Austin Toros first game of the season!


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Did I ever mention my LOVE for anything basketball?!??!  Well, I do.  It’s one of my fav sports besides volleyball.  Since moving to Austin, I’ve only had the opportunity to see an actual game when visiting family and friends in New Orleans.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but – I was unaware of the Austin Toros basketball team.  Not sure how that got past me, but anytime basketball was brought up here, I’d immediately think ‘San Antonio Spurs’.  D’oh!
Nevertheless, we received several tickets to attend Austin Toros’ first game of the season.  I was excited!  Not to mention, this was the kid’s first REAL basketball game.  He’s “played” with other children at YMCA, but at that age their just learning the concept.
He loved it!  I think his favorite moments were the slam dunks and the Capital City dancer performances!  Hilarious!

Hot Lava obstacle course!


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I’ve been so tangled up in work that I love to spend my free time with my kiddo. We recently decided to go out on a day trip around Austin and ended up in the Hot Lava obstacle course/ training ground.  A colleague of mine recently mentioned we should take the kid because of his recent American Ninja warrior aspirations. And, wow! It was the most fun day we’d had all week.

I have never been to a parkour gym and so no wonder I was quite skeptic about it but I am glad that we made the decision to try it out. It was entertaining, challenging and most importantly it was full of fun.
The gym was all about pushing your limits to take up the challenge and win it. We had to involved in jumping, running, crawling, and climbing to get pass the obstacles. Yes, it was indeed very tiring but it was also simply awesome. Unlike, the usual children’s bouncy houses we frequent – Hot Lava’s all about creating a strategy and way to get over the obstacles and reach the destined place.

When in Hot Lava it felt like being in a playground again only that the size of the playground was now giant. It is a limitless exploration of the surrounding environment which is bound by stimulated excitements and it did bring out that little child in me which I thought was long gone.

I felt that Hot Lava was great exercise for the kid except the difference is that  he enjoyed doing it. And, we are definitely going back again; it is a perfect way to channel energy to a fun activity.
Note: Children under 8 are only allowed between 10am and 2pm.

Related articles

Parkour: The art of movement (
Missoula community embraces teens’ parkour gym (
Athletics – Recipe For Good results (

#GivingTuesday 2013


Giving Tuesday is fast approaching and as a social media consultant/activist, I’ve been working on different campaigns and realized I needed to speak briefly about it here.  Giving Tuesday is a new holiday tradition and is a day to celebrate. “It’s time to “get out the give” and put “giving” into the giving season”. We CAN really make a difference over this holiday season.

I need your help. Any amount of support I can get is paramount and extremely beneficial. One of the best ways to give back is by investing in a Food Allergy-Friendly Food Pantry to feed needy families with allergies here in Central Texas.  Interested in donating? Learn more here.  Monies donated to the Louise Walker Memorial Fund will directly benefit the food allergy friendly pantry here in Austin.

Join the movement and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Looking forward to another successful #GivingTuesday, Dec. 3, 2013

Plant based diet on budget challenge


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People often follow diets that are extremely unhealthy. This may be due to various reasons. Some may not have the time to eat healthy and some may not have the financial condition to do so. However, now here is a diet which is well within anyone’s budget. It was formulated by Toni Okamoto, who believes that eating healthy is the thing that matters and it can also be done in an affordable manner.

This is mainly a food plan which is plant based i.e. the person following this plan needs to eat lots of green vegetables. Now, if you are wondering about its advantages then there are many. This diet is a perfect way to clean your body of all toxic materials and that no doubt will help you in improving your overall health condition. Other than that it also helps you to decrease inflammation in an effective manner and that also without any kind of side effects.

This is why I’ve decided to participate in the #plantbaseddietonabudget challenge this month.  My diet consists of kale and spinach salads, smoothies and juicing.  The combinations are both filling and satisfying for my sweet tooth!

While on this diet there’s a certain routine to follow in a strict manner otherwise the diet will not be fruitful and all efforts will be in vain.  Not sure about others, but I have to be prepared for my weak moments!

With this diet the things I’ve most avoided are meat and processed foods.   I’ve also concentrated on eating more green vegetables and fibers.

Although, this is my first “challenge” – I won’t be hard on myself if I slip in a slice of pumpkin pie today as it is Thanksgiving day.  Once the month is over, I’d like to continue my attempts of eating healthier that includes budgeting.  Usually our food costs are unbelievably high, so it would be great to continue our eating habits, while slashing the amount of money spent on a monthly basis.

