Birthday Parties, School Safe List, Snacking

Dunkin’ Donuts and Nut Allergies

Dunkin’ Donuts is a relatively new treat for our family. We started treating Carter to Dunkin’ after his hemoglobin levels improved in September following his HUS infection, and it just became our thing. After the doctor, we’d head over to Dunkin’ to celebrate good health. Kind of ironic since Donuts are in no way healthy for you.
Fast forward, I was talking to my best nut free mom friend, and she threw out the idea of Dunkin’ for my nut allergic kiddo. She said that she had tried a Dunkin’ location with her nut allergic son, talked allergies, and gave it the OK. So I thought what the heck, it’s Friyay, it’s been a week, and we could ALL use a donut from Dunkin’. There are two on our way home, so why not?

We went in to Dunkin’ talk to someone about our food allergies. It was our lucky day. The nice young man behind the counter also had peanut and tree nut allergies. He informed us all about the strict guidelines Dunkin’ follows, including the special carts the donuts are wheeled over to the pretty case on, labeled, and carefully transported around the kitchen with the “allergy donuts” always in the same place, clearly marked. Dunkin’ is clearly passionate about protecting its guests and we felt that today. We talked for about 20 minutes, then chose our donuts.

Dunkin Donuts staff also showed us how safe the donuts actually are (nut free) by eating a donut himself that was located next to a donut with peanut topping. He was fine and we talked about anaphylaxis for a while before heading out. 

His confidence gave us confidence and my daughter demolished her donut once we got home. Of course, I had my Epi ready, but I knew she’d be fine.

This was her FIRST DONUT! Chocolate with sprinkles!

She was over the moon happy. Around 200ish calories, this is something that I don’t mind as an occasional treat!

Thank you, Dunkin’ for making allergies a priority. We are grateful for small treats like this that are close to home, and special.

Holiday Favorites, School Safe List

Halloween Treats

This list may come in handy if your kids go to a nut-free school, or have allergy recommendations in place for snack time / holidays.

Also, this might be helpful if you have a co-worker who is allergic to nuts.

Or maybe you’ve decided to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year for having allergy friendly / non-candy treats to pass out at your door! Please note that the Teal Pumpkin Project is 100% allergy free snacks. For these snacks, please use the Snack Safe Guide to ensure your treats are free of the Top 8 allergens. OR, 1-click shop Amazon Prime for easy Halloween treats; I purchased this: Bulk Halloween


Nut-Free Snacks

  1. Walgreens
    • Rice Krispie Treats
    • Kathy Kaye Foods popcorn balls and mini caramel corn bags (shown above, approved by my daughter)
    • Hostess Cupcakes
    • Hostess Donettes
    • Twizzlers
    • Sweedish Fish
    • Nerds
    • Starbursts
    • Sweet Tarts
    • Red Vines
    • Tootsie Roll
    • Dots
    • Brother’s All Natural Freeze Dried Disney Fruit Crisps
  2. HyVee
    • CocoLoco Bars in the Health Market
    • Enjoy Life Brand Cookies, assorted flavors
    • Ritz Crackers
    • Goldfish Crackers
    • Sun Chips
    • Cheese-Its
    • Wheat Thins
    • Oreos
    • Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • Honey Maid Graham Crackers
    • Fruit By the Food
    • Pretzel Crisps (not the chocolate flavor)
    • Sabra Brand Hummus
    • Skinny Pop
    • Boom Chicka Pop
    • Pirates Booty
    • Curious George Fruit Snacks
    • Annie’s Fruit Snacks
    • Annies cheddar bunnies
    • Nutri Grain Bars
    • Kraft Marshmallows
    • Pop Rocks
    • Now and Laters
    • Dum dum lollipops
    • Sour Patch Kids
    • Gummy Life Savers
    • Bottle Caps
    • York Peppermint Patties
    • Enjoy life Brand mini chocolates – health market
  3. Costco
  4. Pick n Save / Metro Market
  5. Target

Please check back, there’s lots more to come!

Birthday Parties, How to be Nutfree, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

School Safe Treat Box

20170818_150058.jpgIt’s back-to-school time! If your child has food allergies, now is the time to be pro-active and get your plans and snacks in place. Here’s how we prepare:

  1. Contact the school nurse/office and keep an EPI-PEN on file at the front desk.
  2. Make sure all medical forms are filled out and complete with the front office.
  3. Know your school’s allergy policy. Make sure there is an allergy policy.
  4. Make contact with the child’s teacher (s) and make sure they all know about your child’s allergy, and what the steps are to keep him/her safe. Keep it simple here.
  5. Talk to your child about saying “no” to all classroom treats. This is tough, but it’s the ONLY way to stay safe at school.
  6. Use an allergy bracelet for your child.
  7. Keep an EPI-PEN inside your child’s backpack at all times so it is easily accessible. I like to keep ours in an AllerMates case – it has our phone number and contact information inside.
  8. Build the treat box and have fun with it. We decorated ours with stickers, and I made a special trip to the grocery store with just my daughter so she could take her time choosing treats. They better be good, after all, they are replacing classroom birthday treats! That’s a big deal!

