Saturday, May 31, 2014

Products We Love - Food Allergy Edition!

One of my BFF's from college emailed me recently asking if I had an official list of products our family recommends for food allergy kiddos (specifically egg, dairy, peanut).  I realized that although I write a lot about different products we use, I don't have a list where I keep all that information.  So, I decided to try and compile a list that people might find helpful if their children or themselves, for that matter, are diagnosed with food allergies.  So here's my best attempt.  

People ask me all the time HOW I find safe products all the time.  For the most part, I am a dedicated label reader.  Even after I buy a product once, I still check it every time I buy it!  Ingredients change, manufacturing lines change, companies change, etc.  Be aware and don't assume something is safe even if you've had it before!  

Other tips:
* Join Tasterie - it's a monthly shipment of allergen free products for you to try.  We were introduced to a bunch of new products when we joined this program for a year.
* Read food blogs, especially those written by parents of kids with multiple allergies - see what products they are using, what companies they support, etc.
* Research - find out which companies are geared towards providing foods free from top allergens (ex. Enjoy Life).  It's amazing how many are out there.
* Send out an SOS to your family and friends in various parts of the country.  My mom has been able to find products in her local grocery stores that we don't have in MD.  It exposes you to new companies and new products that you would have never known about, but can easily order these days through Amazon!  
* Reach out to companies - don't be afraid to call and email them with questions.  Ask for free samples.  I've been amazed how many times a company is willing to send me a product to try just because I asked politely and offered to write up a post if we liked the product(s).
* "Friend" different companies and food bloggers on Facebook, include "Multiple Food Allergy Help"

In terms of cooking/baking, I haven't found that Georgia's allergies impact us too much at home.  Yes, we have to swap out some products in recipes and we have to be dedicated label readers, but she still gets to eat a lot of "kid" food.  One of my favorite allergy bloggers has a great summary of those substitutions that we commonly use in the kitchen.  My biggest worry always comes with eating out at restaurants.  As another food blogger wrote recently - you are putting your child's life into a stranger's hands.  And that stranger is probably a minimum wage worker or a teenager.  Yup, never fails to scare me!  We ask lots of questions at restaurants, do our research online ahead of time (if possible), and re-visit places where we've had successes.  I am not afraid to be assertive with waiters and waitresses.  It's my child's life at stake.  

Only recently we've begun to experience what I call the "birthday party conundrum."  We're invited to peoples' houses and party centers for celebrations, but Georgia often can't eat the food provided or the cake/ice cream.  We have been so, so, so lucky to be surrounded by people who go out of their way to cater to her/us.  We don't expect it and we certainly never ask for that.  I always bring our own snacks and I'm more than happy to bring extra to share with everyone.  I've been brought to tears more times than not by the kindness of these people who take the time to text, call, or email me to ask if there is anything they can get for Georgia.  Things like our neighbors buying a special candy for her knowing that she is going to come to their door for Halloween or our daycare provider keeping a stash of Starbursts for Georgia in her desk are some of the kindest gestures you can make to a food allergy Momma. 

So here we go.  This is not a complete list, but it's products that are staples in our home and are currently in our pantry, fridge or freezer.

**Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist and although I care about sugar and artificial colors and all that GMO non-sense, more than anything I just want to feed my kid and make sure she doesn't need an epi-pen afterwards!  I am also not an allergist - these just happen to be products that our family has found "safe" for our daughter.  They are things that she likes and anyone with a picky toddler understands that sometimes the battle over healthy is just not worth your sanity for the day!! **
So, no judgment (or lawsuits) please - this is what has worked for our child!

