Category: Travel

Allergy Friendly Restaurant List for Northern Michigan this Summer

 

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.  Most restaurants below come highly recommended by myself, my husband and most importantly, our two food allergic boys.   I’ve added a new category this year which includes grocery stores that carry several dairy, nut, and egg free items (gluten free also.)  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 although cross-contam may be present in their prep kitchen

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!

3.Kilwin’s Ice Cream/Fudge Shop– DO NOT EVEN STEP IN if you have a nut allergy!

4. Murdick’s Fudge– Same as above unfortunately

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.  We dined here several times over the winter with our boys.  The 1st time we ate here with our boys 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.  Allergy Eats has ONE bad review for this restaurant and we have NEVER had  a problem.  We know the owners and staff and they always accommodate us safely!

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:
2.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!

3.Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City– we did a staycation here with our boys last fall and I have to say their main restaurant is very accommodating for food allergies.  The manager and chef both came to our table and assured us they would make a safe amazing meal for our boys.  They completely DELIVERED and the chef brought the food to the table.  It was made separately, delicious and healthy!

4.Poppycocks (downtown Traverse City)- We ate here with our boys during the Film Festival a few summers ago and they did an amazing job accommodating us.  I think my boys had broiled whitefish and grilled chicken.  They each loved their entrees!

Local Grocery Stores with Allergen Friendly Foods:

1.Grain Train Petoskey/Boyne City- Both have many GF, DF & EF items…a little light on the nut free items.  No soynut butter of sunflower see butter options here but you can find these items: Daiya, Daiya pizza, Veganaise, Just Mayo, Earth Balance Cheesy Puffs, Dairy free milks, Follow Your Heart, Everything is also Cert Organic etc.

2.Meijer Lears Rd- They have a HUGE selection of allergen friendly items, they DO carry Soynut butter and Sunflower seed butter.  They also carry NadaMoo Dairy, Nut and Egg free ice cream in multiple flavors!  Additionally, they carry the SoDelicious brand!  They also have the largest selection of non-dairy milks, ie. soy, pea protein (Ripple our fav!), rice, etc.

3.Aldi’s in Petoskey

4. Family Fare in Petoskey- they have the largest selection of non-dairy cheeses, salad dressings, Tofutti cream cheese, etc…located in the cooler by the organic foods.  They also sell Enjoy Life Products (including their chocolate bars which are excellent for making summertime s’mores!), Sunbutter and sunflower seed butter.  Plus, they carry sustainable seafood and organic meats.

5.Walmart- believe it or not, they have a huge selection of Allergen Friendly items in the Gluten Free Aisle…they also carry Enjoy Life

6. Meijer and Oryana Organic Co-Op (both in Traverse City)

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

Travel Update- Delta is the Best Allergy Friendly Airlines

Delta plane

I made a few posts several weeks back regarding various trips we have taken with our food-allergic boys and how well we were accommodated on Delta & United Airlines.

As I have mentioned before, we fly A LOT with our boys! We just returned from a recent trip last Tuesday in which we flew on Delta again.  I have to say that Delta completely understands the safety needs of their food allergic passengers!  On a flight from Fort Meyer’s (RSW) to Detroit (DTW) the head flight attendant made about 4 announcements, the first started as we were boarding the aircraft.  She stated, “There are two passengers with extremely severe peanut allergies.”  She then went on to say, “Out of consideration for the safety of these passengers we will not be serving peanuts on the flight today.”  This announcement was made about 4 times throughout the first portion of the flight.  It was wonderful!

Thank you Delta for yet another very safe flight at 30,000+ feet in the air.  Your company totally understand the severity and safety concerns of food allergic passengers while traveling by air.

I commend you Delta for being our #1 preferred airline and my family will continue to fly with you during our future travels.

Bravo Delta!!!!  We completely endorse your company for making safety of your passengers the priority!

Have a great weekend!

