Friday, January 30, 2009

Food Boredom 2

I wanted to take a picture of the bright orange color of these perfectly glazed carrots. I really, really did. And then NAH and I ate the WHOLE thing. 8 oz of carrots per person. If we keep this up, we will have superhero vision. Or we'll turn orange, as one of my friends had happen to her palms growing up. To be fair, she ate so many carrots we used to joke about her previous life as a rabbit. Anyway...

The recipe (sans picture, my apologies)...

Glazed Mini Carrots (to make dairy-free, substitute soy butter!). Eating Well is 2 for 2 in my book.

The Internet is the best cookbook EVER!
Your allergic diner

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Food boredom

Ever get tired of cooking the same things? Or eating the same things? As someone with allergies and an extraordinary amount of limitations on things I cannot eat (seriously, no tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, anything heavily dairy, and the list goes on), I find that 'food boredom' occurs several times a year. I have about 20 allergy free meals that I can cook rather well, and I'm proud of that. The challenge is always to find more. I've previously admitted to being a cooking nerd, but the fascination with all things culinary was born out of a necessity not to eat the same safe foods all the time. I did that during my "food testing/allergy diagnosis/7 million doctor visits until it was determined that it was allergies making me ill" years, and I never want to eat that many turkey sandwiches again. I just don't.

Here's an easy, allergy-free (FOR ME - this is NOT gluten free) recipe to share. I adapted it from an Eating Well recipe.

"New side dish NAH will eat and then finish off b/c he enjoyed it so much"

1/2 cup of whole wheat couscous
3/4 cup of chicken broth
1/2 cup of chopped scallions
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. onion powder
dash white pepper

It's this simple: bring to a boil all seasonings, chicken broth, and scallions. Stir in couscous and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes (in which it absorbs all broth - like magic!). Fluff with fork. Serve.

I give him credit for trying something new. It certainly helps alleviate my food boredom!
I hope you enjoy this as well.
Your allergic diner

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This, my friends, is obviously a sign that the end of the world is upon us. I need a panic room.

Enough said, no?

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Year, New Look

You may have noticed the drastic new look. If you didn't notice, the allergic diner blog has a drastic new look. I'd love your thoughts. This is what happens when I have to stay put too long (yes, I'm referencing the below). If you're new to the site, welcome!

Getting sauced

I have two small confessions to make here in blogland. One, I have an extraordinarily hard time staying put for long periods of time. Two, and not to make my other kitchen appliances jealous, I LOVE my crockpot. I'm actually aiming to be the first woman to need a replacement crockpot as a result of overuse in the first several years of marriage.
When you combine both of the above you're left with a house that always smells fantastic. As a food nerd, I'm always cooking something. I prefer to be doing so in the crockpot, so that I may do several other things at once.

Last week I hit the mothership of all food blogs, at least for myself. A Year of Crockpotting. I won't fill you in too much, but it's a lady who loves her crockpot and uses it everyday. I could tout her virtues, or the treasure trove of recipes on the site (some for us food-intolerant folk), but instead, I will give you this. This, reprinted with her permission, is the world's greatest crockpot applesauce recipe. I love applesauce, and I love my crockpot (have I mentioned that?). This will make your house smell as if you're baking a dozen apple pies....and it's incredibly tasty as well! And healthy! Thank you, crockpot lady!

This makes enough for 4 people. If you would like to freeze or can, use more apples.
--4 large apples, skinned ,cored, and cut in quarters
--juice from 1 lemon
--1/2 tsp cinnamon
--1 tsp vanilla
--1 T brown sugar
--1/4 cup H20
Skin, core, and cut your apples into quarters. Plop the pieces into your crockpot. Add the juice from the lemon, and the water. Pour in the vanilla (I used imitation--we were out of the good stuff), and add the cinnamon and brown sugar. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are super tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork. My apples were very tender after 6 hours, and I used a fork.
Now, she made hers in a 4-quart crockpot, while I used my 6-quart and it was finished a little quicker (about 4 hours). I added raisins and extra cinnamon to the finished product, but it was FANTASTIC on it's own. I cannot stop eating this!
Here's to allergy-free HEALTHY recipes!
Your allergic, crockpot-lovin' diner

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

File Under "B" for Bizarre

Dreams are a funny thing. Lately I've been having these fantastic dreams about places I like to go, and then I wake up, and I'm not on Main Street in Disney World, and I have to drag myself out of bed. It isn't that I don't want to get up, mind you, it's simply that I'd rather be waking up in a Disney Resort then heading out the door for a day of work. Who wouldn't?!

