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