~Erika

Recent Delta Flights with Food Allergies

Delta plane

After my post a few weeks ago about the challenges we had flying with our nut allergic boys on United, I thought I would post a positive experience we recently had flying with Delta.  Within the last week, we took a total of 4 Delta flights with our peanut, tree nut, and dairy allergic boys.  Although we have primarily flown on Delta with our boys over the last 8 years, and we travel quite often with our sons, I wanted to share this very positive experience.

As always, I notified Delta by calling their Sky Miles number that we would be traveling with our nut allergic children on our upcoming tip.  The representative assured me that no nuts would be served on the aircrafts during our trip.  I hung up the call with a sense of relief and felt good about our upcoming vacation.

On both of the travel dates I reiterated to the check in Delta representative that our children had nut allergies.  She/he stated this was noted in the system and the flight crew would be notified of this information.  Upon the aircraft leaving the gate on all of our flights, the head flight attendant made an announcement stating, “We will not be serving peanuts on the flight today because a passenger has a serious nut allergy…instead we will be serving our Bischoff cookies and pretzels…thank you for your cooperation.”  This was music to my ears and both my husband and I were relieved.  However, there is of course still the possibility of passengers bringing their own nuts and nut products onto the aircraft.  Thankfully my children’s nut allergy is not airborne so this is never an issue.

Thank you Delta for another safe and pleasant flying experience with our nut-allergic boys!  I appreciate the effort both you and your staff continue to exhibit to keep food allergic passengers safe on your aircrafts!  We WILL definitely be traveling with you again in the future!

~Erika

 

Disney with Food Allergies

 

Disney 2

As most of my followers can sympathize, traveling with food allergies is not a simple task, not to mention extremely stressful and takes lots of advance planning.  We travel quite a lot with our food allergic boys and although it has gotten easier over the years, it’s can still be challenging at moments.

Our family recently experienced our first trip to Walt Disney Word in Orlando, FL.  It was a HUGE success and one of the most amazing vacations we have experienced as a young family!

This entire journey began a little over 5 months ago, when I contacted Lizzie, the author of http://allergyfreemouse.com and http://pixielizzie.com.  Lizzie is a renowned travel agent specializing in “Allergy Safe Walt Disney Vacations.”  It was literally music to my ears when I found Lizzie and started researching the concierge travel services she has to offer to her food allergy customers at Disney properties throughout the world.  She has a daughter with life-threatening food allergies and understands the stresses food allergies puts on families during a vacation.

Since we only booked our trip 5 months out, it was crucial to get all of the logistics (ie. hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations, fast passes, etc.) booked ASAP.  Lizzie was instrumental in walking me through this entire process which can be extremely stressful without the proper guidance.  Additionally, she gave me several restaurant recommendations where she actually knew the chef personally and ensured me they would be able to cater to our boy’s life-threatening dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut allergies.  When booking the restaurant reservations through My Disney Experience, I always carefully noted the food allergies for each reservation.  Also, I sent an email 2 weeks before our departure date to: Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com to make sure they had us “flagged” in their system for food allergy reservations.  Because I’m a bit OCD, I called Disney 1 week prior to our departure to make sure they had our food allergies listed for every restaurant reservation.  There were actually a few reservations which didn’t note the allergies and I was glad I called customer service to verify my online reservations.  I quickly found that the key to a successful Disney vacation with food allergic children is careful advance planning, planning, and planning!  Lizzie was a huge help with this as she provided me with check lists, email reminders, pages of allergy safe dining options, etc. We couldn’t have done it without Lizzie and all of her helpful resources!

We stayed at the Disney Polynesian Resort which was right on the Monorail and the most convenient location that met our family’s needs.  The swimming pool was AMAZING!  It was surrounded by about 8 lifeguards at all times which ensured our boy’s safety as they transcended down the water slide time after time!  When Lizzie booked our accommodations, she requested a microwave be added to our room at no additional charge, “extra sanitizing of our room for food allergens prior to arrival,” and no down pillows.  The room worked out great, as we were hardly in it.  As a parent of kids with food allergies, I always travel with groceries that I keep in the hotel refrigerator for snacks, early breakfasts, etc.  It’s always nice to have “safe” food on hand for my boys who are constantly hungry.

