Saturday, March 23, 2013

Peanut Allergy and Tree Nut Allergy-Safe Easter Ideas for Parents!

Easter is coming up soon, so here is a roundup of peanut allergy and nut allergy safe links from past blog posts.

Looking for last-minute Easter basket ideas? Click this link for some of my favorites.

Confession time: Last year, I had I wanted to share my egg-shaped SunButter cups with you all, but while the taste was amazing, my SunButter eggs would not come out of my "deviled egg dish" without breaking. Lesson learned: you need paper liners to make SunButter cups! I am not even including the picture of this disaster, as it looks unappetizing (though my kids dug each SunButter cup egg out of the dish with a spoon and eating them with glee!)

So I am pretty thrilled to share this great recipe with you: Chocolate-Dipped SunButter Eggs. I found this recipe on Pinterest, so hopefully you (and I) will have greater luck this year!

Are you serving or attending a family brunch at a family home on Easter? Here is my recipe for old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake--I skip the traditional nut topping for a streusel that's nut-free. This one is a big hit with everyone and it's pretty easy to make.

And speaking of family homes, it's not always easy to navigate holiday parties. Here is a post that talks about how to safely enjoy holiday parties with food allergies.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nut-Free Supermarket Finds Friday: Easter Treats

Surf Sweets gummies partnered with The Nut-Free Mom (C) blog to create a free recipe e-book.
Check it out at
Nut-free supermarket finds Friday is back! Since the Easter holiday is approaching, I'm featuring a few products that will come in handy if you celebrate Easter. Nut-free is the theme, though some of the treats will be free of other allergens or gluten.
To keep things simple, I've chosen to focus only on products produced in a nut-free facility. Surprisingly, it is getting easier to find these types of products at your local supermarket.
Just in case you might want to order from some of the great online nut-free retailers out there, I've included a short section at the end of the post.
 First up is Surf Sweets organic gummy candies (pictured), one of my family's favorites. Free of GMOs, organic, and free of the top 8 food allergens. You can find these at Whole Foods and other specialty food stores. Go to their web site to find stores. Be sure to click this link to find a free e-book with five yummy and creative spring recipes featuring Surf Sweets gummy candies. I contributed my favorite cookie recipe to the e-book.

Skeeter Snacks cookies are made in a dedicated nut-free facility. You can find them at Costco and many supermarkets across the country. Look for the squirrel logo and the "nut-free" symbol. We love these cookies at my house and, based on the comments, they are a Nut-Free Mom reader favorite.

Enjoy Life Foods Boom Choco Boom bars are yummy for the chocolate lovers on your list, available at many supermarkets and Whole Foods. This dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free chocolate tastes great AND is it free of the top 8 allergens. Or pick up some Enjoy Life chocolate chunks or mini chips and make your own candies, also at many supermarkets as well as Whole Foods. Made in a dedicated, free-from facility.

What would Easter be without jelly beans?
Gimbal's allergy-friendly jelly beans are available at Wal-Mart, Safeway and some other supermarkets. Fun, colorful, tasty and free of the top 8 allergens, these are made with natural ingredients and come in 41 delicious flavors. They have candies for every season!

Tootsie Roll(R) candies are a good nut-free option. Their new egg-shaped Tootise Pops lollipops, like all Tootsie Candies, in a dedicated peanut-free, tree nut-free, gluten-free facility. Check their website for a full list of candies and the next time you're at the supermarket, take a spin through the candy aisle. If it is made by Tootside (Andes Mints are also a Tootsie candy), then they are nut-free. Important: always read labels! One of the biggest advantages about Tootsie candies? You can find them just about anywhere.

Online nut-free candies:

Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. For Easter, Passover and any holiday. Peanut and tree nut-free, delicious, gourmet chocolate. They also have other candies like jelly beans and they sell a nice variety of baking chocolate.

Dean's Sweets. If you're looking for a more "adult" treat from the Easter Bunny (say for your or your that favorite allergic adult in your life) Dean's Sweets out of Portland, Maine has an astounding variety of peanut-free and tree nut-free chocolate truffles.

Divvies candies are nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free AND kosher. They have so many goodies here (and they are sold at Wegman's grocery stores, too).