* Cherrybrook Kitchen products - Pancake mix, muffin mix (I find these at Target)
* Van's blueberry waffles
* Van's cinnamon french toast sticks
* Multigrain Cheerios
* Rice Chex
* Froot Loops
* Cherry Pop-Tarts
* Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts
* Applegate Naturals Chicken & Maple Breakfast Sausage
* Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Links
* Banquet Brown & Serve Sausage Links
* Bisquick - We make our own pancakes
* Smucker's Jams
* Quaker Instant Oatmeal - Apples & Cinnamon
* Homemade doughtnuts using store brand biscuits (we've found that the Pillsbury biscuits contain dairy, but many store brands, like Harris Teeter and Wegman's are safe and dairy-free)
* Bouchard Family Farms Ployes (makes a crepe like pancake)
* 1-2-3 Gluten Free Muffin mix
* Fruit - Bananas, Watermelon, Pineapple, Strawberries, Mangos, etc.
* Bacon
* Thomas' Mini Bagels - Blueberry Flavor
* Arnold Sandwich Thins
* Pepperidge Farm Bagels - Cinnamon Raisin Flavor

I also have adapted lots of online recipes for blueberry pancakes, pumpkin muffins, doughnuts (this is my favorite recipe that I've adapted with just a few minor changes), etc.  I've found that breakfast is probably our easiest meal of the day since there is a lot of different options and a lot of things can be made in bulk ahead of time and frozen.  Most of the time, we have homemade muffins, pancakes and doughnuts in the freezer ready to pop into the microwave for a quick and safe breakfast in the morning!  If not, cereal or fruit is always a quick option.  I'll touch more on breakfast bars in the snacks section since we seem to eat those 24 hours a day around our house.

Check out your health food aisle in the grocery store and in the freezer section - you'll be amazed at how many options there are for breakfast!

Arnold's Sandwich Thins - I use these to make sandwiches, eat plain, toast, and make pizzas!
* Black Beans
* Corn on the cob
Bubba Burgers - Most other boxed hamburger patties are also safe
Applegate Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog - Most other packaged hot dogs are also safe
* Sausages - we eat a variety of sausages - pork, chicken, etc. from our meat counter
* Pasta/noodles/Spaghetti - Most brands are safe; I usually buy the store brand
Classico Spicy Red Pepper Pasta sauce - A lot of other brands are safe too, but watch out for hidden cheese ingredients
* Chicken Breast
* Steak
* Fish
* Frozen Vegetables - Peas, Carrots, Green Beans, etc.
* Hebrew National Beef Franks in a  Blanket
* Tyson Fun Nuggets
* Ian's Products - they make a pizza, nuggets, mac-n-cheese, etc.
* Amy's Rice Macaroni
* Road's End Organics Mac & Chreese
* Alpha Buddies Chicken Breast Nuggets
* Boca Spicy Chik'n Veggie Patties
* Alexis Sweet Potato Fries
* Ancient Harvest Quinoa
* Al Fresco Chicken Sausage - variety of flavors
* Rotisserie Chicken

