Allergy Friendly Halloween Treats – 15 Ideas


With Halloween less than a week away, allergy friendly halloween treats have been on my mind. Being on a special diet myself, I’m conscientious of the kiddos and their diet restrictions as well. In fact, two out of my three nephews have allergies / food intolerances. One of them is severely allergic to nuts, while the other is on a gluten and diary free diet.

Halloween is often a stressful time for them, because they know that they won’t be able to eat most, if not all, of their halloween candy. My one nephew even opted out of trick or treating last year because of this fact. That was so sad to watch. I can’t imagine not going trick-or-treating as a child. It was the best holiday! You got to dress up AND get treats! AMAZING!!

There has to be a better way for kids with food allergies and, it turns out, there is.

The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in the US noticed the same problem and launched The Teal Pumpkin Project. It helps trick-or-treaters identify homes that are handing out allergy friendly Halloween treats. Homes willing to participate and hand out allergy friendly Halloween treats are asked to place a teal pumpkin in front of their doors. This way, kids know which homes are offering allergy friendly treats. It’s a great way to allow all trick-or-treaters to feel included in the festivities, have fun and, more importantly, stay safe

Trying to find allergy friendly halloween treats that are food-based is tricky. The main allergens are nuts, milk, soy, eggs, wheat, fish and shellfish (note that this is not an exhaustive list).

Rather than try to find candies that are free of allergens, a better and quicker alternative is taking a run to your nearest dollar store and picking up non-food treats. Here are some ideas for non-food based Halloween treats.

Allergy Friendly Halloween Treats

  1. Cool pencils
  2. Cool erasers
  3. Playing cards
  4. Glow sticks
  5. Slime
  6. Play dough
  7. Bubbles
  8. Chalk
  9. Markers
  10. Crayons
  11. Notebooks
  12. Yo-yos
  13. Whistles
  14. Kid jewellery
  15. Stickers

Or whatever else you find at the dollar store that you think kids will love!

Any other ideas? Share them in the comments below 🙂



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Proper Poop Posture!

Irfan’s dad sent a link about the Squatty Potty – this is awesome! I tried doing this with a stool and let me tell you….pooping time was fabulous. Easy, quick, and minimal struggle – try it out for yourself!

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Bulk Barn is cool!

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I like Bulk Barn. It’s a fabulous place for those people who are gluten free and not afraid of experimenting in the kitchen. Such a range of grains and flowers – the possibilities are endless!

It’s also most often a cheaper alternative to buying packaged gluten free flours from Wholefoods or other organic grocery stores. It is for this reason that I buy most of my grains, flours, nuts, seeds, and beans from Bulk Barn.

I recently read an article on the dangers of genetically modified (GMO) foods and although I almost eat nothing processed and base my diet on whole foods, I wondered if the products I was buying from Bulk Barn were GMO. Some of their products do in fact indicate that they are NOT GMO but the bulk (tehehehe, BULK) of them don’t say anything. I contacted them and asked them if they could give me a list of their products that are GMO, if any. They said that this would be too cumbersome as they had tons of suppliers all over the world. I then asked them if I could send them a list of specific products to look into – products that I usually buy from there. They agreed and have gotten back to me on some of the items I inquired about.

Here is a list of products that are NOT genetically modified from Bulk Barn:

Potato starch
Tapioca flour
Arrowroot flour
Dark buckwheat flour
Brown rice flour
Soya beans
Black turtle beans
Adzuki beans
Rolled oats large flakes
Oat bran cereal
Sultana raisins
Large prunes pits removed
Pinto beans
Black-eyed cow peas
Ground flax seed
Dark brown sugar
Hulled sesame seeds raw
Oat flour
123-dry roasted salted cashew pieces (be careful with the cashews, see below)
125-dry roasted unsalted cashew pieces (be careful with the cashews, see below)

Here is a list of products they are still looking into:

Goji berries
Grade A wild rice
Cocoa powder ruddy red
Cocoa powder
Kasha whole toasted buckwheat
Amaranth non-packaged

Here is a list of products that ARE GMO:

111-cashew pieces roasted & salted
112-jumbo cashews roasted & salted
113-cashews roasted & salted
114-unsalted cashews
115-unsaled cashew pieces

I will keep you all updated with regard to my list. I recommend that you too contact Bulk Barn with your own list – knowledge is power, people!

Happy Bulk Barn shopping 🙂

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Happygut in Chisinau!

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I’m not going to lie, I had pretty low expectations of Chisinau in terms of food. The thought of getting happygut eats seemed almost impossible. It was for this reason that I was nothing less than stunned when we discovered Caravan, an Uzbek restaurant a 10 minute walk from our hotel!