Amanda's Own Confections are nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free. You'll find delicious chocolates for every holiday and occasion. Amanda's Own are now sold at some stores, so keep your eyes open and check their web site for details.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Teens and Food Allergies: Resources for This Risky Time

Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated my daughter's 13th birthday and new "teendom." I know that many of you are facing the same thing, so I posted about some of my concerns and attempts to prepare my own child for future independence and self-advocacy as a young adult.

Earlier this week, a tragic story out of Massachusetts showed us that food allergies can indeed be fatal for teens. A 19-year-old young man lost his life due to an apparent peanut allergy reaction. This story is still unfolding, so it's not clear exactly why events unfolded the way that they did in this case.  When these tragedies occur, everyone wants to figure out the exact circumstances so they can avoid the same tragedy. I understand that completely, but we don't always know. I'm very sorry to hear of any young life lost in this way and my deepest sympathies are with his family.

If you hear stories like these and they cause you to feel afraid and helpless for your own child, please take heart. Education and awareness work--it's a proven fact. The more someone knows about potentially fatal reactions and the more prepared you are if one occurs (and they do--you never know when an accident or mistake will happen)--the better.

Obviously, teens need to carry their medication, know the symptoms of an allergic reaction and know how to avoid these reactions.  Teens need access to facts they can explore on their own and they need to know that they are not alone.As parents and relatives, we also need to know what to do if they need help.

Luckily, many resources exist for teens with food allergies (and their parents). If you have a teen with a food allergy (or will have one someday), if you know a teen with a food allergy or you just want help understanding how you can steer your young adult in the right direction, please check out the following links. I've found all of them extremely helpful and I hope you will, too.

Article about food-allergic teens from the web site Healthy Child: This article explores the many issues faced by teens with personal stories and great information. I highly recommend reading it.

FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) teen resources section: Includes a video with teens talking about their allergies and lots of good information for coping.

Why Risk It site: This Canadian-based resource has a variety of info specifically for teens and the issues they face, like dating, risk-taking and peer pressure. (A reader recently reminded me about this, so thank you!)

Anaphylaxis Canada: This site has a comprehensive section on teens, including a video discussing how to talk to your date about what they ate before kissing. Awkward! But necessary.

Allergic Living Magazine: Section on teens, high school and college has many great articles available online.

If you have a teen, what do think has been your best teaching resource so far?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Food Allergy-Friendly Supermarket Find: Cybele's Free-to-Eat Cookies! Top 8 Allergen-Free, Gluten-Free and Yes, Delicious!

Cybele's Free-to-Eat ™ Cookies are now available in many grocery stores!
Finding food allergy-friendly foods at the supermarket is an ongoing struggle, but things are starting to change for the better. So I've decided to share "Nut-Free Supermarket Finds" during Friday blog posts. I hope you'll check back often!

Now onto this week's nut-free supermarket find: Cybele's Free to Eat ™ Cookies! If you’re among the growing population of people seeking top 8 allergy-free and gluten-free cookies, you’ve probably had pretty limited options, especially regarding what you can find at your local stores. However, the food landscape is changing--in a good way. Allergy-friendly chef, cookbook author and all around good-eating guru has recently launched a line of delicious cookies, “Cybele’s Free to Eat.” Cybele’s Free-To-Eat cookies are available in three delish flavors: Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chunk Brownie and Oatmeal Raisin.

I recently had the chance to sample these cookies (being the nice mom that I am, I let my daughters do most of the sampling). Just an FYI: Due to my daughter’s severe allergies, we follow a nut-free diet, but do not have to omit any other allergens for medical reasons. So my kids are used to eating things with butter, eggs, wheat, etc. In other words, they are used to “regular” cookies so I never know what they will think when they try a new product free from so many traditional ingredients.

It’s challenging to create delicious “traditional” recipes without using traditional ingredients -- though if you’ve read Cybele’s two cookbooks, she’s taken on that challenge and nailed it. Her amazing cookbooks offer beautiful, delicious recipes FREE of the top 8 allergens and gluten. Visit her web site for more info on that.

So now, back to the cookie tasting. Of course, my oldest the chocoholic went for the Chocolate Chunk Brownie, first. After sampling those and the Chocolate Chip, she said (of Cybele): “These are so good. That lady is a genius!” That’s a big endorsement from a self-described cookie monster.

