Our Peanut-free Journey

Life with a peanut allergic son.

Disney – Food Allergy Tips — November 24, 2015

Disney – Food Allergy Tips

Our fourth Disney trip is in the books. While I am no expert on all things Disney, I have learned some very important things along the way. First and foremost is that Disney is very food-allergy aware and accommodating. It is so nice to be able to take my son to a place where they get it. Food allergies are scary. Disney makes it a little bit easier.

If you go to Guest Services at any Disney park you can ask about their food allergy dining. There is a vast amount of places you can eat if you have a food allergy. Simply tell the person that is taking your order about what you are allergic to and they will be able to help you.

We had one sit-down meal while were there and it was at Whispering Canyon in Wilderness Lodge. In addition to having the chef come out, they also had a menu just for food allergies. Luckily, my son is only allergic to peanuts so we only had to worry about one food. Great food and great fun.

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As far as snacks go we don’t eat that many while we are in the parks. If you have a food allergy, Disney allows you to bring your own food into the park. Honestly, no bag checkers even asked why we had our own snacks, I don’t think they worry about it too much. We did have a Dole Whip float while in the Magic Kingdom. It is pineapple soft serve ice cream with pineapple juice on the bottom. I was assured that it was safe as it only contains sugar, water, and pineapple. Alex didn’t like it anyway but it was a nice treat for me.

Epcot was crazy busy when we were there. It was the second to last day for their Food and Wine festival and it was nuts. No pun intended. We could hardly get through the plethora of people. It was here that my daughter wanted a funnel cake. Right on the window it had a warning that people with food allergies should not eat it. They did not serve any kind of nut products but with a warning like that we decided that Alex shouldn’t take a chance. My daughter was more than happy to have her own funnel cake.

On our last night in Disney we decided to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party. I knew that hot cocoa and cookies were involved but I had read that the cookies were Snickerdoodle and that they had gluten and nut-free cookies for those with allergies. I still wasn’t holding my breath. It turns out that the cocoa is Nestlé’s and that the cookies for Alex were Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies. Totally safe and so good! He was so excited to feel like a part of the group.

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Overall a very positive experience as was our other three trips. We just really enjoy going to Disney. Even if it was crazy crowded. Stay tuned for my next post. I’m going to give tips on things that I have learned over our last four trips.

Christmas Cookies — December 8, 2012

Christmas Cookies

It started last week with Halloween. The weeks and weeks of holiday food.

What’s a food allergy mom to do? Read, read, read. Labels that is.

What products do I feel are safe? Below is a list. It may be small but when all you need is a little Christmas normalcy it works!

•Ghirardelli chocolate chips in milk chocolate (sinful!) or semisweet
•Hershey’s chocolate chips in milk chocolate, semisweet, or mini chips
•Cake Mate sprinkles – just the sugar, jimmies, and little balls
•Cake Mate icing
•Betty Crocker icing in a tub

Again, this list is small but it’s all we need to have some yummy Christmas treats.

Please, remember to always read labels. What I have listed above works for us. It may not be in the comfort zone of your family.

Happy holidays!

Halloween 2011 — October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

It’s heeeeeeeeere. My poor boy wants nothing more than to trick-or-treat like the other kids but I just can’t do it. So him and his sister will dress up and hand out Nerds, Airheads and Sweetarts, candy that is safe and that they enjoy. Perhaps in a year or two I’ll feel comfortable going door-to-door but for now we’ll have a little candy scavenger hunt at home and we’ll enjoy seeing all the crazy costumes that kids wear from the comfort of our own home.

Christmas Cookies — December 3, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Tis the season to have sweets everywhere! Last year we ordered chocolate chips from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. It was good knowing that they were peanut-free but the cost plus shipping is crazy. That was definitely a once and done thing. This year I have decided that I will buy a six-pack of Hershey’s chocolate bars, freeze them and then chop them into chunks. Certainly not the same as chocolate chips but definitely ok by my kids. I can even use the Hershey’s Cookies n’ Cream bar for my son. What will you do this year?

Hershey’s and I need to have a talk. — November 22, 2009

Hershey’s and I need to have a talk.

Every year I count on Hershey’s chocolate chips for my holiday baking. Now I am thinking that perhaps I will need to buy them from a safe peanut-free internet site. You see, Hershey’s has decided that Mexico is a wonderful place to manufacture some of their products. I do not know the conditions of these factories and I do not know how well they adhere to the food allergy guidelines.  

If a Hershey product says “Mfd. by The Hershey Co.” on the back near the ingredients, I know that it was made in Hershey, Pa. If it says “Distributed by The Hershey Co.” it did not come from Hershey. In fact, we don’t know where it came from. They’re tricky like that.  

And if you haven’t figured it out yet, the chocolate chips now say Distributed by. I’m very upset. I will more than likely be buying my baking chips from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. I am not thrilled about this as I hate that I can’t just buy my chips when they are on sale for $2.00 at the store. I am now paying considerably more plus shipping. Yes, my son will be safe but why did Hershey’s have to sell out and take away jobs from us Americans. It’s disgraceful.

Halloween or in other words “Food Allergy Nightmare Night” — October 14, 2009

Halloween or in other words “Food Allergy Nightmare Night”

Halloween has always been a source of worry for me. To trick-or-treat or not to trick-or-treat, that has always been the question.

