Friday, March 25, 2011

Food Allergy News: I'm Co-Hosting a Web Chat on The Motherhood with Lori Sandler of Divvies!

Please mark your calendars for April 12, when I will be co-hosting a web chat with Lori Sandler of Divvies, the fabulous nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free candy and baked goods company that you've seen most recently on The Martha Stewart Show!

I was so happy when Lori asked me to co-host this discussion with her, as I have been a longtime Divvies fan and I love her cookbook "The Divvies Bakery Cookbook." Lori has done so much for those with food allergies and it's a privilege to share in this web chat with her!

The Motherhood is a terrific web site that covers a wide variety of topics related to parenting. Lori's previous Motherhood food allergy chat was one of the site's most widely attended web chats EVER. It's great to see that so many parents with food allergy concerns are finding each other and supporting each other. In fact, this chat was so successful that it sparked an entire "Motherhood" series on food allergies. My chat is part of this series.

On Tuesday, April 12, Lori and I will be talking about dealing with food allergy issues surrounding Camp, Playdates and Sleepovers. With summer just around the corner, these are very timely topics for many of us. I'm so excited to be able to chat with other food allergy parents on finding workable solutions so that our kids can enjoy all the summer fun they deserve.

Speaking of camp and food allergies, I have heard from FAAN that they need more attendees at the food allergy-friendly Camp TAG in Joliet, Illinois in order to ensure it's availability. Kids from 3-12 can attend and kids will be grouped according to age. This is a week-long half-day camp that caters to food allergies while offering plenty of fun activities for kids with food allergies. Non-allergic sibilings are encouraged to attend as well! If your kids can attend this camp, please click here and enroll now!

I will have more info on my Motherhood web chat as the date nears, but in the meantime, you can attend a web chat on April 5 with Lori and Sloane Miller of Allergic Girl as hosts. They will be discussing coping with food allergies and anxiety. Another great topic, so please attend if you can!

Go to The Motherhood web site and register now so that you can attend what will be very informative and fun web chats!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Peanut Allergy News: Parents in Florida Protest Demand Homeschooling of Allergic Child

Many of you, both on this blog and on my Facebook page, have been contacting me about the Florida peanut allergy school protests. Obviously, this is a very upsetting story to all parents of children with any food allergies. Peanut allergies trigger such a strong response among all parents because peanut butter and peanut candies still have such a prominent place in our school culture and because peanut allergies are the number one cause of food allergy-related deaths.

Any parent sending a child off to school with life-threatening peanut allergies has fears for a reason. Still, to me school is a right of all children, not just those fortunate enough not to have food allergies. And every child, allergies or not, has a right to an equal education. I don't want class time to suffer, either, for any student. As a parent, I want school to be about school. So why is it so often about food????? Cut down on the frequency of non-lunchtime eating and a lot of this problem is solved.

Education is the key word for me. I have a difficult time supporting what parents in this case feel are other "rights" being violated, such as the "right" to eat birthday treats in the classroom or the right to certain foods at class parties. These are non-curriculum activities, so while these practices trigger extremely strong emotions in people on both sides of the issue, I don't know that eating a cupcake at school during class time is an actual "right."

The latest news is that parents at the Florida school are now asking that the girl with the allergy be kept at home and home schooled. I was glad to see the school comment that this is against the law to force this on someone but the entire story has me (and many of you) very troubled. Peanut allergies are serious, yes, but some basic procedures will greatly cut down on the risk of reactions. Also, under the law, the child cannot be forced into homeschooling. I know that emotions run high when it comes to our children, but I would ask those protesting if they would also protest accommodations made for children with cancer, diabetes or asthma?

The thing about food allergies is that it does require cooperation from others. And many times, people don't want to give it. Food allergies sometimes reveal what we are willing to do for other people. Some generous individuals want to help all they can; some want to hang on tight to their food "rights" and not give an inch. It's tough.

I'm not sure why the firestorm erupted at this particular school. It's unclear what, if any, peanut allergy protection measures were in place before. It seems that the idea of frequent hand-washing and twice a day mouth-rinsing gave rise to parents protesting that this will take too much time out of the school day.

