Source: Asbury Park Press
When Olivia “Liv” Moglino of Holmdel was 16 months old, her mother unknowingly cut her food with a knife she’d just used to cut her older sister’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “I almost died from cross-contamination with peanuts and was rushed to the hospital with only minutes to live,” she says.
Also allergic to eggs, soy, and dairy, “I couldn’t eat things that were served at birthday parties and had to bring my own food everywhere,” said the now 19-year-old, who outgrew her allergies except to peanuts and tree nuts.
With store-bought options proving limited, Moglino picked up baking tips from her mother and began creating confections to satisfy her own craving for nut-free but tasty treats. “I loved to bake and became such an advocate for my allergy, ensuring that everything I made at home or ate outside of the house contained nut-free ingredients,” she says. “I made my own chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies and cakes, calling different companies to confirm that their (ingredients) involved no cross-contamination, which it turned out very few companies were able to guarantee.”
During her junior year at Holmdel High School, Moglino began making her nut-free baked goods available to neighbors, friends and family members who also suffered from nut allergies and wanted her safe and special creations.
“I would sometimes get to school late or have to leave early because there were so many orders to fill,” she said of the 10 to 15 custom cakes, hundreds of cupcakes and numerous trays of cookies she’d bake weekly with help from her mother, who quit her job in support.
After her graduation from New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education, Moglino began designing the next incarnation of her nut-free baked goods business. “I wanted the business to be all online, because customers had previously been coming at all hours to pick up item. I also wanted to streamline my menu to enhance ease of shipping.”
Moglino’s new business, LivNutFree.com, launched last month, operating out of a Board of Health-certified commercial kitchen in Monmouth County. It attracted over 1,700 visitors from all over the world to its website on its very first day.
Over the coming months, Moglino plans to expand her product offering to include a line of “DIY mixes” that will enable customers to make her recipes at home using her dry-ingredient kits.
Moglino, who noted that peanut and tree nut allergies have tripled among kids in the past 20 years, concludes, “I can’t tell you how many customers thank me for doing this or how many moms have cried with gratitude that these items are available for their kids. It’s been so rewarding to be able to make a difference in their lives.”