When Alex was first diagnosed Boscov’s department store would give children with diabetes a $10.00 gift card to their store. I approached them about Alex’s peanut allergy and they let him participate also. All you had to do was give your candy bag to the customer service desk and they give you the card. Awesome! That worked until Alex was about 4. When he turned five he wanted to TOT and not give away his candy. Hmmmm. That’s a problem.

So we tried TOT’ing and denying candy with nuts. That left very few houses to receive candy from. It also got old telling people “he’s allergic to peanuts but thanks anyway”. Several times I got the “but this one doesn’t have peanuts” and then I would have to quickly explain that he still can’t have it.

This year we are getting home from Disney the night of TOT’ing. I’m hoping that is my saving grace. I have explained to Alex that he can dress up and give out candy while enjoying candy that is safe for him. Then the following night they can dress up and go to our parents’ homes and TOT there. As of now he seems ok with this. Whether that still holds true on the 30th remains to be seen. Fingers crossed!

A Peanut-Free Birthday Treat — January 24, 2009

A Peanut-Free Birthday Treat

February 2. Groundhog’s Day. Alex’s birthday.

I am trying to come up with a cute birthday treat for Alex’s kindergarten class that is peanut-free, not boring and still utilizes the snack sheet that I gave at the beginning of the year.

I haven’t come up with anything yet. I thought about buying the Keebler fudge stripe cookies and putting a little icing face on them but that seems kind of dumb. Baked goods are out. Although cookies aren’t exactly healthy, they would be quicker to eat than say a box of Nerds. Alex first requested Lucky Charms cereal. I was trying to figure out if I could make little pots of gold to put the cereal in but I haven’t spent enough time searching the net for ideas.

I guess if all else fails, I’ll just send in a couple boxes of Lucky Charms and they can enjoy that snack for several days. We shall see. I’ll update when I come to a decision.

Allergist Appointment & the Holidays — December 29, 2008

Allergist Appointment & the Holidays

We have our first allergist appointment tomorrow. When I say first, I literally mean first. Even though my son has been allergic to peanuts for four years, we have always relied on our pediatrician and our own investigating for his allergy. However, I felt it was finally time to see an allergist and get her opinion on where we stand. I know she’s not going to be able to tell me if he will outgrow this but I would like to know where the allergists stand on a future “cure”. I’ll post about our experience after the appointment.

On another note, we made it through the holidays reaction-free. However, we did find ourselves in a very unsettling situation on Saturday night. We were at a Christmas party and my aunt made a peanut butter cake forgetting about Alex’s allergy. That’s fine, I made a dessert too, one he could have. As I wandered into the kitchen I noticed a bowl of nuts. Oh goody. I told Alex not to go near the bowl or the counter it was on. I did let him eat the chips that were in the bowl on the other counter. About an hour later I saw my aunt get a handful of nuts and then go and put her hand in the bowl of chips. Needless to say my breath was caught in my throat at this sight. Alex did not get any more chips the rest of the night and I remembered that we are always learning with this allergy.

Halloween Handover — October 13, 2008

Halloween Handover

Alex will be trick-or-treating like every other child in our neighborhood this year however when he gets home, he will hand over his bag for a bag that has been prepared especially for him. Rather than take the chance of cross-contamination I decided to gather up some safe candy and other little treats and put them in a bag for Halloween night. If, while we are out I see something that I  know is perfectly safe, such as playdough or juice boxes etc. I will get that for him and put it in a bag that I will carry. This just makes life a little easier while still getting to enjoy the fun of Halloween. I’m very tempted to make up a sign to wear around his neck that says he’s allergic to peanuts but I’m not sure if that’s taking it too far.

Speaking of fun, my kiddos are going to look super cute this year. My daughter, who will be 17-months-old at trick-or-treat time is going as Minnie Mouse and Alex will be going as Mickey Mouse. They are going to look adorable!! I can hardly wait.

The Dreaded “H” Word — September 3, 2008

The Dreaded “H” Word

For the last two years Alex has gone out trick-or-treating like any normal child. I would come home and exchange the candy he couldn’t have with candy or chips that he could have. Lately though I have been reading about parents who do not let their child TOT at all. I can understand that. It’s horribly scary to think about your child touching all that candy with heaven knows what kind of residue on it.

To be honest, it never crossed my mind that p.b. cups that were in the same bowl as a mini Hershey bar** could cross contaminate the wrapper of said Hershey bar and thus get on my son’s hands and into his mouth. Now that I’ve read it and heard other parents agree, it makes sense.

So now I am wondering what we should do this year. I think Alex will be very upset if I say that TOT is out this year. He was just starting to really get into the whole knocking on the door thing. I’ve thought about just going up to the door with him and if the bowl has candy mixed with p.b. candies, I’ll place it in a separate bag that I carry. All known safe candy would go in his bag. This sounds very tedious though and I think many people would think I’m some crazy sugar-Nazi mom. Ugh. I don’t know what to do.

I thought about a family Halloween party but part of the fun of getting dressed up is having the neighbors see you. Last year Alex went as a scarecrow and Isabelle, who was only 5-months-old at the time, went as Dorothy. They were so cute!

So that’s what is weighing on my mind right now. It’s trivial I know but to a 5-year-old it’s a big deal.

**I know that the mini Hershey bars say “may contain almonds” but since he’s not tree-nut allergic it’s in my comfort zone.