Food Allergy Living Blog Tagged Results


Birthdays with Food Allergies

Posted 8.23.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Happy Birthday without CakeAs we’ve mentioned before, mixing food allergies and birthday parties requires a bit of effort.  This includes both hosting a birthday party (with guests with food allergies) and sending your food-allergic child to a birthday party.

We wanted to round up a few recipes that could provide a potential solution. It would also be great to have an allergen-free dessert, whether you’re hosting the party or sending your little one to a party.  This way everyone can safely enjoy a treat.

Cakes & Baked Goods

Most cakes and baked goods call for dairy, eggs, and wheat, which are three of the top eight allergens.  In fact, fish and shellfish are the only two of the top allergens that do NOT regularly appear in baked goods! Here are a few alternatives to a traditional birthday cake that could make a great stand-in.

On page 14 of the Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook, there’s a great recipe for a frosted birthday cake, made with a cake mix from Cherrybrook Kitchen – free of dairy, nuts, and eggs. But don’t count out serving cookies, brownies, bars, cupcakes, or cobbler, all of which appear in the same great cookbook. Another great place to check is the Kids with Food Allergies website, which offers a variety of recipes.

Not interested in handling the baking yourself? There are several companies that can bake a great, safe alternative and have it shipped straight to you, candles not included. A few places whose treats are allergen-free to varying degrees are Divvie’s Bakery, Home Free, Liz Lovely, and Betsy & Claude Baking Company.  You can also check grocery stores that cater to special dietary needs, such as Whole Foods.

Delicious Desserts

Who says that an equally delicious dessert can’t make a stellar stand-in for cake? Not us! Here are some ideas for other great foods that most kids would never refuse.

See our Neocate Nutra Recipe Guide for allergy-friendly ice creams and puddings.  Also check back into the Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook for great shake and smoothie recipes, many submitted by parents.  Top suggestions include the Banana Chocolate Shake or Chocolate Covered Strawberry Slushy.  If you really feel like going all-out, you can use one of these frozen desserts alongside a baked good, in place of the usual cake and ice cream.

Feeling REALLY adventurous? Try your hand at a homemade ice cream cake by combining recipes for an allergen-free ice cream, cookies, and frosting.

What have you used in the past when the traditional birthday cake wouldn’t do? Let us know in the Comments section below.

- Rob

All About Splash

Posted 9.1.11 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Nutricia Neocate E028 Splash

NEW! As of September 2017, E028 Splash is now Neocate Splash! Learn more at


If you’re used to preparing powdered Neocate formula, you might be wondering if there is an easier way. It’s tough enough getting yourself and/or your family dressed in the morning, much less having to measure out and prepare powdered formula for daycare or school or work. Fortunately another option is E028 Splash!

What is E028 Splash?

E028 Splash, or just “Splash” for short, is part of the Neocate line of hypoallergenic formulas. The “E028” is a unique product code that stuck! The "E" stood for "elemental" and the "28" represents the 28 essential vitamins and minerals added. Splash is technically a “medical food,” which falls somewhere in the middle of a food, a drug, and a supplement. Orange-Pineapple Splash has been available in the US since 1995, and in 2006 we introduced 2 new flavors: Tropical Fruit and Grape.

Splash, just like Neocate Junior, was designed for individuals over a year old and contains some of all of the nutrients growing bodies need, like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Splash is used by children, teens, and adults. Splash is unique because the protein source is free amino acids, which are safe for kids with food allergies and other medical needs that require an elemental diet. It’s also gluten-free and casein-free.

What makes Splash so great?

The number one reason families love Splash is because it’s so convenient. Splash is the only ready-to-feed, hypoallergenic, amino acid-based formula there is! It goes into a backpack, purse or briefcase just as easily as any other drink box. No more measuring powder, measuring water, and shaking! Not only is this convenient for daycare, day trips, work or school, but it also takes the guesswork out of the equation for babysitters, family, and other parents if you have a child on Neocate that visits on a play date.

Children love Splash for a number of reasons. Severe allergies may mean they need a special formula, but who says it has to LOOK like a special formula? Not us! Splash is packaged to look like other juice drinks, so allergic kids don’t have to feel “different” from everyone else. For some, the novelty of getting to drink their formula through a straw instead of from a cup can make a world of difference. And don’t tell your little one that we said this, but the drink box keeps the distinct smell of formula wrapped up. And to top it all off, Splash comes in 3 great flavors, which can help anyone stick to an elemental diet by adding variety.

Splash has been a blessing for so many families that it has even appeared in a few news stories: here’s a video of Splash helping Matthew Bernard!

- Rob

Gut Series - Large Intestine

Posted 6.26.12 | Christine Graham-Garo

The last step in our Gut Series is the Large Intestine.  Food in our guts come a long way, from our mouth and esophagus, to our stomach and then to our small intestine, where it moves into the large intestine.  The ileocecal valve of the ileum (small intestine) passes material into the large intestine at the cecum.  The last step occurs in the rectum.  Our focus will be on the large intestine as it plays important roles in absorption.

Nutrients absorbed

The large intestine is the portion of the digestive system most responsible for absorption of water from the indigestible residue of food.  The large intestine or colon takes about 16 hours to finish up the remaining processes of the digestive system.  Food is no longer broken down at this stage of digestion.  The colon absorbs vitamins which are created by the colonic bacteria - such as vitamin K (especially important, as the daily ingestion of vitamin K is not normally enough to maintain adequate blood coagulation), vitamin B12, thiamine and riboflavin.

