Allergy Friendly Chinese Dumplings: Matthew’s Story

Today’s post is set up a little differently…today, the post will be co-written by none other than my son, Matthew.

Matthew writing his story on Chinese Dumplings

The story really is about his experience so I felt his ‘words’ would be best to express his thoughts and feelings.

Let me set it up the story:

Matthew’s Grade 8 class won a lunch at The Mandarin Restaurant from a Poetry Contest.

Matthew has a peanut/tree nut allergy. Eating out at restaurants is not something that we do as a family very often…his older brother, Michael also has multiple food allergies: dairy, egg, sesame, beef, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry.

If, as a family, we decide to eat at a restaurant, I first check the restaurant’s website for any food allergen policies…the Mandarin’s website states, “Our food has not been analyzed for allergens. Many of our items contain ingredients like nuts, corn, gluten, etc., or have come in contact with those ingredients. It is therefore recommended that those with severe food allergies avoid eating at restaurants.” Click here to view.

I then call and speak to the Manager to get a feel if eating at their establishment would be ‘safe’ for my boys.

I called ahead to the Mandarin…after speaking to the Manager it was decided that the Mandarin would not be a ‘safe’ place for Matthew to eat. Matthew would need to come home for lunch that day.

The Chinese Dumpling recipe has been adapted from Pitchfork Diaries. I used ground turkey as there wasn’t any pork, I omitted the egg and sesame oil and I used Sherry. For the Dipping Sauce, I used 3 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of rice vinegar and about 1/2 tsp of fresh ginger minced on a rasp. My husband loved it, however, Matthew thought it a bit strong and Michael ate his without. Next time, I would perhaps add a bit of canola or extra virgin olive oil to dilute the flavours.

I highly recommend watching the video, on the Pitchfork Diaries post, on how to fold the rounded dough into the ‘beautiful crescent shape’. (which, by the way, Matthew mastered beautifully!)

Here is Matthew’s story:

Well, on Monday my friends went to the Mandarin because they won a contest. I couldn’t actually go. So the week before, my mom asked me what I would want to have if I went to the Mandarin that I hadn’t eaten before. I replied “dumplings”.

Matthew's Chinese Dumplings

I was doing some tedious work making the dumplings, when my dad came home. I explained what I was doing and here is what I said.

Matthew making his Chinese Dumplings

“You have to rim the dough with water, then fill and fold, then pick up and fold and pinch, and fold and pinch, then switch sides and fold and pinch, and fold and pinch, then seal but!! make sure the folds on each side are apart so it looks pretty.” ( said with a sarcastic tone )

Matthew folding and pinching the Chinese Dumplings

Mom found that hilarious but it kind of was if you were there.

Earlier, I was getting a little tired so I said, “You need to sing when making the dumplings or else you go mad, because it’s very boring!”

So that’s what I did, I started to hum.

The cooking of the dumplings is super easy, you just boil them.

Matthew boiling the Chinese Dumplings

They tasted really good but the dipping sauce was much too strong. Other than that, the meal was awesome!

As soon as I saw this picture I was amazed! It is awesome! It really captures the essence of the dumpings.

Matthew sampling his Chinese Dumpling

You should definitely try them!!

One on one with Matthew:

How did you feel when you heard that it would not be ‘safe’ to eat at the Mandarin Restaurant with your classmates?

I didn’t care at all. I didn’t really want to go to the Mandarin because I don’t think I would like the food and I would not feel comfortable eating there.

Do you think you missed out on anything?

No.

How did your classmates react to the fact that you would not be joining them to the Mandarin Restaurant due to your peanut/tree nut allergy?

They didn’t…they just accepted it.

Did they tease you? Make you feel like you are different? Single you out?

No.

What would you say to the boys and girls out there living with food allergies?

If you can’t eat it out at restaurants then just make it at home.

Matthew’s final thoughts:  “I’d like to go to restaurants once in a while but if there is a chance it is not ‘safe’ then I’d rather stay at home.” “I think of myself as the same as everyone else…I just can’t eat a few things.”

On Wednesday Matthew was invited by his teacher, Mr. G. to lunch…they sampled the pizza from Pizza Nova that will be served at the Grade 8’s Graduation Lunch…apparently, it passed the ‘yummy’ test!

Pizza Nova has a great web site for allergen information…click here to view.

Pizza Nova will also be providing Chicken Wings for the Grade 8’s Graduation Lunch…minus the dipping sauces, as they may contain traces of peanut/tree nuts. Mr. G. will provide safe dipping sauces as an alternate. Thanks Mr. G.!

