As I became an avid label reader, I was taken aback by the number of ingredients in processed foods. In addition, there were so many items in the food I didn’t even recognize. Mystery ingredients and the potential for cross-contamination in restaurant kitchens threw me into unknown territory… the kitchen. Below are some items I grew fond of. These items are not “must-haves” for living with food allergies, but are “nice-to-haves.” They are not in any particular order. I have been told (by my husband) that I love “gadgets.” Well, why not, often they serve multiple purposes and can make daunting tasks a little bit easier. So as I ventured into my new allergy-free kitchen, I collected some fun gadgets.
KitchenAid Mixer: This is an item I never thought I would own, a KitchenAid mixer. I’m not sure I even knew what a KitchenAid mixer before to my transition to a food allergy parent. I asked for this “gadget” for Christmas. Many baked goods are labeled with “may contain” allergen statements. As a parent of a child with peanut allergies, I found myself baking for school parties, birthday parties (mine and others), and holidays. You name it if there could be a baked good present I was going to have a nut-free safe treat right next to it for my kids. I have used my KitchenAid for years! It was a fantastic investment.
Wilton Baking Products: As I became an amateur baking aficionado I wanted my baked goods to look pretty and somewhat professional. As I began to look at baking “gadgets” (I can’t call them essentials) I found Wilton. Wilton is all about making your baked goods look special. With some simple cake-decorating tools, your cakes will look amazing. Check out these Disney cake molds. I am going to look for pictures of my cakes to post. When you see them, please remember we all start somewhere 😉
Cupcakes to Go: If you’re like me you may find yourself baking individual treats for your child to have when other cakes etc.. are going to be served. Individual cupcake holders and cake containers come in handy. My kids took their cupcakes to every birthday party so individual containers were lifesavers as the frosting is often the best part.
Dehydrator: My son was a Boy Scout. Scouts love trail mix on hiking and overnight trips, however, they are loaded with nuts. I decided to use dried fruits instead. The only problem was that most processed dried fruits had “may-contain” statements so I bought a dehydrator and dried my fruit. My trail mix became the most asked-for snack in the troop. It contained a variety of raisins, dried bananas (and other fruits), mini chocolate chips, beef jerky, and pretzels.
Food Allergy Cookbooks: Food allergy cookbooks provided ideas for substituting food allergens and still have some of our favorite recipes. The three below were written by Moms who where were pioneers in the food allergy community. These are listed in the cookbook area, but I felt the need to include them here as favorites. We are on our second set, as the first ones were so worn. These books have recipes that are free from dairy, egg and, nut allergens.
Children’s Books: There are several good children’s books which help explain food allergies. I found that these books helped to educate my children as well as their friends and school groups.
Nutri-grain Bars: Safe granola and protein bars can be hard to find. For that reason, I have often made my own. (see blog post). Nutri-grain bars contain wheat, mild, and soy. So while not good for everyone they were great for us while eliminating eggs and nuts. So while I did try to make fresh foods a few safe “go-to” items were helpful.
Allergy Translation Cards: When we traveled internationally, explaining the kids’ food allergies was a concern. Allergy translation cards provide a little peace of mind when on the road. You can use them when eating out, shopping for groceries, and even on a plane.
Beyond a Peanut – Food Allergy Flashcards: Until there is a cure for food allergies, education, and awareness are key to food allergy safety. There is more to staying safe with a food allergen than simply avoiding the allergen. There are many ways food can become cross-contaminated, making a safe food unsafe. These food allergy flashcards help teach safety principles in a very simple-to-understand format.
Oreo Cookies: While I am not proud of this, Oreos became a staple in our home. With only two of the 9 major food allergens they were (are) a great “go-to” treat. You don’t always have time to whip up a fabulous safe treat, so find a couple of safe staples and keep them in your cupboards.