I have to note, upon checking in at the host desk at each restaurant, a ticket with our reservation was immediately printed.  Our tickets always had the words written in bold red “ALLERGY” which was then placed on the table when we were seated.  This was awesome and Disney really goes the extra mile to ensure the safe dining of their food-allergic guests.  Additionally, I always immediately gave each of our servers my hot pink “Restaurant Allergy Card” that lists our individual food allergies and specifics about cross contamination.  This card was also given to each head chef that came to our tables daily.

Many of my followers have requested restaurant recommendations that can accommodate food allergies and here are my detailed reviews.

Sit Down Restaurants (most require reservations through MyDisneyExperience):

Citricos Restaurant at the Grand Floridian: This was by far our favorite meal of the trip.  Albeit a bit $$$ but well worth the experience in this Disney Signature restaurant.  Chef Dave came to our table and our boys decided on the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marinara and broccolini. He even checked the gluten-free buns to make sure they were safe, as gluten free bread usually has eggs in it.  They did not have eggs, and my boys were thrilled they could eat the bread at this restaurant and dip it in olive oil!  This was our first WDW on-property dining experience and as a special surprise touch I pre-ordered an amazing chocolate chip mint dessert cake from Babycakes, Orlando https://www.erinmckennasbakery.com/orlando/.  Our server brought it to the table with candles and our boys couldn’t have been happier!  It was the perfect end to an amazing meal!

Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Our first morning at Disney we did the & Lilo and Stitch character breakfast at our hotel.  It was a meal “choc full of carbs” but our children were delighted as they have NEVER, I mean NEVER been able to eat breakfast in a restaurant safely.  Chef David came over to our table and explained that he “personally” cooks all of the allergen friendly meals separately.  He even served the boy’s family-style breakfast to them which included: mickey shaped waffles, bacon, fresh assorted fruit, sausage, and delicious guava juice.  It was an amazing breakfast and the icing on the cake was when our oldest son said, “Mom & Dad, I feel like a normal kid this morning.”  It literally brought us to tears of joy!  Thank you Disney and Chef David for your diligence and serving delicious allergy friendly meals!  Special memories were definitely created!

Disney

Kona at Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Kona is one of the Disney restaurants that is piloting their new “allergy friendly menu” system.  Our server brought out a separate menu for the boys which listed all of the ingredients for many appetizers, entrees, and desserts.  Chef Karen came to our table and I presented her with our restaurant allergy card.  I told her that our oldest son wanted a hamburger.  I figured he would not be able to eat the bun so I actually had 2 pieces of bread in my purse that I brought from our hotel room. She said that was fine and we could assemble his burger at the table.  She would also bake the sweet potato fries to avoid cross contamination.  The boys also split the octopus salad for an appetizer and the veggie sushi rolls.  The food was marginal but it was safe and we were exhausted that night, so it didn’t really matter.

kona kona 1

Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios: Upon seating us, the host presented us with 3 different menus.  An allergy-specific kid’s menu, allergy-specific adult menu and their standard menu.  We typically all order off of the allergy friendly menu to make it easier for the chef when discerning our order.  Raul, our server from Colombia, was very knowledgable about food allergies when I presented him our restaurant card.  Our boys could again eat the bread here with olive oil which was a nice treat!  The boys decided on the Vegetarian Pho entrée as an appetizer which was delicious.  They each had the mickey mouse shaped pasta with marina sauce and steamed brocolini.  What can I say, our boys are creatures of habit?  We were all too full for dessert and wanted to rush outside to see the fireworks.  I will note that Tofutti dairy free ice cream was on the dessert menu which I thought was AWESOME!

