Monday, December 29, 2014

It’s Not New Year’s Without Black-Eyed Peas (Allergy-Free!)

By Kelley Lindberg

My grandmother always said, “Be careful what you do on New Year’s Day, because that’s what you’ll be doing all year long.”

I don’t know if she was right or not, but I always try to do things on New Year’s Day that I wouldn’t be ashamed/annoyed/mad/tired of doing all year. So I generally avoid cleaning house, and I try to avoid arguing with my son. On the positive side, I always try to do some writing (even if it’s just a sentence or two), and have a nice day with my family.

The other thing I have to do every New Year’s Day is eat black-eyed peas. My family is all originally from Texas, so eating black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day is mandatory. No questions. No resistance. You WILL eat black-eyed peas. You WILL have good luck whether you want it or not. Fortunately, I happen to love black-eyed peas!

I know other parts of the South also like collard greens (for money), but in my house, it was always about the black-eyed peas. Sometimes called Hoppin’ John when they’re served with rice, black-eyed peas are easy to make, and they’re delicious topped with chopped onions and jalapenos, and served over rice or cornbread. (The non-sweet kind – here’s my favorite recipe for Albers® Corn Bread. Just use soy or rice milk and your favorite egg substitute like Ener-G, and leave out the sugar). Black-eyed peas go great with ham, a beef brisket, chicken, seafood, or just about any main dish, really. And if you like the idea of greens representing money, saute some collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach, or kale in a little olive oil and safe margarine, along with some chopped garlic and salt and a bit of water to steam them.

So if you’re in the mood to have a really lucky year, be sure you put some black-eyed peas on the table. Just please don’t used the mushy, flavorless canned ones. Yuck. They’re so easy to make from scratch, so try my grandmother’s recipe instead (below)! (Of course, they’re even better if you use fresh peas, but frozen works fine this time of year.)

My son hates peas and beans of all types, but he learned early on that he wasn’t allowed to leave the table on New Year’s Day until he’d eaten at least one—count ‘em, one—black-eyed pea. That’s all I ask. Now he eats it without complaining (mostly), so I know he’s going to be okay for another year. Somewhere up there, my grandmother is looking down on him and smiling.

Have a Happy and Lucky New Year!

Black-Eyed Peas

3 slices bacon, diced (or you can use diced smoked pork or ham)
1 bag frozen black-eyed peas
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Chopped onion and/or jalapenos (optional)

Fry bacon in pan. Pour off grease. Add black-eyed peas and enough water to cover about 1 inch above peas. Add salt. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Serve over rice or cornbread, and top with chopped onion and/or jalapenos.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Food Allergy Survival Tips for Holiday Parties

By Kelley Lindberg

Christmas is this week (just in case you missed those subtle signs, commercials, wish lists, non-stop music, mall Santas, and frenzied looks in everyone’s eyes). If your holiday celebrations include visits with family and friends, you may be worried about the kind of food you’ll be surrounded by, and whether those celebrations will be safe for the food-allergic members of your family. Here are some tips I’ve found that might help.

1. If you’re going to a pot-luck, volunteer to bring a dessert. Those are usually the most likely to contain all the things you’re allergic to (nuts, dairy, etc.), so if you bring the dessert, you can control it.

2. Call the hostess and mention your food allergy. It’s not rude – trust me, most hostesses would rather serve something everyone can eat than spend a lot of time making something and THEN discovering that you can’t eat it. That’s more rude, if you think about it.

3. If it’s your child that’s allergic, take a lunch sack of safe food for him or her. No one wants to have a child suddenly get sick at a family event – or worse, have to be rushed to the ER. So don’t be embarrassed. Pack and take a simple meal for your child to eat, so you and your hostess don’t have to worry. I used to make up a package of sliced turkey, safe crackers, grapes, and other cold finger foods for my son, and I called them “Mom’s Lunchables,” like those prepackaged things at the store (but safer!). My son liked it just fine, and hostesses completely understood.

4. Of course, keep your epinephrine auto-injectors and Benadryl or Claritin within reach, just in case.

5. Remind other parents to make sure their kids wash their hands after eating unsafe foods “to keep Johnny safe.” Most kids are much better than adults at understanding and wanting to keep a food-allergic buddy safe, so if you remind them to wash their hands, they usually will willingly. Don’t be shy. Shy never helped anyone.

