AllergySmartz Duo featured on Eat Allergy Safe Podcast

We were so honored to be featured on Eat Allergy Safe‘s podcast! Haven’t heard it yet? Check it out!

https://www.eatallergysafe.com/2017/10/09/eas-051-kids-allergies-mini-series-shirali-19-yrs-arul-14-yrs-allergysmartz-app/

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From Being Different to Becoming Unique

The international diversity of metropolitan cities make them a mecca of culinary innovation. The combination of a dynamic food scene and a preference of most to dine extempore often poses a huge challenge for teenagers with food allergies.

Every time friends decide to delve into exotic cuisine, it is a recurring dichotomy, between a premonition and the hankering to blend in.

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Dining out with food allergies, in new settings seems like solving a jigsaw puzzle which is laid out differently every time. In managing my tree nut allergy, I have learned and grown from my countless interactions and dealings with situations and people.

I have learned to be gracious without trying to please. The feedback of my own actions as they form a loop in my brain have taught me traits that have positively impacted me in more ways than one. Advocating for myself and working against the odds has made each circumstance an opportunity to learn and teach.

I am a “people person”.

When I was fifteen and learning to navigate the social world without my parents accompanying me, I found myself arriving at friends’ sweet sixteen parties with sweaty palms and a racing heart. As I went through my sophomore year I began to reflect. After careful rumination, I was convinced that the anxiety was purely associated with the uncertainty around the food. The primary goal of parties is to socialize!  What every host or hostess most desires are gracious, vibrant, and lively party guests.

Convincing people about the severity of food allergies isn’t easy. In their defense, most people at best have only encountered finicky eaters or those with religious restrictions. So, the fact that even trace amounts of an allergen can be deadly if consumed directly or through cross contamination, seems illusory to them. I have learned to share perspectives, clarify  preconceived notions, and if we still disagree be able to appreciate others’ viewpoints, knowing that pleasing others should not impact my decisions.

Dealing with my allergies has taught me decisiveness and that if one is reluctant to assert viewpoints you are bound to miss out on opportunities and amazing experiences.

Obtaining allergy information is imperative to minimize the risk of a reaction. While to an onlooker it may seem like sweating the small stuff, it was necessary I do so, and has taught me to be detail oriented. Each time I successfully assert with grace and grit that ‘I can’t eat nuts!’ it is empowering – an affirmation of my willpower and determination.

The character, strength, inner security, and unique interpersonal skills I have learned have had a very positive influence on me. As I burnished latent potential, it helped me rise in ways I could never have imagined!

Managing food allergies is a work in progress. I could never have imagined that saying “NO” would be so empowering!

Choolaah: A Hidden Jewel in the Indian Diaspora!

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“Nut-Free” and “Indian Cuisine” are phrases rarely found together… but Choolaah Indian BBQ has made this dream into a reality.

The irresistible aroma and vivid flavors of Choolaah will transport you to Ancient India, as the mouthwatering cuisine brings Indian culinary traditions to life.

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An extraordinary combination of meats basted with authentic spices, bathed in a creamy sauce will excite your palate as you indulge in one of our all-time favorites – the Chicken Tikka Masala!

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Feast lavishly on the chicken, paneer (cubes of cheese), salmon, and succulent lamb straight from the tandoor.

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Salads? Wraps? They’ve got everything!

An array of uniquely spiced vegetarian options made from fresh produce and masterfully seasoned will entice you.

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Experience a bloom of the spices in the finger licking good Biryani.

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To indulge in folksy street food of India, go for the Samosa Chaat or Pav Wow aka Pav Bhaji!

As you sink your teeth into the soft yielding center of the Samosa, savor the flavors that flow through your mouth. The pep and zip in every bite of the street food will leave you craving for more!

The flaky, buttery fire roasted flat bread – the naan – is a taste sensation in itself.

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Try the probiotic mango drink that nurtures your health while delighting your palate –  “Dahilicious” Mango Lassi (dahi in Hindi meaning yogurt). Craving something hot? How about some Chai?

Dessert? Yes please! A rich, creamy frozen dessert, the malai kulfi is the pièce de résistance.

“Choolaah” is a beacon of excellence that beckons you to partake in a culinary experience of traditional Indian legacy! And the best part? Everything on the menu (except the Chickpea Noodles, which may be cross contaminated because they are not made in-house) is nutfree – so have whatever your heart desires!

We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with Raji Sankar, one of the co-founders of Choolaah, to learn more about the past and future of this wonderful restaurant. Get the answers to all your questions below:

How was Choolaah born?

We grew up eating real food. Amazing flavors. No artificial preservatives or colors. Something you could eat everyday. This was a dream born in 2003 that saw reality with the first Choolaah in 2014 in Ohio. In 2017, we opened two locations in VA and Philadelphia.

