My Allergy Kingdom Allergy-Friendly Movie Night

Have you heard about My Allergy Kingdom?  The website is a result of an alliance between Mylan and Disney and is chocked full of great information for those with food allergies, including the newly diagnosed.  In addition the new collaboration yields a variety of recipes, tips for daily life with food allergies, great food allergy hacks for special celebrations, and much more.

I especially love the Celebrations tab as I feel like that can be one of the hardest things to navigate with food allergies.  This section of the website offers some festive but down to earth ideas that can make your celebration more of a happy occasion and hopefully a little less stressful.  I’m in love with these adorable little heart cookies for Valentine’s Day.

Before I continue, I have to say, I’m not being paid to write about Disney or Mylan in this post.  I’m a genuine fan of both companies and believe in what they do.  I’m inspired at all that Mylan does to give back to the food allergy community on a regular basis in addition to their marketing and distribution of the EpiPen.  Disney will always be near and dear to my heart and one of my family’s biggest blessings, because Disney showed us that vacationing with food allergies could be not only possible…but the most magical adventure of a lifetime!

A few weeks ago, Mylan sent me a “How to Host an Allergy-Friendly Movie Night” kit with a Winnie the Pooh theme.

The kit came with everything I needed to get started.

As you can see from above, the care package included:  Continue reading

Disney…The Happiest Place On Earth: A Guest Post From Allergyfreemouse.com

Since beginning The Food Allergy Mom blog not quite a year ago, I’ve been fortunate to hear from so many wonderful people who support the food allergy community and do simply amazing things.  I have to confess, today’s guest post is from one of those wonderful people who provides a simply FANTASTIC resource for families with food allergies. 

As the mom of a family with food allergies, I used to think of vacations as something we would never be able to safely do.  Now, I know better thanks to the support and encouragement from people like Liz at Allergyfreemouse.com.  Just this summer my family and I visited Walt Disney World for the very first time and had a wonderful experience…even with multiple food allergies. 

I know you will embrace Liz’s story and marvel at the resource she is providing to the food allergy community.  Please take a moment to read her post and then head on over to Allergyfreemouse.com and check it out!

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We are so thankful to The Food Allergy Mom and the great information she shares with her readers on this website. This website is a great resource. We are also thankful that she shared her Disney dining experiences on our website, helping other people with food allergies discover the magic of Disney without the stress we all experience when we travel. We are very grateful for the opportunity to share our story here.

Our daughter was born with a severe dairy, egg, and beef allergy. She has outgrown the egg allergy and the beef allergy has gotten much better. However, her dairy allergy is still severe. In fact, she cannot even touch dairy! As anyone knows, as parents of food allergy kids, we have to be “on guard” all of the time. Kids eat everywhere these days – it keeps them quite, busy and complacent, but it also impacts our lives. Play dates, swimming pools, restaurants, parks, classrooms, birthday parties and other events keep us on high alert!

If everyday life posed such challenges, could we ever go on vacation? The thought of cooking and preparing all of her meals seemed daunting. Of course, I would do it, with a smile. But what if I didn’t have to? And what if we could go somewhere exciting and someone could actually cook a safe meal for my child? That sounded like a true dream vacation for the whole family.

A friend of ours went to Disney World and raved about how they treated her child, who has a peanut allergy. She is a pharmacist and convinced me that our daughter would be in great hands. I was skeptical, but she encouraged me to try. I planned our trip (not knowing much) and took enough food to cover our daughter’s meals, just in case I didn’t feel comfortable. We arrived at our hotel and I unpacked an enormous amount of food, only to repack it later to take it home at the end of our trip!

We had a wonderful time. The managers, the chefs and the wait staff really understood. The dining experiences were fantastic. However, we found other food contact issues that we didn’t expect. Our daughter’s first skin reaction (hives) was from sitting down (wearing shorts) on a bench where someone had been eating ice cream. Benadryl and baby wipes took care of that. Easy fix, but always scary. The next day she wore a dress with leggings and we wiped down chairs and tables at every stop. We eagerly went to meet Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace. She had pictures taken with them, they signed her autograph book and she received hugs from them all. Then came reaction number two – hives on her left cheek. Baby wipes and Benadryl again. I made a note to be sure to wipe her face after she hugged any Disney Character. The rest of the week went smoothly, with no reactions.

Knowing we were going to come again, I made a list of dos and don’ts for our next visit. I shared them with everyone I knew who wanted to visit Disney. I added our growing list of grocery stores, hospitals, the best restaurants, etc. to help others. Before I knew it, I had a great deal of information to share. Being a teacher for 20 years, I frequently find myself educating people about food allergies.

Amazingly, very few people know about the safe measures Disney has created for our little ones. We see this on every visit. I thought it would be great to create a website that is dedicated to Disney and food allergies, to get the latest information – a place where people share restaurant reviews, tips, and dos and don’ts for all food allergies. There are plenty of sites devoted to Disney and 4 or 5 websites for food allergy dining reviews. But no one focuses on Disney, and it is such a magical treat. Therefore, we created AllergyFreeMouse.com for Disney fans with food allergies.