6. Make a deal with your kid. Before going to a party, I would promise my son that if he couldn’t eat some of the treats there, that we’d have a special treat when we got home instead. He’s not big on delayed gratification, but he was still able to process in his mind that Mommy would make up for it later, and he has always been okay with skipping foods at a party.

7. Make a big show of thanking people who bring safe food to the party. It will make them happy and more determined to bring safe things again to the next party, and it might make those who didn’t bring safe foods think twice the next time. You never want to shame anyone, but positive reinforcement really does work!

8. Understand that people forget, they get spacey, they make mistakes. They don't usually do things to be mean on purpose. So don't be nasty if someone brings something unsafe. But you don't have to stay in an unsafe environment, either. You can always say, "We didn't want to miss the opportunity to stop in and say hi, but we can't stay." Then leave. It's okay. You've made an appearance, you've fulfilled your obligation. It's your holiday. You have the right to spend it in ways that make you happy, not in ways that make you nervous or upset. Then go drive around and look at Christmas lights. Spend time with your children. Watch a movie together. Remember what Christmas is all about. Relax.

Got any other tips for surviving holiday gatherings? Be sure you share them with us!

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, and a Wonderful Everything! (Hanukkah is just ending, but I hope you had a great one of those, too!)

Monday, December 1, 2014

An E-Book for Parents of Food-Allergic Kids

By Kelley Lindberg

If you or your child has just been diagnosed with food allergies, you probably headed straight for the internet to find out how to eat, cook, and live with this new challenge in your life. Fortunately, there is a massive amount of information about food allergies out there.
This new 28-page e-book is a nice intro
to food allergies

Unfortunately, there is so much information it can feel overwhelming, like trying to drink from that proverbial fire-hose.

That’s why it’s always nice to find a resource that distills all that information down into a nice, easy-to-understand overview to get you started.

That’s why I was happy to learn about a new e-book from Kathy Penrod and Mary Ellen Ellis, called An Overview of Food Allergies for Parents in Need of Answers. It’s short (just 28 pages), easy to read, and covers a lot of territory without getting too technical. As an introduction for the newly diagnosed, it hits all the crucial topics, such as what food allergies are, how they’re diagnosed, current and experimental treatments, how to avoid reactions, and tips for living in today’s world with food allergies.

The best part? It’s free!

This e-book would also be a great resource to share with family members, babysitters, or other people in your life who need to understand just how serious food allergies are and how to keep you or your food-allergic child safe. (It might be just the thing to finally convince that one family member to stop serving her nut-filled casserole at every family party. I’m just sayin’.)

The e-book is in .pdf format, so you can read it on your computer or tablet using a pdf-reader like Adobe Acrobat, or you can load it onto an e-reader (like Kindle or Nook). To download your free e-book, go to, then enter your first name and email address. They’ll send you a confirmation email (which you click on to verify you’re a real human), then they’ll send you another email with a link to the e-book, which will automatically download to your “downloads” folder. It’s fast, easy, and free, so check it out! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Allergy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes, 2014

By Kelley Lindberg

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and if you have food allergies in your family, you’re
Yes, it's possible to have an allergy-safe Thanksgiving dinner!
probably already wondering how to make the traditional meal safer. Every year I look for new recipes that are free from the Top 8 allergens, or can be made that way with simple substitutions. So here are some recipes I’ve found this year. (And by the way, when I’m listing all the things I’m thankful for, the internet will be on that list. I can’t imagine how much harder dealing with allergies would be without the internet as a source of support, education, and recipes!) I hope this recipe round-up helps simplify your holiday cooking!

Looking for more allergy-safe Thanksgiving recipes? Check out my earlier posts: Allergy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes 2013 and Allergy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes 2012.

  • First on the menu? The turkey, of course. Turkeys, especially the self-basting kinds, are injected with solutions that make them tender. However, those solutions can harbor allergens like milk, wheat, soy, or corn. So check labels before you buy. Read the very helpful article at called “Before You Buy a Thanksgiving Turkey” for some great advice.

