Allergy Shmallergy

Simplifying life for families with food allergies.

Nut or Not? Food Allergy Facts and Myths January 2, 2018

When you get a food allergy diagnosis, there is so much to learn… including what foods ARE and ARE NOT safe to eat. Let’s clear up some of the confusion surrounding different allergens and which food groups they belong in.  As always, speak with your allergist before adding any new food into your diet.


coconut-2592257_1920 StockSnap

COCONUT:  Coconuts are actually a member of the palm fruit family.  And, although they have “nut” in the name, they are not officially a nut.  That said, the FDA classifies them as a nut so you will see “TREE NUTS” listed on many U.S. product labels when coconut is an ingredient.

Verdict: While some people are allergic to coconut, most patients with a tree nut allergy can safely eat it.  Speak with your doctor before trying.


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NUTMEG:  Nutmeg is a spice that comes from seeds, not nuts.  Again, although “nut” is in the name, it’s technically NOT a tree nut.

Verdict:  According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), it can safely be consumed by those with tree nut allergies.


ravioli-1949698_1920 Einladung_zum_Essen

PINE NUTS:  You may have heard the rumor that pine nuts are actually seeds.  And, that’s true.  BUT, there is some evidence of cross-reaction between pine nuts and peanut and almond allergies.  Doctors and researchers cannot isolate whether reactions to pine nuts are due to cross-reaction or to a separate pine nut allergy.  The FDA labels it as a tree nut.

Verdict:  Those allergic to tree nuts should AVOID eating pine nuts.


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WATER CHESTNUTS:  Another case of mislabeling.  Water Chestnuts are an aquatic vegetable.  They are named for their shape that resembles a chestnut.  Like any food, occasionally people find themselves allergic to water chestnuts.  But they are not tree nuts.

Verdict:  Those with tree nut allergies do NOT need to avoid water chestnuts.


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SHEA NUT:  Shea nut butter and shea nut oil can be found in many skin and beauty products.  Both shea nut butter and shea nut oil are derived from the seed of the shea tree’s fruit.  The shea nut is a distant relative of the Brazil nut and, as such, FDA considers shea nut a tree nut and will label it as such on ingredient lists.  Per Dr. Sicherer (via Allergic Living, read more here), studies have shown that only trace amounts of protein reside in shea nut butter or oil and no reports of topical immediate reaction or ingestion have been reported.

Verdict: Although allergy to shea nut appears to be unlikely because shea nut butter and oil lacks protein, please discuss with your allergist to get individualized guidance.


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ARGAN OIL:  Argan oil comes from the nut of a tree commonly found in the Moroccan desert.  Because the oil is cold-pressed, it is likely to contain protein. Argan oil is becoming an increasingly common ingredient in hair products such as styling oil, shampoo, conditioner as well as other beauty products.  You should check out how they’re made; it’s surprising!

Verdict:  If you’re allergic to tree nuts, it’s probably best to avoid Argan oil until you discuss with your allergist.


butternut-74196_640 lebelsmittlefotos

BUTTERNUT SQUASH:  Again, it’s a misnomer:  there is “nut” in the name, but not in the product.  As you guessed, butternut squash is a vegetable.

Verdict:  Butternut squash is not only safe for those with tree nuts to consume, it’s also delicious!


THE BOTTOM LINE:  Most of the above products are safe for those with food allergies (woohoo!), but you should always discuss your particular allergies with your doctor before adding any food you are unsure of to your diet.


For your reference, here is the US Food and Drug Administration’s list of Tree Nuts:

  • Almond
  • Beech Nut
  • Brazil Nut
  • Butternut
  • Cashew
  • Chestnut
  • Chinquapin
  • Coconut
  • Filbert/Hazelnut
  • Ginko Nut
  • Hickory Nut
  • Lichee Nut
  • Macadamia Nut/Bush Nut
  • Pecan
  • Pine Nut/Pinon Nut
  • Pili Nut
  • Pistachio
  • Sheanut
  • Walnut/Heartnut/Butternut

Tree Nut or Not_


Allergy-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes November 20, 2017

It’s actually fairly easy to create a Thanksgiving dinner that everyone can enjoy easily.  With just a couple of ingredient swaps, there’s almost no part of this inclusive meal that you’ll need to omit!  Try some of the below, post a photo and let me know how it all turns out!



