Nut-Free New York (VIDEO)

Travelling with allergies always brings on a bit of anxiety, even if you aren’t travelling far. I was so excited to go to New York for the first time, I can’t believe I’d never been. The flight is barely one and a half hours, and I wasn’t going to let my nut allergy interfere. Let me take you on my NY food journey, see the vlog and descriptions below!

Day 1

I always bring my own snacks on flights to ensure I have something I can eat – you never know if the airport will have safe snacks. When travelling you’re sometimes not sure when you’ll get to eat again so having emergency bites is a must for me. The early morning meal consisted of: Made Good apple cinnamon granola bites, Joseph’s Nutless Clusters (they are chocolate coconut bites), Bear Paw cookies and tea. I also had chips and juice on the plane – I admit not the most balanced meal.

Nutfree snacks

I made the long trip from Newark to New York and was starving by the time I arrived – I expected traffic, but was shocked by the extent of it. Luckily we had all our meals planned that day – my friend made reservations for lunch and dinner and was sweet enough to call and ask about allergies for me – so the restaurants were prepared for my requests. For lunch we went to Fig and Olive (808 Lexington Ave), which was nut-friendly, not nut-free. I shared flatbreads and had a burger and green salad for my main. I was so hungry anything would have tasted amazing – but the burger was juicy and salad had a great dressing.

My must-do in NY was to visit Candytopia (145 W 32nd St) an amazing candy playground/art experience. This isn’t exactly the healthiest meal, but they of course had candy samples throughout and the allergy information was stellar! Each sweet had pictures and very clear labels on everything, and since it was almost all sugar I didn’t have an issue eating anything. I ran around like a kid taking pictures, rolling around in confetti and getting high on sugar. This was one of my highlights – it was so much fun!

Candytopia Allergen Info

Candytopia Candy

Then we headed to Chinatown to eat at Nom Wah Tea Parlour, although this place looked like a hole in the wall it was the best meal I had on the trip. It was up a slight hill in a dark alleyway which was littered with people, there was a line outside for the restaurant – thank goodness for reservations. We we sat down they already knew about my nut allergy – we shared everything family-style without an issue. I don’t remember everything we ate, but I’m still thinking about their pork-stuffed buns and soup dumplings.

Nom Wah Tea Parlour New York

Long Distance Friends meeting in NY

Day 2

I could have wandered around the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) by myself for hours and been completely happy. I ate my own snacks and a banana from Starbucks in the morning. Unfortunately the first cafe we went to inside the MET did not have ingredients for anything, so I could only eat an apple and potato chips – not a great experience. After the first snack I needed a real meal desperately and we found the cafeteria in the basement. I ordered the kids meal (the first thing I could see that I could eat). Vegetable pasta with garlic and olive oil (which was actually pretty good) banana, juice and chocolate chip nut-free/gluten-free cookies.

Lunch at the MET - nutfree

After the MET we wandered around some stores and looked for  a place to eat. To my joy we passed Alice’s Teacup – which has always been on my NY to-do list. It is an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea shop. If you know me, you know I live for afternoon tea. The place was nut-friendly and didn’t use nuts in their scones – such bliss. They provided the classic three-tiered afternoon tea experience: mini sandwiches (BLT and salmon), cookies and cake and of course scones and clotted cream. We had tea for three and I was thrilled to take the leftovers home.

Alice's Teacup - Afternoon Tea

Teacups and Teapots - Alice's Teacup

The tea experience was pretty filling, so after that I walked to Times Square, had a glass of prosecco and a few more bites of scone.

Day 3

For breakfast and snacks throughout the day I ate my leftovers from Alice’s Teacup (thankfully they were generous). On the last day we went to the Statue of Liberty and healthy food was not to be found. I ate one of the only things they said I could eat: chicken fingers and fries. It’s so annoying that the US doesn’t seem to use plum sauce; I had to use BBQ.  I also found a nut-free cookie. I wasn’t allowed to bring the cookie up the statue so I had to leave it on the security desk – thinking it wouldn’t be there when I came back. But when I got down it was still there and I was so happy! After the heavy food and walking around I ate my snacks from home until the off-broadway play I arranged. In the evening I met a friend for a drink and had mini-sliders.