We are both engineers with finance backgrounds who have always had a love for food. One of the biggest things that attracted us to this industry was how food brings people together. We wanted to create some extraordinary options and career paths in the food industry to make something very special that creates a lifestyle and livelihood for our team members.

Mission of Choolaah?

Choolaah is about real food, exquisite flavors that are served with joy and create joy in a fun, hip, upbeat, and happy environment. The joyful experiences allow people to come together for any occasion.

Are you nut-free?

We are nut free except for the crispy chickpea noodles that go on the samosa chaat. Since they are store bought we can’t guarantee no cross-contamination.

What inspired you to make such an accessible dining space for people of different dietary requirements?

Choolaah is for everyone. We have friends, family, and our own team members who have different dietary needs. It’s something very close to our heart. People can have all these amazing flavors and try everything – and they love it! It’s a party of flavors!

Whether it’s gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, protein-heavy we have options for everyone.

Often times families of individuals with dietary restrictions are limited in their choice as well. We are proud that our food not only helps the individual, but is even able to bring families together.

The design of the restaurant is incredibly unique and really transports you. How did you come up with this concept?

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Our brand promise is fresh, fun, hip, and real food in a joyful and welcoming setting. We want to bring this promise to life in every aspect of the restaurant. We want to create memories for everyone. If you look at the hand wash, for example, it’s a great way to delight kids. You don’t have to go to the restroom, it uses less water, great for the environment, and it’s cleaner. On top of that, in Indian tradition it’s customary to wash hands before and after the meal – this is a great way to bring in this tradition with a modern appeal. You don’t even have to tell kids to wash their hands in our restaurant, in fact they may be over doing it!

Any plans of expansion?

We’d love to see Choolaah in every corner of the world. The mission is to be able to offer real food like this, with amazing flavors at everyday prices in a joyful setting to everyone! That would be amazing. The future is full of possibilities.

DISCLAIMER: As always, be sure to talk to restaurant staff in person to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handled. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

Grodzinski’s Bakery (Toronto)

Sweets on sweets on sweets.

From breakfast pastries to cakes and indescribably tasty treats, this shop is a must visit! For most people with nut-allergies, enjoying a chocolate danish, croissant, or other breakfast pastry is a dream. Nut-Free, Grodzinski Bakery made this a reality for us!

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On our short trip to Toronto we visited this bakery at least 3 times! Whether it was to grab a quick bite of dessert or stop for a delicious, gourmet breakfast the family vote always seemed to be “Grodzinski’s!”

While there a few nut-free restaurants in America, walking into a dessert shop, looking at the mouth-watering items, picking your craving, and having it simply handed to you is rare instance – so we definitely took advantage of this opportunity in Canada.

Next time you are in Toronto use your cheat day for Grodzinski’s. Whether you grab a muffin, danish, roll, bagel, croissant, or some breakfast item – or you decide to satisfy your sweet tooth with their exotic desserts Grodzinski’s is a must visit. From the “domino” made of layered cakes, mousse, and chocolate, to delectable black forest or mango pastries this restaurant truly has something for everyone.

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We are at a loss for words to even describe all the delicious pastries they had to offer and the warm and welcoming environment. This post doesn’t do the restaurant justice – frankly we haven’t even begun to explain the wondrous offerings of Grodzinski (probably because we have started to drool just remembering the fine food we had while we were there).

Don’t do yourself a disservice by not visiting Grodzinski’s next time you are in Toronto!

http://www.grodzinskibakery.com/

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Short & Sweet: Toronto’s Hidden Gem!

As a chocolate and sweets loving family – Short & Sweet was like stumbling onto a little slice of heaven. From tarts to sammies to cupcakes to extreme milkshakes to so much more this restaurant has something that will cater to everyone! The shop was full when we arrived – a testament to its delicious products.

And guess what? All of these mouth-watering desserts are nut-free!

We struggled to decide which of all their wonderful products to try first. We finally settled on s’mores milkshakes, a coconut cupcake, and a chocolate peach tart to share.

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As we enjoyed our sweet treats in this beautifully decorated lively environment we couldn’t stop smiling. This was absolutely one of the best places we had visited and boy were we glad we decided to go there.

Canada is (thankfully) full of allergy-friendly restaurants and nut-free bakeries. If you’re planning a trip there, there sure is a lot to try, but do not leave this one off your list!

Read about a selection of their products on their website.

Baked2Go – Montreal

Breads? Muffins? Brownies? Cookies? Looking for an on-the-go breakfast item or a sweet treat? Baked2Go in Montreal is the place to be!

This trendy establishment offers a variety of gluten-free, nut-free, and sesame-free products for its customers to enjoy! They even offer products low in sugar or high in protein depending on what suits your specific diet.

We can assure you their items are absolutely delicious – a must stop on your next trip to Montreal!
Check out their website and get a 15% Off Coupon!