A food allergy blog

Tag: allergy friendly

Vegan Loaded Banana Bread

Vegan Loaded Banana Bread

This vegan and allergy-friendly banana bread is loaded with flavor and tastes just as good if not better than the real deal. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, dessert or just as a snack, it will be your new go-to quick bread!

Paris: Healthy Spots and Juice Shops

Paris: Healthy Spots and Juice Shops

My guide to the best juice shops and healthy spots in Paris for when you need a break from all the cheese, wine and bread!

Paris: Coffee Shops

Paris: Coffee Shops

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a morning person. Some people aren’t morning people but when they travel they suddenly get up at the crack of dawn because there is so much to do and see. That’s not me. I like to begin my day leisurely. After all, I am on vacation.

I also am not a coffee drinker. I LOVE the smell however I hate the taste. In general, my bitter taste buds never developed. Coffee, Campari, grapefruit, bitter greens, not my thing.

So, why do I have a full post dedicated to coffee shops: my husband. He is a coffee snob and needs it to function. Plus, he doesn’t always allow me to sleep in so I need at least a tea to help me get going, preferably a matcha latte if it’s available.

Whenever we travel, I do a ton of research regardless of whether or not we’ve been to that destination before. Living in a large city, I know how quickly things can change in the restaurant scene. When I look for coffee shops they have to hit at least two of the following criteria:

  • matcha on the menu
  • decent tea list, hopefully with jasmine green tea
  • excellent coffee

Without further ado, my favorite coffee shops in the City of Light that have passed both my standards and my husband’s very high coffee bar.

Café Kitsuné

Located along the Palais Royal, in the 1st, this tiny coffee shop is hands down my favorite in the city. It is our first stop every time we are in Paris (well, after checking-in to the hotel) to fuel up for a day of walking around on no sleep. Not only do they serve an excellent matcha latte, the hubs says the coffee drinks are spot on. Best of all, they have two non-dairy options: soy and almond. While they do have a few snacks as well (cakes, cookies), none are vegan but a few are gluten-free. Some other things worth noting: this place is super popular and can get crowded on the weekends, when the weather is nice they have outdoor seating right along the park, there is free WiFi but it’s best if you are sitting inside.

In terms of finding this place, you need to walk inside of the park. Google Maps placed it on the small side street that lines the park when we first went a few years ago and it took us a little while to figure out just where it was. That error does seem to be fixed now, though.

(No, that buttery fox cookie was not allergy friendly. Yes, I ate it. Yes, my stomach felt a little off afterwards but when you’re hangry you must eat…)

Café Kitsuné – 51 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France

 

Shakespeare and Company Café

This is the café of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore in the 5th, just a block from the Seine and across the bridge from Notre-Dame Cathedral. There are several things to love about this place: location, drinks, food, atmosphere, and the super friendly staff. They really have left no stone unturned. Seriously.

When it comes to drinks, I suggest their matcha latte, which can be made with your choice of almond, soy, or regular milk. They also have a great list of coffee options, teas and juices. Thanks to a partnership with Bob’s Bake Shop, there is a wide selection of pastries, salads, and either items that are allergy-friendly or vegan (as well as options that are not, for our travel buddies).

The best part, in my opinion, is hanging around to enjoy your drink rather than taking it to go. Why? Because of the Proust questionnaire that lines their serving trays. The last time I stopped by I was with a girlfriend after her bachelorette party. We were exhausted and needed to sit for awhile so we sat down at one of the communal picnic tables out front and went through all the questions. It was so much fun and so relaxing. Yelp says there is free WiFi, but I couldn’t tell you if that’s true because, Proust questionnaire….

Shakespeare and Company Café – 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France

 

The Broken Arm

The Broken Arm is a concept store in the Marais: half clothing store, half café. The café, on the corner of the block, has seating both inside and outside, and is a popular neighborhood spot. You can expect to see a lot of friends grabbing a quick lunch together or young mothers chatting over coffee with their babies happily sleeping next to them in their strollers.

