Love to take a Bao?

The soft, steamy flavors of Tom’s BaoBao at Harvard Square awakened in me a new appreciation for the diverse cuisines of China. Those with nut allergies often find it daunting to approach Asian restaurants… but Tom’s BaoBao in Harvard Square was absolutely amazing, delicious, and peanut and tree nut free!

Bao or steamed buns are a delicious street food that first appeared over 1,200 years ago in China. These little steamed buns make up some of the most popular recipes of northern China.

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The exact origins of the dish are difficult to trace, although the char Siu bao — named for its use of char Siu pork — was a staple in most dim sum platters served in Chinese tea houses along the Silk Road, serving as an archetype for its many variants over the centuries.

This well-known street food, an ultra-soft white dome, offers a complement of flavors — sweetness and sourness of meat. The pillow like Chinese treats can be either savory or sweet. Sometimes filled with traditional ingredients like pork, chicken, vegetables, or potatoes, they also can be perfect pockets for more adventurous palates when stuffed with tuna or BBQed pigtails! With an edgy twist of Shaoxing wine, mild curry or smoked tofu, charred Shishito peppers, to name a few the recipes tantalize the taste buds!


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ITC Maurya New Delhi, India – Amazing Allergy Dietary Accommodations

The ITC Maurya New Delhi boldly embodies the traditional exuberance of the great Mauryan Empire. Our stay here was an exemplar of comfort, grace and tradition! Combining it with the dining experience it was an enthralling experience. The majestic architecture, the paintings and artifacts in the lobby and other areas were a reminder of India’s rich royal legacy!

In a country with an abundance of spices, aromas, and renowned flavors Tree Nut Allergies could shackle the dining experience for a foodie like me. Mughlai delicacies – creamy, rich gravies are often brought to life with an medley of spices and nuts, especially cashew nuts, pistachios and almonds. Having to steer clear of these and still enjoy the robust flavors is often a challenge.

In Spring 2019, I had a wonderful week-long stay at ITC Maurya New Delhi. The initiative and care taken by the Maurya team in assuring my allergies were accommodated and all my dining experiences were impeccable, made my dining experience unforgettable.

The executive chef and his talented team make culinary magic – their gourmet creations, reflect regional cuisines, varied and delicious!

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A team of staff that was assigned to me. They assured that all precautions were taken to limit any cross contamination (like wrapping cutlery in foil) and worked diligently through every meal. ITC Maurya has a amazing allergy awareness system in place – what was even more impressive was that there were consistencies in practice.

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With spontaneous panache, ITC Maurya’s chefs can cook up inventive alternatives to dishes that contain nuts in the original recipe! 

I highly recommend the ITC Maurya to anyone travelling to New Delhi. I did exchange emails prior to my arrival and their team set up a meeting with me, upon arrival, to fully understand my dietary restrictions.

Immersing in the delicious flavors of India, each meal seemed a beautiful adventure in itself. I can hardly wait to stay there again!


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Happy #FoodAllergyAwareness Month #FAL Family! We’ve got a BIG surprise for you!

We’ve got you covered as you get ready to embark on your adventures and explore the world this summer!

AllergySmartz has just been updated to include 4 New Languages: Hebrew, Korean, Portuguese, and Turkish, and 1 New Allergen: Corn!

Usable without Internet connection, and equipped with 20 Spoken Languages and the Top 13 Allergens, AllergySmartz is the perfect tool to communicate your allergies to restaurant staff while dining abroad!

Be sure to download AllergySmartz and share it with your friends who want to travel this year! Happy Travels 🙂

Click here to Read More


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Travel Turbulence: Food Ideas + Pro-Tips for Long Haul Flights

Being cooped up in an airborne metal chute on long haul flights can be nerve-wracking. Having experienced the trepidations as you board to “Fly the Allergy Unfriendly Skies,” galvanized us to compile this list.

NOTE: This list is loosely classified by mealtimes, but travelling often interferes with your body clock, so you may find yourself eating bagels at 10 pm. 🙂


  1. Bring bagels and single-serve jams/jellies. Assemble a delicious breakfast item on the flight!
  2. Bring small boxes of cereal. Ask the flight attendants for milk. They should have some when coming around with coffee, but will bring it separately if requested.

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  3. Pack some instant oatmeal. Just add hot water! You can get it by asking the flight attendants.

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  4. Enjoy hard-boiled eggs. Pack them in a CLEAR baggie, so they can be inspected at Security.
  5. Carry homemade muffins. They’re delicious and high in fiber.QHADHSSH


  1. Bring a cup of noodles. Low sodium is preferable. Just add some hot water (available onboard) and you’re good to go!QAILNOODLES.png
  2. Pack soup. Most companies make individual sized bowls that can be made by just adding hot water.QANSOUP
  3. Make a tuna sandwich. Make sure to buy “no drain” tuna, and make sure it has a pullback tab.

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  1. Order a fruit platter ahead of time. Most airlines offer some version of this, often with yogurt. It can be ordered at ticket purchase, or usually up to 48 hours before your flight.
  2. Create your own fresh fruit/veggie baggies. Place some carrot sticks, celery sticks, grapes, cherries, oranges, etc., in a baggie. You CANNOT take it through Security in a foreign country, even if it is only a layover. Of course, it is not allowed through Immigration.
  3. Sun Maid Raisins are a healthy and delicious snack. They’re small and easily portable, and will keep you satisfied while also providing energy.QARAISINS
  4. Bring along snack bars. Fiber One, Nutri-grain, and Enjoy Life are all very well-labeled, so check for your allergy needs.

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  5. Bake brownies/cookies. Many allergy-friendly mixes are available.
  6. Pack tortilla chips and single-serve packs of salsa. You may have to put the chips in your own plastic bag (due to size issues).

