Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to School Shopping List for Allergies 2014

By Kelley Lindberg

The new school year is just around the corner, and that means it's time to hit the stores for those back-to-school sales.

Of course, those of us with food-allergic kids have to add a few extra items to our back-to-school shopping lists. So if you, too, are preparing a back-to-school shopping list for the food-allergic student in your life, don’t forget these essentials:

  • Epinephrine Injectors – Have yours expired? It may be time to get new ones. I get a pair to leave at the school’s office, and a pair for him to carry in his lunch box (along with instructions). Be sure you check the expiration dates on the new ones to make sure they’ll last through the school year. There are two brands: EpiPen and Auvi-Q. Check both of their websites for $0-copay discount programs. (See my blog post "Choosing an Epinephrine Auto-Injector for your Food Allergies.")
  • Antihistamine (Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, etc.) – Like with the EpiPens, I put some in the office, and some in his lunch box. Again, check the expiration dates.
  • Lunch Box – He always takes a home lunch and sits with his food-allergic buddy.
  • Thermos for hot foods – He lives on noodles, but these are great for safe soups, chili, and casseroles, too.
  • Food Containers – Invest in a few plastic containers that will fit inside the lunch box for things like salads, dressings, sandwiches, fruit, etc. They’re more economical, more ecological, and far less “squishable” than plastic baggies.
  • Beverage Thermos or water bottle
  • Handi-Wipes – I always put a couple of individually wrapped Handi-Wipes in his lunch box so he can clean off the table if he needs to.
  • Food Allergy Action Plan – Make an appointment with your child’s allergist or pediatrician now, and have them fill out a Food Allergy Action Plan to give to your school. I attach a current photo of my son, and then I make a few color copies of it. I give one to the school office, one to each of his teachers for them to hang in their classroom, and one to the school cafeteria manager for her to hang in the kitchen, so that the lunch workers will know him and recognize him if he has a reaction. If your doctor doesn’t have their own form, use this Food Allergy Action Plan from FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education). It’s probably the most widely used form in the U.S., and most doctors recognize and use it.
  • Medical ID Bracelet or Necklace – If your child will wear one of these, it’s a great idea. It is a visual reminder for teachers of your child’s allergies, and it’s an instant help for EMTs who might be summoned if your child has a reaction.
  • Clean-up Wipes – I like to take a couple of tubs of wipes to his teacher, for cleaning desks. (I usually take tubs to the teacher throughout the year, too, since they often go through them quickly.)
  • Case or bag for epinephrine auto-injectors: Decide where your child will carry their injectors and meds – a zippered pencil case, a lunch box, a purse, a backpack, a string backpack, etc., and be sure you let the teacher and staff know where it will be so they can find it in an emergency.
  • Labels for food: Over at Smart Allergy-Friendly Education, Daniella has designed some wonderful stickers that you can attach to cans or jars or baskets of food to let your teacher know that what’s inside is safe for your child to eat. Especially good for younger kids who can’t read or stand up for themselves yet, these labels can really come in handy if you like to leave a stash of “safe” foods for your kid for those times when the rest of the class is eating unsafe treats.
Do you have any other great suggestions for allergy-aware back-to-school supplies? Be sure to share them with us!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Allergy-Free Donuts

By Kelley Lindberg

A couple of weeks ago, I tried a recipe from’s Facebook page for cake donuts. The first time I tried the recipe, the donuts tore up when I tried to get them out of the pan, and the chocolate glaze was a granular mess. So Michelle Fogg, fearless leader of the Utah Food AllergyNetwork (UFAN), told me how to get the donuts out of the pan without falling apart. That made all the difference! So the recipe was basically sound (thank you, Allergymoms!,) but some of the instructions just needed a little tweaking. Then I experimented with some different glazes, different cake mixes, and different flavors. I finally came up with some good variations that were easy to make and met with rave reviews from the group I made them for (teens, tweens, and adults).

So here is my adapted recipe. The main differences from the original recipe is that you absolutely must FLOUR the greased pan, and let the donuts cool completely in the pan (instead of the one minute the original recipe called for), and instead of using melted chocolate chips to make the glaze, just add a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder to the powdered sugar glaze. And you’ll need more powdered sugar to glaze a dozen donuts than the 1 cup called for in the original, so make sure you have at least half a bag on hand.

As a bonus, I tried freezing the donuts (because I was taking them on a camping trip and they had to stay good for 2 days), and they freeze and thaw really well, even with the glaze on them.

I tried both Cherrybrook Kitchen and Duncan Hines cake mixes (several DH flavors are nut-free, egg-free, and milk-free, but read the label carefully because not all flavors are safe). I prefer Duncan Hines – the cake was lighter and softer, but held together well through the glazing process. I made them nut-free, milk-free, and egg-free, but I did NOT use the gluten-free variety of either brand so I can’t vouch for the gluten-free version (although I have used Duncan Hines gluten-free cake mix in the past to make other recipes, and it has worked great). If you use the Duncan Hines cake mix, just substitute a safe egg replacer for the eggs called for on the box. See “Replacing Eggs in Recipes” for egg replacement ideas.

Another trick: when the cake mix calls for water, I use rice milk instead. It makes the cake a little richer and more moist. This works great when making cupcakes, too.

