Thanksgiving with Friends

A Thanksgiving Story That Will Give You Chills

It’s been a bad week.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve seen my rantings about a proposed cell phone tower being erected between our house and our beloved mountain view. The cement had already been poured and it seemed likely that I’d spend my next thirty years staring at this iron monstrosity as I cooked dinner.

So I delayed blogging because this is supposed to be an upbeat blog about coping with food issues. I did not feel upbeat.

Being an allergic foodie, one of the things I do when I’m upset is eat. I just happened to receive not one but two packages with gluten-free and allergy-friendly foods in the mail.

Don’t think that’s the chilling part; keep reading.

The first one was from Tasterie.  Started by a pediatrician and mother of an allergic child, Tasterie is a mail order food company for those of us with CD or food allergies.

Tasterie deliver GF food

You can order a TasterieBox, like the one pictured above, tailored to your specific needs.  I ordered the Top 8 Box, which included a few brands I hadn’t found on my grocery store shelves yet, like dairy-free mozzarella, pie crust mix (perfect for the holidays), and pancake mix for when my GF college boy is home for his Thanksgiving break.

Then yesterday, the FedEx guy interrupted my angry tweets by delivering a large cardboard box from Udi’s Gluten Free.  Inside were lots of fixings for gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free Thanksgiving dishes.  If you’re cooking this holiday, you must check out  Let’s Feast!  Udi’s Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu!  The idea is to use these recipes and host a “Friendsgiving.” How fun is that!

I loved getting all this yummy food especially during this stressful week, but I also felt kind of guilty. There are so many other people who are unemployed or housebound who could use this food.

I began blogging about my idea to cook some of Udi’s Friendsgiving dishes  along with Tasterie‘s pumpkin pie crust and share them with someone less fortunate who has celiac disease . . . but I didn’t know how to find such a person.

This is the chilling part.

My phone rang.  My friend Judy wanted my advice for a meal she was preparing for a woman with celiac disease. The woman has serious multiple sclerosis, has been bedridden for a long time, and has a 12-year-old son. I couldn’t believe it.

Chills, right?

So Judy and Ky are coming over on Saturday to help George and me prepare a Friendsgiving for this woman and her son using the Udi’s and Tasterie foods I received this week.

I’m feeling a lot less angry. I don’t have an answer regarding the cell tower, but something tells me the phone will ring with good news soon.

A Thanksgiving Story That Will Give You Chills first appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie

Working Together to Avoid an Allergic Reaction

How do you feed a conference full of food allergic people?

One of the steps The South Point in Las Vegas took for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference was listing the ingredients in the food served in the buffet line.

Food Labeling in Buffet

This labeling made eating easy–and safe!  But such attention to detail doesn’t always happen when those of us with food allergies eat in restaurants. In fact, studies have shown:

* 24 percent of restaurant staff believe consuming small amounts of allergens are safe;

* 25 percent believe a fryer destroys allergens; and

* 25 percent believe it is safe to remove an allergen, such as shell fish or nuts, from a finished meal.

Scary, isn’t it?

Dr. Lama Rimawi, founder of Tasterie, and Nona Narvaez, founder and executive director of Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota,  offered some terrific ideas for those of us wanting to eat out and for the folks making and serving our food.

For Restaurants

*  The most important statement you can make to a food allergic person is:  I don’t know.  It’s okay if you don’t know what’s in a product used in a dish, but it’s critical to be honest.

* Training your staff.  There are three different companies that certify food allergy training.  At least one person with food allergy training should be in the restaurant when food is being prepared and served.

* Listen to your customer!  Communication is essential.

For Consumers

* If you withhold information from restaurant staff regarding your dietary restrictions, the food establishment cannot accommodate your needs.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  But many diners are too embarrassed to communicate their food allergies.

* A good restaurant is going to send the chef to your table.  If they don’t, ask to speak to the chef or the manager.

* If you or a loved one has a reaction, report it to the restaurant. If that initial call never gets made, there is no tracking of the allergic episode.

* The FDA Food Code is a model code that assists governmental agencies to develop their own food safety rules. The model code is produced every four years, the last one being in 2009, and takes into consideration the best of food science to keep the public safe.  To find out what your state’s regulations are, contact your state health department.