Tips for Trick-or-Treating Safely on Halloween

halloweenblogEvery year, millions of children look forward to Halloween – planning their costumes and anticipating loads of candy. But kids with food allergies – and their parents — must approach Halloween with caution (and diligent label-reading!).

Many candies are off limits for kids with food allergies, either because their allergen is an included ingredient or because of the risk of cross-contact.

The good news is that Halloween can be just as much fun for kids with food allergies. Here are some tips for a safe trick-or-treating experience:

  • Stock up on safe treats or inexpensive trinkets/toys to trade for any unsafe candies your child might receive while trick-or-treating. You can also use sorting through your child’s candy as an opportunity to teach him or her about hidden allergens and reading labels.
  • Enforce a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule, so that you have time to review all food labels.
  • Avoid candy and…

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Important Notice Regarding Food Allergies and the Federal Government Shutdown

Since the shutdown of the federal government earlier this week, FARE has been investigating the ways in which the shutdown may impact government services or initiatives related to food allergies. While much is uncertain during this time, we want to provide the community with the information we have gathered thus far, and we will continue to inform you of any new developments. Please be advised of the following important notices regarding federal government shutdown:

USDA and FDA Food Recalls Due to Undeclared Allergens
Updated 10/10/2013
FARE has reached out to multiple contacts at both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine if their food recalls and recall notification systems are being affected by the shutdown. These undeclared allergen recall notifications provide potentially life-saving information to our community.

The information we have at this time indicates that many of the staff who are responsible…

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Egg-Free No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

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For those of you with Egg allergies, this pumpkin pie recipe is DELISH and so simple to make. It only has 4 steps so it’d be perfect for a family cooking project w/ the kids.  This recipe is free from the following allergens:

  • Peanut Free
  • Tree Nut Free
  • Egg Free
  • (Also the obvious fish, shellfish, strawberry etc. For more info see ingredients below)

However, it does include GLUTEN and MILK. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to any of the ingredients below, still check out the recipe. l’ve included a few cheats  for you guys to try if you want to modify it 🙂

Ingredients

  • 5.1 oz package instant vanilla-pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin-pie filling
  • 1 container ( 8oz ) whipped topping (or make your own like i did)
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  1. Mix together the pudding mix and milk in a bowl. *Or put it in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid so the kids can shake, shake, shake it up! * Continue to mix (or shake) until the pudding is thick
  2. Add the pumpkin pie filling and mix well
  3. Gently fold in half of the whipped topping
  4. Fill the pie crusts with the mixture
  5. (Optional) Top with the remaining whipped topping

You can either pop it in the fridge at this point, or freeze for later. My daughter, opted to make mini pies, so two of the pies didn’t make it to that step. (hehehe) For taste testing ,of course! The rest of them were wrapped with foil and frozen for later. When we were ready for another one, I carefully removed the pie from the foil pan and warmed it in the microwave for 15 secs at a time. How they end up when you’re done making them is totally up to you. They all end up tasting exactly the same.

Now for the allergy hacks.

Milk Free: If you can’t use milk, you can use soy milk. Contrary to common belief, you CAN get pudding to set with soy milk. You simply need to heat the soy milk first to just below boiling before you mix the two.

Gluten Free:  Grab some gluten free graham crackers (I get mine from Trader Joe’s) and try this super easy recipe for the crust prior to making this recipe. Freezing it first will help it hold up against the heavy filling.

Enjoy!

If you have any other allergy hacks or tips that worked for you, let me know!

Man thrown off building for food allergies

Well, no not really.

Michael Spigler IS getting thrown off a building. The West Arlington hotel in VA, in fact.

But…it’s all for a good cause.

Spigler, a.k.a ‘Spigler Man’, volunteered to raise awareness for food allergies with the help of FARE in an event called ”Over The Edge”.

Over the Edge is pretty much fundraising with a fun twist. You sign up with FARE, pay the $50 registration fee, and raise at least $1,250 and you’re all set to get strapped up to the top of a building and go rappelling down to the bottom. Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!! (With the help of certified rappelling experts, of course.)

Spigler decided to register for this event after hearing the tragic story of Natalie Giorgi. Natalie was a 13-year-old girl who died crying in her parent’s arms as the result of severe peanut allergy.

Just in case you’re interested, FARE will be hosting these events nationwide. You can find more info here.

If swinging from the side of a tall building isn’t your cup of tea, donate to the cause here. If you’ll be in the Arlington, VA area on Nov. 19th, go see Spigler Man do his thing!

Way to go, Michael!