Anyway, back to dreams. As an allergic person I find that I dream about food, a lot. Usually its my anxiety manifesting itself in my sleep, as I accidentally ingest a teaspoon of celery seed and then can't find the epi-pen, or the Benadryl. Sometimes I dream that I'm catering a big, fancy dinner, and other times I just dream about missing ice cream. In the past few weeks, I've had this recurring dream with which I have no idea what to do: I'm eating spaghetti and meatballs, in red sauce (in case that isn't readily apparent).

Red sauce. The kind with chunks of tomato, oregano, and cheese. I sit, I eat the whole plate while I'm at dinner with NAH, and I'm fine. Completely fine. Is my subconscious trying to tell me I should try tomato again? Doubtful. In fact, I'd bet money on the fact that I'm just yearning to be a normal out-to-dinner person. However, it's got me thinking, and in the past week I've made a list of the foods I want to try (some of them fall in the 'again' category) this year. Some of them fall into the "is this too much lactose or spice for me to stomach" category.

pears (green and brown)
butternut squash
goat cheese
blue cheese
refried beans
red velvet cake

There is a part of me that wants to try the tomato. I even know how to do it, as a processed, small bite, sitting outside of the hospital with NAH next to me and an epi-pen in hand. And really, that's enough to stop me, right there.

This past year I tried a few food tests, in a safe environment, and discovered this:
I'm highly allergic to fresh blueberries, but can eat raspberries without a problem. I am no longer allergic to pineapple. I still cannot eat fresh peaches, nectarines or apples, but I can eat any of them cooked (and especially in a pie!).

Thanks for listening,
Your allergic (tomato-free ) diner

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Enough said.

A walk down memory lane...

Every once in awhile someone newly diagnosed with allergies will ask me about my experiences dealing, well, with idiots. That was part of the purpose in creating this blog. I wanted to help allergic patrons become proactive in their experiences. I also, secretly, wanted to help them in combat with the idiots.

As you've seen, I have my ups and downs in restaurants, just like the rest of you. One of my favorite stories, is from back when I was in college. This, my friends, is one of my favorite idiot experiences....

Allergic Mom and I were in Tysons Corner for a girls' weekend about 8 years ago. We stayed in a nice hotel and went to the in-hotel restaurant one day for lunch. Our waiter approached and began to tell us about the specials, and he seemed like a nice enough guy. One of the specials was tomato bisque. We politely said no thank you, and as allergic mom went to order, the gentleman asked us if we were sure we wouldn't reconsider, as tomatoes contain lycopene, which is important for health and combating diseases, especially cancer. I said, thank you, but I can't, I'm allergic to tomatoes. This man looked me right in the eye and said (I swear I'm not joking), "Well then you're going to get cancer!!!!"
Allergic mom and I were appalled, and it was perhaps the only time I can ever remember not leaving a 20% tip.

Anyway, I'm starting a new feature on this blog, which I will call, "REALLY?"
For all those moments in your life (like the above) where you wish you could pause what was going on, turn to your imaginary friend/viewing audience/coworkers/family members and say "Really?"
This is for you. It will NOT always have to do with allergies. Basically, I'm now going to use this blog for a little bit of snark in addition to all the fun anecdotes, reviews and information. Happy 2009!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why I'm a dumbass. My apologies if that language is objectionable

But really, I call 'em as I see 'em. And my friends, I have sincere moments of dumbass-ery.
Last week my asthma started bothering me, pretty badly. I started breathing treatments, but it wasn't an easy week of breathing. When you can't breathe, everything else is more difficult. It is a little harder to sleep, a little harder to do normal chores, and exercising? Completely out of the question. Now, I know from experience that if I use the medications and take it easy (rest...that dreaded "r" word), that I will be alright in a relatively short amount of time.

