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Hi, I’m Kelly Costigan, and I have a problem.

More specifically, I have a problem dining out with any confidence or enthusiasm. Which is a problem I never had until I discovered my food sensitivities.

See, the problem is, usually the only ‘safe’ option for me to eat off the menu is a simple salad. Is it edible? Yes. But is it something I’m excited about eating? Hell no.

Sometimes I get lucky and a chef will make modifications for me, (which is great!) but not without a lot of back and forth between myself, the wait staff, and the kitchen. Which leaves me silently pleading through my meal “please, please, please let this be okay for me to eat…”

So when I dine out these days, I’m either sad to be eating yet another simple salad, or stressed and apprehensive to eat my meal. It’s not fun.

Which means I don’t go out much anymore. And that sucks.

And I’m not the only one. Everyone I’ve talked to with food allergies, intolerance, or restrictions feels the same way — especially when there’s a risk of anaphylaxis.

Maybe you’re thinking “you should just eat at home then!” which is exactly what most of us do 99.9% of the time. We prepare almost every meal that goes into our mouths. Sure, it keeps us safe from our trigger foods, BUT we’re completely missing out on the connection and community of dining out. Which is sad. And isolating. And can make someone a bit squirrelly (totally raising my hand over here!).

Which is why I’d like to change the situation for everyone involved.

If you’re a professional chef: My 8SAFE® label could potentially eliminate a lot of miscommunication between the front and back of the house. It would also eliminate the need to cater individually to every guest with dietary restrictions. You could put your guests at ease by assuring them that not only have your 8SAFE items have been vetted for allergens, but they’re also made allergy-free every time — drastically reducing the margin of error. Plus, you’ll earn yourself some extremely grateful, diehard fans along the way (we’re all waving our hands out here!!!). Find out more about how to work with me if you’re interested in offering 8SAFE options.

If you’re a home cook: I invite you to explore the recipe box and see if I can change your mind about ‘allergy-free’ cooking. Then invite your loved ones with food sensitivities over for dinner — they will ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOU FOR IT! Feel free to email me any questions about cooking gluten & top eight allergen free.

If you’re the one with food sensitivities: I invite you to sign up for the newsletter for the latest recipes and be the first to know which restaurants have 8SAFE items on their menu! And feel free to share this site with family, friends, and maybe even your favorite local eatery — because the more people who can safely cook for us, the better! Imagine rejoining the community at large and actually enjoying a meal that’s been prepared by someone else (cue the angels singing!!!). Please always feel free to reach out to me with any questions, concerns, or ideas that you have — I’d love to hear from you!

In gratitude,

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And in case you’re wondering…

My education includes graduating as a Certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2013; the Food as Medicine Program with Dr. James S. Gordon and staff of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine; and the Therapeutic Elimination Diets program through the Integrative & Functional Nutrition Academy.

I’ve been living a low/no sugar diet since 1985 (don’t do the math!). In 2012 I discovered my sensitivities to gluten, egg, dairy, and soy; and in 2014 learned that beef and pineapple are not my friends either. Truth be told, avoiding these ingredients isn’t always easy — but absolutely worth it.

I personally photograph all my recipes and product photos, but the girl behind the camera for my professional photos is the amazing Alicia Bruce. Many thanks to her for turning awkward moments into magic. :)

And if you’d like to know more about the mural art in my photos, check out Jeffrey Fulvimari, James Vance, and the Wooden Walls Project in Asbury Park.