Monday, April 14, 2014

Eating Out with Food Allergies: Penn State Trip

I have another great food allergy friendly restaurant experience to tell you about. We traveled to Penn State in State College, PA this weekend as a fun little getaway and family reunion. My cousin is graduating from PSU this spring, so it was time for all of us to meet at PSU for some family time. Of course, when planning any travel or long term trip that will involve eating out a restaurants, my first thought is...how am I going to feed Little Guy safe food allergy friendly food?

So, I started my usual process:

  • CALL AHEAD: Since I went to school at Penn State, I already knew about a few restaurants that might work well with food allergies (and kids!). I called the Allen Street Grille, The Deli (where we had a previous great experience) and the restaurant at Toftrees where we were staying, The Down Under Steakhouse. All restaurants said they had previous experience cooking for food allergies and could accommodate our requests!
  • REVIEW THE MENU ONLINE: I usually order the same thing for Little Guy - a plain burger or chicken, steamed veggies and potato or rice. However, I always like to see if there's anything different on the menu he might be able to have.
  • PACK OUR OWN FOOD: I planned to pack enough food that would get him through the weekend - even if we couldn't find a restaurant that could serve him safe food.
  • USE OUR CHEF CARD: The chef card is what I depend on to communicate how SAFE we need to be when cooking food for Little Guy. It also helps the information get directly to the chef.

We ended up eating two meals at Toftrees' Down Under Steakhouse since it was the most convenient place to meet family on a busy weekend at Penn State. The kids loved just walking from our hotel, and especially loved playing on the open green space outside of Toftrees golf course.

We ate dinner and breakfast at The Down Under Steakhouse (although I only got a photo of breakfast). Two great meals for everyone!

state college, pa

This was the first time we ordered breakfast for Little Guy at a restaurant. Breakfast is usually such an egg and dairy-focused meal that we haven't really tried to go out for it much. But The Down Under Steakhouse had a number of great options. Little Guy ordered the oatmeal, sausage and fruit (potatoes and bacon were other safe options!).

Look at that oatmeal bowl - ENORMOUS! He loved it. Especially when we added a little brown sugar and raisins.
state college, pa

Little Guy thoroughly enjoyed his food allergy friendly meals as you can see!!
state college, pa

Here's my official review!

Food: American-style food focused on steak, burgers and chicken (of course since it's a steakhouse!). Small kids menu for breakfast, but great food overall.

Allergy-Friendly: Yes. As mentioned above we had a great experience with this restaurant and the staff.

Atmosphere: Dark wooden furniture makes it feel more upscale, yet it's a casual place that's great for kids too. It overlooks the golf course and we walked right outside and down some stairs for the kids to play in the grassy area while waiting for our meals. A great place for kids and adults.

I'll be sure to add my great review to AllergyEats!

You may also like my list of other food allergy friendly restaurant reviews with photos of some of the food! 

DISCLAIMER: My reviews are only reviews of our unique experience at these restaurants. They are not an endorsement of safety when eating at these restaurants as each restaurant, staff and kitchen are different. Please do your own research and take all precautions for you and your family when eating out.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Egg Free Easter and Easter Bunny Hayride

Although Easter is a few weeks away, we had a ton of Easter-themed fun this weekend.

It was EGGstraordinary.

EGGcellent.

EGGmazing.

Okay, okay. So Little Guy and I played with "egg" words this weekend for a little language focused fun. As an almost 4 year old, he loves playing with words, making up new words and being silly in general.  The ironic part is that since Little Guy has a food allergy to eggs, real eggs were not involved in our weekend at all!

In fact, we made EGGstra effort (ahem) to keep eggs OUT of our fun.

How did we do it? Well, with these little beauties.

egg free Easter

They look almost real, right? They're not. They're plastic dyeable eggs I found at Walmart for $1.97.

easter eggs egg allergy

We used the good old PAL egg coloring kit tablets to dye the eggs.
food allergy easter ideas

The only difference I noticed was that the plastic eggs didn't sink to the bottom like a real egg. Something I didn't think about until we tried it!  See how they're sitting on top of the water?
easter eggs egg allergy

But we made it work anyway with stickers and traditional food coloring.
food allergy easter ideas

Grammy and Little Guy had fun coloring the eggs despite a few hitches!
food allergy easter ideas

We also had fun HIDING the eggs for our own private Easter egg hunt. As you can see, Little Guy was in his glory!
easter eggs egg allergy

Little Gal had fun at the Easter egg hunt too. Grammy got her a pretty new Easter dress. We tried it on her and had to take a few photos even before Easter Sunday. Oh, my little sweet one.
food allergy easter ideas

A big highlight of our weekend was a hayride to the Easter bunny at Linvilla Orchards. It was SUCH a cute experience for our little ones.  I think these Easter bunny photos about sum up the sweetness and fun we had at Linvilla. It not only has hayrides, but also lots of farm animals and a playground!
egg free easter

egg free food allergies

food allergies egg substitute

So, Easter is on the way, and I'm still thinking about food allergy friendly Easter baskets for the kids. I usually fill them with a few treats and add some little toys in the baskets too.

Here's an example of what we did last year for our food allergy friendly Easter baskets.

And here are a few things the Easter bunny is going to give the kids this year!

What EGGstraordinary fun are you having this Easter and spring!? What is the Easter bunny bringing your family?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Nut Free Granola Bars

I don't know about you, but I have certain recipes I make over and over again. This recipe for nut free granola bars is one of them. It has been a staple in our house ever since I bought food allergy friendly Gerbs Raw Sunflower Seeds a few weeks ago.

Since we can't buy granola bars at the grocery store (seriously, if you can find an egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free and sesame-free granola bar at the grocery store - please let me know!), I make batches of these every other week. We eat most of them (they go FAST!) and then I freeze the rest for a quick and portable snack for the kiddos.

These are similar to the pumpkin chocolate chip granola bars I previously posted, but with a nuttier flavor and texture. I like this new version better because it includes less sugar and I love the nutty taste and crunchier texture of the sunflower seeds.

No nuts granola bars

I call them granola bars since it's a granola bar substitute in our house. But I could also call them nut free oat bars since they're a little softer and chewier than traditional granola bars you buy in the store.

Whatever you call them...they're delicious and addicting!

Sometimes I pop a small one out of the freezer to satisfy a sweet craving. It's JUST sweet enough. I figure it's a healthier option than candy or cookies.

Here's the recipe. Hope you try it!

nut free granola bars

Nut Free Granola Bar Recipe

Dry Ingredients:
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I included this with the wet ingredients since you mix it in with all the wet ingredients first)
  • 1 cup honey (or agave nectar - maple syrup would probably work too)
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (make sure to buy plain, not pumpkin pie puree)
  • 6 Tbsp oil (I use organic canola oil)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:

  • Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk EXCEPT for the chocolate chips 
  • Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well with a spoon or spatula
  • Add the chocolate chips and stir until distributed throughout 
  • Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper and add the granola bar mixture to the pan. Spread it, press it and smooth it with a spatula so the granola bars are flat.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes or until golden brown
  • Let cool and cut as you wish.
Here are the awesome food allergy friendly Gerbs Raw Sunflower Seeds I used for this recipe. I actually bought the raw and lightly salted versions.  I'd highly recommend the raw/plain kind, but I found the lightly salted kind tasted a little too salty. I've been using the salty kind in salads and I plan to make trail mix with them. Next time I'll just buy the raw kind so I can control the amount of salt by adding my own.

As I said, this is a major REPEAT recipe for us - I keep making it over and over again! What's your favorite repeat recipe!? 

Linking this to Real Food Recipe Roundup!

 
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