With only days to go until the Easter Bunny is due to arrive, parents of kids with food allergies find themselves unable to just grab a big bag of candy off the shelf and go. We've got to get creative when it comes to Easter Baskets since so much candy and food in general is off-limits at this time of year. There are a few candies for nut allergies out there. For example, this year I discovered Hershey mini eggs are safe. Also, Starburst jelly beans and some Sweet Tarts candies. For candy info, always check the labels. If you have questions about specific items, call the company. You'd be surprised how much this helps get labeling more clear. Keep those calls coming, folks!
But what if you don't want to sugar your kids up for the holiday? Besides the question of food allergies, many families aren't interested in over-feeding their kids tons of sugar. Of course, some candy and sweets at Easter are traditional and fun, but they don't have to be the whole show.
I think it's nice to offer food-allergic kids a balance of safe sweets and non-edible items that celebrate the season of spring.
Here are a few nut-free and allergy-friendly suggestions for last-minute Easter basket filling. Note: most are inedible treats.
- Chocolate dipped fruit (like strawberries). Break out the Vermont Nut-Free Chocolate Chips or Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, melt them down and dip some strawberries in the melted goodness. If you stick a lollipop stick in the end, you have chocolate fruit pops. If you don't have Vermont Nut-Free or Enjoy Life chocolate chips in the house, Baker's Brand baking chocolate and some Hershey's baking chocolate is safe for nut allergies (check the labels for other food allergy warnings.) You can buy lollipop sticks at craft stores such as Michael's--look in the Wilton cake baking aisle.
- Kid-sized garden tools. Encourage your kids to help the garden grow with mini shovels, packets of seeds, gardening gloves, even small decorative garden stakes--Target has gnome and frog garden stakes for $3.99. (Of course, for young kids, be careful with the garden stakes). This is a great way to put the focus on spring and growing your own flowers, herbs and vegetables. One note: some gardening mixes may contain peanut or tree nut materials. Check the labels.
- Small books. Mini books about Easter, baby animals or Spring make a great addition to the Easter basket while encouraging reading. We always have included these in our kids' baskets and they are a hit.
- Windup toys. World Market has a great selection of small, inexpensive windup toys for Easter baskets. Kids go crazy for these!
- Easter or Spring-themed pencils and notepads. Target has some wonderful packs of these in their $1.00 section.
Readers, any other favorites? Let us know.