Prebiotic fibers, like those found in Neocate Junior, play a special role in the large intestine.  Bacteria account for 35-50% of the volume of contents in the colon.  Prebiotic fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in our colon which helps to improve the health of our gut.


Conditions of the Large Intestine

Eosinophilic colitis and conditions like Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis (FPIES) and Short bowel syndrome (SBS) are all conditions that affect the large intestine.  These conditions can disrupt the GI lining of the large intestine so that nutrients may not be absorbed and utilized, as they should.    Neocate is appropriate to help nutritionally manage these food allergy related conditions because it is so easy to absorb and is 100% hypoallergenic and elemental.

We hope you learned about what goes on in the human gut and what specific conditions can affect certain sections of the GI tract, from the mouth, esophagus, stomach, to the small and large intestine.  Feel free to visit Neocate’s website for more details information on conditions that Neocate has been shown to help manage nutritionally.  Feel free to ask us any questions.



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Neocate Nutra and Oral Motor Skills

Posted 9.7.12 | Christine Graham-Garo

Neocate Nutra is a one-of-a-kind product.  With the protein source being 100% non-allergenic amino acids, this allows for food allergic children to enjoy a pudding-like solid.  Not only does this provide a great source of nutrients in the diet, it also helps severely allergic children practice eating more solid foods.

 There are a growing number of food allergic children who have feeding difficulties.1  This is often due to learned associations with food and discomfort and reinforcement of maladaptive feeding behaviors.1  The development of learned feeding skills starts once the baby is born.  But there is a critical period at about four to six months where a baby will start to experiment with more solid/pureed foods.  If a child’s progression of feeding development is shifted, due to learned food refusal, a limited diet based on elimination diets, or limited mealtime moments, that may result in delayed oral motor skill development. 

If your child is showing signs of feeding difficulties, it is important you see your doctor or reach out to a certified feeding specialist.

The good thing about Nutra is that it is a – milk free and gluten free – hypoallergenic soft cereal.  Additionally, it is a good source of Vitamin D, Calcium, and Iron which is important for a child on a restricted diet due to food allergies.

To show you how Neocate Nutra can help, we want to highlight a patient case study that was developed by a Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Specialist in Aurora, CO.

Patient History: The case report is of a seven month old boy with a history of intolerance to several milk- and soy-based formulas.  He had many symptoms including vomiting, poor growth and poor feeding transition to solids (basically refusing to eat solids).  Doctors diagnosed this child with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE).

Nutritional Management: The child was started on an amino acid based formula, Neocate Infant.  His parents were highly anxious regarding growth and the struggle to feed their baby, resulting in stressful feeding dynamics and a bumpy transition to Neocate Infant.

His pediatrician and gastroenterologist together with the dietitian recommended Neocate Nutra for additional calories and the developmental opportunity to acquire oral motor skills such as successful spoon feedings. Neocate Nutra was presented 2 times a day, with one serving thinned with Neocate Infant to help with the Neocate Infant formula intake. After consulting with the child’s allergist, Neocate Nutra was mixed with other foods like apple sauce, sweet potato and white potato to promote increased acceptance as well as adding a variety of flavors that were age appropriate.

Result: The introduction of Neocate Nutra provided extra calories, supported and promoted typical oral motor skill development, provided satisfying feeding opportunities for the caregivers, and reduced the family’s’ stress around growth and mealtimes. By 12 months of age the child was eating full volumes of the Neocate Infant and was continuing on the Neocate Nutra.


-          Christine


1.        Haas A. Feeding Disorder in Food Allergic children. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep(2010) 10:258–264

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted 11.22.12 | Nutrition Specialist

On behalf of everyone here at Nutricia North America, we would like to wish you and your family a happy, safe and food allergy free Thanksgiving holiday!

What Are GMOs?

Posted 11.28.12 | Nutrition Specialist

In our latest video, on our YouTube channel, Nutrition Specialists Christine and Mallory explain what GMOs are and how to look for them in the food we eat everyday.

To learn more about GMOs check out one of our other blog post: Non-GMO and Neocate



Allergy Friendly Holidays

Posted 12.12.12 | Nutrition Specialist

Hosting or attending a holiday dinner can be stressful for parents of children with food allergies. We’ve compiled a list of helpful resources to help you ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday celebration for your family.


Remember to check for hidden allergens that may be added during the processing or preparation of your holiday feast. Gravies and sauces may contain hidden allergens, so be sure to check the ingredients first.

Food and Recipes

Below is a list of some allergy-friendly variations to the traditional holiday dishes. Please be sure to consult your healthcare professional to determine if these recipes, there ingredients and consistencies are appropriate for your child.

Helpful Articles for Celebrating the Holidays with Food Allergies

For those of you who will be traveling over the holidays, here are some articles that may be helpful to you:

Do you have any fun allergy-friendly recipes or holiday tips? Please share them!

- Mallory


How much should my baby eat?

Posted 12.12.12 | Nutrition Specialist

How much Neocate does my child need?

Q: After going through almost every formula, my baby’s allergist told me I should give her Neocate Infant DHA/ARA. I need to know how many cans to buy and how much does my baby need to drink?

A: Many parents of infants, toddlers and children new to Neocate have this question. There’s never an exact answer, so here’s what you need to know:

We are always happy to help, but this important question about your little one’s health is best answered by the members of his/her healthcare team. They know your child’s medical history and needs, have lots of experience, and can give you the best guidance. With that in mind, we can offer some general guidelines.