Okay, here’s the corrected recipe, with variations:

Easy Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree-Nut-Free Donuts

(Original recipe credit to, adapted by Kelley J. P. Lindberg,

1 box of safe cake mix (plus ingredients called for on the box)
Rice milk (optional – use instead of water in the cake mix)
3 c. safe powdered sugar
Few tablespoons water
Safe margarine or shortening for greasing pan
Few tablespoons of safe flour for flouring greased pan

For optional variations:
Safe chocolate chips
Safe cocoa (powder)
Maple syrup or other flavoring extracts
Safe sprinkles
Safe food coloring

Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box, with the following substitutions: try using rice milk instead of the water, and if using Duncan Hines cake mix, use an egg replacer to substitute for the eggs called for on the box. If you’re at high altitude (like in Utah), be sure you follow the high-altitude directions on the Duncan Hines mix (there aren’t any on the Cherrybrook Kitchen mix).

Grease and flour a non-stick donut baking pan. (Be sure you grease AND flour it – otherwise the donuts may tear up when you try to get them out of the pan.) Then pour the batter into the pan, filling each donut mold about 2/3 full.

Bake 10 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees until the top of the donut springs back when you touch it gently with a fingertip.

Let the donuts cool completely in the pan (10 minutes).

To glaze: In a cereal-sized bowl, mix about 1 1/2 c. safe powdered sugar with a small amount of water (start with a tablespoon or two, then add a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency, which should be thin enough to drizzle from a spoon, but not watery). Then dip one side of a cooled donut into the glaze, then set it on a rack (glazed side up) and immediately top with sprinkles (if using). If the glaze is too thick, it may be hard to dunk the donut and then get it back out of the glaze without tearing, so you may have to add a little water to thin it. Conversely, if the glaze seems too thin, just add a little more sugar. When you’ve used up that glaze, make more. Repeat until you’ve glazed all of your donuts.

Eat immediately (best!) or freeze in a single layer in an airtight container. To thaw, let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Duncan Hines mix makes about 2 dozen donuts. Cherrybook Kitchen mix makes about one dozen donuts.


Yellow cake donuts: Use a yellow cake mix, glaze with white powdered sugar glaze, then immediately top with sprinkles while the glaze is still warm. Alternatively, you can glaze the donuts with white glaze, then make another bowl of glaze, adding food coloring to this batch. Then use a spoon to drizzle the colored glaze in a zig-zag pattern over the glazed donuts.

Chocolate cake donuts: Use a chocolate cake mix and prepare according to the instructions, but add 1 c. safe chocolate chips to the batter. To make a chocolate glaze, add a teaspoon of safe cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s cocoa) to the white powdered sugar, then mix with a small amount of water. Taste the glaze – add more cocoa if necessary to achieve your desired taste. Top donuts with sprinkles or Enjoy Life Foods mini chocolate chips if desired.

Maple-Spice cake donuts: Use a Duncan Hines spice cake mix. To make a maple-flavored glaze, add 3-4 tablespoons of maple syrup to the powdered sugar first, then add a small amount of water to thin the mixture to glaze consistency. You may add more maple syrup to taste (if it gets too thin, just add more sugar!).

Blueberry cake donuts: Start with a yellow cake mix. Drain 1 can of blueberries and rinse well (or use 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh blueberries). Add to cake batter and bake as usual. When glazing, dip in white glaze first. Then color a second bowl of glaze with blue food coloring and drizzle the blue glaze over the glazed donuts in a zig-zag pattern. The blueberries will make these donuts more moist and sticky, so they may be a little gooier when eaten.

Chocolate chip cake donuts: Use a yellow cake mix, and add 1 c. safe chocolate chips to the batter. Glaze with white glaze, then add a small amount of cocoa powder to the remaining glaze, and drizzle the chocolate glaze over the glazed donuts in a zig-zag pattern.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Allergy-Free Olive Tapenade

By Kelley Lindberg

I’m always looking for something safe, different, and delicious to take to parties. Something everyone will eat. Something tantalizing. Something fun. And it’s a bonus if it’s something that’s allergy-free to begin with, and I don’t even have to make substitutions. That way, when someone asks for the recipe, I know it will be safe even if THEY make it. And they don’t turn up their nose at it, saying, “Oh, well, if it’s allergy-free, it probably tastes lousy.”

So when I wanted to find something French to make for an international food tasting event at my son’s school during the last week of school, I hit on the idea of making an olive tapenade.

Olive tapenade (olive spread) is a very common food in France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. It’s a spread, so you can serve it on toasted slices of safe French or Italian bread, or on safe crackers.

I tried a few versions before I hit on the combinations of olives that work best. I tried using all black olives (too muddy-tasting) and all green olives (too sharp-tasting). Finally, I came up with this combination. It’s super easy – throw it all in a food processor or blender, and Voila!

So the next time you have to take something to a party, take this classy snack. Americans might look at it a little funny at first, but since most people love olives, it won’t take them long to fall in love with it! I’ve taken it to 2 events already, and it’s been popular. Bon appétit!

Kelley’s Olive Tapenade

3 c. pitted Kalamata olives, drained

1/2 c. pitted black olives, drained

1/2 c. pitted green manzanilla olives, drained

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp capers, drained

1/4 c. olive oil

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 T fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried basil or Italian seasonings)

Put all ingredients in food processor or blender, pulse about 10 times, using spatula to push down off sides if necessary. Let rest 1 hour at room temperature to let flavors “blossom.” Will keep in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serve on safe French bread that’s been sliced, brushed with oil, and toasted. Or serve on safe crackers.