Taking a Bite out of the Big Apple

New York New York

Recently, I had the opportunity to fulfill a long time dream. I travelled down  I-87 towards the bright lights of New York City. Since the first time I saw FRIENDS or watched the movie The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe I have been fascinated with the city.  It may have taken awhile but I finally reached NYC at age 23.

My only fear: finding places to eat that could accommodate my peanut and nut allergies.

So before I left, I did my research. I looked into several restaurants in the city (many including my favourite chefs from the food network). I knew I had to plan at least five dinners (some I made at the house I was staying at) and others were on the fly. However I discovered three restaurants that went above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to food allergies.

5 Napkin Burger: Located in Union Square on 14th street.

Delicious gourmet burgers are their specialty, but don’t let that fool you. They have dozens of menu items ranging from Tuna Tataki, to grilled shrimp. The pride themselves on homemade, handmade food.

When inquiring about my food allergies the server was more then willing to accommodate me. He brought me an allergen list, and asked if I wished to speak with the  chef. He then assured me that they could guarantee me a complete safe meal for my peanut and nut allergies.


Mesa Grill
: Located on fifth avenue

Iron Chef Bobby Flay brings his grill specialty to NYC and definitely does not disappoint. My favorite of all the meals I had while in the city by far. Since his expertise is grilled food, I enjoyed a steak that literally melted in my mouth.

I previously called the restaurant to make sure they could cater to my allergies, they assured me it would be fine. When arriving at the restaurant, I informed our server of my allergies who then proceeded to go over the menu with me to assure my safety.

I was able to enjoy everything offered even dessert. Tied together in an amazing atmosphere, I felt great knowing that I had made the right decision to go there.

Trump Grill: Located in Trump Tower on fifth Avenue

Trump Tower, home to Donald Trump himself hosts one of the most elegant restaurant/bar I’ve had the pleasure of stumbling on. While walking down 5th avenue I ventured into Trump Tower to see what all the hype was about. Letting hunger get the best of us, we saw they had a bar/grill. I immediately talk to the host about my allergies, who then let me talk to a chef and discovered that this would be a safe option for my food allergies.
I was fortunate to find restaurants that accommodated my allergies, but felt great that my research and ability to speak up to staff really paid off.  I would advise others with allergies to follow a similar strategy of doing research, calling ahead, and talking to the wait staff/chef no matter which city you vist.

New York City is really for anyone. There is something there for everyone and it truly is the city that never sleeps. Don’t let your food allergies hold you back, from the Rockefeller center, NBC Tour, to the eerily real wax figures of Madame Tussauds. Words can’t explain how amazing it is! I ❤ NY!

Scream Bars!

A witch holding a platter of candy apples

Trick-or-treat can get tricky with allergies…

When I was a kid, Halloween was not my favorite day. I loved the dressing up part, but I hated trick or treating. I wasn’t allowed to accept the candy or any treats, and because of my allergies, I didn’t like going out with my friends. So, I just refused to go. I felt extremely sad and left out the next day when kids shared their stories about their night and the loot they collected.

Finding products that were safe for both my peanut and tree nut allergies and my brother’s egg allergy seemed impossible. This prompted my mom to take matters into her own hands and make all of our Halloween candy from scratch for many years.

To this day, I still use her recipes and praise her every second that I get for helping me and my brother to truly feel the Halloween spirit.

This is a revamped version of her “Scream Bars” –

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup flour

Filling:

  • 2 egg substitutes*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crisped rice cereal (e.g. Rice Krispies)
  • Small amount of food coloring

*For a homemade egg substitute, you can use 2 tablespoons of warm water + 1/2 tablespoon baking powder PER EGG.


Crust Preparation:

Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl. Press into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350°F.

Filling Preparation:

Mix together your egg substitutes. Combine with brown sugar, vanilla, flour, chocolate chips, and baking powder.

Use a paint brush or spoon to lightly cover the crisped rice cereal and coconut with food colour to give them a scream worthy affect. Add them to the filling mixture.

Assembly:

Spread the filling mixture onto the pre-baked crust. Bake for 20 minutes longer.

Let cool, and cut into small squares. Bon Appetit!

The final frontier in education…

The final frontier in education – university and college! For some, it’s a chance to explore your passions, make friends, and become the person you want to be. For others, it’s the haunting fear that you are soon to be surrounded by people who could care less about your allergies… at least that’s what I thought!

My name is Arianne, and I am currently in my fourth year of university. Before that, I attended college, where I lived in residence for a year.

I was 18, and it was the first time I had ever lived on my own. I was terrified! My mother had always taken care of my concerns and worries when came to my allergies, and I felt like I was chained down to a ball of antisocial topics that would prevent me from experiencing things or meeting anyone. My biggest concerns were: what and where would I eat? If I couldn’t make my own food in my own kitchen, what would I do?

It took me until the summer before school started  (not to mention a swift kick in the butt from friends) to realize that if I wanted to feel safe in an unfamiliar atmosphere, it was up to me to take the necessary steps to make it a safe environment.

My first step was to talk to my roommate (luckily, I was rooming with a girl from my high school). I taught her about of the seriousness of my allergies, what I was allergic too, and how to use my epinephrine auto-injector.

Next, I went to the residence building and talked to the head of food management. I told him that I had severe allergies to peanuts and nut. I made sure that their food facilities were cleaned professionally and the food they served wouldn’t come into contact with my allergens. After he assured me that they could provide safe meals, we made a plan to use posters and information pamphlets to inform other people, so they could understand the importance of keeping the dining area free of peanuts and tree nuts.

After I spoke with my residence, I went to the manager of food and industry at the college and asked for a specific list of all of the food outlets available. I also talked to him about what was and what wasn’t safe and asked for ingredient lists.

After talking to the people who were in charge of food handling, I felt prepared and ready to take on the challenge of post-secondary education. I learned that my overall safety was in my hands – and as long as I communicated with servers, and washed my hands and my food preparation stations, I could live as normally as the next student.

As for eating outside of the school facilities, the same process applies – check for ingredients and inform your server of your allergies. And as always, make sure that you carry an epinephrine auto-injector and teach those who are eating with you how to use it.

A safe and fun experience at university and college is not just a fairy-tale for those who have allergies. With advances in allergy awareness and opportunities for allergy-safe eating, many places have become very accessible. Just remember that ultimately, you are responsible for managing the risks of allergic reaction. As long as you’re confident and speak up, you too can achieve a fulfilling life!

A quick recap, step by step:

1)  Tell your roommates and floor-mates about your allergies, and teach them how to spot an allergic reaction and use an epinephrine auto-injector.

2)  Find out who is in charge of food management at your school. Talk to them about your allergies, ask them about their allergy management protocols, and ask them to take specific steps to help you feel safe.

3)  Ask for a full list of food outlets on campus. Find out what is and isn’t safe for you.

4)  As always, inform your servers and whoever is in charge of food service about your allergies.

Cheers,

Arianne

 

For more information about managing allergies at college and university, check out Anaphylaxis Canada’s youth website: http://www.whyriskit.ca/pages/en/manage/collegeuniv.php!