First of all, the ambiance was just fabulous!

And, although there weren’t TOO many options on the menu, the restaurant was willing to personalize dishes for us!

I had a salad (of course!) to start, followed by salmon and rice for the main course.

There were very few veggie options for Irfan and so the chef made Japanese soup just for him. Who would have ever thought you could get Japanese soup at an Uzbek restaurant in Moldova? The world is small my friends…..

He also ordered a side of delicious roasted vegetables

We actually went to Caravan twice during out 4 day stay in Chisinau! I ordered the trout the second time which was just succulent! If you ever find yourself in Chisinau my friends, make sure to check out this place for a happygut eat 🙂

Although, not totally happgut related, I also need to point out just how awesome our hotel stay was. We stayed at the charming Art Rustic, a quaint hotel with family friendly B&B feel. The staff was excellent with the best customer service we experienced the whole trip! Breakfast was included in the price (which was only 65 Euros per night!) and when I mentioned my dietary restrictions, they custom made me oatmeal with fruits and granola and brought it to my room! It was amazing! Thank you Art Rustic, you made made our stay incredibly pleasant 🙂

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Happygut in Berlin!

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We had two very equally fabulous meals in Berlin. One was super expensive with mediocre service, the other was super cheap with amazing service. We justify the first expensive meal because it was my birthday! Happy birthday to me!

We went to La Mano Verde for my birthday meal. It is a vegan restaurant with plenty of raw choices. The meal was so expensive and delicious that we decided to take our sweet time eating – we had a 4 hour dinner folks!


Irfan ordered the Lime-Almond-Gazpacho soup with avocado, chilli and coconut. It was pretty darn good.

Jemila got the Ravioli Rouge & Blanc with chioggia beetroot ravioli made with cedar nut cream on a bed of fennel, apple and horseradish salad. It was alright. Not incredibly flavourful but an amazing presentation.

Our friend Chris, who we stayed with Berlin, opted for the Quiche Mano Verde made with fennel, mushrooms, pine nut cream and a Kalamata olive and thyme crust. It was quite tasty.

I ordered the safe Garden Fresh Mixed Salad with nuts and seeds and olive oil. It was a good, predictable salad.

Main Course

Irfan ordered the BBQ Seitan Steak served on grilled eggplant and a nut sauce. Irfan liked its crispy texture but thought it was a bit too dry.

Jemila ordered Cappelletti del Autunno home made ravioli filled with pumpkin and chestnuts, served with a sage and blue poppy seeds glaze, topped with home made nut Parmesan. It looked delicious but tasted a little bit bland.

Chris ordered the Mille-Feuille Lasagne with seasonal vegetable layers, bell pepper & cashew nut antipasti. It was good, although we had higher expectations based on its appearance.

I ordered the Risotto Melange de Champignons with arborio rice, mixed mushrooms, herb pesto and a white wine sauce. It was yummy although a tad too sweet for a main course in my opinion.


Jemila had the Apricot Cheesecake with berry sauce and lemon zest. It was delicious.

Irfan ordered the Golden Orange Creme Brulee with ginger, lemongrass, served with candied kumquats and fresh fruits. Although it looked like creme brulee, it tasted more like a custard.

Chris ordered the Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake topped with hot chocolate sauce. Although this beauty was NOT gluten-free it was sooo delicious (yes, I cheated on my birthday! so sue me already :P).

I ordered the Cheese Cake Mano Verde with mango cashew and lime, served with a berry coulis. It was really good.

If you’re a raw foodie with deep pockets, I would definitely recommend this place. If you are like the rest of us who are a bit more thrifty, I would pass.


Our second happygut eat in Berlin was Bejte Ethiopia, a hidden gem by Berlin’s red light district.

We ordered the veggie platter which was soooo delicious! It was hands-down the best meal on the trip. The food was bursting with flavour, the price was right and the service was excellent. The ambiance was festive and the environment was so warm and friendly. And, even though the place was packed the owner still made a point to personally take our order. If that wasn’t good enough, there was even complimentary tea and fresh popcorn! We loved this place! Please do make sure to check out Bejte Ethiopia if you are ever in Berlin!

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Happygut in Zagreb!

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I ate a lot of salads in Zagreb. Europeans love their inflammatory gluten-filled pastries and so I didn’t have many options eating out.