My youngest had the typical “little sister” problem of discovering that very few of the Chocolate Chip and Chunk Brownie cookies remained after big sis got ahold of them. While not a fan of Oatmeal Raisin (one of my favorite cookies, so believe me, I’ve tried) she decided to give them a go one cold day after school.

To my surprise, she LOVED them and took that box over for herself. Wow. She’s already asking me for more. If you can get my kid -- not a raisin fan -- to eat an Oatmeal Raisin cookie that is also free of so many allergens and wheat flour -- you ARE a genius.

The look, taste and texture of these cookies is like homemade, so no wonder my kids went for them in such a big way. Plus, Cybele clearly cares about food that tastes good and is also healthy. I feel very good giving my kids these cookies as a treat because they are not only nut-free for my daughter, but they are made from, wholesome, natural ingredients. The cookies are made in a gluten-free, nut-free and top 8 allergen-free facility, so no worries there. They are also GMO free, kosher and vegan.

Cybele’s Free-to-Eat ™ cookies are rolling out to many stores, especially Whole Foods, so check your local Whole Foods stores to find them. As far as online availability, stay tuned with the company as they plan to be available on Peanut Free Planet shortly. You can also keep track of stores in your area that carry them by visiting the Cybele's Free-To-Eat web site or e-mailing inf@cybele’ for more information.

Thanks to Cybele Pascal for creating such a tasty, quality product that everyone can enjoy -- allergies or not!

FTC Note: Received cookie samples for this review, ideas are my own, no other compensation.

Looking for ONLY nut-free cookies? Made in a nut-free facility, Skeeter Snacks offers
several yummy cookie varieties.  Skeeter Snacks is a supporter of this site.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Arizona Food Allergy Alliance: Spring Book Club Discussion of my E-Book "The New Nut-Free Mom"

Arizona Food Allergy Alliance Spring Book Club Selection.
To find out how to join the discussion, read on:
Exciting e-book news! The Arizona Food Allergy Alliance has chosen "The New Nut-Free Mom: A Crash Course in Caring for Your Nut-Allergic Child" as their spring book club selection. Thank you to Lisa Horne for welcoming me into the group for an ongoing book chat that takes place from March through May.
The Arizona Food Allergy Alliance is featuring the book club chat in a closed group that is an off-shoot of their Facebook page. To join this group, please click this link and select "join group." This group provides information, news and respectful, courteous discussion on a variety of food allergy topics. The book club chat is seasonal, with only a few books chosen each year, so I'm especially appreciative to be the Spring Book Club Selection. For more information on how to get my book, please see this link.
The Arizona Food Alliance is a dynamic organization that helps families in the Arizona area cope with food allergies. However, you don't have to live in Arizona to benefit from this terrific resource. The group's reach extends to a lively Facebook page packed with information, a Twitter feed and a great web site. You'll find practical information on food allergies, advocacy opportunities and all kinds of activities like fundraising, meetups for families with food allergies, an upcoming zoo trip and much more.

Thanks again to Arizona Food Allergy Alliance for hosting me this spring! I hope to see you in the group chat.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Nut-Free, Allergy-Friendly Spring Recipes from Surf Sweets Candies and The Nut-Free Mom

Snow on the ground or not, spring is on its way! Today I'm excited to announce the launch of an online spring recipe book, courtesy of Surf Sweets® organic gummy candies. Surf Sweets has provided some tasty, eye-catching and allergy-friendly recipes perfect for a spring party, holiday or family gathering.

The nice folks at Surf Sweets asked me to contribute a recipe, which you will find at the end of this beautiful book. Thanks to Jennifer Hanson of Surf Sweets for all of the work she did on this project and Andrew Wolanik for his amazing photography.

A little more about Surf Sweets: this organic candy company based outside of Chicago provides gummy candies and jelly beans free of the top 8 allergens and made with natural ingredients. No GMOs, corn syrup or other nasty stuff. You can find these delicious candies year-round at natural foods stores like Whole Foods or online at Peanut Free Planet. Seasonal varieties are available, too. We love the Valentine's Day Fruity Hearts, Easter Jelly Beans and Spooky Spiders gummies for Halloween. Visit the Surf Sweets website for more info.

I hope you all get some baking inspiration from this fabulous e-book. As they say at Surf Sweets, "Have a sweet day!"