Wednesday, September 29, 2010

THE GREAT SALAD POST

Aaaaand I haven't updated in weeks.  Thanks life!

Anyway... on to the salad talk.  I try to be a good girl and bring my lunch from home.  Living in a fabulous city in a really fabulous zipcode takes its toll on my wallet.  The restaurants nearby can also take a toll on the waistline.  For that reason, on the days when I decide getting back in bed for a nap after I take a shower is a smart decision, I end up buying lunch a few times per month.

My standby choice, considering both wallet and waistline, is usually a salad. Usually with popchips or riceworks chips on the side so I feel like I'm cheating but totally okay and within my daily allowances for calories. 

However, salads are no longer the conflict free choice given the complexities of salad dressings. Some chains (I'm looking at you Pax... You don't even get a link.  There's your punishment.) have zero information on food allergies on their websites.  When I stopped into a location, I was told to just go for a dry salad.  I can think of few things that are less appetizing. I even said - what about oil and vinegar? But they wouldn't guarantee that the containers didn't have a wheat based or containing dressing before the oil or vinegar so that was a no. Which is disgusting when you think about it, allergies or no allergies.

A few salad commandments that I've learned:
1. Do not get your salads chopped through a machine as this frequently leads to cross contamination from wheat products and dressings being chopped in the same machine.
2. No crunchy stuff.
3. Asian dressings are rarely okay, as they tend to contain soy sauce.
4. Many vinaigrettes are unsafe due to use of wheat containing thickeners.

Here are the big chains in NYC, from worst to best.  Pax doesn't even need a detailed listing because they pretend allergies don't exist on their website.  The next time I have a bad day, they may get a grandma-style bitchy letter from me.

Pret a Manger has information on their website. By clicking specific links on their menu you can read the nutritional content with concise allergy warnings below.  Yeehaw. But if you plan on stopping in, you best check the website because the employees were clueless.  Along side the They seemed more terrified of me having a bad reaction to the food than anything, though, which I prefer to those who could care less.

Chopt has some pretty amazing details on their websites.  And they have this handy dandy chart, which I stole.  They recommend printing it out to bring into their locations, though they state clearly that all staff, especially managers should be knowledgable on allergy friendly choices.  Below you will see that they clearly list "the big eight" components in all their dressings to avoid any confusion.


My gold medal in gluten free salad choices definitely goes to Hale and Hearty.  First of all, they have a pdf list of all their gluten free soups!  Of course, the caveat at the end of interesting, though it is at least commendable that they are aware of the cross contamination factor.  The manager that I spoke with explained that the salad chefs now only add ingredients to the bowls, so the counter is not cross contaminated.  She also mentioned that allergic peeps can request that a separate tong for salad ingredients be used to avoid THAT cross contamination.  Thoughtful! I like it.  What was best of all was that I was able to walk into a random H&H location and locate their allergen lists with no questions asked.  On the top of all counters for sandwiches, soups and salads, there is a stand with the day's specials.  On the back of those print outs are the allergen information for each station.  Bravo, H&H! You've won a customer here. 

Your prize is my continued laziness that results in my patronage to your fine establishment.  Especially the one in Chelsea Market with the ridiculously efficent checkout lines.

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