#AllergicToEverything - The Cookbook & Lifestyle Guide, a Kickstarter for food allergy collectors & the people who love them! Ask Me Anything.

Jessica Gray Schipp
Jun 1, 2018

#AllergicToEverything® is a cookbook and lifestyle guide for food allergy collectors and the people who love them. #AllergicToEverything was created for people with food allergies, but the book’s benefits extend to everyone! The recipes are whole-foods based and delicious (check out taste-testers Sabrina and Rachel, eating the goat cheese dates in the launch video!). 

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I wrote #AllergicToEverything® over the last six years working on recipes in my kitchen. I embarked on my journey as a person with multiple food allergies in the hope that by helping myself I would one day be able to help others with the same allergy issues. #AllergicToEverything® is more than a dietary resource for allergy sufferers, #AllergicToEverything® is also diet-friendly for those with autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal (GI) disease, and digestive and inflammatory issues.   

#AllergicToEverything® recipes are free from gluten, wheat, corn, oats, eggs, shellfish, sesame, and soy.  The recipes are tailored to be flexible, including modifications for a diet and lifestyle free of the top eight major food allergens identified in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which are responsible for approximately 90% of food allergic reactions. Whether you are allergic to salmon (one of the top eight) or a vegetarian, you will find that the recipes are easily adaptable to your dietary restrictions.  #AllergicToEverything® also excludes from its recipes chemical additives; food preservatives; and, artificial flavors, which for many people are increasingly identified as problem foods and additives.

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For the last six years I have lived and breathed multiple food allergies, a lifestyle no one can plan for. A lifestyle no one should have to live, but if in fact, you do have to live it, you know as well as I do just how hard it is. My guess is that even if you aren’t a food allergy collector, you love someone who is. When I began my journey, there was no go-to one-stop resource for building a life around multiple food allergies, instead, there were blogs and books and recipes for singular food allergies or for singular health issues. Mixing and matching and trials and errors became a way of life. The research was unending. 

One day a couple of years ago, my friend Phil came over for dinner and asked about the recipe. Without much thought, I pulled the notebook I had started keeping. I’d been recreating my favorite foods for about three years at that point. He looked at me and said, “Jess, you should publish this.” Two years later, running with that advice, I am finally doing just that.

I had a feeling in my gut that drove me to utilize Kickstarter for my book launch! Gut feelings often necessitate taking great chances, overcoming great risks, and with your help, finding great rewards. Because Kickstarter provides a platform for like-minded people to rally behind the causes and efforts that are important to them, Kickstarter gives me the platform I need to bring this book into the world professionally and with all of my love.

As a little girl, I spent a great deal of time watching the Food Network, journaling, scrapbooking, and documenting everything. I supported my artistic endeavors by selling handmade greeting cards and confetti on my porch stoop, while other kids sold lemonade. This #AllergicToEverything® project is the natural extension of a life-long string of passion projects; it’s the push-pin I lovingly wrap cotton thread around as I settle into this journey point on this map of my life. 

You can see the Kickstarter, check out my blog, and follow the food on Instagram @hashtagallergic! I also have a facebook page, Pinterest, and Twitter.  

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allergictoeverything.life/

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When you eat out how do you handle your food allergies, do you inform the restaurant staff?
Jun 8, 12:17PM EDT0

I research before I go, ask questions when I arrive, and when I feel it is necessary I give them my food allergy "business" card!  If the food comes out wrong (like a bun on my burger) I send it back and ask them to remake it completely. 

Jun 8, 7:14PM EDT0
Do you have any long-term plans for helping the restaurant industry deal with food allergies and create safe practices?
Jun 8, 6:27AM EDT0

I would love to be part of helping the restaurant industry deal with food allergies and create safe practices!  That would be a dream!!

Jun 8, 7:13PM EDT0
Did you always want to create a cookbook knowing that you could create a safe menu/environment for those with food allergies?
Jun 8, 4:10AM EDT0

I didn't even realize I was writing a cookbook when it started!  I was just keeping track of recipes that worked for me.  Since I decided to make it a cookbook, yes, most definitely!  The goal is to make food safe for everyone!

Jun 8, 7:12PM EDT0
What quick tip do you have for those that need some extra comfort in dining out safely?
Jun 8, 2:13AM EDT0

Carry an allergy card so the Chef can be aware of all your allergens.  Ask questions!!  Research before you go!

