Safe Halloween Candy List

Halloween Picture

Well it’s that time of year where people start asking me for a comprehensive “Allergen-Friendly” Halloween List.  Over the years my list has grown quite a bit which is amazing for parents with children that have multiple food allergies.  There are so many wonderful options nowadays that we can buy for our children and ensure they will have an amazing SAFE Halloween!  Please Note: ALWAYS check ingredients!  This list is only meant to be used as a guide.

Additionally, if you are supporting FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project this year as we always do, please have a several non-candy treat items for children that may not be able to have candy at all.  Typically, I have a bowl of pencils, erasers, stickers, temporary tattoos, small toys, etc.  These can all be purchased at your local dollar store.

ENJOY!  ~Erika

  • DIVVIES Chocolates
  • Amanda’s Own Confections
  • No Whey Chocolate
  • Enjoy Life chocolate bars
  • Peeps (some flavors have “Milk” double check ingredients)
  • Swedish Fish
  • Mike and Ikes
  • Surf Sweets Natural Gummies & Jelly Beans
  • Starburst Tropical Candy Corn (the only candy corn brand I have found to be egg-free)
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Smarties
  • Lifesaver Gummies
  • Sour Patch Kids (most varieties I believe)
  • Dum Dum Lollipops
  • Hot Tamales
  • Starburst fruit chews, lollipops, & jelly beans
  • Jolly Rancher hard candy (lollipops are made on shared equipment so I do not purchase them)
  • Kraft Marshmallows (and most marshmallow brands)
  • Twizzlers
  • Skittles (most flavors I believe)
  • PASCHA Chocolate bars
  • Airheads (most flavors)
  • Pez

ALDI is Rivaling U.S. Grocery Store Chains with Low Cost Organic and Allergy Friendly Foods

 

aldi-corporate-2

Last year I authored a post about how I started shopping at the German-owned grocery chain ALDI and how I absolutely LOVE IT!  ALDI is one of my favorite stores to grocery shop at because it offers many low cost organic produce options.  They also have a corporate policy to sell foods that do not contain certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG from all its private-label products, pesticides, synthetics, and hormones.   ALDI  is constantly increasing their line of Gluten Free Foods, which are private labeled under the Live G free name to keep costs low.  Many of the Live G free foods are also free from many Allergens!  And I might add- DELICIOUS!

aldis

I have spoken to many of my friends about the benefits of shopping here and unfortunately the buzz I have received on the street is that many people think it’s a “low-income” type grocery store.  They are just not informed about the many wonderful products this store sells and the fancier foods they carry to compete with the consumers that frequent Whole Foods.  They now carry higher end specialty products such as artisanal cheeses, quinoa, coconut oil, and smoked salmon according to a Business Insider article.

In a recent press release from ALDI corporate, the Vice President of their Saxonburg Division stated, “ALDI has a different style when it comes to grocery shopping and that differentiation has helped make us one of the fastest growing retailers in the US,” said Hart.

ALDI is currently in the midst of a huge expansion plan in the United states.  By the end of 2018, it will bring fresh and high quality groceries to more than 45 million customers each month.  To reach its aggressive goals, ALDI will create more than 10,000 new jobs at its stores, warehouses, and division offices in the United States alone!  Once this $3 billion expansion is complete,  ALDI will have nearly 2,000 stores marking close to a 50% increase in only five short years!

ALDI has taken away market share from popular grocery store chains such as Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods in the U.S.  They are able to continue to keep their costs low by offering consumers low pricing by limiting inventory to a lean selection of private-label items.  Whereas, traditional supermarkets  typically carry several different brands of a single product.  ALDI also invests far less in customer service and merchandising than traditional grocers.  Most of the store’s grocery items are placed in their shipping cartons to keep restocking quick and easy.  Consumers must pay a quarter ($0.25) deposit for a grocery cart (which you get back when you return the cart), bag your own groceries, and either bring your own grocery bags, or purchase bags they have for sale.

