Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Breaded Mustard Chicken November 30, 2011

Here’s a great dairy-free, egg-free, peanut/tree nut-free, sesame-free recipe when you need something for dinner that’s as appealing as chicken nuggets, but pairs better with fancier side dishes.  My kids ate these up so quickly that I totally forgot to snap a photo of it!  (I’m not kidding, my older son ate fourths!!!)  N.B.:  The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to be added to the breadcrumbs – so if you’re not allergic to dairy, it’s a delicious addition.


1 stick dairy-free butter

2 Tbsp Dijon-style mustard

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup dried dairy-free, sesame-free seasoned breadcrumbs

1 tsp ground cumin

4 boneless chicken breasts


In shallow dish, whisk together the butter, mustard and cayenne.  In another shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, cumin and salt and pepper (to taste).  Dip the chicken in butter mixture, letting the excess drip off.  Coat chicken with breadcrumb mixture and arrange on greased shallow baking pan so that chicken breasts are not touching one another.


Bake chicken in lower third of oven at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes.


Serves 4.


Gluten-Free Grocery – Brown Rice Krispies November 29, 2011

Check this out!  Snap, Crackle and Pop are officially gluten-free.  I found this in our local Giant and pleased to see the price point was about the same between this GF version and the original.  And, instead of regular white rice, this version is made with brown rice making it just a little healthier too!



Now might be a good time to use those holiday shaped cookie cutters to make Rice Krispie Treats using this dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free recipe!


Crazy About Clyde’s Food Allergy Safety Program November 25, 2011

When it came time to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago, we headed to an oldie-but-goodie restaurant, Clyde’s.  It had been a while since we dined at Clyde’s with our kids, so I asked all my usual food allergy questions right off the bat.  As soon as I mentioned my son had food allergies, the server moved closer to me and began taking serious notes.  She explained that his allergies would be entered into their system and that she would help us navigate the menu to find something safe for him to eat.


Here’s some of the things we picked up:

  • They have nut-free, sesame-free bread, but you’ll need to specify that you need this as they serve two types of bread (if I understood our waitress correctly);
  • The fries were fried in canola oil;
  • Dessert options include Hagen Daaz sorbet (a safe sorbet for my son!);
  • They were more than happy to substitute an unsafe side for something my son could eat;
  • The waitress was knowledgable and willing to ask questions of a manager or chef when she didn’t have the answer off-hand .

It is unusual to find a place where my son can eat dessert.  This was a hugely important find!  Especially on a birthday.  We all sang a loud and enthusiastic “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl, enjoyed our own delicious sundaes and went home extremely happy and eager to return!


I recalled seeing something about Clyde’s and food allergies somewhere.  When I looked it up again, here’s what I found on their own website.  A smart and appreciated piece of information!  (


Helping diners with allergies
It’s a growing trend, Griffith notes, for local health departments to require restaurants to have an allergens program as a condition of certification. Although DC-area eating-places don’t yet face such regulation, Clyde’s decided to take the issue head on.

The Company reasoned that true success in accommodating guests’ allergies could only come as a result of collaboration between server, cook, and manager.

First step: Educate the workforce, with training materials from the National Restaurant Association and the food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, a local nonprofit. These included a video, binders, and posters on major allergens. Clyde’s food safety team drilled employees on the potential seriousness of the issue. “ When something comes up, and you’re not 100% confident about it,” they advise servers,” it’s time to involve a manager.”

Still, the servers don’t push the issue- they wait for a cue from a customer and are ready with information. A customer might say she’s allergic to peanuts and be fine with a particular salad. But if she orders an appetizer that includes peanut oil, the server is there to alert her.

“We’re not nutritionist,” says Griffith. “We can’t tell people what they should or shouldn’t eat. But we can tell them what’s in the food we serve. We can communicate ingredients, and tell our guests how we might remake a dish to satisfy them.” That level of customization isn’t as costly as you might think, says Griffith- when allergens are involved, the simpler the better.

Clyde’s is also beginning to see more cards from Food Allergy Buddy program (FAB). Members enter their allergy information on a free Web site (, print out a card, and present it at restaurants- simplifying the process and reducing errors. Clyde’s promotes the FAB plan on its own website ( in a section on allergens.

Whenever an allergy issue arises – at the table, on the phone, with a buddy card- Clyde’s point-of-sale system marks the party’s ticket with an allergy alert. As the ticket makes its way through the process, it focuses attention on the food order and the table.


Empowering Elementary Schoolers November 20, 2011

I go into my son’s class every year to discuss food allergies.  By educating the kids who do not have food allergies themselves, we enlist their help and heighten their compassion for their friends.


This year, I began by asking the kids to raise their hands if they knew anyone with food allergies.  Nearly every child raised his/her hand.  Not only does my son’s class have at least five allergic kids, but their teacher also has a food allergy.  The kids regaled me with stories of relatives and friends who were allergic to everything from peanuts to pollen, from dogs to dyes, and from cats to clams.


