Allergy Alert: Eco-Friendly Straws/Containers, Diapers, Wipes

compostable containers

Did you ever think you would see a “paper” plate labeled Gluten-Free but made of wheat and corn? Or a straw made out of wheat?  A plastic wrapper or container made out of casein (a protein in Milk)?  How about wheat in disposable diapers or soy and oats in hand wipes?  Well, now you need to think about the packaging and more! It is happening now with companies banning plastic straws, etc;  we all need to be vigilant.

There is a need for echo friendly, bio-degradable containers. However, this comes with a danger to those with Food Allergies and Celiac Disease.  I have talked about this over the years with customers in the cafe and was motivated to write about this very issue after a customer was in the restaurant and ripped into me for using too much plastic. I tried explaining that we can’t use those echo friendly products due to the allergens in them.

The customer is also a Vegan and accused us of supporting animal cruelty.  She enjoyed her meal, but could not get over the use of plastic. She wanted to bring in her own items, Tupperware, glass bottle, etc. I have no way of knowing if she just had peanut butter and then touched her containers, so I would not allow it. Then she rated us on Yelp (public shaming us for using plastic). She went on to play games by editing and deleting some of her original comments and also deleting her second response thus deleting my second response.

I tried explaining that the plastic is the safest thing for us due to allergies and we need to prevent cross contact when people are dining in house or carrying food out.  Further explanation included the fact that we are in a Gold Leed Certified Building, recycle about 95% of what we use and have 3 electric car charging stations on the side of the building.  She just could not understand that the customer’s safety (and their life) depend on me sticking to my mission; to welcome those in need safely back to the table!

This spurred me to write a post on Facebook about the ingredients in compostable containers and boy did you all weigh in with your comments! So, here we go.

Edible Milk Based Packaging: “sustainable, biodegradable, edible and “safe”!   Safe for who?  Looking at it, you would think it was plastic…check it out here 

Wheat Straw Plates, Bowls, Paper Bags, Utensils: “looking for dinner ware that screams green?” There are so many brands and some say that the wheat protein is processed out, but it is scary for someone with a wheat allergy! Gluten Free Watchdog tested World Centrics brand and they appeared to be safe for Celiacs, not sure if I would take the chance with a wheat allergy.  What happens when the product gets wet? They look kind of like a “chinet” plate, but not white….check it out here

Straws: “sturdy and compostable”  There are many different brands, made from wheat, hay, corn, etc. Heat safe to 140 degrees, my concern is what happens to the allergen when the straw is breaking down under heat or long exposure to a liquid.  A Celiac customer said her local coffee place was using the wheat ones, which she did not know and was sick for a long time until she figured it out. click here  then click on “Benefits” to see the ingredients.

Diapers: “eco friendly disposable diapers, made of wheat and corn”. There are 5 brands in this link….check them all out here

Wipes: read the ingredients, I have seen them with wheat, soy, oats and more gang!

I am all for “green” products, but we need to make sure that they are safe for us. Right now, the FDA does not require manufacturers to list the top allergens on packaging products, so you have to do your research.  Also, they are being made by so many different companies and they all look different. You need to be aware and ask!

eco straws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daiya “Cheese” Ingredient Changes

A few months ago I did a blog post about Daiya removing Pea Protein and Carrageenan from their sliced”cheeses”.  I knew that was most likely what happened as soon as I saw the new design on the packaging because that is when they usually make ingredient changes! So, that has been great.  We were waiting for our bulk shredded “cheeses” to be changed over to the new recipe. The big news is that we started receiving the new  Mozarella “Cheese” Shreds this week!

So, how does this affect you when dining with us? What are the new ingredients?

Here is my review: It melts better, has a creamier texture, tastes better and does not have the after taste! I am so thrilled with the new shreds and the slices. I am finally enjoying eating “cheeses”.