brown derby brown derby 2

Toyko Restaurant, Japan in Epcot: I was a bit apprehensive about eating with our boys in Epcot due to pre-vacation research I had done on Epcot restaurants.  From what I had researched, many of the restaurants in Epcot are not actually “Disney-owned” restaurants, and thus do not have the same Allergy standards that Disney has for all of their restaurants.  However, we didn’t find this to be true at Toyko.  From a peanut allergy perspective, Japanese cuisine is typically free of peanuts and most tree nuts.  The manager of the restaurant came right over to our table and brought a huge binder that listed allergens in all of the menu items.  She stressed that the sushi chef making our boy’s rolls would put on clean gloves and use a clean surface.  Our boys each decided on edamame and the sushi veggie rolls.  We had yet another delicious and safe meal at Disney and no one left hungry!

Koisks & Quick Service Stations:

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, Main Street U.S.A.:  When we were in line, I handed one of the cast member our restaurant allergy card.  She told us to stand over to the side.  The manager then came out from the back room and told us they had Tofutti Vanilla and Chocolate.  I made sure to explain to her the severity of our boy’s food allergies.  She assured me she would scoop it in the back and all of the utensils would be clean and sanitized.  Our boys each had a HUGE cup of Tofutti to cool them off during the hot afternoon!

Food Kiosk near Tomorrowland Speedway: Our boys could have the Mickey shaped hot pretzels and the cotton candy.  The cast members at this kiosk showed me the binder that listed the ingredients for all of the food products sold at this location.

Now that I have thoroughly reviewed all of our dining experiences I have to mention we took a decent-sized backpack into the park each day that contained the boy’s 4 epi-pens, inhalers and usually lots of snacks.  I had all of the ingredients in our hotel fridge to make sandwhiches for the boys for a few days in the parks.  We got sick of all of the junk food and tend to eat a pretty clean and healthy diet.  Lots of snacks are key when you have growing kids that are constantly hungry.  We always ate a nice sit down meal every night.

Overall, our trip to WDW in Orlando was a MAGICAL experience!   It was so nice to feel “normal” and take most of the worry out of our dining experiences for a few days.  Please fee free to contact me with any specific questions regarding this post or allergy free travel to WDW in general.

~Erika

 

 

Flying United Airlines with Nut Allergies

United

We recently took a family trip to Naples and flew on a new carrier- United Airlines.  Typically, in the past, we have flown on Delta with our food allergic boys and have had no major problems.  And I must add, we travel quite a bit via airlines, with our boys.

Two weeks prior to our departure date I called United customer service and notified them that one of my children had a “life-threatening” peanut and tree nut allergy.  I asked them what their company policy was for food allergic passengers?  The representative on the phone told me she would make a note of the allergy in her system and on our tickets.  She also told me United would not distribute peanuts to passengers on the flights.  She said the safety of their passengers was a high priority.  I thought we were good to go, however part of me thought, and this is a bit pessimistic, that this was too good to be true!

Additionally, a few days before our departure I reached out to United via Twitter and their Facebook page asking them what the company policy was for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers?  Here is the response I received via United Facebook:

“We prioritize safety for all of our passengers. While we do not offer buffer zones on our planes, please notify a flight attendant of your son’s allergies and they will be able to pass on that message to their aircraft. Please use this link for more information: http://bit.ly/1Sk5iQs. Feel free to reach out if you have additional questions.”

The day of our departure during check-in the United representative told me that she would notify the head flight attendant of our son’s nut allergies and to make sure to mention this again to the gate attendant.  She stated that United takes food allergies very seriously.  Upon arriving at the gate I also spoke very politely to the gate attendant about our son’s food allergies and reiterated to her what the check-in attendant had mentioned.

Then, when we lined up to board the aircraft, the gate attendant told  my husband and I, “the crew wiped down everything in our aisle on the plane to take extra precautions.”  That was  music to our ears!  Jason and I were thrilled United “went the extra mile.”