The volume of Neocate needed depends on calorie needs, which can vary a lot from person to person. Factors that affect calorie needs include age, weight, gender, height, medical conditions, and how active someone is.

Another term you might hear is “catch-up growth,” which can come up if your little one falls behind on the growth curve and needs to gain extra weight (beyond normal weight gain) to "catch up" to where she should be. It can mean she will need additional calories from Neocate or foods in the beginning to catch up, especially if the medical team feels she is behind on the growth curve.

Neocate Infant

If your little one is bottle-fed, you can expect that he or she will probably consume about the same volume of Neocate InfantDHA/ARA as of the current formula. The amount of Neocate may increase or decrease a little bit, especially in the beginning. And over time, as your baby's calorie needs grow, the amount of Neocate per day will also grow. Once solids are introduced, they will gradually make up more of your baby's nutrition. Without being too specific, here are some general ranges for daily amounts of formula by age*. These ranges are for infants who are exclusively formula-fed, and will be less for infants who take solid foods:

  • 1 – 3 months……..roughly 20 to 30 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • 4 – 6 months……..roughly 24 to 34 fl oz
  • 7 – 9 months……..roughly 29 to 39 fl oz
  • 10 – 12 months….roughly 34 to 44 fl oz

Neocate Nutra

As the only amino acid-based semi-solid that can be spoon-fed, Neocate Nutra has been a big help for many families dealing with severe and multiple food allergies. Neocate Nutra has high levels of several key nutrients, but is not meant to supply all of a child’s nutrition. For infants six months and older, Nutra is used along with Neocate Infant DHA/ARA or another hypoallergenic infant formula.

Follow your healthcare team’s recommendations for a serving size of Nutra to offer your little one and how many times a day to offer it. Many healthcare teams suggest starting with a smaller serving size (4 scoops of Neocate Nutra + 1 fl oz of water) and offering it two or three times a day. For older children, a larger serving size (8 scoops of Neocate Nutra + 2 fl oz of water) may be recommended.

Neocate Junior and Neocate Splash

While Neocate Junior and Neocate Junior with Prebiotics can meet a toddler or child’s full nutritional needs, these formulas are often used along with solid foods or other beverages, such as with an elimination diet. This can make the Neocate serving amount per day a bit tricky to nail down, which is where a healthcare team comes in very handy! It often depends on the foods your child avoids and any nutrient gaps in their diet. For instance, many children with milk and soy allergies use Neocate Junior as a major source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients important for bone health. The same is true for Neocate Splash.

Some children require an amino acid-based formula to meet their full caloric needs. Some examples would be a child with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) that is on a strict amino acid-based diet for six weeks, or a toddler with severe allergies who hasn’t yet found safe foods. The following are some general ranges for daily amounts of formula by age* for active children who are strictly on Neocate Junior and often drinking Neocate Splash as well:

  • 1 to 3 years…….roughly 27 to 47 fl oz
  • 4 to 8 years…….roughly 50 to 62 fl oz
  • 9 to 13 years…...roughly 65 to 81 fl oz

Again, these are general guidelines. Your little one’s healthcare team can take all of the key factors into account to provide you with a tailored recommendation for your child. They will also monitor your child’s growth on Neocate and adjust the amount of formula as needed to meet his/her calorie and nutrient needs.

We hope this rundown helps! What questions do you have about the volume of formula needed?

*Ranges for formula are extrapolations based on “Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy,” Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Protein Shots

Posted 12.12.12 | Nutrition Specialist

These recipes are designed for older patients with food allergies or GI issues who need a boost of protein added to their diets. These recipes are not intended for younger children. The Complete Amino Acid Mix* (CAAM) is made up of 100percent non allergenic amino acids, just like our Neocate products, so these recipes should not cause an allergic reaction. The goal of these recipes is to take a considerable amount of protein in one single dose. Speak to your doctor before trying these recipes to see if they are right for you.

*Note: CAAM may be purchased from Nutricia with a consent form completed by a healthcare professional.

Cranberry Protein Shot

1 fl oz 100% Organic cranberry juice

1 fl oz Pineapple

1 Tbsp (9.5g) Complete Amino Acid Mix (CAAM)

It is extremely important when mixing the Complete Amino Acid Mix (CAAM) to start by adding only a few drops of juice to the powder. Mix until it is a smooth paste and the liquid is evenly distributed. Then add the remaining fluid until the powder is fully dissolved. This recipe makes about 2 fl oz.

*Note: The cranberry juice may change colors once mixed with the CAAM.



Tropical Protein Shot

1 fl oz 100% Cranberry Juice

1 fl oz Orange Juice

½ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp (9.5g) CAAM

Remember when mixing the Complete Amino Acid Mix (CAAM) to start by adding only a few drops of juice to the powder. Mix until it is a smooth paste and is evenly distributed. Then add the remaining fluid until it fully dissolves. This recipe makes about 2 fl oz.

*Note: The cranberry juice may change colors when mixing with the CAAM.

Flavoring Neocate Junior

Posted 2.26.13 | Christine Graham-Garo

If you are a Neocate parent, then you may know how unique the Neocate formula smells and tastes. I, personally, have tried them all! What makes Neocate so special is also what gives it that unique flavor – the amino acids. We have lots of experience of families calling saying their little one is not really digging the taste of Neocate. Time is usually the best tool in getting a child used to the flavor of Neocate. As noted in a study, it can take up to 15-20 trails of a certain new food or formula in order for the child to accept it. One question we often get is “Can I add flavoring to the formula to make it taste better?” This is where the answer may vary.  For children over 1 year of age, the answer is yes. Of course, the flavoring component you add has to fit into the acceptable foods for your child. It’s also good to check in the healthcare team before doing so.  If your child is less than 1 year, then this is where discussions need to take place between you and your doctor.  

