Thursday, October 31, 2013

Allergy-Free Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

By Kelley Lindberg

This week, I’m guest blogging over at Living Without magazine’s blog. Click on over, and you’ll find my recipe for Allergy-Free Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. They are a tasty, healthy snack, and they’re free from the Big 8 allergens. Enjoy!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Allergy-Safe Trick-or-Treating Tips

By Kelley Lindberg

Trick-or-treating can be one of the scariest aspects of Halloween for parents of food-allergic children. But for the kids, it’s one of the most fun parts. So what should the parent of a food-allergic child do? For most of us, our first instinct is to keep them home, period. But our second instinct is often to find safe ways to help our child experience life the way “normal” kids do, rather than letting food allergies define or limit them.

So is it possible to make trick-or-treating a safer activity? You bet.

First, remember that for kids, while they get excited about all the candy, it’s really the adventure of dressing up and going door-to-door that’s important. So help them focus on the “adventure” part of the night, not the candy, and realize that you CAN make trick-or-treating safe.

Here are some tips for safe trick-or-treating:

Tip #1: No nibbling until you're home!
Before going out, remind everyone that no one eats anything until everyone gets home and the parent reads the label on every piece of candy. That way, no one is eating unidentified foods and having a reaction while you’re out in the dark a block away from home. Make sure the kids agree, understand, and agree again. No one sneaks anything (not even Dad).

Tip #2: Wear gloves.
If your child is super-sensitive to an ingredient, have them wear gloves with their costume, so that any allergenic candy that touches their hand on the way into the bag doesn’t cause a skin reaction. Toss the glove in the wash or in the trash when you get home.

Tip #3: Only eat candy with labels!
Unlabeled candy is assumed to be unsafe. Period. The only exceptions are brand-name candies that you are already very familiar with and know are safe. (For example, I know Starbursts and Skittles are okay for my son, so I’ll let him keep those.) If there is a type of candy that he’s particularly interested in, I might promise to look for it at the store the next day, and read the ingredients there. But it goes into a separate container until we’ve seen it at the store and verified its safety. See my post from Oct 14, “Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up 2013, Part 2 (Local Stores),” for a list of many Halloween candies and their ingredients – it might help you sort through what isn’t safe.

Tip #4: Plan a few "safe houses."
A day or two before Halloween, try setting up a network of “safe houses” – families in your neighborhood who will agree to have some “safe” candy to give to your child. (You can even give them the candy to give to your child!) Most neighbors would be more than happy to accommodate your child if they know ahead of time. No one wants to think they’re ruining a child’s big night. You’d be surprised how willing most people are to help.

Tip #5: Go to the Utah Food Allergy Network’s Trunk or Treat!
At UFAN's annual Trunk or Treat, you bring non-food “treats,” such as novelty toys or temporary tattoos, to hand out to all the food-allergic kids who go trick-or-treating from car to car in the parking lot. You can even decorate your car if you want! This year, it’s being held Saturday, Oct 26, 2013, at 4:00 pm, at the Intermountain Medical Center Parking Lot (Southwest corner on 5121 Cottonwood St., Murray). It’s always a riot seeing all the adorable kids in their costumes, and it’s a relief not to have to worry about any candy at all! Not in in the Salt Lake City area? Check for food allergy support groups in your area who may be doing similar Halloween food-free celebrations.

Tip #7: Take epinephrine autoinjectors with you.
Not only do you need to make sure you’ve got your EpiPens or Auvi-Qs immediately available for obvious reasons, but making sure your child realizes he has to have them with him while trick-or-treating may remind him of how important it is not to cheat and sneak a bite of candy before you get home and read the label.