Looking at the water at the Statue of Liberty

Chicken Fingers and Fries - Statue of Liberty meal

I am now itching to go back to New York and explore the city more. Do you have any nut-free New York recommendations?

Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!

CNE Outfit

Nut-free Canadian National Exhibition Meal “Let’s go to the Ex”

Going to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) or “the ex” is a summer tradition. It’s a day for sugary, fried and generally yummy but awful for you food. Every year there is another crazy or disgusting food they introduce. Sometimes it is for the best those food experiments (like a hamburger with two donuts for the bun) are off limits due to allergies.

Having a nut allergy often bars you from carnival fun; but I have found a few staples I always eat at “the ex”. I am also a bit lactose intolerant, but today I’m just going to take pills and deal with the consequences. Below was my “Let’s go to the ex” meal that was allergy-friendly!

Tiny Tom Donuts

Tiny Tom Donuts

Whenever I see a Tiny Tom sign I run for it before there is line. These are tiny, mini sugar donuts that everyone in Toronto is familiar with. It is a CNE and food truck staple. They have various sugar toppings; but I always go with the classic cinnamon sugar. They are best when warm, first you shake all the sugar and eat them from the bag. I always buy extra to bring home and heat up for breakfast, however my partner and I ate them all and there wasn’t enough for the next day!

Hot Bunz

Korean Stuffed Hot Bunz

I needed a ‘real’ meal not just dessert. I used to get these Asian fusion buns at another market and now whenever I see them I’m excited. I got the pair of small ones so that I’d have room for more donuts and could get two flavours. I bought “Seoul City Pulled Beef” which was stuffed with beef and caramelized onions and topped with fried onions and some sort of garlic sauce. The other bun was “Bacon Butter Chicken” which I ate for lunch the next day. It was similar to the beef, but the bacon on top made is extra yummy.  Since they are small they are perfect for snacking.

Ice Cream Waffle Sandwich

CNE-ice-cream-sandwich

I have seen this classic at the ex for years and always thought it was off limits. But when I passed by the stand I saw them cutting Chapman’s ice cream into slices (which is usually nut-free) so I figured I’d ask. To my shock the snack was nut-free. A thick slice of vanilla ice cream was sandwiched between two waffles. It wasn’t a sugary sweet waffle, but still tasted great.

Overall I had a balanced meal, I started with dessert and ended with it! What is your favourite CNE or carnival food?

Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!

Birthday Cake Cookies (nut-free)

Creme de Lacombe Birthday Cake Cookies (Nut-free)

Having a nut allergy often makes it difficult to eat fun things. But if you bake yourself, you can eat practically whatever you want.

I’m not a gifted baker, but I have been obsessed with Kelsey Lacombe’s blog and Instagram full of colourful cakes and cookies lately. Creme de Lacombe is a feast for the eyes, check her out! Her photos make me hungry every day. Sadly, finding cookies like the ones she posts in a store would be hard for me to eat given my nut allergy. So making my own is often the only choice. For a get together I had I decided to try to re-create her awesomeness.

I modified her Birthday Cake Cookie Sandwiches to ensure they were Ashley-friendly (meaning nut-free). The first picture below are Creme de Lacombe’s masterpieces – I know seeing my version next to hers makes it seem like a craft fail – but I’m still happy with how mine turned out.

Birthday Cake Cookies

Please note I was going to make the cake sandwiches…but on my first attempt I was unable to make perfectly round cookies. With practice hopefully I’ll master it. But although they are not perfectly round they still tasted great and had magical sprinkles.

I modified a few of her ingredients and simplified the recipe (didn’t do the sandwiches) due to my diet and allergies, but I don’t think it made a difference in taste. They were also pretty easy to make- I’ll just make them smaller next time.

