Thursday, April 7, 2016

Shopping with Allergies

A friend recently asked for some help navigating allergens for her son. Shopping has become second nature for me, as I've lived with food allergies for 30 years. I would love to take everyone on a shopping adventure, but I figured a virtual shopping trip would be the next best thing!!

This is by no means an inclusive list, but it's a good set of staples and snacks to help open your mind to allergy friendly items. It's also a good idea to ALWAYS read the labels before they go into your basket. Companies change formulas often and don't often advertise the changes.

The first thing to look at is the label itself. There are three ways manufacturers identify the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy). 
1) The first (and becoming most popular) is to list all allergens in bold as a summary at the end of the ingredients. CONTAINS:MILK, SOY, EGG. This is the easiest to read, but you can't assume you're safe if you don't see this.
2) Some companies will bold/italicize the allergen in the list of the ingredients. This sometimes helps, but at size 4 font it all often looks the same.
3) Unfortunately, many companies don't identify allergens at all
The red/white label here has CONTAINS: SOY and the yellow one overlaid just has cream/milk listed with no identification. 

So, without further ado, here's my milk/peanut/tree nut list of favorites...

Our first stop is Target:

Sunbutter is my favorite peanut butter alternative. From peanut eaters I've heard it's closer than soy butter. Also, they have single-serve packs (new) to add to lunch boxes if you have a peanut-free school! If you're a crunchy fan, they sell it at HyVee or online.

GoGo Squeez apple sauce pouches are a great easy snack. Remember, all fruits and veggies are safe, as long as you aren't eating the allergen itself!

Our house loves cottage bread. Not all cottage bread is milk free, but the Village Heath brand is!

It blew my mind when I realized Oreos don't have milk… nothing in this picture has any dairy!! It's a chemical storm, but allergy friendly. (Peanut butter Oreos are not safe)

Wheat Thins are one of our grab and go snacks!

Most cereals are milk-free. Even the frosted kinds! 

No milk in any of these!

Popcorn and pretzels are a great allergy-free snack! Just be sure to avoid the cheddar version of both.

Breakfast on the go? Milk free!

Van waffles have organic and gluten free options, and have no milk!! They are kosher, don't contain artificial colors, cholesterol, egg or soy/corn. It's one of the most allergen friendly buys! Blueberry is our favorite, but the apple cinnamon is yummy as well.

Compared to Eggos that have all sorts of other allergens (and 7 grams of sugar to Van's 3):

You have to keep a close eye on things; these turkey meatballs are safe (and delish) but the italian style and beef versions contain milk.

The Immaculate brand and Annie's are mostly milk free. Seriously; fudge brownie cookies have NO DAIRY!!! Everything in this picture is safe.

Most margarines are safe because they're just oil. Earth balance was what we use for the kids (there's a soy free option).

I have a love/hate relationship with soy milk. Silk has lots of options, but is really high in sugar.  17 grams of sugar in chocolate soy milk!! Since we are a nut and milk free house, Almond & Cashew milk are out. Rice milk is super watery and also high in sugar. Some kids can handle goat's milk, but it's harder to find and you'll want to run it by your doctor.

I forgot to take a picture, but in their freezer section they have the So Delicious fudge mini bars and ice cream. A great dairy-free treat! I haven't tried the yogurts yet, but they're a great alternative if your kids are used to yogurt. 


Now some Trader Joe favorites:

We eat their Mandarin Orange Chicken at least once a week. It bakes on a sheet pan in the oven and we pair it with rice and veggies! The Beef on the left is also safe and yummy.

Their Cherry Chocolate Chip soy ice cream is sooooo yummy, but really bad for you. My kids inhale the tiny ice cream sandwiches. There used to be a chocolate kind, but our store stopped carrying them. They have a good coconut milk ice cream selection as well!

These are the best school snack! Free of all major allergens and delicious. There isn't much in the box though… so not an economical buy. 


Our kids live on these. They are always so gummy and have a fresh flavor. The sugar content is also less than most other gummies (with a shorter ingredient list). I saw them at Sam's Club last time I was there, too.

We buy our soy milk by the case. They used to have a plain kind, but the vanilla actually has less sugar. They store at room temperature, so they're great to throw in a backpack for the day until we have to open them. 

Many of the treats at Target are also here (and I get fuel rewards - wahoo!!). These 'fudge' bars are the current favorite treat:
Bonus for HyVee is grocery delivery (with the option for no substitutions) so you can have all your allergy free goodness delivered to your doorstep!

Remember, this is just a partial list. We also eat pasta, meat/chicken and lots of fresh fruits & veggies. It's just a starting place with some of our favorites!!

Good luck, and happy eating!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Breaking the Rules

Hello internet friends (and real friends). I've been really bad. Bad about blogging, bad about buying…Yes, we broke the rules. Intentionally, and well thought out. 

As the weather slowly (way too slowly) warms up, we are finding ourselves outside more and more. The kids have lots of balls, and bikes, but nothing to keep them entertained for very long.

The husband and I thought about it, and decided to break our rule and buy some outdoor toys. So, I present our newest back yard additions:

I highlighted the zip line in purple, so you can see it better. We don't have a huge slope, but enough to make it a fun ride for toddlers.

Can you see the joy on his face?! We got this zip line.

Slack lining is super fun as well. We got this one

Maybe I'll make a post about installing them. It was fairly easy, and I installed them both myself within an hour.

I don't feel too guilty, since the purchase didn't bring any stuff into the house. I also like that it made us think so long and hard about a purchase. I hope you're all having a warmer spring than we are!

**The links in this post are Amazon affiliate links and if you buy either of these cool things I get a fraction of some cents. haha