A Valentine’s Day you will Remember – For all the Right Reasons!

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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, wherever you go, you are likely to see boxes of chocolates in heart shapes, pink and red decorations and flower bouquets on sale for the special day. To be quite honest, I prefer a nice home cooked meal in the safety of our own home. No stress. And for flowers, my boyfriend is always careful as some smell very strong and can trigger my asthma. We like to keep Valentine’s Day simple. On Valentine’s Day, I like to stay in.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Click one of the following links below to see a few tips to prepare you for a wonderful Valentine’s Day, if:

You are the one with Food Allergies

Your date has Food Allergies

** Remember, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about food. You can go on a romantic date without any food! Like a nice skate, or ski or walk in the park. Perhaps even a hike, or if you live in Victoria, BC where there is not snow… A nice paddle. :)

Be safe and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

I know I will! :)

Valentine’s Day if your date has Food Allergies

If your date has Food Allergies, I have a few tips for you below.

Going out for a Valentine’s Day dinner?

  1. Your date may want to call the restaurant ahead of time to find out if they can accommodate their Food Allergies; some restaurants will not.
  2. Even if you wanted to keep the name of the restaurant a surprise, if your date asks, know that they will feel safer and more relaxed knowing that it is a restaurant where the staff is prepared to accommodate their Food Allergies.
  3. Lastly, order a meal that would also be safe for your date to eat. Your date will feel wonderful knowing that you want to eat something that is safe for them, and will make the evening more relaxed. Who knows, might even mean you get a nice kiss for being so thoughtful :)

Staying in for Valentine’s Day?

  1. Be sure that the ingredients used for your dinner are safe and there is no cross-contamination
  2. If your date asks to help you in preparing dinner allow them to help, even if you wanted to make dinner for them. Or, show them all the ingredients you plan to use and have your date help you ensure the kitchen is clean and they feel safe with the utensils, pans and dishes you plan to use. Personally, I feel safer using metal cooking utensils over plastic in a kitchen where my allergens may be present.
  3. If your date would like to clean utensils, pans, cutting boards and dishes before making dinner, go with it. Help them feel safe and relaxed. It’ll make the evening even more romantic and enjoyable if they feel supported and understood.
  4. Avoid eating things your date is allergic to for the one night. You can have them tomorrow. Keep this evening relaxed, fun and safe.
  5. If your date asks to have the evening free of all foods they are allergic to, don’t question it. You will have a wonderful Valentine’s Day evening without worry.

Wanting to give chocolates or another edible treat? 

  1. Double and triple check the labels – Look for a may contain statement which may not be close to the ingredient list.
  2. If you feel uncertain, skip the chocolates. Make homemade chocolates or buy some roses, write a nice card or be creative. Valentine’s Day doesn’t always have to be about chocolates and candies.
  3. Tell your date that you tried to find chocolates however you were not sure if any of the ones you had found would have been safe. Your date will appreciate knowing that you wanted to find chocolates or candy or other however at the end of the day, you chose a safer option.

When in doubt, just speak up! :)

Have a safe and romantic Valentine’s Day and please leave your thoughts and comments below!

Valentine’s Day if you are the one with Food Allergies

If you are the one with Food Allergies, I have a few tips for you below.

Going out for a Valentine’s Day dinner?

  1. Call the restaurant you are going to ahead of time.
  2. Prepare a cue card listing all your allergies and level of severity before you go
  3. Talk to the waiter/waitress when they first come to your table and ask for drinks; that way, they may notify their manager about the allergies before you even order.

Staying in for Valentine’s Day?

  1. Be sure that the ingredients used for your dinner are safe and there is no cross-contamination
  2. If your date wants to make you dinner and you feel a little uncertain about cross-contamination in their kitchen, tell them that you trust them, however you would feel more relaxed if you could help prepare and cook – They will understand
  3. If you are concerned your date may eat something you are allergic to and then kiss you, speak up. Please do not sit all evening feeling stressed or anxious about what may or may not happen.
  4. Ask to have a completely safe evening, with only foods you can have, so you can kiss and not worry about what they may or may not have had

Receiving chocolates or another edible treat? 

  1. Double and triple check the labels – Look for a may contain statement which may not be close to the ingredient list.
  2. If you feel uncertain, let your date know that you appreciate the gift, however you’d feel more comfortable after calling the company to confirm that it was made in a safe facility without cross-contamination.
  3. Ask that your date not eat them either, in case they are not safe for you; tell your date that you would feel more relaxed knowing they had not eaten anything you may be allergic to.

When in doubt, just speak up! :)

Have a safe and romantic Valentine’s Day and please leave your thoughts and comments below!

Milestone’s – A Restaurant Chain I Trust with my Food Allergies!

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Have you found a restaurant chain that you trust with food allergies, whether it be your allergies or perhaps a loved ones allergies? There are only a few chain restaurants I trust very much with my allergies. Milestone’s is one of these. I have been to Milestone’s 3 times now in the last 2 years (Yes, I do not eat out much) and each time the waiter/waitress, chef and kitchen manager have gone above and beyond to make me feel understood and feel safe.

