocolate on most days, even I found myself sneaking into the brownie pan more than once.  So while the taste was unique, I definitely liked it.  

Soon we will be trying some more of the boxed mixes by Enjoy Life.  What should we try next?!  

You can find more information and purchase these mixes at Enjoy Life's website.  

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Dairy-Free Pickle Pinwheels

With the hustle and bustle of summer, our lunches were getting pretty mundane and automatic. Peanut Butter Jelly.  Ham Sandwich.  Call 'er done.  

But the cooler weather and back-to-school planning had me take a pause to come up with something new for the boys.  

We had been enjoying the ease of baby dill pickles from Aldi all summer.  So it finally hit me that we could take this fun snack a step further.  Think church potluck pinwheels!

To make these, I layered lunch meat, cheese, and mayonnaise.  Then I placed a baby pickle onto top of the stack and tightly rolled the mayo, meat, and cheese around the pickle.  Next, I sliced them and put them on crackers.  Because honestly, they don't stay together well despite the mayo. Original recipes call for cream cheese which is more adhering.  But once they were settled onto the crackers, the kids had no problem eating these.  Graham asked for them for dinner the very same day.  SUCCESS!  

Here are the ingredients we used:
Hormel Naturals Lunch Meat (ham, turkey, salami)
Cheese Slice (Tofutti American)
Baby Dills (Aldi)
Crackers (Town House Original)

For those of you who guessed the cheese on Facebook, it was Tofutti.  Miles acquired a taste for this as a toddler, and it's his favorite.  Graham will eat it, too.  :)  Since he drinks almond milk, I don't worry about the soy in Tofutti.  There ya have it!  

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Individual Lunch Crock Pot ~ Great for Food Allergies!

This isn't an amazing sale as much as it is an amazing find.  I had no idea that individual lunch crock pots existed!  I just found this little jewel on Amazon while looking to replace my large crock pot.  

This plugs in, has a tight seal twist lid, a removable washable crock inside, and a handy little handle!  

Miles would love this for lunch outings or for potlucks.  I would fill it with his favorite soups, spaghetti, meat, veggies, etc.  What a treat!  Especially since I don't love using microwaves and other's microwaves are not allergy safe (think residue and contamination).  Having our own little safe hot food container to tote around is a great idea.  I like this better than a Thermos idea.  

Even more fun?  You can choose from black, red, pink, and turquoise!  I can justify just about any food allergy meal container at back-to-school time.  Am I the only one who does this?!  

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

7 Days of Dairy-Free, Natural Snacks for Kids ~ Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Blender Muffins {Day 4}

When I put out a plea on Facebook for any natural sugar treats that I should try for the boys, one friend linked a blender muffin recipe that really intrigued me.  I knew we had to try it.  Turns out, this recipe from Thirty Handmade Days was delicious!  And I even left out the honey.  We topped them with coconut and raisins.  And nobody complained about lack of all!  

The one thing I would note is that these used up a lot of my precious peanut butter.  And if you have to use a nut butter, that would be even costlier.  AND next time I for sure have to double the recipe because they were that good.  

Our favorite sugar-free peanut butter is Smucker's Natural.  :)  

If you have a strong blender like our Breville blender, you should give these a try!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Classical Conversations Supplies on Amazon + $14.99 Laminator Today!

Celebrate Back-To-School with this highly rated, 4.5 star laminator on sale at Amazon today only! It's 75% off, making it just $14.99.  Free shipping with Amazon Prime or a $35 order.  

It comes with 5 pouches. Get 100 more pouches for just $9.99 (regularly $15.99).

Other Amazon supplies for Classical Conversations Cycle 1:

Classroom Supplies:

30 Sharpened Ticonderoga Pencils for $5.97 (Students)

Bissell Sweeper for $21.99 ($5 coupon) (Classrooms)

24 Green Dry Erase Markers for $8.99 (Maps)

8 Ultra Fine Tip Dry Erase Markers $8.88 (Maps, Essentials Charts)

Science Projects:

Craft Sticks Weeks 7 & 8 Dissection

12 Foam Balls Week 13 Tilt

Playdough Week 14 Sampler

Alex Modeling Clay $4.50 Week 15 Prints in lieu of plaster!