Recipe courtesy of Creme de Lacombe

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar (plus more for tops of cookies)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white cake mix – I used Betty Crocker white cake mix – it was safe
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles – I made sure mine were nut-free
  • 1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips – I used Chippits – they are amazing and I can eat them!
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer (I used a stand mixer) fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, incorporating a little at a time until combined.
  5. Stir in 1/4 cup of white chocolate Chippets chips and 1/4 cup of sprinkles.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop, evenly distribute balls of cookie dough onto cookie sheet.  Next time I will make my scoops smaller!Raw Birthday Cookie Dough
  7. Sprinkle some of the extra sugar, sprinkles and white chocolate chips on top of the balls of dough.
  8. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Let cool on wire cookie rack.

Birthday Cookies cooling on wire cookie rack

Tip: If using one cookie sheet, make sure you let it cool in between batches of cookies. If you scoop the dough onto the hot cookie sheet, the cookies will start cooking before they get into the oven!
I am going to practice my baking so that I can make the sandwich version next time. Even though they weren’t perfect, they tasted great and that’s all that matters. It is the inside not the outside that is crucial!

I hope Creme de Lacombe isn’t too horrified with my version of her cookie 🙂 What do you think of my baking attempt?

Birthday Cake Cookies
Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!
Eating Rainbow Unicorn Cake

Rainbow Unicorn Surprise Cake

If you want a Rainbow Unicorn Surprise Cake to be nut-free likely you’ll have to make it yourself. But I don’t have enough patience to make myself a just because layer cake.

I was leaving a project at work to take on another role. My fabulous co-worker often would bake for the team, but sadly I could never eat it. Guaranteeing a nut-free cake in a contaminated home is tricky. But for my going away week she asked me if I had any requests – and what do you think I asked for?

MAKE ME A RAINBOW CAKE! Pretty please.

I was so obsessed with this cake I decided to make a video to commemorate it. Wait for the surprise inside…

I’ve never been able to eat a cake like this before and it has always been a dream to get one. Given how time-consuming it must have been I was surprised she delivered something so elaborate – I totally didn’t expect anything. I was half-joking when I requested it – I am so grateful for the effort! She went the extra mile: she bought a new bag of flour, new paper towels, disinfected her kitchen multiple times, then became paranoid that her clothes may have been contaminated with previous nut residue. To make her feel better I made choking noises after the first bite – I’m a jerk. Nonetheless baking for me was likely a stressful experience she will never do again lol.

Sprinkle Cake

Look at all the rainbow and sweetness overload! So much colour; I’m dying! The Skittles inside made me lose it.

Rainbow Cake with Skittles

What Valentine's Day Sweets to Buy Your Nut-Allergic Sweetie

What Valentine’s Day Sweets to Buy Your Nut-Allergic Sweetie (VIDEO)

Valentines Day is around the corner. The day of love – or most appropriately the day of chocolate. I have hated this day for so long – not just during my single more bitter days but waaaaay back to childhood. The reason isn’t because of loneliness or lack of love it is because:

I CAN’T EAT THE CHOCOLATE!

Do you know how sad that is?! As a six-year-old or even now? This is one of the realities I’ve accepted by living with a nut/peanut allergy. It is hard to enjoy chocolate-filled holidays. Generally, not eating dessert is an accepted fact for me. But over the years I’ve grown and softened to this holiday and have actually learned to enjoy it – although it is still hard to find chocolate to eat.

I’d be happy to get anything as a present for Valentine’s but the cliche present of chocolate is a challenge to receive with an allergy – especially fancy gourmet chocolate. Most boxes of chocolate are full of nuts and if they are not they say “may contain nuts” which is essentially the same thing. So what sweet can you buy your nut/peanut allergic partner?

Here are my suggestions to have a sweet and safe Valentine’s Day with your nut allergy. And remember you can buy yourself chocolate- this is a day for fun and all kinds of love, self-spoiling included!

 1. Buy Cupcakes Instead

Sorelle and Company Nut-free cupcakes

If you can’t get chocolate that is safe, get cupcakes or other baked goods. Toronto has some quality nut-free bakeries that carry cakes, cookies, brownies- anything a normal bakery would carry. Some of my favourites are: Sorelle and Company (which is super Instagram-worthy, but pricey) Cakes by Roberts did my unicorn birthday cake which I absolutely adored! I haven’t been to Yonge and Eglinton in ages but I remember The Cupcake Shoppe being amazing. So, if classic chocolate fails I’m sure there is a nut-free bakery in your city.