Tip #7: Make a plan for unsafe candy ahead of time.
Before you head out on your adventure (preferably several days before, so that the kids aren’t overly excited and can actually hear you), talk about what you’re going to do with any unsafe candy when the night is over. Here are some ideas:
  1. Go trick-or-treating with a friend or sibling, and at the end of the night, dump both kids’ candy together, then make two piles – a “safe” pile for the allergic kid, and the other pile for the non-allergic kid. If they both know about this plan beforehand, they are usually more than willing to do this. (My son used to trick-or-treat with a friend who had braces – there were plenty of candies the friend couldn’t eat because of the braces, and plenty that my son couldn’t eat because of allergies, and it’s amazing how generous they both have been about handing over “safe for you” loot.)
  2. Buy a bag of safe candy ahead of time, and at the end of the night, let your child “trade” you for all the unsafe candy he brought home. (Then take the unsafe candy to work the next day to share with co-workers.)
  3. “Buy” the unsafe candy from your child – but establish a price ahead of time, such as a nickel a piece, a dollar a pound, or the whole kit and caboodle for a new DVD, a new toy, a trip to the movies, a night out with Dad, a visit to the dollar store, or other such treat.
  4. Look for a dentist or other business in your area that buys candy from kids on the day after Halloween. (Search the internet to find one in your area.) The kids get money, and dentists often donate the candy to places like children’s hospitals or soldiers serving overseas.
  5. Let the child “donate” the unsafe candy to Mom or Dad, so they can take it to work and share it with their coworkers.
  6. Let the child donate the unsafe candy to a local women’s shelter, food bank, homeless shelter, or family of a soldier – the soldiers always seem to appreciate candy that they can share with friends or give to children in war zones.
Got any more trick-or-treating tips? Post a comment and share!

Whatever your family chooses to do for Halloween this year, I hope it’s spooktacular!




Monday, October 14, 2013

Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up 2013, Part 2 (Local Stores)

By Kelley Lindberg

Last week, I shared some online sources for ordering allergen-free Halloween candy. This week, I’ll tell you about the candy I found in stores locally. Believe it or not, there are plenty of choices, no matter what your allergies are. You can use this list to shop for candy, and you can use it on Halloween night to help your little trick-or-treaters sort through their candy loot.
Most of the common brands can be found just about anywhere, like grocery stores, Sam’s Club, Costco, Walmart, and Target. (If I only saw a product in one store, I’ll list the store where I found it.) Dollar Tree has a surprising amount of safe “icky” choices, like gummy skeletons and body parts, lollipops shaped like tombstones, and zombie finger-shaped candy, so if you’re looking for something fun and gross to put on top of cupcakes, for example, try Dollar Tree!
Large companies use multiple factories. That means the same candy may be produced in different places, with different allergens present. So CHECK LABELS on every single piece of candy. Wonka is one of the worst companies for producing the same candy in different packages containing different allergen warnings, but they are one of the best at individually labeling their candies so you can verify its safety before every bite. A few candies have changed their ingredients and moved to other places in my list from last year -- a good reminder to even check old favorites.
I’ve done my best to give you a representative list of what I found, to help make your candy shopping trip a little easier. But please double-check every label before you purchase, and if in doubt, call the manufacturer for clarification (most list a phone number right on their package).
I may have missed something or made mistakes as I scribbled my notes while standing in the aisles. If you find a mistake, let me know. Also, if you find a great source for safe candy, let me know that, too.
First I’ll list candies that don’t list corn as an ingredient (because there aren’t very many of them). Then I’ll list the candies and treats that do contain corn, but are free from some or all of the Top 8 allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish).
By the way, EVERYTHING on this entire list is nut-free and peanut-free. That's where I started, then I broke them down by the other allergens. I hope it helps simplify your Halloween season!
Corn-free as well as free from Top 8 (These candies don’t list corn syrup in their ingredients, so they may be safe for corn-allergic kids – please double-check ingredients. Some list dextrose, and that can come from corn, so contact the manufacturer directly if you are allergic to corn):
  • Bob’s Sweet Stripes Soft Mint Candies (red & white peppermints) (Sam’s Club, 290 for $6.98)
  • Candy Jewelry (Dollar Tree, 16 pcs for $1)
  • Cotton Candy (in candy corn and rotten apple flavors) (Dollar Tree, $1/tub)
  • Giant Pixy Stix (Sam’s Club, 50 giant stix for $11.78)
  • Marshmallow Pop (contains gelatin) (Dollar Tree, $1 ea.)
  • Pixie Stix
  • Skulls & Bones Hard Candy (Dollar Tree, 11 for $1)
  • Smarties
Everything from here on down contains corn ingredients:

Free from Top 8 (Wheat, Peanut, Tree Nut, Milk, Egg, Soy, Fish, Shellfish):
  • Betty Crocker Halloween Fruit Snacks
  • Bloody Bites (plastic fangs with blood bags of blood-colored liquid candy) (Dollar Tree – 8 for $1)
  • Comix Mix Candy Stix (contains beef gelatin) (Dollar Tree – 22 for $1)
  • Dots
  • Dum-Dums
  • Grave Gummies (contains coconut) (Dollar Tree - 12 for $1)
  • Gummy Body Parts (contains coconut oil) (Dollar Tree – coffins and bags of 12 for $1) [Note: Last year, Walmart sold Frankford Candy Body Parts that contained peanuts, nuts, milk, soy, beef, and corn, so read company name and ingredients carefully]
  • Haribo Gummy Bears (contains coconut)
  • Hot Tamales
  • Jolly Rancher
  • Kellogg’s Fruity Snacks (no longer lists coconut oil as an ingredient!) (Sam’s Club - 24 per box, $7.10)
  • Life Savers Big Ring Gummies
  • Market Pantry Sour Gummi Worms (Target - single hang-bag)
  • Marvel Heroes Candy Sticks (contains beef gelatin) (Dollar Tree - 22 for $1)
  • Mike & Ike
  • Push Pops
  • Ring Pops
  • RIP Candy bones inside tombstones (Dollar Tree – 3 for $1)
  • Skittles
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Spongebob Gummy Krabby Patties (beef gelatin) (Dollar Tree, 8 for $1)
  • Spooky Lip Pop (Dollar Tree – $1 each)
  • Spooky Lollipop Rings (Dollar Tree – 5 for $1)
  • Starbursts
  • Swedish Fish
  • Zombie Fingers (Dollar Tree – 4 for $1)
Contains Soy or Soy Warning (but free from other 7 top allergens):
  • Bubble Gum Tape in plastic pumpkins and ghosts (Dollar Tree - 6 for $1)
  • Cry Baby Extra Sour Bubble Gum (Dollar Tree – 21 for $1)
  • Jolly Rancher Crunch ‘n’ Chew
  • Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews
  • Jolly Rancher Lollipops
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Laffy Taffy Ropes (Sam’s Club – 48 ropes, $9.52)
  • Wrigley’s Gum (Doublemint, Winterfresh, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Spearmint)
Contains Wheat or Wheat warning (but free from other 7 top allergens):
  • Scooby-Doo Sour Straws (beef) (Dollar Tree – 10 for $1)
  • Sour Punch Straws (Sam’s Club, 24 for $10.98)
Contains Milk or Milk warning (but free from other 7 top allergens):
  • Pop Rocks
  • Popping Candy (Dollar Tree - 25 pouches for $1)
  • Ring Pops (Sam’s Club - 40 for $9.98)
Contains Egg or Egg warning (but free from other 7 top allergens):
  • Bottlecaps (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment – some have wheat warning)
  • Gobstoppers (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment)
  • Nerds (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment – some have wheat warning)
  • SweeTarts (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment – some have wheat warning)
Contains Soy and Wheat or warnings (but free from other 6 top allergens):
  • Airheads
  • Twizzlers
Contains Milk and Soy or warnings (but free from other 6 top allergens):
  • Charms Blow Pops
  • Double Bubble gum (check every individual Double Bubble candy label because ingredients vary by assortment and store)
  • Hershey’s Chocolate bars, the 1.55 ounce size ONLY (the S’mores size) (all other sizes contain nut warnings)
  • Kraft Caramels
  • Sugar Daddies (Dollar Tree – 10 for $1)
  • Tootsie Pops
  • Tootsie Rolls
Contains Wheat and Egg or warnings (but free from other 6 top allergens):
  • Bottlecaps (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment – some don’t have wheat warning)
  • Nerds (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment – some don’t have wheat warning)
  • Nerds Ropes (Sam’s Club - 24 for $13.18)
  • Shockers (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary) (Sam’s Club – 24 for $13.18)
  • SweeTarts (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment – some don’t have wheat warning)
Non-Candy Ideas:
  • Chex Mix, contains wheat, soy, and corn (Sam’s Club, 36 bags for $9.78)
  • Corn Nuts Ranch Flavor, contains corn but free from Big 8 (Sam’s Club – 18 for $8.12)
  • David’s Sunflower seeds (Sam’s Club, 60 bags in a bucket, $14.01)
  • Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings, contains milk, soy, and corn (Sam’s Club – 50 pouches for $11.98)
  • Keebler Crème-Filled Sugar Wafer Cookies, 24 packs of 10 cookies each, contains soy, wheat, and cornstarch (Sam’s Club - $8.48)
  • Lay’s Potato Chips, free from Top 8 (Sam’s Club, 50 pouches for $11.98)
  • Oberto Beef Jerky (Sam’s Club, 30 individually wrapped sticks for $9.64)
  • Oreos, regular size, 30 packs of 6 cookies each, contains soy, wheat, and corn (Sam’s Club – $9.56)
  • Slim Jim Meat Sticks, contains beef, chicken, soy, wheat, and corn (Sam’s Club – 100 individually wrapped for $16.64)
  • Zoo Animals crackers, contains wheat, corn, soy, milk (Sam’s Club, 36 bags for $7.48)
  • Drinks, like Kool-Aid Jammers or Capri Suns, or sodas in mini-cans – check ingredients
Non-Food Ideas:

Don’t forget, you don’t have to hand out candy to your trick-or-treaters. Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree, and party stores like Zurchers, as well as Oriental Trading Company’s website have plenty of Halloween-themed novelties you can hand out, such as:
  • Bat or Spider Rings
  • Plastic bugs and creepy crawlies
  • Halloween bouncy balls
  • Vampire teeth
  • Halloween-colored bracelets
  • Halloween pencils or erasers
  • Glow Sticks or bracelets
  • Drinking Straws with Halloween figures on them
Watch Out for These:

The following candies may land in your child’s trick-or-treat bags, and they may not have ingredients labels, so watch out for them:
  • Bazooka Gum-Filled Pops – lists only corn, but comes in an assortment listing all allergens in a factory warning
  • Columbina candies – all have a factory warning for peanuts, egg, tree nuts, soy, milk, and wheat
  • Hershey’s: All mini and fun-sized Hershey’s chocolates contain nut warnings and should be avoided. Plain milk-chocolate and dark-chocolate Hershey’s kisses are nut-free, but contain milk. Most flavored Hershey’s kisses (caramel, cherry-filled, etc.) list nut contamination. The only nut-free size of Hershey bars is the 1.55 ounce size (the type commonly sold alongside graham crackers and marshmallows for S’Mores.)
  • Jawbreakers contain only sucrose (doesn’t list corn), but packaged in an assortment that lists all the allergens in a factory warning
  • Lemonheads contain only corn, but are usually found in assortment bags that include warnings for all the allergens on the overall packaging
  • Taffy: I have not found any taffy that is nut-free, so assume all taffy contains nut contamination.Tiger Pops – packaging lists all allergens
  • Warheads – various packaging lists some or all Top 8 allergens in factory warnings


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up 2013, Part 1 (Online Sources)

Find tons of allergy-free
Halloween candy at online stores
like the Natural Candy Store
by Kelley Lindberg

Pumpkins are peeking out from every porch, store display, and window, so that must mean Halloween is coming… And that means it’s time for my annual Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up!

Nothing stresses parents of food-allergic kids like holidays. And Halloween, with its focus on candy, is one of the scariest! But believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to satisfy almost every sweet tooth, no matter what allergies your little ones have.

