foodie with food allergies


LiveLoveManja attends Napa Valley’s 1st Food, Wine, & Music Festival: BottleRock

LiveLoveManja Creator, Ashley Nicolei attended Napa Valley’s first annual food & wine & music festival, BottleRock.

As a foodie with severe food allergies, Ashley imagined this would be an interesting experience (she often becomes a tree nut allergy guinea pig). But to her pleasant surprise Napa was on the top of their game when it came to providing a variety of dishes that are able to accommodate some of the Top 8 Food Allergies. Stellar!
- gluten free options
- tree nut free options
- dairy free options
- vegetarian and vegan options

Pictured above is Ashley Nicolei with her dear friend, in the production lot. They met a few cool cats who had a low rider motorcycle and could not resist a photo opp.

To the right of the first image is the band Flaming Lips playing on the Citi Bank Stage. A true lightshow. Colors and stage set reminiscent of the Beetles.

The main picture is the festival before gates opened to the public. Morning set up was being secured. The Black Keys would be playing on this stage this evening, as well as Jane’s Addiction and Kings of Leon.

Bottom left image is Ashley Nicolei and new friends from MTV she made at the Lost Angel Wine Tasting Tent. One being from LA and the other two from San Francisco, the group bonded instantly.

Bottom Right Image is a private after festival jam sesh, where the classics are making music and art together. Drinks and appetizers were served as the guests kicked back and relaxed, while the artists shined in their element. The perfect end to a relaxing and eccentric weekend.

Very grateful we were able to attend.


Foodie with a Food Allergy?
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I remember as a kid we were pretty much banned from bringing peanuts or any peanut product to school on account of one or more kids who had a severe allergy to them. As far as I knew back then, they could literally die if they even smelled it! Over the years it was common to hear people say they’re allergic to peanuts, shellfish, or had some type of intolerance, such as to lactose or gluten.


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BLOG LOVE @ First Site: The Tender Foodie

I fell in love, with what I would like to refer to as my sister blog (not mine, just similar in the soul intent) with approach to food allergies, sensitivities, and navigating through this maze called life.

What TENDER FOODIE refers to as a “chef tip” … the top 10 things gluten, soy, & MSG may be hiding in during the Holidays (we know you’re not eating your regular meal plan, we all got to live a little) but do so right without triggering your allergies.

  1. Swedish Meatballs (breadcrumbs and flour)
  2. The Meat & Cheese Platter (many meats in pre made platters contain artificial flavors that contain gluten and MSG)
  3. Candied Nuts (often contain maltose, which is from barley and not gluten free)
  4. Blood Marys (mix is not gluten free)
  5. Bacon Wrapped Little Smokies (sausages contain gluten & soy)
  6. Cheese Flavored Popcorn (contains gluten sometimes, always MSG which is gluten derived)
  7. Fudge (unless you make it yourself, doubt it is gluten free, stay away)
  8. Candy Canes (most are free of gluten and dairy, some contain gluten)
  9. Eggnog (contains nutmeg and gluten, eggs, and wheat flour as thickener)
  10. Dip on the Veggie Platter (contains gluten and other cross processed allergens when other people dip things, better to just bring your own with you)

Live. Be Well. Manja!

My daughter has food allergies. I have always had to make her lunch everyday for school. Going along with the law, schools are not allowed to warm up her food at all. This means I have the challenge of making sure her lunch is fresh 4-5 hours after making it. Needless to say, we do sandwiches a lot. Giving her a sandwich for dinner as well is sinful and would probably make me a horrible mom. My creativity comes alive at dinner time. From simple to weird, I’ve tried it. This one was delicious. Turkey sausage over lettuce with carrots and a homemade Italian Vinaigrette.

Adding New Meaning to the phrase "Drink Responsibly"

Alcohol for People with Severe Food Allergies

People with severe food allergies, intolerances, and other diet restrictions not only need to be careful about what and where they eat out, but also what they drink. Food allergens and triggers may be hiding in your cocktail glass or happy hour.

Below, I want to call attention to some common misconceptions (or over looks) that can cause symptoms as small as minor discomfort to as large as a visit to the emergency room.

Drink abc’s (according to the American Dietetic Association):

Note: Always check with server about shakers and what else has been processed in shaker prior to ordering. If necessary, request a new (clean) shaker be used.

Also, Benadryl and alcohol reacts badly together so please use good judgement and go directly to the hospital if you think you may be having an allergic reaction.

