Friday, December 28, 2007

We're homeowners!

Well, at long last I can finally explain why I have been missing in action.
Non-allergic husband and I have bought a house! And now that we've closed and unpacked just about everything (in less than a week, mind you)...I can share our joyous news! We couldn't be happier with our decision. Hopefully you understand my absence, and I promise you plenty of allergic postings in the new year.

I hope the holidays found all of you well, and I wish you nothing but the best in 2008! Good Health and happiness in the New Year :)!
~Your Allergic Diner

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Chanukah

With my apologies to my faithful readers, logging in to wish you a very happy Chanukah. Work and private life preclude me from blogging as of late, but I will be back in full swing after Christmas! I shall return, I promise.....

Your Allergic Diner

Monday, November 26, 2007

Assorted things

Well, Turkey Fest 2007 has come and gone, and I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, as I did. We all have a lot to be thankful for. I'm thankful for everyone that reads this blog (in addition to a whole bunch of other things - a loving husband, roof over my head, family & friends, my job, and the list goes on).

I was in northern New Jersey at a bridal shower this past Saturday. I made the dreaded mistake of not eating before I left (the horror!) because I didn't exactly have thirty seconds to breathe this week....for some people it was a vacation. I accomplished a lot, and I'm proud to say all my holiday shopping is done! But I'm sidetracking myself as usual. I forgot to eat before the bridal shower, and it was an hour drive.

I went into the restaurant determined to find something to eat without being inconsiderate of my host and what was to be provided. Imagine my surprise when the waitress was able to give me london broil, gravy-free, steamed plain vegetables with no seasoning/butter, and a butter-less roll. I was thrilled with what I thought was excellent service, and didn't even mind being the sideshow attraction at the table (after my request, I had to explain to the other guests why I was behaving this way - I wasn't eating the salad because there was a tomato on the plate, etc. Lots of eye rolls all around).

It turns out that a very thoughtful friend had informed the waitstaff that I would be there with my allergies, and to please accommodate me in any way possible.....I haven't been that flattered in a long time, and yes, the food was delicious. And my accommodations cost them nothing (which made me very happy). Always nice to be taken care of. The shower was a lovely, tasteful affair and the bride-to-be was in utter shock (though through a crowd of 30 people she spotted me and yelled "I knew I recognized your car!" She got a lovely start to her new life, and I had a great meal!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving is almost upon us...

Well, I'm often asked how people with "my allergies" (and yes, that's often punctuated by an eye roll) handle the holidays. It kind of makes me laugh a bit. Most people have visions of me sitting at a table filled with food, staring longingly at the turkey while I look at my clean white plate and mope.

On what planet? Let us get this straight immediately. I keep writing this and maybe, if it can effect just one person, I'll have gotten through. I can eat. I like to eat. Allergies are a hindrance but they don't have to rule one's life!

It's quite simple. One (me) asks the hostess what they will be preparing. Together, because Thanksgiving is a holiday spent with family (who at this point in my life, all my family is used to my "pain-in-the-assery"), we work out what I'll be able to eat (i.e. - please no paprika on the turkey, and a baked potato in the oven alongside the mashed that are cooking). Believe it or not, outside of having an alternative to butter on the table for me, so that I might eat a roll and said potato, that's about all the accommodation that's necessary. For me, it's as simple as a baked potato and some margarine.

If I can make any point here, it is to TALK to the family/friend/restaurant that is hosting your holiday dinner ahead of time. You're S-O-L if you show up without speaking up (and that's not the host's fault, it's yours)! Know your limits (no gravy for me), and then sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself! The key is to discuss all of these things beforehand. Remember allergic guests, holiday dinners are extremely stressful. No host can make everybody happy. Asking that you not be killed, however, is well within your right!
I'd be remiss if I didn't provide you with a fail-safe plan to survive Thanksgiving on the off chance you can't discuss the meal ahead of time (and this does happen). Eat only what you can, even if that's just a small salad or a plain roll. Then eat when you get home, because you know what the ingredients are and you know that the food is safely prepared. Remember, an obnoxious comment or two about your eating habits is far better than having to use your Epi-Pen and/or visit the hospital (and this is an Allergic Diner cardinal rule!)
Gobble Gobble,
Your Allergic Diner

Monday, November 12, 2007

The birthday struggle....

NAH's birthday was this past weekend. I'd been imploring him for weeks to pick a restaurant for his birthday dinner. I'd promised him a week of his favorite meals, but it was important to pick a restaurant because his family would be joining us and we wanted to take him out to celebrate. One would think this was a fairly easy request. We live amidst 5o restaurants (a conservative estimate) and are within driving distance of several hundred.
NAH finally announced his birthday selection. He wanted to go to Burger King. You might think this was a sarcastic request to pacify me, but he was deadly serious. I can even remember one birthday we celebrated in college, I offered to take him to a new steakhouse that had opened, and he insisted on Burger King. It was his birthday, so to Burger King we went. I think I laughed through the whole meal, but he was very happy.
In this case, however, his family and I wanted to do something nice for him (and lets not forget that the rest of us didn't really want to eat Burger King), so I kindly told him that I'd take him to Burger King for lunch on his birthday, but perhaps he could pick something with a little more selection for the rest of us for dinner?
He finally decided on Pizzeria Uno's, which was a great and problematic choice. It was a great choice because it was approximately 10 minutes from all of us, and a problematic choice because of well, the whole NO TOMATO thing. Hah. I'd had a couple good experiences years ago at Uno's and then a couple bad experiences years ago at Uno's. I figured it'd been several years and his birthday was reason enough to try again.
I worked my allergic diner magic and reviewed their website to discover that they had nutrition information that included EVERY INGREDIENT OF EVERY DISH, right down to the type of oil in their deep-dish pizza crust mix (soybean, if you were wondering). I saw several items I could eat, and I was determined to try something new.
I ended up ordering a deep-dish cheese & tomato pie (no tomato, of course) with anchovies (I love them!) and asked the server make sure there were no seasonings sprinkled on top. It came just as I ordered and was about the most delicious thing I'd had in a long time! NAH was thrilled to have a bacon cheeseburger and onion rings for dinner, and the rest of the family was very pleased with their orders (chicken parm, salmon, steak, and salad). It was a wonderful birthday and I have a new restaurant at which I can eat! The best? After everything we've been through with my allergies, I think NAH appreciates when I enjoy an entree in a restaurant just as much as I do (especially when he can pick a restaurant for his birthday without having to worry)!

Here is the link to some of their nutrition information. Their website is easily navigated, just click on the ingredient information link at the bottom of the nutrition label after choosing an item:

As always, wishing you very happy dining!
Your Allergic Diner

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Make a difference.....

Hmm...while this isn't food related, there's a new annoyance in my life that I could use some help with, so I turn to you, my readers, and perhaps we can puzzle this out together....

In the past several weeks both my husband and I have received phone calls that go something like this:
The phone rings. He picks it up and says "hello." Silence. Again, "hello," then the weirdest thing happens, an automated female voice responds "sorry, my mistake" and then hangs up !?
It has happened to me, it has happened to him, and it's really irritating (made more so by the fact that we don't have caller ID to avoid this particular number).

Has anyone experienced this? Do you know what it is? Obviously whomever is calling isn't looking to speak to a live person, but there is something very odd about all of this..

Please remember to exercise your right to vote - citizens of other countries die trying to obtain this right that too many of us shrug off with indifference. Every vote matters!

Friday, October 19, 2007

All about me

I just received another question about my allergies (welcome to the blog Theresa!), and since I promised you a list awhile back, here goes.
To the best of my recollection:

My most severe is that I'm anaphylactically, off-the-charts allergic to latex.
Other horrible and quite severe allergies I have:
tomato (and ANY tomato derivative), bananas, avocado, olive oil, macadamia nuts, walnuts, cashews and pecans, paprika, oregano, celery seed (far more concentrated and thereby more evil than just the stalk version), tamarind, cantaloupe, and coconut

Raw food allergies that disappear when the food gets cooked (something to do with a breakdown in the chemical makeup, or so I've been told):
cherries, nectarines, peaches, blueberries, carrots, apples, red grapes, celery (it is an evil, but only when raw)

I am severely lactose intolerant and have allergic asthma.

While this sounds awful, I'm one of the lucky ones. I can go to almost any restaurant and order something "plain" (i.e. a dry baked potato or crab legs steamed without the old bay seasoning). It may get me strange looks, rude behavior on behalf of whomever I'm speaking to about my order, or unwanted sympathy (don't "poor me" - I'm out and I'm eating and I'm conquering this as much as possible), but it's mine, and I own it.
~Your Allergic Diner

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I humbly retract my prior statement....

Good afternoon readers! If you'll recall, way back in the early days of blogging I wrote about something I like to call "the Panera problem." Essentially, my problem was that despite the book of ingredients, which is hard and fast for every Panera chain, their servers knew nothing and could not answer questions, but yet were offended when I then asked to see the book.

I promised a friend of mine that I would try simply asking for the book first and then writing a review of Panera. I made this promise months ago, and several weeks back she conned me into what I assumed would be another aggravating lunch, made so by an insipid cashier.