I feel that I live on both sides of this issue because I have two children, one with severe, life-threatening nut allergies and one without food allergies at all. I do understand why some parents who don't understand this issue may question accommodations for peanut allergies even if it hurts me to see children with this serious medical condition stigmatized and often vilified.

When food allergy accommodation at school is successful, this is usually the result of teamwork from the allergic families, the school and the education of the entire parent population. If the picketing parents would have been given a chance to attend a meeting or if they were sent home notes and given a chance to speak to the administrators of the school (again, I don't know that they weren't given this; it's unclear from news reports) then would they have reacted so negatively and so strongly?

I'm hoping that the new FAAMA guidelines (to be implemented by the end of this year) will help give schools some direction in terms of how to have food allergy protocols in place.

On a positive note, I'm aware, both in my own life and through others' stories, of amazing help from wonderful teachers and effective food allergy procedures put into place through the work of dedicated parents and informed schools. It does take work and it does take cooperation, but we can keep our kids safe at school while they learn, grow and thrive.

Here is a Food Allergy Back-to-School Checklist that I published some years ago. The rules still hold true and I still abide by this list each year.

Please also see this link to a Chicago Tribune article about food allergies at school.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Peanut Allergy as an Adult: Guest Blogger Lindsay B from Nut Free Life

Hi readers: I have a wonderful guest blogger today, Lindsay B of the blog "Nut Free Life." Lindsay has adult onset peanut allergy and tree nut allergies and she has been a loyal follower of the Nut-Free Mom and frequent commenter. In response to a thread on my Nut-Free Mom Facebook page, she asked me if she could share her story. I appreciate her insights because even though many of us have young kids, we wonder what a nut allergy diagnosis means to their futures. Lindsay wanted to offer her perspectives and she also wanted to reassure us parents that a regular adult life is possible! Please note: everybody's allergy is different, so for specific medical concerns, ask your allergist.

Thanks, Lindsay for sharing your story!

"Recently, The Nut-Free Mom asked her Facebook followers to post their “biggest concerns” regarding their child’s food allergies. What surprised me the most was that your worry was not limited to your current day-to-day reality of navigating food allergies for your 18-month-old or 6-year-old. You’re already thinking about his or her future as an adult. I can address some of your specific concerns, because after almost 28 years of eating whatever I wanted, I had an immediate, anaphylactic reaction to peanut butter in 2008, and was diagnosed with peanut and tree nut allergies as an adult.

For me, the first couple of years living with food allergies was really challenging, but I am now doing everything I loved doing before food allergies. My life looks like any other 30-year-old adult, aside from food restrictions, carrying medications, and taking some precautions. I live a really happy, healthy, full life, and your son or daughter can too! Here is a response to some of the questions you asked about living with food allergies as an adult.

Will my child ever travel?When I was first diagnosed, I wondered if I’d ever be able to get on a plane and explore the world again. Life is definitely easier in the daily, comfortable routine, but I didn’t want my life experiences to be limited just because of my food allergies. It takes more planning in advance, but safe travel is definitely possible. In fact, I will be traveling internationally this June for the first time since my diagnosis. If your child has recently developed allergies, and you’ve been afraid to travel with him, start by taking a road-trip to a nearby destination. Bring a bunch of safe snacks, research restaurant options online, get a motel room with a kitchenette, and plan fun activities that do not revolve around food. Once you see that it’s possible to travel safely with food allergies, you can begin to choose further destinations. It’s amazing how much a positive travel experience will give you the courage and confidence to do it again. The more you go and explore as a family when he is a child, the more he will feel comfortable and confident to vacation as an adult.

Will my child be able to eat out at restaurants? Of course, some ethnic restaurants are now off limits because of the high risk for cross-contamination (e.g. Chinese, Thai, Laotian), as are baked goods, ice cream, and desserts. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t go out and enjoy food away from home! I simply choose restaurants that have simpler menus and/or simpler dishes, or restaurants that are known for being accommodating to people with food allergies. I ask my server the same questions you ask now for your child, and I trust my gut if I feel like my questions are being dismissed or ignored. At coffee shops, I get drip coffee instead of a flavored drink. If I want ice cream for dessert, I make it at home instead and enjoy it after my dinner out. As your daughter gets older, teach her how to ask questions and speak confidently (kindly and firmly) to servers, make wise choices, and follow her instincts, and she will grow to feel comfortable eating in most restaurants. Also, let her cook and bake with you in your nut-free kitchen at home, so that she knows how to prepare a few of her favorite meals before she leaves home for college and adult life.

