Most people know someone who has allergies whether it is sneezing from an allergy to dust or getting rashes from a certain substance. An allergy is a condition where a foreign substance (allergen) that enters the body triggers the immune system to react in various different ways, most commonly by the inflammatory response. There are a variety of allergens that can cause an individual to have an allergic reaction, such as peanuts, wheat, gluten, dairy, rye....the list goes on and on. Living with allergies can be difficult at times, especially during the spring...YIKES! However, as John Mellencamp said, "Oh yeah, life goes on" (Song: Jack and Diane). Yes it is possible to have fun with allergies outside of the few months every year where everyone goes through two Kleenex boxes and four Kleenex portable packs. Our mission here is to help guide you Kleenex lovers out there regarding simple information about allergies, recipes for people with food allergies, and any questions you may have.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
It has come to my attention that many employees working in either restaurants or fast food chains are unaware of what food allergies really are. Sure they know the basics from the California Food Handlers course that they needed to take before being able to work, but many workers don't understand food allergies in full context. Recently, I flew to Las Vegas where I would meet up with my connecting flight and had about an hour before my next plane would arrive. I decided to eat some food since my following flight would be a few hours with nothing more than some water and snacks that I can't eat. I went to Burger King which has a chicken sandwich that can be wrapped in lettuce but I mainly went for their fries. Now I wasn't sure if the items were cooked differently since it was in an airport, so I asked an employee if the chicken was cooked in a gluten-free way and she told me that is was. I got my food and sat down to begin eating, but when I looked at the chicken, something looked odd. It looked like the chicken was deep fried in flour coating. Definitely not gluten-free by any definition. I made sure to check with the employee one more time with visual evidence and yet again she insisted that it was gluten-free. Obviously, I knew this was not true so I gave my sandwich to another and enjoyed my fries. This wouldn't be that bad if this was just a one-time thing but as in most stories, there is another. Over the past summer, I attended Carnegie Mellon University to take a few college classes in the major that I want to pursue. People in the Pre-College program were allowed to stay in the dorms and eat dorm food for the entirety of the 6-week program. After a few weeks, no...days, I was sick of the dorm food and decided to spend meal plans at a different place on campus where I could order all sorts of other foods. For 4 weeks I was led to believe the fries to be gluten-free by one employee; however, a manager finally asked me why I kept ordering gluten-free food and eating their beer battered fries. I was astonished that the employee did not tell me or just didn't know about their own companies food. As an employee of a fast food place myself, I take pride in knowing what foods are cooked with items that are unable to be consumed by many. It is the duty of the employee to know the difference between each allergy and how to work with the customer to find a solution to their problem. I hope that employers begin to take this issue more seriously and train their new employees to be able to recognize these problems and find solutions. Not only does it reflect poorly on the employee, but also the company in this circumstance for their lack of knowledge of their own menu. Spread the word to people. Make sure people stay informed.
Monday, September 25, 2017
|The four different levels of doses for allergy shots. Green being the lowest dosage|
and red being the highest dosage.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
This past weekend I traveled with my family down to Arizona to see my brother and watch the ASU vs. SDSU college football game. I had a great time at the game and talking with my family but the highlight of my weekend was going to eat at Gluten Free Creations Bakery and Cafe. It's a small bakery in South Scottsdale, AZ with a variety of food items to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. My parents took me there for my birthday and it was quite a marvelous experience. The place already had a couple of customers looking around for items and I looked around at what options they had. They have about 6 freezers filled with cakes, pies, brownies, cookies, and any other dessert item that you could think of. Next to the cashier was a counter filled with fresh donuts, muffins, and scones of all flavors and sizes. The good thing about GFC is that everything in the store is gluten free and a lot of items are also dairy free. They cater to the people who have food allergies and most of their food is able to be eaten by people with all sorts of food allergies. I ordered their "Hearty Breakfast Bowl" which was filled with eggs, bacon, white bread, and gravy. Being that I am gluten free and dairy free, I asked for them to use gluten free white bread and the cook decided that since I couldn't have their gravy (she used butter and milk to make it normally), that she would make me some fresh dairy free gravy. The meal was fantastic! The gravy was a perfect consistency, not too runny and not too thick with a little bit of pepper to add some spice. The eggs, bacon, and bread made for a great combination of flavor that went extremely well with the gravy. I asked my brother and parents to try it, who are not gluten or dairy free, and they all agreed that it was cooked well with a lot of flavor. On top of the breakfast bowl, I bought a lemon poppy seed muffin, a frosted donut, and a Oreo cake for later that night. The lady that helped me check out was extremely helpful and gracious. My mother explained that it was my birthday and that we were grateful they could accommodate my food allergies with such amazing food. She was happy that we came to her bakery and gave us a complimentary treat. My family and I went and sat back down at a table in her store and enjoyed tasting the desserts that we had just purchased. First, the lemon poppy seed muffin was phenomenal. It was soft and had a great flavor that every muffin should have. The next up was the frosted donut. The donut had a nice layer of icing with sprinkles that was on top of the soft donut. Last was the Oreo cake, which I had later that night. The cake had vanilla frosting on the top of a chocolate cake with and Oreo on the top. The frosting had a great flavor that went along perfectly with the chocolate cake. Overall, every item I tasted from GFC was delicious. I would definitely recommend trying the hearty breakfast bowl and the muffins as those were my favorites. I could go on and on about how delicious and helpful the people working there are but I want to share some of their information for some of you to experience. GFC has two locations; one in South Scottsdale (7607 E. McDowell Rd.) and another in North Phoenix (10880 N. 32nd St. 1). Gluten Free Creations Bakery and Cafe has been around since 2000 and even has even opened up to online orders on their website (http://www.glutenfreecreations.com/Breakfast/). GFC also sells some of their items to local companies to use for their own gluten free menu. For example, GFC sells their buns, bagels, and bread to Luci's in Phoenix. They have a long list of companies they sell their products to which is great because that opens different food options and places to try since they with have gluten free options. I highly recommend eating at GFC because their food is amazing and their customer service is unbeatable. So the next time you are in Arizona, I hope you visit this amazing place. If you aren't in Arizona, fear not because they will ship food to your doorstep. Eat well my friends!