You’ll Never Miss It Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes (via Allergy Shmallergy)

By using broth and dairy-free butter instead of buttermilk, these mashed potatoes turn out savory and delicious – right down to the last lick on your fork.  My guests have always loved this recipe!

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Pacific Foods Organic Vegan Mushroom Gravy

Available at local supermarkets, this gravy is both dairy and egg-free.  Another thing it has going for it?  You don’t need to prepare it!  **This gravy DOES contain almonds (almond butter) – please avoid if you are allergic to tree nuts!**

Pacific Foods Organic Vegan Gravy



Did you know you can make your own dairy-free (and gluten-free) cream of mushroom soup?  Why is this important?  Because cream of mushroom soup is the base for delicious green bean casserole!


The Kitchen Girl blog posted an easy recipe for Can’t Believe It’s Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Her recipe uses unsweetened almond milk; but if you’re allergic to tree nuts (as we are) you could substitute that for unsweetened soy milk or rice milk.  And, as a bonus, her soup is also gluten-free.  Looks DELICIOUS!


The magazine Gluten-Free & More posted a recipe for Dairy-free, Gluten-free Green Bean Casserole.  It involves creating your own gluten-free breaded onions to top the dish – just like the original recipe.  Those onions are my favorite part – I’d double this part of the recipe for my table!



The big obstacle for allergy-friendly stuffing?  Gluten!  Those pesky bread cubes make it a tough sell for those with a wheat allergy or celiac disease.  Enter Williams-Sonoma: they carry Mariposa Baking Co. Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing.  This rosemary and sage version contains egg and soy (and is manufactured in shared equipment with milk), but is gluten-free and pre-packaged.  One less thing to stress about!


If you can’t make it to the market, you can also order Three Bakers Herb Gluten-Free Seasoned Whole Grain Cubed Stuffing (contains egg) from Amazon Prime!



Dessert is always tricky for those with food allergies.  Holiday desserts are typically filled with butter, egg, gluten and nuts.


But these Allergy-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies have (almost) none of those things!  They are easy to make, can feed a crowd, and offer an alternative to make them gluten-free.  They combine the delicious, comfort of a regular chocolate chip cookies with the flavor-du-jour pumpkin spice!


Another favorite holiday dessert in our house is Sorbet Pie.  It’s light and refreshing (something much needed after a big, savory dinner) and it’s dairy-free, egg-free, peanut and tree nut-free.  Be sure to give the pie times to refreeze before serving!



(Thank you in advance! A portion of the proceeds of the affiliate links go toward – an organization aimed at helping at risk families with food allergies.)


No Bake, Almost Everything-free Granola Bars  September 20, 2016

Filed under: Recipes & Cooking — malawer @ 11:43 am

It’s only the third week of school and I’m not going to lie: packing school lunches are weighing me down.  Each day I struggle with not just what to pack each day but how to streamline the process so I can get the kids out the door on time.  After I make five meals inside 40 minutes (not to mention rounding up shoes and homework and instruments and sports equipment…), there isn’t time to think about baking safe snacks.  I’m exhausted just writing about it…


Food allergic families cannot often rely on convenient, pre-packaged foods like breakfast bars and snack bags due to unsafe ingredients or cross-contamination.  Here’s an easy no bake recipe for peanut-free, tree nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free and optionally gluten-free granola bars that you can make ahead of time and freeze for your child’s lunch box or a quick after school snack.  These granola bars are the perfect combination of salty and sweet; I dare you not to eat one once the kids jump on the bus!


No-Bake, Almost Everything-Free Chocolate Chunk Pretzel Granola Bars (Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan and optionally Gluten-Free)



Granola bars are traditionally hard to find without dairy or cross-contamination with nuts. And, gluten-free varieties are costly. These no-bake granola bars are as easy to make as they are to consume! Once made, you can wrap and freeze the bars so that they’re ready to pop into a lunchbox in the morning or into a hungry mouth in the afternoon.