Will my child carry his medications at all times? Yes. And you can help your kids by teaching the importance of having medications on them at all times, in case of an accidental exposure to allergens. Without fail, I carry two EpiPens, Benadryl (fast melts and pills), Zyrtec D (for my seasonal allergies) and my inhaler in my purse. Men can carry messenger bags, a leather satchel, or a backpack with their medication(s). There are also different options for carrying epi pens, such as belts, arm bands, and calf bands. The important part is conveying to your child the absolute necessity of having his medications on hand, not in the car (where they will be exposed to extreme temperatures), not in his dorm room, and not in his office desk drawer when he goes to the workplace cafeteria down the hall. You can model this behavior by always carrying the medications yourself, when he is very young, and giving him increasing responsibility for carrying his own medications when it is age appropriate to do so.

Will my child be able to go to parties? Yes! For my work’s holiday parties and networking events, I call or email our catering department to ask about the menu, and what will be safe for me to eat. At bridal and baby showers, I call the host soon after receiving the invitation, explain that I have severe food allergies, and ask if she will be serving food with nuts. At Super Bowl parties, game nights, or movie nights at close friends’ homes, I often feel safe eating the veggies, chips, cheese, meat, and fresh fruit (once again, the more plain foods), and skip the bread and dessert. If I’m at a party that serves alcohol, I choose bottled drinks such as beer or wine, and I say “no” to mixed drinks. Your daughter will learn, over time, how to make good choices, as well as her own personal comfort level. At some parties, she will be able to eat freely! At others, she may decide to eat a small meal in advance, choose to eat when she gets home, carry a few safe snacks in her purse, or assist the host in making the food, to ensure its safety. I’ve found that my comfort level varies, depending on the host and his or her attitudes about my food allergies. By and large, however, my friends and family members have been great at making accommodations and preparing safe food."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Peanut Allergy Friendly Nut-Free Irish Soda Bread: 2 Recipes!

As a person of part Irish descent, I feel it is my duty to serve soda bread on St. Patrick's Day. Since bakery goods are off-limits to the nut-allergic, I've had to make my own for several years. Luckily, I prefer the homemade version. That's how it's meant to be!

I make the two recipes below with some regularity and I couldn't decide which recipe to share, because even though they both breads pictured above look like rustic Irish soda bread loaves, the taste is so different. One is like a sweeter tea bread (the second loaf pictured) and the other is like rich biscuit. My kids prefer the more basic loaf, while my husband and I enjoy both kinds.

Of course, Irish soda bread does not contain nuts, but if you buy from most bakeries, any bread baked will have cross-contact risk for nuts. Did you know that a true Irish soda bread will contain these basic ingredients: flour, buttermilk, salt, baking soda. I heard about this on NPR yesterday: some guys from the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread were talking about it. How cool that there are people this devoted to soda bread? I'm not the only baking geek out there. However, my loaves add a little baking powder for better rising without an overpowering baking soda taste.

I hope you enjoy these recipes, not only on St. Patrick's Day, but all year long! These breads are quick to make and a delicious accompaniment to soups, stews, salads and more. Irish soda breads are best the day they are made but are also good toasted the next day.

Irish Soda Bread with Caraway Seeds and Raisins
(makes 2 loaves)

4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup golden raisins (or use dark raisins if that's all you have on hand)
1-3/4 cups buttermilk (shake it first)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place oven rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with Pam w/flour or grease and lightly flour the sheet.

Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in bowl. Stir in sugar, caraway, raisins. Add buttermilk and mix until just moistened, but still a little lumpy. Do not over mix in the bowl.

Place dough on floured surface and knead a few times, then divide dough into two parts. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and pat out until slightly flattened but still domed. Place dough on sheet at least four inches apart. Cut a large X-shape into the top of dough with a sharp knife and brush with melted butter.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until bottom of loaves sound hollow when tapped. Let cool for 2 hours before slicing.

Rustic Irish Soda Bread
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 - 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk, well shaken
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix flours, baking soda, salt, baking powder and rolled oats. Stir buttermilk into flour mixture until moistened.

