Tag Archives: burgers

Eating Out with Allergies in New York

As an allergy Mum, I try to do as much research as I can about eating out before we go and our Christmas trip to New York was no different. There were some absolute givens in our restaurant choices – Hard Rock Cafe New York anyone? – but we’re always open to adventure and seeing what we can find whilst we’re in town. My research had truthfully started 3 years ago, when Mike and I visited on our own and we found ourselves taking notes each time we found somewhere that might be able to feed the children or, at very least, allow us to buy some safe foods to eat in our hotel room. We travelled with our suitcase full of food as usual, so I knew that we would have enough snacks to keep G and M going once we arrived on Boxing Day and for the days to follow.

5 Napkin Burger was a restaurant we had actually found on our first night in NYC 3 years ago and we were delighted to discover that they are able to cater for gluten-, dairy- and egg-free diets too. Within 10 minutes walking distance of our hotel on 43rd Street, this proved to be the perfect location for our first night in NYC with the children and they enjoyed the meal so much that we went back a couple of days later with my Mum in tow. The restaurant was beautifully decorated for Christmas as well, which made it the perfect start to our surprise holiday. The burgers were succulent and tasty, the servers managed the pernickety nature of G and M’s food orders without batting an eye and the food was quite simply fabulous. I was impressed to see a small range of GF ciders, beers and other drinks also prominently displayed on their menu, making it a truly excellent restaurant for the free from diner.

Statue of Liberty Crown Cafethis was one of several unexpected successes whilst we were in NYC. Mike, the children and I needed to grab a fairly quick lunch after our climb to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty as we were headed off to the One World Observatory and 9/11 Memorial Museum next. I was hopeful we might find something that G and M could eat, even if it was just a plate of fries, so was delighted to see that the Crown Cafe also served gluten-free burgers. G chose to try their hot dogs, whilst M kept it simple with a grilled chicken burger. The portions were generous, the food delicious and more than enough to satisfy the appetites of my hungry pair.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner: This is a NYC must-do and somewhere that I knew we would have to visit with G and M. The breakfasts there are amazing, but definitely not M-friendly with the prevalence of eggs on the menu, so we instead opted for a late lunch on our penultimate day in the city. The queue at Ellen’s is nearly always lengthy, but it’s definitely worth the wait, in my opinion, and so it proved once again. The skies were grey and overcast, and fortunately my Mum had joined the queue whilst we headed back from a morning spent at the American Natural History Museum. We were seated at one of the upstairs tables, which were perfectly placed to allow both G and M to have uninterrupted views of the main restaurant itself. The menu is unquestionably limited for those with food allergies, so we were glad to spot a gluten-free pasta and meatballs option which M plumped for, whilst G stuck to her favourite of hot dog and fries, this time without a gluten-free roll. M had a generous serving which more than beat even his healthy appetite and G was left pleasantly satisfied by her meal. The highlight is, of course, the entertainment provided by the waiters and waitresses working in the restaurant and G and M spent a long time discussing who was their favourite as well as which of their teachers they thought might enjoy going to the diner.

Hard Rock Cafe New York: No holiday would be complete without a visit to the local Hard Rock Cafe (assuming there is one) and Mike ordering the local legendary burger. Centrally located in Times Square and less than 5 minutes walk from our hotel, we managed to fit in lunch before our afternoon at Radio City Hall. The good thing about the Hard Rock Cafe is that the children always have a few options to choose from and this time M decided to try something a little different and ordered the Smokehouse BBQ combo of baby back ribs and pulled pork. For her part, G stuck to her favourite of the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with fries and devoured every morsel as usual.

Grand Central Market, Grand Central Station: This was a great find for picking up some bits and pieces for a quick and easy lunch on the go. We discovered the NOGLU gluten-free bakery, where G and M were able to choose from a selection of baked goods including croissants for G and cookies for M. It was then on to Sushi by Pescatore to pick up some California rolls for M as well as a selection of sushi for Mike and me. Add to all of that some fresh fruit, salami and goats’ cheese and we had a perfect packed lunch to enjoy between sightseeing stops.

Fast food – home-made style!

We are generally not a fast-food eating family, which, given the array of allergies we’ve had to deal with over the years, is probably a good thing. It’s not something we’ve noticed we’re missing out on and I doubt we’d ever be burger joint regulars even without the allergies, but all that being said, there are definitely times when being able to pick up a burger and chips or to grab fish and chips from the chippie would make feeding the family one less headache to deal with at the end of a busy day. I don’t think the children have ever really felt like they’re deprived in this area, especially as there were occasions before allergies became a big deal or we’d ever even heard of EGID that we would treat them whilst on holiday; GcsqwFsrRVGMfVc18IAf_imagebut there have been a couple of events recently where M has really struggled with not being able to eat on the go like so much of the rest of the world.

The first was back in July, he went to a friend’s paint-balling birthday party, which was followed by lunch and birthday cake at the local McDonald’s. M was brilliant. He was keen to join in and spend the time with all his friends and asked me to take along some safe food for his lunch. He sat with them whilst they enjoyed their Happy Meals and asked his friend’s Dad if he could have a small portion of fries to smell at the same time. This may sound strange and it’s most definitely heartbreaking to see, but is a coping mechanism he picked up from a couple of the amazing children we met during his GOSH stay last year. It is widely reported that if you lose one of your senses, the others become more acute to replace it and it is this theory that has been put into practice here. M may not be able to eat many of his favourite foods any more, but he can still garner great satisfaction from enjoying their distinctive smells instead. When you consider that your sense of taste is hugely influenced by your sense of smell, after all we all know how bland food can seem when we’re struggling with a heavy head cold, then I guess that it’s no wonder that M finds such enjoyment from smelling what he can’t eat.