 

2. School-Safe Chocolate

School Safe Kid Friendly Valentine's Chocolate

Kid or school-safe chocolates can often be found at grocery stores, drug stores or even dollar stores. However, the shapes won’t be very fancy or romantic – think Darth Vader, princesses and cartoon characters. But you’ll likely be able to find the classic heart-shape as well. Scan the aisles for a peanut-free/nut-free label. On the downside the chocolates are generally cheap and drug store quality at best – but they will work as a gesture.

3. Laura Secord has a nut-free line!

Laura Secord Nut-Free Chocolate

Laura Secord does have a line of gourmet chocolate bars and fancy boxes of nut free chocolate. They are definitely of a higher quality and more romantic than the school-safe chocolate. But, it is hard to find a store and most of the specialty nut-free products are only in store. My boyfriend has come home with fear in his eyes more than once at not being able to find a box of chocolates for me.

4. Shop Local

For me Laura Secord is local, as a Canadian company I grew up with it. Although I didn’t grow up eating their chocolate, I believe the nut-free line is a newer development. Another option is to shop local, maybe your local independent chocolatier can make you a special order? It can’t hurt to ask.

5. Make it yourself!

If all else fails (or even if it doesn’t) you could always bake yourself and you’ll know it will be safe! You could make your sweetie dessert or a batch of nut-free cookies. They will be one of a kind and from the heart and that is always king!

Please share your nut-free recommendations with me! I’m always looking for new ways to satisfy my sweet-tooth!

Laura Secord Cameo Chocolare
Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!
Picnic layout

ChocoSol Chocolate

I get extremely excited when I discover new nut free products, especially when they are chocolate based. I discovered ChocoSol Traders when I went to the Dufferin Grove farmers market to research for an article I was writing. I am also a sucker for pretty and skull based marketing so when I saw this chocolate it was a given I’d buy some.

Package Free Chocolate - ChocoSol

Girl holding Picnic Basket

As an added bonus the chocolate can come package-free and the wrapping is paper – so they are pretty green. Yes, I can feel ethical when eating chocolate!

The chocolate is definitely real and cacoa- based so if you want a something that tastes like an Aero bar you’ll be disappointed. But it will satisfy your sweet tooth and make a perfect (and cute) picnic addition (especially if you grab it from the farmers’ market then find your picnic spot). I hear they also make cookies and hot chocolate so I’ll visit the store to try those next. 

ChocoSol Traders Chocolate

Shakespeare in High Park

Watching Queen Lear (not King Lear) at Shakespeare in the Park.

Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!

Cinderella's Castle

Nut-Free Magic Kingdom, Disneyworld!

I was ecstatic to discover that Disneyworld is amazing for allergies. Going on vacation and being on edge and afraid to eat is a horrible feeling. There is always new and interesting food (and sweets) that I want to try; especially at theme parks. But more often than not eating is out of the question when you’re deathly allergic. Below is my Disneyworld Magic Kingdom, Florida food journey.

But before I do anything I need tea (Disneyworld Starbucks). So happy Starbucks has introduced coconut milk!

Starbucks Disneyworld

Cinderella’s Royal TableBreakfast at Cinderella's Table

A few days prior to our visit we went online to get restaurant reservations to discover you apparently have to book these things 180 days in advance (WHAT?!). Luckily we arrive early the Monday morning and there is room at Cinderella’s Castle (we are her special guests). It was the most expensive and magical breakfast I’ve ever had. When you enter the castle you first meet Cinderella; later they usher you upstairs for breakfast.

First of all, the restaurant has an allergy specific menu. Hallelujah! They start breakfast with a tray of pastries, some are Mickey-shaped of course, and I can actually eat them! Do you know how rare that is? I could have just kept eating the pastries, but it came with a full bacon and eggs breakfast as well. You also had coffee/tea and a goblet of juice. The food was actually great and a higher quality than I expected (especially the pastries) and the service was incredible. They were extremely aware of allergies and very attentive.

