Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Guide: Chicago

The new city that I am so lucky to call home. Complete with Big Ten Football, miles of Lake Michigan beaches that remind me of home, and the best cuisine that a foodie could ask for. The Windy City keeps blowing me away!

Picollo Sogno

Picollo Sogno, Italian for “little dream” lives up to its name in the Fulton River District. This Chef Tony (@tony_priolo) creation has an intimate atmosphere, delicious dishes and attentive waitstaff. With such caution given to my allergies, and plenty of gluten free substitutions, if you’re looking for a wonderful new dining experience in Chicago, Picollo Sogno is your spot.

Your dinner awaits:

Small Cheval

Offshoots of their flagship location, Au Cheval, are scattered around the city in neighborhoods including Wicker Park, Old Town, and The Magnificent Mile. This fast and casual dining experience features only two meal options – burgers and french fries. Because there is such a selective menu, it’s easy to ensure that there are no nuts in the facility. Everything here is safe for me – including the milkshakes! Have your vanilla or chocolate shake spiked with a shot of baileys for a cool summer buzz.

Get your hands on the best burger I’ve ever had:

MAK Restaurant

My very first Chinese takeout! MAK (Modern Asian Kitchen) Restaurant is a reinvented fast, fresh, and flavorful spot in Wicker Park specializing in modern twists of Chinese favorites. MAK prides itself on their family roots and “delicious flavors with a conscious.” MAK Restaurant is a nut free kitchen (may exclude some desserts) and takes special precautions to accommodate other allergens like fish and gluten. When ordering takeout for the first time, I was thrilled with the level of caution that MAK Restaurant took to help me feel safe. Able to enjoy almost anything on the menu, I had to try a little bit of everything.

Order for carryout, dine in, or delivery:

Summer House Santa Monica

This California inspired oasis in Lincoln Park will have you yearning for summer time. The servers are knowledgeable, the kitchen follows a strict allergy protocol, and their seasonal rotating menus never disappoint. Shown above, allergy orders are flagged and labeled for your safety. This versatile restaurant was voted one of the city’s best boozy brunches, but is also a staple of mine with visiting friends for a casual appetizer or polished dinner. Complete your meal with a glass of their signature drink, Rosé!

Make a reservation in advance:


You can’t leave The Windy City without having a classic Chicago Dog. Portillo’s has an extensive allergen and nutrition guide on their website, so take a peak below before planning your visit. They encourage their patrons to always inform the staff about their allergies before ordering, but they have a menu that’s largely free of nuts all together! And best of all, the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry shakes/malts are all labeled as nut free. Enjoy!

Allergy/Nutrition Guide:

Pizzeria Portofino

Delicious bites and stunning views. Inspired by the Italian Riveria, any visit to Pizzeria Portofino is a memorable experience as you dine alongside the Chicago River. Before even having the chance to mention it myself, our waiter asked about any allergies at the table. Dietary restrictions are taken seriously, and the staff is more than willing to accommodate your needs. Gluten-free cauliflower pizza crusts are available upon request.

Weekend tables usually book one month out:

American Girl Place Cafe

(Images from American Girl)

Traveling with young kids? Or just feeling a little nostalgic yourself? Much like Disney World, the American Girl Place gives special attention to food allergies because of the clientele they cater towards. Their menus are largely free of nut products, and the waitstaff does their best to accommodate other allergies too.

Can you guess how many American Girl dolls I had growing up?


In the heart of River North comes another award-winner from Chef Tony! Inspired by their grandmothers, Nonnina comes as a delicious Italian feast in downtown Chicago. As with all of Chef Tony’s restaurants, the waitstaff and kitchen paid special attention to my dietary needs. Neighboring the Chicago Riverwalk, Nonnina is the perfect date night spot to enjoy with your significant other. Highly recommend the Buratta Con Pomodorini (pictured) to any cheese lovers. I have searched the city for the best take on this appetizer, and Nonnina has one of my favorites.

Dive right in:

Fox Trot

You can always find me here in between classes. With locations scattered around the greater Chicago area, you’re likely to find a Foxtrot Market wherever your weekend getaway takes you. Foxtrot is a combination of a breakfast cafe, grab-and-go market, and happy hour venue, offering everything from breakfast tacos and coffee to charcuterie boards and wine. Their menu labels nut free (NF), gluten free (GF), and vegan (V) options alongside each food item. Whether you need a morning pick-me-up or an afternoon cool down, Foxtrot has what you need.

Something for everyone…

Wheat’s End Café

(Images from @wheatsendcafe)

I have not yet had the privilege to dine here myself, but I have heard nothing but roaring reviews. Wheat’s End Café, founded by women whose close friend has Celiac Disease, is an entirely gluten free daytime restaurant in Lakeview. Their menu, specializing in redesigned brunch, additionally labels dairy free options. Temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am excited to report back after taking the first bite myself.

Open until 3pm daily, closed Mondays:

And for Dessert…

Beacon Doughnuts

DONUT mind if I do! Beacon Doughnuts is an entirely vegan bakery right in Lincoln Park. This adorable walk-up shop offers a variety of delicious classics alongside some reinvented rotating specials. Expect to see tempting creations like S’mores, Blueberry Pancakes, Birthday Cake, Coconut Cream, Lavender Vanilla, and my personal favorite, Double Chocolate Sea Salt.

Make sure to pre-order your dozen before they sell out:

Frío Gelato

This traditional Argentinian ice cream parlor, with five locations throughout Chicago, invites you into enjoy one of their seasonal rotating flavors, crunchy toppings, and a freshly made waffle cones worry free. Their facilities are dedicated-free from nut products, and dairy-free sorbets are tucked away in safe, separate coolers. Chocolate, blackberry, pumpkin, piña colada, mint chocolate chip… One scoop of each please! Gummy bears, sprinkles, caramel drizzle… Pile it on! With storefronts that are open all year long, you know where to find me.

