Teal Pumpkin Project
September 13, 2016 by cryan.com
This Halloween, if your children have any food allergies, look for houses that have a teal pumpkin by the front door. It will be a clear indicator that there are allergy safe treats available.
The Teal Pumpkin Project, now in its fourth year, was created to spread the awareness of children's food allergies. Especially how difficult Halloween can be.
We know first hand on what it's like to tell your child that they can't eat certain candies because they contain an ingredient that they may be allergic to. While trick or treating might be fun, but at the end of the night, it's all about the candy.
About the Teal Pumpkin Project
The project started in 2011 by the families of the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee.
The Teal Pumpkin Project website has all sorts of ideas on alternative things to hand out as well as signs that can be hung in the window - should you not want to make a teal pumpkin.
About Our Pumpkin
We got a foam pumpkin at Michaels craft stores. You can buy a Teal pumpkin for $6.79. (On Sale!) You can store the pumpkin in the attic, with all your Halloween supplies and bring it out next year. The good news is that the squirrels won't both the teal pumpkin, unlike our real pumpkins. So this will last and last.
The top three food allergies are milk, egg, and peanut. Other allergies include seafood, tree nuts, wheat, and soy.
A Walk Down Memory Lane...
I remember when I was young I used to go trick or treating near Kirkland Drive in Stow, Massachusetts. There was this one house where they would only give out toothbrushes instead of candy. I recall that they did this because the father was a dentist. It was funny because all the kids knew what he gave out, and we joked about it. Yet, year after year we would still stop by the house for trick or treat. Perhaps we did this just to see if he would still give out toothbrushes.
I assumed that he got the toothbrush from his stock at the office, so they probably didn't really spend any money on Halloween. Was it a marketing trick? Not sure how many parents switched dentists because of the toothbrush promotion. I knew we didn't.
Alternative Candy Ideas
If you're looking for an alternative candy item, please don't select a toothbrush. Consider going to the dollar store and getting some kids birthday giveaway items.
Somethings to hand out:
- Glow Sticks
- Mini Yo-Yos
- Paper Wrist bands
- $1 Dairy Queen Coupon
- Silly Pens or Pencils
- Silly Erasers
- Mini Bubbles
You can find other creative things to hand out on Pinterest.
The Local Wayland
September 6, 2016 by cryan.com
The Local is a Boston area restaurant chain, they have restaurants in Newton, Wellesley, and Wayland. Each location has pictures of the area inside of their restaurants. The nice things about "The Local" restaurant is that it tends to be quieter than Tavern in the Square. (There are no TVs in the main dining room.)
We enjoy going here to meet up with friends for a nice weekend lunch. They have great food selection and you can actually hear the person in front of you talking.
We have stopped in many times for lunch, this weekend we decided to stop in to try their dinner selection.
The Local has a separate gluten free menu. We asked for the gluten free menu when we arrived.
When we placed our order, we told the waitress of our daughter needing to eat gluten free. They didn't have any kid friendly gluten free options that our daughter would enjoy, so we asked for the gluten-free Mac & Cheese. The waitress said that they would be able to make it for her.
We notice that the waitress wasn't writing anything down. Seemed a bit weird but could be a reason why...
Things didn't go as planned
When our order arrived there were 2 issues:
- The gluten free burger that we ordered off of the gluten free menu didn't have gluten free onions (they were regular onion rings)
- One of the other burgers had cheese when we specify asked for no cheese.
The person who brought the order, who didn't take our order, noticed that the burger wasn't 100% gluten free. They did hesitate to put the dish on the table, as she knew that something was wrong. We told her that the person that ordered the burger ordered it gluten free as a preference. She put the food on the table.
We told them that we placed the order off the gluten free menu and that it mention the onion rings. Another waitress said the gluten free menu had an error and they would fix it to make sure that it says caramelize onions.
When we told them that we ordered a burger without cheese, they took the plate back and brought back a new plate about a minute later. It was a completely different burger since the other burger cheese was melting on the burger, and there's no chance that they would have scraped it off.