On a floured surface, knead dough a few times. Form dough into a ball and then proceed as for above, making X with knife and brushing with butter.

Bake until golden brown 35-40 minutes and bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool for 1 hour on rack before serving.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beyond a Peanut Giveaway Winner: Plus, the Whole Florida Peanut Allergy Protest Mess

After a random drawing, I'm happy to announce that Colleen Dabler is the winner of the Beyond a Peanut flashcard giveaway! Congrats to Colleen and please be sure to e-mail me at with your address so we can send you your prize. Thanks also to all who entered. I hope you will consider purchasing these cards if you did not win--they are well worth the price. You can share them with teachers, daycare workers, family and friends.

This giveaway came at an opportune time for discussion about food allergy education because the need for education about food allergies has never been greater. Many of you have contacted me about the Florida peanut allergy protest regarding peanut allergy accommodations at an elementary school. The sad part of this saga is that it seems to me that education was lacking on both sides. I don't understand what happened there, other than not enough education and information was given to the parent population and it blew up in the face of the school, and, unfortunately in the faces of parents who only wanted to protect their severely allergic first-grader.

Certain routine procedures like hand-washing are a regular and easy part of preventing allergic reactions. Peanut sniffing dogs and mouth rinsing (stated as the proposed accommodations given by the Florida school) may raise a few eyebrows among people who know nothing about the seriousness of food allergies. And I'm not sure that most allergists would recommend those two features as part of a school's food allergy guidelines. Were the intentions good? Yes, of course. I feel for any parent of a first-grader. That is a scary time. They are at school all day for the first time and subjected to lunch routines. If you don't know what to expect, it can seem terrifying. I've been there and I've felt the fear. I get it.

We want to seem reasonable and rational when dealing with schools, even if we don't feel that way because, after all, this is the life of our kids we are talking about. Where is the happy medium? That answer will vary depending on your child's case and the school culture. No venue is ever going to be be 100% safe for an allergic person. Too many variables come into play. So you have to use reasonable accommodations to make a school safe enough for a child to attend.

I don't want any of you to be discouraged by the actions of a few Florida protesters who are uneducated about food allergies. These parents were clearly wrong in their actions and frankly, I'm glad this happened if only to expose food allergy hatred for what it is: ignorant. I doubt if only food allergy parents will make that judgement. I hope they will see themselves on TV and wonder if this is how they want their kids to view them--protesting the rights of a 6-year-old girl who didn't ask to be given a life-threatening food allergy. One sign I saw said "Our kids are Special too." I bet any kid with a life-threatening food allergy doesn't want to be "special" in this way. It's really special to be unable to eat your friends' birthday cake or Halloween candy from the neighbors, and be restricted from visiting an ice cream shop?? Not really.

Because of the ignorance and hate, wherever we go, we must make it our job to advocate and educate when you ask for food allergy accommodations, whether it be at school, with friends and family or even at a restaurant or on an airplane. Every small step you take does have a positive impact. I truly believe that.

As a wrap up, I'm including a link to an essay I contributed to the current FAAN newsletter. The title is, appropriately enough, "Dealing With Those Who Don't 'Get' Food Allergies."

Take heart, everyone, and hang in there!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Food Allergies When Crisis Hits: Emergency Preparedness Is a Must

I had another post planned for today but the tsunami in Japan got me thinking about so many things. My heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by this tragedy, including those in the affected U.S. regions who must now wait out the oncoming storm. I hope they are all safe.

This incident reminded me of a post I did when we were hit with severe weather that caused lengthy power outages here in Chicago. Luckily, this was nothing like what they are facing in Japan or in other places where earthquakes have occured, thank goodness. However, when you've got food allergies in your family, more common weather emergencies like hurricanes, flooding, blizzards and tornadoes require a bit more preparation.

Weather disasters and other emergencies aren't pleasant to think about but since they don't happen when you expect them, it's best to be ready.