Our treat box is filled with:

  1. Simply Balanced fruit leathers from Target
  2. Hostess Ding-Dongs
  3. Little Bites Brownies
  4. Little Bites Party Cakes
  5. Enjoy Life Chocolate Candy-Bars

Our treat box will be kept inside the classroom for the entire school year. These snacks will replace Birthday treats, holiday treats, party treats and any other time a treat or snack is brought into the class. We used the same size last year and only had to fill it one time. At the end of the year, we had about 6 treats left over.

I also like to reference this website to help prepare for the school year. It can be especially helpful if your school doesn’t have a comprehensive allergy policy.

Food Allergy Resource Center  – I thought this article below was a good reminder, too.

Food Allergy Tips for Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs).
Today, one in 13 children has food allergies, and nearly 40 percent of these children have experienced a severe or lifethreatening reaction. Many of these reactions happen at school. Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are a vital part of the school community, providing an organized family and community component.

As a PTO or PTA leader, you can be a powerful voice for your children and other children, advocating for their health, safety, education and overall well-being.
Children with food allergies need your support to ensure their safety and inclusion. From classroom parties, to school family nights, to after-school fundraisers, keep in mind that all students in the community should be able to participate safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published National Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools, available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC. The recommendations below are a few examples of recommended
practices to help ensure students with food allergies are safely included. We encourage you to review the complete list of the CDC’s Recommended Practices, on pages 41–43 of the guidelines available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC.
• Avoid the use of identified allergens in class parties, holidays, celebrations, crafts, snacks or rewards.
• Use non-food incentives for prizes, gifts, awards, and fundraisers.
• When possible, avoid ordering foods from restaurants because food allergens may be present, but unrecognized.
Have ingredient information readily available for all pre-packaged and/or catered food items.
• Do not exclude children with food allergies from events or extra-curricular activities.
• Make sure that food allergy policies and practices address foods available during fundraisers, class parties, at
athletic events and during after-school programs.
• Have rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors in cases of emergency and train staff to use them.

Did you know?

Food allergies may constitute a disability under the law. Children with food allergies are entitled to an equal opportunity to participate in all school programs and events including extra-curricular activities. This usually applies to activities held by groups such as PTOs and PTAs. (See Section 5 of the CDC guidelines for more information on federal laws that pertain to food allergies.)

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Sun flowers are so important to us nut allergic families. Sun butter is our alternative to peanut butter.

Have a great first day back to school. I hope your preparations put your mind at ease a little.

 

Mom Things, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

Nut-free Ice Cream + 1 Year Anniversary of Anaphylactic Episode

Well duh, most ice creams without nuts are nut-free, right?

Wrong.

If you have looked at the ingredient label of your ice cream lately, you’ve probably noticed a change in the label. All labels have to clearly state if an allergen is present. The top 8 allergens are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
  • Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

There are MANY other allergies besides these, but these are the most common. What manufacturers do NOT HAVE TO STATE is whether or not the facility in which the ice cream is made contains nuts. This is a big deal for anyone who is very sensitive to allergens, like peanut dust, that may come into contact with an otherwise safe product.

Today is our ONE YEAR ANAPHYLACTIC EPISODE ANNIVERSARY with my daughter. Last May 19, she ate a Roundy’s Brand Fudge Popsicle that sent her to the ER after EPI-PEN was administered by her school principal. The packaging on the Popsicle did not disclose any allergy information, and I was not made aware that this Popsicle was going to be given out at school. However, when I called the Roundy’s facility, the manufacturer stated that the facility the Popsicles were made in also processed peanuts and tree nuts. This is how cross contact can happen, at the facility, not necessarily IN the product directly, but around it, then on to it.

Because manufacturers do not have to disclose facility information (although more and more are doing this due to the sheer volume of phone calls of nut-allergic kids and worried moms and dads) it is up to the consumer to find out how safe a product actually is.

I learned a lot about ice cream today.  Ice cream is tricky.

Many manufacturers make many different types of ice cream from Butter Pecan, Caramel Cashew, plain Vanilla and delicious Chocolate. It is up to the manufacturer to clean, sanitize and properly flush all the ice cream making lines before making the next flavor. However, it’s difficult to clearly state that the lines are 100% free of certain allergens, so makers of Blue Bunny, Hy-Vee, Sam’s Club, etc are not able to ensure that their products are safe for people with allergies. The difference in these manufacturers though is that Blue Bunny CLEARLY STATES information about their facility and manufacturing process, whereas the others DO NOT state this information.

After my daughter’s teacher asked me about Hy-Vee brand ice cream today, I approved it after reading the label. The label said “Contains: Milk” and I automatically assumed that it was safe for my daughters ice cream party.

While I was driving my son to school, I decided to call Hy-Vee because we rarely have ice cream and Hy-Vee answers my questions so very quickly. While I was on the phone, the woman told me that anything made by Hy-Vee has the potential risk of cross contact due to the facility that it’s made in; it’s made in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. My heart sank. I’m driving and trying not to panic.