I certainly don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to bag my own groceries if it means heathy LOW COST organic foods free from chemicals for my family at a cheaper price!

If you haven’t shopped at an ALDI yet you are definitely missing out!  I encourage you to try it.  Here is a picture of many of the allergen-friendly products our family loves from ALDI’s:

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In addition the products above my family also loves these allergy-friendly products from ALDI: pickles, many cereal varieties, hormone free turkey and ham lunch meat, all kids of fresh organic produce, whole wheat bagels and bread, jam, many varieties of Clancy’s chip products, coffee, organic spiral ham during the holidays, frozen wild mussels, canned albacore tuna fish, German red and white sauerkraut, hormone free maple bacon, frozen chicken fingers.  I like these paper products too: quart sized zip lock baggies, aluminum foil, paper plates, ultra strong paper towel and toilet paper.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

~Erika

 

 

Please Help Support FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween

 

teal-pumpkin

With everyone into the full swing of fall and Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to post about FARE’s very successful Teal Pumpkin Project.  FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) launched this successful campaign a few years ago and it has taken off across the country to bring awareness about food allergies and this growing epidemic.  Additionally, it advocates for a safe Halloween for children that have food allergies by encouraging homeowners to offer safe non-candy alternatives on Halloween.

In year’s past, my boys and I have painted a few pumpkins teal and set them on our porch to let trick-or-treaters know that we have safe “non-candy” options for children that have food allergies.  We are excited to paint our pumpkins this year as well!  Additionally, you can print a picture of a teal pumpkin from the FARE website and hang in in your window to notify trick-or-treaters that you are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

This year FARE has partnered with Michael’s craft store which is selling teal paint for your pumpkins and CVS Pharmacy also has accessories to decorate your home with teal pumpkins.  This is an amazing campaign and I hope you will support food allergy awareness and place a teal pumpkin on your front porch on Halloween.  Thank you for your continued support of this AMAZING campaign that helps to make kids with food allergies feel included and most importantly enjoy a SAFE Halloween!

Please click on this link to print your paper teal pumpkins and learn more about this project at FARE:

https://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project

Print

~Erika

The Anxiety of Raising Kids with Food Allergies

stress-ballstress-relax

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary ANXIETY  anx·i·ety \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\

is a noun and the simple definition is “fear or nervousness about what may happen.” 

In our hectic modern-day society parents are extremely busy multitasking from day to day and trying to fulfill work, school, extracurricular and social schedules.  How do we fit everything into just 24 hours a day?  Simply raising children that do not have any health problems or disabilities can be a challenge for most parents throughout the world.  After all, we all want our children to grow up and become successful contributors of society, don’t we???

This raises an important point about how to deal with the anxiety of raising a child or children with food allergies and how to properly manage this day-to-day worry?  My boys CAN DIE if they ingest only a trace amount of dairy, nuts or eggs!  Do I have anxiety that relates to caring for our children?  HECK YES I DO!   

I’m by no means a medical clinician, but I am a MOM and I have had to learn how to cope with my constant worry about my children’s health and safety for over 8 1/2 years now.

People deal with anxiety in many different ways, from not acknowledging it may exist, to proactively managing it by either exercise, meditation, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, food, yoga, etc…to each is his/her own.  The point I’m trying to convey in this post is that as common as it is to have anxiety from caring for a child or loved one with life-threatening food allergies, it is also just as important to (1) Acknowledge you do worry and (2) Learn how to deal with it in a way that works best for you.

I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember.  I competed as a ski racer for the better part of my life, and competed in golf and tennis throughout my youth and still enjoy these activities today.  For many summers in my mid 30’s I trained hard and raced in many triathlons.  I love the dedication it takes to train really hard and reach your performance goals!  It’s simply in my DNA to be a competitor.  Most of my family members competed at high levels during one point in their lives.