Since the area is pretty quiet, with only the sounds of children playing in the park, it is a great spot to start your day with a pastry, coffee, and one of the newspapers scattered around the café, or for a delicious and inexpensive lunch while shopping in the area. They keep things pretty basic when it comes to drinks: great coffee with regular (dairy) milk only or a small selection of teas. The food menu changes often and is updated on their website daily. I believe they have WiFi but I think it only works in the store, not the café.

The Broken Arm – 12 Rue Perrée, 75003 Paris, France

 

Hardware Société

This highly instagramable Aussie café is located in Montmartre just down a flight of stairs to the side of the Sacré-Cœur. They serve breakfast all day with items like avocado toast (GF available), bircher, and all sorts of eggs. It is not the most allergy-friendly place if you have to avoid eggs, but you should be able to find a few items regardless of your allergies. The staff was very friendly and helpful and did everything they could to alter dishes.

What really drew us here was their matcha latte. Their non-dairy milk option was oat milk (surprisingly popular in Paris) which lent the latte a unique taste that I was really on the fence about at first. Coffee verdict: A+ from the hubs. WiFi: sadly, no.

Hardware Société – 10 Rue Lamarck, 75018 Paris, France

Boot Café

Boot Café now has two locations: the original, on the Right Bank in the Marais, and it’s newer and larger spot on the left Bank in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

This spot is definitely more for your coffee-loving, non-allergic travel partner. They serve great coffee drinks but stick to regular (dairy) milk and their food options aren’t necessary allergy friendly (but they look so delicious!). We always stop by so the hubs can get one of their delicious coffees while I have a pot of jasmine green tea.

If you want to sit down, you’re better off going to the location in Saint Germain as their other location is tiny!

Boot Café – 19 Rue du Pont aux Choux, 75003 Paris, France or 26 Rue des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris, France

 

KB Café Shop

The last of the coffee shops on my list is KB Café Shop in South Pigalle. They roast their own beans in house, have a great food selection (even though it’s not so allergy-friendly), offer two non-dairy milk options: soy and oat, and the atmosphere is great.

We stopped by on a chillier day after walking all over Montmartre when I was just dying for a hot cocoa to both warm me up and fill me more than a hot tea would. Luckily, they were able to make me a completely dairy-free option with oat milk. It’s pretty uncommon to find a coffee shop that has safe cocoa so that was a great surprise. The hubs had a cappuccino that was very good and was gone in record time. We sat outside enjoying the people watching from one of their many outdoor tables while resting our feet.

KB Café Shop – 53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 Paris, France

Other coffee shops in Paris that are worth looking up:

If you have any favorite coffee/tea shops in Paris, let me know in the comments!

 

Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Pumpkin Pecan Scones

These vegan and allergy-friendly (maybe) scones are full of warm fall spices and flavor, perfect for everyday breakfast or a fall afternoon tea party.

Berry Peach Galette

Berry Peach Galette

A fresh galette highlighting the best of summer fruits that is perfect for any occasion.

Fried Squash Blossoms

Fried Squash Blossoms

One of my favorite summer time foods is squash blossoms. They aren’t in season for very long and they can be very finicky, but damn are they delicious. When I start to see them pop up in the farmers market I tend to go overboard and put them in just about everything.

The first time I ate squash blossoms was at a restaurant in New York City. They were stuffed with a ricotta and herb mix then fried to a perfect golden brown. It was one of those bites of food that makes your eyes bulge open and your arms flail around while still having a mouth full of food as you attempt to make everyone understand just how good it is. Every bite thereafter was the more normal eyes closed, chew slowly, enjoy the incredible flavor as long as possible while shooing away every hand trying to get a piece. For awhile, before my food allergies got worse and multiplied, I would order them everywhere I saw them. Last year I had maybe the most insane version that was stuffed with ricotta, mint, lemon and drizzled with honey at a small tapas bar in London called Twist. We ordered 3 plates of it…for 4 people. This dish is such a rockstar that it is still on their menu over a year later.