¼ cup honey

¼ cup dairy-free butter

¼ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp Sunbutter or other safe peanut butter substitute

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 cups regular or gluten free quick oats

1 cup Rice Krispie cereal or Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice cereal (a gluten-free alternative)

1 cup pretzel or gluten free pretzel pieces

1 cup dairy free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks)



Place parchment paper in 9×13” baking pan.


In large bowl, combine oats, cereal, pretzel pieces and chocolate chips. Set aside.


Over low heat, melt honey and butter together. Remove from heat and whisk in brown sugar, Sunbutter and vanilla extract. Pour over dry mixture. Fold repeatedly to thoroughly coat dry mixture.


Pour contents of bowl into baking pan. Press down firmly and evenly to distribute the mixture. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour before cutting into squares or rectangles (like supermarket bought granola bars).


Wrap unused bars in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for best quality.




BEST Gluten-Free (and Optionally Egg-Free) Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cole’s Moveable Feast August 31, 2016

Filed under: Recipes & Cooking — malawer @ 11:45 am

Lucky us, Nicole Seevers of Cole’s Moveable Feast didn’t just answer my questions… she also shared her BEST Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe (which contains instructions for an egg substitute)!  Now’s a great time to make a batch to pop into lunch boxes… or mouths.

Nicole, taste buds everywhere are thanking you!

BEST Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or dairy-free margarine, room temperature (my favorites are Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks or Fleischmann’s Margarine)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs or equivalent egg substitute for cookies (below)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (King Arthur Gluten Free Multipurpose Flour is my favorite off-the-shelf blend)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Mega Chunks are my favorite)



  1. In a stand mixer, cream together butter/margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs (or substitute) and vanilla and beat until just combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat on low until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour.
  4. When ready to bake, heat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Scoop dough out in tight rounded mounds (I like to use an ice cream scoop) and place about 3 inches apart on baking sheets. (You will need to do multiple batches ~ refrigerate dough between batches). Do not flatten the dough.  Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown at the edges. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer with a spatula to cooling racks to cool completely.
  7. For EACH egg, combine 2T unsweetened applesauce, 1t ground flaxseed meal and 1/2t baking soda. Allow to stand a few minutes before using in cookie recipe.

Dairy-free Frozen Dessert! Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free Peach Pie August 17, 2016

Filed under: Grocery and Supermarkets,Recipes & Cooking — malawer @ 12:00 pm

This is an Evite® and So Delicious® Dairy Free sponsored post.

Evite Peach Pie-30


If your family is balancing multiple food allergies, you already know how hard it is

to find recipes that are safe for everyone. I think most of us would agree that if dairy

and gluten are two of the allergens you are avoiding, dessert is the hardest.

Beyond the obvious foods, allergens sneak their way into so many items: dairy is in

chocolate, eggs are in custard, gluten can be found in frozen treats. For some, safe

dessert feels like a lost cause.



But don’t despair! Just check out this delicious looking Gluten-Free, Vegan Peach Pie

featured on Evite’s Party Ideas page. With a short list of basic ingredients, you could

feed a whole crowd – including those with gluten, dairy and egg allergies! Make it the

day before serving and you have a ready-to- go dessert for your next barbeque. Plus,

it’s peak peach season. So, now you have something you can make from all the ripe,

mouth-watering peaches you picked up from the farmers market.



And what could make this recipe better? A scoop of creamy, dairy-free frozen

dessert, of course! Enter: So Delicious® Dairy Free Frozen Desserts. To me, vanilla

is the perfect pairing for peach pie. So Delicious Dairy Free makes not one, but two

vanillas using the dairy-free base of your choice. And, their coconut flavor is making

my mouth water as I type this!


So Delicious® Dairy Free Soymilk Frozen Dessert in Creamy Vanilla

So Delicious® Dairy Free Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert in Coconut

And their new line, So Delicious® Cashewmilk Frozen Dessert in Very Vanilla



For the full recipe, check out the original post on Evite’s Party Ideas Page: Ditch the

Dairy and Make This Vegan Peach Pie for Your Next Party.



So Delicious® Dairy Free is an allergy-aware company. Please read their Allergen

Information statement to see what lengths they go to keep their customers safe.