Jun 8, 7:11PM EDT0
Are there any foods that you really miss not being able to have now?
Jun 2, 5:19PM EDT0

EGGS!  Eggs are the only thing you can't fake.  But being healthy and not having allergic reactions is worth it!

Jun 4, 1:45PM EDT0
What would you say you’ve learned from the experience of blogging to publishing your book?
Jun 2, 1:15PM EDT0

I've learned that it can be challenging to reach your audience but that persistence pays off.  I've also learned that consistency and follow-up is really important.  And more than anything, I have learned the value of being yourself when you share online!

Jun 4, 1:44PM EDT0
How would you describe your journey from blogging to a cookbook?
Jun 2, 5:32AM EDT0

My journey was actually just the opposite, I went from writing down recipes in a journal that worked for me - they evolved into the cookbook and in the process of trying to get the book published, I started a blog to go along with it!  It has been a journey of learning!!

Jun 4, 1:43PM EDT0
When you think of the future and the work you are doing, what gives you a sense of hope?
Jun 1, 9:04PM EDT0

My hope comes from being able to give this gift to a community of food allergy collectors who don't have another resource like this one.  To be able to build awareness and educate people about living with multiple food allergies and to give hope to people struggling on their journeys inspires me every day to keep going.

Jun 1, 11:29PM EDT0
What was the hardest dessert to get right without any allergens?
Jun 1, 6:47AM EDT0

Excellent question.  My great grandmother's fudge pie is still a recipe I am working to de-allergenize.  It relies on six foamy egg whites to give it lift and texture.  Flax eggs don't generate the same effect, resulting in a denser pie.  I am still on the hunt for something that reacts like a meringue and am hopeful I will find the trick!!  

Jun 1, 12:06PM EDT0
Based on your experience, how common are allergies to fish and other types of meat? What kind of symptoms may occur?
Jun 1, 2:32AM EDT0

Fish (and shellfish) are two of the most common food allergens.  They are on the "top 8," along with wheat, peanut, eggs, milk, soybean, and nuts.  The "top 8" are the foods identified by the FDA in the US as responsible for 90% of food allergic reactions and are required by law to be labeled in bold on foods.  Other types of meat are less common.

Symptoms vary from person to person.  My allergens, for example, eat cause different sets of reactions.  While shellfish causes me to have an anaphylactic reaction, it may only mildly disturb someone else (with hives, or itchy eyes perhaps).  Corn and eggs instantly show up as hives on my skin.  Wheat really impacts my digestion.  Some things are remedied with Benadryl, while others need a stronger steroid to stop the reaction, and in the most severe cases, I have to use an Epi-pen.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that no one is the same.  Reactions can become more severe once you've identified the allergy and removed it from your system.  Some people even get over their allergens after removing them for a period of time.  Paying close attention to your body and how it reacts when you consume foods you suspect you are allergic to is key and I definitely recommend getting medical supervision when thinking about testing food allergens and sensitivities. 

Jun 1, 12:03PM EDT0
What are you doing to promote your Kickstarter campaign? Are you able to get so much good press for your Kickstarter campaigns?
May 31, 7:28PM EDT0

I am doing everything I can to promote the campaign.  Emailing everyone I know, using all my social media channels, reaching out to press, sending out press releases, posting flyers, carrying around postcards, and more!  It has been VERY challenging to get any press.  I am excited to say a couple of press outlets have recently shown an interest in sharing the project but the majority of them do not share Kickstarters.  The biggest response I have gotten is, "let us know if you get funded and we'd be happy to do a story."  But I am continuing to look for outlets and hoping for the best!!

May 31, 8:42PM EDT0

The campaign is almost 30% funded!  I need your help so I can help people with this book.  The stories my backers are sharing with me are inspiring and we really need your help to bring #AllergicToEverything to life!

May 31, 6:15PM EDT0
What are the three most common questions you get from clients about a maintaining a gluten-free diet?
May 31, 12:07PM EDT0

1. What are the alternatives? There are lots! I baked my way through many failed attempts and finally found flours that work for me. I have even found one store-bought brand that works well for me (and doesn't have egg, which is very challenging to find).