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  7. Take pudding. Hunt’s Snack Pack makes delicious puddings of various flavors. No refrigeration required.SNACKPACK.png
  8. Bring along some crackers. There’s a wide variety of allergy-safe crackers, and many delicious flavors!

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BRING ALONG AllergySmartz! On your travels, AllergySmartz can assist you in communicating the severity of food allergies, and the necessary precautions, to restaurant staff around the world!

To download from the Android Store, CLICK HERE. To download from the Apple Store, CLICK HERE.

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Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to have a note from your allergist that your Epi-Pen and food are necessary to bring along, and do not pose a threat to anyone.

Now, you can truly fly the friendly skies!


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Summer Break!

Hey FALowers!

We hope you are enjoying your summer travels and are finding the update to AllergySmartz useful in conveying your food allergies abroad.

Just as you have all embarked on your vacations, FAL will be going on a Summer Break as well. Therefore, there will not be new posts for awhile, but when we return expect all-new content and some surprises too!

If you want to see something in particular when FAL returns: a certain language added to AllergySmartz, or a blog post on a specific topic, let us know! Email us at We love hearing from you!

Safe travels FAL Family 🙂


AllergySmartz App Update

It’s Summer! All set for your next vacation? The AllergySmartz App is all ready for your use – with four new languages just added: Chinese, Bahasa Malay, Filipino, & Romanian!

AllergySmartz is a mobile app that overcomes language barriers to communicate food allergies and safety precautions for safe food preparation to chefs, in a variety of languages.

AllergySmartz currently features the top allergens (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, legumes/pulses, tree nuts, fish, shellfish [mollusks/crustaceans], mustard, and sesame) and 16 languages to translate the allergy warning statements both to and from (English, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Vietnamese, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Filipino, Hungarian, Bahasa Indonesian, & Bahasa Malay)

AllergySmartz allows users to delve into any culture, sampling various international cuisines while still feeling comfortable.

AllergySmartz can be used anywhere on the globe – it requires NO internet access!

Download AllergySmartz on the iTunes or Google Play Store TODAY!

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How to Pack your EpiPen

1. Don’t put them in your check in! Though the temperature in the lower deck probably won’t ruin your EpiPens, when traveling abroad, especially internationally, you don’t want to risk it!

2. Put your EpiPens in the carry on! You don’t want to risk not having the EpiPens while in the air. (Packing them in your carry on is also a great way to make sure the temperature won’t affect it).

3. Pack in sets! If you carry both Benadryl and Epipen for example put them in ziploc bags as sets. That way, if they ask you to check a bag you can easily rearrange your suitcase without loosing the medicine!

4. Bring extra! Hopefully you’ll stay safe the entire trip – but especially if you’re abroad you don’t want to risk not having one if you need it.

5. Bring a doctors note! Most parts of the world know what an EpiPen is and won’t create problems. But if they do it’s good to have a doctors note so you can make sure you can take it on the flight.

Safe Travels FAL!

Airline Travel Tips #2

Loved the tips we shared in Installment #1 of Travel Tips? Then today’s your lucky day!! Here’s installment #2 –

You’re bound to get hungry on a flight – especially if you’re going international. If your on a 14 hr flight sometimes snacks won’t suffice – thankfully there are a couple options for you to make sure you have an allergy safe meal aboard.

1. Fruit Platter: Upon special request many airlines offer a fruit platter. The fruit platter is usually great for people with food allergies because rather than the currys, noodles, and pastas it’s pretty clear what allergens the plate contains or may contain. The only thing to note about the platter is you must put in a special request before your flight otherwise they might not have it on board!

2. Cup A Noodles / Chicken Bullion Soup: For Nut-Allergic people like me these “to-go” soups/pastas are great options! All you have to do is ask a flight attendant to bring you a cup of hot water, pour it into your to-go noodles cup, and you’re ready to enjoy a nice, hot and filling meal on the flight!

3. Bread! Whether the flight attendants bring out bread in a basket or they give you a roll with your meal, bread is one of the most common food items you get on the flight! Though one should always read the label to make sure you are safe and comfortable, it’s good to know that the bread is almost always safe. Bread for flights is mass produced and airlines rarely treat their passengers to a “lap of luxury” type meal with fancy nut breads – those are more expensive. So if they label checks out well on these breads, your most likely safe to enjoy them!

Airline Travel Tips #1

Traveling this summer? No fear, FAL is here with some helpful tips to guide you 🙂

1. Personal Pillows and Blankets
People with allergies tend to be especially sensitive to different materials. As someone with allergies myself I have travelled and felt itchy and uncomfortable with the pillows and blankets the airlines provided for long flights. Non coincidentally, when I’ve used their pillows and blankets I will sneeze nonstop until I move the pillow or blanket off of me. Something in the pillow or blanket is definitely an irritant and I recommend taking your own personal pillow and blanket so you can have a more comfortable and relaxing journey!

2. Wipe the seats!
People bring all kinds of foods to snack on during flights. Though airlines usually clean the planes between flights, there isn’t time for an in depth cleaning. What does that mean? If the person on the last flight was using the remote while snacking on some cashews there is a risk for a CONTACT reaction if you are using the remote and it wasn’t wiped down. But don’t worry, there’s an easy way to eliminate this risk! Just use Wet Wipes or Clorox Wipes to wipe down your seat, tray table, remote/TV when you board the plane – then wash your hands and you should be good to go!

3. Wipe your hands before eating!
This one seems obvious, but if your relaxed in your plane seat, on a long international flight you might forget! Just make sure your hands are clean (in case you accidentally got some allergen residue on your hand unknowingly) before you start eating and your hands are in your mouth.

Stay tuned for Travel Tips installment #2 next week!