However, upon getting to our seats, we noticed several pistachio shells on the floor in the aisle surrounding our seats and in front of each of our seats throughout the entire row.  My boys were TERRIFIED!  I remained calm and grabbed my bag of antibacterial wipes, re-wiped down everything again and picked up the pistachio shells and handed them to the flight attendant.  I explained our concern to her and she said, “I would be nervous too if I had a serious nut allergy.”

After calming our boys down and assuring them they would be safe (I kept my cool of course).  We were able to get ready for takeoff.  My husband and I reiterated to our 6 & 8 year old boys not to touch their shoes, do not put your fingers in your mouth or close to your mouth, and everything will be okay.

Thankfully we survived the flight without any accidental exposures to the nut residues!  No Benadryl or Epi-Pens were needed!  THANK GOD!

United, on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give you a 5.  The process seems to be there but the implementation of the food allergy process is poor, based on our recent experience.  There is lots of room for improvement.

Thankfully, we didn’t experience any additional concerns on the other 3 United flights during our entire travel process.  United- we will fly your carrier again.  In the future, hopefully you will improve your processes for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers which will improve their safety during the flight.

 

Ski Trips with Food Allergies

gondola vail

We recently took a week long ski trip with our boys and extended family to Vail, Colorado.  Our two boys have been downhill skiing practically since they could walk.  That’s a bit of exaggeration but if you are a ski family like we are, then you can most likely relate.  We love to ski with our boys and often.

Although my husband and I have been taking annual ski trips together out west for over a decade this was the first trip out west with both of our boys.  We felt that age ages 6 and 8 they would be able to hold their own and ski the majority of the terrain without a problem.

The key to any vacation when traveling with kids that have multiple food allergies is to stay in a place that has a kitchen and well-equipped one if you love to cook like I do.  Thankfully we were also vacationing with my father-in-law who owned his own restaurant for over 30 years and is a professional chef…that definitely helps!  We stayed in a beautiful condo in Arrowhead which is just a hop skip and a jump to one of the Arrowhead/Beavercreek chairlifts.

I’ll cut to the chase today as I want to be thorough but brief.  There was absolutely no chance that my husband and I were going to risk an accidental food exposure for either of our sons while skiing during the day at either Beavercreek or Vail.  For (1) it would be very timely to get a child off the mountain if they  experienced anaphylaxis and (2) I was a bit skeptical of the emergency care in Summit County although I researched it and I’m sure it was more than adequate.

Our boys ALWAYS ski with 2 Epi-pens each which they put carry in their pocket located inside of their ski coat with about 8 Benadryl tablets each.  My youngest son also skis with his inhaler.  We have always felt this is a good pocket for the Epi-pens because it’s close to their bodies and doesn’t get too cold, since these little buggers are temperature sensitive…ugh!

We decided it was easiest to pack tortilla roll-up sandwiches for the boys each day because they took up little space and they are also one of the boy’s favorite foods for lunch.  We would typically roll up organic deli ham, melted Daiya mozzarella shreds, and lettuce.  Typically, we would make 2 roll-ups per boy and then we would give each child 1-2 Enjoy Your Life Choco-Loco bars for snacks on the mountain.  We skied a total of 4 days with the boys and alternated the roll-ups from day to day adding various ingredients so they wouldn’t get tired of the same thing.

My husband Jason and I would typically put a few in our ski jacket pockets and the boys would carry a few for themselves.  Easy peasy.  Then, once we were skiing all morning and decided to go in for lunch on top of the mountain (usually anywhere from 10,000 – 11,000 ft above sea level), we would buy entire lunches for Jason and myself and then just purchase drinks and “safe” chips for the boys.  This system proved to work well throughout the week of our ski vacation.  The boys were happy with their lunches and most importantly SAFE!

It was a huge success and any of the pre-trip anxiety I had about eating on the mountain was squashed once we executed our plan.  This system also enabled us to share a memorable vacation with our boys skiing in the mountains of Summit County Colorado for their first time our West!  It was an awesome trip!  I can’t wait to create more ski vacation memories with my 3 boys in future years to come!