Fried courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta, mint and lemon and finished with a drizzle of honey at Twist in London.

More recently, I had an entirely allergy friendly version at Table 22 in Cannes, France, that reminded me how much I love these delicate flowers. I had given them up since they are best stuffed with cheese and other goodies I can’t eat (isn’t everything best that way?) and rarely appear otherwise on menus. But after eating this tower of lightly battered and fried squash blossoms at Table 22 I decided I would have to recreate the dish at home.

Fried squash blossoms at Table 22 in Cannes.

For me, cleaning squash blossoms is very annoying. The petals are so delicate you have to be extremely gentle which in turn means more time devoted to prep work. All blossoms, regardless of their gender, need their stamen removed (it’s not edible!). Since female flowers are connected directly to squash, the rest is edible, so you just have to check for bugs, rinse off dirt and remove the stamen. Male flowers, however, grow separately and their stems are not edible. You need to clean them just as a female flower but you also need to pop off the stem OR remember not to eat it after you’ve cooked it. I find it is much easier to cook them with stem on so I just eat down to where the stem begins and discard the inedible part. I do like to remove the little green leaf-like pieces around the base of the flower, though.

Since squash blossoms are flowers and, by the time you see them in the market, have been picked off their life source, they need to be used immediately. If you buy them, I suggest cooking them the same day. If you are growing them, obviously pick them right before you are going to prepare them. If life gets in the way, I’ve found you can wash and dry them then put them in a ziplock with a paper towel to absorb extra moisture for a day. They will wilt a little but they won’t be bad.

But back to cleaning the blossoms. Really check thoroughly for bugs, like two or three times. The petals are the perfect hiding place and they will cling to them. I like to soak the blossoms in a bowl of cold water then run a very gentle stream of water over each one to help release any remaining dirt and wash away the bugs that clung on for their life while soaking. I always end up finding at least one more bug. You also want to get the blossoms as dry as possible so lay them out on a paper towel and let them air dry for an hour or two. Once they are dry you can gently pull the petals apart to remove the stamen in the center.

Now we’re ready to cook! Be prepared: you will not want to share any of your fried squash blossoms so you may want to double this recipe if you are planning a meal for more than just yourself….  Anyway, all you need is some flour, salt, seltzer water and coconut oil. Yes, it’s that simple. The plain tempura batter really lets the flavor of the squash blossoms shine while the coconut oil gives a clean fry without any heavy oil aftertaste like olive oil. Plus, if you use coconut oil it means it’s healthy right? Healthy fried food? Ok, maybe not but let’s just pretend because I want to eat these every night of the week.

Combine the flour and salt into medium bowl then add in seltzer and gently stir together. Be careful not to over mix: you want the batter to look chunky, similar to pancake batter.

Next heat up your coconut oil in a deep cast iron pot or dutch oven over medium heat. You want the oil to be between 1/4in and 1/2in deep. The actual amount of oil needed will vary depending on your pot so don’t bother with measurements, just eyeball it. Once the oil is hot enough (when a drop of the batter sizzles), carefully dip a squash blossom in the batter to coat it. To avoid getting batter inside the petals, gently twist them together before dipping.

Place the battered squash blossom gently into the oil. Repeat with two or three more blossoms at a time, however many can comfortably fit without crowding. After 2-3 minutes, flip the blossoms using tongs and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until both sides are golden brown.

Remove the blossoms and place on a paper towel lined cooling rack. Repeat these steps until all of your squash blossoms are fried. Sprinkle the blossoms with some sea salt and fresh ground pepper (optional) and serve immediately or transfer to a baking sheet and place in a 200F oven to stay warm until it’s time to eat. (Or eat them as you cook, like I do!)