  • Traditional Sage Stuffing: For all you traditionalists, this version uses olive oil instead of butter and skips the eggs. Use your favorite type of bread (sandwich, French, or gluten-free bread would all work just fine). 
  • Cornbread Stuffing: I come from a long line of Texans, so I love cornbread stuffing. This recipe mixes cornbread and white or whole wheat bread, but you can substitute your favorite gluten-free bread for the white/whole wheat. (My grandmother always used crumbled white biscuits—heaven!) If you need a good cornbread recipe to use in your cornbread stuffing, try this one for Albers® Corn Bread, which I’ve been using for years. However, skip the sugar (unless you like sweet cornbread—but I prefer savory, especially for stuffing). Also, you have to make two or three substitutions: replace the egg with Ener-G egg replacer or other egg substitute, replace the milk with a safe milk, like soy or rice (I use rice milk, and it works great), and you can replace the white flour with your favorite gluten-free blend. 
  • Quinoa Sage Stuffing (Gluten-free and Vegan): Dressing without bread? You bet. This one uses quinoa instead, along with olive oil, vegetable broth, and plenty of savory herbs.

Sweet potatoes:
  • Sweet Potato Marshmallow Casserole: The popular way to make them is to mash them with safe margarine and spices, then top them with marshmallows. This recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole II adds 3 T of orange juice for an extra little bit of flavor.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Not a fan of marshmallows? Try these Twice-Cooked Sweet Potatoes—the recipe is much easier than it sounds! Just fry sweet potato cubes in safe margarine, then roast them in the oven with some brown sugar, salt, and sage leaves.

  • Mashed Potatoes: Use any basic mashed potato recipe and replace the butter with a safe margarine and replace the milk or cream with rice milk or soy milk. Or, ditch the whole butter-and-cream idea completely and use chicken broth instead to flavor them. Here is the super-simple recipe from Campbell’s Kitchen for Skinny Mashed Potatoes
  • Garlic Roasted Potatoes: Simple and flavorful! 
  • Vegan Scalloped Potatoes: This recipe calls for flour and soy milk. I wonder if it would work with a gluten-free flour blend and another type of safe milk. If you try it, let me know!

  • Allergy Free Gravy: I post this recipe from every year because it’s simple and it works. It explains the steps well and you can use either regular flour or gluten-free flour. YouTube has lots of videos showing how to make turkey gravy if you’re not sure of the process.

Cranberry Sauce:
Sure, you can dump it out of the can. (And let’s be honest, we like it that way!) Or you can try these versions:
  • Traditional Cranberry Sauce: The easiest recipe is the one printed on the bag of Ocean Spray cranberries you pick up in the produce section. Water, sugar, cranberries. Boil for ten minutes, and voila! Cook it up a day ahead and refrigerate it. Perfection! 
  • Cranberry Strawberry Relish: Add in some frozen strawberries, and you’ve got something a little bit different and even more delicious. 

Green Beans:
  • There are a gazillion delicious ways to make green beans that don’t involve cream soups and French-fried onions. Here are a few:
  • Bacon-smothered Green Beans: I mean, really. Bacon-smothered. What more do you want? 
  • Green Beans with Ham: Okay, ham is good, too. 
  • Green Beanswith Caramelized Onions and Tarragon: Can’t do pork? Here’s a meatless version that looks lovely and elegant on a platter.

Pumpkin Pie:
  • It’s just not Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie on the table. So here’s a recipe for Vegan Pumpkin Pie that looks delicious! You can use a regular pastry pie crust, but I like a graham cracker pie crust for my pumpkin pies.
  • Gluten-free Pastry Pie Crust: If you need a gluten-free pie crust, try this recipe. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Allergy-Safe Trick-or-Treating Tips

By Kelley Lindberg

It's all about the adventure, not the candy!
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 20, “Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up 2014, 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 or non-food treats to give to your child. (You can even give them the safe treats 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. And with this year’s Teal Pumpkin Project going strong, look for those teal pumpkins that indicate they have non-food treats available. See FARE’s website for more info about the Teal Pumpkin Project.  