Upon learning that Matthew was enjoying Pizza Nova pizza, one student remarked in a sarcastic tone, that he was displeased…Matthew retorted, “Yah, but you got to go to the Mandarin!” The student replied, “I think I would rather have had the pizza than go to the Mandarin!”

Next week Matthew will be invited to another lunch to sample Pizza Nova’s Chicken Wings!

I am so thankful for the understanding and cooperation that I have encountered throughout the years for both my boys at their school.

Our journey has not always been ‘easy’ but one has to remember it is a ‘learning curve’ for all involved…working as a team for the common goal of keeping our food allergic children safe is the focus…communication is key…keeping that in mind…compromises can be made.

How has your journey progressed with your children with food allergies at their schools? Any tips?

Matthew’s Tip: The Chinese Dumplings were larger than normal Dumplings…they could me made smaller.

P.S. I made the turkey filling and dough ahead of time. I rolled out the circles of dough and Matthew filled, folded, pinched and sealed ALL of the Chinese Dumplings himself! He also boiled them.

Way to go Matthew!

P.P.S. Some of the Chinese Dumplings were frozen for another meal.

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11 thoughts on “Allergy Friendly Chinese Dumplings: Matthew’s Story

  1. My solution for those types of events is to send my child (allergic to milk, eggs, nuts, peanuts, sesame, fish, shellfish and peas) with a lunchbox containing the lunch of his choosing. He asks the waiter for a plate and a soda, explains he is allergic and can’t eat anything at the restaurant. But he sits with his class and his friends and gets to enjoy the ‘experience’ while eating food that is special and safe for him. We sometimes do this as a family when I want a break and want to eat food that I didn’t cook 🙂

    Hurrah to Matthew for making ALL the dumplings! I usually wind up finishing them at our house.

    Big applause for Mr. G for helping Matthew feel special for a tasting meal.

    • Matthew had the option to go to the Mandarin for the ‘experience’…he chose not to go. As I felt he would be ‘missing out’ on something ‘special’, I opted to help him make something ‘special’, of his choosing, that would have been at the restaurant that he would have wanted to try. Matthew and I really had such a fun time making the Chinese Dumplings…in his mind, he felt he didn’t miss out on anything at all! In the end, that is really all that matters. I appreciate your sharing your experiences, everyone has their own way of dealing with these issues as each child is an individual with individual needs…that is why I love to hear from you all! I feel very fortunate to have a Mr.G. watching out for Matthew!

  2. That is a really special story and it sounds like you were able to have some fun mother-son time which is great. Getting kids active in the food making process is so important when they have food allergies — it’s a good way to teach them how to take control.

  3. Good job, Matthew!! They look delicious! 🙂 yum! I also have food allergies & haven’t eaten in a restaurant in about 2 years… Like you, I’ve come to accept it and I’m quite happy to eat at home where I *KNOW* I’m safe! 🙂 Plus, our food is much healthier & taste better anyways! 😉

  4. Matthew…you did a great job writing on a blog! I am not sure if my boys would be willing to try!
    My boys’ K-8 Elementary has made great strides in the allergy department while the boys have attended. They have a terrific nurse who in the next school year will discourage the unhealthy bakery treats and encourage fruit kebabs and less allergy prone treats for birthdays. It is a culture change in a private school! But teachers are starting to get it. My son’s teacher recently went overboard and advised some kids eating peanut butter to keep distance from my son…who eats it regularly at the recommendation of the allergist, as to not develop further allergies!!! My son thought it was funny, but I wish he had spoken up and educated her on the difference between tree nuts and peanuts! It was the last week of school, but maybe I can mention it to her next year.

    I am proud of the maturity my son shows—and yours too when they are unable to have a treat. They seem to grasp that the allergy does not define them! We provide and make alternate treats as well. I have definitely felt badly for my son after he had to decline a baked treat after a game or other event and I will make/buy an alternate if feasible, even after the fact!!! It is interesting that my son with allergies is WAY more interested in food prep than the other..
    PS. Dumplings looked awesome!

  5. I could really relate to this story. Although my allergy-stricken daughter is still an infant, her allergies are my allergies while I’m nursing. That said, I’ve had to miss quite a few lunch dates/parties. Go Matthew for not getting down but using this as inspiration to make your own dumplings! Perhaps there’s so more food allergy blogging in your future??? 🙂

    • I also led an allergy free lifestyle while nursing Matthew…hoping that he would avoid food allergies…it helped with the dairy, he has a peanut/tree nut allergy. Matthew does like to tell a good story!

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