I must retract my earlier review. I went to the cash register and asked if there were tomatoes in the low-fat chicken noodle soup (some restaurants use a small amount of tomato base to thicken the stock, especially in the low-fat the labels at the supermarket sometime!). She looked me straight in the eye and said "You know, I don't think so, but I'd hate to give you misinformation, let me consult the book." She proceeded to show me the book, and NO tomato!

She was gracious, the soup was delicious, and I didn't have to demand to see the book myself. So with all due respect, Panera, I apologize.

~Your Allergic Diner

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mayo Clinic words of wisdom

A non-allergic friend of mine for Chicago passed this on when it came across her desk. The Mayo Clinic, by way of, has given strategies for eating out with food allergies. I have pasted some of it below. To view the article in full, please visit

Choosing a restaurant
Your best bet is to ask other people who have food allergies to recommend a good restaurant. Your allergist or dietitian might also have suggestions. You can also call ahead to restaurants to ask whether they can accommodate special requests.
Avoid restaurants that are most likely to cause problems for you such as:
Buffets. Foods in the buffet line are kept very close to each other. Oftentimes the serving utensils for one dish are used for another. Your allergens can easily spread from one dish to another.
Bakeries. Baked goods are often kept next to each other in large display cases. In such an enclosed environment, allergens can spread from one food to another. Also, tongs and utensils are often reused.
Restaurants that don't cook from scratch. Some restaurants don't make your meal from scratch. They assemble meals from pre-made entrees. It may not be an option to special-order meals at these restaurants. If you're not sure if a restaurant cooks from scratch, call ahead and ask.
Restaurants that pose obvious risks. Depending on your allergy, you can automatically cross some restaurants off your list. If you're allergic to shellfish, avoid seafood restaurants. The chances for cross-contamination are increased in these restaurants. If you're allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, avoid Asian restaurants - nuts are commonly used in Asian recipes.
Use good judgment when selecting a restaurant. Don't let temptation overrule your instincts.

Choosing an entree
Once you've decided on a restaurant, be equally as selective when choosing your entree. The key to a safe, allergy-free meal is to speak up early about your food allergy. You'll also want to:
Ask for advice. Let your server know right away about your food allergy by asking him or her for advice on what items on the menu are free of your allergen. If your server doesn't sound sure, ask to speak to a manager or chef. If planning allows, you can let the restaurant know about your food allergy before you arrive.
Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to. Ask how the food is prepared. Ask about individual ingredients.
Order simple dishes. If you order a plain baked potato or steamed broccoli, you'll know what you're getting. Foods made of several ingredients present more of a mystery. Leave the gamble out of your meal by knowing exactly what you're getting.
Get your sauce on the side. Condiments provide excellent hiding places for allergens. You might not expect your gravy to contain peanuts or your Worcestershire sauce to contain fish. Avoid surprises by asking for your sauces and dressings on the side or pass on them altogether.
Some servers may not fully understand the seriousness of your food allergy. Speak up until you are confident that the food you ordered is safe from allergens.

I posted these parts because it gives a very important line: Don't let temptation overrule your instincts.
I couldn't have said it any better myself.
All for today,
Your allergic diner

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Isn't it Divine?

Hi all - I realize its been awhile since I've posted, and for that I'm sorry. It isn't that I'm not eating and therefore have nothing to write about, but as is so often my excuse, work has been CRAZY!
When I was younger and diagnosed with lactose intolerance (in fact, I made the doctor's office "wall of fame," but who remembers things like that?) my dad was kind enough to take me to a local gourmet grocery store so that I could still eat like other human beings. I was an ice cream person, though once we figured out it was making me sick I stopped eating it. We found some dairy free/lactose free ice cream (let's use the term loosely, shall we?) that day, and that night I took out my pint with a spoon and triumphantly attempted my first bite...and promptly spit it out. It was AWFUL. I don't even know how to explain it, but it tasted like a cross between water and toothpaste, with some sort of almond. I never touched the stuff again.
On Monday I made my monthly foray into WholeFoods and stopped to look at the frozen treats section. There was a plethora of choices. That's right, a plethora (come on, I'm an academic editor who never gets to use the fun descriptive words anymore, so work with me). I chose something called "Good Karma Organic Rice Divine Ice Cream," and picked the chocolate peanut butter fudge flavor, all the while thinking 'what a waste of $5.00 this is going to be!'
Well, dear readers, it was unbelievable. I had a small amount Monday night, I had a small amount last night, and I will return to the pint to have probably a larger amount this evening. It was delicious! It tasted exactly like what they said it would. I can't wait to go back and purchase more flavors. It tasted like a lighter version of ice cream. It isn't something that would fool non-allergic husband, but it certainly has my vote. It has been so long since I've tasted anything remotely close to ice cream that I'm about ready to invest in the company.
Suffering from lactose intolerance now is a far cry from what it used to be 15 years ago. If memory serves, there were only two or three flavors and varieties of the water/toothpaste/almond version of ice cream available that day, and now there are dozens and dozens of actual, quality lactose-free options. As a side note, Good Karma Organic Rice Divine Ice Cream is also non-dairy, vegan, gluten-free and helps support a green existence.
As usual, thank you WholeFoods!
Yours in ice cream (even in October),
Your Allergic Diner

Friday, September 28, 2007

Now hear this! So very blog-worthy...

Patients of the world, unite!
What an awful experience I had this week, my allergic readers, and I'm sharing it with you to hopefully empower you to...well, who am I kidding? I'm sharing it to vent and because now I find it funny. A couple of days ago, not so funny!
A whole bunch of people in my life (work, friends, family) have had colds in the last week or so, most recently NAH. I don't begrudge him that. Unfortunately, at this time of year, I have trouble with my very temperamental seasonal asthma. For YEARS I went to the doctor, got diagnosed with bronchitis and put on a ton of medication. The fabulous allergist I went to a few years back showed me how, with the right combo of asthma meds, I didn't need an antibiotic and could nip the horrible barking cough in the bud. It was simple. Ready? When I got the cold, I started on asthma medication....and its worked for the last three years. The cold stayed a cold.
Tuesday I woke up with a nasty cold, and called my new doctor (a GP in my new location, whom I've seen twice in the past year, but neither time for illness). They brought me in immediately, and then it proceeded to go downhill. It is important to state that my whole purpose in going to the doctor was that I didn't feel well and I know I needed a new inhaler. Fairly simple, right?
The visit went something like this
Him: Describe your symptoms
Me: I have shortness of breath, it burns when I breathe, I feel like there's a small baby elephant sitting on my chest and this tends to happen to me every October when I get a cold, it bothers my asthma.
Him: None of those are symptoms of asthma.
HELLO??? Anyone??? Seriously???!!! go read what says...
Him: Obviously you have lifted something heavy and strained your chest cavity. (I start to shake my head) Don't shake your head at me! You don't even know what I'm, as i was saying, you've strained your chest cavity lifting something heavy, and your arms should hurt too, do they hurt?
Me: No (you have to know me at this point, but lifting the groceries are a big deal. hah)
He doesn't believe me, so he taps on my arms and then says "Do you have a sinus infection?"
Me: (very politely because at this point I'm so appalled I don't know what to say) I don't know, THAT'S WHY I'M HERE...
He goes on to explain that this is obviously not asthma, (all those doctors all my life must have been wrong), and if I'm in denial about having lifted something heavy then obviously I have blood clots in my lungs and should have a nuclear scan to determine this....
I'm sorry? A nuclear scan? For seasonal asthma? I'm a fairly healthy young woman with a history of SEVERE asthma. My symptoms fit, I know what's wrong, and all I want is an inhaler! Anybody home?
But it gets better.....
Him: I'm going to write you a prescription for an antibiotic. Can't hurt. Whether or not you have a sinus infection it can only help (??? seriously !!! Important to note, he never checked)
I gathered up my courage and proceeded to ask if I could have a referral to my allergist, should this get worse, because they have my case history and a successful track record for treating me. He agrees, but not without this parting shot: "If you get worse, you go straight to the emergency room, not to an allergist (said as derisively and dripping with sarcasm as is humanly possible)
So dear readers, it was a terrible doctors appointment. I went and all I got was treated badly. I came home, found my old asthma medicine, and started treating myself and resting. I'm doing better, thank you, but why go through that, EVER? I discovered a doctor who in his life has never treated an asthmatic...fantastic luck, no?

I need a new doctor...oh, and I cancelled the damn nuclear scan. What a week!
To all allergic patients and asthmatic patients, actually to any patient...don't let yourself be belittled when you know something is wrong.
All for now, enjoy your weekend!
your Allergic Diner

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tomato-free, by request....