12 Sharpie Markers $5.88 Week 16 Stretch

Yard Stick Week 18 Tip

4-in-1 Compass Week 24 Compass Walk

Art Projects:

Mortar and Pestal Week 13 Egg Paint in lieu of rocks

Crayola Colored Chalk Week 13 Egg Paint

Gold Foil Paper Week 15 Gold Leaf

Foam Sheets Week 16 Print in lieu of wood blocks

Metal Stylus Week 16 Print in lieu of hammers and metal objects

Black Printing Ink Week 16 Print

Rubber Brayer Week 16 Print

Crayola Model Magic Week 17 Michaelangelo in lieu of plaster

Tracing Paper Week 18 Drawing Tall Figures

My other supplies I shopped around for at Lighthouse, the Dollar Store, Walmart, Michaels, and I got my rock and mineral kits at Cornerstone online. Hope this helps!

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Milk-Free Find ~ Stretch Island Fruit Leathers

Right now you can get grape flavored Stretch Island Fruit Leathers for just 31 cents each.  Great deal for this organic snack and just in time for packing school lunches.

Being an Amazon Prime member totally works for our food allergy family.  I can order safe snacks in bulk, have them delivered in 2 days, and no minimum order is required.  LOVE THAT!  I spent so much money bumping orders to $35 for free shipping so the membership has paid for itself in this regard.  Not to mention we love the video and music streaming.  :)  You can try Amazon Prime FREE for 30 days!

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Milk-Free Find ~ Dairy-Free Lara Bars 80 Cents Each

Lara Bars are whole food bars and do contain either peanuts or tree nuts. To be safe, these are for mom only at our house.  

Right now they are on a great sale on Amazon when you clip the 20% off coupon, making some flavors just 80 cents each.  They can run close to $2 in-store.  I just ordered for myself!

I would hesitate to give these to food allergy kids allergic to peanuts OR tree nuts because of cross contamination.

Blueberry Muffin - contains cashew
Chocolate Peanut Butter - contains peanuts
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - contains cashew
Cappuccino - contains almond & cashew

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Monday, August 17, 2015

School Lunches & Snacks ~ Peanut-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free Ideas

NOTE:  Not all Aldi Simply Nature products are organic.  My bad!  ;)

I am super excited to share this video and blog post with you!  Hopefully it will help my home school group and others who are trying to pack allergy-friendly lunches and snacks this school year.

Our home school co-op is a peanut-free and nut-free campus and has a dairy-free classroom.  

Since we only meet once a week for 24 weeks, I'm hopeful that this will be very do-able for our families.  

The goal of an allergy-free campus is to avoid contact reactions.
Food residue from allergen foods can get on tables, chairs, door knobs, sink faucets, water fountains, toys, classroom supplies, etc. via dirty hands and mouths.  Then if a food allergy student touches contaminated surfaces, they can have a severe, life-threatening reaction.    

So I am posting a video, list of tips, and pictures to offer affordable, easy, and safe lunch and snack ideas.

Peanut-Free Tip
Substitute peanut butter with sunflower seed butter, also known as Sunbutter.  It's good!  Just like peanut butter, some have sugar, some have honey, some are sugar-free.  Find your favorite!

Be sure to check granola bars and snack bars.  They often contain peanut.

Nut-Free Tip
Substitute nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc) with seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc).  I like to get these in bulk at Hyvee, Food Fantasies, etc.  

Be sure to check granola bars, snack bars, and cereals.  They often contain tree nuts.

Granola Bar Alternative = DIY Trail Mix

Dangerous Foods for Dairy Allergy
Cheesy Chips & Crackers (Doritos, Cheetos, Gold Fish, etc)
Ranch Dip
Chocolate Candy

The church requests water-only to prevent stained carpets, but it works great for food allergy safety, too.  Our students should bring labeled water bottles to community day.

Candy-Free Incentives
Our tutors will be using non-candy, daily incentives this year.  This will help with food allergies and alleviate other dietary concerns by parents such as food dye, sugar, additives, etc.  

Party Food
All of our classes this year will be able to earn a classroom party once a semester for good behavior. The party food will be provided by the director and will be allergy-safe and yummy.  

If you wish to bring in birthday treats for your child's class, please see the director for safe options ahead of time.  This is not done often on our campus, but sometimes is requested.

Snack & Lunch Ideas
Meat sandwiches or wraps with no cheese
Microwaved hot dog
Microwaved chicken nuggets
Tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad
Sunbutter and jelly
Sunbutter and apples
Meat jerky
Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
Plain chips 
Graham Crackers
Popcorn with salt
Fruit snacks

Food Labels 
Label laws require processed foods to say if they contain allergens like milk/dairy, peanut, or tree nut. Taking the extra step to read labels before you pack your child's snack and lunch would help a lot.

