Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Halloween and Food Allergies October 28, 2012


Halloween tends to make parents of food allergic children fairly tense.  And, with good reason:  so much peanut-laden and dairy-filled  candy!  So much of it unlabeled in those small snack sizes!


Most of us aren’t used to our children being around such an abundant amount of their allergens and we worry how they will feel.


But there are a few simple ways to keep kids safe during trick-or-treat time!


1.  Have a talk with your kids about the various candies that are not be safe for them.  It’s important to have this discussion before heading out the door on their sugar scavenger hunt so they can make wise decisions when grabbing goodies from plastic pumpkins.


2.  Also, remind your child not to eat ANY candy along the way.  All candy consumption should be done under your supervision and ideally, back at a house.


3.  If you’ll be trick-or-treating with your child, remember to bring their Emergency On-the-Go-Pack (with EpiPens) and a cellphone in addition to a flashlight. I have often brought a grocery bag to stick any peanutty treats in as we go.


4.  Stock up on allergy-friendly candy (or fun Halloween toys, like glow rings and plastic spiders) for your child and let them know you have their favorite treats on hand.  You have several options to work with here:

a.  If you know the neighbors well, it’s a great idea to plant some safe candy around the neighborhood so that your child can get the full experience of trick-or-treating and you get the peace of mind that they’re receiving treats they can enjoy.

b.  If you have a young child, you can follow them door to door and just slip one into your child’s bag in lieu of an allergic treat.

c.  In the case of older kids:  they can exchange their UNsafe loot for safe candy at the end of the night.  Knowing that they have a safe option at home will ensure they have a great time trick-or-treating and prevent them from feeling disappointed if house after house is handing out Peanut M&Ms, for example.


5.  Finally, make the fun and inevitable candy swap work for your child’s allergy!  A supervised candy swap can serve your food allergic child well!  Make a pile of all the candy he/she is allergic to and/or doesn’t prefer and let him trade away for things that are safe.  They can either trade with friends (again, under your supervision) or swap with the safe candy/treats you purchased!  Everyone wins!


Individually wrapped candy (often in snack sizes) don’t always have ingredient information.  Make the internet your friend in making sure candy is safe for your child:


Happy Halloween!


Looking for an Allergy Medical Band for Your Child? October 21, 2012

Filed under: Preparedness — malawer @ 7:31 pm
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Check your local pharmacy.  Walgreen’s is selling AllerMates Wristbands in their seasonal aisle!   See Wear and Prepare: Medical Alert Bracelets for information on other options for medical identification bracelets for food allergies.



The Peanut-Free Table October 17, 2012

I’m so proud of our school and so grateful to the head of our Lower School who is conscious of and working towards improving the emotional well-being of our food allergic students.


I have mixed feelings about the Peanut-Free Table at elementary schools.  While I appreciate that it helps teachers and administrators keep food allergic kids safe during lunchtime, I am concerned that it may exacerbate social issues that those kids already face.


Kids with food allergies already know what it’s like to feel excluded.  They are excluded all the time.  From the food at most in-class parties, from dessert at restaurants, treats at birthday parties, team celebrations, holidays, from the concession stand at the movies… the list could go on and on.


In the meantime, I had approached the head of our elementary school last year to discuss an idea I had.  After reading, The Peanut-Free Cafe, it occurred to me that we too could create a fun, desirable environment for our food allergic kids to enjoy.  They shouldn’t feel excluded from their class/friends’ tables.  We needed to create a space where food allergic kids could feel enthusiastic to eat!


The head happily agreed this was an idea we could work on!  Our school recently rebuilt its cafeteria and included an area, right near the beautiful wall-to-wall windows, where our school’s new “Peanut-Free Cafe” would go.  It is a space that, by year’s end, will be filled with the kids’ own artwork;  where they can invite their friends to join them.  And, where my son is excited to sit!


Fluffy Dairy-Free Pancakes October 1, 2012

Filed under: Recipes & Cooking — malawer @ 8:57 pm
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Watching his brother eat pancake after pancake, morning after morning, has finally piqued my FA son’s curiosity.  Even though he has tried various allergy-free pancakes several times (without truly enjoying them), he recently requested them.


Without pre-prepared pancake mix on hand, I researched a recipe and tweaked it to make it dairy-free.  Success!  These would taste great with cinnamon, chocolate chips, blueberries…Give it a whirl:  you may never go back to a mix again!



3/4 cup vanilla soy milk

2 Tablespoons white vinegar

1 cup flour

2 Tablespoons white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 Tablespoons dairy-free butter, melted

cooking spray/dairy-free butter


Combine soy milk and vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for approximately 5 minutes to sour.


Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl.   Whisk egg and dairy-free butter into soured milk.  Pour flour mixture into soured milk mixture and whisk until lumps have mostly disappeared.


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with either cooking spray, or (as I prefer) dairy-free butter.  Pour 1/4 cups of batter onto skillet to form pancakes.  Cook until bubbles form on one side before flipping.  Continue cooking until lightly browned on the other side.


NB:  You may wish to *carefully* wipe the skillet with a dry paper towel between rounds of pancakes to remove the browned butter.  If you do, remember to add a little more butter to coat the pan and to turn down the heat slightly for another perfect round of ‘cakes.  Mmmmm…. I can’t wait for breakfast!