Whether I’m mountain biking or trail running with our dog Scout, these activities have helped me to manage my anxiety in a positive way, and in general, become a better mother to our two food allergic boys and a better wife to my husband.  I’m a busy body and could not properly function without exercise being a huge part of my daily life!

I often wonder what works for other parents that are caring for anaphylactic children?  How do you manage your anxiety?  If you have food allergies yourself, how do you manage the stress?

During the better part of my 20’s I was an avid Yoga-junky!  For some reason, I got away from regular yoga for about a decade or so.  I have had lots of athletic-related injuries, and not to make an excuse, but it just got away from me.

Last Saturday, my husband took it upon himself to sign me up for a local yoga class online.  He said to me, “You’re going and you’ll really enjoy it.”  I’m so fortunate that my husband listens to me, as I had been complaining for a few weeks about how I needed to get back into yoga but just couldn’t find the time…blah…blah…blah…excuses!

By Jason signing me up for that class I am now completely hooked again!  I love everything about it from “centering,” to working on perfecting my alignment with different poses, focusing, meditating, strengthening, and working on me and my mental health!  I might add, I was literally dripping in sweat for the ENTIRE hour and a half class!  Thank you Tiffany — by the way!  Yoga for me is a nice supplement to all of the other athletic activities I enjoy regularly!  Besides, let’s face it, I’m NOT getting any younger and need to invest in such practices for my physical well-being and my sanity in general!

I understand that exercise and yoga are not for everyone.  (ie. I still play the piano from time to time and I obviously love to cook!)

Whatever you may do to manage your anxiety as a person with food allergies, a caregiver of someone with food allergies or none of the above, it’s important to find what works best for you.  It may be a combination of things.  Please do yourself a favor and take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be for yourself and for your loved ones!

Namaste

~Erika

yoga-2

 

Back to School With Life Threatening Food Allergies

back-to-school

This is an excellent article in our local paper regarding food allergies and how to manage them in schools locally.  Thank you Jillian Fellows for taking the time to interview me for this piece & Petoskey News Review for covering this important topic and helping to gain awareness locally!

http://www.petoskeynews.com/featured-pnr/back-to-school-with-life-threatening-allergies/article_5c9c4c52-6ffa-56ca-85d6-c842cf1d68fe.html

 

School Safe Snack List

Labels must be read every time since processing and ingredients can change at any time. Please check for tree nuts & peanuts. Also, see any allergen warning for “may contain” or “made on/processed on the same equipment as” or “processed in the same manufacturing facility as…”

Suggested Safe Snacks:

  • Fruits & Vegetables are highly encouraged (no cream dips/peanut butter)
    • Also, Sunmaid  & Meijer Brand Raisins & Most apple sauce containers including GoGo Squeez
  • Meijer Brand Naturals Baked Sea Salt natural pita crackers;
  • Silk Soy Yogurt (blueberry & strawberry)—ALWAYS read this label as several Silk Soy Yogurt flavors are processed on the same equipment as almonds!
  • Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers or Spartan Brand Honey Graham Crackers
  • Nabisco Whole Grain Premium Saltine Crackers
  • Nabisco Low Sodium Premium Saltine Crackers
  • Nabisco “Original” Wheat Thins (Whole Grain) Crackers
  • Triscuit Original Whole Grain Wheat Crackers
  • Back to Nature Harvest Whole Wheat, Crispy Wheat, Organic Satines & Organic Stoneground Wheat Crackers
  • Glutino Brand Pretzels, Gold Pretzels, GFS Pretzels
  • Keebler CLUB crackers
  • Ritz Crackers (no sandwiches)
  • Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips and Multi Grain Pita Chips
  • Sabre Original Hummus, Tribe Organic Roasted Garlic Hummus, Meijer Original Hummus
  • Whole Grain Cheerios (not honey nut)
  • Rice Chex
  • I.M. Healthy Original Creamy Soynut Butter (peanut free) & Safe 4School WOW Butter
  • Sunbutter & “Sneaky Chef” No Nut Butter
  • Pringles The Original
  • Live G Free (Aldie’s brand) pretzels
  • Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars
  • All Enjoy Life products
  • Lotus Biscoff Spread Smooth and Crunchy
  • Lundberg Brown Rive Organic Rice Cakes (Grain Train & Walmart)
  • Most brands of Tortilla Chips- Always check the labels as many contain “Nuts”
  • Most brands of salsa
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Oatmeal Raisin Chewy Granola Bars
  • Most Oreo Cookies are safe (read label)