Here’s a brief summary on my intro into the food allergy world…


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Back in 2009, at the tender age of 11 months, my tenacious, adorably cute son was diagnosed with food allergies by his doctor. Mind you, they discovered this after I had already removed the top 8 allergens from my diet. He was reacting to my breast milk of all things. Severe eczema, recurrent ear infections and acid reflux issues had us at the doctor’s office quite often during the first year of my son’s life. I became adamant about finding the root cause of all of my son’s health issues.

We were referred to allergist, Dr. Lieberman who diagnosed our son with dairy, peanut, egg, and wheat allergies. We got a diagnosis of asthma two years later. Dr. Lieberman told us to remove all peanut butter products from our home. It terrified me to think that something my husband and I enjoyed could make my son really sick. I learned to spot hidden food allergens and read nutrition labels more closely. At night, I would read about anaphylaxis and food allergies. While I was going through all of this, I did not have anyone around me that understood what we were dealing with.

I started going to Vitamin Cottage’s Natural Grocers religiously to find stuff Danny could eat. I met with our helpful nutritionist, Trevida Trevino to discuss allergy friendly meal options. She suggested many helpful things including finding a local food allergy group on I met some wonderful ladies that helped me manage my son’s food allergies like Stephanie Miller, Beth Martinez, and many other moms who were dealing with similar situations. I am so thankful for all of the advice and support I have received from the ladies in this group. It truly does take a village, especially when you are dealing with a child with food allergies.
BTW, my son has a “baked egg challenge” this morning…say a prayer, cross your fingers and toes!


About Me?

Nah…it’s bigger than that.

This blog will of course be filled with random thoughts, trips around Austin and of course…FOOD ALLERGY related content.

Help for families with food allergies in Oklahoma


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Prayers to the victims of the May 20th tornadoes which plummeted Moore, Oklahoma.

Please see below if you are at all able to help:

1. (Email from support group leader in Oklahoma) “Hey leaders need some help! We are in Oklahoma. We are getting together donations of food for those with special dietary needs. I have contacted the food bank and the salvation army who have told me we will be in touch. Well I know this is a huge need because parents in our support group have already been contacted. Right now if anyone would like to send donations we are having them sent to me and we are distributing. If the food bank decides it is a need then we will take to them as well. If you can help in anyway please let me know.

Here is my info.Cami Simunek 13125 Oak Hill DrivePiedmont, OK 73078I have 20 + people in our group ready to go out and distribute. Thank you!!!!”

2.  (Email from a mom on another list serv in response to that email) “I  contacted the head of communications at FARE (formerly FAAN) and received this email:”We’re going to be posting a blog post shortly with a variety of resources, but I wanted to let you know we’ve been in touch with the food bank in the area and they are accepting donations of allergy-friendly foods.  We’re recommending people send food directly to them.

Their address is: Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma3355 S Purdue Oklahoma City, OK 73137-0968They are most in need of peanut butter replacements, and shelf-stable, easy-prep food such as canned meats/fish and soups. Many of shelf stable products are tough for our families who are managing milk, egg, wheat and soy allergies. Gluten-Free Café has chicken noodle and vegetable noodle soups that are allergy friendly, Trader Joe’s and Bumblebee low-sodium tuna in water does not contain soy (most other tunas do), and Imagine and Pacific Natural are both good brands, too.”

3. It seems Peanut Free Planet is giving free shipping for donations. Their post on facebook ( ):

“If you would like to send a food donation to the food allergy families that have been victims of the Oaklahoma Tornado you can order on our site. PFP will cover the shipping of the gift to the Oaklahoma Food bank. If you would like to donate $ to purchase products to fill in the gaps of other donations please purchase a gift certificate. When you order enter our address as the shipping address. 15252 Stony Creek Way Noblesville IN and choose in-store pick up and put “Oaklahoma” in the comments section. The donations will be shipped Thursday morning. The more people that SHARE this post the more we can SHARE with the food allergy families that are in dire need.”

