Tag Archives: dietary restrictions

Eggs

Living with Dietary Restrictions: Eggs

When it comes to dietary allergies, eggs may be one of the most restrictive.   There are so many items that obviously contain eggs like most desserts/baked goods and noodles, but there are just as many, if not more foods that use eggs in a more veiled way.   Luckily, while eggs are harder to avoid than other food allergens, it does occur a little less often.  According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, “Egg allergy is estimated to affect approximately 1.5% of young children.”  The good news is that on average it is an allergy that can and will be outgrown.  However, it’s still smart to know what to avoid and the risks that an egg allergy presents.

EggsHow do egg allergies develop and can they be prevented?

Like most allergies, egg allergies are the body’s immune system attacking an element that it thinks is invading, in this case the egg protein.  According to the Mayo Clinic these attacks can manifest in symptoms including: Skin inflammation (most common), asthma, nasal inflammation, stomach issues and in severe cases anaphylaxis.  The reason for this allergy can range from a family history of the allergy and most often the immaturity of the digestive system, which is why the allergy shows up in children, but can be outgrown.  The Mayo Clinic continues to say those that suffer from this particular allergy are also more likely to suffer from other health problems as well.  These problems include other food allergies, hay fever, atopic dermatitis and allergic asthma.

As said before, many children do outgrow the allergy as their digestive system develops.  Kids Health says that an, “Egg allergy usually first appears when kids are very young, and most kids outgrow it by the time they’re 5 years old.”  However, it’s important to know that this is not always the case.   Allergic Child reported on a recent research study done on this topic at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.   According to the study, “In what are believed to be the largest studies to date of children with milk and egg allergies, researchers followed more than 800 patients with milk allergy and nearly 900 with egg allergy over 13 years, finding that, contrary to popular belief, most of these allergies persist well into the school years and beyond.”

There has also been work done to help to actually prevent the allergy from appearing in the first place.  The study presented in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggested introducing eggs to a baby’s diet between the ages of four to six months.  While it’s not conclusive whether or not it actually prevents the allergy, it has been found that it at least does not increase its development.

What should be avoided?

With every food allergy, it’s essential to be aware of what a dish or product contains by reading labels and asking questions.  With eggs it’s also imperative to know the names of items that are egg related yet are not just simply called eggs.  The Mayo Clinic list these terms as the following: Albumin, Globulin, Lecithin, Livetin, Lysozyme, Simplesse, Vitellin, and words starting with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin.  It’s also a good rule of thumb to avoid certain foods in general, unless they are specifically noted as not containing eggs.  Some of these items are anything made with a mix or batter, mayonnaise and items that include this ingredient, marshmallows, salad dressings and most baked goods and pastries.   It’s also wise to avoid drinks like beer, lattes and cappuccinos that use eggs in foaming agents, anything glazed and even many shampoos which use egg proteins for strengthening.  A final item that might not be as obvious is the vaccine for the flu.  The reason behind this according to the Center for Disease Control is that the vaccines are grown on egg embryos, which means they’ve been mixed with proteins from the egg itself.  However, with this item it’s important to talk with your health service provider before making a decision as they will be able to tell you if your allergy is or isn’t severe enough to cause a reaction to the small amount of protein.

Egg alternatives and eating on the go

While there are some specific alternatives to cooking with eggs like Egg Replacer by Ener-G, there are also many items that you may currently have in your house that can be used in place of eggs as well.  PETA provides many detailed options on how and what to use to substitute for egg use.  Similarly, you can try these great options compiled by Calorie Lab:

1 gelatin packet, 2 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tbsp. vinegar, 1 tbsp. liquid (such as water)
1 tsp. baking powder, 1 1/2 tbsp. oil, 1 1/2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. yeast, 1/4 cup warm water
1/2 of a medium-sized mashed banana
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp. warm water
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. xanthan gum
In place of an egg wash, use melted margarine.
*Note:  It is important to know that these alternatives may not turn out well when a recipe calls for more than three eggs though.

When eating out with food allergies of any kind, Eating With Food Allergies advises that it’s helpful to either eat earlier or later than the normal crowds (i.e. before 6 PM or after 9 PM).   Doing so will help in allowing you to get more attentive service both at the table and in the kitchen.  Another handy item to remember when venturing out to eat is a Kids Health great cutout for your wallet that lists different foods and ingredients to avoid.  In addition to this cutout, checking sites like Special Gourmets can assist you in making decisions on the most appropriate place to eat.  The search engine bills itself as, “The largest global guide to restaurants, shops & hotels with options for gluten-free, dairy-free & other allergen-free diets.”   Not only is this guide helpful when looking for new places to try or when out of town, but it’s also handy when your or others you’re with are allergic to more than one item since it allows you to check off multiple items for your search.