Here's a few tips for keeping on top of food allergies in an emergency:

1. Have a good stock of "safe," non-perishable food items that can be eaten by the entire family. Soy milk (if you can have it) doesn't require refrigeration and bottled water is always good to have on hand in case you can't use your tap water for any reason. I like to have cereal, crackers, pretzels and slow-spoiling fruits like apples and bananas on hand in case of a blackout. SunButter, if you can eat it, is also good to have as is non-refrigerated cheese and crackers (if you aren't allergic to dairy). Anything from Enjoy Life like trail mix and granola is safe for the Top 8 food allergens, gluten and sesame. These foods will keep well and give you much-needed energy if you are low on food and stressed.

2. Make sure all your prescriptions are up-to-date and well-stocked. Check to make sure that you have several epinephrine auto-injectors, a bottle of Benadryl and whatever asthma or seasonal allergies your child needs well before a crisis hits. In the event of extreme bad weather, you may not be able to renew these prescriptions in a timely manner, so get them now. Keep them in a plastic resealable bag so they don't get wet.

3. Keep a nice supply of cleaning wipes and antibacterial hand wipes. If the worst happens and you have to leave your home for any reason, you'll be able to remove allergenic residue from surfaces. In addition, hand and face wipes will come in handy for personal use.

4. Get the "Go Bag" ready. At a FAAN Conference I attended a couple of years ago (sign up now for the 2011 FAAN conferences coming up soon!), a dad who used to work with NYC on Emergency Preparedness discussed the need for a "Go Bag" that you have ready for your child in a convenient area of your home. This bag would contain up-to-date medications in addition to safe, unperishable foods and drinks.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food Allergy News: Beyond a Peanut Allergy Cards Giveaway!

As promised, I have another exciting food allergy giveaway for readers of The Nut-Free Mom -- Beyond a Peanut educational flashcards!

I've long been a fan of "Beyond a Peanut." These handy, portable cards are the perfect tool for teaching adults and kids about nut allergies. Creator (and friend) Dina Cooper was kind enough to offer this special giveaway just for readers of The Nut-Free Mom. Thanks, Dina, for a great product that I personally use and benefit from.

Beyond a Peanut uses a color coded system to teach others about nut allergy safety and pitfalls.

Blue cards provide important food allergy safety information.

Yellow food allergy cards create awareness around items or situations that can present a danger for someone with food allergies. For example airplanes and bulk foods.

Green food allergy cards address foods or situations which are usually considered safe for a child with peanut and tree nut allergies. On the back are examples of situations that can make an environment unsafe or cross-contaminate a usually safe product.

Red food allergy cards address foods that have a greater risk for people with nut allergies. These cards offer alternative ideas and suggestions to ensure the safety of someone with a peanut or tree nut allergy.

These are great to share with preschool or elementary school teachers, grandparents, friends, other relatives--anyone who cares for your child with nut allergies.

How can you win? Simply post a comment on this blog between now and this Friday, March 11, that shares with us how you currently educate others about your child's food allergies. The winner will be selected by a random drawing and announced next week.

Also, don't forget to follow me on Twitter and my new Nut-Free Mom Facebook page for even more food allergy news and support from others dealing with nut allergies.

Good luck! I'm looking forward to hearing your stories!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Food Allergy Book Launch: My Review of "Allergic Girl" by Sloane Miller

Today I’m reviewing Sloane Miller’s book, “Allergic Girl” to coincide with her official book launch! I first became aware of this talented writer and devoted food allergy advocate a few years ago following my daughter’s nut allergy diagnosis. Over the years, I’ve followed Sloane’s terrific blog, Please Don’t Pass the Nuts, and have received a lot of comfort, advice and tips from her online chronicle of what it’s like to live with severe food allergies to many foods including tree nuts and fish.

When I heard that Sloane had a book coming out, I was thrilled to know that this topic is getting the attention it deserves and that she was contributing her voice in this way. Sloane’s approach towards living with food allergies has been inspirational to me and to so many others. Her book, “Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies” is a wonderful resource, akin to having a friend guide you through the pitfalls of allergic living.

I have been privileged to correspond with Sloane over the years about various food allergy issues and she is always ready with great advice. And, hey, check out page 64-65—she was kind enough to include my input about families and food allergies.

One of the great things about "Allergic Girl" the book is that it outlines how to live without food allergies preventing you from what you want to do. I’ve found this so comforting because as a parent, that’s what I want for my daughter.

