In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a while since I updated the AllergyBites blog. I’ve been super busy organizing our very first #AllergyMom Meetup, collaborating with a non-profit on a fundraising initiative, and more! And yet… I have so much to share with you.
So here’s the official ‘cheater’s version.’ I’ve lumped everything into 1 handy blog post. The truth is, it’s the perfect way to get around how behind I am on blog content because—admit it—we’re all looking for fun & safe ways to enjoy the summer with our food-allergic kiddos, right?
Whether you live in (or around) the city, or if you plan to be in TO as a tourist anytime soon, keep reading for 7 allergy-safe things to do in Toronto this summer…
1. Enjoy a Blue Jays game in the peanut/nut-reduced zone.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of this amazing initiative, you aren’t the only one. I posted about it on Instagram last month and many of the comments were a mix of surprise (This exists?!) and delight (This exists!!).
If you’re ready to get your game on, be aware: The nut-reduced zone is only available on certain dates, so I recommend grabbing your tickets ASAP! If you’ve got multiple allergies (like we do) and are feeling nervous about your other allergens being onsite, try heading over on a weekday when things are less busy. That’s what we did—and I was pleasantly surprised to see just how clean the area was. Not to mention, nearby vendors weren’t selling any nut products and we had access to our own private (clean!) bathroom. (Amazing.) Plus, you’ll be surrounded by allergy families who get it. If there’s anyone who’s going to understand your request to put away a food due to your child’s allergy, it’s an allergy parent. Let’s go Blue Jays, let’s go!
2. Attend a free event or support group.
If you or your child has been recently diagnosed with food allergies, you may want to join one of two in-person support group meetups being held this summer by veteran allergy mama, Allison Venditti. (Join the online support group for TO parents to learn more.)
If you’re a young adult with food allergies, you might want to attend this cool event on Thursday, June 28th. Hosted by food allergy blogger Allergy Girl Eats and the food allergy entrepreneur behind Everyday Allergen-Free and Handled With Care, it should be super duper interesting! And it’s a great way to network with other allergy “collectors.” (Totally stole that term from my interview with Jessica Gray Schipp.)
Don’t feel like leaving the house? You can take part in this webinar on travelling with food allergies the evening of Wednesday, June 27th instead. Hosted by allergy educator, musician and co-founder of Allergy Travels (yes, Kyle Dine!) and a panel of youth advisors (including our very own guest blogger, Danielle Barry), it’s sure to be informative AND entertaining.
3. Gather the family and head to one of Toronto’s allergy-friendly restaurants.
If these eating spots aren’t top allergen-free, they are (at the very least) allergy-aware and super accommodating! Just be sure to call in advance to be sure they can meet your unique allergy needs. Find my top recommendations (one for each end of the city) below.
North: La Vida Cocoa Craft Bakery and Cafe
La Vida Cocoa is a cozy bakery located at a plaza on Steeles Avenue, east of Bathurst Street and west of Yonge Street. They serve an assortment of items that contain no gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy or nuts. As an added bonus, everything is free from refined sugars, which makes their menu suitable for diabetics and young children. Keep reading…
East: Hype Food Co.
After months of anticipation, Hype Food Co. finally opened its doors in the Leslieville-Riverdale area this weekend, and for the first time since my son began eating solids, we were able to eat at a restaurant without fear. We ordered from a menu that was free of top allergens, and my husband and I got to let our kiddo eat off our plates without worry. Keep reading…
Central: Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Conveniently located in The Annex (Toronto), Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria is extraordinarily allergy-friendly—but not allergen free. If you aren’t sure you’re comfortable bringing your food-allergic kid into an eating spot that isn’t 100% free of your child’s allergen, this mama’s experience might make you think again: “Their processes and policies make it the only place that could accommodate my son’s 12+ allergies. The first time we ate there, I cried I was so happy.” Keep reading…
West: The Bread Essentials
A very belated review of this awesome allergy-friendly bakery is coming soon!! Stay tuned…
4. Join a food-free class or workshop with your little one(s).
This summer, I enrolled in a Salsa Tots class at Jill and the Beanstalk. It runs for 6 weeks, so I know that my little guy and I have a safe activity planned every Sunday morning. Not only that, but when I reached out to the owners about our allergies, they were kind enough to make sure it would be a food-free environment. Yay! Jill and the Beanstalk offers all sorts of cool classes and workshops year-long, but follow them on Facebook or Instagram to find out what else is going on this summer. (They’ll be holding another Salsa Tots class in August if you’re interested!)
5. Join our next #AllergyMom Meetup at Hype Food Co.
This one’s for the moms on mat leave, SAHMs and WFH moms. (And, well, anyone who is able to meet up on a weekday morning.) Our last meetup was a blast, but a lot of mamas couldn’t make it due to it being on a weekend. So this time, I’m changing things up a little. Weekday, it is. If this is the first you’ve heard of it, sneak a peek at our last meetup and subscribe to Allergy Mom Alerts to stay in the loop about the next one. Hope to see you there!
6. Bring your baby/toddler—and relax at Reiki Cafe. (No, that’s not an oxymoron.)
Reiki is a relaxing experience to begin with, so couple that with the fact that you can safely bring your food-allergic kiddo along, and well, stress averted! If you’ve never tried Reiki, you can learn more it in our review post and then try it out (for free!) at Reiki Cafe. If you like it, good news: Japan Reiki Studio is a participating business on the AllergyBites discount card, so you can enjoy the experience (without the kidlets) at a discounted price next time.
7. Volunteer with AllergyBites.
If you want to have fun AND do some good this summer, why not consider volunteering with AllergyBites? It’s a great way to beat the summer heat and fill a gap on your resume (and we all know prospective employers love to see volunteer work). The workload is minimal, hours are flexible, and you can feel good knowing that you’re giving back to the food allergy community. There are a number of different ways you can help out, so if you think you’d like to get involved, consider the option that best suits your interests and skill set.
- Love to eat & write? Become a guest blogger and start writing allergy-friendly restaurant reviews for us. There are a couple of perks, so be sure to drop me a line to learn more!
- If you are good at sales and love a good deal, why not help grow the list of participating businesses on the AllergyBites discount card? This role comes with a FREE discount card for you to enjoy. The more businesses you sign up, the more you save on allergy brands you love. Win-win! Send me an email if this sounds like something you’d like to do.
- Are you a passionate do-gooder? Join a committee of allergy folk to help AllergyBites and CAAIF bring a version of this Australian fundraiser to Canada. Our goal is twofold: (1) to spread food allergy awareness & empathy, and (2) to raise funds towards allergy research. Reach out if you’d like to join us!
BONUS! We headed to Fantasy Fair (a.k.a. “Dinosaur Mall) at Woodbine Shopping Centre today, and it was a ton of fun to watch our little guy delight in the wonders of “Ontario’s largest indoor amusement park.” While there are unsafe food options along the periphery of the fair, we simply avoided them and enjoyed the ride(s). If your kiddo is anything like mine, they’ll be too excited to eat anyway. We just made sure to wipe his hands after each ride and packed some safe snacks for after. It was a blast!
Any fun and safe things I missed? Let me know in the comments below. To a fun & safe summer!
Friendly. Supportive. Encouraging.
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