A little over a week ago, my boyfriend, my brother and I all went to the Milestone’s on 1210 Denman Street in Vancouver, BC and we had such a wonderful dinner experience. From the very start our waiter, Steve B. made me feel understood. After providing him a hand written list of all my “life-threatening” food allergies as well as my “sensitivities” he went over each with me, explaining where they might be found in the kitchen. I discussed with Steve B. whether or not he thought I could have a salad and if they could ensure that there was no cross-contamination. He promised that he would advise the chef of the severity of the allergies and minimizing cross-contamination. He spoke very confidently and was very re-assuring. I felt that that Steve B really cared. That in itself made me feel less anxious. Still on my guard but not as worried.

A few minutes later he brought out an amazing salad for me, that the chef, Michael had prepared for me in a separate area. He advised that the chef was wonderful and truly understood allergies.

WP_20150125_015Now, a week later, we had dinner at a Milestone’s on 700 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Ontario. Our wonderful waitress, Alisha A. was very understanding as well and spoke with the kitchen staff and manager upon our arrival and provided the kitchen with a list of all my “life-threatening” food allergies as well as my “sensitivities”. Alisha A. was very caring and made me feel like my allergies were nothing to worry about and that the kitchen would be as careful as possible. I ordered the same salad I had in Vancouver with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to be safe and a baked potato.

Dinner was amazing!! I wanted more! :) Wouldn’t you?!?

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Have you ever been to Milestone’s with food allergies? Please share your experiences in the comments!

 

 

 

Look no further! Cherries Breakfast Bistro is where the delicious food is at

ch0r12s b0rg1rDo YOU live in Victoria, British Columbia or visit Victoria on occasion.

Are you looking for a tasty meal out all the while feeling confident that the staff truly understand your allergies and sensitivities and take them very seriously?

And for a great price?

If you have answered YES, then I urge you to go for breakfast, brunch or even lunch at Cherries Breakfast Bistro!

If you want delicious, gluten-free food made by very allergy conscious kitchen staff then please look no further.

I went for brunch here with a good friend this past weekend and was in AWE about the attention both the serving and kitchen staff took to make sure I had the safest meal possible! They went out of their way to make sure that my meal was prepared with careful attention to avoid any possible cross-contamination and in the same time it took for my friend to get her not so complex request. Kudos to the staff at Cherries Breakfast Bistro for making two very happy customers. I guarantee we will be back. And I may soon become a regular of Cherries Breakfast Bistro, because their food is outstanding, AND they truly listen and understand my allergies.

When I go out for meals with friends, on several occasions I feel that the food is very over-priced for what it is worth, especially when I know I can make better eggs, bacon and potatoes at home. Cherries is food you will not regret and want to keep going back for more. Give them a visit and let me know what you think!

OH! And I hear they cater too! :)

Over and out.

Erika

Asthma and Allergy goals for the New Year

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Happy New Year 2015!

Each year I make a vision board for the year ahead. The one above was my vision for 2013. Do you do anything to kickstart the new year?

Many people make resolutions to get healthier, eat cleaner and get fit. I have seen numerous people who hit the gum hard for the first 2-3 weeks in January and then start visiting the gym less.

Personally I prefer to set goals and determine a focus. I avoid the “get fit” resolution, unless I have a firm plan in place and have a way to be held accountable.

I also make goals for my allergies and asthma and treatment. I reflect on what worked in the previous year and what didn’t. I figure out what times of the year my symptoms were really bad and make sure they are in a journal in case it happens again this year.

When you have allergies and asthma it is very important to keep a journal or even some notes on your phone in a notepad app for your doctor. Your allergist goes by tests and what you tell them, so it is extremely important to be your own best advocate and keep track of things that trigger you as best you can.

My allergy/asthma goal:

In 2015, I will be more aware of what triggers me and continue to keep track of times when my asthma and allergies are worse and other circumstances around the same time, like being sick.

What will your asthma/allergy goal be for 2015?

Hosting for friends and family with food allergies – Preparing the food

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Are you hosting a holiday party and know that you will have guests with food allergies and/or sensitivities like gluten? Do you have food allergies and/or sensitivities? If you don’t, you may be nervous about preparing the food safely.

Once you have done the meal planning and grocery shopping and are ready to start prepping and making the food you make sure you pay careful attention to ingredient labels and avoid cross-contamination.

  1. Re-read ingredient labels Even if you have already read the ingredient list on items when you were in the grocery store, re-read them at least two more times before using the product. Be very very meticulous when reading over ingredients. You will want to look on each side of the package to make sure they have not listed a “may contain” label somewhere else on the package. Unfortunately, some manufacturers do not write may contain labels near the actual ingredient list. Know the ingredients. There is no “overly cautious” here. It’s important to be 100% certain that the items you use are safe for guests with food allergies. I’d recommend you keep the wrapper or box or cut out the ingredients so your guest can re-read the ingredients too. I trust friends and family to prepare food for me, however I always  re-read ingredient labels even if you are told it is safe.
  2. Be extremely cautious of cross-contamination   If you will be preparing some food which your guest is allergic or sensitive to make a plan before you start cooking of which utensils you will use for which foods. In making a plan before you start preparing and cooking, it will help you be more aware and reduce the risk that you end up using utensils that you prepared unsafe food with to prepare the allergy safe food. Make sure the cutting board is clean and the surface you plan to work on as well. I often recommend preparing the food for the guest with food allergies on plates as that surface is definitely safer than a cutting board which, especially if plastic may have residues from previous unsafe ingredients. Use your best judgement and if you are ever unsure, pick up the phone and call the guest or parent of the guest.  Communication is always key!