Monday, March 31, 2014

Gluten-Free Kosher Bakeries that Sell Challah!

Challah is a traditional braided egg bread. Here is a list of gluten-free, kosher bakeries that sell challah. 

Taffets challah was, by far, the winner of our gluten free family's challah taste test. Compared to the others, Taffets is freshly baked and soft--even after traveling overnight from Philadelphia to NYC. 

All the challah we tasted was better when we microwaved it to soften it up. For a full loaf of challah, warm it in the microwave for a minute or so. For a slice, 15 to 30 seconds works well. Or you can pop it in the oven until warm. But, according to Lynn at G-Free NYC (and in our experience) the microwave works the best.)

Taffets Gluten-Free Challah (from Philadelphia Bakery)
Available special order on Fridays from G-Free NYC or you can order directly from Taffets. Taffet's challah is freshly baked on Thursday and sent to G-Free NYC on Friday--but you need to special order it in advance from G-Free because it is only available by customer request. Taffets also has delicious bagels that you can special order directly from Taffets.

Heaven Mills Challah
Heaven Mills has oat challah available in several different sizes. They also carry egg-free and sugar-free challah. Heaven Mills was our second favorite after Taffets. But it is a prepackaged product that travels well but, unfortunately, it does not have a fresh challah taste.

Katz Gluten Free-Challah
Katz's has a small rice challah, oat challah or a large braided challah that are all gluten free.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Peanut/Nut Free in NYC!

 Q: My 2.5 year old son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. I am finding I need cakes and cookies more regularly for all the parties and it's been hard.  If you happen to know of any brands or shops that might be good, please let me know.

A: It is very hard when kids are young and there are so many different parties and events revolving around cupcakes! I promise it gets easier as they get older. Here are some other options for Peanut/Nut Free in NYC from parent Melanie S.

1) Eleni's (NOT GF)
Chelsea Market Store (cookies are also sold at Fairway)
75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Cookie Concierge: (888) 435-3647

2) School Safe (NOT GF)
Sold at Whole Foods around the city.

And a few more options from parent and food allergy advocate, Liana...

3) Divvies (Not GF)
They deliver. Everything is amazing!
700 Oakridge Common
South Salem, NY 10590
(914) 533-0333

4) Donut pub  (Not GF)
Delicious & affordable donuts which supplies donuts to the Food Allergy Initiative Luncheon. They say they are "nut aware" but recommended by peanut allergy experts.
203 West 14th Street (at 7th Avenue)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-0126

5) Izzi B's Allergen-Free Bakery
Free of most allergens including gluten. Order them fresh from Izzi to get best products--they are not as good when frozen.

Here is my favorite place to find GF/nut-free treats for kids...

6) G-Free NYC
G-Free has some delicious nut-free baked goods including Main Line Baking Company's Coconut Bliss Cupcakes.
77A West 85th St.
(between Columbus and CPW)
New York, NY 10024

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Is Sushi Gluten Free? and GF Sushi in NYC

Traditional sushi made with rice vinegar is naturally gluten free--if you avoid the soy sauce. I have taken several sushi making classes and have made sushi rice and sushi and they all suggest rice wine vinegar. But there are some ingredients used to make sushi in restaurants that you have to watch out for if you are on a gluten free diet.

I ALWAYS call ahead to restaurants and tell them "My child has a severe allergy to gluten--can you tell me exactly what is used to make your sushi and if it is gluten free?" I always make sure to find out what type of vinegar they use.

 The following ingredients are problematic...

If they use malt vinegar instead of rice vinegar, the sushi will contain gluten. Malt vinegar is made from barly and it is not distilled so you need to avoid it if you are on a gluten free diet.
Some sushi restaurants sprinkle this powder on the sushi rice which makes the rice plump and glossy.  Because it is impossible to know the source of this chemical rice enhancer I would skip any sushi that has added powder--although it may or may not be gluten free. Haru in NYC uses miola powder--although I have a friend with celiac who recommended Haru I would not recommend it.
Skip the crab because it can contain gluten. We never order crab just to avoid confusion.
Traditional soy sauce contains wheat and is not gluten free. This is usually on the side--just check that soy sauce is not used as an ingredient in any sushi you order. We call ahead to see if they have gluten-free tamari--or bring your own. My kids like sushi so much they will eat sushi without soy sauce if gluten-free tamari is not available.

By far, the main thing you have to be concerned about is the type of vinegar used in the sushi. I thought I would do a post because the miola powder is something I just found out about.

The following are restaurants where my kids eat sushi (and I have confirmed they use rice vinegar and not malt vinegar.)

Lilly and Loo's NYC
Yuka (all you can eat sushi!)
Dean and Deluca Madison Market Location @85th Street/Madison Avenue
Todd English Food Hall at the Plaza (Request gluten-free soy sauce. Do not have shrimp tempera.)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Q&A with ourGF family about CANDY


Q: My kids crave candy and sweets what can I do?