We spoke briefly about food allergies and what they are.  Considering their age (mostly 6), I briefly touched on a few key points:

  • Everybody’s body is different.  If you have a food allergy, it just means that you can’t have a particular food or dishes with that food in it.  Even a little bit of that food.
  • Allergies can make you feel sick.  If you have an air allergy (like pollen) it can make your nose sneezy and your eyes itchy.  If you have a food allergy, it can make your skin itchy (hives), your lungs cough, and your belly sick.
  • To help them stay safe, many kids with food allergies keep special medicine called EpiPens with them, their parents or the school nurse.

We synopsized the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea and continued by reading The Princess and the Peanut Allergy (see review, Book Review: The Princess and the Peanut Allergy).  The kids loved it so much they asked that I read it twice.


Afterwards, we all considered how Paula, the allergic character, may have felt when she learned of her friend’s plan to have peanut treats throughout the party.  My son bravely spoke up, mentioning how disappointing it is when you can’t eat something that looks delicious while everyone else can.  Many others echoed this sentiment.


We discussed what you can do to show you understand your friends with food allergies.  All the kids, allergic or not, had fantastic suggestions.  They were so thoughtful and considerate!


The class’ interest and questions regarding food allergies really surprised me.  I hadn’t wanted to get too in-depth since they are, in fact, in 1st grade.  But look at the questions they had for me:

  • Why do some people have food allergies?  How do they know they have an allergy?
  • How do you get better if you have an allergic reaction?
  • Can you have more than one food allergy at a time?
  • Can you “lose” a food allergy (outgrow one)?  Can you switch from being allergic to one food to another ?

This was night-and-day different from last year, when one kindergartener announced his understanding of food allergies like a lightbulb went off in his head.  “So,” he began, “if you were allergic to sno-cones and you ate a sno-cone, you could barf up a RAINBOW!”

Not totally incorrect, I guess….


Allergy-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies November 17, 2011

It’s that time of year again!  Yes, time to give thanks, enjoy time with loved ones, blah, blah, blah… But more importantly, it’s time to eat!  One of the greatest benefits of the cooler weather is the smell of warm pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Mmmmmmm, I’m already salivating just thinking about it!  These cookies are adapted from a recipe I found that was already egg-free (a great start!). But I’ve tweaked it to be dairy and nut-free and included a reviewer’s suggestion at the bottom for making them gluten-free as well! This recipe produces a ton of cookies, so invite the neighbors over about 5 minutes after they’ve cooled to help you chow down.

Ingredients (**see bottom for gluten-free substitutions**):

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour** (see below for gluten-free substitution)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).


Cream the sugar, shortening, pumpkin and vanilla together. Mix until light and well combined.


Mix the flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.


Drop by teaspoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Let cookies cool on a rack.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.
**To make them gluten-free, one reviewer commented that she substituted the following for the flour:
  • 2 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup soy flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoon xanthan gum

I am thankful for these cookies!


Book Review: The Princess and the Peanut Allergy November 14, 2011

The Princess and the Peanut Allergy

We just read, The Princess and the Peanut Allergy by Wendy McClure (see the book’s listing on Amazon).  The story centers around two best friends, Paula and Regina.  Regina has an upcoming birthday party planned to the last detail including a nut-laden cake and peanut butter candy. Paula is allergic to peanuts, which causes some problems for Regina.  The girls have an argument that is ultimately resolved when Regina realizes that having her nut-filled cake may compromise her friendship with Paula.  And, Regina surprises her friend by ordering her birthday cake nut-free.


This is an interesting book because it’s told from the perspective of a child who does NOT have food allergies.  The princess and pea analogy used to enlighten Regina works as a way of explaining that even the smallest bit of peanut could be extremely harmful to someone who is allergic to them.  Importantly, the book addresses some of the social issues that can arise from having a food allergy and helps articulate conflict resolution in an age-appropriate way.


I had been concerned my son might not relate to the content of this book given that a) he’s a boy and b) he has multiple food allergies, not just peanuts.  But, I watched as I read Paula’s part of the dialogue.  My son was nodding and pointing to himself, relating to her situation and dilemma.  In fact, once we finished, he said, “You know, sometimes it’s hard having a food allergy.  It’s can be so disappointing when you can’t eat something that looks yummy.  And it feels unfair when everyone else can have it.”  His emotional awareness made me proud, although it makes me sad he even has to deal with food allergies in the first place.


We plan on using this book to read to my son’s elementary school class this week.  I’ll report on the results of our talk later this week!


(Thank you in advance! A portion of the proceeds of affiliate links go toward – an organization aimed at helping at risk families with food allergies.)


Allergy-Free Coyotes? Game On! November 10, 2011

Check it out!  The Phoenix Coyotes are offering allergy-free suites for rent from which to enjoy a game or concert at Arena.   The Allergy Friendly Suite is “a private suite for families who want to enjoy NHL hockey and world class events in a setting that is shared by people with like symptoms.”


Because peanut allergies statistically have the highest risk of reaction, the suite is entirely peanut-free and is meticulously cleaned prior to each use.  The suite also features an Allergy-Friendly Menu that is free of all top eight allergens.


For more info, read on at Arena's North Entrance (6/13/05)