What Brands to trust?

As my son gets older and can eat a wider variety of things,  it’s becoming more common to have to real Every Bloomin Label on Every Bloomin Thing we buy.  It will be nice when I am familiar with some reliable brands that we can trust for processed foods.

Snack foods & cereals seem the hardest. I could not believe how many cereal boxes I had to read through, passing up many organic & natural & fabulous brands, just to find one or two that were nut-contamination-free.   Here are Brands  I now trust & Zack (my son) loves to eat as well:

Lundberg – In particular their (organic) rice cakes are a great snack, which include some savory flavor options that have been a big hit.

Fiber One –  I once thought of this as an old person’s cereal but now that we’ve tried it  I have to say both my son and myself love this as a breakfast or snack! The flavor seems so nutty and rich to me & it’s totally safe.

Dum Dums – Not that any of us every feed our kids candy 🙂 but in case of emergencies this is a perfect item to have on hand.  Unlike 99% of candy which has unavoidable cross-contamination, Dum-Dum lollipops are made on dedicated-nut-free equipment!  Rock on!

I’d love to hear of any other trustworthy & yummy brands out there!

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Pesto!

I am a HUGE fan of Pesto sauce and decided to ask around & find out a way to add it to my son’s  menu in a nut-free way.    Pumpkin seeds seem to be the answer to keeping a delicious “nutty” flavor in a nearly-classic pesto sauce!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup(s) hulled, roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 tablespoon(s) fresh-grated Parmesan
  • 2 clove(s) garlic
  • 1 cup(s) basil
  • 1/2 cup(s) fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon(s) lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup(s) extra-virgin olive oil

Note:  Even Trader Joe carries pepitas so hopefully they are not too hard to come by.  Some packages may have a process-in-a-facility-with-nuts warning. You can also buy raw pumpkin seeds and roast them at home in a manner of minutes – DELISH!


Directions

  1. Make the pesto: Combine the pumpkin seeds, Parmesan, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the seeds are finely ground — about 30 seconds. Add the basil, parsley, lemon juice, and lemon zest and pulse in the olive oil until the herbs are chopped and olive oil is just incorporated. Serve immediately, refrigerate for up to two days, or freeze for up to two months until ready to use.

I will cook it up this weekend to see if it goes over well with my 2 year old. 🙂

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Nut Free Living – Navigating a Nutty World

Hello World!

My interest in blogging is primarily to help collect & share information about how to navigate through nutty situations (play dates, school, restaurants, grocery stores, recipes, holidays, bakeries…)  with a child diagnosed with nut allergy.  Some of my interest in blogging may also be to complain about how annoying or frustrating or frightening this allergy can be,  but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum.

Here is my son, who currently age 2 1/2 and seems happily oblivious to the lack of nuts in his life.

Very Happy despite lack of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups!

Things get trickier the more time he spends in public settings. Up until age 2, his exposure to foods has been limited essentially to the ultra-safe haven of our home & the foods I pack out with us.  But as play dates take place and preschool has begun, I see a taste of  the coming challenges of protecting him from exposure amidst oh so many unknowns!

I recently started hosting play dates in my new neighborhood, and it’s already been a learning experience when it comes to food.  For one thing, at this age, Zack won’t hesitate to grab food from others!  Luckily as the co-organizer of the play group we made clear rules for the play dates- parents can bring food but everything should be nut free.  Other parents, verbally, are extremely respectful of such a request & even offer to go out of their way to comply.

But so far, every single attending parent has brought off-limits foods to the play dates at least once.   This was not out of malice of course, but assumptions that “nut allergy” meant almond butter was okay, or that “plain M&Ms” were safe as opposed to  “peanut M&Ms” despite the warning on the package “may contain nuts”.

I am already thinking it will prove helpful to start being specific (and yet somehow not pushy?) when people ask  about what is okay to bring/serve/etc.  The problem is I don’t know what to suggest.   I’ve had preschool parents ask what brands to buy that are OK for Zack.   I have no idea! We tend to buy primarily actual foods, not package pre-prepared or processed foods, so I have no clue what brands to trust.

Even among the brands I do buy– I question what can be relied on.  After a year of Quaker Rice Cakes being a trusted snack, their packaging label changed to include “may contain pieces of nuts”.  When did that change even take place,  I don’t know.

What brands do you trust? What types of foods? How do you communicate with other well-meaning but unknowing parents?   H. E. L. P.

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