Common UNSAFE FOODS (please avoid):

  • Most granola bars contain nuts
  • Luna Bars & many protein bars
  • Most Candy Bars contain nuts (M & M’s also)
  • Trail Mix
  • Hostess Snacks and most processed cookies/sweet snacks

Food Allergy Letter Home to Classmate’s Parents Before School Starts

I have had a few recent requests for my “Letter Home to Classmate’s Parents.”  I recommend you edit this template to meet you child’s needs best.  Also, I recommend sending it to the principal/officer manager for editing and then have the final letter sent home to the parents of the students in your child’s class.  This letter should be from your school principal, not the parent of the food-allergic child.  Also, I don’t think it is a good idea to name your child in the letter.  Even though my oldest son has life-threatening food allergies to DAIRY, EGGS, PEANUTS, & TREE NUTS it wouldn’t be fair to the other students and too hard to enforce a classroom free of all of the above.  Nut oil lingers on surfaces and therefore a nut-free classroom is the best option.  We have taught our boys to be responsible for their food allergies and to always be diligent about proper hand washing, reading labels, etc.

Oh, and keep the letter to one front page…if it is too long and wordy parents won’t read it!  Believe me, some parents never read this unfortunately.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this letter.

~Erika

Letter Template:

August __, 2016

Dear (School Name) Second Grade Parents,

Your child has a classmate this year that has life-threatening anaphylactic food allergies to: all dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs.  We want to inform you a little about food allergies to ensure a safe and healthy school year for everyone.

Over 14 million Americans have food allergies which affects 1 in every 13 children (under age 18) or roughly 2 students in every U.S. classroom! Allergic reactions can be life-threatening, and in rare cases deadly. While emergency treatment is available for allergic reactions, there is no cure yet. The only treatment for food allergies is strict avoidance of allergens. Sometimes a small amount of allergen can cause a deadly reaction.

Benadryl and an Epi-Pen will be kept in the second grade classroom for immediate access as well as the school office if your child’s classmate should have an allergic reaction.

Please do not send any peanuts or tree nuts (i.e. almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, etc.), peanut butter or foods containing peanut/tree nuts or peanut butter to be eaten as snacks or for lunch in the classroom.  Healthy alternatives are: Soynut butter, Sun Butter, or Biscotti spread.  Additionally, please check all food labels for the listing of peanuts or various tree nuts, especially on crackers, cookies, and dessert treats.

I would ask if you’re bringing in food for a party or special event that might not be allergen-free, please let (Insert Teacher’s Name) know in advance so that a safe alternative option can be provided for the classmate with food allergies. (In particular, because homemade baked goods are so likely to contain traces of allergens from previous baking, they’re not safe options for children with food allergies even if they don’t contain ingredients with milk, nuts, and eggs.)

I would also ask that you discuss food allergies with your child.  Please ask them not to share or trade food with any of their second grade classmates during lunch time. Please also assure your child that children with food allergies are no different than other children.  They can do everything anyone else can.

Finally, if your child eats foods containing dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, or eggs for breakfast, please ask them to wash their hands and brush their teeth before coming to school.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at _______________________.