After two days of medicine, I noticed I seem to be much worse at work. MUCH much worse. As I'm figuring this out, someone in my office points out that there is a terrible mold smell wafting in from the hallway. DING! (that is the sound when the allergic diner's light flicks on). I'm allergic to mold. Several of us spoke with the powers that be, and then it was nothing more than a waiting game. My Dr. was nice enough to give me something called Singulair (?) and said to me "If you have asthma problems that last more than 3-5 days, I want you to start on this, and then come see me three days later if it hasn't cleared up." In the cabinet it went last year, and I only remembered it on Sunday. I woke up Monday morning feeling AWESOME. I don't even have words to describe the joy of the deep breath, or a good night's sleep, or feeling like my old self. I'm sure the asthmatics out there know exactly what I mean.

On Monday afternoon, I was one of the few people left on my level of our office building, and one of the Big Cheeses brought in a mop and bucket and asked me if I was one of the people having difficulty with the mold problem.
I was.
Would I mind smelling what he was holding to see if that was the source of the foul smell?
Of course not.
I bent down.
It was.
Mold found.
Problem immediately removed.
Lungs on FIRE.

Sometimes I worry about what NAH has to deal with,
Your Allergic Diner...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Children of the world, EAT MORE DIRT!

Happy New Year, allergic and non-allergic readers. It is 2009 (thank goodness).

Starting off this posting with a link to Sunday's article in TIME magazine, "Have Americans Gone Nuts Over Nut Allergies?"

In short, yes, we have. I'm sure that some of my readers will give me crap for this, but we have. I hold out hope that any children NAH and I might have one day will eat dirt, dig for worms, and behave, well, as CHILDREN. I will not be there squirting anti-bacterial onto their hands the moment they walk through the door, or frantically looking up the chemical component of said dirt to ensure their health and safety. You see, it isn't that I will be a lax parent, I won't. The article above confirms/suggests what a lot of people believe, that over-conscious hygiene has caused somewhat of an allergy surge. It might. My parents never met me at the door and yelled at me to immediately wash my hands (just before dinner), and my allergies have developed and changed (gotten worse or gone none-existent - again, how good is pineapple?) over time. Say what you will, but I think my tomboy childhood worked for me. In my case, I believe (as does my allergist) that it was just unfortunate genes (and I've saved years on therapy bills simply by knowing I can blame my parents). It happens.

I believe that allergies have become so over-hyped that people have stopped listening and started rolling their eyes. That's a serious problem. You hear waiters and columnists say time and again to PLEASE, do not tell a server you don't want a food b/c you're allergic if you're really not (people do this all the time-damn them!). I worry that people will go on autopilot after simply hearing too much information, and that's the worst thing that could happen to true allergy sufferers.

A family who has a child with an allergy, especially when it isn't an anaphylactic one, who becomes a champion of the cause, educating those around them ad nauseum, becomes part of the problem. To whom? To their child! You see, a child with an allergy already has a limitation. The bigger deal made of that allergy (especially when it isn't a life-or-death allergy, and YES, there are differences in allergies and allergic reactions, you skeptics) the harder it will be for that child. What you don't want is a kid who can't eat raw carrots b/c they make his throat itch equating himself with a peanut-allergic child who carries an epi-pen and wears a med-alert bracelet. Now, nobody wants to be the parent of the kid who taunts the peanut-allergic child, either. But there is a MASSIVE difference between educating and understanding and hysteria.

The other problem, that no one talks about? Part of the over-hyped allergy madness is directly correlated to the fear of lawsuits. I have friends who believe that whatever the reason for the allergy madness, it's a good thing people are finally listening. That may be. But to the woman who's school insists on a 504 and a special allergy lunch table for her child because he has a minor allergy to fish? Even after the doctor told mom that it was ok for him to sit with the other children? It's irrational, and it's unfair to the child. It's unfair to the parents.

Yes, I say this as a highly-allergic person. BRING IT ON, my friends!

Moving on...
We had a very fuzzy (and by fuzzy I do mean fuzzy lined shoes) and lovely Hanukkah, and a very warm and thoughtful Christmas (Non Allergic Mom found me allergy cookbooks!, about which I will be writing in the future). NAH and I have been able to watch some football recently (GO EAGLES!). I am happy to report that the month of December, though incredibly busy, was allergy-free. I'm back....
Your Allergic Diner