Allergy Friendly Friday: Sharks and Walnuts


I’m writing this post from 36276 feet up in the air! I love GoGo!  I get in a solid 5 hours of work on my cross country flights now.

I am heading back to LA, back to real life, back to prepare my children to start school on AUGUST 14th. Horrors. These kids haven’t even had a full 2 months off. I’m a little bit worried.

How many others out there are now on this early August schedule in public school? It seems inhumane to me, given the blistering heat. If you have been on it, how has it worked for you? Interested to know….

So, a bit of trivia.  The shark attack on Cape Cod last monday happened right at the ocean beach that I go to. And in fact, my family and I were going to the beach right at that time, but happened to run into friends on the way, and got waylaid.  Just saying, near misses always freak me out. Not that if we’d been at the beach the shark would have bitten a member of my family instead, or anything, because quite frankly, I make them stay shallow.  This unfortunate fellow was 80 yards out and dangling his feet in the surf like shark bait, which is exactly what he became. For those of you who don’t know the story, the guy is alright, he was bitten to the bone on both ankles, but the shark must have realized he didn’t taste like seal and let go.

But like I said, near misses always freak me out. Being in such close proximity to danger raises my hackles. I had a different but emotionally similar situation last night. Yes, I’m getting there, this relates to food allergies.

Just as I love swimming in the ocean and will do so at the risk of running into sharks or rip tides, so too will I go to restaurants that are full of my allergens.  I pushed it to the limit last night, however, and was a little out of my comfort zone. I am a huge fan of the chef Ana Sortun, and went to her James Beard award-winning restaurant, Oleana.  I adore her cookbook Spice and have used it many many times, always with outstanding results.  Ana specializes in Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine. One of my favorite. But you know who also plays favorites with Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine? Walnuts.  Walnuts love Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine, and it loves them back. It’s a really solid affair. But walnuts do not love me.  Or perhaps it’s the reverse. But you get the idea. Walnuts could potentially kill me.

I had my epi-pen, and asked all the right questions. I told the waiter about my walnut allergy. I spied walnuts on either side of me, but took a deep breath.  I was with my father (a doctor/farmer), who sells his fruit to the restaurant.  We were well taken care of. In fact, too well taken care of. All of a sudden, a complimentary appetizer arrived at our table, a vegetarian lettuce cup, topped with… you guessed it, walnuts. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t eat this gift from the kitchen, and quite honestly, I felt panicked, but I really didn’t want to show it.  It was I who put myself in the water with the shark.

So, here’s what I learned: Even though we’d told the waiter that I had a walnut allergy, this information had not yet made its way back to the kitchen or the hostess. I have Sloane Miller (AKA Allergic Girl) in my head right now, asking me why I didn’t ask to speak to the chef who’d be cooking my food that night. Never assume.

I was lucky that the hostess described the complimentary dish in detail. And I went on to eat a lovely, walnut-free, and gluten-free dinner.  Ana’s food is brilliant.  And I’m grateful I got to go to her restaurant. But I view this as a cautionary tale. Always speak to the chef directly, if you have a severe food allergy. And kindly. You are a team.

And don’t swim out too deep if there are sharks. What seems obvious isn’t always so.

How close to danger will you get? What’s your comfort zone with food allergies? We all have different perimeters. What are your’s? Let me know.

Just to remind everyone, I’m doing a new thing with my top weekly picks from Allergy Friendly Friday. I’m sharing my weekly picks on Pinterst too. See here, where I’ve featured this week’s top picks on my new ALLERGY FRIENDLY FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS pin board.

Here are a few choice recipe highlights from the last Allergy Friendly Friday (on Saturday)

Please add your allergy-free and/or gluten-free recipe links to Allergy-Friendly Friday. PLEASE remember you have to link back from your post, for me to feature your recipe. That means link WITH A HYPERLINK THAT LINKS BACK HERE. When you link back to this post, you can share both your own and other’s fabulous allergy-friendly recipes. Am I repeating myself? 🙂 And remember, I specialize in creating gluten-free recipes that are free of the top 8 food allergens, but yours don’t have to be. They just have to be allergy-friendly in SOME way.


  • One post per blogger.
  • Please LINK back to this post so that your readers can find ALL the recipes linked to here. This is a sharing page.
  • Link to your individual recipe post, NOT your homepage.
  • Recipes DO NOT have to be completely allergen-free, just “ALLERGY-FRIENDLY” in some way.
  • When you link, let us know who you are. For example, I might add old fashioned gingersnaps (cybele


19 Responses

  1. Geanna says:

    Yikes! I haven’t been in that sort of situation for a while, but I was an attendant of a cooking class where everything was prepared with raspberries, something I’m terribly allergic too. I sat patiently through the entire class (luckily, it wasn’t hands-on), and as soon as samples were passed around, I high-tailed it out the door. It definitely taught me to ask questions and if nothing else, to be much more prepared and wary.

  2. Amber says:

    Hi Cybele,

    What a story! I’m glad you didn’t get “bit.”

    I also have a nut allergy (well, peanuts aren’t technically nuts, right, but these little buggers will kill me).

    So, I feel like I’m swimming with sharks EVERY TIME I go to a Thai restaurant. It’s crazy how panicky I feel sometimes. Sesame smells and tastes just like peanuts. So there have been some scares (of yes, me spitting out my food all over the place and running to the bathroom). Lovely.