Best regards,

Principal ___________________

 

 

New School Year with Food Allergies

Emergency Action Plan

It’s hard to believe we’re in the final weeks of summer here in Northern Michigan and preparing for our children to start back up with school again after Labor Day.  In many parts of the country, kids have already gone back to school.  With these thoughts in mind, I thought it would be helpful for all parents of children with food allergies, to discuss how I prepare my boy’s school (ie. principal, new teacher, administration, and classmates parents) for a safe school environment.  I have to add this is a “general overview” of how I work with the school to ensure a safe and productive school year for my children.  I have refined this process over the last 6 years and this is just a summary.

Since our oldest son is now going into 3rd grade I somewhat have my “Back to School Process” refined.  Our youngest will be entering first grade this fall.  I start this process each spring by scheduling usually a meeting with our school principal to discuss the upcoming school year and how we can work together to ensure the safety of my boys while at school.  I ask for teacher recommendations for the following school year and we discuss what teacher he and I feel may best meet the needs of my boy’s “unofficial 504 plan.”  Since our boys are in a private parochial school, we do not have the legal need to have a 504 plan.  Thankfully our principal was an administrator in the public school system for many years and is knowledgeable about how this process works to ensure the utmost safety of our children during the school day.  At the end of the meeting last spring our principal and I decided to touch base via email in June to discuss teacher options for my first grader since there was going to be a new hire.

Now that we are 3 weeks out from the first day of school I have not only communicated with the principal again but with the office manager.  I have to note, it is crucial to have a wonderful relationship with the staff who run the office and essentially the “nuts and bolts” of the school.  I always approach the school by stating that “we can work together” and put lots of the responsibility on myself and my boys to educate others at the school instead of making threatening demands.  This will get you nowhere and you will not build an alliance with any of the staff if you approach food allergies in a threatening manner!  It’s important to “Kill everyone with kindness.”  I know it’s a stressful situation because your child’s safety is at the hands of someone other than yourself during the day.  You have to put your emotions aside, and work with the school administration from a “Team perspective.”

Ok, I got off on a bit of a tangent…now that I have reached out to the principal again and scheduled another meeting to discuss accommodations for my boy’s classrooms for this school year (ie. nut free classroom, signage, note home to parents discussing there is a child in the class with food allergy, table sanitizing procedures, staff epi-pen training, lunchroom procedure, emergency action plan procedure, etc.), it’s also important to contact your child’s future teachers to schedule an in-person appointment to review everything.  I forgot to add that I also reached out to each teacher about 6 weeks ago to let them know that my child will be in their classroom next fall and they have life-threatening food allergies.  I asked them if they would be available a few weeks before school starts to sit down with me and discuss classroom safety procedures, emergency action plan, etc.

It is crucial to schedule an in-person meeting with the teachers.  Depending on your relationship with administration you may or may not want to have the principal and administrators present at the meetings with the teachers.  Since we are at a very small school, I do not feel the need to have administration present every fall when I meet with the teachers.  However, each school may have a different policy and it’s important to know what approach works best for your individual situation.  I have to note, if there is a new teacher at the school hopefully the principal has discussed food allergies with the teacher prior to your initial meeting.  If not, I may consider having the principal present at this meeting.

In a nutshell, when I meet with each teacher I come extremely prepared with 2 red folders.  Each folder has my child’s name written on the outside of it in bold letters, a picture of my child and the words, “FOOD ALLERGY INFORMATION.”  One folder is for the teacher, another similar folder will be for a “Substitute Teacher.”  In the folder I have a few simple handouts ie. Food allergy checklist, food allergy facts, teacher and family’s responsibilities, safe snack list,  and of course each child’s individual “Food Allergy Action Plan” which is to be posted in a visible spot somewhere in the classroom next to epi-pens.  I also have this posted in the main office and lunchroom.  So to review, I have a total of 6 epi-pens in the school for each child.  Each epi-pen bag also has several Benadryl chewable tablets.

