Monday, March 30, 2015

Make This an Allergy-Free Easter

By Kelley Lindberg

Don’t look now, but another food-oriented holiday is coming up this weekend. Yep, it’s time for the Easter Bunny to make his once-yearly hop down the Bunny Trail with baskets full of goodies.

For kids with egg allergies, one of the first Easter hurdles is the tradition of dyeing Easter eggs. If you’re wondering what to do, you have lots of options:
  • Some people I know let their kids wear kitchen gloves to handle the eggs during the dyeing process. For others, that’s just not worth the risk, so they opt for some of the methods listed below.
  • Buy wooden, plastic, ceramic or paper-mache eggs from the craft store, then decorate them using paint, stickers, markers, and glitter.
  • Use your favorite safe cookie recipe and some Easter-themed cookie cutters to bake cookies, then decorate them. Wouldn’t you rather eat a cookie than a hard-boiled egg anyway?
  • Make Jell-O Jiggler eggs using Easter-shaped molds from the craft store, or make them in a pan and use Easter-shaped cookie cutters to cut out shapes. (See the Jell-O box for the recipe.)
  • Make safe chocolate shapes by melting safe chocolate chips and pouring the melted chocolate into Easter-shaped plastic molds (available at craft stores). This website uses non-safe chocolate wafers, but you should be able to substitute safe chocolate chips like Enjoy Life Foods’ chocolate chips instead with similar results. 
  • Make hard-candy stained glass Easter eggs with some metal cookie cutters in Easter egg shapes and a bag of safe hard candy. Here is a website with instructions for making hard-candy stained-glass ornaments.
  • Try making Easter window clings—just draw your own Easter egg design instead of the rainbow, and you can display a fun Easter egg in your window. 
  • Print Easter coloring pages. Low on time, energy, and creativity? No problem. Print some Easter Egg coloring pages from the internet, and let your kids color them while you tackle Easter dinner. Just search for Easter Egg Coloring Pages, and you’ll find more than enough to keep any kid busy for a while.

The next hurdle is finding safe Easter candy. Your best bet for nut-free chocolate bunnies is always Hershey’s, and Target always carries several nut-free Hershey’s candies. The safe bunnies are all 6-inch style (Snapsy, Speedy Bunny, Princess Bunny, and Hollow Bunny), and they all contain milk and soy lecithin, but they are peanut-free and tree-nut free. I also found a package of 6 Hershey’s solid chocolate bunnies that are nut-free and contain only milk and soy lecithin (but avoid the package of 6 “cookies and cream” bunnies – they have additional allergens). Some flavors of Hershey’s kisses are also nut-free, as well as Hershey’s mini foil-wrapped chocolate eggs. But double-check labels – many Hershey’s products have nut warnings, so don’t assume they’re safe until you check. And remember, all Hershey’s chocolate includes milk and soy. Those Cadbury mini eggs are also nut-free, although they contain milk, soy, and corn. But only the mini eggs are nut-free – the larger sizes tend to have nut warnings. Target also has cones of Hershey’s chocolate drops coated in white candy, sold in a cellophane cone (contains milk, corn, and soy lecithin).

Looking for a 6-inch bunny for the basket, but don’t want chocolate? Try a Strawberry or Blue Raspberry gummy bunny, which I found at Target! (Contains soy and gelatin).

Many of our “tried and true” candy manufacturers are jumping on the jelly-bean band wagon, which means more safe jelly beans for our kids. Look for jelly beans from Jolly Rancher (contains soy lecithin), Jelly Belly (contains soy lecithin), Starburst, Life Savers, and Swedish Fish Eggs (I found these at Target). Target also had green “Easter grass candy” from Twizzlers (contains wheat).

And finally, remember that you don’t have to fill those plastic eggs with candy. Kids love to find small novelties like tattoos, money, dice, jacks, army parachute men, Hot Wheels cars, Polly Pockets, bracelets and rings, whistles, bubbles, and other toys in their eggs.

My son’s favorite Easter tradition was when I would type up clues and hide them inside eggs. Each clue led to another egg with another clue, until finally he was led to his basket filled with toys or games. Less candy, more fun!

Easter is a time of traditions, but that does NOT mean you have to stick with the old, dangerous ones. In fact, it’s a wonderful experience to invent brand new traditions for your family that are safe, fun, and meaningful to you. So enjoy your holiday with the people you love best, and say “Hi” to the Easter Bunny for me.