Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Lift Lines and EpiPens: Skiing with Food Allergies February 8, 2016

As I look out my window, I’m surprised to see green again. Grass is finally peeking through after we received nearly 30 inches of snow.  Even after all that shoveling, all I wish for is that powdery white.  When February hits, all I want to do is ski.  Maybe it’s a holdover from my childhood when we used to get a mid-winter February break – a kind of Pavlovian yearning to be cruising down the slopes this month. Either way, when I see snowflakes, I think trails.
When my food allergic son was old enough, my husband (an avid skier) was ready to enroll him in ski school.  But the idea of trying to manage food issues on a ski vacation seemed challenging.  For one, ski lodges never seem that organized.  I couldn’t imagine who I might track down to get ingredient information on their chicken nuggets, for example – especially at mid-mountain or higher.  Secondly, there’s SO MUCH gear, etc to bring to the slopes, how was I going to carry (and where could I store and easily access) snacks and lunch for him if we brought some from home?  Finally, could I reasonably rely on the ski school to look out for him at lunch vis-à-vis his food allergies?

Well, fast forward almost 8 years, and I can happily tell you that we’ve had a lot of success on the slopes.  Here are some tips I’ve learned over the past few years:

1. Call ahead – way ahead.  Ski lodges are not nearly as disorganized as I had thought.  They’re just a lot more relaxed.  But they take food safety seriously. Be prepared to leave a message and have someone get back to you.  There is typically a food services manager who is knowledgeable about the suppliers and who can track down ingredients for you.  Be sure to ask where kids in ski school usually eat and what kinds of food they receive (are they given snacks, do they have free range on the cafeteria line, etc).

2. Bring your epinephrine autoinjector and show up for ski school EARLY.  Meet with your child’s ski instructor – teach them how to use the autoinjector and WHEN.  Remind them that they will need to store it in an inside pocket of their ski jacket to keep it close to room temperature.

3. Find out where and when your child will be having lunch and consider meeting them to help them navigate the cafeteria line.  But DON’T expect to eat with them!  Skiing creates fast friendships and they’ll have more fun hanging out with their ski buddies – go have a lunchtime date instead!

4.  Pack some safe snacks and store them in your ski locker, car or somewhere else that is readily accessible.  Kids are STARVING when they get off the slopes and cafeterias typically close right when the lifts do.

 

Now we just need some snow!  Happy trails in the meantime!

 

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I Eat Park City: Last One (for now) – Vinto April 17, 2012

 

On our last night in Park City, we decided to try Vinto’s.  The decor and ambiance was bright, fun, and inviting.  And, having won so many dining awards, it was no surprise that the food was great!  What a fabulous way to end our amazing trip.

 

My boys decided to order something simple (plain pasta with olive oil), so it’s not fair for me to judge Vinto’s allergy-friendliness.  However, I will say that the fact that they have both gluten-free pasta and gluten-free pizza crust is a good start.  Plus, there’s sorbetto (sorbet!) for dessert….  Lifeis sweet in Park City!

 

I Eat Park City March 28, 2012

Okay, well I didn’t eat all of Park City.   But it was my vacation too, and I’m not cooking!  So, after another great day of skiing we ventured out.  This time to Wasatch Brew Pub and Cantina.

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Having eaten at Wasatch in the past, my husband led us up Main St.  We were seated upstairs and carefully eyed the menu for dishes my son could safely eat.

 

While our waiter was filling our drinks at the bar, I strolled over to ask a few food allergy questions before I presented my son with menu options.  I was so sincerely impressed with, and appreciative of, the answers from both our waiter and the nearby food manager.  They were sooooo accommodating and showed a thorough understanding of food allergy safety.

 

Here’s what you need to know:

 
  • Their fry oil is vegetable in which they fry only french fries and chicken fingers.
  • They make their own (sesame seed-free, nut-free) pizza dough on-site.
  • Wasatch offers gluten-free buns/breads.
  • In the interest of full disclosure, I was told there are nuts in kitchen (for salad and the trout) – not used in their fryer.
  • They did not have information whether sesame seeds might be present in the hamburger buns, so we abstained.
 

I guessed aloud that my son would probably order a burger to be safe….to which the food manager replied that she’d feel better if the kitchen used a separate, clean pan to sear my son’s burger away from the grill for safety.  The instinct was right on and I was more than appreciative.

 

And, as if that weren’t enough, our waiter came to speak to my husband and I while we waited for our food.  “I just want to let you know, our manager is watching the line like a hawk!”    I don’t think we could have loved this place more!

 

…until I had their mac and cheese.  When my son can eat dairy, we’re coming back for bucketsful!

 
 

I Ride Park City (With Food Allergies) March 26, 2012

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We stumbled upon Easy Street Brasserie and Bar on our very first night in Park City, UT.  The French-based menu looked interesting and we were starving!  Although we don’t avoid gluten any longer, the certified gluten-free sign on the door appeared promising.  Any restaurant that goes to the trouble of having a gluten-free certified menu must understand the importance of good allergen-safety.