And, as always, be sure to check the ingredient list.



Now let’s get baking!


The Beauty of Hampton Creek Mayo (and Bang Bang Chicken) January 18, 2016

Before I dole out this delicious allergy-friendly recipe for Bang Bang Chicken (dairy, egg, nut and sesame-free), I need to gush a little about Hampton Creek.


If you don’t know of this company, check them out.  They are revolutionizing the ingredients we use in some of our much beloved foods.  Hampton Creek aims to recreate foods (such as mayonnaise and cookies) with affordable, healthier, and more sustainable versions that are just as delicious!  They make dairy, egg and nut-free cookie dough that you can eat from the container carefree!  Need I say more?!  Okay, one more thing – their allergen menu identifies foods beyond the standard eight and they are very forthcoming about their equipment and facilities.

Hampton Creek allergen screenshot


I’ve had my eye on this company for a long time.  So needless to say, I was thrilled when they sent me a mayo sampler.  Check it out:  who knew there were so many different flavors of mayonnaise?!  I was instantly hungry for a sandwich.  And, if you’re wondering (and I know I would be): yes, the mayo tastes the same even without the egg!

Just Mayo Sriracha caught my eye.  So I decided to create a recipe as an excuse to use it.  Thus, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Sesame-Free, Nut-Free Bang Bang Chicken was born!


Allergy Friendly Bang Bang Chicken with Hampton Creek Sriracha Dipping Sauce



1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 chunks

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup olive oil, preferably infused with minced garlic over low heat

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


For the sauce:

Hampton Creek Just Mayo Sriracha



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Combine panko breadcrumbs, paprika and garlic powder on plate or in shallow bowl.

3.  Dip chicken chunks into infused olive oil, then coat with panko breadcrumbs.

4.  Place wire cooling rack on baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.

5.  Place coated chicken on wire rack.

6.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and any juice run clear.

7.  Place chicken on serving plate and either drizzle with Hampton Creek’s Sriracha mayo or serve sriracha mayonnaise as dipping sauce on the side.


Step 3: After dipping in garlic infused olive oil, coat chicken in panko breadcrumbs.

Step 5: Oven ready!  Place coated chicken on wire rack.


Baking at 375 degrees F.  Don’t they look good already?!

GET IN MY MOUTH!  These were crispy where they should be, juicy and with the right amount of tang and kick in the sauce.  Addition of green onions, optional.  Maybe next time – I couldn’t wait to eat them.



Nut, Egg and Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread July 8, 2015

I wonder if every family is the same…  One week my kids can’t eat enough bananas.  The next week, they’re not at all interested.  So we cycle between having an empty fruit bowl and having overripe bananas.

This used to frustrate me.  Then I looked at the sunny side of having too many bananas: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!  This bread is delicious.  I mean mouthwatering delicious…  I recommend heating it up in the toaster oven or microwave briefly and eating plain (with lots of napkins to let those melty chocolate chips know who’s boss) or with butter.  I might have to make some now…

I omitted the nuts often called for in banana bread recipes and adapted this particular one to be egg and dairy-free.  I already can’t wait for breakfast!

Almost Everything-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup dairy-free butter or shortening

1 cup whole wheat flour + 1 cup white flour (you can use all white or all wheat as well)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3-4 bananas)

1/2-3/4 cups dairy-free, nut-free chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter (or shortening) for approximately 5 minutes (note: mixture does not get smooth).  Add dry mixture little by little to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with mashed bananas and beating after each addition.  Stir in approximately safe chocolate chips with a spoon.  The batter will be fairly thick.

Grease 9″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pan.  Spoon batter into pan and bake at 350F for approximately 40 minutes or until toothpick can be inserted/removed cleanly from thickest point in bread.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Mashed bananas (does anyone else hear The Wiggles song when you read that?!). Looks gooey now, but this is flavor gold!

The dry ingredients.

Can you smell it? To ensure you have a moist – but not undercooked – bread, check it with a toothpick. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before moving to wire rack.

When’s breakfast? Maybe we serve this for dinner…

I had to snap this quickly. That butter was melting fast against the warm chocolate chip bread. And, the sweet banana smell was intoxicating!