 

Fried Squash Blossoms
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These crispy, golden brown squash blossoms are easy to make and the perfect appetizer for any summertime affair.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 10-12 squash blossoms
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 10 oz seltzer (plain)
  • coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Clean and remove the stamen from each squash blossom.
  2. Mix together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Gently stir in seltzer until batter resembles pancake mix (a little bit chunky).
  3. Heat ¼in to ½in coconut oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, dip a squash blossom into the batter, let excess run off then gently place into the hot oil. Repeat with a few more blossoms until the dutch oven is comfortably full.
  4. Fry for 2-3 minutes then flip with tongs and fry the other side for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined wire rack to cool.
  6. Repeat until all squash blossoms are fried.
  7. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe! Comment below or post a photo to instagram and tag me @champagneandfrites!

Delicious Vegan Waffles

Delicious Vegan Waffles

Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these waffles are yeast-, dairy-, and egg-free and could easily be made gluten-free as well. They make a wonderful breakfast or dessert when dipped in chocolate.

Crispy Baked Pommes Frites

Crispy Baked Pommes Frites

Crispy golden brown on the outside with a light and airy, fluffy center, these baked french fries will satisfy any fry-lovers craving for fries.

Flying with Food Allergies + What Foods to Pack

Flying with Food Allergies + What Foods to Pack

It’s no secret that I love to travel. I’m lucky enough to be able to travel quite a bit thanks to a husband who also loves to travel and friends that live all over the world. But flying with food allergies isn’t always enjoyable.

We fly a lot of United, not because it is the best by any means, but because it is the most convenient for the majority of our destinations and we’ve racked up points and status. Therefore, all of my experiences have been with United, so please keep that in mind while reading through this post.

Since most of my food allergies are not severe, my issue is that there are so many to avoid. A few years ago I noticed that United started to put ingredient lists on nearly all of their food service items, not just prepackaged goods like the salad dressing and butter. What wasn’t so excited to discover was just how much junk and allergens are lurking in even the most unsuspecting items.

I always thought that the reason airplane food made me feel so terrible was because it was loaded with salt and other nastiness to make it taste good since our sense of taste isn’t as sharp while several thousands of feet up in the air (see the reasons why in this article). While this certainly contributed to my discomfort, the real reason was because I was eating all sorts of allergens! Following this, I started preparing all of my own foods for flights so that I could land ready to explore instead of curling up in bed sick for the first day of a trip.

Here’s how I break things down:

  • East Coast/Ohio/Montreal, 1-3 hours = no food, one small bottle of water; snack before departure at airport and meal once we land
  • West Coast/Hawaii, 5-12 hours = one-two meals and one snack, one large bottle of water and one bottle Pellegrino
  • Europe, 6-8 hours = one meal and one snack, one large bottle of water and one bottle Pellegrino
  • Asia, too long = a lot of food, several waters

NY/NJ airports have made finding a suitable snack much easier recently thanks to newly constructed “gourmet” options. Instead of grab and go places with only chips and sandwiches, it’s now possible to find simple dried fruits, clean popcorns and other chip replacement options and packs of nuts. If you have the time to sit down for a meal, many of the terminal restaurants are now serving decent salads and simple grilled dishes as well (though I almost always go for a bowl of french fries…).

So, what should you pack for your meals and snacks? Aim for foods that can go several hours without refrigeration or don’t need refrigeration at all. Put it all together in a lunch tote inside your carryon extra item/purse (I use a beach bag sized tote that holds my purse and lunch bag) along with napkins. You can get plastic utensils and your waters from the terminal after security.

  • apples, oranges, bananas – fruits with thicker skins that can be easily peeled or eaten without being crushed
  • baggie of almonds, walnuts, cashews – whatever nut is your favorite to snack on
  • prosciutto and other cured meats (some cured meats use dairy so be careful)
  • pieces of parmesan or cheddar cheese (if not allergic)
  • homemade or store-bought granola/breakfast bars
  • grain salad with fresh and roasted veggies, dressed just before leaving the house
  • pasta salad or pasta with simple red sauce
  • chocolate bar (can’t skip dessert!)
  • tea bags (because I’m super particular about tea)

Packing for the way back home is much more difficult since you normally won’t have a kitchen to cook/prep in. I try to go to a deli or grocery store for a few items, like a banana and nuts. I usually avoid prepared foods because they don’t sit well with me even if they are totally allergy friendly. I think there is either cross-contamination or they sit too long and start to grow bacteria, who knows.

