Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, Psychotherapist; Specialist in Food Allergy Management, Speaking At Mylan Specialty / EpiPen Event (© Noel Malcolm 2013)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

21 Club, Food Allergies


I had the great pleasure of going for a second time (here's my review of the first) to the famed 21 Club last week NYC Restaurant Week . [Full disclosure: 21 Club invited me to lunch on them and we filmed a video for Youtube with me and the Executive Chef John Greeley, which is up now.]

Restaurant Week 2011 has been extended in several spots including 21 Club. 21 Club also runs this special on Saturday (which not everyone does) giving you more chances to try this NYC classic. More information here on site.

For all restos during this time they run a special price-fixe menu: *Luncheon $24.07 / Dinner $35 (Does not include beverages, tax or gratuity*) Which is why this deal is such a steal; these prices give New Yorkers (and vistors) to chance to try many places they wouldn’t normally try. It’s win-win for everyone.

The concern for those of us with food allergy is that if you are going to a place with a pre-set menu for a pre-set price (and these restos are jammed during resto week), they can’t, or won’t, accommodate your dietary requests. Fear not. As you may have seen in this NY1 spot, quality-, hospitality-, patron-focused restaurants are willing, waiting and able to make the necessary accommodations. "21" is one of those spots.

Chef John says: "We make everything a la minute.” Meaning, everything is made to order. Everything. This allows a kitchen great flexibility: they know every ingredient that’s in every dish because they made it all. As their dishes are not pre-made, if you cannot have a certain component of a dish, they can easily make a substitution. And truly, they are only too happy to make changes to a dish. The chef wants you to be happy and safe whilst dining at “21”. Even during the hectic restaurant week (RW2011 menu).

What does the staff at "21" need from you? Communication. What else do they need? Communication. Did I mention? They need communication, before you dine. Celiac? Food allergy? Food intolerant? A special dietary preference? Let them know that. PS they love chef cards, too.

Remember my protocol outlined here on my blog and more fully in my book, Allergic Girl:

--Understand your diagnosis (e.g. what ingredients you can’t have as well as one you can; what medications you need and carry them with you; what to do in case of an emergency)
--Know how to communicate that diagnosis clearly (e.g. come up with an concise, polite and assertive sentence or two that let’s restaurant staff know what you need)
-Form positive and supportive relationships (make the GM, servers and the chef your new best friends)
--And be patient with yourself and those around you– there will be mistakes but there will be many more successes when you follow this basic outline.

So what did I eat? I decided on the burger. "21" and I are still in the getting-to-know you stage. In that stage, I will have the same dish a few times before I branch out to other items on the menu. It’s part of my personal food allergy protocol. Why? Trust is earned over time so I stick to what’s safe for a few visits as we build trust, a restaurant and I. Once that baseline is built, then I branch out. So on my second visit, you’ll see I had my safe meal, what is my standard fare at most new restaurants: salad, clean protein (here a seriously luscious burger) and plain berries for dessert.

Thank you 21 Club for supporting those of with dietary restrictions. I can’t wait to come back!

21 Club,
21 West 52nd Street, New York, New York 10019
Restaurant Reservations: (212) 582 7200
Private Dining: (212) 582 1400


The view from the Snug seating area in the front room:

Chef John:

The Classic 21 Club Menu:

Beet salad app (nut-free):

The Classic "21" Burger (bunless):

My side of roasted potatoes instead of french fries:

Fresh berries for dessert:

After we've dined, a quick shot with Restaurant Manager, Michael:

Monday, July 25, 2011

NYC Restaurant Groups

So yes, I dine out often – I’m sure you’ve noticed by now. Most often it’s not only food allergy safe but big fun – I’m sure you’ve noticed that, too. New York City is a dining-out heavy town and I’m probably (read: most definitely) spoiled by both growing up here, dining out since I was little and just the sheer choice available. There are up to 25,000 restaurants open in NYC at ay given time (that’s over five boroughs), in all different price points. A lot of choice. However, if you look closer at my recommendations and where I have the safest and most consistently hospitable experience, you will notice a pattern. I go to restaurants within groups, restaurant groups that is.

