Kristina Koslosky

Hello! My name is Kristina Koslosky, and I am a co-founder of Thrive Dairy Free.

For all my life, I have lived with life-threatening anaphylaxis allergies. Fortunately, my parents were always amazing, went above and beyond to make my life as normal as possible, and always told me “you can be anything and do anything you want.”

As a baby, I was diagnosed with anaphylaxis allergies to dairy, egg, peanut, and nut, fish, shellfish as well as a few odd allergies to tomato and kiwi. Luckily, I was diagnosed early so I never really knew what I was missing, compared to being diagnosed later in life. By high-school, I had outgrown most of the allergies but dairy, egg, and peanut persisted.

Focusing on the Positive

I am not going to lie… growing up with food allergies had its challenges from the grade school bully who threw M&Ms at me to see what happened to the high school boyfriend who lied about having eggs, kissed me, and gave me a reaction. There are countless horror stories that I have lived through that made me a stronger person.

Looking back, the pain of the reaction and negative experiences fade, rather what remains is the awe and pride I feel on how we have adapted, preserved, and never took “no” for an answer.

As an example, I was a volleyball player and wanted to go away to a week-long summer camp with my teammates. As a child, I asked my parents, “Could I really stay in the dorms with my friends for a whole week?” My mom snapped into action contacting the camp to get in touch with the facility manager to see how we could adapt my dorm room. We prepped all the food in advance and stored it in a cooler. I was assigned with a roommate who understood my allergies and respected them. We brought along a microwave so that I could heat my food in the room. My dedicated father coordinated with the facility manager to sneak into my dorm to refill the cooler with ice when we were at a session, so that I would not be embarrassed. Instead of being the weird girl who had to go back to the dorms to eat and had issues, our room was a hit! All the other girls had snacks along, but nothing like the fun tasty treats we had! We ate way too many ice cream cones filled with frosting but it sure was fun!

That life experience made me realize a negative did not have to be a negative, rather with some creativity you can turn a negative into a positive! From that day on, that is how we approached every situation. Figure out what the situation is, identify alternatives or how we could adapt the situation, and make it happen.

Recipes & My Cooking Passion

This is the same philosophy I have applied to recipes I see at restaurants and at parties. My mom always said “take a picture.” When I see a recipe I want to recreate, I take a picture, note any ingredients listed in the picture, inquire about the taste/smell to whoever is eating it, research 5-10+ recipes online, identify which ingredients to include/adapt/exclude, and ultimately adapt the recipe to my dietary restrictions. The first recipe is always closest to the samples online for testing purposes, but the second or third version always has more of a creative twist and tastes even better!

The recipe collection on this website serves as my go-to cookbook for the kitchen. However, over the years, countless family and friends have reached out asking for recipes to recreate for their family or upcoming party. Often, they are shocked when they see the ingredients are free of dairy, egg, and peanut. For years, I have shared recipes via email as a word document but it’s time to share freely with anyone, anytime, through Thrive Dairy Free.

Thrive Dairy Free is my way of pursuing my true passion, cooking! However, with allergies that prevent me from touching or consuming dairy, egg, or peanut, culinary school seemed out of the question. If I couldn’t go to culinary school, business school seemed like the next best option. In one of my entrepreneurship classes, my best friend and I developed a business plan for a vegan bakery that would serve all dietary needs. After realizing that I wasn’t a morning person, a bakery wasn’t realistic. I dreamed of a restaurant someday, but that requires capital and wasn’t happening anytime soon. I was at a loss of what to do and reflected on my best college moments.

My favorite work memory was sipping coffee, eating my yummy homemade cookies, and working on the digital marketing and website for the Whitewater University Innovation Center. That was it! Ultimately, I founded Kreative Solutions specializing in website design in 2017.

The Founding Team

2017 was the year I started my business and met the love of my life, Nick Czarnecki.

Dating with allergies was always a worry and challenge from explaining how to choose a restaurant that could accommodate to disclosing if he ate dairy at dinner than he would not be able to kiss me. On a first date, who really wants to say, “Do you want to order what I am having so you can kiss me later? Or do you want to just order what you want?”

Fortunately, our first date was a walk on the horse trails in Ottawa, Wisconsin. A few minutes in I realized my legs were breaking out from the tall grass and that a walk was not going to work out. Nick was in the same boat! We quickly bonded over our environmental allergies and that opened the gate to our food allergies. Nick had many allergies when he was young and still today is allergic to Brazil Nuts. Finally, someone got me!

Not only did he get my situation, but he also goes above and beyond to protect me and keep me safe. If we go to an outdoor event and sit on bleachers, he always reminds me to wear pants, not shorts, so that my legs do not get hives and all itchy. People really do not think when they wipe their buttery popcorn hands or oil from peanuts on their seats at outdoor events! If I have a reaction, I can count on him to monitor me to make sure I can keep breathing. Finally, my mother doesn’t have to rush over to watch me and make sure I don’t have to go to the hospital, she knows Nick has it under control.

Furthermore, Nick was the first one to encourage me to try dairy free brands and substitutes. For years, I stayed away haunted by the memory of what others said about how the cheese smelled, melted, looked, etc. Nick helped me have an open mind when trying new things and now dairy free cheese is part of our daily diet.

Over the years, we have found it more fun to cook together at home than deal with the stress of risking it at a restaurant. We have come up with some tasty recipes and always are creating new ones! As introverts during the Covid-19 pandemic, we were more than happy spending one-on-one time together in nature and in the kitchen. Instead of going to country concerts and going out, we had time to make recipes, photograph, and document them accordingly!

Thrive Dairy Free was founded May 5th, 2020. I am the recipe crafter, cook, and website designer. Nick is the photographer, copyrighter, and content creator. Mary Jo has a wealth of experience and education to share on our blog and always helps with the presentation. We look forward to helping you thrive dairy free!