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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Allergies and Restaurants

Welcome back readers I trust you had a fantastic weekend.

Today I want to discuss how restaurants are feeling the impact from people with allergies.

 Having a food allergy used to mean dining out was limited to carrying your plate from the kitchen to the porch or, at best, eating at the home of a close friend or relative who could guarantee your food offenders were nowhere in sight. Today, however, eating out is a some what easier -- and safer -- for the 9.7 million Americans who suffer with a mild, moderate, or even a severe food allergy.  One reason: Restaurants are more aware and more prepared.

 Studies show that reactions in restaurants are often caused by lack of staff education about food allergy. In a number of situations, the guests did not inform the staff of their allergy. Serving guests with food allergies requires staff education and clear communication between guests and staff,” said Anne Muñoz-Furlong, Founder and CEO of FAAN. “This training program helps staff achieve those goals so everyone can have an enjoyable and safe restaurant meal.”

 The awareness of food allergies has definitely increased within the food service industry, and many restaurants now take steps to not only train their staff about the need for accommodating those with a food allergy, but also train them on what to do if an allergic reaction occurs," says John W. Fischer, associate professor and restaurant manager of Escoffier Restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America.

 Most national chains include nutrition information on their websites. These sites often include allergy information. If the restaurant you're thinking of visiting does not have any allergy information available, you may be able to speak to the manager outside of peak business hours to see if they have any allergy information available. Some establishments have separate allergy menus.

 Research demonstrates a need for improved communication and food allergy awareness in all types of eating establishments, from sit down to take out.

 Food allergy advocates have been encouraging legislation directed at restaurant and other eating establishment for years.  Yet, until recently there has been no requirement for food allergy education in the United States. That is changing. In February 2011, The Food Allergy Awareness Act will be put into play in over 14,000 Massachusetts eating establishments.   They will be required to implement a new set of regulations designed to increase food allergy awareness in restaurants. The new regulations will require 1) menus to remind patrons to alert their server of their allergy, 2) food allergy awareness posters posted in clear view of all staff, and 3) at least one food protection manager to view a food allergy education video. By increasing basic awareness and encouraging effective communication, some reactions may be prevented and eating out will hopefully become less stressful for those with food allergies. For details on this legislation, visit

 As much as the restaurant and hospitality industry has a responsibility to protect the public from reactions to foods they are allergic to it is also up to those of us who have food allergies to inform the establishment. 
 Massachusetts is a pioneer on what the food establishment should be doing for the consumer. Food allergies grow every day and not only Massachusetts should be the front runner in changing how restaurants protect  individuals with food allergies. Other states are on the move but it should be mandatory nation wide.

Now here is a new allergy free recipe.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cinnamon Bun Breakfast Cake with Dairy-Free Egg Nog Glaze
Also Yeast-Free and Corn-Free; Easily adapted to be Nut-free and Egg-free
  • 1 cup Superfine Brown Rice Flour (such as Authentic Foods brand)
  • 1/2 cup Almond Flour -such as Honeyville (For NUT-Free: use equal amount Corn Flour, OR Quinoa Flour, OR Millet Flour)
  • 1/4 cup Millet Flour
  • 1/4 cup Arrowroot Starch
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder, Aluminum-Free
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 8 Tbsp  Earth Balance Vegan Butter, softened to Room Temperature-IMPORTANT (if not Dairy-free, you can use regular butter)
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar OR Blonde Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, at Room Temperature-IMPORTANT (For EGG-FREE: Mix together in small bowl: 3 Tbsp Unsweetened Applesauce with 1 1/2 tsp additional Baking Powder with 2 Tbsp Warm Water and with 1 1/2 tsp Ener G Egg Replacer – use mixture where you would add eggs)
  • 1 Cup Plain Coconut Milk Yogurt (such as So Delicious) OR Plain Dairy-Filled Yogurt OR Sour Cream-Room Temperature-IMPORTANT
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
  • 6 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter, melted, OR Regular Butter, melted, OR Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup Raisins (divided)
  • 2 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter, or Regular Butter, Melted
  • 3 Tbsp Corn-Free Confectioner’s Sugar, such as 365 Organic Powdered Sugar made with Tapioca Starch, available at Whole Foods
  • 2 Tbsp Dairy-free Eggnog, such as So Delicious Holiday Nog, or Regular Dairy Egg Nog
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1.  Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch round cake pan on the bottom and sides. Then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit just in the bottom of pan, without letting it go up the sides.
2.  In medium bowl, mix together Superfine Brown Rice Flour, Almond Flour, Millet Flour, Arrowroot Starch, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Sea Salt.  Whisk together until light and airy.
3.  In bowl of electric stand mixer, beat Earth Balance Butter (or Butter) and Sugar for 3 – 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Then add eggs (or Egg Replacer), one at a time, continue mixing.  Add Yogurt and vanilla and mix again until incorporated.
4.  While mixer is going on low speed, slowly add dry ingredient mixture. Stop occasionally to scrape down sides with rubber spatula. Once all dry mixture is added, continue to mix until well-incorporated and batter seems light.
5.  Mix together filling ingredients (Note: if you like a lot of filling, double the filling ingredients).  Spoon 3 – 4 Tbsp of filling into bottom of pan and spread evenly with back of spoon. Sprinkle half of the raisins over the filling.  Pour remaining filling into a ziplock bag and snip small corner off one side of bottom.
6.  Pour half of batter over bottom raisin/filling layer. Then, pipe filling from bag in a circular spiral, starting in center of pan and working outwards. Sprinkle remaining raisins over filling.  Then pour remaining batter over raisins. And, again pipe all remaining filling in circular spiral pattern. Use a toothpick to follow the spiral to incorporate it slightly into the batter.
7.  Bake for 40-42 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
8. During the final few minutes of baking, whisk together all of the icing ingredients. Once cake is out of oven, let cool for 5 minutes then cover pan with dish and flip onto plate. Then cover cake with another plate and flip onto that one so cake is right side up. While it is still warm, drizzle the icing evenly over the top of cake. Enjoy!

Enjoy this recipe and see you soon on Life Around The Allergies

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