Some of them are:

Union Square Hospitality Group – Danny Meyer restaurateur
Craft restaurants - Tom Colicchio restaurateur
BRGuest Hospitality – Steve Hanson restaurateur
McNally Group - Keith McNally restaurateur
Tour de France - Simon Oren, restaurateur
Patina Group

My experience is when one outpost is excellent with food allergies it’s because management understand their severity and is committed to serving all of the guests in a safe manner. So, then when I try, say, the downscale version of the upscale resto, that food allergy training is in place because it comes from the top down. Take Union Square Hospitality Group, whether Maialino (upscale) or Shake Shack (fast casual), the experience for me has been consistently hospitable and safe. These are places I like and place that I can recommend.

**If you are coming to NYC this summer, check out my resto listings here at Allergic Girl Recommends.**

How does this translate to you at home? It’s about expanding your options: always be expanding. The next time you dine out food allergy safely and well in your hometown, find out who owns the restaurant and, ask if the owner has any more outposts. Do your food allergy protocol, and the try the new outpost; see what happens.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brooklyn Allergy Mom, “My Cake”

A good book must be launched with an equally good cake.

On the day of my book’s publication, I had an intimate gathering of friends and family and I needed a cake for the occasion. But where to get one? I could always buy a regular cake for my guests and bring some nice safe dessert for myself but frankly I wanted My Cake: chocolate cake with white icing that would be completely safe for me. Here, in New York City, wondrous city that it is, there are no bakeries yet that do gluten-free and tree-nut free. I also had vegan guests and Kosher guests to feed. Tall order.

But I did have a friend who stepped up the challenge. Heidi aka Brooklyn Allergy Mom who also directed my book trailer. A food allergy mom to a child with 30 anaphylactic food allergies and both she and her husband also have food allergies, different from each other’s and their daughter’s. I've dined at her home many times, and she's baked treats for me on numerous occasions; I completely trust her to handle my food allergy needs safely.

So, for my party Heidi made me this glorious and I do mean glorious cake, which she documented here and is pictured above.

And then she went one step further; it was the next logical step, really. She created a catering business so she can now do this for you, too. It’s called My Cake. Here’s the site and more information.

If you read my Twitter feeds you’ll see she’s been creating cookies and cakes all spring -ahem - and I’ve been a major taster. Her latest is an allergen-free chocolate mint whoopie pie. No, I’m not kidding. And they are beyond.

If you have questions about My Cake, the My Cake kitchen, My Cake's ingredients *and I hope you do* here is the My Cake FAQ. You contact Heidi through her site:

Happy My Cake eating!

***Please note: This is not an endorsement as I am not in the My Cake kitchen. However, I have had no food allergy or food intolerant issues with any of their products.***

Monday, July 18, 2011

FAAN Walks 2011, Allergic Girl

**UPDATES: Boston has been added and I'm now honorary chair both in Long Branch and in Ridgewood, New Jersey!**

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be at several FAAN fundraiser walks this fall singing your copy of Allergic Girl!

Here is the state by state listing of walks where I'll be and a list of locations below.

You can purchase Allergic Girl books on the FAAN site and bring them with you to be signed or at some parks there will be books there.

I look forward to seeing you very soon!


**Long Branch, NJ, September 18 - I am the Honorary chair at this walk **

Boston, MA, September 25

New Rochelle, NY, October 1

Philadelphia, PA, October 2

East Meadow, NY, October 9

**Ridgewood, NJ, October 23- I am the Honorary chair at this walk, too! **

Friday, July 15, 2011

Anolon® Nouvelle Copper Cookware

I use an 8 inch pan every day. It’s the perfect size for two sunny-side up eggs, or to reheat last night’s dinner. However, I seem to go through pans quickly. The coating flakes off, or they can’t handle the daily use and the bottoms blacken. (And no I’m not always cooking on high heat.) I think the main issue is that I’ve been buying cheap brands and I get what I pay for. Meanwhile pans my mother received for her wedding to my dad? Those, she’s still using 30-plus years later.

So, I go through a few pans a year, which frankly isn’t right. I was excited to try a higher grade pan when the Anolon Cookware company sent me some pans to test out.

