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the food allergy app—

from Allergy Force

  • Writer's pictureGayle Rigione, Allergy Force

Exploring Chinese Food with Food Allergies


As a parent, you look forward to sharing childhood favorites with your kids, whether its your love for sci fi books, grandma's cornbread, skiing, tide pooling, or the Dallas Cowboys.

Looking back over the years, Chinese food has always held a special place in my heart.

When I was a child, my family always went out for Chinese food on Friday nights to celebrate the weekend. I carried that tradition forward to my college years, and then to my young-adulting & career-building years, first in NYC, then in the far, far away suburbs. I have never met a dish of dumplings, spring rolls, egg drop soup, lo mein, shrimp fried rice or kung pao chicken that I didn't love to the last bite (or last sip if I added a Tsingtao or two to the mix.) Chinese food on Friday nights definitely made my top 10 list of favorite things I wanted to share with my kids.

And then I became a food allergy mom.

I introduced egg fried rice to my son when he was about 16-months. I remember revisiting it with him within the hour after he violently ejected it. Hmmmmmmm. "Another sudden onset tummy bug," I remember thinking. "He sure gets a lot of those."

It was another 6 months before I was able to connect the dots to egg and have him allergy tested. And yes. He was allergic to eggs...

...and to peanuts, and peas, and shrimp, and soy and all tree nuts.

Chinese restaurant kitchens are full of his allergens which are basic ingredients in Chinese food. Introducing him to Chinese food wasn't going to happen. Then.

Over the years my son challenged out of shrimp and soy, and then outgrew tree nuts, but eggs and peanuts remained. The years flew by —as they will — high school, college, 1st job post college. (Twist of fate, too, that he studied Mandarin for five years and minored in Asian Studies in college.)

A friend of mine, another food allergy mom, shared that she took Chinese cooking classes because she didn't want her kids to miss out. I, obviously, had not ventured into a Chinese cooking class to unravel the mysteries of oyster sauce, chili oil and Chinese rice wines.

The thought stayed with me, though. The seed planted.

Then I crossed paths with a food allergy mom at a conference who introduced me to the Instant Pot, a miraculous piece of kitchen equipment. Said mom recently published her first cookbook — Chinese Instant Pot Cookbook — with easy suggestions for adapting recipes for dietary restrictions. I was curious and motivated to give Chinese cooking a go, putting my faith in my new friend's Instant Pot know how and cookbook.

So, at 24 years of age, my son with food allergies has been exploring Chinese food that I now make, and enjoying it all to the last bite. (Note to self: track down Chinese 5-spice powder.)

I am grateful to my old friend for inspiring me to believe 'I can', and to my new friend, Sharon Wong (founder of Nut Free Wok), for introducing me to the right tool and the knowledge I needed to TRY.

A few thoughts?

1. Sometimes the only thing standing between you and a dream is YOU.

That goes for life in general and allergic living in particular.

2. Sometimes the spark from another's journey lights the fire.

Seek sparks and see what ignites.

3. When you least expect it, another's know how can point the way to the possible.

4. You're 100% guaranteed to fail if you never take the shot.

It's amazing what you can do {create?} when you commit to the 'TRY'.



About the Author: Gayle Rigione is CEO of Allergy Force, the food allergy app. She’s also an allergy mom. She’s lived the heart stopping moments when her son ate the wrong thing, second guessed reactions and raced to the ER. These experiences inspire her to create tech tools for people with food allergies. Whatever you do, do it with a full heart. Audentes Fortuna Iuvat

Get the food allergy app for Apple OR Android

Photo Credit: Jay Abrantes on Pexels


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