Let’s face it, the holidays are mostly about eating and drinking. With a child who has food allergies, the season can be difficult for my family.
We’re not alone: One in 13 children in the US have food allergies, according to the CDC. More than 50 million people in the US have some type of allergy, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Still, I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had with teachers, friends, family, and other parents who throw birthday parties about what that entails. (Yes, having a dairy allergy it does means you can’t put butter on non-vegan popcorn, cheese, or chocolate).
My preschooler reacts to a number of things including dairy, gluten, and nuts, along with more unusual things like mango. So, like Oprah, I’ve curated a list of allergy-friendly favorites that I personally recommend to keep the holidays happy.
For a good festive gluten-free breakfast
Josie’s Best Waffles they are the way to go. My son affectionately refers to these as “the square waffles.” No disrespect to the toast and go Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Waffles either Nature Path Organic Gluten Free Homemade Waffles that are organic, gluten free and vegan. (Cue the holy grail music.) Josie’s Best Waffles have a legitimate gluten-containing waffle flavor, rather than the slightly chalky aftertaste many gluten-free products can have. I stumbled across these accidentally and have never been back.
My advice: After trying them once, buy the 5-pound bulk bag directly from Josie’s website, which has a unit price that is much cheaper than the 18-ounce bag on Amazon. One of the biggest differences was upgrading our waffle maker to the All-Clad Stainless Steel 2-Square Waffle Maker. Drizzle it with olive oil and it works like a charm. To make it dairy free, I use Sugar Free Original Ripple.
For the cinnamon rolls, I like the blog’s cinnamon rolls recipe. Mom tastes gluten free. my son loves it too Katz’s Gluten Free Cinnamon Donutswhich can be found in the frozen section at the grocery store.
For families where gluten is the only concern, try Krusteaz Gluten Free Cinnamon Crumb Cake. It’s so sweet, but you’ll keep coming back for more. There is a warning label that says it may contain milk, soy, and eggs.
Dairy-free chocolate for the holidays (including Hanukkah)
Amanda’s Sweets. If your child is like mine they are picky about chocolate because if it’s not done right my son will have a tummy ache since he can’t have any dairy, nut or gluten. With its own dedicated facility in Ohio, Amanda’s is free of all 14 major allergens and is vegan and kosher.
Foil wrapped chocolates may not sound like much, but this place changed my son’s life. He used to hate chocolate, but now he doesn’t. He is looking forward to the holidays with treats from here. (Thank you, Santa.) There are also Hanukkah specials. Christmas treats sell out quickly, so it’s best to buy them in November.
Other destination: Enjoy Life Winter Chocolate Minis. This bag of 15 mini dark, rice milk, and rice milk crunch bars (similar to a Crunch bar) are gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free.
Allergy-friendly gingerbread houses
yum earth makes a Allergy-friendly gingerbread house kit which includes cookie pieces, frosting and five types of candies. It is free of the nine major allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, egg, wheat, dairy, sesame, shellfish, and soy) and artificial colors.
Based in Cranston, Rhode Island A&J Bakery sells a gingerbread kit that includes four types of candy, inedible decorations (like a plastic mini Santa), and hand-cut gingerbread pieces made in a dedicated nut-free and gluten-free facility. It’s also free of the top nine major allergens.
Sensitive Sweets Bakery in Fountain Valley, California, sells two gluten-free and vegan gingerbread house kits that are free of dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, oats, sesame, and wheat. The basic version includes gingerbread cookie pieces and make-your-own frosting for the walls, plus plastic trees and festive plastic rings (like a Santa face) for decorations. The deluxe version also includes a tub of vanilla frosting to create snow and some organic, dye-free candy.
Little Chefs GF It is run by a mother of two children who are celiac and sensitive to gluten. The Mini Gingerbread House Kit includes a piping bag with white chocolate frosting, plant-based rainbow sprinkles, and artificial color-free organic jelly beans (can be made vegan on request) and fruit rings. It is free of gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, sesame, shellfish, and artificial colors.
If you simply want a make-your-own gingerbread bag mix instead of an expensive gingerbread house kit, try Utah-based, family-run. Mom’s Place Gluten Free Gingerbread Fun Mix.
If you’re willing to break the bank and spend over $120 on a gluten-free and vegan gingerbread house, Erin McKenna’s Bakery on New York’s Lower East Side will ship a 6-piece gingerbread house, complete with icing sugar, marshmallows, gumdrops, candy canes, sprinkles, and other assorted confections.