Their website states loud and proud that they’re allergy friendly:


Although Instagram famous for their loaded boozy hot chocolates, I’m at one of the two Bombobar locations for their Bomboloni doughnut. The airy Italian doughnut is served warm with your choice of injectable filling. Originating in the West Loop and later expanding to Old Town, Bombobar’s menu carefully labels all items that are dairy, gluten, and nut free. Bring along your pup! Dairy-free gelato & Woof Cream can be served on the patio to fluffy friends.

How do you Bombo? :

Are all these allergy-conscious options in the Windy City blowing you away too? The more I explore the city, the more I will update this Chicago guide, so keep a look out for more suggestions! As always, my DMs are open for any questions, comments, concerns, or your own restaurant recommendations!

DISCLAIMER: These restaurants have been safe for me and my allergies, but these recommendations should only serve as a starting point for your dining experience. Please do your own research before enjoying.

Believe it or not: The Strangest Places I’ve Encountered an Allergen

How many times have you heard “Oh, you’re allergic to peanuts? Just don’t eat them.” You would think that avoiding a food allergen would be as simple as just not eating it… But we all know.. It’s NEVER that easy! The amount of times I have come across one of my allergens in a bizarre location or non-food related product is downright puzzling and concerning. Is someone playing a never-ending trick on me? The world may never know. Here’s where I’ve found allergens that you need to look out for…

Inside My Car

According to an article from Consumer Reports, Walnut Blasting is a common direct engine-cleaning technique where “The intake manifold and valves of a car’s engine [are cleaned] with a high pressure air blast of finely crushed walnut shells.” Eeek! The use of a biodegradable abrasive like walnut shells “is meant to help clear out carbon buildup on older gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, thus helping the car run better.”

Chris Perkins, a web editor for Road & Truck Magazine, warned others about the dangers of walnut blasting after his shocking allergic reaction earlier this year. In his article, Beware Direct-Injection Engine Cleaning if You Have Nut Allergies, Chris described his shortness of breath, lip numbness, and asthma attack-like symptoms after dropping off his vehicle at the dealership for some routine maintenance. The culprit? – Airborne walnut particles. Check out this article from Snack Safely for more details on the risks of walnut blasting.

Hidden in Our Pest Control

Take a closer look at this Raid Ant Bait… These common household traps hides a Caution: Contains peanuts or peanut by-products statement in the bottom corner. According to an article from Allergic Living, practicing allergist Dr. Scott Sicherer state, “that level of avoidance would usually be unnecessary.” . But personally, I prefer to stick to a strict no peanut policy in my home – No matter where it’s sitting.

At Happy Hour

Its second nature to be checking our food for potential allergens, but are you being just as weary of your drinks too?

Alcoholic beverages are not safe from allergens. Amaretto, a sweet liqueur often flavored with almonds, is common in mixed drinks and spiked coffees. Walnut bitters add a woody flavor to a classic Old Fashion. Egg whites can be a key ingredient in whiskey sour mixes. Screwball is a peanut butter whiskey. Aquafaba, the leftover liquid from cooked chickpeas, is sometimes substituted to create a vegan whipped garnish. With the shared used of shakers and strainers behind the bar, there is quite the risk of cross contamination from fruit juices and garnishes.

Don’t let your guard down when ordering a cocktail… Always always always inform you bartender of your allergy!

Under The Couch in My Hotel Room

Picture this. You spent months planning the perfect bachelorette weekend for your cousin. You had a long day of traveling and just can’t wait to lay down in the comfort of your own hotel room and… BOOM. There is a literal assortment of mixed nuts peaking out from under the couch. I need to know the odds… Out of ALL the rooms in this ten-story hotel building, and this is the room I get placed in?!

At My Beauty Appointments

I have religiously gotten my eyebrows waxed at the Benefit Bar at Ulta Beauty. But at my first appointment, I carelessly checked ‘no’ to all the legal questions concerning certain topical medications, until a disclaimer about nut allergies caught my eye. Much to my surprise, the cosmetic bar’s pre-and-post waxing serum contained almonds. It had never even crossed my mind to ask, so I was beyond thankful that they called attention to the problem themselves…. Because I certainly did not need that covering my entire face!

But you know the only time that I will ask for almonds? When I’m choosing my nail shape at the salon, of course! But no so much when its in the hand lotion… or in the bath bomb used in the pedicure bowl…. I’m someone who always wants a fresh manicure, but moving city to city, I’ve walked out of a new studio with hives more than once. Always inquire about the ingredients in all of the products being used throughout your service.

Hiding In My Beauty Products

I used a certain shampoo and conditioner set for months and was quite literally scratching my head wondering why my scalp and body were so itchy. The answer? Macadamia nuts.

Because so many self tanning products include almonds or macadamia nuts, many inquiring minds have asked which brands I pull out each summer. When I’m looking for that bronze glow, I stick with the Ulta Brand Gradual Tan Lotion. The ingredients are easily accessible on their website, and much easier to read online than on the small product bottles.

This goes for spray tans too! I did not realize this was a potential problem until I coincidentally booked an appointment at a studio that advertised as being nut free. Be extra careful – The last thing you need is for a nut-based product to be stuck on your skin for a week.

In My Dog’s Treats

It turns out that even precious and innocent puppies like peanut butter just as much as some people do (sigh). And while some PB flavored treats are clearly labeled on the front of the packaging, others are not. Wanting to pick out a special holiday treat for my puppies (Poppet and Coconut) last Christmas, I innocently place the cutest candy cane biscuits into the cart alongside all of my other Target “essentials.” Something in my gut made me double check the back of the packaging, only to find peanut butter as one of the main ingredients. Ugh!

As a certified Rover dog walker always meeting new fluffy friends around Chicago, this is something I am always on the look out for. I love some good puppy kisses just as much as the next person, but just like its important to ask your significant other what they’ve recently eaten, make sure you know what the dog ate that day too! Their treats can just as easily cause a reaction.

