Tag: foodallergy

Creamy Shitake Mushroom, Spinach & Sundried Tomato Orecchiette Pasta

We have had such a long winter here in Northern Michigan!  Recently, over the last 4 days we received roughly 24″-28″ of fresh snow!  In fact, we have had so much snow this April we broke the record for most snowfall in April- over 30″ of snow since April 1st!!! Needless to say, I’ve been really busy inside my kitchen creating new and easy DAIRY, NUT & EGG FREE recipes.  I posted pictures of this delicious pasta I made last night on my Instagram account and promised my followers the recipe.  Here it is and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  Satiating, healthy and best of all ALLERGY FRIENDLY!

Preparation Time: 10 minutes                                                                                                        Serves: 4-6 servings

Cook Time: 15 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:
4 Tablespoons non-dairy butter (I prefer Smart Balance or Earth Balance) 6 garlic cloves, minced
12oz pkg of organic shitake mushrooms (fresh if available)
12oz pkg of organic button mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes (reconstitute them in water) 10oz pkg of organic baby spinach
1 pound Orecchiette Pasta (Delallo is made in Italy & vegan and nut free) 2 Tbsp organic non-bleached flour 1 cup, as needed of your favorite non-dairy milk (I use either Flax milk or unsweetened Ripple) 1/4 cup white cooking wine (If it’s not good enough to drink- don’t cook with it!) 1/4 cup or so of reserved pasta water Black pepper & salt to taste 1/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella Shreds 1/8 cup Follow Your Heart Parmesan to top

Instructions:

1. Cook the pasta according to the package.  Drain, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup pasta water for later.  Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Set aside once cooked.

2. While the orecchiette pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan heat Tbsps of vegan butter over medium heat.  Add the shitake and button mushrooms, garlic, and sundried tomatoes.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until everything is tender.

3. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of vegan butter to the pan and let melt.

4. Add the flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to thicken.

5. Turn the heat up a little bit and add the wine.  Stir for about 1 minute and then whisk in the non-dairy milk.  Reduce heat to a simmer until thickened.  If too thick, add a little more milk.

6. Add Daiya cheese, spinach and thyme. Cover with a lid for about one minute until the spinach is tender.  Stir vigorously to incorporate melted Daiya.

7. Add salt & pepper to taste.

8. Gently fold cooked orecchiette pasta into saute pan.  Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and freshly chopped parsley.

9. Top with parmesan cheese and serve hot!

 

ALDI is Rivaling U.S. Grocery Store Chains with Low Cost Organic and Allergy Friendly Foods

 

aldi-corporate-2

Last year I authored a post about how I started shopping at the German-owned grocery chain ALDI and how I absolutely LOVE IT!  ALDI is one of my favorite stores to grocery shop at because it offers many low cost organic produce options.  They also have a corporate policy to sell foods that do not contain certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG from all its private-label products, pesticides, synthetics, and hormones.   ALDI  is constantly increasing their line of Gluten Free Foods, which are private labeled under the Live G free name to keep costs low.  Many of the Live G free foods are also free from many Allergens!  And I might add- DELICIOUS!

aldis

I have spoken to many of my friends about the benefits of shopping here and unfortunately the buzz I have received on the street is that many people think it’s a “low-income” type grocery store.  They are just not informed about the many wonderful products this store sells and the fancier foods they carry to compete with the consumers that frequent Whole Foods.  They now carry higher end specialty products such as artisanal cheeses, quinoa, coconut oil, and smoked salmon according to a Business Insider article.

In a recent press release from ALDI corporate, the Vice President of their Saxonburg Division stated, “ALDI has a different style when it comes to grocery shopping and that differentiation has helped make us one of the fastest growing retailers in the US,” said Hart.

ALDI is currently in the midst of a huge expansion plan in the United states.  By the end of 2018, it will bring fresh and high quality groceries to more than 45 million customers each month.  To reach its aggressive goals, ALDI will create more than 10,000 new jobs at its stores, warehouses, and division offices in the United States alone!  Once this $3 billion expansion is complete,  ALDI will have nearly 2,000 stores marking close to a 50% increase in only five short years!

ALDI has taken away market share from popular grocery store chains such as Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods in the U.S.  They are able to continue to keep their costs low by offering consumers low pricing by limiting inventory to a lean selection of private-label items.  Whereas, traditional supermarkets  typically carry several different brands of a single product.  ALDI also invests far less in customer service and merchandising than traditional grocers.  Most of the store’s grocery items are placed in their shipping cartons to keep restocking quick and easy.  Consumers must pay a quarter ($0.25) deposit for a grocery cart (which you get back when you return the cart), bag your own groceries, and either bring your own grocery bags, or purchase bags they have for sale.