With the party behind us, the issue of fast food didn’t raise its head again until just a few weeks ago following a family evening out at a local art exhibition. I had managed to feed G and M before we headed out the door, but Mike and I, no strangers to late night meals, decided that the timing was such that we could only grab something on our way back home. We stopped to quickly pick up burgers and almost instantly both children went into minor melt-downs. I knew that a lot of their complaints were the result of the late night and a desperate need to get to bed and sympathised with their frustrations at not being able to eat something, anything “normal” for a change. I put my thinking cap on and determined to create a meal that could somehow replace the humble burger in our household and give the children the taste sensation they were craving. 20150925_190329I remembered that a couple of summers ago, I had created a fantastically tasty lamb and mint burger recipe and I wondered if I could take that basic recipe and tweak it to meet M’s new dietary needs.

The great news is that I absolutely could. We buy our fresh meat, fruit and vegetables from a local co-operative and one of the ingredients I had spotted before was minced chicken. Adding a mix of seasonings and herbs as well as a generous helping of golden syrup, I prepared some great tasting chicken burgers. I whipped up a batch of rice flour pancakes to replace the bread roll for M, though we’ve decided that my flatbreads would work equally well. They were declared an almost instant success by both M and G, who have asked for them on more than one occasion since. Even better, I discovered that I could use the same recipe to create mini meatballs, which M enjoyed with rice pasta drizzled with a little rapeseed oil, some diced cucumber and a handful of additional herbs. So, one simple recipe led to 2 great new meals for my now slightly-less-moody children – a job well done!

BBQs and Bakewell tarts

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The incredible summer weather that we’ve been enjoying this weekend, can only mean one thing; it’s time for a barbecue.  True to form, by around 5pm on Friday evening, the shelves of all the local supermarkets had been cleared of the sausages, burgers and other BBQ meats, but for once that didn’t spoil our plans.  Most of the BBQ selections available contain wheat, gluten or even soya, which makes them unsuitable for use in our household.

Instead, I took to a recipe that we developed after seeing a similar meal prepared on Canadian TV programme “You’ve gotta eat here“.  For those of you who haven’t seen this series, and I highly recommend that you don’t even attempt to watch it when feeling peckish,  presenter John Catucci tours Canada, searching out exceptional meals found at various cafes, diners and restaurants across the country.  The food featured not only tastes good, but often comes in proportions that defeat even those with the healthiest of appetites.  Whilst the burgers we watched being made were traditional in using beef, I adapted them to use family favourites, Welsh lamb and fresh mint.  You can find the recipe here.

The final recipe is easy and quick to prepare, delicious to eat and best of all, contains nothing that is not M-friendly.  They take around 5 minutes to cook on the BBQ or indeed in the oven and were perfect for a Saturday lunch in the sun.

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One of things that M has been missing, other than the by now famous egg mayonnaise sandwiches, is Bakewell tarts.  Around 12 months ago, we had discovered Costa‘s gluten-free Cherry bakewells and, as they were dairy, soya and wheat-free and M was trialling egg at the time, we were able to try them out as a treat.  M loved them and we had found something he could eat when we popped out for a coffee or were on a road trip.

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However, this January’s decision to tighten up M’s diet meant these had to go back on to his forbidden list.  It was a disappointment as there is so little available when we’re out and about, but we had the hope that the next trial of egg would mean that he might be able to start eating them once again.  Sadly, the current relapse and subsequent medical response means that there is no likelihood of this for the foreseeable future.

M has been hit hard by his current flare-up and so I decided to make a weekend of it and bake some much needed M-friendly treats for both M and G.  I quickly decided to investigate whether there was any possibility of making a M-friendly Bakewell tart. Having never even attempted to make Bakewell tarts in my lifetime, even before all the food allergies hit my kitchen, I looked up a recipe to see if I could adapt it.

I was confident I could make a reasonable everything-free pastry base, having successfully mastered pastry at Christmas for mince pies.  I have quickly learned that vegan recipes are my friends as they don’t contain any animal products and so instantly remove the issue of being dairy- and egg-free.  So, I quickly moved on to the next item on the list, raspberry jam.  Fortunately, M suffers no ill-effects from fruit jams at the moment, so that was an easy tick and on to the final element of the recipe: the frangipane.

This filled me with dread.  Frangipane is an almond-flavoured sweet pastry cream which, depending on the particular recipe you decide to follow, contains anywhere between 1 and 3 eggs and I just couldn’t see a way round it.  With little hope and as a somewhat last-ditch attempt, I used that faithful friend, Dr Google, once again to see if someone, somewhere had created a vegan alternative to frangipane.  Imagine my delight on discovering this wonderful recipe from fellow blogger, lucysfriendlyfoods.

I noted the ingredients, checked my store cupboards to see what I already had in stock and drew up my shopping list.  A quick visit to the supermarket and we had everything I needed to bake this masterpiece.  To my delight, every step of this recipe was easy to follow and put together.  40 minutes in the oven and my work was done.

SAM_1240M was thrilled and had to try a slice before it had cooled fully.  The slice I gave him disappeared quickly and his only comment was that he would prefer me to make individual tarts next time.  What’s more, G also tried some and enjoyed it.  All in all, this weekend has been a resounding success, be it the BBQ burgers or the Bakewell tart.