Management Did Help
About 5 minutes later the manager came by and apologized for the issues with our order. He assured us that the Mac & Cheese was gluten free and that they did have a system in place for making sure that the order was properly handled in the kitchen.
He did take off the 2 burgers off the order.
We Would Go Back?
Despite the mix up with the order, we certainly would go back. We have had plenty of good meals and won't let this one episode stop us from going back.
We certainly recommend this restaurant, it's a nice quiet place to enjoy your meal.
When you have a food allergy you need to be vigilant at all times. Even when you eat at your favorite restaurant, you could run into issues.
Uhlman's Ice Cream
August 30, 2016 by cryan.com
There are something about going out for ice cream on a nice summer night. In New England, there's something about driving to an old fashion ice cream stand and walking up and placing your order at the take out window. Did you know that the Northeast region buys more ice cream than any other part of the country.
In Metro West Boston, one of the place to get great ice cream is Uhlmans, in Westborough, Massachusetts. Founded initially as a Farm Stand in 1967 by George Smith and Howard Uhlmans. A few years later they converted the stand to an ice cream stand. They started out only having hard ice cream, today they have lots of choices including soft serve, yogurt, and frozen drinks.
The nice appeal that's unique to the Uhlman's Ice Cream experience is that it feels like a neighborhood ice cream stand. They store is located in a middle of a neighborhood and not in a downtown setting, or on a busy road. You do feel like your at the Farm, you can even see some of the cows in the back.
Gluten Free Friendly!
On the menu above the order window, there are indicators that show which options are Gluten Free. You'll see a GF by the Sugar-Free, Sherbert, Soft Serve Ice Cream sections. They also indicate that the Sugar-Free Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream is Gluten Free.
The regular ice cream flavors don't have any GF icons next to them. When you get to the window counter ask for the allergy sheet to see which flavors are Gluten Free. Tip: The Pumpkin and Pumpkin Oreo are not Gluten Free. The Chocolate Chocolate Chip is gluten free and very good!
Gluten Free Cones Are Plenty!
You'll be happy to know that Uhlmans has two type of Gluten Free cones - Sugar Cone and Cake! We tried both and found them to be delicious as their ice cream.
Uhlmans has a limited selection of ice cream that is Allergy Friendly - free of gluten, lactose, dairy, nuts, and egg. You can have Orange, Pineapple, Lemon, Raspberry Twist.
Uhlmans Farm Ice Cream is located at 234 E Main Street in Westborough, Massachusetts. They are a cash only business and don't accept any credit cards. There is an ATM on site.
On Thursday night's in the Summer they are at the Bay State Green on Union Street in Westborough for "Screen on the Green." Enjoy an ice cream with your movie. In the summer of 2016 they had: The Wizard of Oz, Inside Out, Star Wars - The Force Awakens, Shark Tale, The Goonies. Check the Westborough Public Library for times and locations for next summer.
National Waffle Day!
August 23, 2016 by cryan.com
Did you know that National Waffle Day is August 24th? Waffles are celebrated on that day because that's when Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York was granted a patent for waffle iron.
If your looking for the best Gluten free waffles check out Vans Waffles. They are located in the Natural Foods section in Stop & Shop and in the Gluten free breakfast foods at Wegmans.
Van's Waffles taste great! You wouldn't know that they are Gluten Free. They are very delicious and certainly help make a very busy morning go much quicker.
If your stuck with some creative ideas to get the little ones to get excited about breakfast, check out three 5-minute waffle ideas by Joy Bauer. Joy is not only a registered dietitian, so you know that breakfast will be healthy, she is a Mom of three, and knows a thing or two about getting the morning off to a good start. Her tips are creative and can spur some other ideas that might help make mornings great.