Tossed Through My Dorm Hallway

This has to be one of the worst ones – without a doubt. I woke up early on a Saturday morning for a sorority recruitment event to find a trail of peanut butter splattered along my hallway corridor. Covering the floors, walls, and doors alike, I’ll never forget the sheer panic that came over me when I found the unmistakable red JIF lid laying in the middle of the mess.

A short-lived drunken game for a couple of college kids left me permanently traumatized in its aftermath. Too terrified to return to my building even after the floors were professional cleaned (we can thank my father for calling that one in), I resided at my family’s home off campus and commuted to class for over a week. It took a lot of courage (and tears) to get myself back on that floor to finish out the rest of the semester.

Avoiding your allergen is clearly not as easy as simply not eating it. You never know when you’ll wake up to it literally knocking on your front door.

Nuts in Macaroni and Cheese?!

On a weekend getaway to Nashville with my boyfriend, we stopped at The Mockingbird restaurant right outside of The Gulch. While I was shocked to find out I could safely order the ooey-gooey cinnamon roll for breakfast, I was even more shocked to find out what I couldn’t order – the macaroni and cheese. A true staple of my diet, and usually a safe go-to, actually contained tree nuts. It was not even labeled in the description on the menu, which just goes to show that you should #alwaysdoublecheck with your server.

In My Literal Backyard

Honestly, I have trouble believing this one myself. But one hundred percent true story, I had a stare down with this squirrel through my living room window as he shelled a peanut while sitting in a tree in my own backyard. It was like somehow he knew, and was purposely taunting me. And to think that some people assume that avoiding your allergies is as easy as not ordering them at dinner! I can’t help but laugh with this one… Truly unbelievable.

Unfortunately, I think I will be forever updating this article because an allergen’s ability to pop into my life never ceases to amaze me. Whether I’m jumping over a cluster of peanut shells while crossing the street or having to pull a half eaten pistachio out of my dog’s mouth on a walk around the city, they always seem to find me…. Starting to think I REALLY need to investigate this whole ‘people playing tricks on me’ thing…

What’s the weirdest place you’ve encountered your allergies?

Dating with Food Allergies

Who remembers the mid 2000s Nickelodeon sitcom Unfabulous starring Emma Roberts? And she bakes peanut butter cookies before going on a first date and gives the boy a severe allergic reaction after they kiss? Well I do – And I have been scarred forever!

All Things Allergies was founded to serve the young adult population of the food allergy community – A cohort I felt was very underrepresented. New research efforts and interventions are mostly catered towards children, and food allergy parents have built a strong networking support system online. Yet teenagers and young people, like myself, enter the adult with an invincibility complex and without an instruction manual, leaving us at high risk of reactions alongside our new found freedom.

These are vulnerable years for the food allergy community. We are eating at restaurants without our parents, heading off to college, moving into our first apartments, buying our own groceries, cooking our own dinners, and making food related decisions under the influence of alcohol. Plus – We are dating! As all of these drastic changes unfold, the only people we can count on to advocate for us is ourselves.

As a young adult dating with food allergies, but I quickly discovered that someone without food allergies never has to give a second thought to…

  • Letting their date pick/surprise them with a restaurant reservation
  • Sharing drinks
  • Kissing + other physical contact without asking what their date has eaten that day
  • Visiting a partner’s home without knowing if their allergen was recently consumed there
  • Letting their date cook dinner for them

Any of these situations can put a food allergy sufferer in a dangerous position. We are all too familiar with how seemingly clueless people without dietary restrictions are about those who do. And the tricky part about dating – there is more physical contact with your significant other than you would ever normally allow with anybody else.

And we are not just talking about kissing – In an article published by Jenifer Goodwin for Allergic Living, a teen in Canada died of a severe allergic reaction during oral sex. The consenting partner had consumed peanuts before preforming an intimate sexual act on the allergic teen. According to Goodwin, “The teens never kissed. Dr. Samira Jeimy and her colleagues conclude in their report that the most likely route of allergen exposure was through the mucus membrane on the tip of the penis.” This conversation may be uncomfortable, but it could be the difference between life and death.

In fact, in that same article from Allergic Living, a survey found that between 5-12% of patients with food allergies have reported having “kissing-related” allergic reactions. To prevent such cross-contamination, Dr. Scott Sicherer, the director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute in New York, found that eating an allergen-free meal + waiting four or more hours can reduce allergens in the saliva to undetectable levels. Teeth brushing, mouth rinsing, and chewing gum have also been found to reduce allergen levels in the saliva, to a lesser extent.

I have been dating my boyfriend long-distance for a number of years, so stopping his intake of my allergens before seeing each other is much easier to schedule. Thankfully, I have found someone so accommodating that he has mostly eliminated my allergens from his diet all together. From time to time he enjoys a warm pecan pie or fresh salmon dinner when I’m not around (much to my joking protest), but he has never once made me feel like an inconvenience. Before visiting him for the weekend, he even makes an effort to sanitize his entire apartment for me – I’m talking doorknobs and all. Of course this is the same boy who recently introduced me to cooking, so not only are my dietary restrictions not an issue, but they have become a shared activity to work around. He is not afraid to send a meal back when I am too shy to bother the waiter, stand up and walk us out of a restaurant that isn’t safe, or remind me how much better I deserve from a friend that is not willing to put in that same effort. Even though I am perfectly capable of doing these things on my own, its wonderful to know that I’ve got somebody else in my corner.

But not everyone shares this positive experience. I’ve heard horror stories of first dates going horribly wrong and of boyfriends giving their girlfriend an allergic reaction because they failed to clean up after themselves. With all of these potential threats out there in the dating world, we have to protect ourselves.

Having a candid discussion about your allergies and fostering a relationship that values communication is key to keeping yourself safe. Stand up for yourself early, and set the standard for how your allergies should be handled. Start by simply saying “Hey, do you mind not ordering anything with ____. I’m super allergic and ending the night in the emergency room wouldn’t make for a great first date.” Not only will you be able to enjoy yourself more, but you’ll get a good sense of how caring and compassionate this person would be in a relationship. Besides, why would you want to be with someone who is not going to value your safety and comfortability? If he’s not going to protect you, he’s not the one!

