Saturday, September 27, 2014

Food Allergy Beware

So I've been doing some research on hamburger buns at sporting arenas. 
Yup-- hamburger buns at sporting arenas. 
Isn't everybody researching that?
  As of September, my son can add wheat into his diet (yay) and end-of- summer means the US Open Tennis championships and lots of baseball. So... I was calling around. 
  At the US Open, Levy Restaurants -- Chicago based-- runs the concessions.  In hope of getting a burger with bun at our all- day outing, having been greenlighted on Wednesday at 5, I called Levy headquarters. Even in Central time it was still awfully close to closing, and the operator who helped me was respectful of my need for an ingredient list and promised to reach out to their vendors. 
 By noon Thursday- less than 12 hours later!--I had an ingredients list in hand! And my son and I had burgers for lunch!

Ditto "shout out" to the food services manager at Yankee Stadium who gave me his cell phone number and sent me the hamburger bun ingredients.  
( no luck at Yankee--sesame seeds in the hamburger buns-- which my contact told me as soon as I asked for a list) 
  The point here is WOW people are really nice and helpful. And, as I noted to various supervisors, these folks were respectful of  food allergy needs and knowledgeable about their dangers. 
 So I encourage parents to call and inquire and get all the help you can from these helpful restaurant suppliers.

As for the BEWARE note:
Brand name chain restaurants may not use the same products in their stores as they use at a stadium or arena. 
Case in point: Johnny Rockets: the buns and burger ingredients listed on the website are ONLY for the restaurants. At stadiums--Yankee Stadium, for instance--Johnny Rockets is supplied by an outside vendor, and the ingredients are different. 
And use the parents' best defense: our mouths! Ask a lot of questions and expect the best from people. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cruise Control: Vacationing with food allergies

Vacation! I've been away -- sorry for the radio silence. 
We chose, as we often do, a cruise with Holland America line. We had a great time-- especially because it's truly a vacation for my son-- safe food made specially for him-- and me-- no cooking!
And another benefit is the same wait staff very night for dinner-- staff who strive to make your experience the best it can be. 
AND there's simple easy food throughout the day for snacks: clean salad bars  with no allergenic foods like nuts or fish. Carving stations manned by trained servers who always use separate utensils  for each food. Steamed vegetables and plain rice available for every meal. 
Now there's even quite a few gluten free options, good for some folks though not us. 
And there's fruits and this time, sorbet flavors for dessert-- that was a great thing since that hasn't been the case on previous cruises. I didn't know so i brought chocolate --- usually desserts are an issue because there's only the occasional Jell-O. But I think cruise lines are trying to serve healthier foods which works out for us.  There were Skittles also on the ship. 
  It may seem that I am making a big deal about some dessert-- but there is a focus on food on a cruise-- not so much on this cruise line but still at dinner there are three courses and it's nice if you're not eating dessert while your kid is sitting empty plated. 
 It speaks to quality of life -- my son's, mine, my husband's-- that these little things can make a BIG difference in how much relaxation is actually in the vacation. And this cruise there were many options for dinner as well as fewer substitutions-- food allergies seemed to fade into the background. My son had choices of different meals to eat -- instead of having one safe dish that had to be stripped down to be safe. 
 So we had smooth sailing and good memories!