Cheri’s extended interview with Pearl Cicci

Pearl and Cheri

As part of my allergy summit “A Convergence of Ideas for Food Allergy Sufferers” , I had the opportunity to interview Pearl Cicci, nutritionist, health coach, and founder of pearlcicci.com. Her insights on improved heath through balanced nutrition are worth a listen. I hope you enjoy it.

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Cheri’s extended interview with Teresa Schweitzer

As part of my allergy summit “A Convergence of Ideas for Food Allergy Sufferers” , I had the opportunity to interview Teresa Schweitzer, founder of TsTonics. She talks about the healing properties of her plant-based teas, tonics, and balms. They are safe for kids and pets, and all grown by her family.

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Cheri’s extended interview with Ruth Oesterman

As part of my allergy summit “A Convergence of Ideas for Food Allergy Sufferers” , I had the opportunity to interview Ruth Oesterman, founder of le Bonne Vie, a personal chef business. Her path through the distress of learning her husband had serious health issues to the success of her business today is inspirational. I hope you enjoy it.

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Tis the Season

My parents were born in 1916. Back then allergies were just

something you handled, as my mom would say: “Toughen up and just get over it.” Peanuts were everywhere, and milk was given out with school lunches.

Fresh Foods were local foods. I remember accompanying mom into the produce section and being thrilled that she wanted to know if I had any preference for a dinner vegetable. After thinking for a moment, I said – Squash! She gave me a very disapproving look and told that it was not the correct season for squash. We could only get that late summer or early fall, like when the pumpkins were available. I was a little confused and disappointed that squash was not on the menu.

Americans, in general, weighed less. Again, relying on my faulty memory, looking at television and media and even sports, people were smaller. They were not bulked up with muscles, and someone that was fifty pounds overweight was rare.

I’m not sure the cause – perhaps the chemicals in our foods, plastics leaking into our bodies, or foods just being raised out of season – not only are people bigger but we seem to be sicker. Now when I invite people for dinner, there always seems to be something that I need to avoid during the cooking process.

We are fortunate that we have several sources for fresh fruits and veggies. A farmer’s market is a great source for local produce. Whether organic or not, you will be better off eating foods that have just been picked and brought to market. If you don’t have a local marketplace, you can take a drive and go directly to the farms. Many have small roadside stands where you can purchase food that was picked today. Be sure to bring a cooler so you can get your produce home safely.

Do you like challenges? If you do, consider learning about old-fashioned food preservation. There are many ways to safely store these fresh items, including canning, dehydrating, and flash freezing.

My parents loved peaches. When fresh peach season arrived, they would go directly to the growers and buy fifty or sixty pounds of peaches. Fresh peaches are full of juice and explode their flavors into your mouth. Once the peaches came home, my parents would peel, cut, and can them. It took an entire day. In the winter they would open a jar of peaches and it made you think of summer.

In late summer we would pick buckets of wild blackberries and these would be made into jam. Strawberries would turn into preserves. Cucumbers were stuffed into jars and became pickles. Green beans were standing tall in their jars ready to make a delicious side dish.

My father would take raw meat and turn it into delicious jerky. I don’t go to such lengths, but I do use a Food Saver so that the foods that I freeze will have the best shelf life.

Lastly, think about your travels – where you are going and what’s available. My parents took a trip to Idaho in their camper. When they came home, I knew something was up as my father was all giggles. When I asked him if there was something unusual about this trip, he replied that he and my mom had been hunting. Hunting? My mother would never go hunting.

Then he opened the door to the camper and potatoes began pouring out. Hundreds of pounds of potatoes. While in Idaho they met a farmer who told them about growing potatoes. He used machines to pick the potatoes. But if the potatoes were too big or too small then they didn’t get picked up. My parents were able to go through the field grabbing the leftover potatoes, paying almost nothing for them.

Foods that are picked halfway around the world and shipped green to you so that you can eat them out of season are not as tasty as carefully preserved fresh foods. Take the fresh food challenge. You’ll be surprised and delighted with your efforts.

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My Brady Bunch

I was adopted at birth. This past year I sent my DNA away to be tested to help me look for my birth relatives. Wow. I went from one living relative that I knew about, to over one hundred new relatives, the majority of whom are all living in close proximity to each other. The bad news is with Covid, the in-person reunions are not yet possible. The good news is that it gives me a chance to stop and plan before heading out to meet them.

So what’s the best plan? Everyone brings food of course. Potluck picnic!

Most people can share, but I will only be eating the food that I bring. It’s the only way I can be absolutely sure that I will enjoy my food without having a reaction. I will bring extra of course, especially the deserts. I like to make labels for my serving plates so that if anyone else shares my allergies they know they can try my food. That’s the biggest difference between eating at home and eating with a group. Without exception someone will thank me for letting them know they can be allergy free, at least from the foods that I must avoid.

When attending a party I arrive as early as possible and walk through the food area. I ask questions about the ingredients, and look at nutritional labels if they are available. If something is homemade, then I ask about the recipe. When the other guests arrive I have the ability to walk those interested around the food line. They always smile as I quickly go through all the foods with a simple “yes” or “no”, pointing at the individual items as we walk the course.

Sometimes it seems hard to believe how many people have food allergies or sensitivities. When I was growing up, I didn’t know anyone that had food issues. The only accommodations were for the Catholic students who ate fish on Fridays. That meant fish-stick lunch in the school cafeteria, which made it the best lunch of the week as far as I was concerned.

One of my biggest frustrations as a guest, is to arrive at an event only to discover there is nothing for me to eat. Even if I have informed my hosts prior to the meal, they will often shrug it off saying “I didn’t know what that meant”. Really? So ask.

Another frustration is when the hosts don’t know what ingredients are in the foods they are serving. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I ate for 60 years and didn’t care what I was putting in my mouth as long as it tasted it good. Now I won’t put an item in the shopping cart without checking the ingredient label.

So what will I bring to my highly anticipated potluck picnic? Everyone loves sweets, so I will bring some delicious goodies. I make a killer lemon cake, and as for my dark chocolate beer cake – well, let’s just say I’ve never had any complaints. As for the main course, that will depend on what facilities are available. It may be as simple as a roasted chicken from the grocery store, a salad from a drive-through, or perhaps something from the pressure cooker if I have a kitchen. Only time will tell.

The important point is that I am there to meet my wonderful new family, and not worry about the foods we will eat. Hopefully they will be open to some of my recipe substitutions, and we can break (gluten-free) bread and enjoy each other’s stories.

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Cheri’s Extended Interview with Leah Robilotto

During my Allergy Summit “A Convergence of Ideas for Food Allergy Sufferers” , I interviewed Leah Robilotto.

Leah has two sons; one has no food allergies, the other has 11 life threatening allergies. Leah’s challenges led her to found the food allergy institute and made it a life calling to help others in a similar situation.

Leah’s business website is https://foodallergyinstitute.com .

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Cheri’s Extended Interview with Alayna Weimer

During my Allergy Summit “A Convergence of Ideas for Food Allergy Sufferers” , I interviewed Alayna Weimer.

As a foster Mom of 22 (and counting) kids, she has learned a thing or two about the effect of foods and food allergies on childhood behaviors. Listen as she shares her stories of how food allergies can affect kids.

Alayna’s business website is https://.ignitepositivechanges.com .

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