 

The staff at Easy Street were excellent about answering our allergy-related questions, verifying possible allergens again and again happily.  For example, they relayed that the calamari we were interested in was technically safe but fried in oil with other dishes that contained nuts (we had asked about ingredients but not yet focused on the fry oil).

 

Here’s a little more to consider:

  • The bread was safe for my son (meaning it was sesame seed, peanut and tree nut-free);
  • There was no butter added to the steaks, as you sometimes  find (ew AND unnecessary!);
  • They were glad to substitute unsafe portions of a meal with safe sides;
  • We ordered a charcuterie platter since I love cheese and crackers and we all love salami and carpaccio.  Not only could my son gobble down the meat, but the cheese came with Carrs Water Crackers which are safe!
  • BUT there were no safe desserts for my son.  Everything had dairy at a minimum.
 

I feel like I need to reiterate how pleasant the entire staff was throughout our meal.

Will we be making it back before we leave?  Mais, oui!

 

Great Harvest Bread Company Just Got Greater! March 10, 2012

Great Harvest Bread Co.

A fabulous friend of mine just called to let me know that the Great Harvest Bread Company near us sells gluten-free bread every other Tuesday (the next Tuesday is March 20th at their Alexandria, VA location).  Exciting!  Not only do they sell GF bread, but also GF cookies and brownies as well.

 

HOWEVER!  After making several phone calls , it appears that this practice varies widely from franchise to franchise.  So, I would definitely call your local Great Harvest before you go.  You could find that they offer GF products all the time!….or none of the time.  😦

 

If you’re lucky, you’ll land some amazing bread.  Check out these photos and review from glutenfreefever.com: Thursdays are the BEST at Great Harvest Bread Co in Hillsboro.

 

**Also, Great Harvest lists 6 of the top allergens on their website so you can figure out which of their amazing breads are safe for you.

**Great Harvest Bread Nutrition and Allergen Information**

photo of bread loaves

 

Famous Daves is Food Allergy Fabulous October 8, 2011

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If you’re lucky enough to live near a Famous Dave’s, then eating out just got a whole lot easier.

 

A Famous Dave’s moved into our area recently and when invited to eat there with friends, we wasted no time in saying yes.  As with all new restaurants, I set out to do my homework to ensure my FA son had a few menu items from which to choose.  Much to my surprise (and delight), Famous Dave’s has a link to their Food Allergen Guide (Click HERE for printable PDF).  Yay!

 

The Food Allergen Guide lists all of their menu items, checking off which include wheat, milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.  I noticed right away that nothing on their menu contained peanuts and only one thing contained tree nuts.  A huge relief just having those allergens out of the way.

 

While the Allergen Guide covered the top eight allergens, it did not identify which items contained sesame seeds.  I chose one or two menu items my son was interested in and asked the staff if they might have sesame seeds somewhere in them.  The girls I spoke with immediately went back to the kitchen to check on the items in questions.  They also came back telling me that the fries that usually accompany those dishes were fried in a safe oil as well (believe it was canola).  I was impressed with their quick reaction to my questions and forethought on the oil.

 

Our meals were all delicious. PS:  They serve prepackaged Oreos with all the kids meal…a safe cookie for us!  Bonus!

 

So, not only did Famous Dave’s handle food allergies responsibly, but their food was delicious and atmosphere fun!  We’re all already looking forward to catching the next football game there.

 

Jason’s Deli – A Healthy Habit I Could Get Into! March 14, 2011

Jason’s Deli, located locally in Tyson’s Corner, Fairfax and ALL over the country, has a simple philosophy.  Keep it healthy and delicious.  We ate lunch at Jason’s for the first time this weekend.  I had heard rave reviews and even so it exceeded my expectations.  And, while the philosophy may be simple their menu is extensive!  Jason’s Deli serves soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as baked potatoes with every kind of topping imaginable, po’boys, and desserts.  Plus there’s FREE ice cream.  That’s right: free.

 

Many of their ingredients are organic and all are nitrite-, artificial color- and dye-free.  Jason’s Deli long ago eliminated high fructose corn syrup as well as trans-fat from their food — and you’ll never miss it!

 

The menu appears to be highly customizable – which is how we ordered for my food allergic older son and my picky eater younger one.  And, they offer a gluten-free menu for those avoiding wheat and gluten products.  Jason’s Deli handled our allergy requests with ease and took our concerns seriously from the register to the table service.

 

NB: their organic lollipops, located at the registers, are dairy, egg, soy, tree nut and peanut-free (www.yummyearth.com/ingredients.html).  It seems like just a small thing — unless you’re on line with a 3 year old!

Jason’s Deli Menu

Jason’s Deli Gluten-Free Menu

Jason’s Deli Allergen Info