For teens, be confident. Ask you significant other what they ate before you kiss them. Never let them get away with saying they don’t remember. Don’t feel pressured to go to dinner at a restaurant that makes you uncomfortable. And always advocate for yourself when someone isn’t putting your safety first. Like boy, bye.

For young adults, be smart. Make sure you’re not sharing drinks with someone at the bar, because I hear people love to pregame their nights out with a PB&J. Remember that it is not selfish to prioritize yourself. Don’t trust a kitchen shared by a bunch of roommates. And lastly, never settle for skipping dessert! Even a store-bought pint of ice cream will do the trick, and it never fails to show he cares.

For parents, be prepared. As scary as it sounds, one day your kid is going to grow up and be interested in dating! Don’t ignore this part of the allergy conversation. It is just as important as learning to administer epinephrine or reading ingredient labels. Raise your food allergy sufferer to be independent and capable of keeping themselves safe in the dating world.

Too often this topic is glossed over. When discussing food allergies, the conversation never misses touching on restaurant recommendations or new treatment protocols. But managing food allergies in an intimate relationship is a real concern. Hey, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find someone out there with the same allergies as you. But if not, I’m here to answer any of your questions.

My ID Medical ID Shop

I have been an Ohio State fan for all my life, but just because I’m a Buckeye doesn’t mean that I like nuts.

I attended an undergraduate institution whose mascot was a literal walking tree nut… I lived in a state for four years whose traditional dessert was a chocolate covered peanut butter ball… I was an Ohio State Football staff member in a facility that featured a state of the art mixed nuts bar…

All of this to say – my custom condition sleeve from My ID would have come in handy a LOT sooner.

My ID Medical ID Shop is an online medical alert bracelet company specializing in customized jewelry for a range of conditions including diabetes, epilepsy and of course – allergies. With so many medical alert products on the market, My ID differentiates itself by adding scannable QR code technology to their bracelets that allow first responders to access your digital medical profile in seconds. Customers can make all their necessary health information easily accessible in an emergency situation by quite literally wearing it on their sleeve.

Check out this video to see how it works –

The My ID product that I love is the new Condition Sleeve. I never leave home without this extra layer of protection because its sleek and convenient design slides perfectly onto my Apple Watch. It is clearly visible in the case of an emergency, but isn’t bulky or distracting. I customized my own lettering, but you can also choose from one of their pre-made products. So watch out Ohio… you are not getting rid of me that easy!

As allergy sufferers, we are always looking for more ways to keep ourselves safe. Don’t miss this simple step! You can purchase a My ID product for yourself by using my affiliate link here –

And as always – go bucks!

We all scream for (safe) ice cream!

I suffered my most recent allergic reaction almost five summers ago when I was an incoming senior in high school. I frequented a local ice cream shop in my hometown, and feeling invincible like any other teen, I walked out with my usual order without informing the employees about my severe allergy.

I ate my brownie flurry on the car ride home with friends, and by the time we pulled into my driveway, I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach that prompted me to take two Benadryls before I even told anyone else what was happening. Quickly after, I noticed lumps developing in the back of my throat every time I swallowed. At that point, I was panicked.

Once I began vomiting, my parents knew it was time to get to the hospital. I remember the seemingly never-ending car ride to the emergency room, and quickly being ushered into a hospital bed upon arrival. The nurses confirmed the lumps I felt in my throat to be consistent with an allergic reaction, and immediately started me on a regimen of steroids.

I was released from the hospital after being observed for a few hours and returned home that same night. Despite it being a routine day for the medical staff, I was quite frankly traumatized by the whole experience. How could something I had consumed dozens of times suddenly send me to the hospital?

After that day, I stopped eating a lot of foods that I once considered safe – especially ice cream. Even if it was soft serve from a fast food restaurant or sold by the pint at the grocery store, the risk wasn’t worth the reward. However, I certainly have a sweet tooth, and hated that my allergies were holding me back from a staple summer time activity with friends . After some time, I have finally gained back the confidence to try some ice creams again. So here are the brands and parlors that have made me feel safe enough to indulge once again…

Store Bought Pints


This predominant brand was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, so these cartons were sprinkled all over grocery stores in Columbus while I was in undergrad. Although, I didn’t even bother to pick one up until a fellow nut allergy friend told me about their superior cross contamination protocols.

Every container that is nut free has a label under the ingredients that states, “We use good manufacturing practices to segregate allergens and avoid cross-contact with flavors that contain peanuts and tree nuts.” How cool!

Since seeing this for the first time, I have been hooked on their chocolate chip cookie dough and dark chocolate brownie flavors. They are famous for having giant chunks of goodies in their ice creams and I cannot get enough of them!

(It is worth noting that I only buy Graeter’s pints of ice cream, and do not purchase their hand scooped ice cream cones at their store fronts. They have crushed peanuts as a topping in their sundaes and I am unsure if they use separate scoopers in store.)

You can see the nutritional information of each flavor here –

Where to buy: Whole Foods, Jewel Osco, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Target, Foxtrot and Graeter’s store fronts.


I recently taste tested this dairy, gluten and nut free frozen treat, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. There was an obvious oat-y taste, but the chocolate flavor was rich and the ice cream was creamy. I’ll definitely be picking up another container on my next trip to Target so I can try out another flavor!

You can see the allergy statement under FAQs on their website here –

Where to find: Whole Foods, Target, Foxtrot, Plum Market and more.

Nada Moo!

I reached out to this family owned business looking for more details about their allergy statement and cross contamination policy and was so grateful for their detailed, comprehensive and empathetic response.

A team member reassured me that the facility they package in uses one of the highest food safety protocols around. Although all their flavors are made on the same equipment, between every run, the machinery is throughly sanitized and continuously tested for allergens throughout production. As an extra safety precaution, the flavors containing the majority of allergens are always produced last. The email really depicted how proud they were of holding themselves to the highest standards to ensure the manufacturing of a safe, organic product.