    I remember when I was little I flew to my grandparents every summer and I felt so ill on the plane with the smell of peanut wafting through the cabin. Blah. No more luckily. But still, to this day (through good old classical conditioning), I still feel that sensation when on plane.

    Have a great rest of your weekend, Cybele.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    And as someone who also loves to swim in the ocean, I’m glad that guy is okay. Shark attacks are no joke. We are super careful when we go out boogie boarding.

    Be Well,

  3. […] on Allergy Friendly Friday Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponPinterestLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this. from → […]

  4. […] Linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Friday Food, Allergy Friendly Friday […]

  5. Devin says:

    Yikes!! I’m also always freaked out (but thankful) of near misses. (In reference to both the shark and free appetizer.) Glad to hear both missed you!

    Seems everyone has been raving about Spice – I’m really going have to check it out. Have you found it’s been easy to adapt a lot of the meals to allergy friendly versions?

    I think since my allergies are really my nursing daughter’s allergies – she’s the one who reacts to what I eat, I tend to find myself less of a risk taker than I likely would be if they were just my allergies.

  6. Iratxe says:

    Hello Cybele!

    Thank you for highlighting my Galletas de avena!.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. How worried and tense, been a very anxious time and sometimes the chef doesn’t know anything about allergies…

    This week I’m sharing a delicious avocado dip, healthy, fresh and delicious. Enjoy it!.

    Un beso,


  7. […] or Bragg’s), dairy, eggs, fish and peanuts, I have submitted it for Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Friday.  Substitute more sunflower seeds for the cashews to enjoy the dish nut-free. Share […]

  8. Wow two close calls! I’m glad you and your family are ok:) Thank you for hosting! This week I shared by Strawberry Cupcakes! They’re Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Sugar Free and Specific Carb Diet friendly!

  9. VintageMom says:

    Glad to hear you escaped the “shark” — as I was reading I was expecting to hear that the epi-pen came out! My post this week is also set on Cape Cod. I’ve been trying hard to share the things I love about the Cape with my kids, but the ice cream and hot dogs of my childhood have necessarily been made over into sorbet and other non-allergenic treats. We did have a near miss this week at one of our favorite restaurants in Harwich Port, with an unexpected ingredient in a cupcake. So sad when the birthday boy has to stop eating because he has an itchy throat and a stomach ache! My fault, for forgetting to ask about the frosting… trying to make up for it with my allergy-free vacation post! 🙂

  10. Thanks for sharing your story. What a good reminder to speak directly to the chef when ordering at a restaurant. A restaurant always impresses me when they send out their chef, without being asked to, to discuss the food allergies. Thank you for highlighting my S’mores Bars. This week I’m sharing my Grandma’s Double Good Double Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies. It is so exciting to be able to make her recipe for my little people, gluten free, egg free and nut free.

  11. […] have shared this recipe on Allergy Free Friday,   Healthy Vegan Fridays and Wellness […]

  12. […] post was featured on Wellness Weekend, Allergy Friendly Friday and Healthy Vegan Friday Print ThisYou might also like…Chicken Salad RecipeQuinoa and Pasta […]

  13. […] Also seen on GraceLaced Mondays, On The Menu Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Homestead Barn Hop, Make Your Own Monday, Must Try Mondays, Made From Scratch Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Tasteful Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Whole Foods Wednesday, Healthy2Day Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Thriving On Thursdays, Full Plate Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Foodie Friday, Allergy Friendly Friday. […]

  14. Hi Cybele! As always, thank you for hosting the party. 🙂 Today I linked up some Vanilla Chai Tea Cookies! They’re dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free (made with xylitol) and made with the contents of chai tea bags – crazy yummy.

    In celebration of my blog’s 1st year I’m running a little giveaway! The prize is a jar of the Citrus Chiffon Skin Brightening Scrub by SkinTherapy (organic and all natural – no artificial ingredients) and the winner will be announced on Sunday. Please come by and enter if you like!

    Have a lovely weekend!

  15. […] Sugar Free Sunday, Monday Mania, My Meatless Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Whole Foods Friday, Allergy Friendly Friday, /* Be Sociable, Share! Tweet jQuery(document).ready(function(){ […]

  16. […] (Shared on Cybele Pascal’s 8/3/12 Allergy Friendly Friday) Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  17. Homa says:

    I know it is a simple flavor combo but we love quinoa in the place of wheat bulgur in tabouli so I finally put a recipe up for it! And we haven’t taken E out to eat since her diagnosis several years ago and my son R, her little brother, has never eaten at a restaurant at all. E’s birthday is this month and I’d like to take her out to a restaurant but my research is not going well and my trust levels are admittedly low. It is hard to decide whether it is worth the risk but then again we take a risk every time we rely on an allergen statement on a package of food. I found out yesterday a shampoo I thought was safe for the kids (peanut free! soy free! worry free! the package declares) has ALMOND. Yes, almond. I cried frustrated, angry tears about it. How could I, head label reader, have missed the code word for almond? Other items from the same company have been safe and I’d been lured into a false sense of security. We just have to be vigilant and push forward. Thank you for sharing your experience, Cybele, it always helps to know we’re in this together.

  18. […] is being shared at Ricki’s wellness weekend, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Whole foods friday, Cybelles Allergy Friendly Friday « Oil-free Wheat Laddoo/Laddu and Choorma – Sweet Wheat cardamom balls. Vegan […]

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