|Teaching kids what allergens look is important so that they know what to avoid.|
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Friday, January 25, 2013
|This Valentine's Day "candy bank" from Tootsie Roll Corporation (R) has |
clear allergen labels. Labels like this are becoming easier to find.
I love the convenience and selection I get with online ordering for seasonal candy and nut-free items, but isn't it great when you can just stroll into the supermarket and find what you need? Here is a selection of nut-free (and other free-from) candy selections, cookies and treats for Valentine's Day.
Not all items will be available in all locations, but in general, you will find these items in well-stocked stores:
These heart shaped candies are made by the Gimbal's company--top 8 allergen-free and gluten-free. Here's a link to the item on the Meijer website: http://www.meijer.com/s/gimbals-fine-candies-cherry-lovers-fruit-chews-1-bag-11-50-oz/_/R-173085;jsessionid=078083B9B44CC0FF3727B1CC134B3F0F.instance04
Everybody's favorite! Peanut-free, tree nut-free and gluten-free. See: http://www.pez.com/allergy/
The time-honored kid favorite, free from peanuts, tree nuts and the most common food allergens. See: www.spanglercandy.com
|Back of Dum Dums package.|
The following are available at Whole Foods/Natural Foods Stores/Some Supermarkets
|Great out of the bag or as cupcake decor!|
Nut-free, gluten-free and free of many top allergens. Delicious flavor varieties, too. (Be advised, for the peanut allergic also allergic to legumes, Lucy's does use some legume flours). See: http://www.drlucys.com/
Enjoy Life Cookies/Candy Bars
Great variety of nut-free, gluten-free and top 8 allergen-free cookies and dairy-free chocolate bars. See: http://enjoylifefoods.com/#page=page-1
Yum Earth gummy bears/lollipops
Valentine's Day-themed packs of organic gummy bears and lollies free of peanuts, tree nuts and the top 8 allergens. Also available at Target stores across the U.S. See: http://yummyearth.com/
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Nut-Free Candy, Bakery Items and Sweet Treats:
Nut-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Valentine’s Day Treats and Sweets
Peanut Free Planet has a terrific peanut and tree nut-free selection for Valentine's Day including some of my faves like Surf Sweets Fruity Hearts and Seth Ellis Sun Cups (just like peanut butter cups--but nut-free AND so delicious). Plus, many items are free from other allergens and/or gluten, perfect if you are dealing with multiple food allergies.
Non-edible Valentine’s Day treats and crafts and more,
perfect for the classroom
Non-edible party favors and crafts
The gorgeous craft and recipe website, Whipperberry, has a beautiful Valentine's craft using old crayons. This is a good one to do at home with the kids if you are "craftily" -inclined.
ot an online shopper? Come back to the blog on Friday for some nut-free Valentine's Day supermarket finds.
What are your favorite online resources for nut-free sweets?
Note: The consumer maintains responsibility for ensuring any product mentioned on this page is free from any or all allergens that pose a concern. If you have questions about foods you see mentioned here, please contact the companies directly for more info. If you are unsure if a food or ingredient is safe for your child, please ask your doctor.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
|Maggiano's menu: note the "Chef Requests" Section and the |
notation about menu items that refer to food allergies.
Life-threatening food allergies and restaurants, oh my! Before food allergies, you probably viewed restaurants as a place to relax, have fun with family and friends and enjoy a good meal that you didn't have to cook.
After the diagnosis of a severe food allergy, however, it's another story. Restaurants become something to navigate and the stakes are very high because if the restaurant doesn't fully understand food allergies and we don't have the awareness we need, an emergency can occur. Kind of takes your appetite away, doesn't it?
I know that I am always leery of trying a new restaurant and have pretty strict criteria about where I will take my daughter with severe peanut and tree nut allergies. Our family will only visit restaurants checked out in advance and who we feel understand how to avoid allergy mix-ups in the kitchen. The good news: this can be done, but it does take work. Eventually you can find some go-to restaurants. This is so important to me and I've learned so much about how to do this over the years, that I devote an entire chapter to restaurants in my e-book, "The New Nut-Free Mom" http://tinyurl.com/c57j2fy
Given how much stress an unknown restaurant can cause, it makes it even better when a restaurant doesn't run from food allergies, but decides to take it on and accommodate them. Recently, I experienced some of the best service our family has ever received at Maggiano's Little Italy in Oak Brook, Illinois. (They have other locations, click the link above for more details.)
Maggiano's (see their menu above) impressed me greatly with their proactive and educated approach. Important note: We stated our daughter's allergies (peanuts, tree nuts) over the phone when we made the reservation. Please always do this, wherever you go.
We wanted to take our kids out to dinner following a show during the holidays. In searching for a place near the theater, I knew that Maggiano's was an option, so I did some research (which I talk about in great detail in my book.) I looked at the menu, checked their web site and finally spoke to them on the phone. It looked really good so we decided to try it.
Once we arrived at our table, the chef showed up just a few minutes later to talk about who had the allergies, what menu items we should avoid (not many, but if you go on your own--ask them. Menu items can change at any time) and to ask if we had any questions. This was before we had even spoken to our server, so clearly they have a system for marking their guests allergies while making the reservation.
The chef offered to help us choose a menu item if we needed suggestions for our specific allergy needs. He was very reassuring and it was so appreciated, especially given some of our past experiences at other restaurants and the lack of knowledge and care. In a word, wonderful.
