We did end up checking out Montana's for dinner a couple of weeks ago, and felt like the experience was a positive one for us. As soon as we met with the hostess, I explained DJ's allergy and asked to see the allergen-chart for the menu items. I had already checked it out closely (at work!) and knew exactly what I was going to order for myself and had picked two nut-safe options for DJ. both of which I knew he would enjoy. I find that looking at the allergen chart before hitting a restaurant is the best way to reduce stress. I can take my time looking at the chart solo, without tending to interruptions from my sweet preschooler. That way, I'm sure not to miss anything. Still, I checked the chart again, and made sure to discuss the situation with the waitress, who assured me she would pass on the information to those working in the kitchen.
Years ago, the food snob in me would have shunned eating at Montana's. But now, we're happy to have options like this available to us. The best part was that the restaurant even offers a peanut-free dessert - individually wrapped, peanut-free bear claw cookies. That DJ would be able to eat dessert in a restaurant (even though we didn't that night) is something rare indeed. Most of the time now, I don't even bother looking at the desserts on the assumption they won't be safe.
By the way, a reader was kind enough to send in the allergen chart of Kelsey's that I wasn't able to find online. Clearly, I didn't look hard enough. Still, after taking an initial look at it, we'll still be taking a pass. There are simply to many menu items that contain actual peanuts and nuts. Given the possibility of cross-contamination, the risks at Kelsey's simply seem to high.
We're both starting to itch to get out of the house more, now that the weather has turned and eating on the deck every night is 'off the table.' That's got me checking out allergen info at chain restaurants again, brushing up on potential possibilities. Montana's has a comprehensive allergen chart, and very few items with either peanuts or nuts. Everything on the kids dinner menu looks safe, and there are even a few desserts DJ could try. We may try it out tonight. Will blog more later.
To note - I couldn't find any allergen info for Canyon Creek or Red Lobster. I called the Red Lobster guest enquiry line and was greeted by a voice-mail telling me there was a department meeting and to leave my name and number. Right...like they're actually going to get back to me. As for Kelsey's I found their allergen warning non-informative and on the verge of insulting, like they simply can't be bothered. Then screw em!
I spotted NoNuts Golden Peabutter at a local Metro yesterday, excited at the thought of yet another potential peanut butter substitute. Both my hub and I tried it on our favourite pb conduit...toasted English muffins. Even with a healthy dollop of blueberry jam to 'juicy' it up, we both found it a bit try and agreed we both like Soya and Sunbutter better. Still, it's great to be able to find an alternative without having to make the trek to Wholefoods. I really wish the big chains would start carrying it.
I ate tons of peanut butter when I was pregnant. I craved it constantly, and ate it several times a week. I've often guiltily wondered if my consumption played any role in DJ's peanut allergy. According to this article in the Post, maybe. Great. Nothing like a little maternal guilt to start the week.
Luckily, another Happy Halloween with no nut-related allergy problems. DJ was pumped to hit our street and canvas for candy. With both epi-pens and a cell handy, we headed out. After last year, we both felt pretty confident there wouldn't be any real issues as long we were careful. After coming home with a full bag of loot, we emptied the entire contents onto the kitchen table - away from DJ and sort it into two buckets - safe and not safe. The not safe bucket went on top of the fridge until DJ was tucked safely into bed for the evening. Then, we mowed down on a load of peanut butter cups, crispy crunch, wunderbar and o'henry's while watching a scary flick. I was particularly paranoid about dropping a reese's piece on the couch, but didn't. And once we were done, it was great to see all of the wrappers into the garbage and out the door, knowing there's now no chance any of the contraband will fall into DJ's hands.
One thing we did that that surprised me: a pack full of unshelled peanuts. I know not everyone goes out of their way to buy peanut free, but peanuts? Really?
Also sort of disappointing was to see neighbors that just last year, went out of their way to ensure they had nut free treats for DJ drop peanut butter cups into his bag. I've said before I don't expect my kids peanut allergy to be on top of every one's mind, so it wasn't like I was surprised. At the same time, it just reinforces that not everyone remembers and that reminding people about it is in your best safety interests.
A blog about how one family is finding safe places to eat out in Toronto
Always do your own research before eating out with a severely allergic child. Call ahead and speak with the restaurant owner or chef, remind the staff once you arrive. Ask once again before you order and when the food arrives. Always carry an epi-pen, medical information and a cell phone. Understand there is always a risk.
Since my 20 month old son was diagnosed with life-threatening peanut allergy, I've become the crazy nut lady!
In Toronto, eating out is almost a sport, and it's one that my husband and I enjoyed frequently, both with and without our tot.
An anaphylatic reaction to a dab of peanut butter smeared on toast pretty much put an end to that. Instantly, we stopped eating out. Even ordering in seemed fraught with stress.
By starting this blog, I'm hoping to find a 'new normal' A way to balance keeping our son safe, while still enjoying all that the city has to offer.