In the Blue Kitchen, (no dairy):

  • all Daiya sandwich “cheeses” are free of pea protein and carrageenan
  • all Daiya pizza “cheese” is free of pea protein and carrageenan
  • the Daiya “cream cheese” still has pea protein in the bakery for carrot cupcakes
  • the Earth Balance Mayo and Vegan Butter still contain pea protein

** This also means we have to completely re-do our labeling for our blue line pizzas and macaroni and cheese. Please understand that we may not have some of your favorite frozen items in stock until we can re-do all of our labels!

Here are the new ingredients in the Mozzarella Shreds:

Daiya Mozzarella Shreds: Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Coconut Oil, Non-GMO Expeller Pressed: Canola and/or Safflower Oil, Potato Protein Isolate, Vegan Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Lactic Acid (Vegan), Whole Algal Flour, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Yeast Extract.

A few months ago I did a blog post on the changes in the slices and went into detail about some of the new ingredients.   You can scroll back to that blog to see what I had to say.

Please See Daiya Website to see ingredients in all their “Cheeses”:

Click Here for Daiya Website

 

A Tribute to Miss Susan

For most of you, Miss Susan is synonymous with One Dish Cuisine..she has been here pretty much since we opened the doors!  Many of  you have come to know her from her working the front counter on Saturdays, Sundays and some Mondays and other weekdays.  You all got experience her Joy; she exuded joy, all day, every day, 365 days a year. This is who she was, she loved people, and it showed.  She loved being here to take good care of all of you….Maureen and Dave won’t take a day off together unless Miss Susan was at the front counter taking care of all of you.

Maureen and Miss Susan met at an Annapolis Celiac Support Group back in 2008 and became fast friends.  You all know the feeling when you meet somebody and you just know that you will be friends with them forever! Well, that is what I knew the day I met her.

Susan retired from the Post Office where she graciously took care of customers in the Crownsville branch. Even in retirement, she kept busy and worked part time at the customer service desk in Annapolis Mall until they did away with the customer service kiosk. Then; in 2012, when One Dish Cuisine opened the cafe and bakery, she joined us at the front counter.

Susan was a fixture here and everyone who met her absolutely loved her.  Why? All because she loved people. She became one of Dave’s closest friends too. We valued her opinion and her friendship. Susan did much of the prep work here too. She would make the salad dressings, the croutons; etc. The greatest thing about Susan is how she took the young high school kids under her wing and trained them.  She knew right away if we had a winner or not!  Her gentle, but firm guidance led to a productive employee.

She was entrusted with a key to the business and was the only person that could cover the front (other than my son) if  Dave and I needed to be out at the same time! Susan was also a confidant for me. When I was exhausted or frustrated, she always understood because she worked with me and saw everything first hand.

One of her greatest gifts was her ability to get me out to do something other than work at One Dish Cuisine. Even when I was exhausted, Susan could get me out for a quick pick me up. Once, she picked me up on my day off…a warm spring day, and we rode the trike into downtown Annapolis for lunch…somehow Maureen got “glutened” and Susan did not.  Despite the “glutening”, we had a great time and were planning another outing this Spring (no food for Maureen). We had so much fun cruising Annapolis, a town that we both know so well. We joked that it felt like we were in high school, “skipping school” and hanging out in Annapolis. Sometimes after a tough Saturday, we would stop for a glass of wine on the way home and just relax; something that is foreign to me! Susan instinctively knew when I needed this girl time!

There were so many times that she invited me out with her and some of her lifelong girlfriends; but I just could not take the chance on getting sick; because I would be out for 10 days if I got “glutened”.  She always understood that I had to opt out so I could stay safe and continue to work each day.  Susan was lucky, even though she also had Celiac, her reaction to it was not as severe as mine.

When I think of Susan I think of this quote by Mother Teresa:

“Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls”

Miss Susan caught my heart and soul along with so many others. She died suddenly of a heart attack on Thursday, December 14th. I don’t think One Dish Cuisine will ever be the same without her. I am so thankful for her friendship and love and for her dedication to One Dish Cuisine and the safety of our customers. Godspeed Miss Susan..till we meet again; and yes, I will bring you a grilled cheese and mac n cheese from One Dish!

