My original post for the week has been scrapped since a birthday party is more important. I received a call this weekend from another Mom asking which brand of chocolate chips we prefer for baking chocolate chip cookies for an upcoming birthday party. Chocolate is by far the trickiest part of having nut allergies. There are so many RULES!
First, very happy to have this discussion with the other Mom, who also has nut allergies in her household. The difference though is that her house is just peanut allergy, whereas my house is peanut and tree nut. Sometimes you’ll see this abbreviated as PN/TN. We are PN and TN.
The ONLY chocolate chips that I have been using with my PN/TN allergy kiddo is the Enjoy Life brand. You can commonly find this brand at Target in the baking section on the bottom shelf. Today, I paid $5.05 for one bag. They aren’t cheap. I needed two bags. That’s a bummer. $10 in chocolate to make some chocolate chip cookies really makes me sad. If my husband didn’t have such an awesome job, there is no way we’d be making chocolate chip cookies today. Period. End of story. Sugar cookies it would be.
Chocolate is an everyday essential. Like coffee – I need it or I’m a grump. Not a lot. Just a nibble. Dark chocolate preferably. Chocolate is always stashed in our house. Ghirardelli is probably my favorite, but unfortunately, not safe for my home. Just like their chocolate chips, hot chocolate mix, coco powder, baking squares, various chocolate bars and individual candies, none of it is safe if you have PN/TN allergies.
Chocolate that we CAN keep in the house:
- Hershey Kisses (in the classic bag, not holiday bag or wrapper)
- York Peppermint Patties
- Girl Scout Cookies, Thin Mints
- Oreos + Oreo Thins (I LOVE the mint)
- Junior Mints (snacksafe.com)
- Tootsie Rolls (and all tootsie products)
- 1.55oz Plain Hershey Chocolate Bar (snacksafe.com)
For special events and holidays, I’ve ordered from Vermont Nut Free Chocolate which is what I’ll be working on later this week, Easter preparations.
If a chocolate is not labeled, I deem it unsafe for eating. When in doubt, throw it out. Not worth the risk.
How do you prepare for a birthday party when you child is 5?
There is nothing scarier than dropping your child off at a birthday party, only to find out that there is nothing safe for them to eat (all while the other kids are enjoying cakes, cookies, pizzas, etc.). Since the school that my daughter goes to Preschool of the Arts is 100% nut free, the parents are OVER THE TOP AMAZING at communicating with everyone about ingredients, etc. to INCLUDE everyone at birthdays + parties. Seriously, I’m so blessed to have found this school and the community we belong to. I know how hard it is to create a kids birthday cake/cupcakes/cookies etc from scratch, and I’m so so so thankful that every birthday party we have been to has been inclusive for our daughter. When she can participate with the other kids and have the cake, it’s such a special treat.
Avoid the Birthday Party Blues by following my simple advice:
- Be upfront, tell the parents and the venue about the allergy
- Have the EPI-PEN at all times
- Have a cell phone ready + charged
- Prepare your child for the possibility of not being able to eat the food at the party
- Pack your own meal + birthday treat. We pack Chloe her own lunch/dinner with special birthday themed snack to eat while at the birthday party. I make cupcakes and freeze them in bulk, then thaw during the day of the party and frost with homemade buttercream frosting. It’s easy, looks like a birthday snack, and totally safe (Just incase the birthday cake is from a bakery, or the parents are not 100% sure).
- Stay at the party if you’re unsure of the handling of the allergy (I know the nutfree moms + dads very well at our school, and I trust them to use an epi-pen on my child in the event of an allergic reaction. If there are no nut-free families at a party, I’m a little more hesitant to leave my child alone at a party.)
- Breathe – it will be fine. Your should not live in fear because of a food allergy.