Allergy-Free Concession Basket
For those parents overwhelmed with finding safe classroom snacks or who just don't have time to pack snacks in the morning, we are going to try offering an allergy-free "vending machine" this year. We will stock it with safe snacks that anyone can enjoy.  We will do it on a "suggested donation" basis, and hope that this will become a fun and helpful feature on our campus.  

Washing hands with soap and water or at least a baby wipe helps tremendously in the pursuit of food allergy safety.  Antibacterial gel does not remove allergens from hands.  

It is our practice to have all children sit and eat with their parent(s) at lunch and to wash hands with a provided baby wipe before continuing onto class or play.  This helps streamline and ensure hand-washing as well as teaches children how to sit and enjoy fellowship over a meal.  

Each classroom will also have it's own hand-washing times.  Please follow your tutor's instructions. And always wash hands as needed.  As a bonus, this will help cut down on spreading germs and sickness in our community, too!

Thank You!
The purpose of our co-op is "To know God and to make Him known".  Our families love each other well as God loves us.  Thank you very much for your cooperation to keep our food allergy students protected. If you have any questions, just ask me.  :)

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Biphasic Food Allergy Reaction Study


The FARE website shares about a study recently done on biphasic food allergy reactions.  This means a second reaction happening soon after treating the initial reaction.  There are some predictors to be aware of now.  Read more here!

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Our Favorite Dairy-Free, Back-To-School Snacks on Amazon

Our family is gearing up for the new school year.  And that means we need some quick, easy, kinda-healthy snacks for lunches.  I always love to peruse Amazon for some bulk buy deals, and there are definitely some right now.  I have all these fantastic, dairy-free items in my cart.  All family favorites.

60 Cents a Bag

63 Cents a Can

75 Cents Each

49 Cents a Bag

75 Cents a Can

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

7 Days of Dairy-Free, Natural Snacks for Kids ~ Homemade Chocolate {Day 3}

With all the talk lately about dark chocolate containing undeclared milk and the health benefits of healthy fats like coconut oil touted...I decided it was time to try my hand at making our own chocolate.  

Surprisingly, making your own chocolate is quick and easy.  And while I thought this would be a special mommy treat, it turns out that my boys love it as much as I do.  So we included this in our week of "only natural sugars".  

I must say, I love getting my coconut oil in homemade chocolate WAAAAAAY more than I liked getting coconut oil in coffee.  Ack.

Here is our small batch recipe.  But trust me, you may need to double or triple!  

2 Tbs. coconut oil
1.5 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 tsp. maple syrup
dash of salt
dash of vanilla

Heat first 4 ingredients over low-medium heat until heated through.  Do not bring it to a boil or the cocoa powder will get angry and scorch.  Pull off heat and add vanilla.  

Pour mixture into molds like silicone muffin cups or just pour onto a cookie sheet covered with wax or parchment paper.  Place in freezer for about 15 minutes until hardened.  Keep stored in an airtight container in the freezer.

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Dairy-Free & Egg-Free Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Original Post:  Aug 10, 2009

These make a great treat or breakfast, especially during zucchini season!  I am freezing some of these for the busy back-to-school season coming up!  

This recipe was inspired by my Zucchini Bread Recipe.  Sometimes it's just more fun in a muffin, with chocolate chips and sugar sprinkles.  :)  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How I'm Using My Erin Condren 18-Month Planner 2015/2016

I received my 18-month Erin Condren Planner about a month ago.  It was love at first site, and I actually posted a first-glance tour video for you.  There were so many extras that I wasn't expecting. That's always a nice treat.

And now that I've gotten to play with the planner for a few weeks, I feel like I have a pretty good system for using every single page and section of the planner in really useful ways.  I couldn't bear the idea of having empty pages not working for me.

One major thing that I did was condense my budget binder into my new EC planner.  I love having it all in one place.  I also have other tips to share like how to record daily goals, menu plans, spiritual notes, gift-giving, Christmas spending, and more...all in this handy planner.  

If you haven't purchased one of these heavy-duty planners before, you can get $10 off as a new customer.  

A 12-month, 2016 planner is $50 but an 18-month planner starting July 2015 is just $5 more.  Totally worth getting started now in my opinion.  It's not too late!

Hope you enjoy the tips and ideas.  I love organizing and sharing.  Let me know if you have any questions or other good ideas for us!