On Wednesday, the 20th of December, there will be a Celebration of Life at Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church, 921 Generals Highway, Millersville, MD 21108; all are welcome. There will be a gathering for all family and friends at 10am, service at 11am, immediately followed by a luncheon. The luncheon will be across the street at Baldwin Hall. We hope everyone can make it and please feel free to share this post.

The burial will be a private event for family, at a later date.

One Dish Cuisine will provide some of the desserts at the luncheon.

Obituary for Susan Boyd Caldwell

New Celiac and Autism Research

Every year I get my fundraising letter from Dr Fasano at the Celiac Center at UMass. What I love about the letter is that he highlights some of the studies that they are doing at this time. They are doing some really cool stuff! (what I hate is that it comes on paper in the mail, so I had to paraphrase and type all of this stuff into the computer rather than give you a link to click on) Once again; I am predicting that many of the big breakthroughs on celiac and autism will come from Dr Fasano and the gang at UMASS Center for Celiac Research and Treatment.

-Collecting Diapers for Celiac Research for their  Celiac, Genomic, Environmental, Microbiome and Metabolomic Study. Basically, they are collecting stool, blood and other tissue samples from infants and mothers from the US, Italy and Spain. They have more than half of the 500 babies already enrolled. The goal is to understand why some people who are genetically at-risk will go on to develop celiac disease; while others who are at risk don’t develop it. By studying many factors along with the microbial colonies in the gut, they hope to ultimately prevent celiac disease before it begins. Well, if I was a baby and had a diaper, I would enroll myself in this study.

-Building an Intestine in the Lab where they are using intestinal tissue from volunteers to grow intestinal “organoids”. They use the 3D mini organoids to study the effects of different drugs and pre/probiotics on the human intestine. I am glad to see this study happening because I remember Dr Fasano saying on one of his visits to the cafe that his fear is that pre and probiotics may be overused and we might become immune to them like what is happening with antibiotics.

-Connecting the Mind and the Gut: the “enteric nervous system” is like our “little brain: in our guts and it’s communication with our “big brain” can have enormous effects on our mood and health.  I remember Dr Fasano saying “the gut is not like Las Vegas; what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut”.  Parents of kids with Autism have been saying this for about 20 years!  I am so glad to see this area being really researched. Recent results (Dr MR Fiorentino’s lab) showed an altered blood-brain barrier and impaired intestinal barrier could very well play a role in neuroinflammation in those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. They hope to make significant contributions to discovering a mechanism that could be used for prevention. (The belief used to be that the body and brain have different immune systems and are separate and therefore don’t communicate; but researchers at UVA discovered the link via the lymph nodes. I blogged about this 2 years ago)

-Celiac Education and Outreach: Celiac Symposium last April and outreach and donations for food for hurricane victims.

The Center for Celiac Research and Treatment is dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients with celiac disease, while learning the cause of the disease and finding a cure.  However, due to reductions in the NIH  (National Institute of Health) Budget they are reliant more than ever before on donations!  

This is one cause that I scrape up some money to support each year.  donate here

Learn More Here

 

What I Am Thankful For

Each year as Thanksgiving comes around, I notice that many of us tend to get caught up in logistics. The logistics of where to go, who to invite, what to serve, what to bring and how to get there?  Big planning goes into Thanksgiving. I know; I often get caught up in that part, and don’t really think about what the day is meant for.

As I was making a second batch of stuffing (more stuffing than I have ever had to make for all of you) I pondered Thanksgiving. What am I thankful for?

I am thankful for:

-Our customers who love our stuffing and share it with their loved ones.

-Our Bakery Manager, Melanie, who is into her 11th hour of baking as I am doing stuffing and is so passionate about what she does.

-All of our staff, especially the bakery staff this time of year; Melanie, Jess, Tionni and Alana, you all are incredible!

-The Bank for giving me the loan to open the Cafe, Deli & Bakery (only 22 more months to pay).

-Dave, for giving up his career and supporting my dream. For covering for me as I went through four surgeries this year.