Good morning, and happy Monday everyone! NAH and I had a nice weekend, we spent the holiday with my allergic parents at the shore. I was treated to two, lovely, allergy-proof meals.
The first meal, the large meal we eat on Friday evenings, was made completely lactose-free thanks to the allergic mom. I was able to eat turkey, stuffing, potatoes and applesauce, and simply skip the gravy. Score one for mom, she didn't have to make separate meals and everything was delicious. Even better? NAH and I weren't allowed to help with the cleanup (the best gift they could have given us).
Saturday's meal was more interesting. They requested that the platter they'd ordered be tomato-free, and that the tomatoes could simply be on a side plate. Not only did the chef who made the platter comply, there was a note attached that said "used separate serving pieces to handle tomatoes, whole platter had no contact." I was astounded and quite pleased. My guess would be that the chef has a child with allergies.
It's always nice going home again, and this weekend wasn't any exception.
~your Allergic Diner

Friday, September 21, 2007

Please, clean your house before you show it. Seriously!

So non-allergic husband and I have decided to take our hard-earned savings (seriously, I've been brown bagging my lunch for so many years I've lost count) and purchase ourselves a home. It's a buyers market, right? Here's a few things I'm learning on my quest to be a homeowner.

1 - People are disgustingly filthy.
2 - People don't clean up after their pets
3 - People at some point in time truly believed that hunter green, fuschia, teal, purple and ivory all could live together in harmony in the same wallpaper. Those people should be shot. I've never seen anything quite so obnoxious - it looked like Crayola threw up in a room,and there were not one but several homes with this color combo!

Anyhow, I'm digressing as usual. You might be wondering how I can tie this househunting into an allergy blog, so please re-read numbers one and two. I have an allergy to some dogs (fairly mild and almost never causes problems other than the sniffles) and ALL cats (less mild, but only bothers me when the cat is in my lap).
I went to several homes where there were pets. Not a problem, walked in, said hello to the cat in residence, looked around the house, took the listing sheet, and off I went.....
However, there was one home that I consider blog-worthy, for the sole reason that it combines all three points on the above list. I walked into this house, and my nose turned pink, I went to the upstairs and couldn't breathe, and by the time I left I was experiencing the beginning of the blowfish syndrome I had spoken of in an earlier posting. Swollen head, red nose, itchy throat, red eyes, etc....
Turns out that these people had cat urine all over their carpets and didn't bother to have the carpets professionally cleaned (or at the very least, to pull up the disgusting carpets). Add to that the giant dog hair all over the place (non-allergic husband saw the cage, which explained the hair), and the fact that the house was not what you would call clean, and we both ran screaming.

There was an upside to my allergic house hunting experience. I got to take a lovely nap induced by two-benadryl and a hot cup of tea.
Yours in allergies,
Allergic Diner
Oh...important to note that the cat-pee soaked house was listing in excess of $400,000....(??)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

T.G.I. Friday's, their service goes above and beyond the food!

Happy Wednesday everyone! I want to relay a story to you today. This was not my personal allergic dining experience, but that of a coworker. I was so impressed with the way a very famous company handled a bad experience of one of their customers, I asked and received permission to blog about her experience.
My coworker "M" (obviously not her real name, but how great would that be? Like the Bond movies...)recently found out she has allergies. She went to dinner at T.G.I. Friday's and had a fish dish there with a very spicy sauce. She didn't feel very well later that evening, but didn't think much of it and went to bed. In the morning she woke up with one eye swollen so severely that it had swollen shut, and she had hives on her face and neck. Rather than freak out, M remembered talking to me about allergies, sent her fiancee to the drugstore for the wonderful Benadryl, and got her doctor on the phone. She was fine in about 5-6 hours, and the doctor cleared her but suggested she talk to T.G.I. Friday's about what the ingredients in the dish were.
M spoke to me about my struggle to get the salad dressing information from Friendly's (still no word...and it's been MONTHS, I should probably pester them again), and her concern that Friday's would respond the same way. I helped her craft a letter and she sent it, fingers crossed.
To my shock and pleasant surprise, T.G.I. Friday's not only sent her a full ingredient listing for that dinner within 48 hours, but also called her to see if she was alright, and if there was anything else they could do. They even explained that if the fish was OK, but the sauce turned out to be what she was allergic to, they'd be more than happy to make the fish plain the next time she came in.
I am astounded to see that a company finally responded appropriately to an allergic reaction! T.G.I. Friday's has set a model that other restaurants should feel compelled to live up to.
On behalf of M, thank you T.G.I. Friday's! I will be enjoying a meal with you in the near future!
Your allergic diner

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We are family....

Back to food blogging we go...
Last week I was fortunate to have dinner at a family member's house I'd never been to before. She was kind enough to contact me to send her a list of my allergies so that she could make something that in her words, "wouldn't kill me." I always appreciate that.
I sent her the short list (ha). Tomatoes, avocado, bananas, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, olive oil, paprika, oregano, celery, celery seed, and to please avoid anything heavily dairy. ( i left out all of the raw vs. cooked allergies I have because they're mind-boggling. I've received a couple emails as to what my allergies are. I'll give you all the list another time!)
She came through, big-time.
I was treated to a salad of three different kinds of lettuce (she kept the tomatoes, croutons, and all other accompaniments in separate bowls) with a salad dressing she had found that was a soybean oil base (balsamic vinaigrette by Cardini's? delicious and available in most grocery stores) and did not include the dreaded spices. She brushed corn oil on the grill and kept my chicken breast in a separate container so that it could not mingle with the barbecue chicken she had also prepared. She used separate tongs and kept my chicken on the opposite side of the grill. I was also given whole-wheat rolls.
It was a fantastic dinner for the sole purpose that she had not only inquired and cared enough not to poison me, but because she seemed to master what people in my life who've been dealing with this for a long time already know. She manipulated the meal so that I was eating a variation of the same thing that she was serving everybody else. A few extra serving items, and she didn't have to cook a second complete meal!
She made such a fuss over me that I was really touched. I also ate a fantastic, plain meal without any anxiety as to whether there would be an allergy attack. Non-allergic husband's family makes me feel very lucky sometimes! Thanks, non-allergic cousin :)!

Monday, September 10, 2007

8 random facts...

Ages ago Allergic Girl tagged me for something called a meme. Without explaining too much (and thereby exposing the vast gaping hole of my blogging knowledge), I am supposed to reveal 8 random facts about myself and then tag 8 other bloggers. Here goes...

1 - I am a sports fanatic. I love college football and college basketball. Non-allergic husband (NAH) and I actually split the television during football season so there aren't any arguments. I get it Saturday to watch the college games, he has it Sunday for the pros. Don't call me during March Madness, my phone is off the hook!

2 - I want to be a part of "the mob" on the television show 1 vs. 100. I think that would be great fun.

3 - On a quest to see all 50 states. 20 down, 30 to go. And yes, I've seen Alaska!

4 - My first day of college, I saw this good-looking guy wearing a t-shirt advertising my hometown newspaper. I called my mom, very excited (I went to school out of state) , and told her I would introduce myself. Non-allergic husband still has that t-shirt, I won't let him throw it out! He was from a few towns over....

5 - I think that words and language are utterly fascinating (hence the career as an editor and writer). I love word idiosyncracies, and enjoy finding typos in the newspaper. I also think that anyone who uses the term "close proximity" ought to be beaten over the head with a frying pan. I'm just saying...

6 - Peanut butter is food of the gods. The best late night snack ever, straight from the jar, eaten with a spoon. There is always peanut butter in my house.

7 - I love board games (Scrabble, chess), card games, sudoku and crossword puzzles. I can do the jumble in under 2 minutes.

8 - Mountain Dew upsets me. That color
doesn't occur in nature.

Hope you've learned a little something about me. Those are some fairly random facts. I tag:

Uh Oh, Peter's thinking again
Food Allergy Queen
My Kids' Allergies

In fact, check out their blogs in my sidebar. They're all quite good.

That's all for now. Tomorrow (or later today if boredom sets in) I shall return to food blogging with the story of a very allergy-friendly dinner I had recently.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Ok, this is part of my vacation, though it is most certainly NOT allergy related. However, I'm going to blog about it anyway, as I was so incensed that I need a forum in which to vent. I hope you understand...
Non-allergic husband (NAH) and I were watching TV one of the nights of our vacation when we stumbled across "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" the FOX show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. I tend to enjoy the show because as a former teacher, I have a trove of useless knowledge I can use to upstage NAH (did I just say that? oops...He's just so darn smart that every once in a while it's nice to know that I know something he doesn't!)
We were watching a cum laude graduate compete with/against the children on the show, and early on she was asked the following question in the 'Grammar' section...How many proper nouns are in the following sentence? "While in Oklahoma, Oprah met our ostrich Ozzy." Please keep in mind that the question in its entirety is viewed on a large screen. I hope that you all know the answer, but just in case, it's three. By looking at the screen, there are three words with capital letters. BIG CLUE.
However, this supposedly intelligent woman answered "well, I don't know, I think the answer's one, but if I remember my pronouns "I, he, she, it, they..." and at this point I started screaming at the television something along the lines of "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" At what point in school, dear readers, do you remember the pronouns of "I, he, she, it, they, Oprah?" I mean REALLY!!! And she persisted in this explanation while every one of the kids on the show was trying to keep from laughing. She finally decided (and was partially convinced by the host because it was so damn early in the game) to use one of her helps, only to find out that all the 5th graders had written "three" as their answer. You think? And she was shocked, but quickly recovered with, "well, that's what I was thinking..."
I was offended on several levels. I was offended as an editor, writer, and a sometimes proofreader, that no one in this country seems to be able to string sentences together properly anymore. I was offended as a teacher, because obviously this woman didn't understand a lick of grammar, and I was offended on behalf of the 5th graders who were given someone so obviously dense to compete against......