While you’re out, the most reliable dining option would be to find a specifically Vegan venue.  These restaurants are always a great option for those with egg allergies because Vegans do not eat products that come from animals like eggs and the food is unlikely to suffer from cross-contamination as well.  Unfortunately, Vegan based dining options can be few and far between.  If you’re on the go and looking for an often occurring fast option, check out Taco Bell and Dairy Queen.  Taco Bell is a helpful option because most items do not contain egg products and since most items that do contain them are not necessarily created on-site, the risk for cross-contamination is lowered a bit.  As for Dairy Queen, there are some great options for you to get your ice cream fix.  However, even on their website they do warn of cross-contamination possibilities and encourage getting an ingredient listing from that specific restaurant for extra safety.   For a sit-down experience, On the Border provides a viable egg free option.  Most items there can be enjoyed normally since most of them don’t use eggs, but often require requesting the item without sauce and/or sour cream.

Delicious egg free recipes to try at home

Oven Baked Eggless Zucchini Fries from Eggless Cooking

Sweet Potato Biscuits from The Sensitive Pantry

How do you or your family members deal with being Egg Free?  Please share your story. 

Image from MorgueFile

Living with Dietary Restrictions: Vegetarian and Vegan

Remember back when you were younger and you parents demanded you eat your veggies?   This more than likely happened to all of us, but for some it was a message that really stuck.   Much of that growing population falls into the vegetarian (and on the stricter end, vegan) category.   A study done by Vegetarian Times found that the U.S. alone has, “7.3 million people follow a vegetarian-based diet” and “1 million, of those are vegans.”

Image from MorgueFileUnlike our previous Dietary Restriction blogs on being dairy and gluten free, going vegetarian or vegan is most often a choice rather than a dietary necessity and often the reasons behind it are different depending on the person.  Many make the decision based on the need or want to personally be healthier while at the same time it can be done for the health of the Environment.   There is also a high concern for animal welfare that brings many to the conclusion of eating sans meat and /or dairy.   For a vast majority one glimpse into the horrifying realities of factory farms and their treatment of animals used for food is more than enough to both turn their stomach and switch their outlook on consuming animal products of any type.   Taking these motivations and concerns into consideration, it is becoming increasingly common to see more options, creativity and innovation in the vegetarian and often vegan items available.  Often one taste of these delicious dishes (more often than not accompanied by increased education on the subject) is just enough to open new eyes to the vegetarian and vegan world.

What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

While vegetarian and veganism may sound one in the same to many there is a strict difference between the two.  Often vegetarianism is seen as more of a food choice while veganism is seen as a lifestyle due to the whole-life philosophy behind the decision.

Vegetarian:  Vegetarians are the more lax of the two in terms of animal products that they are willing to consume.  According to VegetarianVegan.com, “Vegetarian is a blanket term used to describe a person who does not consume meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.”  This means that there are several sub-categories of vegetarianism, but the basic understanding is that a vegetarian does not consume any type of animal meat, yet does occasionally use milk, eggs and other animal products or by-products.   Sub-categories of vegetarianism include more strict eaters such as ovo-lacto-vegetarians (do not consume eggs/milk), ovo-vegetarian (do consume eggs, not milk), lacto-vegetarian (do consume milk, not eggs) and the strictest for which is vegan.

Vegan: While vegan is a form of vegetarianism, as stated previously, it is the strictest version.   Those considered vegan do not eat any animal products or by-products including everything from meat to dairy to even honey.   Many vegans are also against using animal products like wool and silk in daily life as well.                      

What products should be avoided?

Image from MorgueFileFor both choices it is important that all meat products including poultry and fish are avoided.  However, vegans take the restrictions just a bit further to avoid animal byproducts as well.  The most obvious of these byproducts are items like eggs and dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, etc.).  However, there are also many common products that come from animals that we may not even normally be aware of.  Kidshealth.org gives the following examples: gelatin (made using meat byproducts), lanolin (made from wool), rennet (an enzyme found in the stomach of calves, young goats, and lambs that’s used in cheese-making), honey and beeswax (made by bees), silk (made by silkworms), shellac (the resinous secretion of the tiny lac insect) and cochineal (a red dye derived from the cochineal insect).

What are some alternatives?

Because animal products aren’t on the top allergen list, it can sometimes be difficult to know what does and doesn’t work.  One benefit to eating vegan is that oftentimes items that are dairy-free may also be vegan due to the lack of milk product used.  This also means that there are a ton of different lines of milk and cheese alternatives made from soy, rice, almonds and even hemp (Indy Vegans has a great list comparing each type to help in making your decision). However, there are many  other great food options as well.