The rest of the gingerbread house kits are around $40-50 depending on coupons and shipping costs.
For baking allergen-free Christmas cookies
For baking Christmas sugar cookies, I’m a fan of King Arthur’s Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix. It’s easy to make and bake a couple dozen of these, and they pair well with a seasonal cookie cutter.
Little Chefs GF also sells a sugar cookie kit that ships via FedEx. Mom’s Place Gluten Free Shop it has also received rave reviews for its soft sugar cookies.
If food coloring is a problem for someone in your household, use Watkins Assorted Food Colors. You can easily find it in a wide range of grocery stores and it’s made with vegetable juice, turmeric, and spirulina (a type of blue-green algae) extract.
For vegan baking, I use Earth Balance Soy Free Butter Bars and make a “chia egg” using Trader Joe’s Organic Chia Seeds. To substitute an egg, mix 3 tablespoons of near-boiling water with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and stir for a minute or two until it becomes a gel.
Other tricks are Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacerthat has potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk, or pure eggwhich uses chickpeas and chia seeds.
Safe sprinkles for children with allergies
You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find natural sprinkles that are free of allergens and food coloring.
To decorate cookies, I usually buy Whole Foods 365 Sprinkles (tinted with beetroot juice, red cabbage, and turmeric extract, among other things) or Simple Truth Rainbow Sprinklesthat use paprika and other natural colors.
If I’m looking for something quirky try UK based Baking time club. The Christmas line includes fun holly and berry christmas Y Green Christmas trees and gold stars sparks, which are vegan, gluten-free, halal, and kosher.
Many people like Supernatural Kitchen’s cute sprinkles in varieties like ugly christmas sweaterJingle Pop!Y christmas sequins. Although the ingredients do not contain the eight major food allergens, they do contain coconut and are packaged in a facility that also processes nuts and other allergens. Unfortunately, that has been a problem for my son.
Keep in mind that chips made with more natural ingredients have a much shorter shelf life, usually just a couple of months.
Professionally Made Gluten Free Baked Goods
Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery It is my favorite destination for allergy sufferers. Located in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale, Illinois, it will bake items to order and then ship them within 4-8 days via UPS. My son loves the gluten and dairy free muffins, breads, pie crusts and cookies more than anywhere else he has tried in the city or suburbs.
Owner Ali Graeme and his son both have celiac disease so he understands the importance of strict allergen cooking. Domestic shipping is available on certain items, such as gluten-free focaccia bread, dinner rolls, cinnamon buns, and apple streusel coffee cake.
Another favorite is the baker of difference, a gluten-free and nut-free bakery in Ashburn, Virginia. About 90% of their products are free of the nine major allergens. Milk and egg are used in savory foods like their deep-dish pizza, says owner Alyssa Sobecki, who has personal experience with food allergies in her family. Items are freshly baked and deep frozen. Domestic shipping is available on certain items, including their vegan cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, cream pie cookies, and brownies.
Mo’Pweeze Bakery A vegan, gluten-free, and kosher bakery in Denville, New Jersey, uses a dedicated facility free of the top 10 allergens. Owner Christine Allen opened the bakery nine years ago when her son was diagnosed with 12 allergies and she couldn’t find a bakery to make something for her birthday.
try the Yum Yum Jars, jars filled with cake layers and frosting that come in a variety of flavors like Funfetti Fiesta, French Toast, Janny’s Chocolate Mint, and Nana’s Banana Guava. Other favorites are apple cider donutsfrozen Christmas cookiesor the Captain Crumb Duffina corn-free donut and muffin mix with a crumb topping.
Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate and S’mores
Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham Style Crackers they are a great option. Non-gluten free friends of mine rave about these while eating them. They are certified vegan, gluten and parve free, are soy and nut free, and are non-GMO, perfect for s’mores when paired with Dandy Vegan Marshmallows Y Enjoy life Chocolate chips.
My son is not a fan of hot chocolate, but others who are silly farms Chocolate Chocolate hot chocolate, Dairy-free and gluten-free, it’s made with cane sugar and Dutch processed cocoa (with alkali).
My biggest piece of advice to other parents: keep reading the labels. Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues, product labels can change faster than hurricanes. Something that once worked can now be made in a facility that shares space with allergens that may be a problem for your child. Hopefully, the products listed above will help identify the best solutions for your family.
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