The company even went as far as to list all of their flavors that are top 8 allergy free for me- Mint Chip, Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, Cookies & Creme, Birthday Cake Cookie Dough (contains corn), Cookie Dough Fudge, That Snickerdoodle Dough, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cherry Fudge, Brownie and Marshmallow Stardust (contains corn).

The founder of Nada Moo wanted to create an allergy friendly ice cream because their sister suffered from allergies herself, so this really felt like a safe brand for me. I am so impressed by their coconut milk-based flavors, and even more impressed by their customer service!

Where to buy: Whole Foods, Jewel Osco, Target, Plum Market, Marianos, Fresh Thyme, Foxtrot or at their online store. Check out their website! –


Although all of their products are manufactured on the same equipment, I have been eating Breyers ice cream since I was a kid. I reached out to the company, and they assured me that they follow strict cleaning and sanitizing procedures between each product run, and that they have never had a cross contamination issue reported by a customer.

The confident customer service representative reiterated that Breyers’ recipes often change, so it is important to double check the ingredient list each time before making your purchase.

Breyers also makes one of the only low calorie pints that I feel safe eating. These guilt free treats still taste great, but don’t leave you regretting diving in spoon first. Check out your local grocery store freezer section for their gluten, lactose and dairy free ice creams too!

Allergy questions are answered under their FAQs –

Where to buy: Kroger, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and more.


I am a huge fan of avocado and guacamole, so I could not turn down this pint. This unique treat is advertised on each package as being dairy, gluten and soy free, but further investigation on their website declared all of their flavors to be produced in a peanut free facility.

The allergy statement on their website clarified that they do have a cherry amaretto flavor that uses tree nuts (almond extract). However, they reassured customers that they follow an extensive cleaning process between product runs to minimize the risk of cross contamination.

Scroll down on their homepage for more information about peanuts/tree nuts –

Where to buy: Whole Foods, Foxtrot, Jewel Osco, Target, Marianos, Fresh Thyme, Walmart, and more.

Ice Cream Shops

Frío Gelato

Frío Gelato is a traditional Argentinian ice cream parlor with locations surrounding Chicago, Illinois. All of their rotating flavors, crunchy toppings, and freshly made waffle cones are 100% nut free. There is even a separate cooler for their dairy-free sorbets that each have their own dedicated scoopers.

Frío Gelato was the first and only ice cream shop I have ever been to where I could order worry free. Chocolate, blackberry, pumpkin, piña colada, mint chocolate chip… I’ll have one of each! Gummy bears, sprinkles, caramel… pile it all on! With rotating seasonal flavors and a storefront that’s open all year long, you know where to find me!

Their website states loud and proud that they are allergy-friendly! –

Where to buy: Store fronts in Evanstan, Andersonville, Wrigleyville, and Navy Pier.


Jeni’s was the first and only ice cream shop I have tried since my allergic reaction that was not a dedicated nut-free facility (and this only happened this year — almost five years after my reaction). I had read on other allergy sites that Jeni’s had a good protocol for handling dietary restrictions, so after becoming frustrated about turning down yet another ice cream date with friends, I decided to give it a try.

I planned to go to Jeni’s on a random day at a random time to ensure the shop would be mostly empty. I wanted to be sure that the employees weren’t rushed and would take their time handling my allergies. Upon arrival, I came face to face with all of nut flavors in the display cases and was nervous. Instead of barreling out the door like I wanted to, I informed the employee about my allergy and she knew exactly what to do. She immediately picked out a new scooper and opened a fresh container of chocolate ice cream from the cooler.

All Jeni’s stores have their flavors visibly labeled for allergens, including eggs, dairy, gluten and nuts, which reassured me that it was an establishment that was well versed and conscious of dietary restrictions. They also stated on their website that during production, they begin by making all the flavors with the least amount of allergens first, and then continue on to flavors with more allergens afterwards to minimize the risk for cross contamination.

Even though I was nervous, I was proud of myself for being brave enough to try. Now, the scent of their freshly baking waffle cones never fails to convince me to stop in for a scoop. You won’t be able to resist either!

Check out what you’re missing from this Columbus, Ohio native company –

Where to buy: Whole Foods, Target, Kroger, Giant Eagle, Meijer, Plum Market, Foxtrot, and Jeni’s locations across the midwest.

A La Mode

Images from

When I asked my followers their favorite allergy-friendly ice cream, this was their #1 answer! A La Mode is an ice cream shop with a dedicated nut, sesame and egg free facility. Their flagship location is in New York City, and their pints are for sale at select grocery stores along the east coast and midwest. All of their flavors — including chocolate, vanilla, speed bump, wired, cooks, pink sprinkle, and partly cloudy — are available for shipping across the United States.

Where to buy: Their NYC storefront, or online at


You can’t have ice cream without some delicious toppings – and here are some safe ones!

Nutphree’s Bakery Sprinkles

This 100% peanut and tree nut free bakery is based out of Elk Grove, Illinois, and creates beautiful custom made cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. I was gifted these sprinkles from their online store and have been loving the extra crunch on my homemade ice cream sundaes!

Order some for yourself here –

Where to buy: Whole Foods, Mariano’s, Plum Market, Jewel Osco, and Fresh Thyme stores across the midwest, on their website, or at their store front.

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

This syrup is perfect as a topping, or for throwing in a blender with vanilla ice cream for a homemade milkshake. Better yet, this Hershey’s product does not contain any of the top 8 food allergens!

The Smart Label is linked here –

Joy Ice Cream Cones

Throw your favorite scoop on top of one of these store bought ice cream cones. Once Kellogg’s started adding peanut flour to some of their Keebler products, I switched to Joy brand instead for my ice cream cone needs. Their regular cones contain wheat and soy, but they sell gluten free options too.

Think outside the bowl! –

Where to buy: Kroger, Meijer, and Amazon.