Me being unimpressed with what seems like my 78th salad in Zagreb while Irfan and Darjan have pizza 🙁

So let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised when we were able to find Delizie Libanesi, a Lebanese restaurant. The meal was delicious! We were starving and so we ordered a ridiculous amount of food and, to our surprise, finished it all! Unfortunately, I think we were too hungry to remember to take pictures of all the dishes. We managed to take a couple of shot of our appys though, here they are!

Irfan ordered a red pepper hummus which was de-lish!

Darjan ordered a traditional Lebanese dish with herbs and rice.

I ordered a flavourful lentil soup with tandoori chicken and rice (maybe not sooo happygut friendly but I was so sick of salads man!).

Hence, Delizie Libanesi was a good option in a place with few options. The waitress was super happy and bouncy, which was an added bonus. Worth an eat if you’re ever in Zagreb!

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Happygut in Malta!

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We were lucky enough to stay with Vijay Uncle, Irfan’s close family friend, in his apartment in Marsascala, Malta. He really downplayed his place. We were expecting a small flat. That’s all, we had no expectations beyond that. Needless to say, our jaw dropped when we entered this huge gorgeous flat with a beautiful view of the sea. Someone pinch me, I get to live here for a whole week?! Hollaaaa 🙂

Vijay Uncle repeatedly insisted that we check out the restaurant just below his flat, Zonqor Point. We waited until our last night there to finally check it out and I wished we had discovered it sooner! The service was amazing and the food absolutely delectable.

Jemila and I had the red snapper which was caught the very same day! It was cooked to perfection with garlic and dill. The owner, Jason, made it a point to visit each of his customers personally to ensure that they were properly cared for. Make sure to check this place out if you are ever in Malta!

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Happygut in Amsterdam!

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After London, Irfan went to Amsterdam while I went straight to Malta. He raved so much about this Terra Zen Vegan Cafe that I decided it was a must-blog.

He loved the down-to-earth-homey-family feel. The owner’s toddler son was running around with a water gun while his 10-year-old daughter helped with taking orders.

Irfan had the vegan burger plate with avocado on the side and ginger tea.

When the dessert that Irfan wanted from the menu was no longer available, the owner said he did have another cake in the back that wasn’t on the menu. “What kind of cake,” Irfan asked. “A cake made with the best flours, filled with nuts seeds and banana. I call it the Survivor Cake,” the owner answered. “Why is it a survivor cake?” asked Irfan. The owner smiled and stated, “It’s for me, because I’m surviving.” Irfan loved the cake. It even came with the “special sauce” made from heating chocolate soy milk with cane sugar.

The owner is loved dearly by his customers. One of the customers came up to Irfan’s table and said that he has been in Amsterdam for 30 years and has been waiting for neighbours like these and had found a family here. He says he comes there every day for a meal! Bravo Terra Zen Cafe, you take “family restaurant” to a whole new level 😉

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Happygut in London!

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Although, I must admit that I am incredibly envious of the British accent (omigodness, me and my sister-in-law Jemila had WAY too much fun trying to speak with the accent while we were there, they should never allow us into their country again), London is NOT my favourite place on earth. It’s grey and rainy and cold. The English also tend to be, as my friend Darjan (who lived in London for 15 years) so eloquently noted, “emotionally constipated”. Now, this is probably an unfair stereotype and I apologize to all the Brits out there who are emotionally regular (get it?! like regular bowels? bahahahaha!) but we all have live with stereotypes. Some are true (e.g. Canadians love to say “I’m sorry”), some not so true (we pronounce about “aboot”, I have never heard anyone say “aboot” ever, in my whole life).

As usual, I’m getting off track. Back to London and happygut food. So, I wasn’t SUPER excited to be in London but the city quickly redeemed itself whenever I discovered this little gem the first day we arrived!

Luscious Organic is a quaint cafe with superb service!

The food was excellent! I had a delicious coconut lentil soup for dinner the day we arrived and muesli with fresh ginger tea for breakfast the next day.

They even had a selection of gluten-free vegan cupcakes!

Do check out Luscious Organic if you are ever in London!

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Take that inflammation!

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I have recently discovered Dr. Mark Hyman’s blog. He’s awesome. He is another MD who gets it! He treats the causes and NOT the symptoms. I sort of have a crush, I’m not going to lie (sorry Irfan 😉 ).

Anywho, my sister-in-law Jemila (shout out to J-Spot!!) asked me to do a post on what inflammation is and it’s possible signs. Dr. Hyman’s discusses this at link in his blog so I figured I’d reference the expert.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s immune response to injury or infection causing pain, redness, heat, and swelling in the affected area. Everyone who has had a sore throat, a rash, hives, or a sprained ankle knows about inflammation. Those are normal appropriate responses of our defense system to infection or trauma. We need inflammation to survive.