-My Health (it’s not the greatest, but it could have turned out much worse than it did this year)

-For our customers who support us and refer us to others, you all truly have given such meaning and purpose to all of our lives here at One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli & Bakery.

-For our family and friends. For my mom, whose nudge sent me down the path of this food business and also for the loan that kept the company going back in the early days.  For Dave’s family who comes in just about every Friday to eat and support what we do and spend time with us. For my daughter in law; Kristin, for bringing my grandson to the cafe to see me; so I can get to know him! For both of our families and friends for understanding why we miss birthdays, graduations, funerals, weddings, baptisms, communions, etc.

-For fantastic doctors, nurses and researchers who are spending their time trying to find answers for those with Celiac Disease, Food Allergies and Autism.

-For God. He truly has to exist. I am very thankful for my Celiac and Food Allergies. Because I learned, over time, that my God-given talent for cooking along with my Celiac and Food Allergies are blessings. They are what brought me down this path and were the actual catalyst for me opening up this business; which brought me to my purpose in life. Also, there is definitely someone up there making it possible for us to make ends meet every month when it is time to pay the bills.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you all can find the time to contemplate what you are thankful for.  Whenever someone says that they don’t know what to do with their life; I say: “Have you ever thought about how you can use your god-given gifts to help yourself and others?”

thanksgiving use your blessings

Daiya “Cheese” changes Ingredients

For those of you, like me, who have a dairy allergy, this is important for you to note. Today we got a different looking  box from Daiya for our Swiss “Cheese”. The package is smaller and says “improved texture and flavor”.  Of course Dave looked for ingredient changes…and sure enough there was an ingredient change.  The good news is they have removed Pea Protein Isolate, carrageenan, safflower oil and canola oil from the product!  They have added 3 new ingredients to replace the items above. I am waiting to hear back from Daiya if they are changing the entire line of products and will let you know when I find out. Here is what I could surmise from doing google searches on the new ingredients:

-Potato Protein Isolate: used as thickener (replaces the pea protein isolate)

-Konjac Gum:  (replaces the Carrageenan) Konjac is a dietary fiber which is based on Konjac flour being obtained from the tuber of Amorphophallus Konjac by means of drying and milling. Through further extraction and drying steps Konjac  can be processed until Konjac glucomannan is obtained. It is a polysaccharide consisting of the monosaccharide glucose and mannose.  Fresh Konjac contains an average of 13% dry matter and 64% of the dry matter is glucomannan. Glucomannan is a type of soluble dietary fiber.  Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. It can delay the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps in weight control. Slower empting of the stomach may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect ion insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Konjac can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

Whole Algal Flour:  (replaces carrageenan, canola and safflower oils) It’s a pale yellow to green powder made of dried algae—specifically, Chlorella protothecoides strain S106 and approved by the FDA in 2014. It is said to be free of known allergens and will produces a softer feel in the mouth and will replace the fats.

Photos of new package on left and old package on right.

New Daiya 062017

I will let you know when I learn more!

 

A Funeral and Safe Eats in CT!

Fear: traveling out of town for a funeral with Celiac Disease and Food Allergies.

In this blog post I share with you the story of my trip to Branford, CT for a funeral and the homework I did up front to find a safe place to eat so I could be with my family. Branford is a beautiful seaside New England town just north of New Haven off of Rt 95.

Usually, I would just not go out of town for a funeral for fear of getting sick when out of town.  However, I really wanted to be there for my Aunt Teresa and say goodbye. Not only is she my mother’s sister, she is also my godmother and we were very close.

Last week, prior to leaving I did my homework and planned on packing a cooler with food and also trying out a restaurant I had been wanting to visit for a few years.  I emailed ahead of time and they were very responsive, so I was hopeful about eating a meal while I was at my Aunt Teresa’s funeral.  I packed the car and cooler and had five hours all to myself while driving up route 95.