Click on the link below to view Taylor ripping it up on the Word Cup Downhill run Birds of Paradise at Beavercreek Resort:

Taylor Birds of Prey

BIG TEN FOOTBALL GAME WITH FOOD ALLERGIES: Michigan State vs. Indiana

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 15: General view of Spartan Stadium Stadium during a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan State Spartans on September 15, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Thanksgiving holiday in America is a time where many Americans enjoy one of our favorite national past times- FOOTBALL!   People either go to college football games or cheer from the sidelines at home.  I figured this week was a great time to post about our recent experience of taking our boys to their first Michigan State University home football game.  My husband and I have been excited for years to take our boys to a game since we both attended MSU.  This year since our boys were finally old enough to sit through an entire game.

The kickoff time for the football game was at 3:30pm so it was imperative that we fed the boys well before going into the stadium.  We tailgated with family members and the boys munched on Subway sandwiches that I ordered for our tailgate.  When I called to place the Subway order the night before I specified they were for children with multiple food allergies to dairy, nuts, and eggs.  The manager of one of the East Lansing Subway stores (on Saginaw Rd. & Abbott) was amazing and told me that she would personally make our party sub tray first thing in the morning before anything else was made.  She assured me that she would use clean utensils and she was properly trained on cross-contamination.  This really eased my mind.

Back to the football game…there was not a whole lot of pre-game homework I had to do to ensure the boys would be safe during the game.  However, you cannot take in a purse or bag into the stadium, in which case my husband and I each carried 2 Epi-pens each in our coat pockets and my son’s inhaler.  We were all set.

We were fortunate enough to be able to take the boys onto the football field prior to the start of the game.  The boys thought it was so cool to be standing feet away from the huge MSU football players and coaching staff.  Taylor and Christopher were in their glory to say the least!

During various breaks throughout the football game our boys were able to eat Subway sandwiches once again that were safe.  Additionally, there were a few varieties of chips they could have at one of the vendor’s.  During one part of the game, when it down poured for 15 minutes, we took shelter and the boys each had soft pretzels which were a “safe” brand they have eaten in the past.  My husband and I were thrilled and the boys were happy!

The boys were not only able to eat safely during the game but they lasted the entire football game, they sang during every MSU chant and fight song, and HAD A BLAST!  I think it was also most helpful that we were sitting next to my brother and sister-in-law and my nephew who is 10 sat next to the boys as well!  What a great game and Michigan State University beat Indiana!

We’ll definitely take the boys back to Spartan Stadium for future MSU games!  GO GREEN!  GO WHITE!

 

 

FIELD TRIPS WITH FOOD ALLERGIES

skulbus

My boys have now been back in school this fall for about 4 weeks and today is their first field trip to the high school football field for a Homecoming Pep Rally.  Looking back a few years when my oldest son was in kindergarten, I remember feeling quite a bit of anxiety leading up to his school field trips.  Its silly to think about the stress these school functions caused me but I’m sure most parents of kids with food allergies can relate in one way or another to my elevated anxiety levels on the subject. Even though I chaperoned almost all of the field trips,  I think most of my stress came from thoughts about my son riding on the bus and the potential of food that had been left on the bus prior to him riding it, and/or allergen oils on the bus seats.  Additionally, the is an added element of stress knowing that your child may not be as close to he hospital in case there is an allergic reaction.

In preparing my children for today’s school outing I referenced a very helpful checklist provided by FARE at www.foodallergy.org.  I have included this helpful checklist in the “Food Allergy Folder” I prepare for each of my children’s teachers at the beginning of each school year.  It’s a wonderful reference guide and I hope you will find it helpful to ease your mind while your children are safe and enjoying their school field trips.  ~Erika

Field Trip Tips

For Parents

  • Keep yourself up-to-date on upcoming special events in your child’s school. The more time you have to plan ahead, the better.
  • Remember that you and your child’s teacher need to work together as a team to keep your child safe.
  • Role-play with your child and practice what your child should do if a reaction is occurring.
  • Often times children are reluctant to mention that they’re having symptoms of an allergic reaction for fear of creating a scene. Teach your child to be persistent. In the event of a reaction, rapid treatment is essential.
  • After the event, briefly call or meet with your child’s teacher to discuss what went well and what, if anything, should be changed in the future. Be sure to give praise for a job well done; a thank-you note reinforces the idea of teamwork and builds a positive atmosphere.