Joy's Morning Hacks
Joy recently shared some morning hacks on the Today Show:
- Keep a stable of go-to items in your pantry and refrigerator to provide nutritious, quick options. Low-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, nut butter, berries, bananas, and grapes are all great on top of Van's 8 Whole Grains waffles--super easy, kid-friendly and filling.
- Think ahead. If you plan breakfast the night before, you'll eliminate 50 percent of the stress during the morning rush. No one expects moms to whip up from-scratch waffles or pancakes on a chaotic weekday--keep it simple, decide what you're serving the night before, and you can spend less than five minutes on a filling, wholesome, delicious breakfast in the a.m.
- Presentation is important. Anything that says "fun" is appealing for younger kids. If you take a Vans whole grain waffle and use good-for-you ingredients to create a happy face on top, you'll have happy eaters. Kids can help with assembly--let them choose their toppings or match their waffle face to their mood. You can use blueberries for eyes and raspberries, cherries or a kiwi slice for a mouth. You'll be smiling, too, as you watch how quickly they gobble it up!
- Make your morning meal a triple threat. Since parents tend to have full control over what their kids eat for breakfast, it's important to make it count. The winning combination includes ample fiber and protein while minimizing sugar. That helps stabilize blood sugar and provides fuel and sustenance to make it through the morning routine.
- Plan "me" time. Be strategic and sneak some breaks while parenting-- whether that means a walk with a sleeping child in a stroller or timing kids' screen time to coincide with your workout. Every mom knows that a little "me" time makes you a better parent!
Van's Foods & Joy Bauer Giveaway
To celebrate the modern mom and help make her life a little easier, Van's Foods and Bauer are giving away one year of free Van's waffles and signed copies of Bauer's books "Slim & Scrumptious," "From Junk Food to Joy Food" and "Food Cures." Check Van's Food Promotion site for full details, including giveaway rules, and a chance to win. All entries must be received by Aug. 24.
Best Waffles Need the Best Syrup
We recommend Vermont's Green Mountain Sugar House maple syrup with your Vans Waffles. They are a bit more expensive than your traditional syrup but once you try it, you'll find it hard to go back to the supermarket brands. Try the Vermont Golden Color with Delicate Flavor with the Van's Waffles
We visited Cold Hollow Cider Mill a couple of years ago, we got a small Maple Syrup container. This is perfect for our 5-year-old daughter so that she can pour her own syrup on her Waffles. We like it because it's small enough that she won't have too much sugar, and won't waste a lot of good syrup.
The Maple Sugar Cured Smoked Sliced Bacon is great for those special mornings breakfasts.
August 16, 2016 by cryan.com
Orleans Massachusetts is a quiet little village of Cape Cod, during the summer months the town increases it size as many tourist visits some of the best beaches of Cape Cod. While many tourists stop at the local Dunkin Donuts to get their coffee, the locals know that the best place to go is the Chocolate Sparrow.
Their tag line is ... It's a local coffee shop that is so much more. From their website:
With the love of chocolate and a loan, we started The Chocolate Sparrow, a simple candy shop, in 1989 in North Eastham. Gradually we learned the art of making fine chocolate and the business of selling it. In 1991 we opened a summer shop in Wellfleet. Two years later in Orleans, we opened The Hot Chocolate Sparrow, a cafe complete with coffee from around the world, desserts of every indulgence, and our own hand-dipped chocolates.
Choices a Plenty
Regardless on when you visit the Chocolate Sparrow, you'll encounter a bit of a wait. This is a good thing, as you can use this time to look at the chalkboard and all figure out what you want to order. They have a lot of excellent choices. (15 different types of Syrups to spice up your coffee)
Yes, people are crazy enough to order Hot Chocolate on a hot summer July day. Everyone else will settle for the Frozen Hot Chocolate, which is much better than anything that Dunkin Donuts makes.
Directly in front of you is a great selection of pastries to enjoy with your drink. Can you find the pastry that packs the highest chocolate option? After all, this is the Chocolate Sparrow.