Tip #5: 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 #6: 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:
  • Go trick-or-treating with a friend or sibling, and at the end of the night, sort through both kids’ candy together, making two piles—a “safe” pile for the allergic kid, and another 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 were about handing over “safe for you” loot.)
  • 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.
  • A big trend this year is “Switch Witches.” While many people have purchased an “official” Switch Witch book and doll, you can use your own witch doll or rely on those invisible Switch Witches (who hang out with the Tooth Fairy when the Halloween season is over). On Halloween night while the kids are sleeping, kids set out their candy stash for the Switch Witch, who takes it away and leaves a fun gift in return.
  • “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.
  • Look for a dentist or other business in your area that buys candy from kids on the day after Halloween. You can search the internet to find one in your area. The website Halloween Candy Buy Back lets you type in your zip code and find dentists who have registered for the buy-back program in your area. The kids get money, and dentists often donate the candy to places like children’s hospitals or soldiers serving overseas.
  • Let the child “donate” the unsafe candy to Mom or Dad, so they can take it to work and share it with their coworkers.
  • Let the child donate the unsafe candy to a local women’s shelter, food bank, homeless shelter, or family of a soldier. Or send your candy to Operation Gratitude, an organization that will send your candy to our soldiers for you (just send it to them before November 15). 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 20, 2014

Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up 2014, Part 2 (Local Stores)

By Kelley Lindberg

(Update 10/21/14: I added SurfSweets gummy candies/fruit snacks, which are free from the Top 8 plus sesame and sulfites, and can be found at Harmon's, Whole Foods, and online. Love 'em!)

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. 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 lollipops shaped like skulls, 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 check old favorites. When in doubt, call the manufacturer for clarification (most list a phone number right on their package).

If I missed something or made mistakes as I scribbled my notes while standing in the aisles, let me know.

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:
  • Bob’s Sweet Stripes Soft Mint Candies (red & white peppermints) (Sam’s Club)
  • Cotton Candy (Parade brand, Sam’s Club, 8 tubs per package)
  • Cotton Candy in Candy Corn and Boo-Berry flavors (Dollar Tree)
  • Cotton Candy, Hello Kitty (Dollar Tree)
  • YumEarth Gummy Bears (in Target!)
  • YumEarth Organic Pops (in Target!)

Everything from here on down contains corn ingredients:

Free from Top 8 (Wheat, Peanut, Tree Nut, Milk, Egg, Soy, Fish, Shellfish):
  • Baby Bottle Pops (Sam’s Club)
  • Betty Crocker Halloween Fruit Snacks
  • Bubble Babies Gum Balls (contains coconut, Dollar Tree)
  • Candy Jewelry (Dollar Tree)
  • Dots
  • Dum-Dums
  • Giant Lollipop (Dollar Tree)
  • Grave Gummies (contains coconut) (Dollar Tree)
  • Gummy Body Parts (contains coconut oil) (Dollar Tree – coffins and bags) [Note: 2 years ago, 
  • Walmart sold Frankford Candy Body Parts that contained peanuts, nuts, milk, soy, beef, and corn, so read company name and ingredients carefully]
  • Gummy Turtle Power Candy Pizza (contains beef gelatin, Dollar Tree)
  • Halloween Pops (contain gelatin, Dollar Tree)
  • Haribo Gummy Bears (contains coconut)
  • Hello Kitty Family Favorites Candy Mix (Dollar Tree)
  • Hot Tamales
  • Hubba Bubba bubble gum
  • Jelly Belly trick-or-treat-sized packets of jelly beans (Target)
  • Jolly Rancher
  • Life Savers
  • Life Savers Lollipops
  • Life Savers Gummies (contains gelatin, possibly pork-derived, although I can’t verify)
  • Market Pantry Spooky Shapes fruit snacks (Target – contains pork gelatin)
  • Mike & Ike
  • Pixy Stix, regular and giant (Sam’s Club carries a package of 50 Giant Pixy Stix)
  • Push Pops
  • Ring Pops
  • Skittles
  • Skulls & Bones Hard Candy (Dollar Tree)
  • Smarties
  • Sour Patch Kids (but be careful—the Sour Patch Twists contain wheat, so read labels carefully)
  • Spiderman Villains Candy Sticks (contains beef gelatin) (Dollar Tree)
  • Spongebob Gummy Krabby Patties (beef gelatin) (Dollar Tree)
  • Spooky Lollipop Rings (Dollar Tree)
  • Starbursts
  • SurfSweets gummy worms, gummy spooky spiders, jelly beans (Harmon's, Whole Foods)
  • Swedish Fish
  • Tic Tacs
  • Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers (gummi worms) (Sam’s Club – contains gelatin)
Contains Soy or Soy Warning (but free from other 7 top allergens):
  • Bon Bon Boom Lollipops (Dollard Tree)
  • Cry Baby Extra Sour Bubble Gum (Dollar Tree)
  • Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape
  • Jolly Rancher Crunch ‘n’ Chew (last year, these had soy listed, but I didn’t find any this year, so I can’t verify ingredients. Call the company at 800-468-1714)
  • Jolly Rancher Fruit Chews (last year, these had soy listed, but I didn’t find any this year, so I can’t verify ingredients. Call the company at 800-468-1714)
  • Jolly Rancher Lollipops (last year, these had soy listed, but I didn’t find any this year, so I can’t verify ingredients. Call the company at 800-468-1714)
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Laffy Taffy Ropes (Sam’s Club)
  • Lollipop Skulls (Dollar Tree)
  • Market Pantry Candy Corn Flavored Kettle-Cooked Popcorn (Target)
  • Scary Eyeballs Bubble Gum (Dollar Tree)
  • SweeTarts Chews (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment, and SweeTarts GUMMIES contain a warning for peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, and wheat!!!)
  • Gum: Dentyne, Trident, Orbit, Eclipse, Wrigley’s (Doublemint, Winterfresh, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Spearmint, etc.)