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
If you live in or around Bakersfield, California and you haven't tried this bakery, you are missing out! My family often travels to Southern California and one of our stops is Zoey Brooke's Gluten Free Bakery. This is hands down my top gluten free bakery choice and the best gluten free desserts I have ever had. The price is on the lower end for individuals with food allergies, as we all know food is more expensive with allergies. I have had and loved the following items from their menu: cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, donut holes (my favorite), bread, and their lemon jam cookies. Along with gluten free items, they also have items that are dairy free, oats free, nuts free, etc. They have food that will match most of your dietary needs plus each item is incredible. It reminds me of the good old days when "normal" food tasted amazing. I highly recommend this place not only because their food is amazing, but also because of their service. It is a husband and wife who own the place and their hospitality is extremely touching. For my first time there, they allowed me to test different foods and they even guided me step by step through their menu, progress as a bakery, and future plans they had to expand on to lunch items. A few years have passed and they are still the same joyful people who have begun serving lunch items that are just as good as their dessert items. If you are thinking to yourself, "Wow! This sounds like such a great place but the guy writing this post sounds biased towards it.", then the next sentence is for you. My one problem with the bakery is how far from the highway it is. For people traveling, it's a around 4.5 miles off highway 99 which is only about 10 minutes of driving, but I understand people want to get something right off the highway that is convenient. So the next time you are hungry and near Bakersfield, make sure you stop by Zoey Brooke's Gluten Free Bakery!
2811 N Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93308
2811 N Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93308
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Let's take a trip back in time to the day that I found out what I am allergic to. Just like your average elementary school kid, I ate my bowl of Mini-Wheats everyday around 8 o'clock when Curious George cam on before school. I had enjoyed eating my favorite cereal with milk for years upon years up until middle school. I noticed that I had an influx of new stomach aches and problems that I had never felt before. As you can imagine this included multiple trips to the bathroom and me holding my stomach and bending over hoping staying in a certain position would alleviate the pain. My parents always tried to help me not think about the pain but as it continued over multiple months and continued to get more painful, my parents took me in to see an allergist. At the time I wouldn't have known how much help he would be but Dr. Travis Miller would end up help diagnose my problems when other doctors would not. He works in Folsom and Roseville for the Allergy Station if anyone wants to get help from a fantastic doctor. Anyways, when I was 14 he decided to give me an allergy test to see what foods, medications, or environmental factors I might be allergic to. I got my skin pricked and scratched by about 30 needles with small amounts of a bunch of different common allergens. After waiting close to 15 minutes, he and a nurse came back in to see what allergens made my skin react the most at its surface. I found out that I am allergic to all types of trees, grasses, weeds, dust, dust mite, mold, gluten, wheat, dairy, rye, barley, and oats. As you can imagine it devastated me. I began my gluten free/dairy free diet and if you have experienced it you know that the food does not taste as good. Over time I've gotten used to it and I think it tastes really good. I was glad to see how supportive my parents were because they continually cooked and ate at places that had gluten free options despite me being the only kid with a food allergy in the family. I really appreciated all my mom did for me through this time being there emotionally and learning how to cook the best gluten free food at home. On top of the new diet I had to adjust to, I also began allergy shots. They have helped me a lot over the years despite being a pain to go to, especially how often you need to receive shots in the beginning of treatment. As for my allergies to grass, weeds, trees, dust, and mold, I just rely on Allegra to help my body cope with the allergens. It hasn't stopped me from going out and playing in the outdoors with friends and family so I'm glad it hasn't affected me to that extent. Having allergies hasn't necessarily made life any easier, especially having to always get food from places that offer options, but it also makes it fun to find new places that I normally wouldn't ever go to.