For Educators

  • Update the food-allergic student’s Food Allergy Action Plan. Ask the parents to review the plan you have on file and note any updated information. Also ask parents to check the expiration dates on any medications.
  • Review the Food Allergy Action Plan with regard to the upcoming event. Find out where the nearest hospital is and discuss how a student would be transported there in case of an emergency.
  • Brief the staff and chaperones that will be supervising students during the event or trip. Identify the food-allergic student, discuss what foods must be avoided, explain the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and review the Food Allergy Action Plan. Designate a staff member to check the safety of any food served to that student.
  • The day of the event or trip, carry the food-allergic student’s medications wherever the student goes. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, known as “anaphylaxis,” speedy access to medications can be the difference between life and death. Keep all staff and chaperones informed about who will be carrying the student’s medications.
  • Carry a cell phone to place emergency calls, if necessary. Make certain all staff and chaperones know where the phone will be kept.
  • Take all complaints seriously. If a food-allergic student notifies the staff that he or she is not feeling well, compare the symptoms with those listed on that student’s Food Allergy Action Plan. If the student is having an allergic reaction, activate emergency procedures immediately. Remember, if epinephrine is administered, but not needed, the student may experience increased heart rate and nervousness. If epinephrine is needed, but not administered, the student may experience a severe or fatal allergic reaction.

Labor Day Weekend Detroit Tigers Game with Our Food Allergic Boys = AMAZING TIME!

comerica park

My husband and I recently enjoyed a hot Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit with our two food allergic boys.  This is the second time we have taken our boys to a Major League baseball game and I have to say kudos to Comerica- our experience could not have been any better!

Prior to arriving at the ball park we met several family members for a “Family Fun Day Sunday” at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Detroit on Broadway Street.  The staff was extremely helpful and our server took our 3 x 5 pink Restaurant Food Allergy Card back to the chef to ask for dairy, nut, and egg free menu recommendations.  My boys happily settled on the sweet BBQ and cilantro chicken wings and washed it down with a delicious root beer.  Not very healthy but hey– it was game day and a special occasion!  They loved it!   Plus Punch Bowl has several bowling lanes, an arcade, and shuffle board…a paradise for both parents and children for a pre-game with the family!

After meeting up with all of our family at Punch Bowl we then walked to the ball park which was only a few short blocks away.

In the past I have carried in a soft 12″ x 12″ inch cooler filled to the brim with safe snacks for our boys to enjoy during the game in addition to the 4 Auvi-Q epinephrine pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler.  Last Saturday however I only packed a few snacks in my purse (Auv-Q’s  of course) and my boys were able to enjoy multiple food/drink items at the park.  Upon entering Comerica in the 85+ degree heat we bought Minute Maid Frozen Lemonades for the boys and a few waters.  Not to mention the multiple souvenirs (ie. water squirt fans to keep the kids cool, stuffed animals, new baseball hats, and jerseys of course).

Unfortunately, the Tigers were not winning and at one point during the game I ventured to the Big Cat Food Court area where the merry-go-round is located.  My husband stayed back in the seats with the boys.  The Hot Dog Vendor Sidekick did not have a line at all and I decided to venture up to the counter.  After noticing they sold hot dogs, I politely asked one of the employees if he could possibly grab the box of hot dogs and buns from the walk-in cooler in order for me to read the ingredients list.  He also mentioned that out of the two different types of Ballpark hot dogs they sold one brand had casein in them.  Once he brought me the box of dogs without the casein I re-read the ingredients at least 3 times after realizing they were COMPLETELY safe for my boys to eat.  Additionally, the bun brand they carried was safe as well!  My eyes literally started welting up and tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes underneath my sunglasses.  Why did I start to tear up you may ask yourself?  Well, it’s actually quite simple…this is the first time my two little boys would be able to enjoy a hot dog at a Ball Game!  A quintessential moment enjoyed by most Americans during their lifetime!