A:  My kids love candy and sweets, too! I don't make it completely off limits because my kids are older and we have so many other food restrictions. Completely eliminating foods  can sometimes lead to an unhealthy relationship with food--and make kids want the food more. Also, one day my kids will go off to college and I don’t want them to feel deprived and go crazy with junk food!  That being said, I have very, very clear limits about candy. 

My kids can not have any candy or sweets that contain gluten. In addition, my son cannot have candy that contains dairy.  If candy with these ingredients is given to them (on Halloween or Valentines Day) I allow them to trade it in for a candy they can have.  I NEVER give my kids ANY candy that they have a strong reaction to. This is really, really important. A bad reaction to candy  could be caused by candida(yeast overgrowth), low magnesium, a reaction to dye, or the sugar in the candy. I have noticed that my kids react better to candy if they have had a  nourishing meal with some protein and vegetables so
I make sure that that candy and sweets are with more nutritious food.

If my child is given candy at school or in a goodie bag, I often tell them they can have it on Friday after dinner. I think the process of waiting to eat candy also teaches them that they can have treats but not every time someone hands them something. If they desperately want it so much and can't hold off on eating it, I sometimes will try to find them a healthier option that has some nutrients but is still sweet. 

The Natural Candy Store allows you to search for candy that is free of gluten, dairy, gmo's and dyes!  We like Enjoy Life chocolate, Jelly Belly Superfruit Mix and HariboHappy Cola which are gluten-free, dairy-free and free of artificial dyes. 

Of course, every kid is different and every situation is different—try to learn from your experiences what is best for your child!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wendy in NYC at Camp Experts

The Camp Experts and Teen Summers
Wendy Marks
Phone: 212-452-CAMP

Service is free and confidential for parents!

General camp or specific requests for kids with food allergies and special needs!
Camp experts will steer you to right the camp that is a perfect fit for your child! Wendy, in NYC, has personally visited the camps she recommends so she  knows the camps well and what they offer. This is a great service for families of children with allergies.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Things We've Learned about Food Allergies

by Lauren Wu

When we first found our son had allergies, he was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, egg, dairy, soy, wheat, avocado, banana, oats, sesame and beef. I'm sure there other things I've forgotten. After 3 years, we are down to peanuts, tree nuts and egg.

Here are some things we've learned:

1) Develop a support network. Join FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education.) We just got a lifetime family membership. They send out helpful information regularly. I am also part of a Facebook SF Food Allergy Network group. There is likely something similar in your area.

2) For dairy allergies, it's not enough to avoid things that contain milk. Check ingredient lists carefully and avoid butter, cheese, casein, whey, etc. If you want a milk substitute to drink you can go with hemp milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and soy milk. Your child is over 5 so technically rice milk is okay but given it has high arsenic levels I would drink that sparingly as well.

3) It is tough to find snacks that don't contain wheat! My son used to eat rice crackers nonstop. Depending on the brand and ingredients, they are safe. Dried seaweed is also popular with him which is shocking given how picky he is. The brand Seasnax is great because they use olive oil and they make individual packets.

4) Find Enjoy Life brand foods. Try are free of the top 8 allergens. My son loves the Rice Milk Crunch which tastes just like a Nestlé Crunch chocolate bar but doesn't contain milk etc. Enjoy Life also makes a line of cookies and all sorts of snacks.

5) Namaste makes a line of pasta that does not contain wheat. They have a pasta called Say Cheez that tastes great. It doesn't contain dairy yet is close enough to Mac n cheese that kids will eat it.

6) There are cheese substitutes but they won't melt properly in the oven or microwave. The best one we've found is Daiya but it's still a little lacking. They make a line of "cream cheese" and pizza which I haven't tried yet but gets decent reviews.

7) 10% of people allergic to dairy are also allergic to beef so watch out for that and observe carefully.*

8) Make sure you're seeing a great allergist. It took me 3 tries to find a good allergist.

9) If you did IgE blood tests, have them redone once a year so you can see the trend. That's how we were comfortable enough to do a food challenge for dairy this year.

10) Make sure your kids have enough vitamin D and zinc. There is a link with those deficiencies and food allergies.

11) How is your child sleeping? It turns out my son has environmental allergies and his sleep apnea is partially due to that. That's a whole other long discussion.

12) The is a lot of cross contact in foods. So if you eat oats for instance, make sure you specifically get gluten free oats.

13) You have to be a strong advocate for your child. If s/he goes to public school, have a 504 plan in place. Make sure his/her school has provisions to keep him/her safe.

14) I suggest a medical alert bracelet for children who have an IgE allergy. We use Allerbling.

*Milk Allergy Diet by Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library Online