I’ve been shopping locally for candy to see what types of allergen-free candy we can find in stores and online. But since most candies I’ve been finding locally contain corn syrup and food colorings, if those are your issues, your best bet may be to order your candy online. If that’s the case, you’ll want to order candy this week so that it arrives in plenty of time for Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. Online sources are also great for finding allergy-free chocolate, as well as unusual treats, like allergy-free brain-shaped lollipops! That’s why this week I’ll write about some online sources that offer great allergy-free Halloween candy.

  • Indie Candy: This site is the place to go for all-natural candy with no dyes or any of the Big 8 allergens at all! Most of their candy also appears to be corn-free, too. They have a large selection of confections including gorgeous crystal lollipops, chocolate, and gummis, all in fun Halloween shapes, and you can search by your specific allergy needs.
  • YumEarth. Formerly called Yummy Earth, but now called YumEarth, this company makes candies (lollipops, drops, gummy bears, and gummy worms) that are free from the big 8, and they use natural colorings and flavorings. Some of their candies are also corn-free, kosher parve, and vegan (but not all, so check the list carefully). You can buy them online at {} and on They may also be available at a store near you—check the list of YumEarth retailers to see.
  • Peanut Free Planet: This allergy-friendly grocery site sells a ton of different candy from lots of different manufacturers, including Vermont Nut Free, Enjoy Life Foods, and Amanda’s Own. You’ll find chocolate, jelly beans, and all sorts of allergen-friendly groceries. They also sell KitKats, Mars bars, and Nestle Aero Milk chocolate bars that are made in a Canadian factory, and therefore nut-free (unlike their American versions). They also carry nut-free candy corn from A and J Bakery (but it contains egg whites and soy), as well as Surf Sweets jelly beans and spooky spider gummies, which are organic, natural, gluten-free, and free from the Top 8 allergens.
  • Amanda’s Own Confections: They offer chocolate in some fun Halloween shapes, as well as jelly beans and other candies, all dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, and gluten-free! (They also have turkey and scarecrow chocolate lollipops, if you’re thinking ahead to Thanksgiving.)
  • Divvies: Nut-free, dairy-free, and egg-free chocolate ghosts, chocolate bats, jelly beans, gummy stars, and chocolate chips! (Chocolate contains soya lecithin.) Check out their chocolate dinosaur, too. It might not be Halloweenish, but it would be great for a birthday party or stocking stuffer.
  • Natural Candy Store: Looking for lollipops shaped like brains, bats, or jack-o-lanterns? Found them! This site focuses on natural ingredients, but they also let you search for candy that’s free from all Top 8 allergens. Even better, you can search for candy free from single allergens, like milk or soy. They carry hard candy, Glee gum, Enjoy Life chocolate, organic chocolate syrup, breath mints, and licorice, among others! You can also search by Feingold-safe candy and other special diets. Click here for their Allergen-Free Candy page.
  • Vermont Nut Free: Their chocolates are peanut-free and nut-free, but they do have milk and egg warnings on them. Their huge selection of nut-free chocolates includes caramel- and marshmallow-filled pumpkins, chocolate-covered marshmallows on a stick, pretzel caramel bark, and foil-wrapped chocolate shapes (like bats, witches, and ghosts). They also sell skippers, which are similar to M&Ms, but nut-free, of course.
  • Chocolate Emporium: Read the ingredients carefully on this website, but they do offer a lot of allergen-friendly goodies. All Halloween items are dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and certified parve by the Star-K. Call before you order to ensure you get what you need.
  • Gimbal’s Fine Candies: I’ve just discovered this company. They offer jelly beans in 41 flavors, as well as fiery LavaBalls and licorice Scottie Dogs, all free from the Top 8 allergens. 
  • Oriental Trading Co.: Remember, trick-or-treats bags don’t have to be filled with candy. Oriental Trading Company offers a bazillion (I counted them) super-cheap novelty toys, many that you can buy in quantities of 50, 144, or more.
If you know of a great online source for allergy-free candies, post it in the Comments. And remember, next week I’ll post a list of what I found in local stores and where I found it, so check back next Monday.