Contains Wheat or Wheat warning (but free from other 7 top allergens):
  • Red Vines
  • Scooby-Doo Sour Straws (beef) (Dollar Tree)
  • Sour Punch Twists
  • Twizzler’s Pull ‘n’ Peel (these don’t list soy, although regular Twizzlers do, so read carefully)
  • Twizzler’s Strawberry Twists (these don’t list soy, although regular Twizzlers do, so read carefully)
  • Twizzler’s Rainbow Twists (these don’t list soy, although regular Twizzlers do, so read carefully)
Contains Milk or Milk warning (but free from other 7 top allergens):
  • Pop Rocks
  • Popping Candy (Dollar Tree)
  • Pumpkin Face Bubble Gum in Jar (Target)
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)
  • Nerds Ropes(check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment)
  • Spree (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment)
  • SweeTarts (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment, and SweeTarts GUMMIES contain a warning for peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, and wheat!!!)
  • SweeTarts Mini (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment, and SweeTarts GUMMIES contain a warning for peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, and wheat!!!)
  • SweeTart Twists (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment, and SweeTarts GUMMIES contain a warning for peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, and wheat!!!)
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
  • Sixlets candy-coated chocolate drops
  • Tootsie Pops
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Tootsie Fruit 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)
  • Shockers (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary) (Sam’s Club)
  • SweeTarts (check every individual Wonka candy label because ingredients vary by assortment – some don’t have wheat warning)
Contains Wheat and Milk or warnings (but free from other 6 top allergens):
  • Utz Halloween Pretzel Treats (contains sesame warning, too)
Contains Soy, Milk, and Egg or warnings (but free from other 5 top allergens):
  • Sugar Daddies (Dollar Tree)
Non-Candy Ideas (can find packs of individual serving sizes at warehouse stores like Sam’s Club):
  • Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt Popcorn (Target – 16 individual bags per container)
  • Chex Mix (contains wheat, soy, and corn)
  • David’s Sunflower seeds
  • Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings (contains milk, soy, and corn)
  • Jack Link’s beef jerky (contains beef, free from Top 8)
  • Keebler Crème-Filled Sugar Wafer Cookies (contains soy, wheat, and cornstarch)
  • Lay’s Potato Chips (free from Top 8)
  • Nabisco Lorna Doone cookies (contains wheat, corn, and soy)
  • Oberto Beef Jerky (contains beef, free from the Top 8)
  • Oreos (contains soy, wheat, and corn)
  • Slim Jim Meat Sticks (contains beef, chicken, soy, wheat, and corn)
  • Zoo Animals crackers (Sam’s Club, contains wheat, corn, soy, milk)
  • 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
  • Tattoos
  • Coins
  • Friendship Bracelets
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
  • Banana Splits (sold at Sam’s Club in an assortment. Contains soy and egg, and has factory warning for peanuts, tree nuts, and milk)
  • Columbina candies – all have a factory warning for peanuts, egg, tree nuts, soy, milk, and wheat
  • Goetze’s Caramel Creams (sold at Sam’s Club in an assortment. Contains wheat, milk, and soy.)
  • 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.)
  • IBC Root Beer Barrels (sold at Sam’s Club in an assortment. Has factory warning for peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy)
  • Jawbreakers contain only sucrose, 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
  • Mary Janes (sold at Sam’s Club in an assortment. Contains peanuts and soy, and has factory warning for tree nuts, wheat, milk, and egg)
  • Slo Poke (sold at Sam’s Club in an assortment. Contains soy and milk, and has factory warning for peanuts, tree nuts, and milk)
  • Taffy: For the first time this year, there are 2 taffy brands that are nut free. One is made by Taffy Town, and local company, but theirs do contain eggs, milk, and soy. The other is by an online store called Sweet Pete’s, which advertises that their taffy is made in a nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free facility. Other than those two sources, I have not found any other taffy that is nut-free, so assume most taffy in your child’s trick-or-treat bucket contains nut contamination.
  • Tiger Pops – packaging lists all allergens
  • Warheads – various packaging lists some or all Top 8 allergens in factory warnings