Snacks/Desserts (Again - let me stress, this is not a "healthy" list per say, but it keeps my kid happy!!)
* Keebler Club Crackers - Original
* Ritz Crackers - Original
* Glutino Pretzels & Glutino Pretzel Sticks
* Sunbutter (an amazing replacement for peanut butter!)
* Dried fruit --- Be careful of store brands - I was amazed to discover that the Sam's Club brand is labeled for cross-contamination with peanuts!!!
* Honey Maid Graham Crackers
* Honey Maid Teddy Grahams; Chocolate Teddy Grahams (ingredients are listed for chocolate, but warning on box is only for wheat/soy allergens)
* Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
* Nabisco Lorna Doone Cookies
* Skittles
* Pez 
* Biscoff European Cookie Spread (when you need to pack a sandwich for on the go, this is my go-to!)
* Fruit - Bananas, Strawberries, Mangos, Apple slices, Watermelon, Blueberries, etc.
* Annie's Cocoa; Vanilla Bunny Cookies
* Annie's SnickerDoodle Bunny Cookies
* Annie's Fruit Snacks
* Angie's Kettle Corn
* Angie's Sea Salt Popcorn
* Yogavive Apple Chips (variety of flavors)
* Plum Organics Teensy Fruits (variety of flavors)
* Gimbal's Fine Candies - Gourmet Jelly Beans
* Del Monte Squeezeable Fruit Tubes (variety of flavors)
* Bare Fruit All-Natural Apple Chips (variety of flavors)
* Enjoy Life bars (variety of flavors) - If you've read this blog at any point, you must be aware of Georgia's absolute addiction to Cocoa Loco bars!!
* Enjoy Life cookies (variety of flavors)
* Enjoy Life Plentils (warning - I can eat an entire bag of the sea salt flavor in 5 min!)
* Florida's Natural Organic Nuggets (variety of flavors)
* Fritos Original Corn Chips
* Dr. Lucy's Cookies (variety of flavors)
* Little Duck Organics Tiny Fruits (variety of flavors)
* Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Mini Bites
* Nabisco Oreo Chocolate 
* Orgran Outback Animal Cookies (variety of flavors)
* HomeFree cookies (variety of flavors)
* Nature's Place All Natural Fruit Twists
* Wegman's Fruit Twists
* YumEarth Organics Pops & YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears
* Kellogg's Fruit Flavored Snacks (variety of flavors) - I think we own a box in every imaginable Disney movie or character!!
* Cherrybrook Kitchen cookie, brownie and cake mixes (variety of flavors)
* Harris Teeter Natural Lite Pop - microwave popcorn WITHOUT butter!!
* Pillsbury Confetti Funfetti Frostings (variety of flavors)
* Lauren's Gourmet Sugar Cookie mix
* Wholesome Chow baking mixes (variety of flavors)
* Vegetables - Broccoli, Carrots, Celery, etc.
* So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt (variety of flavors)
* So Delicious Dairy Free Desserts - Be careful, some of these products contain peanut/almonds
* Rice Dream & Soy Dream Frozen Desserts
Ah!Laska Organic Chocolate Syrup
* Popsicles
* Flavor Ice 

I am absolutely obsessed with Cybele Pascal's website - her baked good always taste amazing and I have baked a number of her desserts over the years.

* Heinz Tomato Ketchup
* French's Classic Yellow Mustard
* Kikkoman Soy Sauce
* Jack Daniel's Original No. 7 Recipe BBQ Sauce
* Salsa
* Olive Oil/Canola Oil
* Most spices/seasonings

The only condiments that we really have to look closely at are salad dressings, since many of them are dairy/egg based (if something is "creamy," be suspicious).  Some honey-mustard dressings also contain dairy. We have yet to try mayonnaise, miracle whip, etc., but hope to try those this summer as Georgia appears to be outgrowing her egg allergy.

I feel like I can just about modify any recipe out there with a few of my new favorite friends:
* Ener-G Egg Replacer
* Earth Balance Vegan Shortening 
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
* Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips/Morsels
* Mott's Applesauce
* Crisco Shortening
* Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
* Hershey's Cocoa
* Daiya cheese products (yup, you can have a dairy allergy and still eat pizza!!!)

Since we have to avoid cow's milk, we were recommended to start with rice milk after Georgia transitioned off breast milk.  However, we were concerned about the lack of fat in rice milk and when her weight plateaued for awhile, we started to add coconut milk to her rice milk in a 50/50 split.  Since adding the coconut milk, her weight has continually increased.
* Rice Dream 
* So Delicious Coconut Milk
* Water 

Only recently did we even start to expose Georgia to ANYTHING else besides milk and water.  But a few of our newer favorites for on-the-go drinks include:
* Honest Kids juices
* Tropicana Orange Juice
* So Delicious Chocolate Coconut Milk

I'm sure I forgot a lot of products, but I think this is a good basic list to get anyone started.   Obviously, life with food allergies can be challenging, but I still feel like Georgia gets to eat a variety of tasty food each day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're the best!! I'm taking this list to Whole Foods right now! Thanks for the crash course in allergies. Xoxo, Your BFF