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New E-Cloth Bundles - Compare to Norwex and Save

Hey e-cloth fans!  We have some new bundles that you are gonna love.  Check 'em out...

Wash & Dry Set

Luxury Towel Set

Pamper Set

Daily Cleaning Set

Complete Home Care Set

 And remember, shipping is free!  

Thank you for supporting our work at Milk Allergy Mom

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

7 Days of Dairy-Free, Natural Snacks for Kids ~ Fruit {Day 2}

This may be no-brainer to some...but one way to cut processed sugar is to eat fruit!  I tell my kiddos it's "God Candy".  All na-tu-ral.  Sugar God gave us.  Right from the tree, vine...or whatever.  

The kids may expect cookies for snacks.  But once I point out how sweet fruit really is, it usually satisfies.  

And one thing I've learned about fruit is to buy what's in season.  Not only will it taste the sweetest and best, but it's also usually the cheapest!  

Right now in mid-July, we are obsessed with cantaloupe and watermelon.  Mmmmmmm!  

Mix it up, try an assorted fruit plate, try fruit kabobs, try a fruit salad.  

As long as there is fruit, we can survive any 7-Day Natural Sugar Week.  :)  

What is your favorite fruit?    

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Buzzfeed Feature ~ Water Balloon Pinatas

Thank you to Buzzfeed for featuring our water balloon pinatas at Graham's allergy-free, summer birthday party a few years ago.  :)  They give lots of other great ideas for keeping the kiddos cool this summer, too.  Food allergies sure won't keep us from having a fun summer!

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Milk Patch Update ~ Part B Coming Soon!

DBV Technologies contacted us and let us know the progress on the Milk Patch study.  They are moving onto Phase 2 later this year!  This is great news as the Peanut Patch is moving onto Phase 3. Lord, please let this be our cure for life-threatening food allergies.  I so hope to get in on this trial. Since the milk study is called MILES, I think it's meant to be.

Press release:

DBV Technologies Announces Completion of Part A of the MILES Study Evaluating the Safety of Viaskin® Milk in Pediatric Cow’s Milk Allergy 

Bagneux, France, June 30, 2015

DSMB expressed no safety concerns and recommended that the study continue as planned. Initiation of Part B expected in the second half of 2015 pending consultation with regulatory agencies

DBV Technologies (Euronext: DBV – ISIN: FR0010417345 - Nasdaq Stock Market: DBVT), a clinical-stage, specialty biopharmaceutical company, today announced the completion of Phase I or Part A, of the Viaskin Milk Efficacy and Safety Phase I/II study (MILES). The Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) for the study recommended that the study continue and expressed no safety concerns after evaluating the Part A safety data of subjects treated with a 150 μg, 300 μg and 500 μg doses of Viaskin Milk.

The MILES study is a two part, multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Viaskin® Milk in IgE-mediated cow’s milk protein allergic (CMPA) patients ranging from two to 17 years of age. Part A evaluated the safety of three escalating doses of Viaskin® Milk (150 μg, 300 μg and 500 μg) versus placebo over three weeks in 18 patients.

Pending review of the Part A data by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. and Canadian approvals of the revised protocol described below, the Company intends to initiate Part B of the trial in the second half of 2015. Part B, or Phase II, of the MILES study is expected evaluate the efficacy and safety of all three doses of Viaskin® Milk (150 µg, 300 µg, 500 µg) versus placebo for 12 months. Approximately 176 patients between two and 17 years of age are expected to be randomized in a 1:1:1:1 ratio at selected North American sites.

