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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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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Ingredients in ‘dried mango’ apparently contain a lot of allergens!

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I bought some dried mango slices from whole foods. The ingredients? Mango slices, sugar (see picture). Then, in all capital letters ‘may contain: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, and soy.’

Really? They really needed to write that their 2-ingredient item may contain 6 top allergens? They didn’t feel the need to include fish and shellfish in the list, apparently.

I get that there’s no *official* policy on the ‘may contain’ label for foods, and that companies are just trying to cover themselves in case of a reaction, or that the label may mean it’s manufactured in the same factory as those foods, or whatever. But these type of labels make me think twice about buying products for my food allergic toddler. However, with just 2 ingredients in the label it’s doubtful that any of those other ingredients actually exist in the product and I ended up buying it (Cake was totally fine eating it).

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Ice cream

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Before I had kids, one of the traditions I was looking forward to having with them is having movie nights and eating ice cream, preferably with hot fudge or caramel sauce or other yummy toppings on it, while watching the movie.

That image came to a screeching halt when I found out Cake can’t eat ice cream. I tried giving him some So Delicious ice cream when he just turned 2 and he didn’t really like it. I couldn’t find any hot fudge topping for him, and most of the fun toppings like m&ms have milk in them. So even if he liked it, there wouldn’t be a ‘sundae’ or yummy toppings.

Lately, though, Cake has been really into sorbet, mostly because Allergy Dad brings him out for it about once a week. Cake started asking about ice cream so I decided to try it again. We went to a different Whole Foods today which had an ENTIRE plus some freezer door area full of milk-free ice creams. Our normal Whole Foods has about 3 shelves of milk free ice cream, so there were a lot more options for flavors and brands at the one we went to today. Cake picked out So Delicious vanilla ice cream (even though they have that at our regular Whole Foods, and he always says, “no, thanks” when I ask him if he wants any) and I picked out NadaMoo mint chocolate chip. I also found……milk free hot fudge topping! It’s from a local place in Santa Cruz which is nearby.

We ate it after lunch. Cake’s review is,”yeah, sure, it’s good! Let’s have some later!” I agree! We may be traveling an extra 20 minutes to this Whole Foods in the future so we can try all the different flavors.

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New restaurants

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We found a new allergy friendly restaurant in our area! 🙂

Eating out is always more complicated with a food allergy. We were in a nearby downtown and decided to get dinner. The restaurant we usually eat at has one meal that I know we can eat (& Cake doesn’t like it) so we tried a different restaurant. I’m glad we did – they had a few different items Cake and I could eat!

The first restaurant we tried was a fail. I told the hostess that we had a severe milk and peanut/tree nut allergy and asked if their bread had milk in it (it was a burger place). The two hostesses looked at each other and said,”um…..I don’t know. Do you know?” And “ummm….maybe it does?” I asked them to go check in the back with the chef. To which they responded, “ummmmm….well….the bread comes in big bags, I don’t think they know the ingredients.” At that point I left. I hate it when I get excited about trying a new restaurant then it is not an option.

At the restaurant next door, I told them about the severe allergies and asked if their French fries have milk in them. French fries are kind of our gateway food…..if Cake can have French fries, he is happy. If he can’t have the fries, we don’t bother with the restaurant unless it’s take out. Anyways, one of the hostesses went to the back and came back telling me, “yes, I checked and the chef says the fries are milk/milk product free and so are some other things on the menu. We don’t use peanuts or tree nuts in anything here.” WIN! We sat down and I found three different foods to ask about, hoping one was milk/milk product free. It was a Greek restaurant so I asked about gyros, an eggplant dip, the rice pilaf, and the skewers. Both the rice pilaf and all of the skewers were milk free – which gave me enough options for dinner. As a bonus, they had a kids meal with the skewers, meaning Cake could actually eat a kids meal (a rarity!)

Cake got shrimp skewers and fries, and I got seafood skewers and fries. It was a big, loud restaurant so Cake could be loud if he wanted to (he wasn’t – he was really good!) and we were able to walk to a coffee ship that has some dairy free sorbet for dessert.

It’s always a little scary trying a new restaurant – I watch Cake for allergic reactions the whole time we are there and after. I’m really glad we tried this one and will be going back soon!

And of course I only took two pictures while there, one was blurry and the other Cake had his eyes closed.

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Eek! There’s no label!

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Allergy dad brought home mysterious chocolate chips from the grocery store. There was no label! Allergy dad didn’t realize until he got home (we’ve all been there!) so while Cake whined that he *needed* the ‘tockolet tips’ (chocolate chips) allergy dad searched for the ingredient list online.
Thankfully, the company had the ingredient list online and there is no milk ingredients in the dark chocolate chips. Cake got to eat a few…..& now we can make chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day!

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