Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Dairy-Free Substitutes April 30, 2012

A few friends of mine recently found out they were lactose intolerant and others have discovered their children are allergic to dairy.  In response, I sent them my dairy-free cheat sheet so they could eat without problems.

 

If you find yourself in the same position or know someone who is, here’s a list of some dairy-free substitutes to help you out:

 

Margarine (also use for baking, etc):  

Earth’s Balance Buttery Spread (or Sticks) or

Smart Balance Organic (the vegan kind seen here:  

Both taste exactly the same as margarine and work well in baked goods.

 

Ice Cream:

We sub sorbet for ice cream as it is nearly always milk-free.  We buy either Haagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s variety, although there are probably others that work.  There are also many places to find sorbet (restaurants, ice cream shops, etc) in our area and elsewhere (see  https://shmallergy.wordpress.com/tag/sorbet/).

 

Cream Cheese:  

Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (tastes almost exactly like regular cream cheese).  Tofutti also makes dairy-free sour cream which mimics regular sour cream and dairy-free cheese pizza (found in the frozen food section).

 
 

Chocolate Chips:  

A great way to satisfy that chocolate craving is with Chocolate Dream chocolate chips which are dairy-free.  So are Guittard Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.

 

Frosting:

Pillsbury’s Cream Supreme frosting is amazingly dairy-free.  So, if you’re not interested in making it from scratch, here’s a great off-the-shelf option.

 

There are a few things that are surprisingly dairy-free “naturally” (using that VERY loosely), like Oreos (all sugar! no milk!) and Nabisco Sugar Wafers.  You may be surprised at what contains and doesn’t contain milk, so I would start reading the backs of everything without assumptions!

 

Best of all, I have found all of the above products in our local Safeway, Giant and Whole Foods!  Convenient and dairy-free!

 

Now here’s where you help me:  We’ve tried tons of soy yogurts but still haven’t found one that tastes similar to its dairy counterpart.  Let me know if you all come across one!  Also, looking for a decent tasting dairy-free cheese.  Would love to hear if anyone has had any luck with that?

 
 
 
 
 
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React? Act! April 25, 2012

Like a lot of people these days, my kids are sneezing up a storm from spring airborne allergies.  And, for my older son:  this often means an increase in his asthma.  As if the sniffling wasn’t bad enough!

 

After his first spring asthmatic reaction in school (a doozy – the kind that he hasn’t had in a long time!), we had a chat.  Knowing my son and his proclivity for following classroom rules,  I assumed correctly that my son was trying to wait until his lesson was over to let his teacher know he was wheezing.  That won’t do!  Not only is wheezing the first symptom of asthma, but can also be a symptom for a food allergy reaction.  We had to re-emphasize the importance of reporting to adults even if it means interrupting them or demanding their attention.

 

My husband and I told him that one of the FEW exceptions to following the school and classroom rules is when you don’t feel well. “If you are wheezing, you need to tell the teacher right away – even if she’s talking or teaching the class.  If you are at recess, find an adult in charge and tell THEM right away.”  We very calmly expanded the lesson to include food allergy symptoms, “If your belly feels sick, if you have hives or an itchy throat, you must also tell an adult right away.  Even if those feelings aren’t really bothering you yet. It’s important to let the nurse see what’s going on so you can get back to playing!”

 

Thankfully, my son digested this lesson very well.  Since this chat, he’s been speaking up and heading to the nurse to get a puff of his inhaler as needed.  Not only does it empower him, but it helps keep his wheezing from escalating to a full-blown asthma attack.

 

Our hope is that calmly and gently teaching kids to recognize signs of asthma and allergic reactions will make them feel in control and ultimately help protect them.

 

Nut-Free Pumpkin Seeds at a Discount! April 23, 2012

Finding nut-free seeds is like finding Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket.  Bizarrely difficult.

 

Enter Gerbs.

 

I’ve already tried the Toasted Onion and Garlic variety (see Found: Nut-Free Seeds).  And, now we can’t stop eating the Touch of Sea Salt.  Gerbs are addictively delicious!  And, a great way to satisfy those nut cravings in our nut-free household.  Plus, they are safe to send to school, camp, and playdates.  Too bad I have to share them with the rest of the fam!

 

If you want to try them, check their website for local retailers -OR- you can order online and receive a 10% discount on your entire order by using the code “SHMALLERGY”.

Let me know if anyone tries the trail mix!  Mmmm…..

 

French Meadow Bakery – Gluten-Free at your Fingertips April 19, 2012

I’ve noticed this little freezer in the bakery section in our local Safeway for a while but hadn’t had an excuse to explore it until this year.  My son’s classmate and teacher are both allergic to wheat.  So I’ve taken to getting a little something special for them for class parties and other school celebrations.

 

As it turns out, this freezer in our bakery is reserved almost exclusively for French Meadow Bakery products:  brownies, breads, bagels, cookies, pizza crust and tortillas – ALL gluten-free!  The beauty of these products is that they are frozen, so they have a long shelf life if you need them to.  For us, it’s wonderful because although we are no longer allergic to wheat, it’s nice to have these on hand for my son’s friends and other visitors who do eat gluten-free.

 

Available locally at Giant, Wegman’s, Safeway, and Whole Foods.

Gluten-Free Fudge BrowniesGluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Gluten-Free TortillaGluten-Free Pizza Crust 2-Pack

 

I Eat Park City: Last One (for now) – Vinto April 17, 2012

 

On our last night in Park City, we decided to try Vinto’s.  The decor and ambiance was bright, fun, and inviting.  And, having won so many dining awards, it was no surprise that the food was great!  What a fabulous way to end our amazing trip.

 

My boys decided to order something simple (plain pasta with olive oil), so it’s not fair for me to judge Vinto’s allergy-friendliness.  However, I will say that the fact that they have both gluten-free pasta and gluten-free pizza crust is a good start.  Plus, there’s sorbetto (sorbet!) for dessert….  Lifeis sweet in Park City!

 

Off-the-Shelf School Safe Treats (Nut-Free!) April 13, 2012

While at the zoo the other day, my friend whipped out these individually-wrapped treats for our boys.  My youngest son (not allergic, but still a picky palette) wolfed it down in less than 3 bites.  To say he liked them seemed like an understatement.  Better yet, it turns out that these treats were purchased from our local Whole Foods!  How could I have missed them before.

 

Treasure Mills School Safe Products are 100% tree nut and peanut-free.  And, as implied in the name, they are perfect for classroom parties, school/camp snacks, playdates, etc.  They appear to make many products from breads to cookies to brownies to mini-cakes.  And that’s not all!  Treasure Mills lists the safety of their foods against sesame seed, wheat, dairy, egg, soy, sulfite, fish/shellfish allergies as well as which products are reduced fat, sugar free and trans-fat free.

 

Treasure Mills products can be found in a number of stores including Walmart, Whole Foods, and Costco (in Canada).  I’ll be on the hunt for these tomorrow!

 

I Eat Park City cont’d: Maxwell’s April 11, 2012

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Maxwell’s, known for their delicious NY-style pizza, was a *HUGE* find after a long, arduous afternoon tubing (yes, tubing!).  Reading through their hilariously named pizza options, I noticed they serve a gluten-free pie!   A cause to celebrate (and eat!) if you’re in the market for a GF dinner.

 

It’s a restaurant I certainly won’t “fugettabout” for next time.