Here is a previous blog we did on some ideas for flavoring unflavored elemental formulas for kids over 1 year of age. We tend to encourage families to work on behavioral tactics versus changing the formula if it seems like the child didn’t like it the first time, especially when feeding an infant. Instead of tweaking the flavor of the formula right away, try changing the feeding times to see if that will help intake. Here is a link to find more very helpful tips when getting a child to drink nutritional elemental formulas such as Neocate. With a product like Neocate Junior, it helps to know we have 3 different flavor options that you can work with: Chocolate, Tropical, and Vanilla. We are always happy to help in finding handy tips that can help your little one with drinking Neocate.

- Christine


It takes a Village to Raise a Child….with Food Allergies - An article review

Posted 7.11.13 | Christine Graham-Garo

It is pretty obvious raising a child with food allergies is no easy task. It takes lots of preparing and research to get the management down. But another area that is hard to control is when your child is at school/daycare or at a friend’s house.  You have to  make sure your child doesn’t drink the milk, or eat the allergen filled cookies.   In this article written by a Registered Dietitian, it looks at the fact that parents with kids with food allergies must rely on the “villagers” in their community to help best manage the food allergy.  As we know, many families dealing with food allergies find supportive communities online through Facebook and online support groups. What about the friends across the street or those in your child’s class?  Even for families unknowledgeable about food allergies must make the effort to ensure a food allergic child is in an allergen safe environment at all times. This article guides “non-food allergy” families on how to best manage food allergies.

The article first emphasizes to take food allergies seriously. It is important for non-food allergy families to understand that these requests are not “food preferences” but a medical necessity. As most may know, food allergy reactions could be extremely serious. Every three minutes, someone goes into the ER for food-related reactions.

Another point made is to encourage sharing….of toys, not food!  It’s best to educate and encourage children to not share food unless the caregiver of the food allergic child gives the ok. More and more, communities are being more responsible during classroom parties by providing tokens such as stickers or coloring books instead of cupcakes or cookies. Not only will this reduce the amount of high calorie/nutrient-void sweets the children will get, but it will encourage more intellectually enriching items to be given out as party gifts.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, is to educate the community. In a recent study, researchers suggest 33% of kids with food allergies have been bullied because of their allergy. Even though any form of bullying could leave deep emotional scars, the type of bulling seen in children with food allergies can take a more serious turn. The more educated the community is, the better support we can all be to ensure the environment will be a safe one for our food allergic “villagers”. 

Celebrating Birthdays with Allergy-Friendly Treats and Alternative Birthday Cakes

Posted 8.23.17 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

This blog was originally posted on August 8, 2013 and was updated on August 23, 2017.

Are you hosting a birthday party for your food-allergic child or child on a restrictive diet? When your child has a food allergy or other condition limiting the food that they can eat, a typical birthday cake may not be an option. For example, did you know that most cakes and baked goods call for dairy, eggs, and wheat, which are three of the top eight allergens? In fact, fish and shellfish are the only two of the top allergens that do NOT regularly appear in baked goods! 

Let’s look at few allergy-friendly options you can try for your next celebration. Please keep in mind that allergy-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean allergen-free, depending on your little one's food allergies, so be sure to check if the ingredients are appropriate for your child’s specific list of foods to avoid.

Birthday Cakes

Birthday cakes are so much more than just the ingredients that go into them. They represent the milestone of another year of life. When your child has a food allergy or other condition limiting the food that they can eat, a typical birthday cake may not be an option. Here are a few alternatives to a traditional birthday cake that could make a great allergy-friendly stand-in.

Birthday Trifle "Cake"

Instead of a cake, a trifle might be the next-best thing. You can layer almost any dessert-type items along with fruit in a trifle dish to make a dessert worthy of candles. It looks fancy, tastes delicious, and everyone can enjoy.

How to make a Trifle “Cake”:

  1. Start by choosing fruits your child likes in an age-appropriate form (pureed for 1st birthdays, cut into small pieces for toddlers, or slices for an older child).
  2. Add a layer of a favorite baked good, if you have a “safe” one to choose from, such as an allergen-free cookie. This could be whole, cubed, or even crushed into crumbs. Looking for ideas? Try the Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook.
  3. A pudding or something similar makes a great third layer. If boxed pudding mixes aren’t an option, you could prepare a starch-based pudding and replace dairy ingredients with fruit juice. Another option is to create a pudding using Neocate Nutra (for children over the age of 6 months).
  4. We find that mixing Neocate Nutra with half the water that the directions suggest gives a nice pudding-like consistency. You could even make a flavored version by adding Neocate Junior to Nutra, as seen in these past blog posts: Chocolaty Nutra Pudding, Neocate Vanilla Pudding, Neocate Tropical Pudding.
  5. Once you choose your fillings just keep repeating layers until you reach the top of the trifle dish!
  6. Add candles and other decorations (if you can’t use icing, wash a plastic toy in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry for the ultimate “cake”-topper!).

Yellow Cake with Frosting (Submitted by: Jessica Snell)


  • 1 box suitable yellow cake mix (e.g. Cherrybrook Kitchen)
  • 1/3 cup melted “tolerated” butter or margarine (e.g. Earth’s Balance dairy/soy free butter)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Follow baking directions on cake package.


