When you’re dining out, you should be even more vigilant and careful to avoid accidental peanuts exposure, using these four easy steps:
- Choose an eating place with the least possibility of using peanut in their dishes.
- Mentally cross off any item in the menu that is likely to use peanut.
- Read the menu closely to find menu items that are likely do not use peanuts.
- Confirm to the waitress that foods you are ordering do not contain peanuts and indeed are safe.
You can also follow the above steps to prevent tree nut allergy, as many restaurants are sprinkling tree nuts over many types of foods.
Choosing a peanut-lite restaurant
Vegans avoid the local steak house and lean toward vegetarian cafes to take advantage of available vegetarian dishes. You may lean toward these restaurants:
• Fast food chains: Of course, no doctor will advise you to eat in fast food restaurants regularly, but many big fast-food chains are quite safe to visit for those with peanut allergy. The biggest threat in fast foods is usually deep frying using peanut oil. Many French fry chains are using peanut oil. Even if you are dining at a fast-food joint, you shouldn’t get lulled into thinking that you’re completely safe. For example, a major chain may serve a milkshake that contains peanut butter candies.
• Steak houses: Your local beef or steak house can be a safe place for people with peanut allergy. These meat-and-potato joints commonly serve up beef-based dishes along with salads and potatoes. You still should be careful about those chef’s mystical barbecue rubs or sauces, but a short conversation with the chef can help you avoid any minor complication.
• American cuisine: Most Americans love to add peanuts in desserts and baked goods, however standard American main dishes are relatively safe.
• Italian restaurants: While Italian cuisine could contain tree nut; pizza and other Italian dishes are often safe, although some gourmet pizza joints may serve peanut-butter pizza.
• Seafood restaurants: Eating in these places is safe if you don’t have seafood allergy on top of your peanut allergy, these restaurants can be as safe as typical steak houses.
These restaurants are not 100 percent safe, but you will find far less risk than eating in an Indian or South-East Asian restaurants, for example. It is still necessary to perform due diligence by talking with the waitress, restaurant manager and especially cooks when you dine out.
These are places you should avoid if you have peanut allergy:
• Thai: Thai cuisine probably poses the biggest risk, because most of its main courses use peanut as ingredient.
• Chinese: Some of the most popular Chinese foods use peanut. Although they are still safer than an average Thai restaurant, Chinese restaurants still can threaten you.
• Korean and Japanese: Korean and Japanese dishes typically do not contain peanuts, but chefs often use imported peanut sauces. Imported products may not have comparable labeling standards as with products manufactured in the US. These restaurants may be fairly safe, however avoiding them is always the safest option.
• South Asian Restaurant: Indian foods frequently contain peanut and very risky to people with peanut allergy, although some dishes don’t commonly use peanuts. Again, it is advised to avoid all kinds of Asian restaurants.
• African restaurants: They often serve up peanut-based soups and use peanut sauces in other dishes.
• Mexican restaurants: While most Americanized Mexican dishes rarely contain peanuts, you may need to avoid authentic Mexican foods. Watch for mole sauces as some use peanut or tree nuts. You may not need to absolutely refrain from these dishes, but it is necessary to approach with caution.
• Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries: If you’re eating in these restaurants, you’re generally safe from peanuts, but if you are allergic to other types of nuts, tread carefully. Pine nuts are commonly used, and these people have one thousand and one ways to sneak in almonds and other nuts into a dish.
• Health food restaurants: These restaurants are certainly serving up healthier dishes for the general populace, however if you have peanut allergies, you can find some hidden risks in these vegetarian restaurants as peanuts are often used to replace meat.
People who are eating Asian dishes are often subjected to accidental peanut exposures as this ingredient can be easily disguised and when cooked in the same area can lead to cross contamination on those supposedly peanut-free dishes. If the chef cooked Kung Pao chicken previously, small bits of peanut may show up in your veggie salad.
Avoiding dishes that contain peanuts
Some dishes may have short description that contains the word “peanut”. This list can help you quickly identify the riskiest dishes:
- Foods with gravies or sauces
- A dessert menu, including peanut covered chocolate sundae
Choosing peanut-free dishes
Whether you’re eating at a peanut-risky or a peanut-safe restaurant, check the menu closely to distinguish low-risk items.
These menu items are usually quite safe:
- Grilled foods, including fish, beef, and chicken, served with no fancy gravies or sauces
- Greek foods
- Pizza and many other Italian foods
- Fried foods, as long as it isn’t fried with peanuts oil
Low-risk doesn’t equal no-risk. Although a menu item may not seem to use peanut, there is no way to be sure, unless you talk with the chef about how it is prepared.
Making sure that it is peanut-free
When the waitress arrives, make sure that she confirms to the cook about your request, or if possible you talk to the chef in person, to ensure that you won’t get peanut in your dish, while making sure that he can follow a strict peanut-free protocol during the cooking process. Before placing an order, tell everyone that even a small quantity of peanuts could be fatal. Ask the waitress to wash her hands before serving your ordered dishes, just in case she handles another plate of peanut-rich dishes previously.