Happy Chinese Gluten New Year

I have about a million things to tell you, but no time to do it. Between getting back on my play date game (which I was never on, apparently) and researching play schools for Little Guy (which he says have to be “blue”), I have had about zero time to update.

Fancy play date picnic.

What snacks look like when I’m on my play date A game. Of course this only happened once.

In my spare time (i.e. LG’s naps) I’m attempting to edit my novel AND take an online real estate course. By the time LG passes out at 10pm (yes, because of the long and vitally important naps) my brain is completely zapped. I’m lucky if I can stay up long enough to watch the last season of Breaking Bad, which I’m woefully behind on (no spoilers please) and gives me nightmares. I kind of wish I never started the show. It’s like a train wreck, and I can’t look away even though I really want to. At least there’s Jesse.

One of the many stretches of the show's imagination.

One of the show’s many far fetched concepts.

Anyway… another thing that kept me and my brain busy recently was Bunky’s first class trip of the year, which happened to be a celebration of Chinese New Year… at a Chinese restaurant. UGH. Sure, they have rice noodles. But most are doused in GLUTEN. I kind of freaked about this for a while. Why do class trips have to be food related? And not just food related, but completely food focused. What about kids with food restrictions, life threatening allergies, celiac? Why not take the kids to a museum or an indoor play space? But no. It had to be Chinese food.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to Lilli and Loo, the only GF chinese I've heard of.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to Lilli and Loo, which apparently has great GF options.

I had planned on making Bunky a similar menu including lo mein, but ended up giving her leftover baked ziti (always better the second day, B says and it’s true), chicken noodle soup, and GF fried rice similar to this recipe. Dessert was Turkey Hill Vanilla (GF – I called ahead and checked online), so at least I didn’t have to worry about that. Or so I thought. More on that in a bit. Here’s a clue:

Ours was not GF, obvs.

Ours was not gluten free, obvs.

Backtracking a bit, when my husband and I first heard about this trip, we were both angry and deflated. Angry about the concept, deflated that our kid might feel left out – again. We debated about not sending her to school that day. We considered giving her a choice. But neither felt right. She’d definitely feel left out if she didn’t go, right? And I don’t want her to think opting out is the automatic response

Food related activities and celebrations will be part of her life forever, and she has to learn how to navigate them, not hide from them. But I realize now how important it is that I don’t hide from them. That I teach her how she can enjoy these events. That they may be challenging at times, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid them.

Homemade brown fried rice is way healthier anyhow.

Homemade fried rice is way healthier anyhow.

And so I worked my butt off to make the trip a success, to help her feel included, amid all the oohs and ahhs over the fragrant egg rolls, fried wontons, shrimp dumplings, lo mein, and fried rice.

Sometimes being GF can feel a little lonesome.

Sometimes being GF can feel a little lonesome.

I used my best British accent when serving her our food, grabbed a soup bowl and spoon before they could gluten-ize it, and kept an eye out for flying crumbs and roving gluten-y fingers. The kids are her table were sweet, and I kept an eye out for their needs as well, but mostly my attention was on Bunky. It paid off. She had fun, I think.

She ate everything I brought, and we donated some extra soup to a friend.

She ate everything I brought, and then we donated some extra soup to a grateful friend.

I feel like I was pretty chill during the whole thing, except for one teensy weensy moment at the very end when the waiters brought out trays of gluten free vanilla ice cream in plastic cups… with gluten fortune cookies on top. I might have said, “Oh shit” but I’m not sure. I leapt out of my seat and asked for a plain ice cream. One waiter tried to pry the cookie off and hand the cup to me, but I said no.

Luckily, I had packed some Lucy’s allergy free cookies in my bag, just in case. So while Bunky waited for her uncontaminated ice cream, she happily munched on a cookie. Then I used the rest of the cookies to make her a gluten free ice cream sandwich. Score.


Loving the new Snack and Go combo packs!

She was also thrilled with my stop at the local Hello Kitty store. (Oh holy moly, the store was AWESOME.)

I easily could have bought way, way more.

I easily could have bought way, way more cute stuff.

All in all, it was a success. Not every event will go so seamlessly, but it’s nice that this first one did.

Up next (as in tomorrow) – first sleepover. Say WHAT?!

(Luckily my sweet little homebody will be coming home in the evening. At least that gets me out of figuring out breakfast. Geez.)

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to work on the recipe posts currently simmering in my brain. There’s GF gnocchi (not homemade), one pot dinners, and Risi Bisi, a rice cooker dream.

How do you handle non GF friendly events and outings? Do you bring your own food, eat beforehand, or skip it all together? If your kid has celiac or a gluten intolerance, how do you help him or her feel included?

10 thoughts on “Happy Chinese Gluten New Year

  1. Our personal plan…ALWAYS pack our own food!! This is especially important with our little one because we also have to count her carbs (diabetic). A few tried and true’s: cheese sticks, clementines, trail-mix, grapes and popcorn! Thanks for confirming I’m not alone in this fight against Gluten ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I can recommend Lilli & Loo’s; I’ve only been once but the food was very good, and the service too. (Though my waitress did say something along the lines of, “Everyone gluten-free always comes in worried, but we know what we’re doing,” and I wasn’t sure if I felt completely reassured by that or just as though I were was a pain.)

    So far, the one time I went to a completely non-GF-friendly restaurant (usually I just don’t go), I did bring my own food, and it was fine. I’m sure it’ll get easier as I have to do it more, and for Bunky too. It must help to have a super caring mom like you there to look out for her. ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. Cracked up at the Jesse/teeth image. I never even thought of that! Too good!

  3. Wow Dana, we really need to get together! Iโ€™ve had SO many moments like this with my son. For some reason there seem to be a million food-centric events at his school. Everything from gummy bear math to teddy bear picnics (complete with teddy grahams) to weekly candy rewards for answering questions correctly. I have a bin of โ€œsubstituteโ€ treats in my sonโ€™s classroom so it usually goes off without a hitch. Last week though his teacher forgot to tell me that they were doing a Chinese New Year celebration where they would be frying won-ton wrappers and dusting them with powdered sugar, eating fortune cookies, and almond candies (he has nut allergies too!). It was an all day extravaganza and I had no idea that it was going on until he came home. It broke my heart because I could tell that it had made him sad. So, I completely understand your dedication to going the extra mile for your daughter and I was touched by your story. Of course, when he was sick for the last holiday party, I must say that I secretly kind of fist-pumped that we had a legit excuse to miss it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I really don’t understand why some schools have so many food-centric events… it almost seems lazy to me, like, oh let’s motivate the kids with CANDY! CUPCAKES! or even, for our kids recently, Chinese food! You can learn about another culture and celebrate holidays – in school – without so much emphasis on food. I’m frustrated for you and sad for your son that he was left out of such a food filled day ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Luckily, he has you for a mom so he can come home to safe and delicious treats. But still. Doesn’t change the sad part.

      Also, I’ve been known to fist pump when we have legit reasons to miss food related events, ha!

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