Food Detective: A game changing app?

I can feel it.  Every time.  It starts as a slight discomfort, a minor pressure. It’s as if someone is taking their thumb and lightly pressing it on the back of my head. If allowed to continue, though, the intensity of the feeling increases. A creeping feeling of tension on the neck, an uneasiness in the air, the knowledge that someone else is there.

It’s not the beginning of a young writer’s first attempt at a thriller; it’s what every food allergy parent (or anyone with food allergies themselves) experiences every time they go to the grocery store.  Because every time you stop to read an ingredient list, someone comes up behind you, trying to get to the thing that you are standing in front of.  You do everything you can to be as out-of-the-way as possible, but no matter where you are, you are going to block someone from something.  Reading food labels gets really old really fast. So someone has set out to change that.


my food detective

My Food Detective is a **free** app that is designed to help navigate the aisles of the grocery store. No more reading ingredient lists; just scan the bar code, and bish-bash-bosh, you know if it’s safe or not!

It starts out with several allergens already in place.  You can set your own specific allergens, deleting those you don’t need, adding those you do.  In our case, the list includes peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy, strawberries, and pineapple.

After all your allergens are set, just click “scan” and position the bar code in the scanning area.  Based on your selected allergens, the app will let you know if it is safe or not.

This app has the potential to be a game changer for those of us dealing with food allergies.  However, there are certain things to watch for.  First of all, it’s only available for iOS right now (no problem for me, but for you Android people, you’re out of luck for now). The allergens are incredibly specific.  “Peanuts,” “peanut,” and “roasted peanut” are all different.  Or rather, they all have to be entered differently, because the app will look specifically for what’s in the list and doesn’t know how to look for other things. “Tree nuts” needs to have all tree nuts listed. However, and seemingly a contradiction of what I just said, we got a few “false fails.”  Our little MegaMan can’t have soy protein, but he can have soy lecithin and soybean oil.  Despite going through the allergens as thoroughly as I could, I couldn’t find a way to delete soy oil and lecithin while retaining soy protein and soy flour. A few things that I know are safe came out as a fail.  Enjoy Life chocolate chips didn’t pass, and I can’t figure out why.  The best I can figure is that the app got confused by “chocolate,” but that doesn’t seem to make sense.  Now, it is very possible that I just need to explore it more, but I was disappointed to see something I know to be safe get a big ol’ fat frowning face.

BOTTOM LINE: Check out to find out more. If you have an iOS device, get the app. It is brand new (as in just came out in the past two weeks at the time of this writing). If more people get it and give suggestions for improvement, the developer may be able to tweak it to make it even better. Explore the app thoroughly and try it out.  I’m excited to use this app more to see if it really can make grocery shopping easier.

Once you try this app out, comment below and let me know how it goes!  I would love to hear what you think of it. And if you figure out how to deal with the issues I had, let me know that too!

Mother’s Day: A dad’s take

I posted this on Facebook a couple years ago, but it’s worth repeating:

As a father, I have to say I have it pretty easy. Our world doesn’t expect much from fathers. We are allowed to be, in fact, almost expected to be a bit clueless and slightly inept. It’s mothers who are expected to hold everything together. Run the calendar, cook the meals, clean the house, do the crafts, wash and fold the clothes, plan the parties… It’s a bit overwhelming. No, it’s REALLY overwhelming. And wholly unfair. Why is it that fathers are allowed to be unskilled, yet mothers are expected to be perfect? Pinterest moms give us great ideas, but I think they may have taken the place of the magazine models in setting unrealistic expectations. Let’s allow the moms in our lives to be who they are: human.

To my wife: thank you for making my job as a father so wonderful. Thank you for taking care of our daughters and our son. I don’t care if our house isn’t perfect, or if we eat leftovers sometimes. I love you and appreciate you for who you are.

To my mom: thank you for supporting me and for never giving me the opportunity to doubt your love for me.

To my friends and family who are mothers: you have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and when you’re doing it right, few seem to notice. Please know you are loved and appreciated, both for what you do and who you are.

To everyone else: tomorrow is Mother’s Day. If your mom is still around, it’s a great time to thank her for all she has done and all she is. But please, don’t do it only then. Tell her in August, when there’s no other holiday. Tell her on Tuesday, just because it’s Tuesday. Tell her whenever you can, because we don’t tell her enough.

Thank you, moms, and happy Mother’s Day.

When Your Kid Won’t Eat

I have never had a problem eating.  Ok, I shouldn’t say never.  I had food poisoning once, and I had a really hard time eating for a few days after that. But throughout my life in general, eating has never been an issue. I have friends who claim they forget to eat sometimes. Uh…. How on God’s green earth does that happen?!?  I forget to not eat sometimes… on more than one occasion I have had to reschedule medical tests because I ate when I wasn’t supposed to.  But forgetting to eat?  I don’t buy it. Continue reading

Dairy-free, Egg-free Chicken Nuggets

I’ve made chicken nuggets before.  Never like this!Chicken Nuggets (small)

You know, ostensibly this is a blog about the food I make for my kids. Truth be told, though, I love “kid food.”  Corn dogs and pigs-in-a-blanket are my top favorite foods. Chicken nuggets (good chicken nuggets) are pretty high on that list. I’m that guy who, despite being a grown man, will go to a restaurant and order chicken tenders.  So when my wife Michelle suggested trying to come up with a chicken nugget recipe that would be Reese-safe, I jumped at it.  I had to start things the night before, though.  I mean, after all, today was Free Comic Book Day!  I couldn’t miss out on that! Continue reading

It’s Coming!

Sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from thinking about EOE and food allergies and all that junk.  To forget about replacing eggs and dairy.  To not think about peanuts and tree nuts. To not worry about reading the labels of everything to see if soy protein has been somehow slipped in. And this weekend, my friends, is the perfect time to take that break:


Check out for more info

It’s Free Comic Book Day!  Comic books are truly an American art form.  Comics haven’t always been accepted as “legitimate literature,” but when Art Spiegelman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his graphic novel Maus, people began to sit up and take notice.

Whether superheroes, or cartoons, or graphic retellings of classic pieces (Don Quixote, for example), comics and graphic novels are a great way to enjoy reading.  Or even to introduce your kids to reading.  I will be taking my kids to our local comic book store this weekend for Free Comic Book Day… what about you?


So, maybe I’m late to this party, but I have recently been introduced to something called “aquafaba.”  Have you guys heard of this? Apparently it’s taking the vegan/food allergy world by storm.

Why is it called aquafaba? Well, because “bean water” just sounds gross.
But that’s literally what it is.  Bean water.  In fact, that’s what the name means – aqua is Latin for water and faba is Latin for bean. aquafaba Continue reading

Homemade Sunbutter

Tastes better AND costs less? Sign me up!Homemade SunButter2

I recently saw one of those inspirational quotes online that perfectly describes what today was like.  You know the ones with the beautiful picture in the background that has nothing to do with the actual quote?  This particular one said, “Are you really having a bad day, or just a bad five minutes that you are letting ruin the rest?”  THAT, my friends, was today.  Overall, pretty good.  But man, the way it started left me sour for a good while.  I was supposed to work an event that got canceled, but no one told me it was canceled. After that, everything seemed to go wrong.  Quick stop at Burger King?  Nope, their credit card machines are down.  Run to Taco Bell?  Nope, Reese can’t eat there. Go to the store to buy sunflower seeds.  They contain peanuts.  Um… what?  Start trying to make a new recipe, then get interrupted by a 4-year-old potty emergency, then by not making it to the potty in time…. Seriously, all things considered, it was a good day and it’s a good life.  But man, this post didn’t want to happen today!

Enough complaining, though.  On with the Homemade SunButter! Continue reading

The Most Perfect Snack Food

When it comes to snacks, it is my humble (and 100% correct) opinion that popcorn is king. In fact, I’m eating some right now as I type this. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I eat popcorn about 4 nights a week on average. It’s an easy and delicious way to get more whole grain into your diet. Although, my preferred way of eating it probably cancels out those health benefits, as it involves a good amount of browned butter drizzled over the top.

Popcorn is also extremely easy to make safe for my little EOE dude. He can’t have butter, but there are so many more things you can do to popcorn. When I make homemade popcorn, I simply use popcorn, sunflower oil, and fine salt. As simple (and almost boring) as it sounds, if you use good quality ingredients, it beats out a big tub of the buttery movie theater stuff every time. Sometimes, though, I just can’t be bothered to make my own popcorn.  There are countless store-bought popcorn brands out there, but Reese’s current favorites are these: Continue reading

Kitchen Failures (or The Curious Case of the Disintegrating Churros)

The other day I had an idea. It was a brilliant idea. An idea I couldn’t get out of my head, one that I had to try as soon as possible. Someone in our EOE support group shared a picture of donuts she had made using nothing but a gluten-free cake mix, a bottle of Sprite, and some Enjoy Life chocolate chips (which you already know I am a big fan of). Mix the ingredients together, pop them in a donut maker, and bish bash bosh, you’ve got safe donuts. I don’t have a donut maker, but this was my thought: what if I put the batter into a piping bag, squirt it into some hot oil, and have some safe churros (or at least a churro-like product)? This would have to be put to the test. So this morning, I got to work.


I know that’s not gluten-free mix, but gluten isn’t a problem for us, and the all GF mixes I could find at the store had milk and soy, which ARE problems for us!

I gathered the ingredients (which didn’t take long) and heated up the oil. I know churros for breakfast is a bit of a stretch, but we eat donuts for breakfast, so is it really that much different? I’m going to go with no. Continue reading

No eggs? No problem!

Before we knew that Reese had EOE, we found out that he had an allergy to eggs.  Unlike his EOE reaction, eggs cause a skin reaction (and once his lips swelled up like a poorly done Kylie Jenner challenge).  So we have been on a quest to find effective replacements for eggs.

The problem is that eggs have so many different functions in recipes.  They can bind, add moisture, improve color, serve as leavening or structure… the challenge is knowing how what the eggs do in your recipe so you can effectively replace them.  THAT particular challenge is something I’m still learning how to deal with.  I have a tried a few things, but I’m always afraid that I’ll try something and it will turn to trash and I will have wasted all that time (and more importantly, all those ingredients!)

But that’s why I’m here: to explore, to learn, and to share.  So without much further ado, here are some things that have proven to be effective egg replacers, all safe for my EOE/allergy kiddo. Continue reading