Cinderella's Breakfast Allergy-Friendly Menu

Nut-free Disneyworld pastries

During breakfast four other princesses circulate and greet you; and they NEVER break character. Totally worth the money!

Cinderella Notebook

Breakfast at Cinderella's Castle

Gaston’s TavernGaston's Cinnamon Bun
I have a cinnamon bun obsession. So when I was researching Magic Kingdom and saw a picture of one at Gaston’s Tavern, I prayed I could eat it. Unlike Cinderella’s Royal Table, Gaston’s is a counter service place, so it isn’t a sit down restaurant. It is dimly lit; but you can sit in Gaston’s chair.

 

When I enquired about the cinnamon bun the server was kind enough to search through the ingredient binder for me…and I could eat it! Oh happy day! This was the biggest cinnamon bun I’ve ever seen; look at it, it is as big as my head. It is a twist on the classic cinnamon bun; there is a caramel syrup throughout it. T and I liked them so much we also took one each to go (bows head in shame).

Mickey StrawT is getting grumpy so we get a drink at the Starlight Cafe. A safe icy drink, complete with Mickey straw.

Tony’s Town Square
By 6:00 p.m. we just wanted to get dinner reservations anywhere. The only sit-down spot available was Tony’s Town Square (the Lady & the Tramp restaurant) at 8:30 p.m. Sadly we missed the parade because we were eating. Like Cinderella’s Castle they had a special allergy-friendly menu. Italian is my favourite food so this was a perfect ending. I got spaghetti and meat balls, so the meal was fairly ordinary, but still good. But, drum roll please….this restaurant serves WINE!Disneyworld Allergy-Friendly menu

Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti and Meatballs

I’m already dreaming of my next Disney adventure. Where did you eat at Disneyworld, any recommendations for my next trip?

Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!

Sweet Trolley Bakery

It was a brisk day and the snow was melting. After brunch, my boyfriend, bestie and I walked around the Junction area and what do I spot, but a giant ‘nut-free’ sign in the window. I am attuned to such signs and can always spot them out of the corner of my eye. Sweet Trolley Bakery is right next to Bunners on 3056 Dundas Street West; I’ve never seen two nut-free places right beside one another (it’s like seeing a unicorn)!

SweetTrolley

IMG_0840

I walk through the store suddenly famished! It’s not glamourous inside; but this likely helps to keep prices down. The prices were reasonable and I think they only take cash.  I was so excited and made such a fuss that the owner let me take a photo with the nut free sign.  I bought an assortment of sweets: rhubarb pie, cupcake, cinnamon bun, cannoli and one of every cookie they make. That’s not too much, right? They are famous for their cinnamon buns; but I preferred the rhubarb pie and cannoli. I don’t think I’ve actually ever eaten a cannoli before; I’ve been missing out!

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I will for sure go back here for special occasions; like birthdays and Tuesdays.

IMG_1351

Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!

 

Tartistry

tartisry1

I have never been a big fan of tarts; they always seemed boring and nut-filled to me. But as I was buying  a mattress I was happy to stumble upon Tartistry . There are not a lot of cute cafes in Etobicoke; yet alone one that can accommodate a nut allergy AND be gluten-free. They aren’t a nut-free facility; but I ate there without a problem.

The shop is a mixture of cafe and antique/knick-knack shop. It is as if your grandma put all of her cherished belongings on the wall – the kitsch and mismatching is a perfect setting! The owner is also a sweetheart.

tartistry_ootd1

The second time I visited Tartistry I planned my perfect high tea outfit to match the decor.

tartisry_ootd2

tartistry2

tartisry_shoes

Outfit
Blouse – Jacob (retails stores are sadly now closed)
Cardigan – Jacob Junior (also closed and bought at a vintage show)
Skirt – Forever21 (it has pockets!)
Fishnets from my collection
Pointed Nude Heels – Call it Spring

tartisry_ootd3

Note: All allergy sufferers know before you eat you must always ask about ingredients. Please take my reviews as information only; never forget to ask your server about ingredients before you eat. Happy nut-free snacking!