Another great option are the Follow Your Heart products.  This line offers everything from eggless mayonnaise (called Vegenaise) to vegan cheese, sour cream and cream cheese which is all animal product free.  If you’re in the mood for something a little sweeter online stores like Chicago SoyDairy and Literally Divine have got great options for your sweet tooth.  Chicago SoyDairy specializes in items like marshmallows (even non-animal product Easter Peeps called Tweets) and ice cream.  Literally Divine offers a wide array of truffles and toffee that is all natural, organic and vegan.

Eating Vegan and Vegetarian on the Go

The nice thing about vegetarian and vegan eating is that while they may be few and far between one or two options are usually available at most restaurants, even if it means a veggie only salad with oil and vinegar dressing.  If that’s not necessarily your idea of a worthwhile restaurant tip, then Happy Cow may be just your ticket to finding some tasty, creative dining outside of your own home.  Happy Cow is a search engine that allows you to enter in where you’ll be dining and then provides you with different nearby options and the degree to which the food is vegetarian.  VegGuide.org is another similar site that allows users to give a description and rating of the restaurants vegan and vegetarian friendly options.

Just as in our previous dairy-free post, it’s extremely important to be aware of the possibility of cross-contamination if you are dedicated to eating vegetarian or living a vegan lifestyle.  Whether you’re out to eat at a chain restaurant or at a family pitch-in making sure that you know the ingredients included in a dish can truly help you maintain your dietary choices.  Indy Vegan instructs, “Being vegan means reading labels. I don’t care how much you hate it and how much time it takes, it’s just something you have to do. And if you don’t know, ask!”  And in situations like pitch-ins, it’s a great opportunity to introduce non-vegans/vegetarians to your dietary habits, but remember to do so in small doses as not everyone is apt to dive right in to the tofu salad, but may be more willing to try out a smaller dose of something like non-dairy cheese.

In the meantime, if you’re on the go and curious as to where it’s safe to eat, you can rest assured that there are options available.  One huge and ever changing option is the sandwich shop.  While it is important to make sure that bread is made without using animal products, this is often your best bet.  One national food chain that offers a great vegan/vegetarian array is Which Wich.  They have everything from a traditional veggie blend, to a hummus based sandwich all of which are served on bread that contains no animal ingredients.  If you’re in more of a sharing mood, Barcelona Tapas, a Spanish tapas chain has many great vegan options like grilled and marinated vegetables and even churro’s for dessert.  Even bigger chains like Chili’s have a few vegan options here or there.  While many of the foods are blatantly booked as vegan, items like fajitas and veggie quesadillas can be specially ordered to fit your needs.  In general many Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants also very easily fit into the vegan lifestyle since many dishes are already vegetarian due to religious reasons.  Items to try are samosas, hummus, falafel and Dal.

Delicious Vegan and Vegetarian recipes to try at home

Mac and Cheese Pizza from the Tolerant Vegan

Green Dream Soup from Indy Vegans

How do you or your family members deal with being Vegan and/or Vegetarian?  Please share your story. 

Image from MorgeFile

Central’s Week in Brief: April 29, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

Image from MorgeFileThis week with the Royal Wedding at the top of pretty much everyone’s mind (it’s a little unavoidable), we here at Central thought it would be fun to compile a list of Royal Wedding treats for you to enjoy at home.

1)       Baskin Robbins is offering a six-inch single tier ice cream cake with chocolate mousse ice cream inside and white and blue English roses outside.  The single tier version will go for about $19.99 while a two-tiered version will be a little more expensive.

 2)       If cake isn’t your thing, you can order up a set of Royal cookies from Eleni’s in New York (a nut free bakery for those with dietary restrictions).   The set comes with 16 cookies including a Royal Crest, the British flag and a (somewhat creepy) version of the new bride and groom with their pictures on top of decorated bodies.

3)       With all these sweets you’ll need something to wash it all down. Our first option is non-alcoholic and very appropriate for English Royalty.  Designers Donkey Creative Lab in Germany concocted a classic blend of tea with Will and Kate cutouts attached to the top of the tea bags (to hang out on your tea cup).

4)       If you’re a little more rowdy (and happen to be in England) you could also wash down the sweets with a pint of Kiss Me Kate beer from Castle Rock Brewery in the East Midlands and Yorkshire.   Adrian Redgrove, Castle Rock’s head brewer, says, “Kiss Me Kate will be elegant, tasteful and British to the core. It’ll be brewed to 5%, pale in colour and, we’re sure it’ll be the ideal way to toast the couple’s future happiness. We’ll certainly be enjoying it in our celebrations here at the brewery.”

5)       And if you’re just dying to know about all things Royal Wedding food, including what Elizabeth I and George VI had for their wedding breakfast, you can visit royalweddingfood.com.  They have all of the food gossip you crave, but will help you save on the calories (especially after all that cake and beer!).   You can also pick up some fun souvenirs, like the commemorative plate below.