I organized all of our information into logical groupings. Then my husband designed and built the site and made it very search engine friendly so people could find it easily. Plus, he helped write some of the content. It’s truly a family project. From time to time, I also post recipes to share on our blog. They’re not related to Disney, but they’ve been very popular for those with food allergies.

We’ve been back 3 times and love it more each time. So, our daughter has eaten at “the World” for a total of 21 days now, and only had two contact reactions. Oh – and we had FUN to boot!

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The Food Allergy Mom Currently Featured at AllergyFreeMouse.com

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that most of my June and some of my July posts were dedicated to fun and safe vacation destinations for food allergy families.  One of my favorite destinations is Walt Disney World in Florida.

To that end, the folks at AllergyFreeMouse.com asked me if I would mind doing a guest post.  AllergyFreeMouse.com is a site dedicated to helping individuals with food allergies safely navigate Walt Disney World and is crammed full of helpful tips and even restaurant recommendations.

I am honored to be featured on their blog and you can read my post at: http://www.allergyfreemouse.com/2011/07/multiple-food-allergy-disney/.  Be sure to stop by and check it out!

Hope you are having a fabulous summer!

Walt Disney World Allergy Friendly Vacation Part 4: Hollywood Studios and Epcot

This will be my last post regarding our allergy friendly vacation at Walt Disney World (WDW).  If you haven’t already, please visit my previous posts for information on all aspects of vacationing at WDW from food allergies to lodging to pricing.

After two days at the Magic Kingdom, we headed out to Hollywood Studios for the very last weekend of Star Wars Weekend.  In my opinion, Hollywood Studios didn’t have a ton for the little kids outside of Muppets, Toy Story, and a few others.  On the whole, I think Hollywood Studios is more of a teen or adult-friendly park.

Nevertheless, we had a ball.  We ate breakfast in our room again and then headed down to Hollywood Studios about 9am.  Word of warning, they could open the park earlier than the listed time.  Some visitors were upset about the change in time, so it might be a good idea to arrive early just to be on the safe side.

We rode a few rides (definitely get a Toy Story and Star Wars Tours fastpass first thing) and visited a few gift shops…especially the Star Wars shops for which my son was ecstatic to go to!  He is a total Star Wars junkie!

ROSIE’S ALL-AMERICAN CAFE AT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Lunch was at Rosie’s All-American Cafe.  It was counter service but my hubby explained to the cashier about our food allergy needs and a manager arrived shortly to let us know what we could safely consume and took care of the order herself.  It did take a bit longer because of our food allergy needs and due to the fact that we had to wait for a manager to run across the park to help us, but it was overall a very pleasant experience.

I’m ashamed to admit that I forgot to take pictures here.  I think the heat was starting to get to me.  The kids had macaroni and cheese and Enjoy Life cookies and I dined on gluten-free chicken fingers and french fries with Enjoy Life cookies.  It was a delicious lunch and we were able to eat and be on the go again so we could make the Star Wars parade.

We chose to take a little siesta at the hotel that afternoon and return to Hollywood Studios when the weather cooled off and there were hopefully a few less people crowding into the park.  It worked like a charm!

HOLLYWOOD AND VINE AT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

For dinner we ate at Hollywood and Vine.  The chef there (sorry I don’t have a name for you…he forgot to share his business card) was amazing.  Diners were able to do a buffet style dinner for which there were many options for us to choose from.  He offered to bring out fresh food if we were concerned about cross-contamination.  He was patient, calm, and very understanding of food allergies.  He said they have at least 15 requests a day for allergy-friendly dishes and he personally couldn’t understand why restaurants wouldn’t accommodate such a request.  Like I said, he was pretty wonderful!

My kids dined on meatballs, macaroni, corn, and broccoli with yogurt for dessert.  Meanwhile, I had rice, pork, polenta, mashed potatoes, green beans, fruit, and frozen yogurt for dessert.  It was fabulous!

On our last day at WDW, we headed to Epcot after eating boxed cereal at our room.  We had a great time at Epcot and easily spent two-thirds of our day at the front part of the park where all the rides, stores, and restaurants are located.  It was great for my seven-year-old, but even my three-year-old enjoyed it!

We ate lunch at a counter-service operation inside The Land complex.  I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the name, but I believe it was the grilling station.  They had a lot of potential allergens in the same cooking area, so we asked to speak to the head chef who was able to steer us toward safe dining options.  Of all the places we visited for dining, this was probably my least favorite.  There weren’t an abundance of safe dining options which was a letdown after our other experiences at WDW.

GARDEN GRILL AT THE LAND

Dinner was at The Garden Grill, a very slowly rotating restaurant inside The Land complex that offers character meals.  The food is listed on your menu as to what you will be served…and I won’t lie…this made me nervous.  However, once visiting with the head chef, he was able to accommodate all of our needs AND eat almost everything listed on the menu for that night.  I was even able to treat myself to gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free dinner rolls.  Talk about being treated like royalty.  The kids got to visit and take their picture with several of the Disney characters.  We were stuffed and happy after we left the restaurant and had fabulous experience here.  I highly recommend it!  *Be advised, reservations are a good idea here.*  When you get there, please ask to speak to head chef, Matthew Styles.

I hope you have enjoyed my series on taking an allergy friendly vacation to Walt Disney World and that you have a wonderful experience if you choose to go in the future!