Some information about Anolon:

As its name implies, patented Anolon® Nouvelle Copper Cookware incorporates copper – a metal unmatched in its ability to deliver fast and even heat – in a new and innovative manner. Each piece in the cookware collection, which is constructed of heavy gauge hard-anodized aluminum – a material that is twice as hard as stainless steel – features a thick base of stainless clad aluminum enhanced by a layer of copper. This innovation in hard-anodized cookware increases a pan’s responsiveness to heat, and eliminates hot spots that can scorch food and ruin a dish’s flavor. For healthy-style low-fat cooking and easy clean up, Anolon Nouvelle Copper Cookware features a durable nonstick coating that releases food easily, even the stickiest foods, like scrambled eggs and pancakes. Anolon Nouvelle Copper’s patented design has an attractive tulip-shape body that’s accented with a dark, polished hard-anodized exterior. Hollow-core, cast stainless steel handles remain cool to the touch during most stovetop use, and are securely fastened with rivets that lie flush within the interior of the pan for easy cleaning. The new collection’s close-fitting, highly polished stainless steel lids add a dash of sophistication to today’s upscale kitchen designs. Perfect for range and oven use, Anolon Nouvelle Copper Cookware is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do I love this Anolon pan? Oh yes. It has weight and heft; however not so much that you can’t easily (one-handed) flip an egg or some silver dollar allergen-free pancakes with ease. A well-weighted pan is no small feat, for that alone I could love a pan. But so far the Anolon non-stick has stuck and the bottom is not even tarnished.

Thanks Anolon for these beauties!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spanish Rice And Beans, Eden Foods

I discovered Eden Foods’s handy rice and beans canned combo sometime last year and I fell in love. Already cooked, vegan, organic, gluten-free rice and beans in can. I know sounds weird, but for a quick lunch at the office (or when you’re writing a book and don’t take any breaks for lunch) these cans fit the bill.

Recently, Eden Foods sent me a new flavor to try: Spanish rice and beans - it was totally yum.

I’ve been eating Eden Foods products without issue for years (the Eden Foods beans and rice only relatively recently) and when I looked at the Eden Foodssite I was surprised not to see ANY food allergy info. I dug around and did find something about wheat/gluten issues, but for nuts, sesame, dairy, egg, for example, nothing.

Eden Foods: can you fix this? Food allergen information on your corporate site would help so many of us use your products with confidence.

Also, as a frequent Eden Foods eater, I have a suggestion. I travel with these cans (and a can opener). I’d love cans with a pull-top or better yet can with a pull top that are single service sizes (used from recyclable metals, natch) or enviro -friendly pouches.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Food Allergy, Restaurant Week NYC 2011

UPDATE: Link to the Maialino & NY1 spot is here.

For the last twenty years, New York City has had a "Restaurant Week" wherein many of the city’s top restaurants offer limited menus for lunch and dinner at a fraction of the normal cost (like three courses for the price of a normal entrée). (We actually have it about four times a year and they run for up to two weeks, such a successful promotion for restaurants and foodie happiness for patrons.)

For most of these years I did not partake. Why? Food allergies. A limited menu rarely meant something was easily food allergy friendly for this fish and nut allergic girl; and twenty years ago, awareness about dietary restrictions, even here in NYC, was virtually nil; and, well, I wasn’t nearly as confident about my food allergies then.

What changed?

An increase in real and documented food allergies in the United States.

Awareness and education in the foodservice industry about food allergies and dietary restrictions.

And I created a protocol about dining out safely that works (there’s more about that in Allergic Girl, natch)

So this summer, I am so hitting restaurant week and you can, too. Specifically I’m heading back to Maialino and also 21 Club, two faves. But if I had more time in my schedule, I’d also hit up Rouge Tomate and Craftbar. All are food allergy friendly in my experience.

Just remember your food allergy protocol (I outline my basic steps here) the basics of which are: bring your medication with you; communicate our needs early and often and don’t take any risks if you are uncertain.


You can watch me talking about food allergies and restaurant week on NY1 here in NYC this week. (Link here).

Here's a picture of NY1 reporter Kafi Drexel, Executive Chef Nick Anderer and me after shooting. We're enjoying some items from the Restaurant Week 2011 menu. I'm having Bombolotti all' Amatricianna (spicy tomato sauce with Guanicale) with corn-based gluten-free pasta - beyond good!

Updated Approximate NY1 Health & Fitness Air Times :
MONDAYS: 1:23AM, 2:23AM, 3:23AM, 6:23AM, 7:54AM, 10:54AM, 1:54PM, 3:54PM, 6:24PM
TUESDAYS: 6:53AM, 7:53AM, 11:53AM, 2:53PM, 5:53PM, 9:53PM, 10:23PM
WEDNESDAYS: 6:23AM, 7:53AM, 10:53AM, 2:53PM, 4:53PM
SUNDAYS: 7:53AM, 12:53PM, 4:53PM, 7:23PM, 8:23PM, 10:23PM