About the MILES Study
The MILES trial is a multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized Phase I/II trial to study the safety and efficacy of Viaskin Milk in pediatric patient populations (age two to 17) suffering from IgE-mediated cow’s milk protein allergy, or CMPA, with elevated IgE levels related to cow’s milk protein. The trial is being conducted in select U.S. and Canadian clinical centers. Part A of the MILES trial has been completed. Under the proposed amended MILES Part B protocol, up to 176 subjects are expected to be randomized for treatment at approximately 18 sites. Eligible subjects with confirmed IgE-mediated CMPA will perform an initial food challenge at screening with escalating doses of cow’s milk proteins. Subjects who display objective signs or symptoms of allergic response to an eliciting dose of 300 mg cow’s milk proteins (approximately 9.4 mL of cow’s milk) or below will be randomized in the trial. The primary efficacy endpoint will be the percentage of subjects who are treatment responders after 12 months, defined as subjects who meet at least one of the following criteria: (1) a 10-fold or greater increase in the cumulative reactive dose, or CRD, of cow’s milk proteins at month 12 of the food challenge as compared to baseline value in addition to reaching tolerance to at least 144 mg of cow’s milk protein (approximately 4.5 mL of milk) or (2) a CRD of cow’s milk protein greater than or equal to 1,444 mg (approximately 45 mL of milk) at month 12 of the food challenge. Secondary efficacy endpoints include, among others, the percentage of subjects who are treatment responders at month 24, the mean and median CRD of cow’s milk proteins at months 12 and 24 as well as the change in CRD from baseline, the change from baseline in the severity of symptoms elicited during the food challenge from baseline to months 12 and 24, and the change from baseline in quality of life assessments at months 12 and 24.
About DBV Technologies 
DBV Technologies is developing Viaskin®, an innovative new approach to the treatment of allergies – a major public health issue that has been increasing in prevalence. DBV Technologies, incorporated in France in 2002, has developed a proprietary, patented technology for administering an allergen to intact skin while avoiding transfer to the blood, and thus lowering the risk of a systemic, allergic reaction in the event of accidental exposure. DBV Technologies is focusing on food allergies, including milk and peanut, for which there are currently no effective treatments. DBV Technologies has designed two products candidates: Viaskin® Peanut and Viaskin® Milk. The clinical development program for Viaskin® Peanut has received Fast Track designation and Breakthrough Therapy designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
DBV Technologies shares are traded on segment B of Euronext Paris (Ticker: DBV, ISIN code: FR0010417345) and on the Nasdaq Stock Market in the form of American Depositary Shares (each representing one-half of one ordinary share) (Ticker: DBVT). For more information on DBV Technologies, please visit our website:  
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements about the potential safety and efficacy of Epicutenaous Immunotherapy (EPIT®) via Viaskin® Milk and DBV’s anticipated clinical development of Viaskin Milk and other product candidates. These forward-looking statements are not promises or guarantees and involve substantial risks and uncertainties. The Company’s product candidates have not been approved for sale in any jurisdiction. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described or projected herein are uncertainties associated generally with research and development, clinical trials and related regulatory reviews and approvals, the risk that historical preclinical results may not be predictive of future clinical trial results, and the risk that historical clinical trial results may not be predictive of future trial results. A further list and description of these risks, uncertainties and other risks can be found in the Company’s regulatory filings with the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers, the Company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings and reports, including in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2014 and future filings and reports by the Company. Existing and prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. DBV Technologies undertakes no obligation to update or revise the information contained in this Press Release, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

7 Days of Dairy-Free, Natural Snacks for Kids ~ Butterfinger Smoothies {Day 1}

My kiddos and I have many of conversations.  I explain a lot of things, and they soak in information like sponges.

Recently, we've been talking about sugar.  I explained to them that using God's natural sugars are probably better for our bodies than using sugars that man has altered.  Honey, maple syrup, natural sugar cane...  I know there are varying opinions on this.  Some would cut sugar altogether.  But I'm taking baby steps, here.  ;)  I think just making them aware that this is an issue to consider is an accomplishment.  

So together, in one of our chats about good snack choices, we decided to cut out processed sugar for a whole week.  This meant no more Oreos, Poptarts, chocolate bars, etc.  

We set out on a mission together to make sweet afternoon treats that would only use natural sugar.  

And our Facebook readers thought this was a fun idea for us to share after the experiment.  So here we are on the other side.  It's time to share!  We survived, we had fun, we rose to the challenge, and this would be great for us to do on a regular basis.  Maybe cutting processed sugar a week out of each month or something???  

First up, we did our Butterfinger Smoothies.  You can click for the recipe.  But for Natural Sugar Week, we specifically used:  

Frozen Banana
Unsweetened Peanut Butter (or sunflower seed butter)
Unsweetened Almond Milk
Ground Flax Seeds
Cocoa Powder

In this concoction, the banana is the sweetener.  You can add maple syrup or honey if you want to, but my kids have never asked for it.  We love this treat!  

I linked our favorite IKEA colored kid cups (BPA-Free) because they are fantastic for food allergy families.  We color code the kid drinks, especially when friends are over.  This helps keep the kiddos' drinks straight and my food allergy son safe.  :)  

Let us know how you like the smoothies!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Milk-Free Find & Review ~ Philly Swirl Italian Ice

The folks at Philly Swirl recently contacted us about trying their dairy-free Italian Ice varieties.  And the boys were more than happy to review all these goodies for you, our dairy-free friends. 