Your Allergic Diner

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Come to PA! Eat food! Do nothing!

Alright, so admittedly, being back at work and trying to plan a whole bunch of events in my personal life (yes, I have one) has usurped some of my blogging time. Where did we leave off?
Ah, the B&B in Pennsylvania.
Non allergic husband (NAH) and I stayed at the Swiss Woods Inn, in PA. When we made the reservation, via the internet of course, there was a comment/special requests section. I wrote about my allergies, and said that I would probably not be able to indulge in what was sure would be an excellent breakfast, could they please keep some toast and jam on hand for me to make my life easier?
Fast forward to the first day, and we were told breakfast was served from 8:30-9:00. We went downstairs at 8:45 to find, to my horror, that we were the last ones there and obviously everyone had understood that meant we were to be behind-in-seat at 8:30. However, the innkeeper was very gracious and she and our server went to the kitchen to find more food for myself and NAH. He got homemade potato pancakes (freshly grated potatoes mixed with spinach and pepper), freshly cooked sausage, and upside-down cinnamon raisin french toast with a carmelized glaze! He was in food heaven. I requested my toast and was told "OH! You're the one with the allergies to everything!" and then received my toast with homemade preserves (which were excellent!).
Second day - we are downstairs at 8:30 and the first ones to arrive. Fresh waffles and homemade blueberry syrup, bacon, and baked eggs are waiting for NAH. For me? Toast and Jam!
The third day was probably the most interesting. The food looked so unbelievable that I broke one of my cardinal rules. As lactose intolerant, I use the Lactaid brand enzyme pills to help me digest SOME dairy (there are things that the pills wont work for). I only take a certain amount of those pills daily, though, so I try very hard to eat things that are low in dairy. Sitting on the table was a basket of fresh baked muffins (6 different kinds- you name it, she had it), croissants, and toast, with of course, the obligatory delicious homemade preserves. Next to that was an egg strata with tomatoes and mushrooms and spinach that looked wonderful, and next to that was a homemade peach/blueberry cobbler. This cobbler was homemade in every sense of the word - the fruit was from their garden! I broke my cardinal rule that morning and used my lactaid pills, several of them, for the one bite of that cobbler my stomach would allow (cobblers tend to be VERY heavy in butter and often milk). It was the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten. I then helped myself to some toast and jam, and even treated myself to half a blueberry muffin. I finally understand why people like food so much!! Then of course, having eaten way more than my body was used to, I took a post-breakfast nap!
The B&B was beautiful, tasteful, elegant, quiet, serene, and delicious! Hopefully we can go back at some point.....
Come to PA! Do Nothing!
Thanks Swiss Woods!
Your allergic diner

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Come to Pennsylvania,do nothing!

Well, allergic readers, I am back from the best vacation ever! It was several days of nothing at a bed and breakfast in Pennsylvania that I will write about tomorrow. Several days of nothing! When in my life do I get to do several days of nothing? I'd like to make that Pennsylvania's slogan "Come to PA. Do Nothing!" It'd be a good PR campaign with the exception of the fact that people tend to think doing nothing is a negative. As one of those people who is always "on," I make great strides towards relaxing and doing nothing, and occassionally zone out in front of the television. More often than not, I'm working, cooking, cleaning, visiting family and friends or helping someone with a project...well, actually, let's just leave it at more often than not I'm working....
So "doing nothing" by me is fantastic. And it has taken YEARS, dear readers, for me to learn to do nothing. To sit for hours reading a book, or even, dare I say, take a nap? We had 4 glorious days of nothing but relaxation and quiet.

On to the food! That beautiful make-or-break crux of every vacation. On our first night there, we learned there were not very many restaurants in the area, so we went towards Lancaster in search of dinner. We attempted to get into one of the famous smorgasbords (to no avail - who waits 2 hours for food?), and ended up at Perkins. That's right, our first dinner together on vacation, up in the mountains, and there we were smack in the middle of a family-friendly restaurant. I figured, why not? No wait, simple food, and definitely fodder for my blog. I figured I had my first article, easy....except, to my shock, this will be one glowing review.
Much to my non-allergic husband's dismay, I ordered a steak at Perkins. That's right, a steak. At Perkins. Apparently that is some sort of faux pax for which I should be shot. However, the steak came cooked perfectly, to my request of "no seasoning/oil," and it was delicious! The baked potato followed my request of "plain, which means, no butter, no sour cream, no chives, and none of those god-awful preservative-filled things people call Baco's!" (Actually, for the sake of accuracy and reporting, I simply asked for the baked potato plain). The salad? No tomatoes, no evil green stalk, and the dressing was on the side. It was a perfect meal.
The kicker? The waitress gave us better directions to get us back to our B&B then we'd had on the way out and shaved 10 minutes off our drive!
Perkins was a fantastic allergy-friendly dining experience, and I highly recommend it to all!
More about the B&B and allergy stuff tomorrow,
Allergic Diner

Friday, August 24, 2007

A birthday celebration....

Ah, the barbecue. Infinitely more of a success, and a lovely way to celebrate a birthday.
As you could tell from my earlier postings, I love a good barbecue and had a pretty miserable experience at NAH's coworkers a few weeks ago (food-wise, only).
Last night your allergic diner had hot-dogs (all beef) and non-allergic macaroni salad (no evil green stalk, no evil green spice derivative). The meal was complete with a cookie cake, which I love! It was a great evening with my non-allergic in laws. (and again, it's always comical to me that hot dogs, macaroni salad, and cookie cake are all foods I can eat but a banana will kill me. Have I mentioned that one yet? Bananas are as evil as the tomato. Thank goodness for multivitamins, no?)

Well readers, at this point I have some allergy-free news for you, both good and bad....good for me, bad for you!
The Allergic Diner and NAH are going on an honest-to-goodness vacation! No work, no phones, no work, no email, no work (getting the picture?), just peace and quiet and perhaps some hiking and biking. We leave tomorrow, TAD readers, and I won't be back to blog with you again until after labor day. I will be incommunicado until then.....I might even throw caution to the wind and not pack snacks (thereby guaranteeing infinite blog material upon my return)!
Wishing you the happiest end to your summer,
Your Allergic Diner

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A credo for my fellow allergy sufferers...

Well, allergic readers, there are all sorts of things to blog about today.
First a shout-out (my old students would be so proud of my terminology!) to Allergic Girl who is going on what will be a successful, allergy-free vacation.

Allergies are an interesting thing. People who don't have them feel badly for you, sometimes treat you differently (and at last check my allergies were NOT a personality problem), and even sometimes have the gall to act as if your allergies inconvenience THEM! I still hold that if I'm the one who's going to die from eating the tomato, YOU can easily not place one in my food. What people who don't suffer from severe allergies can't understand (unless you're the parent or spouse of someone with severe allergies) is the anxiety that comes EVERY DAY. My friends will often tease me, because non-allergic husband (NAH) and I don't eat out a whole lot. One of the big reasons is because if I can cook it, then I don't have to worry about eating it. And luck for NAH, I'm a damn good cook!

There is a near paralyzing fear with trying a new restaurant or travelling to a new place that can never go away, but can be worked on. The fear that an allergic person feels when describing an allergy to a waiter and having to TRUST that they will take it seriously (i often show my med-alert bracelet) is difficult to describe. Travelling is the hardest because every meal you eat will be in someone else's hands. You learn over time not to be consumed by fear 24/7, but every now and then you have a scare (a la the sushi posting of several weeks ago) that sets you back a little.

Thankfully, (or not thankfully, depending on how you look at it) people who suffer from severe allergies aren't a rarity anymore, and the Internet has become a godsend to those of us who are anaphalactically allergic to things and still would like a life. The NAH and I are taking a vacation this weekend to a place neither of us have ever been. Thanks to the Internet, I've been able to find out what kind of restaurants are in the area we're staying. I've even seen some of their menus. And on the off chance we want to eat a fancy meal, I called a local bistro or two to see if they're willing to substitute ingredients (most restaurants are more than willing if you say something ahead of time).

Allergy sufferers live on the edge in a way that is very different from extreme sports. We take risks that most people will never be aware of (think I'm being melodramatic? Possibly, but you try looking like a blowfish in front of your closest friends). But what we do, what we can do, and what we must do, is always push through. Don't let the fear of a tomato or a piece of celery run or even ruin your life. And be proud of yourself each and every time you step outside of your comfort zone.

All that being said, dear readers, tonight we head to the non-allergic in laws for a fantastic allergy-free birthday barbecue! What could be better than that?
As always, thanks for letting me rant,
Your Allergic Diner

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Atlantic City here I come....