4.Food Allergy Food Donations for Moore, OK

Food Allergy-Friendly Food Pantry


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I came across an article called “Special Diet Food Banks” from Living Without Magazine a couple of years ago.  I read about a young girl with Celiac disease having to eat the gluten-containing macaroni and cheese from the food bank, even though it would cause her a great deal of agony.  I’ve never been able to get that article out of my head.  It made me think about just how many families have issues securing food  and have life threatening food allergies.  I decided to reach out to Dee Valdez for inspiration.  Here are some shocking statistics I learned:

  • In the United States, Texas is the second state with the most food insecurities. Suffering from food insecurity simply means that you have such limited resources when it comes to obtaining food that your children and family are forced to eat a reduced quality of food. It is estimated that 17.1 percent of the population of Texas suffers from food insecurities.
  • In the state of Texas, approximately 24.3 percent of the children population is living in poverty. This means that one in every four children in the state of Texas is suffering from food insecurities.
  • Almost have of the families who suffer from food insecurities are forced to choose all the time between food and other basic needed items. Approximately 48 percent of these families have to choose between paying for their light bill, their heat bill, or food. Approximately 47 percent are being forced to choose between paying their rent or buying food. Approximately 39 percent are being forced to choose between buying gas for their vehicles or buying food.

In 2007, I decided to create the Louise Walker Memorial Fund in honor of my grandmother. In 2010, I changed  the mission of my fund to focus its energies on food allergy awareness programs and organizations.  Thanks to the assistance of Capital Area Food Bank, Natural Grocers and Cameron Road Church of Christ (among other local churches) I’ve also been able to create a food pantry that’s food allergy friendly.   It’s still growing and being developed, but it’s definitely making progress!  Stay tuned…by following this blog and following me on twitter!

Chef Alain Braux’s new cookbook, Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Food


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Let me start by saying that I am not the easiest eater.  My food allergic son’s also selective about what he eats.   I have a gluten sensitivity and I generally don’t have any interest in bread, cheese and milk.  I also try to avoid red meat.  We buy mostly organic and enjoy drinking fresh orange or green juice.  I cook with coconut and olive oils.  So because I do the majority of the grocery shopping and cooking in my house, my family ends up eating similarly.   Will my husband eat regular frozen pizza and milk?  Does my son eat cookies and occasional treats?  Obviously.  Will I have a meltdown if they do?  Of course not!

Earlier this year, I received Chef Alain Braux’s new cookbook, Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Food.  It has become my “go to” in such a short period of time.  It’s a fantastic book for anyone who has  food allergies, gluten intolerance or celiac disease, or for someone looking to understand and educate themselves around whether they may have one of these conditions.  The book is written by a phenomenal French chef, who shares with his readers how to enjoy cooking and eating regardless of their dietary restrictions.  His mission in this book is clear: to ensure that his readers understand that a special diet does not mean they should ever feel restricted from enjoying delicious meals.

Chef Alain Braux’s writing style comes across as genuine and full of personality, making the non-recipe portions of the book a pleasure to read.  Sensitive to gluten himself, he can easily relate to his readers, understand their dietary restrictions and associated struggles, and ultimately help better their daily eating experience.

The book begins by discussing Gluten and Dairy dietary restrictions and how these intolerances or sensitivities become apparent, and tapping in to personal accounts of various people regarding their own personal experiences with food intolerances, allergies and sensitivities.  He carefully touches upon what people with such dietary situations might experience including behavioral problems, feeling ill and bloated, and addresses the issue around the problems with self-diagnosis versus having a specialist examine one’s situation.  Braux also ensures that his readers have a thorough understanding of each condition, what it means, and what potential causes are.  He takes a responsible approach in giving all of the necessary background information that a reader needs to make a smart decision in whether or not they should seek medical attention to validate or disprove their dietary condition concerns.

Braux gives recommendations throughout the book that teach readers how to live with their dietary restrictions including how to organize their kitchens, what key ingredients to stock up on, and how to tweak their favourite recipes to meet their dietary needs.  Furthermore, he explores lifestyle tricks to help readers when eating outside of the home and grocery shopping.

Lastly, of course, the book outlines all sorts of delicious foods and recipes that readers can prepare that fall within the guidelines of their dietary restrictions.  There is an extremely wide assortment of tasty options from sweets to meats that would satisfy any craving one might have.  As you can imagine, being a French chef, Braux has significant expertise in preparing fine foods and shares decadent yet practical recipes for creating culinary delights.  I was born and raised in New Orleans, so I was excited to see French cuisine recipes specifically for people with food allergies.

This book literally teaches its readers everything that they need to know to live and eat happily with a gluten and dairy-free diet.  From how to understand their condition, to lifestyle changes, to cooking amazing meals, this is an extremely comprehensive guide for anyone looking to live better with their dietary restriction or even just educate themselves better around whether or not they may have one in the first place.

