Today’s Turn It Teal challenge: “Share a picture of your favorite allergen-free alternative.” Yay! An easy one!
The only problem is picking A favorite. …Only one? …Really? …Sorry, no can do. Confession time: Sometimes I have difficulty following directions. And because there are so many great alternatives out now, we have favorites, plural. So I feel the need to share several!
First, my picture.
I took this when we recently went on a trip to Orlando and visited Sea World. Probably only parents of kids with allergies or those with allergies themselves will immediately understand why I took a picture of popcorn. I’ll get to this more in tomorrow’s post, but vacations and special events are difficult. We have to pack up our cooler with a full days-worth of food for Mowgli. I always take along foods that he considers special treats; and he’s happy. God’s blessed him with a sweet, accepting disposition when it comes to his food allergies. But the large majority of “special treats” (for example, Rice Krispies treats, chocolate chip cookies, pudding, or mini powdered donuts) I have to make myself ahead of time. I don’t mean this as a complaint, just a fact. It’s work. It takes effort and planning. Lately I’ve been relying a lot on potato chips and Oreos, but as a result they aren’t as much of a “treat”. Also, while Mowgli keeps a great perspective about his allergies, I have a harder time. Theme parks (and most other fun family vacation spots) are full of food. Pizza, ice cream, chocolates and candies, soft pretzels, caramel corn… I see families indulging in these foods all around me and (besides feeling paranoid about our boy coming into contact with something he’s allergic to) I feel grieved that he hasn’t EVER been able to have the same type of experience. Until Sea World and Divvies Kettle Corn. Before our trip I checked Sea World’s website and found that they offer prepackaged (so cross-contamination risk is minimal) allergen-friendly snacks, one of which is Divvies kettle corn. Now, I’ve tried making homemade kettle corn at home and I’ve been unsuccessful every. single. time. So I was SUPER-excited to find that Divvies Kettle Corn is free of Mowgli’s allergens and hopeful that we’d all enjoy it. Boy, did we! That stuff is addictive!! It’s not available at any of our local stores and Divvies only offers it in a three gallon size on their website, but I may see if I can find the individual size on a third-party site and order it online.
Okay, before I share some of our other favorites I need to explain Mowgli’s food allergies. He’s anaphylactic to eggs, dairy, and oats. Yes, oats. I know, it’s a weird one. In addition, he’s tested strongly positive to peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame. We completely avoid ALL of these, so the products I’m telling you about are free of these foods to the best of my knowledge. He’s also allergic to green beans, apple, pear, pitted fruits (peaches, plums, etc.), sunflower (and other seeds), and strawberries. These allergens are tricky, because his reactions depend on how they’re prepared, how much of them he has, and how much he’s been exposed to his environmental allergens. So sometimes he can have them and sometimes he can’t. Some of the products I’m telling you about do contain these foods. **Please note: Ingredients and processing practices can change. I cannot attest to whether these foods are safe for you or your child. You must read the labels and decide for yourself.**
- We use Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread every day, often multiple times a day. It is delicious! FYI: It contains soy. They do offer a soy-free version. We just don’t find the taste quite as enjoyable. I also use their Vegan Buttery Sticks for baking and other applications that call for stick butter.
- Original Vegenaise is the bomb! Seriously. The only way I can tell the difference between it and real mayo is if I eat a spoonful of one right out of the jar and then do the same with the other. (We haven’t had mayo in our house for years now, but I tried doing this once when we still had it around.) Tuna macaroni salad, ranch dressing, sandwiches, they are still available to us thanks to this product!
- Enjoy Life chocolate chips kept me sane while I was nursing our little man. In addition to his other main allergies, he was allergic to soy back then. We still use Enjoy Life chocolate chips for baking. However, I eat a tiny handful of these dark chocolate chips every day. They are more expensive than the others, but I feel like they are smoother in texture, more like “fancy” chocolate. Call this Mom’s special treat.
- Let’s talk cheese, one of the foods I miss most. There is nothing like it. Nothing. At least, nothing nut-free. I wish I could give an opinion about the cashew “cheese” I’ve seen, but as I’ve already explained, nuts are out for us. Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds are the best alternative I’ve found. They melt! Which is great for pizza, nachos, and grilled sandwiches. And when combined with Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, a little Earth Balance, unsweetened soy milk, and a few other seasonings, they make a decent “cheese” sauce for mac ‘n cheese. Our very favorite recipe that we use these shreds in, though, are these “Cheesy” Scones. We use the Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds in place of the Sheese and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks as the margarine. They are SO GOOD! In fact, they remind me of those cheddar bay biscuits that everyone raves about from Red Lobster.
- As far as replacing for eggs goes, it can be tricky for us. Due to Mowgli’s sesame and sunflower seed allergies, I’m reluctant to give him too much flax seed (which is a common egg replacement). I’ve mostly dealt with this by choosing vegan recipes for baked goods that use chemical leaveners (baking soda, baking powder). One of my favorite recipe websites is Post Punk Kitchen. PPK’s pumpkin waffles, marbled banana bread, chai spice snicker doodles, and mocha chip muffins are fabulous! For those times when I want/need to use a non-vegan recipe (like Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies or yeast rolls), I use Ener-G Egg Replacer. In my experience, it works best in from-scratch recipes that only call for 1-2 eggs.
I think I’ll stop there, though I’m always happy to share more on this topic! Just ask! Oh, and, full disclosure: None of the above companies have paid me for my time or opinion. They haven’t even given me any free food. But man, I wish they would! Allergy-friendly food is expensive!!