Monday, October 13, 2014

Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up 2014, Part 1 (Online Sources)

By Kelley Lindberg

(Update 10/21/14: Added TruJoy website.)

It’s time for my annual Allergy-Free Halloween Candy Round-Up!
Edible Gummy Brains from Indie Candy

Parents of food-allergic kids worry more about Halloween than just about any other holiday. Many are tempted to skip trick-or-treating all together, but I think there are many ways to make it a safe and fun activity. So for the next 3 weeks, my blog will focus on how to make Halloween and trick-or-treating a happy holiday for your children. This week, I’ll talk about online sources for allergy-safe candy and FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project. Next week, I’ll write about safe candy I find in local stores. Then on the 27th, I’ll post tips for safe trick-or-treating (and what to do with all that non-safe candy they bring home).

First, though, let’s talk about the Teal Pumpkin Project: FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is encouraging us to hand out non-food treats this year (or at least make some non-food treats available in addition to candy) to make trick-or-treating more fun for food-allergic kids—as well as kids with diabetes, kids who are fighting obesity, kids with religious dietary restrictions, kids whose parents are sick of paying dentist bills, etc.! You paint a pumpkin teal and put it on your porch, download a free sign from FARE explaining that you have non-food treats available, and then you make kids happy when they come to your door! Super easy, super fun, super awesome! Visit FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project for details. 

More brains! Find this lollipop and more
at the Natural Candy Store
If you decide you want to get some Halloween candy for your kidlets anyway, I’ve been doing some research for you. Most of the 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, and of course, those non-food treats! That’s why this week I’ll write about some online sources that offer great allergy-free Halloween goodies.

§  Indie Candy:  This site is a great place to go for all-natural candy with no dyes or any of the Top 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. You can even get a "lifesize edible gummy brain" (in your choice of alien or human). Too gruesome? Check out their beautiful Candy Apples, too!

Allergy-free licorice can be hard to
find. But these Scottie dogs from
Gimbal's Fine Candies are safe
and adorable!
§  Gimbal’s Fine Candies: They offer jelly beans in 41 flavors, as well as fiery LavaBalls and licorice Scottie Dogs, all free from the Top 8 allergens. While they do contain some corn products, they contain NO high-fructose corn syrup!

§  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.

§  YumEarth.  Formerly called Yummy Earth, but now called YumEarth, this company makes candies (lollipops, drops, gummy bears, gummy worms, and fruit snacks) that are free from the Top 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 Amazon. They may also be available at a store near you—check the list of YumEarth retailers to see.