Gluten free Options
The Chocolate Sparrow is Celiac friendly and they have a good selection of snacks to choose from. Many of these are made elsewhere and package well to prevent any cross contamination concerns. Others pastries are displayed in a special gluten free shelf.
You can find White Lion Baking Company Cinnamon Bun Muffins, Blueberry Muffin, Chunky Monkey Muffins and Paleo Power Muffins. White Lion is a local baking company located in Mashpee, Massachusetts.
They also have gluten free cookies and brownies too.
Its a great place to take our daughter when she is looking for a treat after a fun day of swimming at Ocean Edge Resort. She can enjoy a nice Frozen Hot Chocolate. Not only are they Celiac Friendly, but they are kids friendly. When my daughter dropped her drink outside they replaced it with no cost and very nicely asked her to be very careful with the second one.
Lots of Sweets
One of the things we like about the Chocolate Sparrow is they sell dog treats dipped in safe-for-dogs chocolate. We get this for our neighbors who watch our cats while we are away.
The Chocolate Sparrow has a lot of delicious candy and fudge too.
Go for the Hot Chocolate, stay for the delicious homemade fudge!
August 9, 2016 by cryan.com
Sundae School on Cape Cod opened its doors on Memorial Day weekend in 1976. Since then they have been serving the highest quality ice cream on Cape Cod.
Currently there are three locations in the mid-cape where you can try their ice cream. While each place has a unique charm, you'll get the same delicious ice cream no matter which place you visit:
- Dennisport - Opened Memorial Day Weekend 1978
- East Orleans - Opened Memorial Day Weekend 1984
- Harwichport - Opened Memorial Day Weekend 1988
Recently we stopped at the Orleans location and a few days later the Dennisport locations to enjoy some afternoon treats.
The Orleans location is very small and there's usually a long line out the door. Thankfully they have come up with a process to move the line faster. The main problem with the location is that the parking lot fills up pretty quick. In the evenings, your best bet is to park at the business on Great Oak Road.
The Dennisport location is much larger and the are nice classic ice cream decorations inside. There's not a lot of inside seating, but there is large uncovered patio seating outside.
We stopped in shortly after a rain storm and were surprised that the seats were dry, apparently one of the workers used a towel to dry up the seats and tables. We were very impressed. I don't think Disney works that fast.
The marble soda fountain is more than 100 years old and came from the Parkway Pharmacy on Blue Hill Parkway in Milton.
The Sundae School in Dennisport has a special menu for people with food allergies. When you go up to the counter you'll see a special allergy free menu. They actually keep the allergy free ice cream in a separate refrigerator.
Gluten free friendly
If you have a food allergy, let your server know and they will fully wash out a scoop and use a new container to serve you. (Usually, they put the ice cream scoop in a water container with other scoops.) The staff seemed to be fully aware of cross contamination issues.
Sundae School makes ice cream in small batches, so you never know what allergy free flavor they have in stock.
If you're looking for great gluten free ice cream after a hot day at Nauset Beach, there's nothing like Sundae School. Try my favorite the Nauset Mud: "The Nauset mud is a coffee base, with, fudge swirls, chocolate chips, and almond bits."
In the ice cream zone, after having fun at the Whydah Pirates Museum.
Shark BAH - Ocean Edge Resorts
August 2, 2016 by cryan.com
The Arbor Pool is the largest pool at Ocean Edge resorts in Brewster, Massachusetts. Ocean Edge is a popular retreat area for people visiting Cape Cod.
The Arbor pool is popular with families because the main pool has a large shallow end. There is a separate kids pool for babies and infants. The pool is located directly across the street from the Golf clubhouse.
Only guests and members are allowed in the pool area. Outside food is not allowed.
The Shark BAH offers drinks and a limited menu of sandwiches for guests.
This past weekend we spent some time at the Arbor Pool for some late morning swimming. After a couple of hours, we started getting hungry, we decided to check out the Shark BAH.