Food Allergies…and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)


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Imagine a small child walking into the room. Imagine his eyes swollen shut, his nose running, and he’s wheezing. When someone asks what is wrong with the child. The mother explains to them that he suffers from a food allergy and she has to give him Benadryl around the clock.

This is something I refer to as Russian roulette. Please keep in mind, I am not judging the mother (or any parent in this situation). I am just filled with concern. Statistics show that there are upwards of 15 million Americans that suffer from food allergies and approximately 5 million of them are children. It is believed that children who come from wealthy families are more likely to develop an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts. We hear about the organizations and charities that are raising money to research these allergies all the time. But, do you know what we do not hear about? All the families who cannot afford to get an epipen for because their insurance refuses to cover it. Or how about all those families who really do not get enough with food stamps. And how about those families who cannot even get food stamps?

The unfortunate truth is food allergy friendly food is not cheap. There are limitations of what brands and products can be purchased. If you have to add multiple allergies to the mix, things can get even more expensive. An individual with a handful of food allergies can quickly find themselves spending more on grocery than they spend on their rent and utilities combined. Some people have trouble even finding food that they can consume with their allergies.

Now, close your eyes for a minute and think about your grocery needs with your food stamps card. Do you really think the amount you get would be enough to support dietary needs and restrictions if you had them?

If you are an Austin family with food allergies making ends meet with food stamps and interested in sharing budgeting tips/resources.. I’d love to hear from you at

My Week without a smartphone…


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Last Friday began just like any other day- I awoke, prayed and then meditated. After giving good morning kisses to everyone and drinking a cup of warm water with lemon, I usually grab my smartphone. However, a low battery kept me from doing anything productive. Before leaving the house for my daily activities, I charged the phone for short time, thinking that was all that it needed.

Anyone with a smartphone knows to travel with a charger, because the battery life sucks and mine – like many other – died shortly after I left the house. I immediately attempted to charge it, but after many tries, it still would not power on!

Thus began my week of “throwback moments.”

That afternoon, I was expecting a very important call and they had initially planned to call my cell – naturally. Instead, I ended up having to call them…on a landline! Other than having to scramble at the last minute to find a phone to use – the conversation went rather well.

Shortly after finishing with the call, I moseyed on over to Sprint. After running a diagnostic test on my HTC EVO, they told me it needed a new screen. This particular store did not have the replacement part in stock for my phone and would have to special order it. After checking with other Sprint stores around town, I was sent to their North location. I left the phone there for an hour, so that they could fix the problem while I ran errands. When I returned, the technician informed me that, “They’ve replaced the screen, but the phone is dead (as in dead-dead and nonfunctioning). An HTC EVO has been ordered and it’ll be in sometime next week.” – It was Friday!!

— NEXT WEEK?!?!? SHHHHIIIIIIIIEEEEETTTTTT…….Ran through my head immediately.

Unable to survive an entire week without a phone, I went home and rummaged through a few storage bins, searching for an old LG Rumor Remix. Wow! All of my contacts were gone; I had no social media and no e-mail. It was just a phone. I was aware of the old phone’s capabilities – email, Facebook, etc. – but I was annoyed and was NOT in the mood to deal with setting any of that up on the phone. Besides, it just would not be the same.

Begrudgingly, I decided to drag around and use my laptop that week for emails and social media and used my phone only to place calls.

Monday and Tuesday were interesting, as I wanted to take a photo here and there, buuut… without Instagram, the photos just did not look — right, you know.

Wednesday is when I was really sent back a couple of years.

I had a lunch meeting at an unfamiliar with the location. My first thoughts were to use my phone’s GPS to guide me directly to the restaurant. I soon realized that was not an option with the old phone. Before I left the house, I had to write down the directions on a sheet of paper. BANANAS!

The rest of the week was filled with similar stories. Boo-hoo! Poor me, right?!

Well, I successfully made it through the week and I must admit that there is a HUGE plus with the LG Rumor – the battery life! Ahhhh… what a relief it was to have a phone that was able to keep its charge throughout the entire day. I had forgotten what it was like for the battery to be a non-issue.

Overall, I was not happy about what had happened to my smartphone and losing ALL of my contacts. However, not having it made me appreciate it even more. Plus, using the old phone wasn’t all bad. At the beginning, it was difficult to adjust to, but as it turned out, it was nice just to slow down a bit for a week.