I went to visit the allergic parents in Atlantic City to play for a fun weekend. Atlantic City is always an interesting place. Fantastic food, fantastic restaurants and a ton of people who'd push you out of the way to get to the slot machine they want.
I was amazed to see that "The Walk," the Atlantic City outlet shops at the entrance to the city were doing a brisk business at EVERY time of day. I haven't seen shopping and stores like this since I was out in Las Vegas over 2 years ago. Everything from NikeTown to Coach to BrooksBrothers and more. But I'm digressing, because we didn't shop.
We gambled a little, but to be honest, we ate. And ate. And get the picture.
Your allergic diner LOVES delis. I love everything about cold cuts and thick rye bread and spicy mustard. I love soup that has been brewing all day, and the fact that I can have breakfast food at 9 p.m. I most certainly love that a deli is as allergy friendly as a supermarket, and the menu (at a good deli) is usually just as diverse.
So we went to Trump Taj Mahal (which looks as if you are driving into a pinball machine...there's tacky and outlandish, and then there's this monstrosity), and had dinner at the Stage Deli. It's a famous deli that's in N.Y. and has branched out to a couple of other places. The food was fantastic, though I'm not sure the allergic parents have forgiven me for placing my order....for a hot dog! They have the best hot dogs there, and I felt deprived after not being able to eat them at that barbecue a few weeks back....though the restaurant itself was starting to show it's age, the food was phenomenal!
We also tried out the new 24 central cafe in another one of Trump's properties (this one not tacky and nauseating), the trump plaza. I had a delicious corned beef sandwich (amazing, isn't it, that with all the things I'm allergic to, corned beef and hot dogs I'm fine with?)
I must confess that in addition to visiting my wonderful parents, my other express purpose for this trip was to get to a candy store...I haven't been to one in close to a year, and I have a sweet tooth that would rival...well, let's just say it's a good sweet tooth. We went to the new IT'SUGAR at the pier at caesars, which is a candy lover's paradise. They have sculptures created out of jellybeans! You can make your own candy bars.....
I'd better quit soon because this will take up the whole blog page. In summary, fantastic time with the allergic parents, and a VERY allergy-friendly city (I think the restaurants are so used to all the dietary requirements from the elderly people who frequent the city that they don't bat an eye any more...). Thanks mom and dad!
Your allergic diner

Monday, August 13, 2007

Adventures in barbecuing...

So here's an interesting twist. Non-allergic husband's coworker had a big BBQ this past Saturday, which always poses all sorts of food issues and anxiety for me. Will the hot dogs have too many fillers? Will the evil green stalk show up in the potato salad or macaroni salad? Will someone accidentally grab for a piece of barbecued chicken with the tongs that are being used to serve the hot dogs, thus rendering both foods unfriendly to yours truly?
Now, to a point, I've solved this problem. When it's family or friends, either they have something I can eat (years of dealing with my allergies has rendered them all experts in allergy-friendly foods), or I'm told ahead of time that the host isn't sure what I can eat, so I bring a sandwich and hope for the best. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that, because I don't know these people and I figured they would feel it was rude.
So, I went with Plan B. I had a very late lunch at about 3:30, before we left for the barbecue, figuring that if I couldn't eat, at least I wouldn't be starving when we got home.
I'm a smart cookie, as my allergic mother always says. The hot dogs were your garden variety, loaded with spices. The sausage and peppers was off-limits for reasons that the title alone explains, and the potato salad, my usual favorite, not only had the offending green stalk but BACON and CHEDDAR CHEESE. Antipasto with cherry tomatoes and a salad with cherry tomatoes. Yikes. So much for eating. So I had a roll and some butter and a glass of soda and waited for dessert....and waited...and waited....dessert wasn't served until after 8:00! (we'd been there since 4:30).
On the plus side, dessert was very allergy-friendly, and I had a nice, healthy, salad when we got home to balance out the junk food. Adventures in barbecuing, indeed.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ack. Ick. A close call....

Well, last night was interesting.
The company was fantastic. It was nice to meet non-allergic husband's coworkers and get to talk to them for an actual length of time.
The buffet was an adventure of sorts. I stuck to the foods that I knew were safe, such as sushi, because I could see it prepared, and then I admit to tailing the waitress as she left the kitchen with refills for the buffet. This way, I was able to eat a tofu & mushrooms dish I like without fear that the spoon was dipped in the shrimp sauce, etc. I figured my plan for foolproof.....
The tofu & mushrooms in brown sauce was fantastic! The sushi however, proved to be a problem. I had chosen raw salmon, raw tuna, and then what appeared to be a crab roll.
As I bit into the crab roll, I thought my throat had caught on fire, and this was before I even swallowed (stupidly). I quickly spit the rest of the mouthful out and went digging for my always-handy benadryl, scared senseless. There was some sort of hot pepper or chili spice in the mayo in the crab roll!!! Mouth on fire, I swallowed two Benadryl and sat silently praying that I hadn't eaten enough for a full-blown reaction to the ingredient I couldn't completely recognize (if it's hot pepper, it would simply upset my system a little bit, if there was chili spice in there (a tomato derivative for those of you not in the know) I was about to treat his coworkers to quite a show.....thankfully, the benadryl kicked in, I downed another 3 glasses of water, and soon it was time to go home. Apparently, whatever it was, it was a small enough amount, and my reaction quick enough, that I was able to be ok.
A close call. We're eating in tonight.
As always,
your (frightened) allergic diner...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cross-contamination anxiety....

Well, your allergic diner needs some advice...the non-allergic husband and I are going out with some non-allergic coworkers of his to one of those international buffets this evening. What do I eat and how do I ensure that it didn't touch other stuff I shouldn't eat....?
I will post tomorrow on my progress (or lack thereof) at the buffet......

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My 60th post.....a dairy-free, wheat-free allergy-friendly recipe!

To mark this occassion, I thought I'd post a new, absurdly-easy and quick recipe I've found. I occassionally shop at Whole Foods, and I've become a big fan of the frozen fish section. One package of frozen (boneless, skinless) tuna steaks contains two perfect portions for myself and the non-allergic husband. I have a dairy-free, wheat-free recipe that takes a whole 10 minutes!

Here's how:
Please make sure you've defrosted the fish before doing this!
1 - Melt approx 2 large tablespoons of soy butter in a non-stick skillet
2 - Place the tuna steaks in the skillet on medium-high heat for 4 minutes
3 - Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper to the top of the cooking tuna steak
4 - Flip the tuna steak and cook an additional 4-5 minutes on the other side

It's that simple, and it sears in the flavor, cooks it completely while leaving a mildly pink center so your fish doesn't taste dried out. Enjoy! (you want your tuna steak to be white in color, flake easily with a fork, and be semi-opaque or mildly pink when cut into)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Egg salad for allergy sufferers...

I have a few weird allergies. Alright, since people who know and love me read this, I will admit to having many weird allergies. One of them is an allergy to celery (an evil green stalk) and celery seed (the concentrated evil spice form of the evil green stalk). It is hard to order any kind of prepared salad (tuna, coleslaw, etc)while I'm out because of my FOC condition (Fear Of Celery). The allergy has evolved so badly that I have actually gotten sick when the sandwich prepared before mine was cut with the same knife that touched celery...
Anyhow, I'm digressing. I do that often. I was out with an old friend last night in central New Jersey at a restaurant called Mastori's. I'm writing about this because this restaurant is an icon of sorts in my humble state. People travel from the tri-state area to come to this fancy diner-of-sorts. In all my years travelling to eat there, last night was no exception.
I love egg salad. I don't know why. I don't have any particular feelings towards eggs or mayonnaise, respectively. Mix them together, however, and I'll come running much the way my non-allergic husband does for ice-cream cake.
Mastori's, as I discovered yesterday, makes their egg salad FRESH TO ORDER. As in, no evil green stalk? No spice? A clean knife? No problem!
I had a delicious sandwich last night and will certainly head back there again in the future. Worth the trip.
Thank you Mastori's!
As always,
Your allergic diner

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beef, medium-rare

Well, allergic readers, I mentioned on Monday that I picked up that fantastic cake from Coldstone Creamery for the non-allergic husband's celebration. It occurs to me that I did not mention how our dinner went.
The allergic parents, your allergic diner, the evening's honoree, non-allergic husband, and the non-allergic in-laws all met at a steakhouse in central NJ that I believe I had written about in a January posting, KC Prime.
In my last posting I had written about how accomodating the staff at the restaurant was, and this visit was no exception. Interestingly, our waiter appeared to have a hearing problem (this is not a sarcastic comment), and we were all slightly concerned that our dinners would not arrive as ordered because of the difficulty we had communicating with each other.
For example: "I'd like that medium-rare please"
Our waiter: "O.K., one prime rib, rare. Got it"
Our table: "No, medium-rare, please."
Our waiter: "O.K. Medium. Got it"
I'd continue, but I'm sure that you catch the direction I'm heading in.
However, we had no reason to fear, as our prime ribs, strip steaks, and filets arrived cooked to perfection (or in the case of the non-allergic husband, practically mooing on the plate, just the way he likes it).
It was a wonderful dinner that yet again, far surpassed the allergic diner's standards. Thank you to KC Prime for being comfortable enough in the quality of your food to abstain from unneccessary and potentially allergic garnish on the plate!Thank you to the non-allergic inlaws for a wonderful meal! To my non-allergic husband, we are all VERY proud of you!!
Your allergic diner