If you have any more safe suggestions that you love, please let me know! I’m always down for dessert.

FACES Conference 2019

Recapping the second annual Food Allergy Conference for Education and Sciences in partnership with Lurie’s Children’s Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Headed by Dr. Ruchi Gupta of the Science and Outcomes for Allergy and Asthma Research Program (SOOAR), the Food Allergy Conference for Education and Science (FACES) is a celebration of food allergy innovation and inspiration. For their second annual event, experts, activists, founders, and families from across our community gathered at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital to share the latest and greatest findings in food allergy research and management.

Considering I moved to Chicago and founded of All Things Allergies just two months ago, the Food Allergy Conference for Education and Science being hosted right here in The Windy City felt like a sign that I had gotten myself exactly where I was supposed to be.

Conference Presentations

With tailored programs for adults, teenagers, and kids, the FACES conference provided an educational and empowering space for attendees of all ages. The children were treated to a reading of The Class that Can: Food Allergies with author JJ Vulopas, while teens were invited to discuss the transition to college and decision making with severe allergies.

For the adult crowd, leading professionals and advocates in the field presented on emerging research, promising new treatments, asthmas innovations, allergy advocacy, and reminders of connection and support. I have highlighted the speakers that resonated with me most below.

Auto Injector Practice

Using expired auto injectors, we were invited to practice epinephrine administration on some unsuspecting pieces of fruit. Because I had only ever used a tester, I was quick to jump on the opportunity to practice with a live Epi-Pen. I have demonstrated for my friends and family countless times, but have never had the chance to practice with a fully functioning Epi-Pen before.

Epinephrine hesitation is real – So let’s demystify the administration process! Save your expired auto-injectors and practice with your friends and family at home. It is empowering to feel prepared in the case of an emergency. The more comfortable you are around auto-injectors, the less intimidating they will be.

Traveling with Allergies

Lianne Mandelbaum – A food allergy parent and founder of the No Nut Traveler – shared her personal and professional recommendations for safely flying on commercial airlines with severe food allergies.

It is illegal for commercial airlines to discriminate against any passenger with disabilities. So when Lianne and her family were removed from an American Airlines flight, she got to work. With the help of disability lawyer Mary Vargas, legislation was written to protect the rights of the food allergy community. Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), all airlines must allow passengers with allergies to pre-board an aircraft. Because we are at the mercy of the flight attendants to receive our necessary accommodations, Lianne suggests having quick access to the legislature on your phone to provide to an airline that is refusing your right to pre-board.

Her presentation echoed the importance of filing complaints against airlines that are not properly accommodating passengers with food allergies – Noting that speaking up against injustice is what makes change happen. You can report an airline here.

Epinephrine Hesitancy

Dr. Kelly Newhall, a board certified immunologist at Chicago Family Asthma and Allergy, led a compelling discussion on epinephrine hesitancy – The phenomenon that as a community, we are resistant to administering our auto-injectors in the case of an emergency.

Time and time again Dr. Newhall reminded us – There are no negative side effects of epinephrine. Administering an Epi-Pen in the absence of a true reaction is safer than not administering an Epi-Pen during a true allergic reaction. Epinephrine cannot hurt you – It can only help you!

Dr. Todd Mahr, another board certified immunologist who presented alongside Dr. Newhall, encouraged the audience to never second guess administering their auto-injector. He found that hospitals and emergency rooms are incorrectly saving epinephrine as a last resort measure, rather than using it as first line of defense. Instead, Dr. Mahr emphasized that if you or a loved one are showing signs of an allergic reaction, do not hesitate to administer epinephrine.

Beyond epinephrine, Dr. Newhall and Dr. Mahr shared their wisdom about antihistamine medications. To my surprise, they stated that Benadryl cannot prevent/stop severe allergic reactions altogether. Rather, Benadryl may reduce some of the uncomfortable side effects of the reaction (Itching, Hives, Watery eyes). Suspect you are having a reaction? Skip searching for the Benadryl bottle and administer your Epi-Pen or Auvi-Q.

Mental Health x Food Allergies

Leading food allergy counselors in the mental health field, Dr. Jeanna Herzog, PhD, and Tamara Hubbard, LCPC, presented on the psychosocial + emotional impacts of anaphylactic reactions – A topic near and dear to my heart.

The food allergy community walks a thin line between healthy and unhealthy avoidance. While avoidance of certain circumstances may be a healthy way to stay safe from allergens, extreme restrictions or fear can develop into unhealthy avoidance measures. Sometimes these thinking patterns and anxieties can be too much to handle on your own – and that’s where Jeanna and Tamara come in.

As someone who suffers with food anxiety in the aftermath of anaphylaxis, this presentation normalized my lifelong experience for the very first time – And Dr. Herzog and Tamara Hubbard reassured me that I am not alone.

Food allergy anxiety is real – But thankfully, so is therapy. If you are like me, you were probably completely unaware that allergy informed counselors even existed – But Tamara Hubbard is looking to change that. The licensed professional counselor and food allergy parent founded the Food Allergy Counselor Directory and Website as a resource to normalize the intersectionality between mental health and food allergies. If you or a loved one is struggling with a new diagnosis, food anxiety, or life after anaphylaxis, I implore you to explore this website + reach out to for help.

Other Takeaways

Some Fun and Not-So-Fun Facts from FACES

  • Dehydration and lack of sleep may be correlated with how severe an allergic reaction is.
  • Anaphylaxis translates to without (Ana) protection (Phylaxis).
  • Food allergy sufferers spend on average $4,000+ a year managing their allergies (Purchasing medications, ordering safe foods, etc.).
  • Anaphylaxis will generally present within two hours of the ingestion of the allergen.
  • Trying booking your flight for the early morning – Commercial planes are usually deep cleaned each night after the very last flight.

Wrapping Up

The FACES conference was quite possibly the safest place I have been in my life – Standing in a hospital surrounded by hundreds of people carrying auto injectors… But I must admit! I did catch myself looking over my shoulder when I heard someone breaking open a food wrapper. You can imagine just how reassuring it was to remember that I had nothing to worry about.