I will also give the teach a gallon sized zip lock bag with non-perishable food for each child in case their lunch should be compromised (ie. milk gets spilled on their packed lunch).  I also offer to be in charge and organize of all classroom parties and discuss with the teacher the possibilities of limiting snacks during parties to fruits and veggies since they are much healthier.  Usually the teachers are completely on board with this since they don’t want students to have too much sugar during the day.  Also, my boy’s friends LOVE my vegan cupcakes and I usually offer to make these for classroom parties.

After meeting with my boy’s teachers I always meet separately with the office staff to review everything, restock epi-pens, hang up emergency action plans, etc.  Also, I have a template letter that I have used in the past that I send to the principal for editing that will get sent to all of the parents of students in my boy’s classrooms prior to the first day of school.  This letter basically explains the severity of food allergies and informs them there is a student in their child’s class with a life-threatening food allergy.  It is one page and talks about the importance of telling your child that food allergies, although very serious, they do not make the child any different from your child with regards to enjoying sports, school, friends, etc.  The kids are no different and should not be treated any different from other kids.

Moreover,  I ALWAYS make it a point to speak to the janitorial staff and discuss proper sanitization of the lunchroom tables.  Our principal does a wonderful job of training all of the staff members and highlighting the importance of sanitization procedures in the lunchroom to prevent cross-contamination.  We are very LUCKY I might add.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an excellent relationship with your administration!

This was a very brief overview of my pre-school preparation to ensure a safe school year.  I hope this is helpful to you and good luck getting ready for a wonderful new year of school for your children!

Northern Michigan Allergy Friendly Restaurant Reviews

petoskey sunset

Now that summer in Northern Michigan has kicked into full gear I felt it was important to enhance my local restaurant Allergy Friendly Dining List.  I have reviewed a total of 21 restaurants.  Most restaurants below come highly recommended by me.  However, I added a new category this season in which I review restaurants that I strongly feel are not safe to dine at with food allergies.  Please use your own discretion as these reviews are purely based on my opinion and personal experiences.

The reviews below are based on accommodating life-threatening multiple allergies to: dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Please note that most of these restaurants are also more than capable of accommodating gluten, wheat, sesame, soy, and corn allergies.  Please ALWAYS remember to call in advance and ask to speak to the chef or restaurant manager to determine if the particular restaurant can accommodate your special dietary needs.  Additionally, I always provide our server with our 3 x 5 pink restaurant Chef Card that lists all of my boy’s food allergies.  This is an excellent tool to use, as restaurants are very busy during the tourist season/summer months, and verbal allergy communications can get lost in translation between your server and the kitchen staff.

I have tried my best to add these recommendations to the Allergy Eats App, which is not very thorough in Northern Michigan…this is still a work in progress for me however.  Thank you for your patience and Happy Summer!  Whether vacationing in Northern Michigan this summer or if you are a year long resident, I hope this list helps you and your food allergic family enjoy a more pleasurable and safe dining experience.

Here’s the list:

Downtown Petoskey:

1. Chandler’s A Restaurant – The Chef and staff is very knowledgeable and they get it!  Very accommodating!

2. City Park Grill – We dine here all of the time and they are amazing and understand the seriousness!  I commend the staff for always ensuring the food they prep is safe for our boys.  They even bake the chicken fingers for our boys now instead of putting them into the deep fryer.  Steer clear of the delicious biscuits however as they have butter and buttermilk I believe.  My children always ask for a cracker basket with oyster and soda crackers.

3. Twisted Olive Café – Chef Lee is wonderful and has been preparing food for our boys at various restaurants for over 6 yrs!  My boys love the mussels and fish entrees!