Monday, July 16, 2007

Coldstone Creamery

Well, I must leave my Chicago train of thought for the time being, but at least it is for a good reason! The non-allergic husband has been given a VERY impressive promotion at his place of work and I could not be any prouder! How, you might ask, am I going to relate this to food allergies, or am I just devoting blog space to tell my husband how proud I am of him?
I'm doing both. As part of our celebration, my non-allergic inlaws, my allergic parents, my non-allergic husband, and your allergic diner are all going out to dinner to celebrate his promotion. But really, what kind of celebration would it be without cake?
The non-allergic husband loves ice cream cake. I mean loves it. The way I feel about my stuffing, he feels about the Carvel creation shaped like a whale, or a football, or any other kind of ice cream cake that might cross his plate. Most recently, a Coldstone Creamery opened near us. I went on their website to find a FULL LISTING of ingredients in every one of their ice creams and sorbets (I am not one of the allergic consumers that will believe dairy-free because the 16-year-old kid behind the counter says "really, no dairy, read the sign"). Their sorbets really are dairy-free (and quite good, as I discovered yesterday, the tangerine is a treat!)
I went to Coldstone and ordered the non-allergic husband an ice cream cake for tonight's celebration, and I would like to supply you, my readers, with their ingredient list for their ice cream and toppings. Who would've thought a lactose intolerant (I will tolerate NO lactose) allergic writer would espouse the good of an ice cream store?
Keeping cool in the heat,
Your allergic diner

Friday, July 13, 2007

From a lil' charcoal grill....

I mentioned a few days ago that I would be speaking about this neat restaurant my non-allergic chicagoans took me to, Weber Grill. We stopped in for after dinner drinks and snacks after the Taste of Chicago, and quite frankly, to rest our very tired feet. Weber Grill is a fantastic place with great drinks and allergy-friendly food. I say this because after doing some research and talking to my friends, I learned that all of Weber's food is cooked over...well, Weber Grills! Their kitchen is filled with open charcoal grills, on which they truly provide you with a backyard-BBQesque experience, only a lot nicer. There prices were reasonable and the waitstaff knowledgeable.
But, as you know from my Potbelly's problem, I was a little apprehensive to see their website. Surprise! They offer a gluten-free menu right on their menu lists. That is the sign of a restaurant that is truly allergy-friendly. Please click here for locations, and happy eating, the Weber's way!
Your allergic diner

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another day, another Chicago daydream...

It's comical to me that when I sat down and looked at my calendar, I've been in a different city every 2 months for the last year or so. I find it funny because I want to keep writing about Chicago. I will soon pepper you with stories of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and several other cities. To be fair, I did post about my time in Orlando (hail to the mouse!)
Today's Chicago posting is about a place not native to Chicago. I was discussing with my non-allergic friend my recipe for homemade trail mix. I don't care for the pre-packaged mixes because I find them to be oversalted and over crunchy. I tend to make my own with dried fruit, unsalted peanuts, pretzels, and the occassional m&m. My friend inquired as to whether I had ever seen Trader Joe's, and suggested that for someone with my allergies, this was THE place to go food shopping. I'd heard of it, but never been there, so off we went to a grocery store on my vacation.
Trader Joe's was unbelievable. They tout themselves as a neighborhood grocery store (with a focus on healthy food), and it certainly does fit the bill. Once we had gotten past all the plants and fresh produce, she showed me the "dried fruit aisle." That's right, an entire aisle devoted to one of my personal food groups. It was fantastic. In fact, my only purchases in Chicago were made in Trader Joe's. They had all sorts of vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free options. Aisles and aisles of them.
This allergic diner gives trader joe's two thumbs up, and here's the link so you can search for a store nearest you!!
Thanks Trader Joe's,
Your Allergic Diner

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Potbelly's....yum (?)

When your allergic diner was in, yes, Chicago (I'm not tired of thinking about it, are you tired of reading about it yet?) I was introduced to Potbelly's Sandwich Works. I had a delicious sandwich (hoagie?) there of roasted turkey, lettuce, onions, mustard & mayo, with some potato chips on the side. I found Potbelly's through their booth at the "Taste of Chicago," and decided (with the help of my non-allergic Chicagoans) that I wanted to try their restaurant. The meal and the service were perfect. To describe it to those east-coasters who have never been able to indulge, Potbelly's Sandwich Works is a sort of upscale Quizno's.
Unfortunately, as I sat down to write this glowing review, I checked their website to find no allergen info, no ingredient info, and appalling nutritional data (simply fat grams and calories).
How to review this? I shall end this way....Potbelly's FOOD gets 2 thumbs up. Potbelly's website, well, it gets the finger.
Your allergic diner

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ah, Chicago. I want to go back so badly that I've made it the wallpaper on my computer at work.
I described the city as allergy-friendly because of something that occurred in a restaurant that I've never experienced.
My nonallergic friend met me downtown at Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Magnificent doesn't begin to do it justice, but as this is a food review blog and not a shopping review blog, I will hold my comments for another time. The nonallergic friend and I were both famished, so she suggested a restaurant she and her nonallergic husband thoroughly enjoy, The Grand Lux Cafe.
I had been on a plane for 2 hours and the only thing I'd had to eat was some non-peanut snack mix (United Airlines, very allergy-friendly!), so we settled in to our booth with our menus. The restaurant was reminiscent of the Cheesecake factory, so it took awhile to figure out what to order. But here was the impressive thing: the ingredients were all ON THE MENU. It would list for example, greek salad, and then proceed to list every ingredient in the salad (with the exception of the dressing). The Grand Lux Cafe was one of the few times in my life I've ever been able to order a meal without asking the waiter ANY food-allergy related questions! No special requests either. We had a lovely brunch that morning!
Here's the link to their website, they have locations in a few places across the country.

Happy eating,
Your Allergic Diner

Monday, July 09, 2007

How time flies when you're I hesitate to call work fun but I realize that I wrote I'd continue to post and then got caught up in the next crisis at my job. Isn't a wonderful thing when your supervisors know you can handle other people's jobs as well? My apologies folks, your allergic diner is back.
Most recently so, from the extremely allergy-friendly city of Chicago, and I'd like to spend my next few posts talking about it!
I was lucky enough to be taken by my allergy-friendly hosts to the "Taste of Chicago," which, according to Wikipedia (**warning, anything posted from wikipedia should be taken extremely lightly) is the world's largest food festival. Let me tell you, your allergic diner has never seen anything like this, and I've attended the "Taste of Philadelphia" (puny by comparison), and the "Taste of Washington, D.C." (overhyped and overpriced).
Chicago's "Taste" was a whole other world. Every restaurant who is somebody was there. And, OH THE FOOD! Finally, an allergy-friendly festival. Every booth (and there were close to 2 miles of them) was willing and able to talk about their ingredients. They didn't necessarily understand why I was asking (as in the case of the nice gentleman making samosas who told me that the spices "wouldn't make me gain weight, not that I couldn't stand to gain a little"), but they were helpful. These booths had full-out kitchens. I kid you not. Corn-roasting machines (?), oven roasting sandwiches, etc. I had the gumption to ask the water ice booth, Chicago's finest, if there was dairy in the water ice. And while the woman manning the counter went to get the owner to talk to me, the lady at my left snapped "in water ice? What is wrong with you? Just eat it!" (it was like having one of my relatives right there with me - thanks grandma!)
Most of the booths had, if not ingredient lists, then an owner or manager who was there to talk to me about the ingredients and cooking process. One was smart enough to tell me that there was seasoning in the oil!!
On the whole, Chicago impressed me far more than any city I've visited yet. My next post will tell you about a nifty little restaurant bar & grill named Weber's.....
Thanks for being patient with me, my readers. The paycheck has to come first, to finance the blog!!!

Monday, June 18, 2007


Wow.....I want to apologize to everyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis because it appears that I, your allergic diner, have not. As usual, plans are made, and life intervenes. I promise to start posting more regularly again.
Most recently I received this link via an email from a highly-allergic friend. Apparently Wegman's has many allergy lists that they update weekly.
I checked out the lactose intolerance/lactose allergy list, and it is a FULL listing of Wegman's brand products that one can choose from without worrying about milk.
Thanks Wegman's!
As always,
Your (busy!) allergic diner

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Statistics & Stories

One of my favorite allergen goofs that restaurants make when dealing with me and my "no tomato" request is to simply remove the offending tomato AFTER THEY PLACED IT IN MY FOOD. I once had a waitress tell me, "well, there was a tomato on your turkey sandwich, so I remembered what you said and picked it off." (apparently I had said, please, rub something that I carry an epi-pen for all over my food, then remove it, and then believe that the potential for allergic reaction has been taken care of by you, my hero??) That was three years ago, and subsequently I have changed my request to "Please, no tomato in my sandwich, no tomato touching any other parts of my sandwich, no knife cutting my sandwich that has been used to cut another sandwich with a tomato, " etc...
Now, they look at me like I'm crazy, but yet again, my paranoia has been vindicated. Read the following statistics I found that were published in an article in the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI)

Ryan Ahuja and Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., of The Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y., found that food-allergy training was reportedly conducted in only 42 percent of personnel at 100 restaurants and food establishments.
While approximately 90 percent of managers, servers and chefs reported varying degrees of "comfort" with providing a safe meal, numerous misconceptions were disclosed. For example, restaurant personnel reported that consuming a small amount of allergen is safe (24 percent); fryer heat destroys allergens (35 percent); and, removal of an allergen from a finished meal was safe (25 percent).
Food allergy registries indicate that reactions in restaurants accounted for up to 25 percent of accidental exposures in persons with peanut and tree nut allergies, and 15 of 32 percent of fatal reactions to foods began from food obtained in a restaurant or food establishment.

