Traveling with Food Allergies

Did you know that Belgravia Bed & Breakfast is the only accommodation in Nova Scotia that advertises as “Peanut & Tree nut Free”?

This came about after our youngest daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies when she was just ten months old. Initially her list of allergies was long: peanuts,  tree nuts, eggs, soy, dairy, cinnamon, banana, avocado, kiwi, strawberries, celery, citrus, pineapple, blueberries, grapes, melon… The only fruits she could have were canned peaches, pears and applesauce. It was overwhelming at first and we had to learn a whole new way of cooking and baking. Luckily, our baking was mostly homemade due to the quality of breakfast we provide at our bed & breakfast anyway, so we just had to modify some recipes, not learn how to bake from scratch…

Traveling still makes us nervous, but we know she can’t live in a bubble either. We are fortunate that she has outgrown most of her allergies and is left with *only* peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and soy – all of which result in anaphylaxis and, as per her most recent blood work, appear to be life-long. At home, accommodating these allergies has become second nature. She can be around eggs as long as they don’t touch her and she doesn’t ingest them, so we use a separate spatula for cooking eggs for our guests than we do when flipping egg-free pancakes for her. She has her own separate washcloths so that we don’t accidentally wipe her hands or face with a cloth that has wiped up egg. (Learned that one the hard way!) We also ask our guests to refrain from bringing peanut or nut products into our home. (Learned that one the hard way too!)

Showing off her 16 pokes after her allergy tests – 14 skin pricks, blood work and her MMR immunization (grown on egg, so her allergist administers that one and watches her afterwards for reaction)..

When we travel, we tend to take a lot of our own food with us, so that we know there will be something safe for her to eat. We tend to dine at restaurants where we know they take allergies seriously. Did you know that Boston Pizza and The Keg keep allergy binders with all ingredients for the recipes included? Each will wipe down all surfaces and change all cutting boards & utensils when they know they are preparing a meal for a guest with allergies? For our daughter’s particular mix of allergens, McDonald’s french fries and a burger without the bun are “safe”! Regardless, she does not leave our house without carrying her two epipens – just in case! All six of us are trained to use it in an emergency.

Here at the Belgravia, we “get” food allergies and do our best to accommodate any type we can, with notice. We’ll make room in our fridge and freezer for your own special food/ice packs. We will also tailor the  breakfast we serve to accommodate your needs.  One dietary restriction that affects more and more people is the need to be gluten-free and we can accommodate that too!

One of our favourite gluten-free recipes is for Buttermilk Apple Cake, passed along to us by former guests, the owners of Valley Flax Flour.

  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 cups Buttermilk (we’ve also soured rice milk successfully)
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 cup Flax Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 medium Apples, cored & chopped
  1. Lightly grease and flour (gluten-free, of course!) a 2L baking or Bundt pan
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and buttermilk.
  3. Combine rice flour, flax flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add apples to wet ingredients; mix until combined.
  4. Spread batter evenly in the pan.
  5. Bake in an oven preheated to 350*F for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan before removing and cutting into 12 servings.

Traveling is stressful enough, without worrying that you are going to end up sick or having to spend time hospital – or heaven forbid – worse, because of something you ate. Here, we will do our best to keep you safe!

If only it would be this easy when she becomes a teenager…

D’Arcy’s Blueberry Lemon Muffins

It’s no secret around here that D’Arcy is the one who does all the baking –  He’s affectionately known as “The Muffin Man” by some.  We often get requests for his recipes and are always happy to share!  This week, he was asked for his lemon-blueberry muffin recipe, so we decided to share it here as well.  We hope you enjoy!

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 TBSP baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Rind of 1 lemon

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

To make muffins:  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & lemon rind in large bowl.  Beat egg in medium bowl; add milk and butter.  Add egg mixture to dry ingredients.  Stir until just mixed. (Batter will be lumpy.)  Stir in blueberries.  Fill muffin pans 2/3 full; bake at 375*F (190*C) for 20 minutes.

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

We had a fantastic blueberry season this year, and overnight blueberry french toast became a new favourite among our guests.  Because we’ve had a couple of emails asking for the recipe, I thought I would post it here!  This recipe’s yield is four servings, but it easily doubles or triples for more servings.  You can use any berries or fruit in season with a corresponding flavored syrup if you don’t have blueberries.

4 cups French bread cubes

4 oz. cream cheese, cubed

2 cups fresh blueberries

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup. maple syrup

blueberry syrup

  • Place bread & cheese cubes in a lightly greased 9″ (23cm) square baking pan.  Layer berries over top.
  • In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk, cinnamon and maple syrup; pour over berries.  Refrigerate overnight.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 375*F (190*C) for 45 minutes, or until egg mixture is set.
  • Serve warm with blueberry syrup.