Archives for September 2011

P. F. Chang’s Is Allergy Friendly

I had heard that P.F. Chang’s was great at handling diners with food allergies. So when friends of ours invited us to have lunch with them at P.F. Chang’s I was excited to give it a try. We rarely eat out anymore so this was a treat for sure. I was blown away by their food allergy system and their attention to detail.

PF Changs

I had looked over their menu online the night before and chosen what I thought would be best for me to order. It’s always a good sign when the menu states that they are willing to accommodate special dietary needs. Each dish listed the ingredients involved so I tried to pick one of the most simple dishes. I decided that the beef and broccoli off of the gluten free menu with plain, white rice would be my best option.

As soon as we sat down at our table I informed the waiter of my allergies and told him what I was thinking about ordering. When I mentioned soy as one of my allergies his eyes got wide and I thought I had made a huge mistake trying to eat at a Chinese restaurant without consuming soy. I suggested to the waiter that I could go without sauce, to which he replied that any dish without the sauce could be made safe for me. We talked a few more minutes about how the food would be prepared. He was very knowledgeable about specific ingredients in each dish, right down to what type of oil my stir fry would be cooked in. I was more than pleased that he could answer all of my questions off the top of his head without having to check.

When the waiter came back to take my order he had me tell him my allergies again and he wrote each one down on the order ticket with my order. He was extra great because each time he brought something to the table, such as the soups and extra condiments, he made sure to let me know which ones I should stay away from. When it came time to offer dessert, he suggested their gluten free option. I found it fantastic that he was paying attention and remembering the whole time!

When my lunch was served it came on a special plate that marked it as the allergy free food. I had read that they do this on the web site, but the waiter also explained to us that any time someone with food allergies places an order it is put on a plate marked with the P.F. Chang’s logo. That way I knew that my order had been properly flagged in the kitchen. He reminded me that any time we eat there I should always make sure I receive a specially marked plate. I thought this was awesome because it let me know that the people in the kitchen had received my message and were paying attention to what was being added to my plate. When it was brought to the table it was very clear which was mine when everyone else’s food was in large, plain, white bowls. Awesome!

Beef and broccoli

My experience with P.F. Chang’s was even better than I had expected. My food was delicious and knowing that they had such a great system in place left me free to enjoy the time we had with our friends instead of worrying about whether or not my lunch would give me some type of reaction (by the way… I felt perfectly fine). I will definitely be enjoying meals there in the future and would recommend it to others with food allergies.

No-Noodles Lasagna

Lasagna has always been one of our favorite meals, but I haven’t made it in a long time because I can no longer have the noodles or that much cheese. Then we were watching a cooking show a while ago where they used sliced zucchini in place of the noodles. It sounded like a great idea. I’ve been meaning to try it for a while now and finally made a gluten free and allergen friendly version of lasagna.

I started by sauteing half a chopped onion and some minced garlic in olive oil. When the onions were soft, I added about a pound of pre-cooked ground beef, and a jar of my favorite spaghetti sauce. While that simmered over low heat, I sliced a zucchini and a yellow squash as thinly as I could. I used produce I brought home from Bill in Ohio.

Sliced zucchini

After spreading a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of my baking dish, I layered squash, meat mixture, and shredded mozzarella cheese. I made three layers and alternated the direction of the squash after each layer.

Squash layer

When I finished my layers I sprinkled a generous portion of parmesan cheese on top and a little bit of basil, mostly for decoration.

Cheese on top

It baked at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, enough time to make sure the cheese on top is fully melted. Let it stand for at least five minutes before serving.

Baked lasagna

It came out great! I was worried that it wouldn’t hold together very well without the thick noodles and it would just be a big mess when we ate it, but it didn’t. It was very tasty and I didn’t feel like I was missing out by not having the noodles. It also passed the Jesse test… he liked it and even went back for seconds.

Lasagna piece

This was a win… will definitely be making this again. I’m happy to bring lasagna back into our lives. Yummy!

Meet the Burkhalters

We left the farm and were on the road early this morning. We are spending the night in Knoxville, Tennessee because we weren’t brave enough to try to drive straight through after our experiences on the way up to Ohio. Plus the weather got pretty terrible. It was fine all the way to Kentucky and then it turned nasty making driving no fun. We’re used to the rain, but not used to it being so cold when it’s raining. The first thing we did when we checked into our room was turn on the heater.

Ohio barn

However, we did have a fun lunch date to look forward to today with John and Rhonda. Rhonda had jokingly said on our way up to honk as we passed their house since they live right off the interstate. We thought about meeting them then, but we were really in too much of a rush to get to our destination after all the car problems we had. So we decided to plan on doing something together on our return trip.

We “met” John and Rhonda online quite a while ago. John has CF and is around the same age as Jesse and we were really looking forward to getting to meet them in person. It’s still funny to me to meet someone for the first time, but already know what they look like and know so much about them from Facebook and blogs. We hit it off with them pretty good and really enjoyed hanging and chatting with them. We mostly talked about normal people stuff, but transitioned easily to talking about IVs and clinic visits. It was a good time.

Me with Rhonda

Our guys were careful to follow the three foot, no contact rule and sat on opposite sides of the table at lunch. Besides, standing with crossed arms makes a more manly looking pose for a picture anyway.

Jesse with John

We had originally thought that we would just meet at any convenient place we could find off the interstate and I was going to bring my own food with me. But then Rhonda did some research to find a place that she thought would be better for me to eat with my food allergies… which I thought was so sweet and thoughtful of her. She suggested PF Changs which I had heard is really good at dealing with allergies, but had not been there before today. So it was an extra special treat to eat out and be with new friends. (More about how awesome my experience was with eating there soon.)

PF Changs

Then they were even more sweet to buy us some baby items for our future foster children. We were so surprised that they would have thought to do that for us. This was one of our very first gifts too! They got us two sets of onesies… one for either a boy or a girl, a bottle, a pack of baby plates, and a package of diapers. How thoughtful of them!


Thanks for spending part of your day with us Burkhalters, we really had a good time with you guys! Hope we can do it again sometime.