  • 1/2 cup “tolerated” butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp water
  • Add powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency
  • 1/4 tsp almond or other flavoring, optional
  • 3 drops pink food coloring, optional
  • Melt butter, mix in powdered sugar to make clumpy. Add water to smooth it out. For thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar. Once desired consistency is reached, add almond flavoring and 3 drops of pink food coloring, if using.

This recipe makes ~12 servings

Eggless, Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake (Submitted by: Daphna Finn)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients together. Combine all wet ingredients together in another bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients, and beat just until smooth. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13” pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan. When cool sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

This recipe makes about 15 pieces of cake.

Banana Cake (Submitted by: Anne Medsker)

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick suitable unsalted margarine
  • 2 eggs, or suitable substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup organic rice beverage or other milk substitute
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl add sugar and margarine and beat with mixer until blended. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Mix in rice beverage, vanilla and banana. In a separate bowl combine baking soda, powder, salt and flour and whisk together. Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet and beat 1 minute, just until combined. Grease a 9 x 13” baking pan with canola oil or baking spray. Pour in batter. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) also has a good variety of cake and icing recipes to try. Here's a recipe from their website:

Basic Buttercream Icing (Created by Laurie Carson)

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water

Beat all ingredients together thoroughly. To make it thinner, add a little light corn syrup.

You could add cocoa or carob powder to the icing to make it chocolate, if desired. I also added a drop or two of vanilla, almond or another extract to take away some of the sweetness, but it's fine without it, too. Please note that margarine typically contains milk or soy, but there are milk- and soy-free versions available. Corn Substitutions: Corn is a common ingredient in products. Starch, modified food starch, dextrin and maltodextrin can be from corn. While true corn allergies are rare, consult with your allergist to find out which corn derivatives you need to avoid. 

Many corn-free options are available in the US. Find out more about corn substitutions in this KFA article.

Cake Alternatives:

Sometimes a traditional cake isn’t the best option for your child. That’s ok!

Who says that an equally delicious dessert can’t make a stellar stand-in for cake? Not us! Our Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook lists several dairy-free, allergy-friendly dessert ideas for other great foods that most kids would enjoy.

For kids who are not able to eat food at all, non-edible birthday cakes are an option. You can create one with a bit of imagination and some cardboard, foam paper, ribbon, tissue paper and glitter paint. Once you have the basic shape of the cake made from cardboard (or foam), poke little holes in it and insert candles for your birthday boy or girl to blow out (just make sure to practice fire safety first, because cardboard and foam are flamable!)

If you need some inspiration of non-edible birthday cakes, check out these creative ideas that have been submitted to us in the past:

  • Connor's birthday "Neo-Cake"
  • Sy's Foodless Bowling Cake (image source
  • Mallory's Cake for Caroline

“My sister Caroline has a feeding tube, but up until last year, she was able to eat SOME food by mouth so we always just got her a regular birthday cake. She can no longer have any food by mouth due to swallowing problems so this year, I made her a fake pink and purple princess cake out of cardboard, foam paper, ribbon, tissue paper and glitter paint (pictured below). We poked little holes in it and inserted candles for her to blow out. Her favorite part of birthdays is singing and blowing out the candles so she didn’t even seem to miss eating cake. In fact I think she loved this foodless cake even more because she can keep it and we can relight the candles and sing over and over again (although she might think she is 300 years old by now).”

Remember, celebrating birthdays is about so much more than cake. By creating no-cake birthday cake you can still sing birthday songs and blow out the candles. Bonus: You can keep your foodless cake as a great keepsake!

Cake Decorations:

Once you’ve decided on your cake, get creative and have fun decorating! We found some fun ideas to help you get started:

Better Homes and Gardens: Creative Birthday Cakes for Kids

Unique Birthday Cakes Gallery (from

You can even use Neocate cans to decorate creatively like Senstive Mommy!

The moral of this story is that eliminating foods doesn’t mean you have to stop giving your little one a happy birthday. When it comes down to it, birthdays are not about the cake, but about the effort that goes into making your little one feel loved on their special day. With a little creativity, you can still have a great time celebrating another year and milestone.

Do you have a little one with a birthday coming up? What will you do to help them celebrate? Comment below or find us on Facebook.

Importance of protein

Posted 9.27.13 | Christine Graham-Garo

We all know we need protein in our diets. I will explain how important protein is for daily living. Proteins are made up of these small molecules called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, some amino acids our bodies make readily, and other our bodies don’t make, so we need to get them from food. When we eat a protein source (where the proteins are in long chains of amino acids), the protein is digested in our gut and broken up into the individual amino acids so that each of them can do their particular responsibilities in our body.

So what do amino acids do in our bodies, well this is where it gets interesting. The obvious answer is they help to build muscle. We know that protein helps to create and strengthen our muscle, but there is so much more they do! Proteins (or amino acids) are vital for metabolic pathways in our bodies. So in order to covert proteins into the amino acids needed to do certain jobs, they must go through a conversion which is helped by enzymes. Enzymes are complex proteins that help to digest foods, help with blood clotting and even help with energy conversation in our bodies. These metabolic pathways are needed to live and are essentially based on proteins! Another example of the importance of protein is that protein plays a large role in our immune system. If a person does not get the amount of protein their body’s need, then their immune system can be weakened, and who wants that! To understand how much protein you or your child need per day, it is best to speak with a Registered Dietitian (RD). An RD can calculate the exact protein needs a person will require per day. It is always good to ensure you are getting the adequate amount of protein per day to ensure all bodily functions are in tip-top shape.