  • Gin (made from flowers,contains almonds and other nuts)
  • Whiskey (contains barley, malted and non-malted, gluten)
  • Wines, Sake, Brandies (safe for Celiacs disease)
  • Sake (made from rice, some made from Koji which is a mold/fermented)
  • Beer (often contains wheat, gluten, and sulfites)
  • Beer & Ales (tree nuts in most)
  • Wine (contains sulfites, high histamines)
  • Almond Champagne (contains almond oil)
  • Mixers & Cocktails (often contain milk)
  • Malibu Rum (contains coconut)
  • Amaretto (contains almonds)
  • Frangelico (hazelnuts)
  • Maraschino Cherries (contain almonds)



Palacio , Los Gatos - Review Rave

115 N Santa Cruz Ave 

Los Gatos, CA 95030 

(408) 402-3811

Make a Reservation with Open Table

View Hours of Operation here

View Menu here

Palacio (Los Gatos Location) is a great choice for tapas, margaritas, happy hour, or a swanky dinner.

Unique Latin Cusine, the menu features combos unique to the tongue and is not what you would expect when thinking “mexican” food. Sweet, tangy, spicy, and bold. Definitely a place to check out.  

The location is what the locals know as the former “chart-house”.

Manja Notes:

Personally, I go for happy hour (the margaritas are FANTASTIC) and tapas. My favorite to order tapas (small plates) are the following …

  • ceviche (ceviche de pescado)
  • chips and salsa, guacamole
  • tortilla soup with pulled chicken and avocado
  • watermelon margarita (sandia-rita)

** Please always inform server of allergies before ordering. I haven’t had a problem ordering the items above, but it can always change last minute so please remember to notify.

** Please note that there are some pecans in salads, so if you are extra sensitive to cross processing (or have had an allergic reaction in the last 3 months) I’d recommend holding off until your immune system recovers (due to high histamine levels after recent allergic reactions)


Dairy Free February - Join Me!

Inspired by Elissa Goodman (certified holistic nutritionist) LIVELOVEMANJA has decided to host a Dairy Free February Challenge. Eliminating dairy allows the body a digestive rest and cleanse from toxins (animal based saturated fats, dairy sugar, additives) and results in glowing skin and a happy gut. Why not give it a try?

Plant based diets and vegan diets are all the hype right now in nutrition and dietetics - now known to promote healthy skin and reverse many dermatology problems and hormone issues.

For the month of February LIVELOVEMANJA will be paying special attention to dairy free products, recipes, dishes, and reviews. Look here for hot spots and yummy tips. You won’t be sorry and your pre spring kini body will thank you.


Foodie w/ Food Allergy Eat Out Tip: Foreign Cuisine & Hidden Oils

Hello Foodies! 

When dining out as a foodie with a food allergy (especially to tree nuts and peanuts) it is very important to avoid these types of foreign cuisine and restaurants that serve this type of cuisine/flavors on the menu due to the oils that are used in the cooking (almond, sesame, peanut). Many people that are allergic to sesame & seeds can also be allergic to cardamon and curries.

  1. French Cuisine (almond oil)
  2. Thai Cuisine (peanut oil, fish oil)
  3. Indian Cuisine (tree nut allergies, cashew oil, seed allergies, curry allergies)
  4. American Bistro Cuisine (often cross processed with a few allergens, especially walnuts and almonds in salads)
  5. Mexican Food (corn allergies, peanut oil)
  6. Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Food (peanut, macadamia nut)

As always, when dining out with food allergies, please remember to read the menu carefully (sometimes allergen notes are noted at the bottom or back of menu in fine print from the kitchen). Also, please remember to inform your server and chef before ordering.

Would you eat Biotech Fish?

The FDA just approved genetically altered Salmon. Genetically Altered fish will not be labeled accordingly, so it will keep consumers in the dark about where the fish is exactly coming from.

To meet demand - cost effective wise, this may make sense. HOWEVER, when we alter the protein of a food we eat, our bodies can distinguish that there is a slight change and may reject the protein as foreign. If this awareness light goes off, the body will also reject the food’s natural form, because it cannot distinguish between the fake and the genuine anymore. This could be a BIG link to why food allergies are on the rise for adults (rapid onset, not genetic). Rapid onset food allergies is usually a result of being exposed to pesticides, chemicals, and GMOs.


Bay Area Foodie Events: San Jose Jazz Festival August 9th-11th

San Jose Jazz Festival THIS WEEKEND

LiveLoveManja would love to attend this savvy, musical, culture rich, food and family, fun event in the South Bay’s very own San Jose. We will be in Tahoe this weekend for a wedding.

The event was referred to us by public relations Manja Contact, based in the bay area. She put together a LinkedIn Group that informs Manja and other followers of local events.

Definately worth attending! Check out the Jazz Fest Website for tickets, sponsors, promo videos, and more. Manja!

About the Event:

Started in 1990 as the San Jose Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Summer Fest has become one of the most popular music festivals in the West. What began as one small stage focusing on fusion and straight-ahead jazz has grown into a 12-stage, 3-day extravaganza featuring a wide range of international stars, emerging artists and regional favorites playing straight-ahead jazz, blues, salsa, Latin, R&B, and more.

