Food Challenge Round 16: Cindy Vs. Basil

I finally tried basil! After a failed test where the basil was spoiled, I was a little apprehensive. What if the basil wasn’t actually spoiled that time, and really I was just so allergic to it that it tasted bad, like avocados or nuts do? Sure, I used to eat basil all the time, but with overdoses being what they are, I was scared.

Luckily, my friend M was generous enough to eat a leaf in my apartment the night before. And he assured me it was not spoiled basil. So I knew that if it tasted weird the next morning, it would be me.

Sure enough, the basil was not spoiled. And I am not allergic to it. Fresh basil made my lips slightly tingly, so the doctor limited it to twice a week, but hey. That’s twice more than I’ve been having it, and as it’s an ingredient in so many foods, there are so many new doors that will open for me. (Here’s looking at you, tomato sauce).

So hopefully last time’s avocado was a one-off. I much prefer successful challenges.

In other news, the doctor finally told me I could go out to eat “no problem.” Not in any restaurant, obviously, but he did say that it would be better for me to go on dates in a restaurant where I can custom order than resolve to cooking for random men in my home. So that’s a win!

I also learned that the peanut challenge is a full day affair, half day if I’m lucky. Since it’s so common, that challenge involves a double blind test with a placebo food. So peanuts are a ways away, as I can’t really take a day off work for a nut. I guess the question is: how much money is a peanut worth? A day’s pay + doctor copay? How much would you pay to be able to maybe eat peanuts and all the items that contain traces of peanuts?

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 11

Allergens: 5

Up Next: Hummus

Introducing Christy-Made, a New (Allergy-Friendly, Vegan, Gluten-Free) Baked Good Catering Service

It’s really hard to find quality baked goods that meet all of your allergy needs and still taste like baked goods. For instance, I can have gluten but I can’t have nuts, and you’d be hard pressed to find a bakery that’s nut free but not gluten free or vegan or both. Like, maybe I want an egg and butter filled brownie made of wheat that just doesn’t have traces of nuts. And is baked by someone competent who I can literally trust with my life.

Enter Christy-Made. Christy is an incredible baker (though, moment of truth, her baked goods aren’t kosher so I’m going based on smell and heresay from dozens and dozens of people who I’ve witnessed eat her baked goods) who just started a new catering business where she handmakes baked goods for any occasion and delivers them straight to your home or office or wherever! While her baked goods aren’t necessary specialty (meaning gluten-free, vegan, allergy-friendly, etc.) they can be. She’s really knowledgeable about food allergies and intolerances, and she’s very eco-conscious, too — all the ingredients are local and organic.

Christy was instrumental in helping me understand my bevy of new allergies back in March. Even though she is not an allergy sufferer herself, she knows how to adjust and tweak her recipes to cater to people with special dietary restrictions. She walked me through baking once gluten, eggs, dairy, and xanthan gum were all out of the question. So if you’ve liked my pumpkin oat muffins or anything in that variety, know that I built those recipes using tips and tricks and inspiration from Christy. She helped me figure out foods I could use to replace old staples in my diet, and taught me how to tweak old recipes. So while I haven’t had the joy of actually eating her food, because technically her kitchen/equipment isn’t up to my standards of kosher, I know it’s good, and I know it’s made with care.

So check out Christy-Made. And next time you’re in LA and need a nice dessert, call on Christy. Whether or not you need her to go the extra mile and adjust the recipe to your restricted diet

My First Post-Hypersensitivity Dining Out Experience — Got Kosher

Today was a day of firsts. My first professionally produced piece of writing premiered on Youtube’s Loud Channel (check it out here, but warning: it’s not super safe for work) and I dined out for the first time since I went all hypersensitive in April.

It was my boyfriend’s birthday today, and he loves eating out, so I figured it was a big enough occasion to see if I could eat out, too. In the 9ish (we’re bad at counting) months we’ve been together, we’ve never eaten together at a restaurant. I was pretty nervous, but I’m still here, so *spoiler alert* it was fine. Fun, even!

We went to Got Kosher, a delicious restaurant/take out store on Pico. It was the last place I’d eaten out before hypersensitive April; my friends S and T accompanied me there one Sunday when they just wanted some kosher BBQ, and even though I was already on superstrict diet #1, I was able to eat there. The servers were so great, and I knew I’d be back if I was ever allowed to eat out again. And,they were super helpful when I called to find out what’s in their challah – and it’s the challah I get every week now. It also happens to be my boyfriend’s favorite restaurant, so we figured it was the right place to go (even though it’s not as fancy as a typical birthday destination).

I called the restaurant in advance and spoke to a helpful server named Bennett. He assured me that if I came to the restaurant with my allergies, they’d be able to answer any questions I had and they’d make sure I could eat safely.

I knew there was a reason I collected all those Got Milk ads as a kid!

I couldn’t believe how true that was! The waiter we got (Ben, not Bennett) pulled up a chair as soon as I said I had “about a hundred allergies” — though yes, allergy embellishment bothers me. I could have said 50 and still had true, dramatic flair. He took out a notepad and walked me through my questions. I knew to only ask about simple dishes like grilled chicken and steak — their menu has a lot of cooler, more complicated dishes, and I’m sure they would have been accommodating, but I wanted to be safe. They told me the grilled meats were literally just grilled plain. Sometimes with salt and pepper, but they could hold that if need be (need didn’t be). The only oil they use, if any, on the grilled food is canola. It’s the main oil in their kitchen (take that, olive oil!!!). I asked about the french fries, and I technically could eat them, but they’re fried in the same deep fryer as the avocado egg roll, which, while they could give me the ingredients of the filling, the dough itself remained a question and while it was homemade and probably fine, they couldn’t assure me of that. By the way, shoutout to my mom for making sure I asked what else was fried in the fryer. I guess she has some experience with this sort of thing…wink, wink.

Anyway, Ben, who by that point was also joined by Bennett, said they could make me roasted potatoes, but we decided those might have herbs and be a hassle if I didn’t want basil (I’m still not sure I didn’t overdose on basil). Then, he offered to grill me some potatoes. They do that on the lunch menu as part of another dish, and he said there was no reason they couldn’t do it at night, too. So I ate the grilled potatoes, which were delicious. They assured me everything would be kept separate and clean.

I ended up ordering a thinly cut rib steak (Entrecote?) and the grilled potatoes. It was delicious. Who knew grilled potatoes tasted just like karpas? It was like Pesach, only better. There was some random parsley on the plate, which would have sucked if I’m allergic to parsley, but I’m not, so it was good. And I’m sure they would have sent me a new, cleaner one if I had complained.

It felt so good to eat out! I was home and had eaten by 8:30pm. Usually, I’m just about finishing cooking at 8:30, and then starting to eat, and dishes, and cleaning, etc. Who knew there was all this time in the day when you don’t have to cook? It’s a miracle. I feel like I went on vacation. Like I have this whole night where I can clear out my DVR, blog, check email, and not even have to stay up too late! It’s an incredible feeling.

All I cooked today was 2 turkey breasts for lunch. And I’ll make some rice pasta and lamb for tomorrow’s lunch when I wake up. I can’t remember the last time I cooked so little! I might even make it 5 days without going to Whole Foods.

Who said eating had to be hard?