When I returned to the our seating section my husband and kids were standing near the entrance to our seats with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew.  I handed the boys their hot dogs and told them they were SAFE and they proceeded to devour each dog!  My husband and I were ecstatic!  It was a very memorable moment that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Our Sunday Fun Day at Comerica proved to be an amazing experience with our boys and extended family!  We will definitely be back with the boys and hopefully next time the Tigers will have a WIN!  Thank you to our family and Comerica for a amazing fun filled day at the ball park!

Labor Day Weekend Detroit Tigers Game with Our Food Allergic Boys = AMAZING TIME!

comerica park

My husband and I recently enjoyed a hot Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit with our two food allergic boys.  This is the second time we have taken our boys to a Major League baseball game and I have to say kudos to Comerica- our experience could not have been any better!

Prior to arriving at the ball park we met several family members for a “Family Fun Day Sunday” at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Detroit on Broadway Street.  The staff was extremely helpful and our server took our 3 x 5 pink Restaurant Food Allergy Card back to the chef to ask for dairy, nut, and egg free menu recommendations.  My boys happily settled on the sweet BBQ and cilantro chicken wings and washed it down with a delicious root beer.  Not very healthy but hey– it was game day and a special occasion!  They loved it!   Plus Punch Bowl has several bowling lanes, an arcade, and shuffle board…a paradise for both parents and children for a pre-game with the family!

After meeting up with all of our family at Punch Bowl we then walked to the ball park which was only a few short blocks away.

In the past I have carried in a soft 12″ x 12″ inch cooler filled to the brim with safe snacks for our boys to enjoy during the game in addition to the 4 Auvi-Q epinephrine pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler.  Last Saturday however I only packed a few snacks in my purse (Auv-Q’s  of course) and my boys were able to enjoy multiple food/drink items at the park.  Upon entering Comerica in the 85+ degree heat we bought Minute Maid Frozen Lemonades for the boys and a few waters.  Not to mention the multiple souvenirs (ie. water squirt fans to keep the kids cool, stuffed animals, new baseball hats, and jerseys of course).

Unfortunately, the Tigers were not winning and at one point during the game I ventured to the Big Cat Food Court area where the merry-go-round is located.  My husband stayed back in the seats with the boys.  The Hot Dog Vendor Sidekick did not have a line at all and I decided to venture up to the counter.  After noticing they sold hot dogs, I politely asked one of the employees if he could possibly grab the box of hot dogs and buns from the walk-in cooler in order for me to read the ingredients list.  He also mentioned that out of the two different types of Ballpark hot dogs they sold one brand had casein in them.  Once he brought me the box of dogs without the casein I re-read the ingredients at least 3 times after realizing they were COMPLETELY safe for my boys to eat.  Additionally, the bun brand they carried was safe as well!  My eyes literally started welting up and tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes underneath my sunglasses.  Why did I start to tear up you may ask yourself?  Well, it’s actually quite simple…this is the first time my two little boys would be able to enjoy a hot dog at a Ball Game!  A quintessential moment enjoyed by most Americans during their lifetime!

When I returned to the our seating section my husband and kids were standing near the entrance to our seats with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew.  I handed the boys their hot dogs and told them they were SAFE and they proceeded to devour each dog!  My husband and I were ecstatic!  It was a very memorable moment that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Our Sunday Fun Day at Comerica proved to be an amazing experience with our boys and extended family!  We will definitely be back with the boys and hopefully next time the Tigers will have a WIN!  Thank you to our family and Comerica for a amazing fun filled day at the ball park!