Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SunButter Chocolate Heart Cookies for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is just around the corner! I thought I'd pass along a few fun and food allergy friendly Valentine's ideas that have worked well for our family for past Valentine's Day celebrations! And you know that means they're dairy free, egg free, nut free and sesame free!

First, make sure to check out my new guest post on the SunButter blog today for SunButter Chocolate Heart Cookies. They're an extremely easy Valentine's Day treat AND one of the BEST vegan and nut free cookies I've tasted in a long time. 

I've baked this recipe 3 times now (for multiple school events!) and they turned out perfectly each time.

Make sure to also pin this recipe on Pinterest for future use!!

SunButter Chocolate Heart Cookies from

I also just love these easy heart shaped pancakes - vegan pancakes for us.

And this delicious Chocolate Cocoa Popcorn - an allergy friendly treat!

And don't forget about heart shaped chocolate dipped Rice Krispie treats like this!

So many tasty foods can be made into heart shapes. All you really need are a few good cookie cutters or heart shaped pans. Here are a few items I've collected over the years to make our Valentine's Day celebrations fun! (affiliate links)

How are you celebrating this Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

New York Restaurants and Food Allergies

We took a fun day trip to New York City a few weeks ago to show the kids all the sights and sounds of the Christmas season. Since we live outside of Philadelphia it only takes about 2 hours to drive to NYC. Great for a day trip. So, we packed some supplies (and you know that means TONS of food allergy friendly food!) and off we went!

This is a photo of all of the food allergy friendly food I packed. I knew it was too much, but I felt better having too much than too little. This was supposed to cover the kids' second breakfast (yes, we have lots of second breakfasts in this house!), multiple snacks in the car, and a possible lunch if we didn't feel it was safe for Little Guy to eat at a restaurant.

Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

We parked at a lot near Rockefeller Center (thanks to the Hubs for driving!), and we walked about a block to see the tree and ice skating rink.  It was PACKED with people, but everyone was in good spirits.

Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

We surprised the kiddos by meeting my parents there (Yes, this includes the famous Grandma who wrote "Grandma's Guide to Holiday Hosting with Food Allergies").

Being together was a great treat for everyone!
Food Allergy Restaurants in New York City

Little Guy is VERY into Legos right now as a 5 year old, so despite the long line, we stopped at the Lego store right in Rockefeller Center and bought the kiddos two Lego sets.

Then we had lunch! 

I did research beforehand on AllergyEats to find safe restaurants around Rockefeller Center. I also searched on a few of my favorite allergy related Facebook groups, and I did a general Google search. I called a few different restaurants a few days before and I decided that Bill's Bar & Burger and Del Frisco's Grille would be the best choices in the Rockefeller Center area for Little Guy's food allergies.

The wait at Bill's Bar & Burger was much shorter than at Del Frisco's, so we decided to eat at Bill's!  I have to say, food allergies or not, it was a great place for kids. Here's why:
  • It's a large (2 floors), festive restaurant and noisy kids are not an issue!
  • The food is very kid-friendly - burgers, sandwiches and salads type meals. Pretty similar to Red Robin or a diner.
  • SANTA CLAUSE was there! He was walking around the restaurant talking to all the kids. Their eyes just lit up when they saw him.
  • Every kid gets WikiStix to play with while waiting. How genius is that!? They also give kids crayons and a coloring page to pass the time.

Food Allergies and NYC restaurants

Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

I'm always nervous when we go to a new restaurant due to Little Guy's food allergies. It was even more nerve-wracking that day since it was REALLY busy and loud in the restaurant. 

The waitress took awhile to get there, so I actually got up to find a manager first thing to discuss whether they could make safe food for Little Guy.  I gave him our chef card and he assured me they could make a plain hamburger with veggie or fruit. He said to make sure the plate has an allergy stick in it to confirm that it's the allergy-friendly meal.

I was relieved when they brought out a plain burger and side of fruit with the allergy stick in it. Then I gave Little Guy his safe bread to make a sandwich. I was relieved even further when he ate it with no problems!  Phew.

Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

Then we were off to walk up 5th Avenue to Central Park. It was a fun day with lots of festive stores, decorations and potty stops :)

We saw many sparkling Christmas windows...
New York City and food allergies

We had tons of fun in Central park. We watched the horse and carriage riders and the ice skaters glide around the outdoor rink in the park (yes, this is where they skate in the movie Serendipity!)...
Food Allergy Friendly NYC Trip

We laughed at the seals doing tricks in the Central Park Zoo (which we could see from OUTSIDE the zoo!)...
Central Park Zoo

And we climbed the huge rocks in Central Park for some fun views and extra adventure....
Food Allergy Friendly Trip to NYC

It was a perfect day trip to NYC for a 5 and 3 year old. And the most important part? We came together as a family to enjoy the anticipation of Christmas and get in the spirit!

Have you ever been to NYC at Christmas time? OR if you have food allergies, do you have any other restaurant recommendations?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Mamacado!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Grandma's Guide to Holiday Hosting with Food Allergies

It's Thanksgiving! This is the time of year when we count our blessings. Thankfully, I can count my parents as one of those blessings for many reasons. They offer support and understanding in every part of our lives. This support and understanding includes Little Guy's food allergies. They have always done their best to keep him safe and create an amazing, fun, and food allergy friendly holiday for us at their house. 