I reflected on my Aunt Teresa’s life and what I have learned from her.  I definitely shared her sense of humor and love of people and I also share her work ethic.  They were great role models for me. Back in 1968 she and my late Uncle Len founded Lenny’s Indian Head Inn in the quaint seaside town of Branford, CT.  How they did it with 3 kids; a  12 year old, a 6 year old and a 2 year old is beyond me! Teresa ran the kitchen with her incredible seafood recipes and Len ran the bar. They put everything they had into it and they struggled, they really struggled in the early years. My three cousins were working along side of them too. Long hours, six or seven days a week.

Soon they were winning awards in CT and in Boating and Yachting Magazine for their incredible food an casual atmosphere.  I am so happy to have seen them enjoying their success in the later years. Whenever we came to visit, we went to the “Joint” as the family refers to Lenny’s. The whole family was always working and if we wanted to see them, we went to the Joint and chatted in between them waiting on customers.  It became like a second home, we even got to know the employees.

The first call I would make when I was struggling with One Dish Cuisine was to my Aunt T. There was not a situation she had not been in before and she always said to me; “don’t give up if you have great food”. That was and still is great advice.  I will miss talking and laughing with her on the phone.

However, I am very limited in what I can eat at the Joint because the place is full of gluten and there is no gluten or allergy free menu. That is where preparation comes in.

lennys

A few years ago I was coming through Branford to see my Aunt and cousins. I had heard about a new restaurant in the center of town called HOME Restaurant. However, they were closed for vacation and I could not stop in and check them out.  This time, I emailed before my visit and they responded quickly. I felt very comfortable so the plan was to bring my cooler with my own food and stop in there for a meal or hopefully two meals.

I rolled into town at about 2:30 pm and I was greeted by Steve, the owner Jared’s father. I immediately felt comfortable chatting with him.  The interior is very comfortable with a roaring fire going in the fireplace and it reminded me of someone’s home!  Steve provided me with a gluten-free menu and we discussed how they keep items Gluten Free and how they will accommodate dairy free as well.

Steve told me that he has lived with a tree nut allergy all of his life, so it was no surprise that he gets it! They cut all of their own fries and have a dedicated fryer.  The gluten free burger buns are also dairy free.  I ordered their burger (minus the boursin cheese) with caramelized onions. He also discussed their procedures and how they prevent cross contact. However, there was still the disclaimer on the menu. Wow, is all I can say. What a great burger and the fries were fantastic too! I did not have a reaction or get sick.

Jared was busy working on the cooking line so I did not get to meet him.  I told Steve that I would be back the next day, after the funeral, so I could pick up a meal to take back to Lenny’s for the reception.  The next day I picked up fries and brussel sprouts and was able to head back to the Joint and sit with my family and have a meal.  That was the best part, being with my family and actually eating with them too. What was even better is that I did not have to cook the food myself.

I learned a lot from this trip. There are people out there who take Celiac Disease and Food Allergies seriously.  I realized that I miss way too much time with my family and that pre-planning goes a long way.  Prepare by checking out AllergyEats, Allergy Free Passport, Gluten Free Passport, Gluten Free Travel Site and Find Me Gluten Free.  Email the restaurant in advance and take a chance and go out and live!  I am also in process of leaving a rating about Home on all of the apps too.

I got to spend time with my sisters and cousins, niece and nephews. We even took a bunch of group photos in front of the huge stone fireplace at Lenny’s.  Everyone made it except for eight of the cousins. So in typical Irish fashion we got back at them for not being there by yelling out each of their names as photos were being taken of the rest of us.  I am happy to report that  “Maureen” was not one of the eight names being yelled out for being absent.  Being with family and enjoying safe food; now that is what I call “living”.

Thanks to Aunt T and my cousins for being great role models when it comes to work ethic and persistence. Also a big thank you to Steve and Jared at Home Restaurant for taking care of me and making me feel right at home!  I am ready to click my ruby red slippers together and be transported back to that burger and fries because there is no place like HOME Restaurant in Branford, CT!

there-is-no-place-like-home-wizard-of-oz

Click Here for Home Restaurant