Hilary Parker | 10/21/2020 | Family Fun, Food & Hidden Gems, Restaurants, Savor - Food & Fun |   

Kids with special dietary needs? Check out these Bellingham eateries

If anyone in your family has special dietary restrictions, you know it can be challenging to find restaurants that can accommodate gluten-free, dairy-free or whatever “free” you’re seeking. Fortunately, there are Bellingham eateries that are up to the challenge.

A little over a year ago, my daughter learned she has food sensitivities to sugar and dairy. All of a sudden cheeseburgers and milkshakes were off the list of dining options. The go-to cake and ice cream for celebrating birthdays became a desperate search for alternatives. We already had a good handle on cooking at home, and we stepped up our game and learned a few new tricks to accommodate her dietary restrictions. 

So here, I offer you a few places we’ve discovered to be good bets. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few favorites to get you started if you, too, are looking for eateries friendly to special dietary needs.

Pizza time - Gluten-free, Dairy-free

One thing my family can almost always agree on is pizza, especially since there are so many variations on the theme – meat lovers, vegetarian, omnivore – you can find a pizza that fits your tastes. But being vegan or having other reasons not to eat cheese makes pizza a little less adaptable. Fortunately, La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza offers a plant-based cheese substitute that solves that conundrum. (Even the cheese-loving brother in our family is good with the dairy-free alternative at La Fiamma.) A gluten-free crust is also available. 

Another option is Mod Pizza. Mod’s build-your-own model is ultimately customizable, and it, too, offers a plant-based cheese. La Fiamma is offering pizza to go plus outdoor dining; Mod is offering take out as well.

Vegan food variety

The all-vegan Wild Oat Bakery & Café offers a solid array of breakfast, lunch and baked good choices. Many items are gluten free as well. For breakfast, grab-and-go with an everything bagel with vegan cream cheeze or sit down on the weekend and enjoy biscuits and gravy featuring vegan sausage. For lunch, choose between the Impossible Burger or the Beyond Burger with all the fixings on a ciabatta bun. Even add coconut bacon if you choose! Or enjoy the classic soup and salad combo. Scones, cupcakes, cookies, cakes and more are also available. Currently, limited seating is available. 

Kid-favorite special diet sweet spots

Part of the fun being a kid (or adult, for that matter) is occasionally getting a sweet treat. This can prove to be especially tricky for those with food sensitivities. Luckily, Bellingham has a number of sweet spots that cater to these special needs. Mallard Ice Cream comes to the rescue with flavorful non-dairy ices, with flavors as varied as raspberry to chocolate coconut to a simply amazing seasonal plum. Mallard is only offering walk-up service for scoops at this time. You can also pre-order and pick up pints or tubs. 

Chocolate Necessities’ downtown location usually has one or two non-dairy gelato flavors to choose from – and you’d never guess they’re non-dairy! While the downtown location is currently closed due to COVID-19, be sure to check back when it reopens: with both dairy-free gelato and sugar-free chocolate options, this, too is a good bet.

Pure Bliss Desserts has done a tremendous job meeting the needs of those with special diets. The vegan carrot cake consistently gets raves, and the new Paleo almond-citrus cake will please any palate. The Cocoa Nutty wedge is dairy and gluten free, as well as being sweetened with raisins instead of cane sugar. This chocolatey, coconutty bar is a big win for my daughter, since it checks both her dairy-free and sugar-free boxes. Pure Bliss offers other vegan and gluten-free items, too, making it my go-to for baked goods that meet the requirements for special diets. Pure Bliss is offering limited seating as well as take-out, or pre-order online and pick up at the shop’s front door.

For the whole family

As I mentioned in my blog post about family-friendly brewpubsAslan Brewing has a great kids menu, which includes some good options for special diets, as does the regular menu. A non-alcoholic brew is also available for grown-ups. Aslan is currently offering limited seating to dine in as well as take out.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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