In “Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies” Sloane discusses the medical aspects of food allergies but to my mind, she covers an equally important aspect: the social issues of food allergies. Her book discusses everything from how to get a safe dining out experience, to dealing with family members and friends, holidays and social events. She also covers previously un-discussed topics like dating with food allergies—yes, she goes there. And even though my child isn’t old enough to date (she’s 11—that time will be here, sooner than I probably think), it is helpful to hear from someone who has dealt successfully with the many challenges a food-allergic adult has to deal with.

Other topics covered include: How to find the best allergist and get a correct diagnosis; how to create positive relationships with family, friends and food; and how to build a safe environment wherever you are.

If you are a food-allergic adult, this is a must-read handbook for your life. If you are the parent or family member of an allergic child, “Allergic Girl” will give you both important resources and hope for the future. Warm, witty and knowledgeable, Sloane is a great food allergy advocate and I wish her all the success in the world with this book.

Thanks again to Sloane for hosting a book giveaway on this blog just recently! I hope you will all check out “Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies,” now available on and in many bookstores.

FTC Note: I received a reviewer's copy of the book.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Peanut Allergy News: Safety Tattoos for Kids

One of my Facebook page readers asked me about the safety of temporary tattoos with regard to food allergies (they are generally not a problem unless your child has allergies to colored dyes and inks) and I remembered these safety tattoos. If you're looking for a fun way to keep your child safe, this is nice in addition to a kids food allergy bracelet. These tattoos are perfect for camp or other events where your child may not be as well known. Here's my original post:

If ever I needed proof that nut allergies are on the rise and that nut-allergic consumers are on companies' radar screens, this is it. I just received a One Step Ahead catalog that contains "Safety Tattoos with a Purpose" for young children. In addition to tattoos that can be personalized to include kids phone numbers, they also sell tattoos that say "No Nuts, Please!" The tattoo has a peanut in a red circle with a line through it--the universal symbol for "not allowed."

What a great product for those of us with very young children who can't always communicate their allergy needs when out and about. I can envision using these on field trips or special outings with preschoolers or toddlers. The temporary tattoos then wipe off when they're no longer needed.

No one wants to single their kids out in a negative way, but products like this seem almost as fun for kids to use as they are useful. I don't know about you but my kids have always loved temporary tattoos.

The customer service number is: 1-800-279-8440. They are a busy company, so you may need to call a few times before you reach a live person! :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Food Allergy News: Are Ocean Spray Craisins Nut-Free?

With food allergen labeling all over the map, it's always good to do your research on a product. Because my kids like dried fruit, I noticed while shopping one day that Ocean Spray Craisins say "peanut-free" on the bag. However, I also noticed that the company makes trail mix containing tree nuts, which are another group of allergens we need to avoid. Peanuts have definitely made it onto food companies' radar, but tree nuts, not so much even though they are one of the most common and potentially life-threatening food allergens.

I contacted the company for more info and was very happy with the following response:

"February 24, 2011

Hello Jenny,

Thanks for contacting us over here at Ocean Spray, where we pride ourselves on 80 years of taking great care in harvesting and manufacturing our products. It’s nice to hear from people who are as into cranberries as much as we are.

All of our products are produced in facilities and equipment that are free of nuts, dairy, and eggs. The production equipment is cleaned and sterilized between each production run. Thus, there is no risk of cross contamination between any of our products. We are currently marketing a selection of Trail Mixes, which contain mixed nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate. Those products are packaged in separate facilities, apart from our standard products

It was good to know that the trail mix is not made in the same facility as the plain Craisins, aka dried cranberries.

With this in mind, here's one of our favorite family cookie recipes. We recently added Craisins to this and everyone loved it--plus it packs a little more nutrition into the cookie. I know I've offered chocolate chip and oatmeal granola bars recently, so Craisins would be a nice addition to those as well.

The Nut-Free Mom's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I like dark brown)
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick cooking oats, uncooked
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Hershey's semi sweet or Vermont Nut-Free)
1/4 cup Ocean Spray Craisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, with mixer set a medium, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla just until combined. Reduce speed to low and gradually stir in flour, just until blended. At low speed mix in oatmeal, chocolate chips and Craisins.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons (I use a mini ice cream scoop for this), 2 inches apart, on two ungreased large cookie sheets. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking. With wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 24 cookies.