Monday, July 17, 2017
I recently went to a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals last Saturday in Pittsburgh and found the experience to be quite enjoyable. I went with a group of friends and we got out tickets in left field right behind the home run wall. For many people who don't know much about baseball other than the basics and some players, like me, the only thing you need to understand is that during this 2017 MLB season, the Cardinals and the Pirates are both towards the middle to lower end of the NL Central standings. The two teams both have 44 wins which led me to believe that the game would be close. In the event that you have no idea what happened in the game, here is my basic run down. During the first three innings, there were a couple of good hits and entertaining double plays and pop fly outs but no one scored. The top of the fourth inning came around and the Cardinals got one run. The fifth inning came around and the Cardinals scored another three runs. The rest of the game was more fantastic double plays and one amazing catch by Andrew McCutchen but no one scored. The Cardinals did win 4-0 in the end. The most important part about the game to me wasn't the game but the food. This was the first stadium I've been to in a while that has gluten free hot dogs and burgers. Most places I've gone to have Mexican food which still is great, but there is something about a delicious burger that is satisfying. The hot dog that I had was $6 which isn't that expensive when you take into consideration all the other prices for food. Overall, I would say that they had good options for people with gluten allergies. The buns for the hot dog came prepackaged and clean gloves were put on by the employee to take the package off and place the hot dog into the bun. The next to you think twice about going to a Pirates game, don't. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the food and time I spent with friends. I even met some other people that sat near me which made the game that much better.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I recently went to Lake Tahoe with my family to celebrate Father's Day. We drove to King's Beach in North Shore and played some frisbee golf, which is really fun. Later we decided to go to dinner at Jason's Beachside Grille for dinner and I was excited because they had burgers, french fries, and chicken that was supposed to be really good. As I always do, I read the menu and asked the waitress if I could get the nachos with chicken but unfortunately she told me that their chips were flour based rather than corn. I was amazed because the majority of chips I eat are corn based even if I check to make sure they are gluten free. I hadn't thought about this before until then but I guess I need to be more careful when choosing my chips. I continued to order a burger instead without a bun or cheese so that it would fit my dietary needs. One thing that most people know about me is that I love potatoes in all forms. My family knows that whenever there are potatoes on the table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, they have to get their own potatoes before I touch them. Otherwise, they will not get any for themselves to enjoy. Anyways, french fries were the side that came with Jason's burgers so I was happy I could eat my favorite food along with my burger. However, the waitress told me that their fries were beer battered. Now for most people that makes the fries more crispy and delicious but in my case, I couldn't even eat them. More than likely I didn't read the menu that well which is why it was more of a surprise when the waitress told me they weren't gluten free. Just a reminder to always read into what each meal consists of and if you want to know exactly, feel free to ask the waiter or waitress that serves you so that you can ensure you can enjoy their meals.
Monday, June 12, 2017
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Gluten-free & Dairy-free)
½ c. non-dairy butter
½ c. creamy peanut butter
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
1 ¼ c. gluten-free flour blend (flour blend should include xanthan gum)*
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. dairy-free chocolate chips
*For the gluten-free flour blend, you can use a store bought mixture or make your own. I prefer to make my own, but in either case, the blend must include xanthan gum. If your blend does NOT include xanthan gum, you will need to add 1 tsp. of xanthan gum to the recipe.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
2. Cream butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together. Add egg. Blend. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla. Blend. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips.
3. Cover and refrigerate dough for 30-45 minutes. (You can skip this step if you cannot wait to eat your cookies, but it does make the cookies bake and taste better, especially on a warm day!)
4. Scoop and place cookie dough balls onto prepared baking mat. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Many people endure allergies everyday which can vary in pain and length. A lot of individuals are allergic to grass or trees whereas others are allergic to certain foods or surfaces. Personally I have struggled with allergies all year round for a little over 8 years now. I am allergic to all types of trees, grasses, weeds, dust, barley, rye, oats, and am gluten and dairy free. Every day was and still can be a struggle for me because I would either have itchy eyes or hives all over my body. The years between 5th grade to 7th grade were difficult because I was trying to figure out how to better control my allergies. Thankfully I found a great doctor who started me on allergy shots and has given me the gift of Allegra! Over the years I have been able to manage my allergies to a point where I am not bothered everyday by something. Like every other person with allergies, I have weeks on end where my allergies get terrible, especially during fall and spring. Through it all, I have managed to meet some outstanding people that help accept me regardless of my constant sneezing, sniffling, and sleeping. I know I can relate to people reading this blog because I'm in the same shoes as you all. I found it easy to stay at home and not bring up my allergies to people but it's actually been an good experience discussing my issues with other people. Now that my friends know and understand my allergies, they have ensured that I have food to eat at their house and that I don't feel like an outsider. Don't let allergies hinder your social life! Everyone has problems which is why sharing your issues is beneficial to you and your friends.