The festival is powered by San Jose Jazz, a region-wide, 25 year-old non-profit organization that enriches our community through education and performance. San Jose Jazz provides music education programs that have helped more than 65,000 gifted and underserved youth in the last decade. The organization presents 160+ free concerts per year, and other concerts and series including Winter Fest. Learn more at


Sambazon: Nourish Like the Brazilians do with Acai

Sambazon Acai Juice is perfect to blend into smoothies, with oatmeal, to create a Sambazon Acai Bowl, and to drink alone. The opportunities are endless when it comes to enjoying the Brazilian famed energy booster and antioxidants.

Manja Review:

Manja absolutely loves Sambazon Acai classic. The taste is smooth, rich, and somehow creamy. The flavor of acai is a cross between blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry with a hint of tartness.

Manja enjoys blending with ice, chocolate protein powder, cacao/maca powder, and chia seeds or hemp seeds. Nothing like a power breakfast to start the day off right.

Truly ideal for those who work a lot or commute a lot and don’t have much time to prepare a solid complete meal but still wish to eat clean. Stick your power smoothie in a thermos or protein shake bottle and enjoy on your way to work or the gym.

The value packs are available at Costcos, should you have a Costco Membership. It is friendly on the wallet too.

Manja highly recommends Acai for a breakfast staple. As always, please read all labels and allergen statements before consuming, as they can change at any time.



Hotel Erwin & High Rooftop Lounge in Venice, CA



To view Hotel Erwin Services and Accommodations go here:

To view their Menu go here:

Thinking of a Spring Break Destination in Southern California? Whether you are a native to SoCal or an out of towner, you are bound to enjoy this Venice gem.

Manja is a fan of Venice based Hotel Erwin and its High Rooftop Lounge. Last visited July 2012, Hotel Erwin is hip, fresh, and just as funky as the vibe of Venice. Decor and theme is surfer, with a simplistic and modern edge.

Hotel Staff are informative, helpful, and prompt. They are compassionate to people with food allergies and will assist you as best they can.

High Rooftop Lounge is a must destination. Located on the top of Hotel Erwin, the Lounge boasts beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and of Venice. Enjoy a romantic sunset as you relax and snack on small plates from the grill and sip on innovative cocktails. Because some of the dishes do contain tree nuts, please discuss with your server your food allergies and prep needs before ordering.

LiveLoveManja Creator, Ashley Nicolei, stayed at the hotel over the 4th of July and was able to watch the colorful fireworks from the rooftop.

For those who love surf, sun, sand , and the true essence of laid back California, Manja highly recommends.


Live in San Francisco and have severe food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities? A restricted diet? And wondering where is safe to eat?

Not to fear MANJA is here! Ashley Nicolei is a featured Oomea critic. 

Click here to read reviews and to be in the know. No longer will you have to skip out on dates, birthdays, and company dinners. Be empowered.


Evolution Juices are nutritious and delicious. It’s a great option for people on the go with active and fast paced lifestyles, who want in on the juicing craze but don’t have the time to juice at home (or travel a lot due to work).

The juices are made in a facility that handles tree nuts and milk so if you have a severe allergy to either, I do not recommend this label for you. Even though the product itself does not contain treenuts nor dairy, it is cross processed and this could trigger a reaction.

According to the allergen notes on the ingredient list of the product, this product is safe for fish allergies, corn allergies, and gluten allergies.



DeLaRosa: SF Roman Style Pizza & Antipasti

Review Rave …

Best Antipasti Bread

Best Thin Crust Roman Style Pizza (any)

Best Polenta outside of my Noni’s kitchen

Always great service, late hours (serve food until 12 midnight and 1am some nights), trendy and hip in the marina area. Talk of the town. Sexy, tasty, fantastic food and cocktails too (the restaurant would probably be successful even if they didn’t serve food). Hot crowd. Great menu. Great ambiance. Manja!

For Lunch & Dinner Menu click here

About DeLaRosa …

From the team that brought you Beretta, Adriano Paganini, Deborah Blum and chef Ruggero Gadaldi, Delarosa features Roman style pizzas, seasonal antipasti, salads, panini, pasta, entrees, desserts and artisanal beer, wine and cocktails.


Delarosa is open for dining from 11:30 a.m. - 1 a.m. 

Brunch served from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sat/Sun

/ Contact Info & Reservations /

phone: 415.673.7100

fax:  415.673.7200  



Sunday Brunch by the Bay

Hours: Sundays 11am – 2pm

Eclectic A La Carte menu

$12 Bottomless Mimosas

Speciality Morning Cocktails & Brunch Menu

Just found out one of my favorite fine restaurants that has an a la carte - tapa style menu is not only located in Los Angeles (Beverly Hills & Venice) but also SAN FRANCISCO!!! Bi-Cali (So Cal & Nor Cal) is the new “bi-coastal”.

FOODIE by the bay! So ecstatic. Me and my girls will be brunchin.