One really important role for proteins is for healing. When you get a paper cut, proteins are the first on the scene to start the healing process. They help to clot the blood and are part of the white blood cells sent to help fight infections. If a child or baby has a reaction to a food and their gut is affected (inflammation or blood in the stool) this means the gut needs to heal itself. When there is inflammation of the gut or the skin from eczema, the protein needs of that person will increase. This is because the protein we are eating then goes to help the healing of the gut and/or skin. So this is why protein intake (or overall adequate nutrition intake) is so important especially when there is damage to our skin or GI tract due to food allergies.

As you may know, the proteins in Neocate are already in the form of individual amino acids. This helps to absorb and utilize the protein efficiently in the body, while also minimizing the risks of allergic reactions as the proteins are in the most elemental state. So be sure you are getting enough protein in your diet especially if you or a family member has food protein allergies, by partnering with a Registered Dietitian.


Let the Parties Begin

Posted 12.13.13 | Christine Graham-Garo

Thanksgiving, for many of us, marks the beginning of a 6-8 week food laden holiday experience.  Some people are excited by this but many may feel ambivalent. While concerning, the typical 5-8 pound weight gain is the least of my concerns.  I love to eat and I love to feed others but dairy makes me miserable and wheat makes me itch. I have friends that are allergic to peanuts and others to seafood. Holiday parties can be stressful enough but what if you have food allergies? What if your guests have food allergies? What if you haven’t done your Christmas shopping because you’ve run out of time? We can’t help with your Christmas shopping but we can help you navigate the complexities of hosting a holiday food party with food allergies.  Sometimes oldies are goodies so check out 2010 Food Allergy Living Blog Holiday guide here

Now that you’ve figured out the logistics of hosting a hypoallergenic party, how do you cook a holiday meal without the top 8 food allergens?  How do you cook at all without the top 8 food allergens? It may seem that once you exclude the top 8 food allergens, there is nothing left to eat but it turns out that there is still a lot of delicious food to explore.  “Cauliflower rice” stuffing for Christmas Eve dinner? Or how about some banana amaranth pancakes for a Holiday brunch? Yes, please! May I have some more? Who knew that riced Cauliflower could fill in for bread in any stuffing recipe or that pancakes could be made out of amaranth? What the heck is amaranth? Find out here!

These are just the beginnings of many mouthwatering options that you may have never considered.  Want to explore grains that you have never heard of and allergy friendly recipes? Bob’s Redmill is a great place to start. Want to go a little bit deeper in learning how to substitute out those top 8 allergens in your current recipes? Gluten-free goddess has a great blog found here.

What holiday recipes have you created by removing the top 8 allergens?

- Yasmin Mughal, RD/N

Study on Food Allergy Reversal

Posted 1.30.14 | Christine Graham-Garo

A promising study written by Dr Wesley Burks and colleagues was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July of 2012. This study looked at oral immunotherapy with egg powder as a potencial treatment for children with egg allergies. This study was well designed using a double blind, placebo controlled method. Dr Burks et al looked at 55 children with egg allergies. The oral immunotherapy trials lasted about 22 months. If the children passed the 22 month trial, they avoided egg for another 4-6 weeks.  After that time, egg was reintroduced into the diet as an oral food challenge. Those children who passed the oral food challenge stage were then placed on a diet that allowed liberal egg consumption and were monitored for any responses to the egg proteins.

At the end of 10 months of therapy, none of the children who received the placebo passed the egg food challenge. Interestingly 55% who received the oral immunotherapy passed the oral food challenge and was considered to be desensitized. After 22 months, 75% of the children were desensitized who had the oral immunotherapy of the egg powder. All children who passed the oral food challenge at 24months continued to have egg in their diet at the 30-36 month evaluation stage.

This study shows very promising findings that oral immunotherapy can desensitize a high proportion of children with an egg allergy. These results were sustained after the oral immunotherapy was done, happily.

Have your kiddos or someone you know been through an oral immunotherapy trial? Do you think this is the next stage for food allergy treatments?


A new device that scans your foods for hidden allergens

Posted 3.11.14 | Christine Graham-Garo

I was at a Nutrition Conference a few months ago. After one of the sessions was done, I went to leave the auditorium. As I was leaving, someone was passing out flyers. I took a flyer and didn’t really read it until a few minutes later. I was very surprised by what I initially read, so surprised I had to read it twice.

The flyer was about a product called Tellspec. This handy little devise is a scanner that scans your food and tells you how many calories and other ingredients is in your food. It can even explain what weird sounding ingredients are. But most interestingly, Tellspec can scan your foods for allergens! Now, I have not used this before, so I cannot comment on its accuracy, but it claims that the scanner can detect allergens such as gluten, milk soy ect, in a given meal. It basically goes beyond the label to give you very detailed information about the ingredients in your food. It works on all kinds of foods; vegetables, mixed casseroles, drinks and even through plastic food packaging, perfect when you are at the store! It links to your smart phone to tell you all the information you need including the amount of trans fat or even mercury in a meal.

The product was created by the company’s CEO who’s daughter has a gluten intolerance and other food allergies. This product seems very innovative to me. It really brings a whole new light to understanding the foods we eat. It seems to be a step in the right direction for people with food allergies who struggle with hidden allergens. Since this is a very new product, I’m sure with time, science will be enhanced to make Tellspec even more precise. Once I saw this innovative product, I thought automatically of all the food allergy kids and families that may be interested in such a device.  You visit their website to read more and watch videos on their product at

Has anyone seen one of these at work? Where you impressed by it? Do you feel this is a vital tool for the future of food allergy management?