As you can see labeled on the boxes, these are not only dairy-free but they are also gluten-free and peanut-free.    

We got to try the Swirl Stix, Swirl Popperz, and the original Swirls cups.  My kids love those candy spoons!  

The kiddos most enjoyed the Swirl popsicles.  They were always vying for their favorite flavors.  Cotton Candy.  It was all about the cotton candy!  Second favorites were orange and rainbow.  Of course, their wasn't a flavor they didn't like.  ;)  

The facility is peanut and gluten free.  But they DO make a fudge version that contains milk. I asked them directly if they could explain manufacturing processes for our dairy-free readers and this is what they said:

"The dairy products are run on the same line as the regular products.  Our lines are cleaned with our Cleaning in Place system on a daily basis and sanitized before start up.  We use a Neogen Reveal 3D Total milk test kit after each dairy run before we start a regular run."

You can see Philly Swirl products, nutrition info, and more at the Philly Swirl website.  I am told Walmart is their biggest retailer, but I also know food allergy friends have found these at dollar stores on occasion!  :)  

Summer vacation is halfway over.  Finish it off with a bang by picking up some Philly Swirl for your kiddos to enjoy.  :)   

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Monday, July 13, 2015

All Natural Vanilla Snow Cones

The boys and I have fun making snow cones at home, especially since we don't trust the local snow cone shops to make them safely for us.  In recent summers, we used a recipe for syrups that used kool-aid.  

But for our first snow cones this summer, we decided to forgo the artificial coloring and to come up with something a little more natural.  Vanilla snow cones sounded good!  

I know it might sound lame, but seriously, they were so good!  And compared to other syrup recipes I see online, these are lower in sugar.  It takes a lot of sugar to tame kool-aid!  

The boys have been asking for vanilla snow cones over and over so they were definitely a hit with the kiddos.  They really do appreciate the "no artificial colors" component and are thinking up syrup recipes using real fruit now.  :)  

As for shaving the ice, we own a snow cone machine.  But we also have a "snow" feature on our Breville blender that works well in a pinch.  With the second option, the boys can make their own snow cones!  

To get this even more natural, I used organic Sugar in the Raw for the sugar.  I think I'm gonna try the syrup in my green tea, too!

If you want sugar free, use Stevia.  Or a mix of sugar and stevia for very low sugar.

1 cup water
1/4  - 1/2 cup natural sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat water and sugar on stove until sugar dissolves.  Take off heat and add vanilla.  Store in glass container in refrigerator.  Pour into plastic squirt bottle once cooled if you choose.  Enjoy on shaved ice for a cool snow cone treat!   

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Snow Cone Station with Homemade Low-Sugar Syrups

Sometimes I just need a good organizing project. Believe it or not, organizing relaxes me.  That makes me weird, right?  

It all started weeks ago when Graham kept asking for snow cones.  We've not gone to the local snow cone shop with the boys because we have cross-contamination concerns with their condensed milk "cream" flavors.  Jeff worked there in high school and knew it would not be safe.  

But Graham got the idea in my head, and I really did want my boys to enjoy their first snow cones this summer.  

I knew Target had a great selection of snow cone machines and accessories in the summer section.  So I asked all my friends to be on the look-out for clearance markdowns.  My mother-in-law caught the 50% markdowns and grabbed a machine and silicone cones for us.  By the way, I have a great mother-in-law!

We have enough cones and holders for all the kids on the street.  Move over ice cream truck....

Original Post:  June 2013

Then I took to my mission of making healthier snow cone syrups myself.  I picked up some plastic bottles, Kool-Aid packs, and a big bag of Stevia in the Raw at Meijer.  Then I got to work!

1 cup water
3/4 cup stevia
1/4 cup sugar or agave
1-2 packs of Kool-Aid

Mix together water, stevia, and sugar in a small saucepan and then heat on stove until boiling.  Let boil one minute.  Remove from heat and mix in Kool-Aid.  Let sit for a bit until you can transfer to a glass jar.  Store in frig until cold.  Then transfer to plastic bottles.  I didn't want to move hot syrup into plastic bottles for fear of any leaching.  

For some of my syrups I used just one Kool-Aid pack.  For others, I used two packs.  It depends on your taste.  Two can make the syrup a little sour which is great for some flavors.  

Here is our little snow cone station set up in the kitchen.  I worked summer decor all around the colors in the snow cone machine, and I love how it turned out.  Now it's time to start shaving some ice!