We got a menu and informed our server that our daughter has Celiac. He didn't volunteer any information on how they carefully prepare the food for those that have allergies. He did say that they had Gluten free bread for sandwiches. There was no information on the menu what items could be made gluten free.
To be safe, we ordered a Hot Dog with no bun, and everyone else placed their order.
About 10 minutes later he came back with our order, and we noticed that the Hot Dog order came with french fries. We asked the server if they had a dedicated fryer for their french fries. He seemed a bit confused and went to check.
He returned about ten minutes later and said that they didn't have a dedicated fryer. We suggested that they substitute Cape Cod potato chips since they are gluten free. (We kept the fries so other people can enjoy them as a snack.)
The hot dog was very good and my daughter ate most of it. She liked the chips too.
We were a bit disappointed with the service and that he wasn't aware of any cross contamination issues with cooking the french fries with other foods.
A couple of days later we returned to the Arbor pool for more swimming fun. Once again, our swimming fun made us hungry, we decided to order lunch from the Shark Bah.
This time, we ordered grill cheese with the gluten free bread.
My daughter liked it and said it tasted yummy. However, it looked very basic, as it was simply a small slice of cheese on a toasted bread. (We assume that it was safely toasted, but we didn't think to ask at the time.) They did include the Cape Cod potato chips.
Thumbs up for the Grill Cheese!
Would we go back?
Yes, we'll go back to the Arbor Pool and enjoy a nice lunch at Shark BAH. For lunch, I think we'll stick with the basic and order a no bun hot dog and chips.
Cheers Boston - Gluten Free
July 26, 2016 by cryan.com
Last week we went to Cheers on 84 Beacon Street in Boston Massachusetts. The restaurant, formally known as the Bull & Finch Pub, is best known for being the exterior of the Cheers TV show that ran from 1982 and 1993 on NBC.
We stopped in at a very busy lunch hour. The wait time for three people was about 45 minutes. Luckily we hung around the bar and were able to get some seats within 10 minutes of waiting.
We asked for a Gluten Free menu and was given a short menu with five options - they didn't have any kids size menu options.
Cheers Gluten Free Menu Options
Here are the items on the Cheers Gluten Free menu:
- Beef Chili - Our Traditional recipe
- Garden Salad - A seasonal blend of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers. Served with vinegar and oil
- Bunless Burger - Served with our garden salad, oil and vinegar. Covered with artichokes and red peppers.
- Gilled Salmon Filet - Farm raised salmon on a bed of garden vegetables, artichokes, and fire-roasted red peppers.
- Grilled Chicken Breast - Served with rice and roasted vegetables
I ordered the Bunless Burger for my daughter. I asked if they could substitute the oil and vinegar with ranch dressing only if it was gluten free. The bartender checked and ensured us that the ranch dressing that they had was indeed gluten free.
The burger arrived pretty quickly and the burger was on its own plate and the salad was on a separate plate. It seemed to be a weird kind of presentation:
I cut up the burger into bite size pieces so that my daughter could enjoy it. When the bartender asked how the order was, I asked for some cheese so that she could enjoy it a more.
I asked her what she thought of her lunch, and she gave me a thumbs up.
After we paid for our order the bartender said that the pen that I was using to pay for the order matched my daughter's dress and that she could keep it. That made my daughters day and put a big smile on her face. She used the pen to take notes when we went on the Swan boats a bit later.
Gluten Free at Canobie Lake Park
July 19, 2016 by cryan.com
Today we spent the day having fun at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire.
Canobie Lake Park is a fun amusement park featuring over 50 rides, including roller coasters, a log flume, a hand-painted antique carousel, a steam train, a Ferris wheel, the "Starblaster", "Dodgems", "DaVinci's Dream", over a dozen kiddie rides, a variety of foods, prize games, three arcades, live entertainment, Saturday night fireworks, and more.
Food service at Canobie is provided by Sodexo. There are twenty-one permanent food stands and multiple mobile carts throughout the park. There is also a catering area that large groups can rent out and prepay for their food.