4. The Grain Train Natural Food Co-Operative – Lots of Allergen-free options/ready made in food cooler.

Restaurants to Avoid w/Food Allergies in Petoskey:

  1. Mitchell Street Pub – Although this pub has wonderful food, unfortunately they still allow their patrons to throw peanut shells on the floor throughout the entire restaurant.  AVOID at all costs if someone in your family has a PEANUT or TREE NUT ALLERGY.   SCARY!
  2. Eagles Club (private club) – We are members at the Eagles club in town.  Many of the chefs have told me over the years that their kitchen suppliers/distributors of food change often to keep food costs low.  They cannot guarantee any safety.  I’m glad they are always honest and they allow us to bring in food for our boys.  Although we rarely go here.  If you’re a member in a different town you can come in as a guest and it’s the best view in town, not to mention, right on the bike path.  Food is marginal at best but cheap drinks and food!

Harbor Springs Area:

1. New York – Chef Matt, and his entire staff are wonderful.  Jerry, a senior server with the New York is amazing.  Nancy too!  Our boys can even eat the bread here safely.  Chef Matt and his staff are extremely knowledgeable about how to safely prepare food-allergy friendly delicious meals!  We love this restaurant and it is a place we frequent with our boys.  The food is always delicious and service goes above and beyond!

2. Crow’s Nest – Chef Bob has been preparing allergen-friendly food for our boys for the last 5 years.  Folks HE GETS IT!  The food is amazing and Chef Bob and his cooks will even use a different flour dusting on his famous pan sautéed perch for our boys.  They cannot have the “Drake’s” batter which contains casein and he will lightly coast the perch in a flour mixture and then sauté it to perfection.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable about food allergies and it is always a pleasant dining experience without worry.

3. Bar Harbor – Although our boys cannot eat the cheese on their burgers the chef and staff understand cross-contamination and always allow me to read ingredient labels.  We bring our own Daiya cheese and my boys LOVE their burgers.  They cannot have the fries due to what goes into the deep fryer but the chips are safe!

4. The Fish – The restaurant owner and staff is very accommodating and have gone out of the way to make delicious healthy food for our kiddos.

5. Country Club of Boyne Seminole Pub – Chef Dean Grill is new to the Country Club of Boyne Team this season.  He is from LA and has quite an outstanding culinary resume!  Both Chef Dean and General Manager Claire are very educated on food allergies and cross-contamination.  There are wonderful!  I have met with Chef several times and he personally ALWAYS cooks my boy’s food.  The fries and homemade potato chips are safe and delicious.  My children have been able to enjoy cheese burgers here that are safe and delicious.  I just bring my own Daiya cheese and buns.  They go the extra mile!

6. Nob’s Nob Cafeteria – We are season pass holders at the Nub’s Nob Ski Resort and every fall the wonderful chef reviews the menu with me.  They are so incredibly accommodating and even take me back into their walk in freezer so I can review ingredients listings.  My children can enjoy the curly and straight French fries there which are popular items, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken and fruit.  Please always double check with the line chefs to make sure they change their gloves after touching cheese.  Also, double check the buns they use as I believe some of the buns my not be ok.

7. Teddy Griffin’s Road House – We dine here several times throughout the year sans kiddos!  However, the last time we ate here we showed our server, who has been with Teddy’s for over 15 year, our Restaurant Chef Card, and she assured us Teddy’s could safely accommodate multiple food allergies.  I had been a bit apprehensive about dining here with our boys due to a bad review on Allergy Eats.  Our conversation with our server changed my mind and hopefully we’ll try it soon.  Additionally, Teddy’s is under new ownership which can only mean positive changes on the horizon.  I will update this post once we dine here with our boys.

Bay Harbor:

1. Bay Harbor Yacht Club (Private Club) – The level of service and accommodations are incredible.  They exceed my expectations for safety, allergy safe options, quality of food and level of service.  Bravo!