I call the school and get the message to her teacher asap.

At this point, I’m having Dejavu. But I’m prepared and so is her school. Deep breaths.

After dropping my son off at school, I decide to head over to Hy-Vee to see what kind of allergy free ice cream I can find.

Hy-Vee was over the top helpful. I had not 1, not 2, but 3 people helping me in the frozen food section trying to find a safe, nut-free ice cream for my daughter. All three guys had their phones out researching safe ice creams, manufacturers and calling around trying to find one that would be acceptable.

My heart was overflowing with gratitude.

We decided to try Breyer’s Ice Cream and we finally find a winner. Not only did they disclose all the allergy information, they have a designated allergy line to call for more information. After hearing that and then calling customer service to confirm, I know that Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream is made in a nut free, gluten free facility and only contains the allergen: milk. Breyers will be my go-to ice cream this summer. Luckily, we dont eat much ice cream, just popsicles.

Have a great weekend – I am grateful for all the help I received today and will be even better when I pick my little lady up from school today to celebrate 1 year of epi-pen free. I’m thinking tonight will be a movie and popcorn type of Friday. Thank goodness.

Hugs to you and yours.

 

Mom Things, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

Two Nutty Moms

What do two nut-free Mom’s do on their night out together?

We eat whatever the hell we want.

Seriously.

A good friend of mine shares the same food restrictions that I do when it comes to feeding kiddos. No nuts allowed!

Her son has nut allergies too, so we lean on each other for support and ideas all things food and holiday related; and life in general, too. We have a lot in common, conversation and humor come easy.

That being said, we had a ball last night on our “girls night out” together. We enjoyed pedicures, dumplings (not a “safe place to eat”), specialty chocolates (also, never safe), and lots of shopping. Ironically, the stores all closed at 9pm, and we ended up at the far end of this mall inside a grocery store. I thought I was just going to pick up some produce for the weekend, when the two of us started reading labels and researching companies on our phones to determine what baked goods were safe. We ended up finding some great new items to share with our kids. Too funny. Mom’s at work, gotta read those labels, find safe snacks. Actually, easier to do when we don’t have our kids at the store with us. These items were found at Metcalfe’s Sentry

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If you’re at the grocery store and want a quick baked treat for your child’s class or next get-together, look for Lofthouse Bakery and Clyde’s Donuts.

I’m grateful for these companies that CLEARLY state that these products are made in a dedicated nut-free facility. Not peanuts, no tree-nuts.  Not everything that Lofthouse Bakery makes is nut-free, so be sure to check the label. The nut-free label is red and says it right above their logo, you can’t miss it.

Both items have been tested and approved by my loving 3 and 6 year olds. I also have to say that both items taste amazing. Donuts have been on our list for a while now, we cannot have them anywhere – they all “may contain nuts” – so when my friend texted me a photo of the label from Woodman’s (grocery store) last week, I was excited! We are so pumped to have these on Sunday with our breakfast and coffee.

I’m so grateful for my friend who has supported our family through so much. She truly understands the ups and downs of the nut-free lifestyle. She’s an amazing Mother, wife, friend, and listener. She gives freely of her time to others for good causes and bakes up a storm to ensure everyone can enjoy safe, nut-free treats at school, home and work. I’m so happy to call her my friend. I would be lost in this nutty world without her.

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms! Enjoy this beautiful weekend!

 

 

Holiday Favorites, School Safe List, Snacking

Grocery store nut-free cookies!

It fills me with utter GLEE when I stumble upon new nut-free items at the grocery store! Lofthouse Bakery makes sweet treats in a nut-free facility. The two we decided to try for Easter are sugar cookies with sprinkles and chocolate layer, and lemon meltaway cookies. 

These sweet treats are so good and I actually prefer the lemon cookies. They melt in your mouth and have a very distinct 🍋 flavor. So if you’re out and about looking for a “safe sharing snack” for school church, or play group, or just a desert among friends, Lofthouse Bakery is 100% nut-free!
Lofthouse Bakery items can be found at Target and Metcalfes Sentry. 

Happy spring!

School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

Allergy Free Popsicles!

As I was scouring the shelves at the newly renovated Pick N Save on Fish Hatch, I came across these popsicles in the freezer section.

I’m very cautious about ice cream and popsicles since we had an anaphylactic reaction to Chocolate pudding pops last May. The popsicle was made in a facility where nuts were also processed, and that information was NOT on the box.

These popsicles, their formal name is “Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit” are wonderful. They are non-dairy, GF, vegan, kosher and non-GMO. While the box does not say anything about nuts, they are nut-free. Originally I bought them as a joke, since my daughter’s name is Chloe as well. Turns out, they are amazing and contain three simple ingredients.

  1. Dark Chocolate Puree (🍌 banana, cocoa with alkali, natural cocoa)
  2. Water
  3. Organic cane sugar

Super simple. Very fast, no weird funkiness. love them!!