* Edit 2022: The Food Allergy Conference for Education and Science is returning in-person this June at Simpson-Querrey Biomedical Center in Chicago, Illinois! The event welcomes families, activists, and experts alike, so I hope you all get a chance to make the trip. Learn more here.

Alyssa’s Declassified College Survival Guide

(Anyone else remember that early 2000’s Nickelodeon show?!?)

Heading off to college is an exciting and nerve-wracking time for all new freshman, but it can be especially scary for food allergy sufferers and their families. As a recent graduate of The Ohio State University (where the literal mascot of the university is a personified tree nut), I wanted to share my best tips and tricks for surviving and thriving in college with severe food allergies.

1 – Contact Disability Services

Beginning in high school, I had a 504 plan that aided in the process of registering myself within the office of disability services. Having a 504 plan can legally require the university to exempt you from certain required policies such as purchasing a meal plan or living in university-sponsored housing. One of my biggest concerns when moving to Ohio State was finding a roommate who understood my allergies. Living in such close quarters, it was not safe nor realistic to have a roommate consuming my allergens in our joint space. Luckily, I was connected with another food allergy sufferer through mutual friends who became my roommate, but the office of student housing at Ohio State was notified of my necessary accommodations and was helpful throughout the housing process because of my 504 plan and affiliation with disability services.

Getting in contact with your university’s disability services office before you need them is really important. I had a situation in undergrad where the hallway in my dorm building was vandalized with peanut butter (who does that?!?) and disability services was able to advocate on my behalf to require the university to professionally clean the carpets and walls. Without this legal backup, I most likely would have spent the whole rest of the semester with peanut butter stains across the floor that led to my bathroom.

The Spokin app has a great article about 504 plans here –

2 – Find A Meal Plan That Works

Ohio State’s dining services department did a phenomenal job of following specific allergy protocols and labeling procedures. Not only do they provide an allergy filter option on their website for all 30 campus dining locations, but each menu item is clearly labeled and coded according to specific dietary needs. For example –

  • N = Contains Nuts
  • D = Contains Dairy
  • S = Contains Shellfish
  • G = Gluten Free
  • V = Vegetarian
  • VG = Vegan

Here is a video produced by the Office of Student Life that gives an overview of the procedures and protocols that Ohio State’s Dining Services follows to ensure the safety of food allergy sufferers –

My older brother Tyler, a graduate student at Michigan State University, also shares many of the same allergies as I do including peanuts, tree nuts, chickpeas and raw tomatoes. He similarly has had a great experience with the dining accommodations at MSU. His graduate dorm actually has its own allergy-friendly market in the downstairs lobby! The grab-and-go style facility is free of all of the top eight major allergens, and is a cross-contamination and sesame conscious kitchen. The culinary and dietitian team at Michigan State cited the inspiration for this new dining facility as being a result of the growing number of students reaching out about allergy concerns over the recent years.

However, not all university dining facilities will be as accommodating as Ohio State’s or Michigan State’s are. Therefore, I really suggest doing some research and checking into each school’s procedures and protocols before submitting your deposit. When I went on my college visits, I made sure to schedule a meeting with a university chef or nutritionist to discuss my allergies and see how that individual school handled them.

It is important to note that many colleges and universities require students to purchase a school-sponorsed meal plan through their dining services. As mentioned earlier, having a 504 plan and/or being registered with disability services can help exempt you from this requirement if the dining facilities are deemed unsafe.

3 – Practice Safe Drinking Habits

Because most students will become of legal drinking age while attending college, I find it important to note about the special precautions that food allergy sufferers need to be take when consuming alcohol.

Here are a few things to look out for…

  • Amaretto, an Italian liqueur used in amaretto sours or coffee, is often flavored with almonds.
  • Gin, a popular liquor in mixed drinks, is regularly distilled with juniper berries (pine).
  • Beer, mostly made from barley, is not gluten free.
  • Egg whites are often found in whiskey sours or used as foam garnishes.
  • Walnut bitters are regularly used in old fashions.
  • Strawberries, peaches, and apples are common fruit allergies whose flavors are often used as mixers or garnishes.

These are just a few examples of common allergens in alcohols and cocktails that you may run into. Especially in a loud or crowded space when your inhibitions may be low, it can be difficult to communicate with your bartender or server about your allergies. Double checking drinks at happy hour or at the bar is often overlooked by allergy sufferers who are otherwise usually very adamant about checking their food.

4 – Do Some Digging For Safe Restaurants

I consider myself a “foodie” and wanted to explore new restaurants in Columbus when getting to college, but I had no clue where to start.

Apps like Spokin ( or Allergy Eats ( allow you to search allergy-friendly restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and ice cream parlors by city and state. Plug your new address into one of these useful apps and find some safe places for you to dine when you inevitably get sick of having campus food.

Happen to find an allergy-friendly place that isn’t listed on one of these sites? Do the allergy community a favor and leave a review on the app!

5 – Advocate For Yourself In Class

One of the most common issues that I ran into during my undergraduate years was other fellow students eating something I was allergic to next to me in a crowded lecture hall. College students are lazy, exhausted and stressed, so often times “lunch” is a granola bar during Psychology 101 class.

I have always joked with other food allergy friends about being hyper-vigilant in class, and quickly turning around in our chairs when we hear the crinkling of a food wrapper behind us. I found this problem to be particularly distracting and infringing on my learning, especially when I was more preoccupied with the snack bag of almonds to my right than with the professor lecturing in the front of the room.

Much like my experiences on airplanes, it is important to remember that speaking up and advocating for yourself is not selfish. You deserve to feel just as safe in class as everyone else does. If a simple “Hey, I’m super allergic. Do you mind saving that for later?” is what stands between you and earning a good grade in that course, then it is worth every word. Thankfully (but actually not so thankfully), the world has given me plenty of opportunities to practice this.

