FOOD ALLERGIES

Chocolate makers write a cookbook for kids who have allergies "Allergies, Away!" by Ginger and Frances Park

To be a "kid in a candy store" epitomizes the ultimate dream come true, one that only gets better when the shop is owned by your mom and aunt.

But for Justin Young, whose family owns Washington's Chocolate Chocolate , the reality was a nightmare. Because he was born with severe food allergies, nearly everything in the store — the rich truffles, the dark-chocolate-dipped caramels, the milk hazelnut pralines — was off-limits.

"One second of abandon could cost him his life," Chocolate Chocolate co-owners Ginger and Frances Park, Young's mom and aunt, write in their new book.

Creative, mouthwatering treats for kids who are allergic to nuts, dairy and eggs.
Creative, mouthwatering treats for kids who are allergic to nuts, dairy and eggs.

"Allergies, Away!" is a cookbook and memoir, chronicling the past decade of the Parks' efforts to keep Young's hives at bay without depriving him of treats.

Recipes in the book are free of nuts, dairy and eggs, per Young's dietary restrictions. (It's important to note that recipes do contain other allergenic ingredients such as soy and gluten.) Comfort foods such as lasagna are made with vegan cheese and tofu, and the chocolate truffles utilize soy creamer and soy butter — alternatives that the writers claim taste as good as if not better than the "real thing."

The Parks, who write that they are neither doctors nor chefs, also share tales of visits to the allergist, which began 14 years ago when Young was just a year old.

"From personal experience, we know how the journey can leave you feeling lost in the dark," they write, "so perhaps our reports will shed a little light on what can be a frustrating process."

— — —

FITNESS

DVD breaks down ballet-inspired workouts for beginners "Exhale: Core Fusion Barre Basics for Beginners"

Recent years have seen a surge in popularity of ballet-inspired workouts, which claim to help people achieve a lithe, sinewy body by using a combination of body-weight exercises, stretching and the ubiquitous ballet barre.

The barre craze has spawned studios nationwide. For people who don't want to shell out $20 or more for a class or who prefer to learn the basics of barre in the comfort of their own home, there is a new DVD on the market.

"Exhale: Core Fusion Barre Basics for Beginners" includes seven 10-minute workouts designed to work the thighs, butt, back and abs. The DVD combines the Lotte Berk Method, the barre routine developed by dancer Lotte Berk more than 40 years ago, with other disciplines, including yoga, Pilates and basic calisthenics such as push-ups. A chair takes the place of the ballet barre.

The DVD's creators, husband-and-wife team Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, say the program is appropriate for beginners thanks to a set of tutorials breaking down the movements. But exercises such as grand plie squats — squats done with feet wide, heels up and toes pointed out — are far from easy, proving to be a challenge for even seasoned fitness buffs.