Panda Express

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We drove past a Panda Express two days ago on our way to Target, and it reminded me that I wanted Chinese food. So after a quick search for their allergen menu (I found one at http://www.projectallergy.com/documents/AllergyInformation.pdf ), I decided to stop there and get cake and I some lunch. Since we avoid milk and nuts, he had plenty of choices. (Note: he hasn’t had any major issues with cross contamination at most restaurants). I got us chow mein and chicken with mushrooms to share and some orange chicken for myself (we avoid orange and citrus with Cake). I also bought 3 potstickers to share. Cake loved the pot stickers (he has never, ever liked pot stickers any other time I’ve gotten them for him), thought the chow mein was “okay”, and didn’t like the chicken and mushrooms.

Even though there’s a likelyhood of cross contamination, I’m glad I was able to find a Chinese food place for us to go to.

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Chocolate chip cookies!

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We are stuck home today and have no cookies in the house. I like cookies. No, I love cookies. Cake must have inherited this trait because he also loves cookies.

After about 15 failed recipes, I tried out the traditional toll house cookie recipe, with replacing butter with Earth Balance Butter and the chocolate chips with Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They came out awesome! Pretty close to the real thing and even Allergy Dad likes them. My guess is making them egg free would be pretty simple – just replace the 2 eggs with 1 1/2 cups applesauce. Cake helped bake them!

Time to eat!

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A Greek Festival

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There’s a Greek festival in our area today and tomorrow. Apparently there’s tons of homemade Greek food, and tons of dessert treats. It’s a very popular festival and they have parking lots to park in then you ride a bus to the event.

I love Greek food. I love Greek desserts. Cake loves buses, and has been asking to ride on one for about 2 years, basically since he could talk.

Will we be going? No. It’s too risky with Cake’s food allergies. No Greek lunch, no yummy treats, and no bus ride.

There wasn’t really anything for a 3 year old to do there except eat and dance, I guess, so he would’ve gotten bored after an hour or so if he was able to eat anything there.

On the positive side, I found another festival for next weekend that has rides and games for kids in addition to food. Maybe I’ll bring Cake to that one (and pack our own food or go before lunch or something). Still no idea on a bus ride for him, though.

The most awesome allergy menu

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So we have a membership to a few local places. The farthest one away is an hour drive away, at the California Academy of Science. Cake, Bear, and I go up to San Francisco (‘the city’) about 4-5 times a year just to go to the Academy of Sciences. It’s pretty cool – there’s a 4 story rainforest, an aquarium, an African Hall (with stuffed zebras, lions, etc) and a toddler play room (which we avoid most of the time). They have cool programs for toddlers and preschoolers, change up exhibits often, and sometimes have cool live animals like reindeer or baby ostriches. Anyways, one of my favorite parts is getting lunch there.

They don’t have an ‘allergy menu’ because a few main allergens are noted RIGHT ON THE MENU! Specifically, if a dish is milk free it has a D next to the item, if it’s gluten free it has a G, vegan has a green V, and vegetarian has an orange V. Cake has lots of options for what to eat! We’ve eaten tacos, chips an guacamole, fried fish, fried chicken, French fries, and pork buns there. And it’s awesome that I don’t have to worry about asking the manager of the restaurant about specific dishes. It seems so easy to do this to the menu – I wish other restaurants would do this!

Sorry one of the pictures is fuzzy. Kinda what happens when you have 2 hungry kids with you! Cake is eating some fried fish and French fries in the picture.

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Birthday party: making accommodations for everyone!

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I already wrote about how meeting Cake’s needs at a party is a pain. Then I started planning Cake’s birthday party. I can do milk and nut and other foods free…..and I’ve made cupcakes that are milk free several times so that’s a no brainer for me to do. Plus we are ordering pizza, and Cake can eat pizza from a few places around us where they make the crust and sauce and some toppings milk free/cheese free so that’s not a big deal.

Then I started thinking about the other guests…..I have invited 3 families plus my mom will be flying in for the week (yay!). Between all of us, there are several variations on diet issues:
– milk/peanut/tree nut free (& Cake’s other allergies)
– vegan
– gluten free
– food dye free

So now I had to make milk free, vegan, gluten free, food dye free cupcakes…..decorated like Minions from Despicable Me because that’s what Cake would like.

I did my usual replacements for cupcakes – Earth Balance butter for butter and So Delicious Coconut Creamer for milk. Then I switched out 1/3 cup of applesauce for eggs, then added some honey in them for extra sweetness (because I’ve made cupcakes before with a certain recipe and while it was good it needed to be lighter and sweeter). They came out pretty good. I was thinking of making the wet mixture then taking some out before adding the flour and making those into a gluten free cupcake for my mom – I have both coconut flour and almond flour but I’m not sure which one works best.

Then there’s the frosting. The issue with the frosting is that when you mix Earth Balance butter with powdered sugar and milk to make frosting, it comes out a dull yellow, which doesn’t work great for Minion cupcakes. I think I’m going to give up on figuring out this replacement and just ask that mom to borrow her all natural food coloring (hopefully it won’t contain lemons…..)when I make the cupcakes. I’m sure she will, and then *hopefully* everyone’s dietary needs will be met.

Oh, wait, my mom is gluten free…..I’ll have to either order her a gluten free, milk free pizza for herself or I’ll just make her a meal at home to eat for lunch for Cake’s party. Hopefully she will understand….

I think next year we will skip buying pizza and making cupcakes. Since I’ve practiced about three batches of cupcakes, Cake has started asking if we can just do cookies for his birthday instead…..I think I’ll do that next year. I’ll just buy some boxes of various cookies to meet various dietary issues, do it at a non-meal time, and call it done!

Refried beans….

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We tried a new Mexican restaurant today. I ordered Cake a chicken taco plate after discussing his severe milk allergy with the cashier. She knew the ingredients of the tortilla, rice, beans, and chicken. I reminded her of the milk allergy again.

Yet his refried beans came with cheese on them. Great.

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