The park is very strict about bring outside food, going so far as saying:
Canobie does not allow food or beverage to be brought into the Park. The Park offers a wide variety of foods and dining options for guests to enjoy inside the Park. Guests can also take advantage of our re-admission policy for lunch. There are no picnic tables or shaded places to sit in our parking lot. No grilling or alcohol is allowed in our Parking lot. Sodexo, our food service provider, has prepared a Food Allergy Guide to assist in planning your visit for those with particular food allergies. ~ From their FAQ section of their website.
Sodexo Allergy Guide
You can download a copy of Sodexo 2016 Food Allergy Guide. This is somewhat helpful but it doesn't answer the basic question, can I get a gluten free hot dog at Canobie Lake Park? If so where? Basically, you have to read through all the different food venues to see if they offer anything. Seems like a lot of work to answer a basic question.
In addition, some places say that the Hot Dog is contains gluten, is it because that it's served on a roll? Can I get it without a roll?
We decided to stop in the Portofino to try some of the gluten-free pasta. When we walked in we thought they had more gluten free options since they are "A touch of Italy at Canobie Lake Park." We were told that the only gluten free option they had was pasta and that they would have to make it. The pasta cost $7.99 and they only had one size - which means that my daughter would get a lot of pasta that she wouldn't eat.
We tried to reach out to Canobie Lake Park and Sodexo to explain what happened since the email bounced back, I'll just finish this post on our lunch experience:
For lunch we went to Portofino. I asked if they had gluten free pizza and they didn't, they told me I would have to go to Pizza Ria for gluten free pizza. I then had to ask ok do you have gluten free pasta. The girl helping me at the counter was not sure so she got someone else to help me. The next girl told me she could get me gluten free pasta, we would need to wait for it.
I asked if we could have sauce on it and she said no because the meatballs were in the sauce and there was cross contamination so it was not gluten free (there is no sauce without cross contamination in an Italian restaurant?). I said ok can we have butter and cheese. She said she could give me some butter and cheese was on every table. She then disappeared into the back. I let another girl know this was for an "allergy" and she reassured me that there would be no cross contamination. I asked if the pasta would be brought to our table and she said no I would need to come and wait for it because she has no idea where I am sitting.
I got up a few minutes later to see if my pasta was ready. I received two plates of cold gluten-free pasta and some baby carrots. The girl said I could grab some ranch dressing and she handed me one pat of very hard butter for each plate of cold pasta. The worst part of this entire situation is that I paid $7.99 x 2 for a horrible, horrible meal and I am not even sure I trust it was gluten free pasta.
As a mother and especially a mother with a child who has an autoimmune disease like Celiac, I plan ahead. I think it is disgraceful that I would pay $15.98 for terrible food, terrible service and at the mercy of your park because I cannot bring my own food in. While we had a great day, I don't believe we can ever come back because of the food situation. Your allergy guide is very detailed but far too complicated and overwhelming to read.
I think it is important in this day and age that a park like yours learns to be sensitive to those with food "allergies" and learns to either be more accommodating or allow those with an allergy to bring in their own food and not have to hide it in the parking lot and run out during the day to eat.
Nima Gluten Free Sensor
July 12, 2016 by cryan.com
Have you hear about the portable Gluten Free tester from Nima? They are currently developing a portable, highly sensitive gluten sensor that lets diners know if their food is, indeed, safe to eat.
Nima is the fastest gluten tester on the market, letting you know if there is 20ppm or more of gluten in food in just over 2 minutes. The 20ppm is the maximum concentration for "gluten-free" foods as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Basically you use the Nima sensor to see if the food might have any accidental cross-contamination.
The Nima sensor is scheduled to ship this fall.
You can find more information and pre-Order Nima on their website. The starter kit is currently on sale for $199, there's a special starter kit with 12 capsules for $247.
Not so sure how this device will work out. For now, we'll just stick with restaurants that we know of that offer Gluten Free foods and are Celiac friendly.