Once I heard from the chef, I'll admit, I felt more relaxed than I ever do in a new restaurant. The server also took note of our daughter's order and said she would clear it with the chef and that in fact, she "had" to do that since it was noted on our reservation that we had a guest with allergies.
Just to be clear: I never told anyone there that I have a blog or would be reviewing their service. This level of service regarding food allergies is what they do for everyone. In fact, I saw the chef go to several tables once we were seated -- I'm guessing -- for the same reason he came to ours. Food allergies are becoming more common as are food intolerances like celiac disease and believe me, you're not the first person who asked about allergies in any given restaurant.
Maggiano's gave me hope that more restaurants will be embracing the challenge of food-allergic diners instead of turning them away.
I know that so many of us dread dining out at times, and for good reason. Not all restaurants are created equal with regard to food allergies. You have to be careful. But take heart, do your research and hopefully you will find some accommodating restaurants in your own neighborhood.
Remember, for any restaurant, be clear about your allergy needs and educate yourself on their menus and food prep. That is the first step, always. Carry your medications at all times -- don't go to a restaurant without those.
We'll definitely be back to Maggiano's. I'm really glad to have discovered their approach to food allergies. And I almost forgot--the food is delicious! A great family-style restaurant. Thank you to the staff, chefs and everyone who welcomed us.
|Learn more about navigating nut allergies,|
including restaurants, in my e-book: http://tinyurl.com/c57j2fy
Friday, January 11, 2013
|Taking care of food allergy concerns early in the year |
will prepare you for any upcoming events.
(Also, since I feel the rush of organization coming over me as we embark upon a brand new year, I thought I would share this over-caffeinated sense of goodwill with all of you. :))
Here are some things to review as we begin 2013:
-Prescriptions. Are they up to date? Do you need any new epinephrine auto-injectors or updated medical forms for sports, school, or clubs? (We do--for all of the above.) Make a plan to get this taken care of in the next couple of weeks and you’ll thank yourself later when you’re not rushing around, trying to get in touch with the doctor and beating deadlines for registrations.
- Allergy appointments. For those of you who deal with seasonal or annual allergy appointments, it pays to make those appointments now, because in the spring most doctors are chock-full of people coping with seasonal allergies. You don't want to have to wait!
- Review emergency procedures/food restrictions. By now, most public schools in the U.S. have trained staff to handle food allergy reactions, but it doesn't hurt to review this with your child's teacher as the second half of the school year begins. Also, if your child is in daycare, don't forget to review with your child's caregivers. Staff changes at centers may have occurred, too, or maybe your school-aged child is enrolled in a new activity. Now is a good time to go over emergency medication usage, restricted foods and any other areas of concern.
- Check your calendar for any upcoming events that may present food risk. Travel, school parties and field trips are all things that can present food allergy challenges. Review your family's schedule and your child's school calendar so you can tackle these issues in advance. Then you can be ready with treats, doctor's notes or "safe" restaurant choices when the time comes.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
What is your experience with teasing or bullying? What did you do about it?
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Click the link for more info on my e-book guide:
Each year around the winter holidays, I receive an increase in the number of e-mails and posts I've received from parents facing new nut allergy diagnoses in their kids and I've even heard from several young adults with new nut allergies.
The most frequent word I hear is "overwhelmed." This is so understandable. It is overwhelming. The wealth of information alone (often conflicting) can be hard to absorb. Plus, you may wonder if you'll ever have a normal life again, if you will ever learn to decipher food labels and if your child can even go to school. You wonder if every food has the potential to harm your child and/or you. Life can seem very scary and very surreal.
I've been there and I can tell you that things improve. But I can't sugar coat the facts: your life will change, sometimes in ways you may not even foresee now. Some of the changes will be hard to deal with; some may even be positive in the long run. I can think of two positive changes: becoming healthier in our family eating habits and learning to be more assertive in life and ask for what we need. I also have a truly compassionate daughter whose own struggles have made her want to be helpful to others facing different challenges.
Food allergies are never welcome and they make life more difficult at times. But you can live well with them. Here are some things that have helped me and my family:
Seek expert medical advice from an allergist. I've found the best people to handle the medical aspects of food allergy have been our allergists. Find a board-certified allergist and then follow their advice. Keep up on yearly visits, appropriate testing and keep in contact with them about medications. An allergist will be more knowledgeable on food allergies than most pediatricians, not to knock them because they're helpful, too. But an allergist will be more up-to-date on the constantly changing aspects of food allergies and this will be invaluable to you.
Always stand firm about food allergies. You'll meet people who don't take food allergies seriously, who may even blow them off completely. Sometimes those closest to you won't accept the situation. Be prepared for it. Usually, ignorance about food allergies is the key reason. If you know that something is not safe then avoid the food, situation or if need be, the person until they "get it." Risking an allergic reaction to preserve any relationship is never worth it. As we saw recently in Chicago, food allergies can be fatal when not clearly understood or properly respected.
Be informed but don't overload on random info. This is the hardest thing because Internet access can uncover some crazy stories and information. Overloading on stories of food allergy deaths or unproven medical information is never helpful and may be harmful.
Knowledge is half the battle. The good news is, if you're reading this you probably have received medication, medical advice and are just generally prepared to face a reaction if it occurs. Witnessing an allergic reaction without any knowledge of what may be causing it or without any medication to treat it is much, much worse. If you know what you're dealing with, you can avoid or safely adapt to potentially harmful situations and cut down on risk.
I want to wish a healthy and Happy New Year to you all! Let's be safe together and please continue to share your input and comments!