FDOM16: My First Vegan Experience

It’s nice to have a vegetarian friend: I get to experience new foods that I wouldn’t normally try.

And yesterday I experienced something completely eye-opening to me: a fully vegan restaurant called Viva Vegeria. No meat and no animal by-products . . . which for me meant NO DAIRY OR EGG ON THE PREMISES. This was the first time I’d ever been able to order a full meal without listing off all the parts of the meal that the chef had to remove. I got to order exactly what I felt like having with no fear at all of cross-contamination.

For our appetizer, we ordered vegan picadillo nachos. The picadillo was actually made with soy beans, and the vegan queso was made with carrots and sweet potatoes. I ordered a chile relleno stuffed with portabella mushrooms, vegan mozarella cheese, beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and coconut milk. My friend ordered buffalo wings, which were actually battered and fried cauliflower tossed in ancho and cascabel buffalo sauce. We ended the meal with a vegan funfetti cupcake.

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Lemme tell you: I did freak out a little. I emphasized and re-emphasized my food allergies, and took a good five minutes before I’d actually try the nachos just because for the entire 25 years of my life, I’ve never been able to eat anything called ‘cheese’ or ‘queso.’ And it was a little scary to just jump right into it, even though my friend and the waitress and the chef reassured me it was all safe (I even unnecessarily went out to the car to retrieve my Epi-Pen just in case).

But the food was delicious!!! It was so freeing to enjoy my meal without needing to be worried, and I got to try at least five different foods that night. Vegan restaurants are perfect for people just like me! I’m making it a point to find one closer to me (I definitely don’t want to have to drive to San Antonio every time I want a worry-free restaurant experience). So please, let me know if you’re aware of any vegan restaurants in the Austin area! 😊

FDOM16: When Restaurants Do It Right

This evening I had a wonderful meal at Applebees where the server was completely understanding of my allergies. She made sure that I had the allergen menu with me to make educated decisions about my meal, and let me know when I selected something that wasn’t within my parameters.

The great thing about Applebees, and many other chain restaurants, is that they’ve learned the importance of being allergy-friendly — by offering an allergen menu both online and in the store. Not only did this assist in me making an educated decision on what I could eat, the restaurant also ensured that my meal was completely allergen-free.

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An un-buttered steak at Applebees.

I was thoroughly impressed with Applebees, especially since the last time that I’d eaten at an Applebees I had a really bad reaction. It was so wonderful that the restaurant was so willing to accommodate my allergies — I’ll definitely have to come again!

FDOM16: The Hunt for Vegan Sweets

If you think finding allergy-friendly restaurants is hard, it’s even harder to find allergy-friendly bakeries. Due to the fact that most baking requires eggs, enjoying sweets has never really been something I get to do . . . in fact, I’m not even much of a fan of sweets (I believe it’s just because I never really got to have any). But every now and then, I crave something decadent!! And there’s just really no point in me making a batch of cupcakes for one leetle craving (as much as my husband and coworkers enjoy it when I do 😉)

But hallelujah! I live in the Austin area, which means some allergy-friendly/vegan bakeries are within driving distance! Because I’m in Georgetown, they’re about a half hour to an hour drive away, which just means I make a day trip out of going down into Austin to enjoy the beautiful views, listen to my favorite podcast, and partake in some delicious sweets. ❤


Capital City Bakery

This is the first allergy-friendly bakery I came across in the Austin area. Located in downtown Austin off Cesar Chavez, Capital City Bakery has absolutely no dairy or eggs onsite, which means there is NO THREAT OF CROSS-CONTAMINATION. And let me tell you: that phrase is one of the sweetest (no pun intended 😆) phrases someone with food allergies could hear. This bakery is a little far for me to drive to, so I don’t go there as often as I’d like — but it’s definitely a must-try for anyone wanting a vegan and allergen-free bakery experience.


The Steeping Room

Although this place is a tea lounge and not a bakery, they still serve quite a few vegan options! From cupcakes to cookies, The Steeping Room is a place I always enjoy stopping by to have some green tea, a vegan currant scone, and to either read a book or do some homework. I always go to the Domain’s location, but there’s also one in downtown Austin. Austin is so allergy-friendly, and I’ve never had a problem with their vegan options!

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Doing homework with a vegan currant scone and a cup of hot green tea.


Sweet Ritual

This vegan ice cream shop was just introduced to me two weeks ago and I’ve already stopped by twice since my original encounter! Just like Capital City Bakery, Sweet Ritual has absolutely no dairy or egg on the premises, so again there is NO THREAT OF CROSS-CONTAMINATION!! Located off of Airport Blvd and only about a half hour drive for me, this place is a little easier for me to get to. All of their ice creams are made with locally-produced items, and their entire ingredient list is available online!


Attention vegans and others with food allergies: THE WORLD IS CATCHING UP WITH US. Eventually, there will be more and more options for us and we won’t feel so left out of the sweet craze! 💗

FDOM16: The Environmental Skin Test

As y’all have learned, I’ve always had food allergies (quite literally from the day I was born).  I’ve learned to deal with that by bringing my own cupcakes to other kids’ birthday parties, by carrying a purse at a very young age so I could always have an Epi-Pen on me, by telling anyone I dated that they had to wash out their mouth before they could kiss me (which was definitely awkward on first dates), by not being able to have lattes at coffee shops, and by many other strange but required things throughout my life.

Since it’s been almost a decade since I’d seen an allergist, I figured it was about time to go back to see one since my food reactions have become more common and more severe lately (and I can’t keep calling out to work, so I needed some doctor’s proof to receive some FMLA). At one of my doctor visits, the nurse asked me if I was feeling congested; I responded that I wasn’t. She then asked me if I was having any trouble breathing; I responded that I wasn’t. She then asked me if I ever felt like there was something tickling the back of my throat; I responded that I never had. Strangely enough, she told me that she could feel the congestion in my neck, could hear the rattling in my lungs, and could see the mucus in the back of my throat . . . an environmental skin test was ordered.

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I came back to the allergist a few weeks later to get the environmental skin test. Needless to say, it was definitely an interesting experience! Instead of having to stick me 82 times with individual needles, the technician had a machine with multiple needles at the end, and stuck me with that machine a few times. I then had to lay there for 15 minutes while my body reacted to the allergens. I decided to document (as best I could) my reactions to the allergens.

When the technician came back in after the 15 minutes were up, he audibly gasped as he looked at my back and at all the reactions I was having. He then had to manually hold up a ruler and measure each and every one of my hives and document how red they were. The larger the bump, the more severe my allergy. If I didn’t have a visible reaction to an allergen on my back, a more potent form of that allergen was then injected into my arms with individual needles.

Of the 82 allergens I was tested for, I am allergic to 64!! I’d always known I was allergic to cats and dogs, but it turns out that my hive to the cat allergen was three times larger than my reaction to the dog allergen! And my reaction to the horse allergen was even larger than my reaction to the cat . . . and my reaction to cedar was even worse than my reaction to the horse! My largest hive was 22mm in diameter. That’s a big ol’ bump!

The main thing I learned from this skin testing was that with all of the things I’m allergic to, I am just constantly congested and unable to breath fully. The breathing test I also took determined that I now have some minor asthma . . . which explains why my food reactions have become more common (if I’m already having trouble breathing, the possibility of me reacting to an allergen is even higher). Since this testing, I’ve begun to take allergy medicationsNasonex, and Dulera . . . and it’s amazing how my sleep has improved and how I can finally breath a little deeper!

Moral of the story: just because you’re incredibly focused on ensuring you’re not eating any foods that could kill you, also make sure that you’re not putting other health issues on the wayside. Those effect you on a daily basis!