The trouble occurs when that defense system runs out of control, like a rebel army bent on destroying its own country. Most people are familiar with overactive immune responses and too much inflammation in common conditions like allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disease or asthma. But few people know that hidden inflammation run amok is at the root of all chronic illness: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, depression, cancer and even austism.

The real concern is not our acute response to injury, infection or insult, but the chronic smoldering inflammation that slowly destroys our organs, our ability for optimal functioning and leads to rapid aging. We may feel healthy, but if this inflammation is raging inside of us, then we have a problem.

“As many people die from taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen as die every year from asthma or leukemia. Stopping the use of these drugs would be the equivalent to finding a cure for both.”

Common treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen or aspirin), or steroids like prednisone, though often useful for acute problems, interfere with the body’s own immune response and lead inevitably to serious and deadly side effects. As many people die from taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen as die every year from asthma or leukemia. Stopping the use of these drugs would be the equivalent to finding a cure for both.

So what is the best way to control inflammation while we’re still upstream? First, identify the triggers and causes of inflammation, and then help the body’s natural immune balance reset by providing the right conditions for it to thrive.

What causes inflammation?

If inflammation and immune imbalances are at the root of most of modern disease, how do we find the causes and get the body back in balance? Thankfully the list of things that cause inflammation is relatively short:

  • Poor diet: mostly sugar, refined flours, processed food and inflammatory fats such as trans and saturated fats
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Hidden or chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, yeasts or parasites
  • Hidden allergens from food or the environment
  • Toxins such as mercury and pesticides
  • Mold toxins and allergens

Inflammatory factors are unique to each person, various lifestyle, environment or infectious factors spin the immune system out of control leading to a host of chronic illnesses.

It is important to understand this concept of inflammation is not specific to any one organ or medical specialty. In fact, if you read a medical journal from any of the specialties you will find endless articles about how inflammation is at the root of the problem.

Dr. Hyman discusses the problem with mainstream medicine and the lack of communication between specialties. Everyone is treating the downstream effects of inflammation, instead of addressing the cause: multiple problems that are really linked together by inflammation. He gives an example of one of his patients.

“Take for example, a man who came to see me because he wanted to climb a mountain and asked for my help to get healthy. He was 57-years old and on about 15 medications for about five different inflammatory conditions including high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, colitis, reflux, asthma, and an autoimmune disease of his hair follicles called alopecia.

I asked him how he felt and he said great. I said, I am surprised because I see you are on so many medications. Yes, he said, but everything was very well controlled with the latest medication given by the top specialists he saw in every field: the lung doctor for his asthma, the gastroenterologist for his colitis and reflux, the cardiologist for his high blood pressure, the endocrinologist for his pre-diabetes, and the dermatologist for his hair loss.

I asked him with all these top specialists he saw, did anyone ask him why he had five different inflammatory diseases and why his immune system was so pissed off. Was it just bad luck that he “got” all these diseases or was there something connecting all these problems? He looked puzzled and said no.

I then searched for and found the cause of his problems: gluten. He had celiac disease, an autoimmune disease related to eating gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and oats.

Six months later he came back twenty-five pounds lighter. He had regular blood pressure, no asthma, no reflux and no more colitis. He said he was having normal bowel movements for the first time in his life. And even his hair was growing back. He was off of nearly all his medications.”

7 ways to avoiding inflammation

Dr. Hyman’s recommendations:

  1. Eat a whole foods, high fiber, plant-based diet which is inherently anti-inflammatory. That means unprocessed, unrefined, real food and high in powerful anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients. Nothing full of sugar or trans fats.
  2. Get an oil change. Eat healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, avocados and omega 3 fats from small fish like sardines, herring, sable, and wild salmon.
  3. Exercise. Do I need to say more?
  4. Learn to actively relax to engage your vagus nerve, the powerful nerve that relaxes your whole body and lowers inflammation, by doing yoga, meditation, deep breathing or even taking a hot bath.
  5. If you have food allergies, find out what they are and stop eating them.
  6. Take probiotics (“good bacteria”) daily to help your digestion to improve the healthy bacteria in your gut which reduces inflammation. (Look for those that contain 10 billion CFU of bifidobacteria species and lactobacillus species. Choose from reputable brands.)
  7. Take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement which helps reduce inflammation.

Taking a comprehensive approach to inflammation and balancing your immune system will help address one of the most important systems of the body.


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