15 Most Allergy Friendly Restaurants

Posted 6.12.14 | Christine Graham-Garo

AllergyEats ( is a free, peer-based website and app where people find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies. AllergyEats recently announced its 2014 List of the Most Allergy Friendly Restaurants in the US. The rating is based on how well the restaurant accommodated food allergic diners.  The restaurants were broken up into large, medium, and small chains. Below are the top 15 Food Allergy Friendly Restaurants. Let us know of a positive expereince you had while eating out with food allergies.




Neocate Nutra Cookie Crisps

Posted 11.12.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Neocate Nutra Cookie Crisps RecipeHaving a cow milk allergy doesn’t mean that your loved one can’t enjoy some special, delicious cookies! Neocate Nutra Cookie Crisps are the perfect alternative to cookies made with milk or other dairy ingredients. They also don't use any of the top 8 allergens! Here’s the recipe you need to make some delicious cookies.

Yields: 4-8 cookies:


  • 4 scoops Neocate Nutra (18.5 g)
  • ½ tsp water
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 310ºF. Mix all ingredients until well blended and dry powder is gone.
  2. Using your hands to mix provides best results. If mixture is too sticky to hold/mold, add a sprinkle of Neocate Nutra powder and continue mixing until well blended.
  3. Separate dough evenly into 4 or 8 rounded balls. Place on flat baking sheet 3” apart.
  4. Flatten each ball with your finger by pushing down on the middle.
  5. Bake 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Check periodically during baking to ensure the cookies do not burn.
  6. Let cool about 7 minutes. Using a spatula, remove from baking sheet and serve.


Serving size facts:

  • Serving Size: Half Recipe
    Servings Per Recipe: 2

    Amount Per Serving
  • Energy: 45.6 kcal
  • Protein 0.8 g
  • Fat 1.8 g
  • Carbohydrates 6.8 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Vitamin D 15.6 IU
  • Calcium 62.0 mg
  • Iron 0.6 mg
  • Zinc 0.4 mg

For additional recipes and more, visit Be sure to check back, as we will be posting many more Neocate recipes throughout the coming holiday season!

Need more Nutra? Order more here: Neocate Nutra

Have you tried these cookies? Let us know what you think!


Top Ten Food Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains

Posted 12.8.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Dining out should be an enjoyable experience. C'mon, who doesn't love having a great meal where everyone gets something they like and nobody has to clean dishes afterward? Great food, good times, no stress, right?

Unfortunately, dining out can be super stressful when a member of your family has food allergies or a related condition. You not only have to worry about the ingredients used in the dish for your loved one, but also about how the kitchen staff handles those ingredients. Especially when severe food allergy reactions are a possibility, the risk of cross-contamination in the restaurant kitchen can cause stress.

Thankfully, Allergy Eats! has come to the rescue with their annual list of the Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains nationwide. Be sure to check often to look for updates!

Wait: Who is 'AllergyEats' and why should I trust them?

If you're not familiar, AllergyEats describes itself as "the leading guide to allergy-friendly restaurants in the United States." That's a big claim? How can they possibly back this up? 

AllergyEats is a free, peer-based website and app (for both Apple and Android devices) where people find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies. The site, app and related social media forums allow families with food allergies to help each other reduce guesswork and limit some of the anxiety surrounding dining out with food allergies. We're all about free, and you can't beat social support systems where you can get input from families like your own!

AllergyEats has a goal to help members of the food allergy community make informed decisions about where to dine. By being able to read about how well or poorly a restaurant has accommodated other diners’ with food allergies, you can narrow done which restaurants you might like to visit. AllergyEats lists more than 750,000 restaurants across the country and invites people like you to rate them.

You can easily search restaurants in AllergyEats platforms by your location, so you can find allergy-friendly restaurants near home or around the country when you travel. As always, it's still important for you to ask questions of restaurant staff to make sure you're comfortable. Another family managing a less-severe food allergy might report that the restaurant met their needs, but their needs may not be the same as yours.

Bear in mind, the restaurants on this list are restaurant chains. The chains on this list hold the highest ratings on the AllergyEats website and smartphone app, per feedback from the food allergy community. AllergyEats restaurant ratings are based solely on how well restaurants have accommodated food-allergic diners, and not on other factors, such as ambiance, service or food quality. And each chain's score is an average of scores for all locations in the chain.

Allergy Eats broke down the highest-rated restaurants, and grouped them into two categories; large chains and small chains. The large chains have 50 or more locations, while the small chains have less than 50. Check out the honorees below, and check AllergyEats for updates!

Most allergy-friendly large chains:

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.41 rating)
  • P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.39 rating)
  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.39 rating)
  • Outback Steakhouse (4.32 rating)
  • Mellow Mushroom (4.29 rating)

Most allergy-friendly small chains:

  • Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.74 rating)
  • Burtons Grill (4.69 rating)
  • Legal Sea Foods (4.64 rating)
  • Joe’s American Bar & Grill (4.63 rating)
  • Not Your Average Joe’s (4.63 rating)

AllergyEats says that “While no restaurant chain receives universally great reviews from every diner, AllergyEats incorporates all positive and negative ratings to determine which restaurants are deemed most allergy-friendly by the food allergy community as a whole. The establishments on our list have proven themselves to have best-in-class food allergy procedures & protocols, training and knowledge, receiving high overall ratings and positive feedback from food-allergic diners that have comfortably eaten at their restaurants.”