§  TruJoy Sweets.  They offer 3 candies that are corn free as well as free from the Top 8: a chocolate chewy candy, a fruit-flavored chewy candy, and candy canes (remember, Christmas is just around the corner!). They're organic, gluten-free, kosher, and vegan, and they don't use artificial colors or flavors.

§  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, gluten-free, sesame-free, and soy-free (except for the sunflower cups)! The jelly beans contain a corn product, but the chocolate does not. In fact, their chocolate ingredients are simply cane sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa butter. (They also have turkey and scarecrow chocolate lollipops, as well as chocolate acorns and leaves, 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. And new this year is their gourmet popcorn in 3 flavors.

§  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.

Find tons of non-food options at
Oriental Trading Co.
§  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. I have filled countless pinatas and goodie bags with Oriental Trading novelties over the years, and I love ‘em. If you need non-food novelties in a hurry, you can often find similar (or sometimes identical) items at dollar stores, discount stores, craft stores (like Michael’s), and party stores (like Zurchers).

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.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Allergy-Free Breakfast Recipe Round-Up

By Kelley Lindberg

Lately I’ve been looking for breakfast ideas that are higher in protein than my usual
Protein Pancakes from
Meme Inge's Living Well Kitchen
high-carb routine of cereal, granola, milk, and fruit. So I put on my Stetson, my boots, and my bandana, and I went out into the wilds of the internet, lassoing up some new breakfast ideas that go beyond the usual eggs and bacon, and avoid most (if not all) of the Top 8 allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish). I haven’t tried any of these recipes yet, but I’m a-fixin’ to give ‘em a whirl soon! If you try one, let us know how it worked for you!
  • Sweet Potato and Bacon Hash – Although Meme Inge’s Living Well Kitchen blog isn’t geared towards food allergies at all, but more towards healthy recipes in general, she actually has a few recipes that fit allergy needs and sound good, like this recipe for Sweet Potato and Bacon Hash. She tops it with a fried egg, but of course you can leave that off. Other than the egg, it’s free from the Top 8. 
  • Protein Pancakes – Here’s another one from Meme Inge. I love to make pancakes on the weekend, but I know I need to find healthier versions. So this one looks good, plus it packs more protein in than my usual recipe. It’s only free from 7 of the Top 8 (it uses cottage cheese, so it’s not suitable for milk allergies). I can’t wait to try the pumpkin variation next weekend! 
  • Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes To Go – So what do you get when you cross a cookie with a cupcake? These! Another make-ahead, enjoy-all-week option, and you can make it free from the Top 8. 
  • Sausage-Flavored Breakfast Beans and Grits – Surprise! They don’t have any sausage. It just uses the herbs and spices usually found in sausage to flavor cannellini beans. She suggests cooking the beans in a crockpot overnight, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use canned beans and cut out that step. Anyway, she ladles the beans over grits in the morning, and voila! A savory breakfast that’s free from the Top 8, and it’s vegan, too.
  • Almost Instant Breakfast Quinoa – Now here’s something I hadn’t thought of. Instead of oatmeal or cream of wheat, try quinoa for breakfast! The recipe recommends making up a batch of quinoa the night before, so you can just microwave it with your choice of safe milk (rice, soy, etc.), sweeten it with some maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar, then top it with your favorite fruit, spices, etc. Of course the recipe recommends topping it with nuts and seeds to add more protein, but you can certainly leave those off, or use something like Sunbutter or soy butter if that works for you. 
  • Loaded Blueberry Muffins – These muffins are packed with blueberries, zucchini, and bananas, elevating them from “cupcake” to “health food” in my opinion! This recipe is gluten-free, as well as free from the Top 8. Bake up a batch on the weekend, then grab one and go on those weekday mornings! 
  • Breakfast Banana Pops – Okay, this is NOT a high-protein breakfast. But I just had to include this one because it looks so fun for kids! If you use a safe granola (like Enjoy Life Foods brand or your own recipe) and you have a safe yogurt you can use, freeze up some of these pops for a totally unique way to get your kids to eat their breakfast!  
    Breakfast Banana Pops from