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Out and About with Food Sensitivities: Still Me - Allergy Free

By Melisa Priem

Ironically, food sensitivities are affecting a growing number of Americans during a time when people are eating out more and cooking less. Fortunately, many restaurants are responding to the increase in food sensitivities as gluten-free menus are slowly becoming as acceptable as kids' menus. National chains such as Outback Steakhouse, Wildfire, Biaggi's, and P.F. Chang all have gluten-free menus, as do local chains such as Big Bowl, Chianti Grill, and Axel's Bonfire. Even smaller, locally-owned restaurants such as The Hubbell house in Mantorville, MN are reacting to the drastic increase in gluten-sensitivities. But what about individuals affected with other food allergies or multiple food sensitivities? While seemingly difficult to accommodate, there are a few Twin City venues that can assist individuals with more food allergies or multiple sensitivities.

General Guidelines:
As we vary as individuals, food sensitivities are no exception. For example, gluten sensitivities can range from the individual who merely feels better limiting quantities of gluten consumed, to an individual diagnosed with celiac disease where tiny traces of gluten can cause severe damage and agonizing symptoms. Similarly, individuals with a peanut allergy can go from someone who may experience mild discomfort to the severely sensitive individual where an invisible trace from the oil a peanut can result in a fatal anaphylactic reaction. Restaurants don't know the severity of your sensitivity unless you tell them. Open communication is always the best policy. For best results, call the restaurant ahead of time to discuss your dining options. However, always remember: your health is ultimately your own responsibility.

2186 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul, MN 651-645-4433

One of the biggest risk factors for those affected by a peanut allergy is the everyday bakery. It is extremely common for most bakeries to contain various peanut products and cross-contamination risks of the non-peanut items are usually severely elevated. But not at Cooqui! Cooqui is not only the "gluten-free bakery of your wildest, most scrumptious dreams," it is also peanut-free. Moms of peanut-allergic children that avoid most trendy bakeries and coffee shops can find solace here, as well everything from cookies, cupcakes, muffins and biscotti to rustic foccacia, baguettes and fresh baked breads. For those with gluten-sensitivities, you can finally have the luxury of choosing from the entire bakery, rather than being restricted to a select menu. Not to mention the great vibe and kid-friendly comfort may result in Cooqui becoming your favorite retreat for bonding with your mom-friends and your little ones, even if you don't have food sensitivities. It should be noted that Cooqui does produce products with tree nuts such as walnuts and cashews, and other common allergens such as eggs, soy, and dairy for example. The ingredients are conveniently listed on Cooqi's website.

Twin City Grill
North Garden, Mall of America, Bloomington, MN 952-854-0200
People with food sensitivities are used to carrying around extra baggage, often bringing along safe eats everywhere they go. But when you indulge yourself in a day of shopping at the Mall of America, sometimes you want to leave room for purchasing parcels rather than lugging your food around. Fortunately, you may be able to leave those hypoallergenic products at home and live the high life for a day by stopping for a bite at the Twin City Grill.

Located in the North Garden, the Twin City Grill can provide you with various menu options. The restaurant currently does not have any peanut products. The staff is very knowledgeable on cross-contamination issues and will work with the diner to provide a tasty meal without allergens such as milk, wheat, or shellfish for example. As with any restaurant, you will have better results if you call ahead and speak to a manager.

Fresh & Natural Foods
Four Metro Locations (Shoreview, Plymouth, Bloomington, and Hudson, WI)

Although more and more restaurants are able to accommodate individuals with food sensitivities, some mothers of children with food sensitivities find that the safest food for their child is still food prepared at home. However cooking your own hypoallergenic food is easier said than done when your shopping list is full of hypoallergenic products. Many families are forced to resort to pricey online shopping for their product needs. Fortunately, the Twin Cities has one of the nation's best markets for those with gluten-sensitivities and food allergies.

Fresh & Natural Foods has a plethora of gluten-free products, all clearly labeled with a red price tag. Additionally, Fresh & Natural Foods has the Twin Cities' largest supply of hypoallergenic products, carrying brands such as Enjoy Life Foods, Tinky√°da, Ian's, EnerG, Gak's Snacks, as well as a wide assortment of hypoallergenic baking mixes from Miss Robens and Cherry Brook Kitchen. The staff is tremendously helpful and very knowledgeable about various food sensitivities. Additionally, each location hosts ongoing events throughout the year such as gluten-free cooking classes, gluten-free festivals, as well as a range of classes taught by partnering health professionals. With four convenient locations, incorporating food sensitivities into your preferred lifestyle is a realistic possibility in the Twin Cities.

Melisa Priem, author of "8 Degrees of Ingredients," has made dreams come true for the food sensitive family by creating hundreds of hypoallergenic recipes that allow individuals with food sensitivities to enjoy their favorite foods with ingredients that are safe to consume. She resides in the Twin Cities with her husband and their three children. Visit her website, Eight Degrees of Ingredients.

Categories: Health & Wellness, Things To Do, Twin Cities Picks,

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