6 – Seek Out Food Allergy Clubs

Because food allergies are on the rise, you can find many allergy-friendly or related clubs springing up on college campuses across the nation. Having a community of food allergy sufferers that you can share dining hall recommendations, tips and other tricks off of each other that are specific to your university is a great resource to have when transitioning to college.

With 60,000+ students attending Ohio State, even though we did not have an allergy club on campus, I made significantly more connections with food allergy sufferers at school than I expected. All of these friendships proved to be really important in navigating my new surroundings in college.

Check out your school’s student involvement fair or office of student life to see which clubs and organizations they offer. Notice that your university doesn’t have an allergy club? Create one yourself!

7- Enjoy The Best Four Years Of Your Life!

Starting college is a fun and exciting time, and your time as a student will fly by – so enjoy it! Be smart, be safe, and remember to use these tips and tricks to make the most of your time in undergrad. Go bucks!

Always double check: How these simple reminders could have prevented my close calls

It’s better to be safe than sorry – and these two allergy-friendly movements are serving as simple reminders that empower people to speak up in order to avoid deadly consequences.

In August of 2019, the state of Illinois Senator, Dave Koehler, signed House Bill 3018 into law, making it safer for food allergy sufferers to dine-in at restaurants. The new legislation requires all restaurants in the state to have clear and visible signage that serves to remind patrons to notify their waiter/waitress about any allergies they have. The waiter is then responsible for notifying their supervisor and initiating their kitchen’s respective food allergy protocols.

Dave Koehler recognized the immediate need for this legislation after he experienced a life-threatening anaphylactic allergic reaction himself – one so severe that he was rushed to the hospital.

House Bill 3018 is a big step in the right direction for raising allergy awareness. Not only are restaurant employees better equipped to handle orders with allergy distinctions, but the required signage also serves as a clear reminder for all food allergy sufferers to always inform restaurant staff about their dietary restrictions.

You can see Koehler’s statement here or check out the bill status at

Not only is legislation being passed to remind allergy sufferers to always double check their food, the Chicago based company, Allerbands, is also encouraging people to speak up with their slogan and hashtag #alwaysdoublecheck.

With their brightly colored and fun alert bracelets, Allerbands is on a mission to encourage food allergy sufferers to be vigilant about keeping themselves safe. Allerbands founder, Pat McNamara, who has been sent to the emergency room several times himself, hopes this product serves as an extra layer of protection for food allergy sufferers, and a friendly reminder for them to always be double checking their food.

Especially for younger kids who might not fully understand the severity of their allergy diagnosis yet, wearing an Allerband at school, birthday party or anywhere else away from mom and dad can help remind them to always be asking if something is safe to eat.

Allerbands currently makes peanut and fish allergy alert bracelets, and has tree nut, wheat, soybean, egg and milk bracelets coming soon. And for every allerband that is sold, the company donates $1 to organizations raising awareness and doing research on food allergies.

Check out Allerbands at their website or on their instagram page and get yours today!

It can be easy to forget, but the simple mistake can severely cost you. As innocent or unsuspecting as a food item might be, it is crucial to always double check. I have two personal stories where doubling checking probably helped save my life…

  • A simple plate of pasta usually seems like a safe choice, so when ordering fettuccine alfredo at Carsonie’s Stromboli & Pizza Kitchen in Columbus, Ohio with a friend, I was not going to alert my waiter. However, in a split second after thought, I decided to ask him to inform the kitchen about my nut and shellfish allergies. Much to my surprise, I was notified that Carsonie’s alfredo sauce did in fact contain tree nuts. Doubling checking my seemingly innocent order saved me a trip to the hospital that night – and possibly even my life.
  • After growing sick of getting take-out from the same few places in college, I decided to try a burrito bowl from Moe’s Southwest Grill in Columbus, Ohio. After picking up my order and driving home (to an apartment where I lived alone) I had a bad gut feeling about taking the first bite of my meal. I decided to double check on Moe’s website and searched through the nutrition information for their allergy statements. While sitting at my kitchen table with my food unwrapped and ready to eat, I discovered that Moe’s Adobo chicken contained peanuts. If I would not have double checked my order online that night, I would have been home alone when I suffered an anaphylactic allergic reaction. ***(When checking back on Moe’s Southwest Grill’s website again while researching for this post, their chicken is no longer listed as containing nuts, but I am not willing to risk it.)

Because of these terrifying close calls, I have vowed to always double check when eating at a new restaurant – no matter how unsuspecting my meal is. Despite weird glances when asking if a plain cheese pizza is safe for me to eat, I always think back to these two instances and remember how important it is to speak up.

If I would have had the simple reminder required by HB 3018 visible on the restaurant menu, or glanced down at an Allerband on my wrist while ordering, I never would have been as close as I was to making a fatal mistake.

That little voice in the back of your head or the weird gut feeling in the pit of your stomach is always right – and you need to listen to it. Whether you are trying a new restaurant, having a meal at a friend’s house, or picking up a treat from the store, make sure you are in the habit of always double checking! It can save your life.

Why I’m here

Hi I’m Alyssa, and I’m creating the food allergy blog I wish I would have been able to follow while I was growing up. I am a 22 year old graduate student from Plymouth, Michigan and recently graduated from The Ohio State University. I am now pursing my masters in Counseling Psychology in Chicago, Illinois.

With a seemingly endless list of allergens that always served as my “fun fact” on the first day of school, I’ve decided to share my experiences, recommendations, tips and tricks with others managing severe food allergies too.

Having to avoid peanuts, treenuts, shellfish, chickpeas, raw eggs, raw tomatoes, apples, bananas, cantaloupe and honeydew has not been easy, but I haven’t allowed my allergies to restrict me from trying new and fun restaurants, eating fancy desserts, flying commercial airlines, traveling across country or living my life normally.

Whether it’s you or a loved one managing food allergies, I hope you find this blog helpful for restaurant recommendations, traveling hacks, allergy-friendly brand suggestions, and a place to share stories to keep each other safe.

Thanks for tuning in!