My Mom wrote this guest post all on her own - with no prompting from me. As an experienced host of someone with food allergies, she feels passionate about sharing her guide to holiday hosting with food allergies. 

I wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoy this helpful post!

Holiday Hosting with Food Allergies from

By Karen Dalfonso

This will be my fourth year hosting winter family gatherings that include my Grandson (now 5 years old) with multiple food allergies to dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame and fin fish.  

I love planning special dinners, and having overnight guests is always a treat. Grilling burgers, corn on the cob, fresh fruit, summer safe-snacks are summer staples. Somehow, my kitchen is adequate for that menu, but the holidays pose special challenges not present during the summer outdoor months. 

Due to the multi-tasking during holidays, it is so easy for mishaps to occur in a kitchen which does not ordinarily follow allergy-friendly guidelines. Converting a kitchen into an allergy-friendly kitchen takes some effort. 

So, I would like to share a few short-cuts and safeguards which I have adopted during the last 4 years since we found out my Grandson has food allergies.  I hope to provide a little confidence for someone who is new at this, especially during the busy family gathering-times of the year.  

Spending time planning a menu, getting recipes together and stocking up ahead of time on staples is a rule-of thumb for everyone. It's particularly important for an allergy-safe menu, as there is less room for flexibility.   

In our house, SunButter, soy and coconut milk for baking, Enjoy Life cookies, safe chocolate chips and Wheat Thins are some items I can buy ahead of time.  Freezer items may include some of my Grandson's veggies, sausage, chicken, waffles, coconut non-dairy “ice cream”, etc.   

If I am baking, I try to buy duplicate products which will be set aside and separated from my other kitchen products, to ensure cross-contact with allergens do not accidentally occur. That way, when I begin baking my special allergy friendly-recipe, I have new products. I don’t need to worry about accidental cross-contact with eggs or other allergens.  These items can be stocked on a separate shelf, or in my case, a covered bin.  During the busy times, this planning save so much time and extra trips to the grocery store.  

I find storage in a covered bin is great for me.  This way the items, which are not used everyday, stay clean and ready for me to use. In my bin this year, I’ve added measuring cups, measuring spoons, a colander, and brand new containers which have been washed and are in a plastic bags. 

These storage containers can be quickly used to store any item safely and are already washed. I can be sure it has not previously been contaminated with an allergen.  After a year, I absorb the container into my kitchen and buy new products for my “bin”, wash the product, then place in plastic bags.  I also try to use Pyrex or glass when making a bean salad, fruit salad or other item, as I can be sure the bowl is “clean”and does not have traces of an allergen.    

In my bin, I try to also keep cute children’s placemats, drinking cups and plates, although disposable utensils can also be used.  I like to buy disposable silverware in small containers of 24, as I always worry well-meaning guests could place used silverware back in those large packages which seem to last for  “years”.  I feel these little steps are worthwhile in order to be reassured  that the eating surface is safe.

As the holiday approaches, a special shelf in the refrigerator helps to separate allergy-friendly items from other items.  I find it helpful to use a container to hold small items such as coconut yogurt, juice boxes, non-dairy butter, etc., which can get “lost” in a holiday refrigerator.  A special shelf or storage area in the kitchen or another room for crackers, cereal, or other items is also helpful.  This helps to avoid “errors” made in a rush. It is also helpful to have snack-size bags made with pretzels, popcorn, or other items that can be quickly grabbed.  Remember, taking snacks from the large “family”  bag always runs the risk of allergens in the product.

During any mealtime gathering, be sure to make the allergy-friendly plate first.  If you think there will be “seconds” later,  placed food in storage containers before the rest of the guests take their dinner. I always try to use a placemat on the table, with either disposable silverware or a different pattern of silverware.  That way I can  make sure the item has been properly washed. We tend to shift seats, plates, glasses often during a large gathering so this is a helpful safeguard for me.  Paper products are great to insure everything is clean. For emergency cutting of vegetables, etc., just cut the item inside a ziplock bag if unsure of clean surfaces in the kitchen.  I always use foil or parchment paper for baking or grilling to insure the food is on a safe surface away from any allergens.  

Enjoying family time:
So, next comes the fun part!  The laughter, the memories and the great holiday traditions. One of the best is a cookie plate.  Our cookie plate may look a little different from those in other families, but our cookie plate is packed with love and great times.  If you have time to make one cut-out cookie recipe, one gingerbread recipe, or one favorite sugar cookies, that is really enough!  Pretzels can be dipped in safe-chocolate, dairy-free Rice Krispie treats are always nice, chocolate peppermint candy bark, and Enjoy Life cookies come in lots of flavors. Sharing that special dessert is part of our holiday tradition.  We remember to be thankful for each other and don’t want to miss that special part of sharing!

Holiday Hosting with Food Allergies -
Grandma making cookies with Little Guy.
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