Let’s say you only need to avoid one or two allergens. Many airlines now offer specialty meals such as gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan in addition to Kosher options. On flights to specific countries you can also find other religious-conscious meals such as Muslim, Jain and Hindu vegetarian. If these suit you and you’re happy eating airline food then go for it! It’s certainly much easier and less hassle.

If you’re traveling with a peanut or treenut allergy, be aware that not all airlines will be very kind to you. I’ve heard horror stories from friends of being kicked off planes (pilot did not want the responsibility of a potential allergic reaction mid-flight), being embarrassed by flight attendants who point them out and blame them for the lack of a snack during flight, and whose requests get ignored even though they’ve emailed the airline far in advance. Some airlines create “nut-free buffer zones” where those within the rows immediately before or after you have agreed not to consume nuts during the flight. United doesn’t serve peanuts but does serve treenuts and items that may contain trace amounts of peanuts due to being manufactured on the same equipment; they do not create buffer zones and they do not allow you to pre-board in order to wipe down your area.

In the past month I’ve had back to back trips: first to France then Hawaii. Both trips I packed food for which inspired me to write this post. Below is what I packed for each destination.

France – I only packed a snack of banana and almonds and a few chocolate bars to savor over the trip (have you ever heard of a vegan French pastry?!?!) since I took an overnight flight. I had some french fries at the airport before I boarded, took an Advil PM, passed out for 90% of the flight, woke up and had a my snack. The return flight was another story: I had a handful of almonds left and bought a piece of chocolate that I thought was more rice cake dipped in chocolate than straight dark chocolate. Forgetting that the airport in Paris is nothing like our airports, I only got a few waters and a bag of chips before going through security and into the land of no food (or at least allergy-friendly food). I had eaten the almonds and chips before takeoff because I had no breakfast and it was lunchtime and I was STARVING. I couldn’t eat a single item they served, and they had no fruit or small snacks on the plane *that they would admit to me* so I ate my piece of chocolate as slowly as possible and then gorged myself on the largest bowl of pasta ever when I got home. It was so good I almost cried. Hungry Kelley = absolute monster.

Hawaii – I knew going in that this flight was going to be a nightmare and was totally prepared. Since it is a domestic flight, the airlines can get away without serving any meals even though it is 10+ hours. We left at 8am EST and landed at 2:30pm in Hawaii – missing both breakfast and lunch. I pity the poor souls who weren’t prepared and starved on this flight. Here’s what I packed:

I wasn’t nearly as worried about the return since it was an overnight flight and I would sleep for a good portion of it. We left around 3:00pm and landed at 6:00am EST, missing just dinner. We stopped at a Dean and Deluca in Waikiki and got bean salad and a quinoa salad. I also had one remaining bag of almonds and a bag of waffle chips. We boarded, ordered some wine, ate, watched a movie, and then slept the rest of the flight.

I wasn’t thrilled with how the blueberry quinoa breakfast bars turned out so I’m not sharing the recipe. They looked good but were really crumbly and the flavor wasn’t quite right.

For the salad, just cook up some farro and lentils according to their packaging. Add in whatever veggies you want on top: radish, carrot, celery, cucumber, tomato, asparagus, peas, etc. I added radish, peas, tomato, chickpeas, walnuts and roasted asparagus this time. Top it off with a doss of lemon dressing: 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juiced whisked together with 8 Tbsp evoo until it is fully emulsified. I add little to no salt – I already get puffy enough from flying, I don’t need extra salt to help me out!

While food allergies definitely make planning and preparing for trips more difficult, you don’t need to suffer. I hope this helps those of you with allergies or traveling with someone with allergies. If you have any questions or want suggestions on what and how to pack, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

Safe travels!!

 

Yeast-free Vegan Flatbread

Yeast-free Vegan Flatbread

This 4-ingredient take on flatbread is a perfect yeast-free substitute for traditional wraps, breads, pitas and more.