Here is the link to the rest of the article:

Please make sure you read the above carefully...your food is being prepared by people who truly believe "fryer heat destroys allergens," and, my personal favorite, "removal of an allergen from a finished meal was safe." As I get older, I'm learning not to feel badly about asking a waitress for what I truly need and to stress the whole "tomato, removal of tomato, knife that touched tomato" scenario. Sometimes I even show them my med-alert bracelet, just so they know I'm not pulling their chain. The more articles I read like the above, the more zealous I will become in standing up for my "allergic rights," if you will. Fryer heat...Unbelievable...!?

Friday, May 18, 2007

I have never been this appalled....

As you are well aware, I scour the websites of chain restaurants in an attempt to bring you, my allergic readers, the most up-to-date allergen information. It is a part of my quest to make eating in a restaurant easier and less anxiety-provoking for myself, and it is my hope that others can benefit.
That being said, I came across the following today on the website of Old Country Buffet/Home Town Buffet/Country Buffet (they are all owned by the same company).
Food Allergies
We understand how important it is to know what you are eating when dealing with a food allergy. Given our many made-from-scratch foods, various ingredient suppliers, regional recipes and special promotion menus, the challenge of providing detailed information regarding allergies is extremely difficult. Our chefs are responsible for preparing a delicious array of food offerings. It is not practical to attempt to separate allergens from non-allergenic items. For example, our kitchen regularly utilizes ingredients that can contain some of the more common allergens such as peanuts, shellfish and gluten-containing items. Consequently, we regret that it is not practical to provide specific allergen information. We recommend checking with your health care provider or the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network ( for information regarding your individual needs.
Are they joking???? "Consequently we regret that it is not practical to provide specific allergen information?" Not practical?!! Sounds to me like a giant case of the lazies and a "we aren't liable, we warned our consumers" in the event of a possible problem. I urge ALL of my readers to join me in boycotting this malarky. Better not to eat there than risk the cross-contamination that THEY tell you is pretty much inevitable. DISGUSTING.
In case you need to see for yourself, click on this link and then scroll down....

Happy Eating (anywhere but here)
Your allergic diner

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And I think to myself....

What a wonderful world, this world wide web. Look what your allergic diner stumbled across this weekend while doing some research on food allergies...
This website is updated by the kind folks at the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, which has an overwhelming amount of resources for every facet of allergic life. I found this one interesting solely because they offer allergy updates on ingredients in supermarket-found products, and that these updates are provided BY THE COMPANIES THEMSELVES!
Little by little, the allergic consumers are going to take the world by storm...
In the meantime, enjoy this website. I hope you find it as helpful as I do.
Your Allergic Diner

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Allergic Diner goes to McDonalds!

Well, I am about to advocate something I never thought I would. Your allergic diner had a most delicious meal this weekend, at McDonalds, of all places! I have not eaten there in close to 7 years because I was afraid of triggering several allergies, and I could never get a straight answer as to what spices/oils etc. were used in their cooking.
But now:
Select any menu item, click "go," and you have a complete list of nutritional information, ingredient information, and allergen info.
Obviously, this should be eaten in moderation, but it was nice to get to take part in what every one else does!
Your Allergic Diner

Friday, May 04, 2007

America Runs On Dunkin....

Or so I'm led to believe by the commercials with John Goodman's voice-over.
Is that really the case? The non-allergic husband LOVES Dunkin' Donuts. Every weekend he has a bagel and two donuts from them. The allergic diner likes their munchkins (a lot) but I do not have a weekly requirement. I am somewhat troubled by the fact that their bagels taste far better than those fresh-baked at the local deli (though not troubled enough not to partake of them) but recently I have become a complete Dunkin' Donuts supporter. Look what they provide....
Click on ANY product for their full information.
Happy eating!
Your Allergic Diner

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain, a national chain bakery/cafe, has a fantastic website that I encourage all of my readers to check out. Not only do they give you a full ingredient listing by clicking on something through this link
(Select a group, then select the specific menu item, and underneath the allergy alert info is the button to click on for a full ingredient listing),
they also give you nutritional info on everything they sell. The FDA never made restaurants label their food, but Au Bon Pain kindly provides the same content that you would find on a can of soda or package of chicken in your local supermarket. In addition to allergen/ingredient information, they offer a weblist of which of their items are lower in carbohydrates, higher in protein, etc.
A fantastic website!
The Allergic Diner

Monday, April 30, 2007

One of the best meals I've ever had...

Most recently, the allergic diner and the allergic mother traveled to Minnesota. I had researched most of the restaurants in the area on the web beforehand, and knew approximately where I could eat and what I wanted (type A, much?).
One of the best meals I've ever had was in Minnesota at Tony Roma's. I was hesitant to eat there b/c there was no allergy information on their website, but the allergic mother encouraged me to trust the waitstaff and try the restaurant (they are all so darn friendly out there!). I had one of the best steaks, without seasoning, cooked completely plain, and a plain baked potato (no butter, no sour cream, no butter spray, etc). The plate came dry (most chefs throw something on there b/c they believe that the food looks too plain) and perfectly prepared. An anxiety-free dinner that was quite delicious! I highly recommend Tony Roma's to any allergic consumer, they will work with you to prepare something perfectly. Take a peek at their menu
Supposedly they are famous for their ribs...but that's not something I"ll ever be able to review! Thanks for a great meal!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Johnny Rockets

Ever miss the taste of a good ol' cheeseburger and milkshake? I'm sure some of us do more than others. I, like most people with allergies have had to pass up things that taste very good, because the ensuing illness and potential hospital stay is never worth it. The one place that used to be at the top of my list to eat, before I found out about my allergies, was Johnny Rockets. I have refrained from eating there for a long time, but no longer. Johnny Rockets has joined my list of approved website reviews.
Please click this link to view their allergy information, and through this you can link to a page that gives you EVERY INGREDIENT that they use (I kid you not, they actually break down what is in the american cheese slice on a hamburger). Thanks to this information, I now know I can eat several things on their menu (unfortunately, that milkshake still does contain milk and ice cream...)
Help yourselves!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pizzeria Uno's sets an example!

A non-allergic friend most recently started working at Pizzeria Uno's. I was happy to discover that I now had a buddy in the restaurant industry and asked this friend to seek out their policy on allergic diners such as yours truly. This is what I received via email:

Uno's is very allergy friendly. The rule is that if someone says they have allergies to something, then we always get a manager and they will make the meal for the person specially. They want to make sure that the cooks don't mess up and put something on it that shouldn't be there. Plus, we even have a seperate gluten free menu and a book at the front that includes every ingredient in all the meals.

I have always been an Uno's fan, now I am even more so! Allergic consumers take heart, and find a location nearest you!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech

For some reason I am unable to link this on blogger today, but I wanted to let you all know I found a memorial fund established by Virginia Tech in the wake of the tragedy. Copy and paste the below into your browser, and please pass this on.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm going to take a temporary hiatus from my typical allergic comments and reviews.

The tragedy at Virginia Tech that occurred on Monday is foremost in our thoughts, and I encourage everyone to donate to a victim's fund as soon as one is established. Though we cannot begin to repair the damage done in the worst shooting incident in U.S. history, we certainly can let the grieving students and families know that they are in our hearts and prayers. My condolences and sympathies to everyone touched by this horrible act.

If anyone knows of a fund already established, please let me know.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Friendly's does a disservice...

Most recently, in an effort to review websites, I have been combing the websites of chain restaurants to search out all info available to the allergic consumer. I was appalled to learn that Friendly's, a nationwide ice-cream/restaurant chain, and a staple in most childhoods, had NO ALLERGEN INFO available.
Figuring that perhaps it was on its way, I emailed Friendly's asking if they'd be kind enough to share the ingredients in a few of their salad dressings (a simple request) so that someone with allergy problems would know what is "allergy-proof" on their menu, beyond the general description. That was over a month ago. Have you heard from them, dear readers? I certainly haven't! As is such, your allergic diner will not set foot in a Friendly's until they decide to be "friendly" to the allergic customer. Has anyone had a good experience with their customer service/customer relations? A bad one? I invite you to share your thoughts. My one-man (or in this case, one allergic-woman) boycott will not make a lick of difference to the company, but it will certainly make me feel better.
Friendly's, wake up!

