Dairy and Citrus Free, Conveniently

Speaking of dairy free foods, they are difficult to find anywhere, not just in restaurants. Even your run-of-the-mill prepared or packaged foods contain dairy: breads, crackers, soups, frozen meatballs, salad dressing, etc. Add a citrus allergy and then it seems you are going to die of starvation. As a result of nursing a baby who was allergic to both, I’ve had to find the right recipes and make a lot of my own items from scratch. However, since I’ve never had the time to make everything from scratch, I’ve also ferreted out some dairy and citrus free convenience items. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but since it is common for small babies to be allergic to these foods, I thought it might be helpful to others. Just be sure to double check the facts if you have a serious allergy. Then enjoy!

Takeout food

Asian cuisine: Some Southeast Asian cuisine heavily features lime but most Chinese or Japanese food is citrus free.

Burgers: Burger buns usually have dairy product in them. But Ruby Tuesday‘s buns are free of the allergen. Some burgers come with cheese so be sure to ask for no cheese. For a list of other entrees from Ruby Tuesday that are dairy free, see its allergen info here. And of course there are the vegan burgers at Crazy Burger.

Dessert: Pastiche has macaroons and homemade dark chocolate made without dairy. Crazy Burger has vegan options. And Keenwah on Broadway has a fantastic vegan brownie.

Fast food: McDonald’s buns and featured salads contain allergens so I get the Chicken Selects with a side salad.

Mexican cuisine: Avoid Taco Bell; there are virtually no options there. Look for a local spot that doesn’t marinate meat in lime juice. I found SAPO Freaky Burrito, which has pretty plain meats. El Perrito has a variety to choose from and uses fresh corn tortillas (which means no citric acid as a preservative).

Pizza: I haven’t found a chain which makes pizza dough without dairy and/or citric acid but locally, there’s Mama Leone’s. I order my pizza with extra sauce and no cheese. Just be careful about the toppings; lots of sausages and pepperonis contain citric acid so ask about them or avoid them.

Pockets or wraps: The good news is pockets or wraps don’t contain dairy. The bad news is most Mediterrean cuisine features yogurt or lemon so it’s out. One exception may be meat pies. I’ve never had a problem with the meat pies from Sam’s Bakery in Fall River. Also try the Steak Bomb from D’Angelos with no cheese. I’m pretty sure it’s also citrus free since I’ve never had a problem with it.

Sandwiches: An Italian grinder from Marzilli’s or Marcucci’s in Fall River. Hold the cheese.

Pre-packaged food

Breads and buns: You can almost never go wrong with the store brands, which use the least amount of ingredients. As a general rule, go for freshly baked, light and fluffy. Calise & Sons is another option for buns and rolls.

Breakfast sausage, frozen: Jones Breakfast Sausage.

Chicken tenders, frozen: Perdue Breaded Chicken Tenders.

Dessert: Dairy free ice cream such as So Delicious. Oreos, Junior mints, Peeps and Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups. Many brands of dark chocolate.

Meatballs, frozen: Cooked Perfect Turkey Meatballs.

Pasta sauce: Ragu or Bertolli Tomato and Basil varieties.

Pizza crust: Top This Pizza Crust is one of the very few brands that does not contain dairy and/or citrus. It’s made in Rhode Island.

Jelly/jam/preserves: Sorrell Ridge is the only fruit spread I know of which does not contain citric acid.

Salsa: Nature’s Promise, Brad’s Organic, Victoria’s and Mrs. Renfros basic varieties.

Sausage: Aidell’s Cajun Andouille Sausage. This takes like chourico, which is a bonus, because chourico is made with dried milk.

Tortillas: Chi Chi’s is the rare tortilla which does not contain citric acid.

Other Resources

Avoiding citrus: Vicki Clarke’s Citric Acid Intolerance Site

Avoiding dairy: GoDairyFree.Org

El mejor amigo del hombre

My favorite place to eat in Newport is Perro Salado on Charles Street. I don’t go there very often, because it isn’t the place to bring children, but it is a great spot for a romantic dinner for two or a cozy dinner with a friend or two or three. It’s in an old colonial home where tables are tucked into corners and flames from the fireplaces flicker on the walls. Authentic Mexican inspired dishes are served with fresh ingredients; I usually get one of the specials, which highlight this last feature. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the dessert is the best around I’ve discovered yet.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that the owners of Perro Salado opened a quick serve restaurant on Thames Street called El Perrito Taqueria. “Even though though he ambiance won’t be as charming,” I thought, “Hey! I can take my kids out and enjoy good Mexican food. Alright!” After it had been open an eternity, it seems, I finally made it down to El Perrito with my family today. The atmosphere was actually quite cozy. It’s almost literally a hole in the wall place, in the basement of a building. (There are several shops and restaurants set up this way.) A Mediterranean pocket place used to occupy this particular basement. But the new renters have transformed it so completely that it’s hardly recognizable. The interior designer kept with the dark wood theme of the parent restaurant but implemented a more rustic look. Despite the small size of the place and the dark colors, it has an open feel, with large tables, benches and even a little market to shop for sauces and even produce.

The menu did not disappoint. Just as it’s parents’ menu, the Little Dog’s offerings are extensive, affordable and unique. And, just as it’s parent does, the offspring offers up dishes thoughtfully executed with tender meats, flavorful sauces, soft cheeses, fresh cilantro and the like. Although the ingredients are familar at Mexican restaurants, the final products are unique. The result is savory and memorable. I ordered a chourico and potato taco, a braised short rib topped with mango sauce taco and Yucca fries with chimichurri sauce. The braised short rib is my favorite so far. You can’t go wrong with this tender rib for $2.75. And topped with a slice of mango in a sweet sauce…mmm. The Yucca fries are basically deep fried mashed potatoe sicks; they have a thick, golden crust and taste like Tater Tots. I love Tater Tots but never would have thought to dip them in a spicy green sauce. (I will now.)

Sadly, I did not have enough room for dessert. But I did also have chips — golden fried flour tortillas like Gringo Jack’s, and two varieties of salsa – one sweet and one hot. I also had some Mexican Coca Cola — which, as soft drink afficionados know — is the only Coke to have, as it is made with real sugar. That said, I cannot wait to go back to try the dessert. I just may have to order three more items off the menu as well. Y’know, since I’m already there.