We think that's at least a great start when you're looking for a restaurant that might be able to accommodate your needs. As always, consider giving the restaurant a phone call first to ask them how they can meet your specific requests.

The next time your family wants to dine out and enjoy a nice meal, be sure to keep these restaurants in mind. And consider leaving your reviews of restaurants that you visit on AllergyEats to help other families managing food allergies and related conditions. You can read more about the restaurants that made the list here

What restaurant chain has given you great service that you think should be on next year's list?

-Nutrition Services team

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Tips for Planning an Allergy-Friendly Picnic

Posted 5.30.16 | Irina Kabigting

Are you looking for a simple and fun activity to share with your family? As the weather warms up, it’s the perfect time of the year to pack up a picnic basket and head out with the family. We have a few tips to make sure your picnic will be a walk in the park!

Keep it simple.

You don’t have to go far to enjoy eating outside with your family. You can even pack up a basket and head out to the back yard!

Pack in advance.

We recommend packing ahead of time so you don’t forget any key ingredients. Make sure to pack:

  • Tablecloths if your location has a picnic table
  • Blankets if you plan on hanging out on the grass
  • Napkins
  • Anti-bacterial spray or wet wipes (Keep those hands clean!)
  • Plates
  • Utensils
  • Cups
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Emergency medication & epinephrine auto-injector if one has been prescribed by your doctor

*Don’t forget to throw in extra hand wipes so it is easy for everyone to clean up after they eat!

The Food Network even came up with a clever infographic for the ultimate packable picnic (click on the image to view larger):

Pack food separately and safely.

Whether you are going to a restaurant or planning a simple picnic in your own back yard, there is always a chance of cross contamination with food allergens. If your picnic plans include a mix of foods, be sure to pack foods in separate, sealed containers. Also bring enough serving utensils that each dish can have its own dedicated scoop, spoon, fork, or spatula. You can even color coordinate or label containers to make sure you are staying safe.

As the weather starts to warm up, another handy tip is to make sure to pack and keep your food safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a handy handout you can download to help you handle food safely when eating outdoors.

View FDA Food Facts.

Pack treats.

All picnics need a tasty treat (or two!). Our Neocate Junior Brownie Bites are perfect to prepare ahead of time and add to the basket. For more delicious, dairy-free Neocate recipes, check out our Recipe Booklet.

 Additional Allergy-Friendly Picnic Recipes:

Have an emergency plan

Not to be a downer, but life happens. In emergency situations it’s easy to panic and forget what you need to do to help someone having an allergic reaction. For such instances, it’s best to have an emergency plan of action. Prior to your outing, write down what needs to be done in case of emergency – this will not only help you but can also serve as a guideline for any other adults onsite who can offer a hand.


3 Neocate Smoothie Recipes - Quick & Easy Ways to Cool off this Summer

Posted 7.5.16 | Nutrition Specialist

The sun is shining bright, days are longer, school is out of session, and I cannot wait to be outside enjoying the weather or sitting by the water. Yes, that is right. Summer is officially here!! Even when your schedule no longer changes with summer break from school, many of us look forward to this time of year. 

Summer is a wonderful time of year for me since I cannot get enough of the sunshine and outdoor activities. I might just be walking my dogs late in the sunshine of the long days, sitting on a neighborhood bench while reading and enjoying the crisp evening air, or perhaps enjoying a refreshing beverage to keep myself cool while enjoying the company of friends. I will do almost anything to get outside and soak up some summer rays and take advantage of long days.

Unfortunately along with the wonderful summer sun comes the summer heat. And if you live in a humid climate like me, that can make the heat of a hot day quite uncomfortable. What better to cool you off than a refreshing beverage!? Well we here at Neocate have some quick and easy ideas for you to enjoy the Neocate you know and love with a bit of a twist to help you cool off in the summer heat.

Vanilla Orange Pineapple Fruit Blast Smoothie

How about some brightly colored oranges and pineapple to go along with those summer rays? Well, if you want to brighten your day then this Vanilla Orange Pineapple Fruit Blast Smoothie is a must for you. A few quick items into the blender and you will have a refreshing citrus smoothie to enjoy in the heat or maybe even poolside. Check out this video and recipe details and you will be minutes away from a bright and refreshing Neocate treat.

Here’s a quick recipe card you can save and print for your records:



Pumped Up Peach and Strawberry Smoothie

Oranges don’t seem to cool you off? No worries. How about Peaches and Strawberries? This Pumped Up Peach and Strawberry Smoothie has only 3 simple ingredients including some frozen fruit and Neocate Junior with Prebiotics, Strawberry flavor for some added strawberry kick. Just pop the 3 simple ingredients into the blender and you are just moments away from a tasty strawberry delight to help you cool off from the summer heat. Watch this quick video to see how simple and easy it is for you to enjoy one of your very own.

Click on the image below for printable recipe card

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Smoothie

I am a girl who loves to enjoy some chocolate. If you agree (at least with the chocolate bit), then this Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Smoothie will really hit the spot. Perfect for when you want something refreshing and also a chocolate treat to perhaps satisfy your late summer evening chocolate cravings. This is a great one to keep handy when you want to take your smoothie with you on the go since you can add the Neocate Junior, Chocolate flavor powder directly to the mixture. After a quick shake in your shaker cup you are on your way with a refreshing beverage in hand.

Click on the image below for printable recipe card

What are some of your favorite summer treats to beat the summer heat? Let us know how you like these recipes, or any other suggestions to beat the summer heat.

--Kristin Crosby MS, RDN

About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.