Monday, April 16, 2007

P.F. Chang's, allergy-friendly

Most recently, your allergic diner was having a discussion with friends about the relative merits of chinese food. I consider chinese cuisine a must for anyone who has problems with dairy, as there are multitudes of chinese dishes that do not contain any milk, butter, etc.
When I was discussing my recent task of reviewing websites for allergy content, a friend alerted me to the gluten-free list at P.F. Chang's.
So, dear readers, I hope this helps as well,

While it is sad that allergies and the number of allergic consumers is on the rise, it is heartening that so many restaurants are taking steps to help us!
Thank you, P.F. Chang's,
The Allergic Diner

Friday, April 13, 2007

On The Border!

Your allergic diner has recently learned that another chain, On The Border, features a wonderful website with specific allergen information, similair to the website I posted about last week, Chili's. On The Border's Mexican food gets raves reviews from my non-allergic friends, but I have never tried it. Not so easy to eat mexican food with a dairy problem, tomato problem, and avocado problem! I always imagined the conversation to go something like this..."I'd like the burrito, please hold the sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, and salsa. As a matter of fact, please just bring me the beef and flour tortilla, I can put it together myself!"
Thanks to the tips on their website, I will soon be joining my non-allergic girlfriends for their next mexican and margaritas night out!
Try their website and search by the specific allergy

Thank you On The Border!
Best regards,

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You're a good man, Charlie Brown........

A chain of steakhouses in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that has wonderful food also has a wonderful website. Charlie Brown's (they of the fabulous salad bar) offers gluten-free info and lactose intolerant info on their website. While it is not as comprehensive as those offered by national chains, the allergic diner applauds their efforts to help the allergic consumer.
View their helpful info here: (click on nutritional facts and the allergen info pops right up)

As always,
Your allergic diner

Friday, April 06, 2007


Wendy's also offers an allergen chart and ingredient info. To view their allergen chart, click here...
If you'd prefer a list of ingredients, Wendy's offers a drop-down menu on each page that allows you to select one of their menu items and view nutritional information and a complete list of ingredients.
The allergic diner says: Very user-friendly!

Thanks Wendy's,

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More than just rootbeer...

In the spirit of spring, I have found ingredient/menu info for another restaurant chain, A&W. More than just rootbeer, they offer hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and other indulgent foods perfect for the warm weather.
Here is their ingredient listing, I hope this helps!

(and yes, you might notice that they spelled ingredient wrong....oops!)
Best regards,
Your allergic diner

Monday, April 02, 2007

Burger King information....

Burger King is no slouch either when it comes to allergen info, not only do they have a chart of which foods contain which major allergens (click on nutrition - allergens) but they also have a comprehensive ingredient list for the consumer as well.

Best regards for happy eating,
Your allergic diner

Friday, March 30, 2007


The allergic diner has another restaurant chain that gives you their allergen info, McDonald's. In response to the latest health craze, McDonalds has updated their website. Check it out for yourself and learn the ingredients of what you're eating (I recently learned that their grilled chicken classic sandwich is allergy-proof for me!)
As always, thanks for reading. I'll be back with another ingredient info posting soon.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Well, TAD readers, I was just tipped off to the fact that many restaurants are now making their allergy information available online, so you can research before you go. I'll try to post as many as I can find, but let's use chili's restaurant as a starting point.
Click on "menu" on the top, and in the green circle on the right hand side click on "allergen information." This will tell you what entrees they have that are safe for specific allergy types, and included are directions on how to change their menu items to make them allergy-proof for you to eat as well.
Way to go Chili's! Thank you on behalf of allergic consumers everywhere!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flying as an allergic consumer. The review does exist!

The Allergic Diner and her Allergic Mother recently booked a vacation together. Though it was quite easy, thanks to the internet, to find out about restaurants in the area we were going to visit, I got to thinking about flight travel for allergic consumers. We've all read the articles about passengers with peanut allergies so severe that the whole plane cannot have peanuts. I got to wondering if somewhere there would be a review of allergy-friendly airlines.
The good people at the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network have our best interests at heart. The following was taken from their webpage at . Enjoy!


Flying With a Peanut Allergy
Individuals with peanut allergy often worry about reactions occurring on board commercial flights. A published study showed that severe, or anaphylactic, reactions caused by peanuts occurred on such flights from ingestion of peanut-containing food. Other reactions from exposure via skin contact or inhalation were generally less severe.

Many peanut-allergic individuals have safely flown without incident. It is always important, however, to exercise caution while flying and to have emergency medication available. Airlines are required to have epinephrine as part of their emergency medical kits, but flight attendants may not be properly trained to administer the medicine to a passenger. Generally, the flight crew will ask if there is a doctor or other type of medical professional on board the flight who would be willing to respond to the passenger’s needs.

FAAN recommends that you talk with your physician, and assess the risks involved in your specific case. Below are current policies, tips, and strategies to help you take reasonable precautions, and enjoy your trip.

Current Airline Policies Regarding Peanut Snacks

To avoid possible inhalation or skin contact reactions due to large numbers of people opening their peanut snacks, most peanut-allergic passengers are well-advised to fly on one of the following airlines that don’t serve peanut snacks: American, United, Northwest, Jet Blue, Spirit, AirTrans , US Airways, America West and ATA.

Continental continues to serve peanuts and makes no accommodations for peanut-allergic passengers. Delta and its related carrier, Delta Shuttle, now serve a choice of five snacks, including a peanut snack on many of their flights. Delta Connection serves some of those choices, but passengers cannot find out in advance which ones will be served. Delta also provides a peanut-free buffer zone. Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air serves peanuts but, according to its Web site, will also provide peanut-free buffer zones.

Southwest, long noted for its peanut-related advertising, “will make every attempt not to serve packaged peanuts” upon request. The longer the lead time you give an airline, the more likely that it will be able to honor any special requests.

The international carriers that do not serve peanut snacks include Aer Lingus, Al Italia, and British Air.

Flying With a Tree Nut Allergy

FAAN receives many questions from those allergic to tree nuts. The most common question is which airlines don’t serve tree nuts? AirTran is the only airline that doesn’t serve tree nuts at any time. Some airlines only serve them in first class (United), others in snacks sold on board (Northwest), and still others only at certain times of the year (Jet Blue). To find out for sure, ask the customer service representative who books your ticket.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gas & a fertility lecture to boot....

I will start this off as a traditional TAD posting, by recommending to you a type of bread found at WholeFoods (the place where all allergic consumers can find SOMETHING). WholeFoods carries a line of breads from the Vermont Bread Company. Their oat bread is phenomenal! It is dairy-free, fat-free and 70 calories per slice. I can stick to my healthy eating quest and advise my allergic consumers all at the same time. It has a slightly sweet taste and the consistency of wheat bread. I highly recommend it for all those suffering from a dairy allergy.
But today I am going to part from my usual ways. I have already reviewed something for the allergic consumer, but I have another review, that of a gas company. This whole story is true.
Valero is one of the gas stations that is close to where I work. This morning, on my break, I went to have the car filled up with gas. Simple errand. What could possibly go wrong?
The gentleman who fills my tank noticed my rings and said "a married woman, are you on a break?" (i assumed he met from work and not in the Ross and Rachel sense). So I replied, "yes, I have a few minutes before I have to be back." His response was "How many children do you have?"
Ok, so now I am weighing my odds as to what happens here. Does he mean that I am on break from watching my children as they are quite obviously not in the car? Does he simply want an opportunity to tell me that I should have children? What do I say?
"2." Two, apparently, is what I say. I will defend my lie here by saying that I figured it would end the conversation, because he has already commented on my ring, and who would continue to pester a married woman with children? (hahaha. Joke's on me).
Only two? He asks. Yes, I say.Then - "Why only two?"
I'm sorry, is this a joke? Is the man pumping my gas really going to ask me about the innerworkings of my marriage? Should my lie have been a larger number?
So I said very simply, "i'm sorry?" (as in, why are you asking that, perhaps i misheard) and he says, "You are not too old (gee, thanks?). You are granted reproductive organs for a reason. Women are quite powerful and it is your duty to have more children. One day you will not be able to, you know (apparently he thinks I missed that day in 7th grade Health). There is no more beautiful thing than a woman with child. Your children must be young. You need to have more."
At this point an individual with half a brain would reply "i'm not sure that's any of your business." I don't like being rude for the sake of being rude (regardless of how much this person deserved it). My response was a simple, "thank you." As I go to pull away he came back to my window and said "you really should think about it, i'm sure your children are beautiful, you should have more beautiful children. Is there anything holding you back? Do you have someone who can help you watch them all?"
All i can think at this point is, "Is he offering to watch the fake children?" and "What just happened here??"....and I politely replied that I have to go now, and thank you.
Just out of curiousity, since when does a total stranger comment on a woman's reproductive system?? Unbelievable! Valero should advertise gas and fertility lectures and see what happens. Next time, I'm taking my business to B.P.