Thursday, May 14, 2009

When you need a shoulder to lean on, there’s MOCHA … when you need a meal, there’s grilled chicken with caramelized onions and peppers!

On Monday, I attended a support group meeting hosted by MOCHA, or Mothers of Children Having Allergies.

Denise Bunning, who co-founded the organization, offers compassion, understanding, and a wealth of knowledge. Indeed, members can be sure to leave each meeting with an armful of useful, interesting information.

Monday’s keynote speaker was Ruchi Gupta, a pediatric physician at the Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago. Dr. Gupta discussed results from her study that was designed to compare the general public’s food allergy knowledge with that of physicians and parents of children with food allergies.

There were a number of astonishing findings from Dr. Gupta’s research, including:

  • Over 50% of the general public thinks there’s a cure for food allergies;
  • Although virtually all (99%) the physicians who participated in the survey cared for children with food allergies, just three in ten (28%) indicates they are comfortable interpreting lab tests to diagnose food allergies;
  • Meanwhile, only one in five (22%) physicians believes their medical training has adequately prepared them to care for children with food allergies.

You can read the full report online at

Initially, many of us may feel discouraged or even fearful at these findings. But on the contrary, this research offers us hope that there’s change ahead.

Identifying specific problems in a system is the first step to finding a solution. We can use this information when we talk to our doctors, as well as parents of kids who don’t have allergen concerns. Now, we better understand how each of these groups thinks about food allergies and this knowledge will ultimately contribute to our efforts to ensure everyone stays Safe and Sound.

Looking ahead, Dr. Gupta will next survey 50,000 households with family members who suffer from food allergies. In addition to helping us more accurately quantify the occurrences of food allergies in the U.S. population, the study will also offer insight into the different ways families are coping with their allergy challenges.

MOCHA meetings are held quarterly at the Highland Park Hospital. For more information about joining MOCHA, visit

Now, let’s eat!

Grilled Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Peppers
Serves 8

Canola oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced in strips
1 red pepper, thinly sliced in strips
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced in strips
¼ cup honey
1¼ cup chicken broth (keep separate 2 tablespoons)
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon corn starch or arrowroot starch
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat grill to medium and coat lightly with Canola oil.
Pound chicken breasts to even thickness.
Season both sides of chicken with salt and black pepper; rub garlic into breasts.
Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side (or until cooked through); set aside.
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat with extra virgin olive oil.
Add onion, jalapeno and red and yellow pepper.
Add honey and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring until sugar is thoroughly incorporated.
Add chicken broth (don’t forget to reserve 2 tablespoons), bay leaves and parsley and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour remaining chicken broth into a separate bowl. Mix in cornstarch until it’s completely dissolved, and add to the pan.
Bring onion mixture to a full boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens.
Remove bay leaves and serve over chicken breast; garnish with parsley.

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