Chuck E Cheese’s: my experience with this food allergy-friendly restaurant

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This past weekend, I took my daughter to Chuck E Cheese’s for the first time. She’s 3-years-old so she was SUPER excited about it. To be honest, I was excited about it too! I haven’t been to Chuck E Cheese’s in…….20 years?! (Gosh, that sounds really weird) lol I knew she would have a blast playing the games and crawling through the tunnels and I was sure she’d get a kick out of meeting Chuck. (Is it weird that I always thought his name was Chuckie?) Anyways….

After a close friend of mine sent me a link to get coupons for our outing, I was really set on going. The only thing left to do? Check out the menu. I’ve found that it’s much easier to snag a menu and whatever allergen info either online or in-person prior to a family outing, rather than bombarding servers, cooks and managers with my concerns while they’re scrambling around taking orders. They’re busy and most of them have no idea what I’m taking about or what’s in the food, or how it’s cooked, or how serious my concern really is. Totally understandable. In my case, a server having to “guess” or have that “uh……..idk? i don’t think so. She’ll  probably be fine” sort of thing going on, it’s SO not okay with me . So, to save everyone’s sanity (mostly mine), I like to have everything planned out in reference to any allergens before I even leave the house.

That being said, I was very pleased with the allergy info on Chuck E Cheese’s website. Most restaurants make you jump through hoops to figure out what common allergens are in their food, even if they do have it posted online. Chuck E Cheese’s has an allergen finder option on their menu page that is user friendly in several ways.

  • It’s easy to find
  • You can customize your info based on what location you’ll be visiting
  • It’s downloadable (I saved mine for future reference. Also a good idea to take it with you.)
  • It lists each menu item and directly next to it, it lists all common allergens

Nice, right?

They even offer gluten-free pizza which I know is a huge deal for lots of families. So to sum my experience up, it was smooth sailing both before and during our visit. We ordered a small pizza and a small order of traditional buffalo wings. The price was reasonable. I spent about $20 and we ended up taking home a doggy bag. They bring your food to your table while you play so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing any play time. If you decide you just don’t want to eat their food or you’re attending a birthday party and need to bring your own cake or cupcakes? Not a problem.

Overall, I was very pleased with my experience at Chuck E Cheese’s from a food allergy family’s perspective. So my advice to you would be:

  1. Print the allergy menu
  2. Print the coupons
  3. Get your family in the car
  4. Kick back, and let the kids run wild. lol (FYI, they serve beer/wine at Chuck E Cheese’s 😉  I’m just sayin’ lol)

I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter Review

soynut butterSoyNut Butter is a HUGE deal in our home. Before my daughter was diagnosed with her peanut allergy, I had never heard of such a thing. Nowadays, I don’t think I could live without it. At our house, we call it ‘Soy Butter’ to avoid the confusion with the little one. It looks & spreads just like good ol’ pb, it smells slightly different but it tastes as close as you could possibly get to the real deal. Okay so, let’s cut to the chase. Is it worth buying or not? In my opinion, YES. I.M. Healthy’s SoyNut Butter is a must have for any nut-free environment.

Pros:

  • Easy to substitute for any recipe that calls for peanut butter
  • Less fat than peanut butter
  • Non- GMO
  • Safe for children under 3 (Doctors usually advise you to wait a while before introducing peanut butter to your baby)
  • If your kid has a peanut allergy, and you miss your beloved peanut butter…this is an awesome idea.
  • Looks, tastes and spreads just like peanut butter.
  • Long shelf life (1-2 years)
  • Doesn’t need to be refrigerated
  • Comes in chunky, creamy, honey and chocolate varieties 🙂 nom nom nom

Cons:

  • Could confuse a young child with peanut allergies (this takes some explaining & extra precaution on your part)
  • Doesn’t smell/taste EXACTLY like peanut butter (which is to be expected, but it comes very, very close)
  • More expensive than peanut butter

Price:  $5.49 at my local supermarket

Where to Buy:

  • Many popular stores like target, walmart, whole foods, giant, safeway, food lion, hannaford, price chopper, harris teeter, giant eagle & wegmans (see the entire list here)
  • Online at www.soynutbutter.com, amazon and vitacost

How to Eat:

  • Soy Butter & Jelly Sandwich
  • Soy Butter & Honey Sandwich
  • On Ice Cream
  • In Cookies
  • On bananas, apples or celery
  • In crepes
  • With chocolate protein powder as a protein shake
  • Right out of the jar (my fave)

You’ll be seeing a lot of recipes using soynut butter here on our blog. If you miss peanut butter, or need an easy, family-friendly food staple to add to your allergy-free home. Try it! You wont be disappointed.