2. What is the best pasta?  I prefer brown rice noodles (I buy mine at Trader Joe's), lots of companies are starting to thin-out their GF pasta with corn, which I am allergic to.  

3. What do you do if you accidentally consume gluten?  I tend to have GI issues when I eat gluten.  One of the ways I remedy this is with Smooth Move tea which helps my body eliminate the allergen faster.  Be diligent, read all the labels, and don't trust even your best friends to understand all of the places allergens hide!

May 31, 6:13PM EDT0
What has it been like to manage food allergies as a young teen? How did you first come up with the idea for #AllergicToEverything?
May 31, 10:09AM EDT0

I spent much of my childhood with puffy eyes and tissues in my pockets. As a kid, my one confirmed allergy was shellfish. Just having to be conscious of food and what is in it is challenging. It takes extra brain power and an awareness most people don’t understand. I think, now that I am grown up, the challenge is helping others understand what I can eat, and showing them there are options other than a salad. I hate the salad.

As for the idea for #AllergicToEverything, I simply had a notebook full of recipes that had been working for me, and one day I scrawled "#AllergicToEverything" across its cover.  One day, a couple of years ago, my friend Phil came over for dinner and asked about the recipe. Without much thought, I pulled out the notebook I had started keeping. I’d been recreating my favorite foods for about three years at that point. He looked at me and said, “Jess, you should publish this.” Two years later, running with that advice, I am finally doing just that.

May 31, 6:07PM EDT0
What are the common misconceptions that people have about food allergies?
May 31, 6:59AM EDT0

It is very common for people to presume gluten-free lifestyles, for example, are a choice.  Something people are doing to lose weight. While that may be the case for some, food allergies are serious and need to be taken seriously.  15 million American's alone are affected by food allergies. These numbers are increasing rapidly and it is a subject that needs attention and research. 

May 31, 6:05PM EDT0
Do you think a person can ever learn “too much” about allergies?
May 31, 1:31AM EDT0

I think it is absolutely possible to get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there.  That is part of the reason I wanted to create a one-stop resource.  It is overwhelming enough to face food allergies, let alone have to scour the infinite internet!

May 31, 6:03PM EDT0
Your book is going to be such a valuable resource. Why do you think something like it hasn’t been done before?
May 31, 1:10AM EDT0

Thank you so much Mayeth.  Perhaps because the publishing industry isn't yet aware of its value, perhaps because of the ridiculous amount of research it takes to create something like this, and perhaps because of the enormous hold the food industry has in the US.  All I know for sure is that I needed to create this resource for the people who need it!  Finding the backing and support has been surprisingly challenging but I am more hopeful every day. 

May 31, 6:02PM EDT0
Which international cuisines do you think have the least amount of food allergic ingredients?
May 30, 8:41PM EDT0

I have found it to be very easy to eat in Germany and London.  I also feel a lot of Latin and Spanish influenced foods are safe but it is really depended upon your specific allergens.  In general, I find it easier to buy products off the shelf abroad, they contain far fewer preservatives and stabilizers in their food. 

May 31, 5:59PM EDT0
Why did you opt for self-publishing? What are the challenges that you are facing in getting your book out there?
May 30, 8:26PM EDT0

Initially, I wanted to go the traditional route, however, after reading this article by Nick Kokonas (about publishing the Aviary Cookbook), I came to understand the real costs involved in publishing cookbooks and learned about the value self-publishing offers authors.  Big thank you to Michael for sharing this with me.  It was invaluable! 

The challenges of getting the book out there have been surprising: I am not allowed to share the project in online food allergy groups and forums or by leaders in the food allergy industry because it is seen as an endorsement for fundraising. 

May 31, 5:58PM EDT0
What piece of advice do you have for people with food allergies?
May 30, 6:47PM EDT0

Have hope.  And if you are a parent of a food allergic child, my number one tip on keeping your kiddos safe and happy is: Help them live normal lives. Learn to make the foods they loved before they were allergic to them. Teach them to enjoy cooking. Give your kids a sense of confidence rather than shame, encouraging them to help others by sharing their stories. Make sure teachers are aware of the allergies and make sure your kids (once old enough) know the severity of them because, in a school setting, even the best teachers can’t keep tabs on all 30 students at all times. Make sure they carry their EpiPen on them, and that their best friends know how to use it.

May 31, 5:56PM EDT0
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