Restaurants to Avoid w/Food Allergies in Bay Harbor:

  1. The Original Pancake House – Unfortunately this restaurant cooks just about everything in PEANUT OIL!  Yes, you heard me- PEANUT OIL.  Perhaps their supplier is the same at Chic-fil-A’s???  I don’t care how refined the oil may be, I’m not testing in with my anaphylactic peanut/tree nut allergic son!  Apparently peanut oil has a higher boiling point and is cheaper than most oils in a restaurant setting.  This restaurant even told me a few years ago that there is possibly peanut oil in the toasters because some of the bread may get brushed with it.  A child went into anaphylactic shock here a few years back before they had the peanut oil allergy statement on their menu.  Now they have allergy statements on every menu I believe.  AVOID AT ALL COSTS IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY

Boyne City:

1. Café Sante – Amazing and the really get cross-contamination and food allergies!  We dine here regularly & one of the restaurant manager’s worked for Disney in which they had several levels of food allergy education that were necessary for all employees.  During our most recent dining experience our server explained to us that the staff had just been trained extensively on food allergies and cross-contamination.  The serving staff here is even required to add food allergies into their computer system upon originally greeting their guests.   Thank you to the new Michigan Restaurant Law!  My youngest son LOVES the mules!  My boys can eat their homemade bread safely also which is amazing, safe and usually not the case in most restaurants.  The owners, managers and chefs here GET IT!  Thank you!

Boyne Falls:

1. Mountain Grand Lodge – Although we did not dine here during our last visit I inquired with the restaurant manager and they suggested they were fully capable of accommodating multiple food allergies to ensure the safety of our children.

Charlevoix (We have not explored too many restaurants here with our boys)

1. Terry’s Place – We attempted to eat here with our boys on the way home from the Traverse City airport during May 2016.  I called and spoke to the gatekeeper who answered the telephone.  I mentioned that our 2 boys have life-threatening food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts & tree nuts.  She stated that “It would be very difficult to accommodate you here because we use peanut oil to sautee all of our fish in and there is dairy in many of the entrée sauces.”  She did state that their sister restaurant next door (The Villager Pub) could prepare our boy’s food and run it over.  I asked if the chef could simply prepare fish (ie white fish or salmon) for our boys and she said it would not be possible to bake, broil or grill it safely with olive oil as a substitute for the peanut oil.  This is really too bad they cannot accommodate food allergies at all.  Perhaps the person I spoke with was not educated well on how to accommodate all customers with special diets.  Oh, and did I mention this was a Sunday night during April, which is the off season in Charlevoix?  A perfect evening to try a new restaurant because the town was literally dead!  Eat here at your own risk!

Traverse City & Surrounding Area:

1. Siren Hall (Elk Rapids) – We recently had a late lunch here with our boys.  We sat at the bar and requested the bar tender review our Chef Allergy Card with the chef and offer recommendations.  Our boys decided on the grilled chicken with broccolini and muscles in a white wine, garlic and tomato broth.  Both were delicious and our boys were happy.  They have root beer on tap too which made the stop especially worthwhile because our boys love root beer!

2.  Red Ginger (downtown Traverse City) – This is a family favorite in our house.  If we’re in Traverse City with our boys we have to dine here according to them!  When you make a reservation the host will make a note in their computer system of your allergies.  The head chef here has a son who is on a strict gluten-free diet.  He completely understands the concept of safety and avoiding cross-contamination.  My children usually order vegetable sushi rolls and the chef prepares delicious panko crusted chicken fingers for them with a side of steamed green vegetables.  The food is delicious and their sushi is fresh and yummy!  This is definitely one of our favorite Northern Michigan restaurants and I hope you will try it also!  Thanks Red Ginger!

Subway Restaurants can all be accommodating- My boys can eat the white bread, ham, and turkey as well as veggie toppings.  I always request the sandwich makers use clean knives, new gloves, and put down several pieces of paper over the cutting boards in which to make my boy’s sandwiches…we usually bring our own vegan cheese and my boys can eat their yellow mustard in lieu of mayo (or I bring my own Joy O or Veganaise).

Please remember these comments are based solely on our personal experiences and are opinion based.  Feel free to message me if you have additional questions/comments regarding any of the restaurants mentioned above.

~Erika