For some reason that I still don’t understand, most outings or social activities revolve around food. At least, this used to be our case. If there was a birthday, we had to go eat-out. If family members came to visit, we would go to a restaurant. I mean, pretty much anything involved food. I was O.K. with this until my youngest child was diagnosed with Food Allergies; this made things different for us. Now, if we go out of the house, we bring allergy-friendly food with us everywhere. It’s fun, like having a picnic every time. We rarely eat at restaurants, and when we do, the whole experience is accompanied by a safety “ritual”. So, what do we do?
- We look for an allergy friendly restaurant. Allergy Eats has become our best friend when it comes to finding restaurants that accommodate my kids food allergies.
- If I’m not sure that the restaurant is accommodating, I just call them. It is surprising how many restaurants are happy to accommodate food allergies.
- Before leaving the house, I make sure that we have 2 EpiPens and a bottle of Benadryl in our bag. I NEVER leave the house without our epinephrine auto-injectors.
- Once I arrive at the restaurant, I let the host/hostess know about the food allergies.
- Once we know in which table we’re sitting, I wipe down the table and seats to make sure there is no allergen residue that can potentially start a reaction.
- When we are seated, the first thing I do is make sure that the server knows about the food allergies and understands the severity of it. We have a child with life-threatening allergies.
- If it’s possible, I try talking to the chef/cook. This way I make sure that he/she knows about the food allergies and how important it is for us that there is no cross-contact.
- We try to order allergy-friendly meals for everybody.
- When the food arrives, I try to make sure that there is no obvious allergen at sight.
- I try to remind others and myself to not use their/my utensils on someone else’s food.
- If everything goes well, which has been our experience, we thank the server and the chef/cook for the meal and for making sure that our children didn’t have an allergic reaction. A nice tip always helps and it shows the staff that we appreciate the extra effort they put in keeping the experience allergy friendly.
- If the restaurant hasn’t been rated in Allergy Eats, it’s a good idea to rate it. This way, you help other families that are looking for a safe, allergy friendly place to eat.
Now, if we are invited to eat at a friend/family member’s house, things go in a similar way. Here’s what I do:
- I remind my friend/family member about the allergies.
- Ask what is going to be served and recommend some allergy friendly substitutes to cook with.
- Ask to help with the cooking. Or, ask if I can bring some of the food. This way I know what is being cooked and make sure that the ingredients are allergy friendly.
- If your friend or family member doesn’t want you involved with the cooking, but you still doubt that the food will be allergy friendly, bring the food for the allergic person. Always trust your instincts, I know I do and they’re usually right.
- I also, wipe down the eating area before seating. I don’t want to risk it. You never know when someone else has eaten an allergen in that area.
There are also other things that I’ve learned from our experiences and that might be helpful in avoiding allergic reactions:
- Make sure to ALWAYS remind the restaurant staff (host, server, chef) about the food allergies, even if they know you. You never know when they are too busy and/or might forget about the allergy.
- If someone on the table orders something that’s not allergy friendly, try to have that person seat as far away as possible from the person that has food allergies. Be mindful of avoiding cross-contamination of utensil if sharing food. After that person (with the food that has allergens) is done eating ask him/her, politely, to wash their hands.
Enjoy your meal. Food Allergies don’t need to be an obstacle with the right precautions.
- 1 lb. allergy-friendly old bread (See Amish White Bread Recipe)
- 2 cups non-dairy milk (I use soy milk)
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup sugar +1 cup for caramel
- ½ cup of water
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Cut the bread into small pieces.
- In a bowl, pour the milk and soak the bread in the milk for 15-20 mins.
- Add the eggs, vanilla and sugar and mix until all is well blended.
- In a small pan, mix the water and sugar and set in the stove on medium-high to make the caramel. Stir until the mixture has a golden color.
- In a baking pan [size 8X6X2], pour the caramel, covering the bottom.
- Add the bread mixture.
- Finally, add raisins [the quantity you prefer].
- Set baking pan in a roasting pan. Add water to the roasting pan until it rises halfway up the sides of the baking pan to create a water bath (bain-marie).
- Bake for 50 mins.
- Set aside to cool for at least an hour.
- Run a knife along the edges to loosen. Cover with a platter and quickly, but carefully invert.
- Cut and serve.
*If you want the bread pudding to be creamier, you can add ½ cup of non-dairy butter to the mixture. *
As a family tradition, we bake homemade pizza on Fridays. When Penny got diagnosed with Dairy & Peanut allergies, pizza Fridays became a challenge. As we learned to identify allergens and to substitute them, it became a lot easier.
We love to use Daiya’s Mozzarella Style Shreds as a cheese substitute, but lately the kids have gotten bored of plain or veggie pizzas. Today, while grocery shopping, we discovered Applegate’s Natural Pepperoni. It’s dairy-free, which means that it’s safe for us to bring home and eat. It is delicious & the kiddos loved it!
Makes 12 Rolls
- ½ cup soy milk
- 1 ½ cup of water
- 2 sticks of Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, melted (1/2 lb) + 1 stick for brushing (melted)
- 8 egg yolks
- ½ tbsp active dry yeast
- ¾ cups sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 ½ cups of all purpose flour + more for flouring work surface
- Powdered sugar
- Combine the egg yolks, sugar and 2 melted vegan buttery sticks.
- In another bowl, combine the soy milk and water. Add the active dry yeast and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes.
- Combine both mixtures & add salt.
- Start adding the flour, 1 cup at a time while mixing.
- Cover with cloth and let it rise for 2 hours.
- Refrigerate for 3 hours. I prefer to refrigerate overnight.
- Flour a clean surface.
- Turn out the dough and knead into a rectangle shape.
- Cut the dough into 12 strips.
- Roll the strips.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°
- Place rolls in pan.
- Cover and let it rise for 45 mins.
- Brush rolls with melted butter.
- Bake for 20-25 mins. or until lightly browned.
- Allow buns to cool & dust with powdered sugar.
Enjoy your delicious Ensaimadas!