Monday, May 30, 2011

Mango allergy: The fruit that destroyed my face (pics)

Several weeks ago I broke out in this terrible rash.  It progressively got worse so eventually I made my way to the Urgent Care to only be told that they thought it was cold sores. The thought that kept going through my mind was, “where in the world did I get this?!” and disappointment that I had somehow acquired this lifetime virus that just keeps on giving. Despite the fact that the doctor “thought” that it was cold sores (he wasn’t 100% confident in his diagnosis), part of me just didn’t believe it. It wasn’t the characteristic sores and wasn’t responding to treatment at all (antiviral tabs and creams) and it continued to spread. Also I started breaking out in hives in several other areas of my body (chest, wrist, cheeks, neck, leg, etc.).

After many painful and embarrassing days I finally figured out what was causing this horrendous itchy, painful, swollen blisters all over my lips, chin and even nose….MANGOES!

Taken from the Discovery Channel website:
Mango and poison ivy are both in the cashew family, and both contain a substance called urushiol (yu-roosh’-ee-all). It’s the poison in poison ivy, the cause of the blisters and itching. The mango contains much, much less of the irritant than poison ivy, but despite that, some very sensitive people can get a rash just from handling mango peel and being exposed to its sap. Luckily, more often than not, even sensitive people can enjoy the delectable fruit of the mango, provided someone else peels it for them.

After reading this it makes so much more sense.  The day before and day that I started getting these sores I had eaten mango and continued to eat it for days into the allergic reaction (I thought the vitamin C would help my immune system – silly me!?).  It wasn’t until weeks that after I had them again did it click that mangoes were what was causing the reactions. The good news? Lots of Benadryl and prescription strength hydrocortisone cream really halted the reaction that last time and knocked it out of my system very quickly.

The following are pictures of my reaction, and yes, they are gross and kind of embarrassing to show (work sucked with these – people gave dirty looks and it hurt so much to talk). I’m posting them because seeing and hearing other’s experience really helped me feel better about everything and I really think that it’s important that people learn about this potential reaction.
 photo (9)photo (5)photo (6)photo (7)

I just wanted to pass this information on because I had absolutely no clue that this existed. I’m severely allergic to poison ivy so it’s no surprise that I had such an intense reaction (the last time I swelled up much quicker and had my lips, mouth and throat swell a bit). I’m definitely thinking that a allergy test may be in order because they are chances of cross-sensitivity (cashews, pistachios, papaya, latex). Better safe than sorry. I’m sad I can’t eat one of my new favorite foods anymore (I’m leery about even eating the fruit after this last allergic reaction), but it’s just not worth it.

Anyone else out there have crazy allergies or reactions? How about to mango? Did you even know that this allergy existed?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Travel Bug Has Bitten

I have the travel bug itch. You know- that itch that can only be scratched by jumping in the car for a long ride or hopping a plane ride to somewhere far away and different than what your used to.I think this was all spurred by flipping through the photos of the trips we have taken over the years mixed with photos of all different resorts and beautiful places on StumbleUpon. There's just something about getting out of your norm and seeing other parts of the world and experiencing different cultures and environments.  It's refreshing and grounding.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the amazing places we have been:

All this has me on the search for the next place to visit.  With gas prices being so high and money being a bit tighter it’s likely to be a more local trip in the great state of Michigan (although I’m dying to go to Australia, Costa Rica and St. Lucia). I’d love to visit the west coast of the state since I’ve never really explored that area, or maybe a wine tasting trip to beautiful Traverse City.

Are you traveling the summer? Are you staying in state, visiting other states or even heading out of the country? What was the best vacation that you had?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Make These: Healthier Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars!

I've been loving on these granola bars for months now!  They are just so tasty and so much better than anything you buy in the store.  And to make it better: They are much less expensive and go further than store bought granola bars and have no high fructose corn syrup.

This recipe is an adaptation from Joyful Abode (another great blog you should check out).

Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (salted)
  • 1 cup crushed peanuts
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. butter (unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (could substitute other dried fruit)
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet mix and spread out the oats, wheat bran, sunflower seeds and crushed peanuts.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until brown.  Be sure to stir every couple minutes to avoid burning. Once browned, take them out and let cool several minutes. Transfer to large bowl.


While baking the dry ingredients, mix brown sugar, butter, honey and vanilla extract in small pan.  Cook on medium heat and bring to a simmer.  You will also need to stir this often in order to prevent burning of the sugars.  Cook until mixed well and the sugars are no longer granulated. the last few minutes add the cocoa and stir well.  Turn heat off and let cool. This will be your “glue” mixture that holds the granola bars together.


In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients (add the cranberries at this point) with the “glue” mixture.  Mix extremely well and make sure that everything gets mixed in well and covered with the “glue”.


Once mixed, transfer to a baking sheet (I use a 9 x 13) that is covered with wax paper (spray wax paper with non-stick cooking spray). Spread mixture across pan with spoon or spatula.  At this point I cover the bars with another piece of wax paper and press down hard in order to spread and compact the granola (put a little muscle into it). 


Wait several hours for it to cool and then cut (use a pushing down motion, instead of sawing).


Each batch makes about 14 full-sized, delicious bars. Store in sealed container or individual wrapped.

I’m thinking that one of these times I’d love to make a batch with toasted coconut in it…or maybe dried bananas and peanut butter. The options are endless!

What are your favorite granola bar flavors? Any mix-ins that you’d enjoy?

Long time, no blog.

School’s out! Well, not completely, but I’m no longer bogged down with 4 classes and work, but now only 1 class and work so I’m hoping to have a bit more time to keep blogging. 

I had a great semester with amazing professors and tons of opportunities.  I have to say that I definitely made the right choice by going back to school and that public health and health promotion is 100% me! I love the program and really can’t wait to finally be out in the field in hopefully less than a year (December 2011, if I’m lucky).  This summer will be spent taking a few more online classes, polishing my portfolio and searching for an internship that I’ll love.  Also on the horizon is working with the county police in the area on a distracted driving campaign and safety fair, working with the community of mental health on their print materials, Girls on the Run volunteering and hopefully getting some volunteer time in with the Health Dept. Life’s certainly exciting!

As for personal, non-school/work life, things have been great.  Ry and I  have several fun events planned for the summertime and am now just waiting for the sun to start shining and the temperature to soar higher.  Come on, Mother Nature, we’re all sick of being cooped up in the house.  I want to get out there and get the yard ready for some backyard barbeques and bonfires with friends.  Looking forward to a wonderful summer with time off (no more 60 hour work weeks), enjoying the weather and friends and moving my body!  Hoping to get a weekend here to go pick up some mountain bikes, get some canoeing & fishing in, and also begin to run a bit more (I want to love it, but right now it’s a slow battle to even like running-ha!).

What are you looking forward to most this summer?