I certainly don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to bag my own groceries if it means heathy LOW COST organic foods free from chemicals for my family at a cheaper price!

If you haven’t shopped at an ALDI yet you are definitely missing out!  I encourage you to try it.  Here is a picture of many of the allergen-friendly products our family loves from ALDI’s:

290

In addition the products above my family also loves these allergy-friendly products from ALDI: pickles, many cereal varieties, hormone free turkey and ham lunch meat, all kids of fresh organic produce, whole wheat bagels and bread, jam, many varieties of Clancy’s chip products, coffee, organic spiral ham during the holidays, frozen wild mussels, canned albacore tuna fish, German red and white sauerkraut, hormone free maple bacon, frozen chicken fingers.  I like these paper products too: quart sized zip lock baggies, aluminum foil, paper plates, ultra strong paper towel and toilet paper.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

~Erika

 

 

Disney with Food Allergies

 

Disney 2

As most of my followers can sympathize, traveling with food allergies is not a simple task, not to mention extremely stressful and takes lots of advance planning.  We travel quite a lot with our food allergic boys and although it has gotten easier over the years, it’s can still be challenging at moments.

Our family recently experienced our first trip to Walt Disney Word in Orlando, FL.  It was a HUGE success and one of the most amazing vacations we have experienced as a young family!

This entire journey began a little over 5 months ago, when I contacted Lizzie, the author of http://allergyfreemouse.com and http://pixielizzie.com.  Lizzie is a renowned travel agent specializing in “Allergy Safe Walt Disney Vacations.”  It was literally music to my ears when I found Lizzie and started researching the concierge travel services she has to offer to her food allergy customers at Disney properties throughout the world.  She has a daughter with life-threatening food allergies and understands the stresses food allergies puts on families during a vacation.

Since we only booked our trip 5 months out, it was crucial to get all of the logistics (ie. hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations, fast passes, etc.) booked ASAP.  Lizzie was instrumental in walking me through this entire process which can be extremely stressful without the proper guidance.  Additionally, she gave me several restaurant recommendations where she actually knew the chef personally and ensured me they would be able to cater to our boy’s life-threatening dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut allergies.  When booking the restaurant reservations through My Disney Experience, I always carefully noted the food allergies for each reservation.  Also, I sent an email 2 weeks before our departure date to: Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com to make sure they had us “flagged” in their system for food allergy reservations.  Because I’m a bit OCD, I called Disney 1 week prior to our departure to make sure they had our food allergies listed for every restaurant reservation.  There were actually a few reservations which didn’t note the allergies and I was glad I called customer service to verify my online reservations.  I quickly found that the key to a successful Disney vacation with food allergic children is careful advance planning, planning, and planning!  Lizzie was a huge help with this as she provided me with check lists, email reminders, pages of allergy safe dining options, etc. We couldn’t have done it without Lizzie and all of her helpful resources!

We stayed at the Disney Polynesian Resort which was right on the Monorail and the most convenient location that met our family’s needs.  The swimming pool was AMAZING!  It was surrounded by about 8 lifeguards at all times which ensured our boy’s safety as they transcended down the water slide time after time!  When Lizzie booked our accommodations, she requested a microwave be added to our room at no additional charge, “extra sanitizing of our room for food allergens prior to arrival,” and no down pillows.  The room worked out great, as we were hardly in it.  As a parent of kids with food allergies, I always travel with groceries that I keep in the hotel refrigerator for snacks, early breakfasts, etc.  It’s always nice to have “safe” food on hand for my boys who are constantly hungry.

I have to note, upon checking in at the host desk at each restaurant, a ticket with our reservation was immediately printed.  Our tickets always had the words written in bold red “ALLERGY” which was then placed on the table when we were seated.  This was awesome and Disney really goes the extra mile to ensure the safe dining of their food-allergic guests.  Additionally, I always immediately gave each of our servers my hot pink “Restaurant Allergy Card” that lists our individual food allergies and specifics about cross contamination.  This card was also given to each head chef that came to our tables daily.

Many of my followers have requested restaurant recommendations that can accommodate food allergies and here are my detailed reviews.

Sit Down Restaurants (most require reservations through MyDisneyExperience):

Citricos Restaurant at the Grand Floridian: This was by far our favorite meal of the trip.  Albeit a bit $$$ but well worth the experience in this Disney Signature restaurant.  Chef Dave came to our table and our boys decided on the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marinara and broccolini. He even checked the gluten-free buns to make sure they were safe, as gluten free bread usually has eggs in it.  They did not have eggs, and my boys were thrilled they could eat the bread at this restaurant and dip it in olive oil!  This was our first WDW on-property dining experience and as a special surprise touch I pre-ordered an amazing chocolate chip mint dessert cake from Babycakes, Orlando https://www.erinmckennasbakery.com/orlando/.  Our server brought it to the table with candles and our boys couldn’t have been happier!  It was the perfect end to an amazing meal!

Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Our first morning at Disney we did the & Lilo and Stitch character breakfast at our hotel.  It was a meal “choc full of carbs” but our children were delighted as they have NEVER, I mean NEVER been able to eat breakfast in a restaurant safely.  Chef David came over to our table and explained that he “personally” cooks all of the allergen friendly meals separately.  He even served the boy’s family-style breakfast to them which included: mickey shaped waffles, bacon, fresh assorted fruit, sausage, and delicious guava juice.  It was an amazing breakfast and the icing on the cake was when our oldest son said, “Mom & Dad, I feel like a normal kid this morning.”  It literally brought us to tears of joy!  Thank you Disney and Chef David for your diligence and serving delicious allergy friendly meals!  Special memories were definitely created!

Disney

Kona at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Kona is one of the Disney restaurants that is piloting their new “allergy friendly menu” system.  Our server brought out a separate menu for the boys which listed all of the ingredients for many appetizers, entrees, and desserts.  Chef Karen came to our table and I presented her with our restaurant allergy card.  I told her that our oldest son wanted a hamburger.  I figured he would not be able to eat the bun so I actually had 2 pieces of bread in my purse that I brought from our hotel room. She said that was fine and we could assemble his burger at the table.  She would also bake the sweet potato fries to avoid cross contamination.  The boys also split the octopus salad for an appetizer and the veggie sushi rolls.  The food was marginal but it was safe and we were exhausted that night, so it didn’t really matter.

kona kona 1

Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios: Upon seating us, the host presented us with 3 different menus.  An allergy-specific kid’s menu, allergy-specific adult menu and their standard menu.  We typically all order off of the allergy friendly menu to make it easier for the chef when discerning our order.  Raul, our server from Colombia, was very knowledgable about food allergies when I presented him our restaurant card.  Our boys could again eat the bread here with olive oil which was a nice treat!  The boys decided on the Vegetarian Pho entrée as an appetizer which was delicious.  They each had the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marina sauce and steamed brocolini.  What can I say, our boys are creatures of habit?  We were all too full for dessert and wanted to rush outside to see the fireworks.  I will note that Tofutti dairy free ice cream was on the dessert menu which I thought was AWESOME!

brown derby brown derby 2

Toyko Restaurant, Japan in Epcot: I was a bit apprehensive about eating with our boys in Epcot due to pre-vacation research I had done on Epcot restaurants.  From what I had researched, many of the restaurants in Epcot are not actually “Disney-owned” restaurants, and thus do not have the same Allergy standards that Disney has for all of their restaurants.  However, we didn’t find this to be true at Toyko.  From a peanut allergy perspective, Japanese cuisine is typically free of peanuts and most tree nuts.  The manager of the restaurant came right over to our table and brought a huge binder that listed allergens in all of the menu items.  She stressed that the sushi chef making our boy’s rolls would put on clean gloves and use a clean surface.  Our boys each decided on edamame and the sushi veggie rolls.  We had yet another delicious and safe meal at Disney and no one left hungry!

Koisks & Quick Service Stations:

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Main Street U.S.A.:  When we were in line, I handed one of the cast member our restaurant allergy card.  She told us to stand over to the side.  The manager then came out from the back room and told us they had Tofutti Vanilla and Chocolate.  I made sure to explain to her the severity of our boy’s food allergies.  She assured me she would scoop it in the back and all of the utensils would be clean and sanitized.  Our boys each had a HUGE cup of Tofutti to cool them off during the hot afternoon!

Food Kiosk near Tomorrowland Speedway: Our boys could have the Mickey shaped hot pretzels and the cotton candy.  The cast members at this kiosk showed me the binder that listed the ingredients for all of the food products sold at this location.

Now that I have thoroughly reviewed all of our dining experiences I have to mention we took a decent-sized backpack into the park each day that contained the boy’s 4 epi-pens, inhalers and usually lots of snacks.  I had all of the ingredients in our hotel fridge to make sandwhiches for the boys for a few days in the parks.  We got sick of all of the junk food and tend to eat a pretty clean and healthy diet.  Lots of snacks are key when you have growing kids that are constantly hungry.  We always ate a nice sit down meal every night.

Overall, our trip to WDW in Orlando was a MAGICAL experience!   It was so nice to feel “normal” and take most of the worry out of our dining experiences for a few days.  Please fee free to contact me with any specific questions regarding this post or allergy free travel to WDW in general.

~Erika