Here comes another holiday, and with it comes the difficulty of tackling it with food allergies. With Easter in less than two weeks, many of us are preparing Easter baskets and getting ready for egg hunts. But what if your child has an egg allergy, or a milk or nut allergy (chocolate)? Just like with everything else we do, we just need to be a little more creative.
You can read of one mom’s plight in dying eggs with her daughter who is allergic to eggs on www.childfoodallergy.com. She struggles with the decision of dying eggs for her children without allergies, and the threats it might pose to her child with allergies. I like her thoughts and her decisions; check it out and see what you think.
On this same site, you can find a list of ways to incorporate eggs into Easter without using real eggs. Some suggestions are to use:
• Wood Eggs
• Plastic Eggs
• Styrofoam® Eggs
• Plaster Eggs
I actually like these ideas better than using real eggs, because these can become keepsakes, something you can put out every year. They don’t get old and you don’t feel guilty throwing food away. With older kids you can carve the wooden eggs or Styrofoam eggs and create beautiful plaster eggs. With younger kids you can use any of the above eggs and glue jewels or beads on to them, draw or paint on them, use stickers or fabric to decorate. Check out your local craft stores for any of the above, plus great papers, ribbons, decorations and you will be surprised what beautiful things you will be creating.
I also like the idea of making paper or fabric eggs, either flat egg shaped ones that can be colored and designed, or 3-D ones where your children can use heavier paper, either colored or white and decorate themselves and “crunch” into egg form. These are pretty hung by ribbon for decorations.
Remember, it’s not about the “egg.” Holidays are about being with your loved ones and thinking about the meaning of the holiday. There are lots of ways to substitute for Easter eggs, but don’t forget about why you are making them.
Allergy free Easter baskets
Here are some ideas for allergy free Easter basket goodies. It’s always a challenge to be creative when putting together something for your child, but even more so when your child has an allergy. With Easter, you have not only dairy and nut allergies to worry about, but also eggs are a biggie. Of course, you’re going to leave out the real eggs if your child is allergic, so what are some fun things to substitute?
• Gifts around any of the holidays seem to get easier and easier to find these days, so it’s always easy to go with a non – food option. You can get Easter socks, hair bows, underwear, or charms for your child’s rubber shoes.
• You can put something fun and seasonal in baskets, and you can probably find some of these in Easter themes as well like bubbles or chalk (chalk shouldn’t be used if your child is allergic to the dust or if it exacerbates asthma). One year I found very cute egg shaped sidewalk chalk.
• Gardening tools and seed packets are a great affordable idea. It also goes with the season and Easter. Kids will love seeing their plants grow.
• If you want to do candy, there are a lot of allergy free options, depending on your needs. Much of candy is egg free, just make sure you read the labels carefully. You may have a problem if it is made in a shared facility, though. If your child is allergic to dairy or nuts or other allergens, you can find allergy safe websites selling allergy free candies.
• You can also include a stuffed animal in your basket, maybe a rabbit or chick. Webkinz by Ganz are huge right now, any kid would love one.
• How about a book? You can find cute Easter ones, either with an animal theme or religious theme. If your child has a favorite series get the next one he hasn’t read.
• Add your child’s favorite allergy safe candy. It doesn’t have to be Easter themed.
• A cross – there are some beautiful ones for kids in current colors, or go classic that your child can keep forever
• A stuffed bunny or chick instead of a chocolate one; a small one is very cute in a basket
• Small seasonal toys: jump ropes bouncy balls, play doh, sidewalk chalk, bubbles
• Easter socks
• Legos and action figures
• Silly bands are very in – they come in religious themes
• Hair bows and accessories for girls
• A book (a Bible or the story of Easter; you can find Bibles specific to gender or age now)
• Packs of flower seeds
• Something activity related like goggles for a swimmer, leotard for a dancer
If you are going to an Easter egg hunt, you’ll probably encounter some candy that won’t work for your child, but here are some ideas for things besides candy to hide in eggs. If you’re having your own, hunt, try these:
• Pennies (or bigger money)
• Bible verses
• Toy rings or necklaces
• Silly bands
• Temporary tattoos
• Any goody bag item you can find at the party store or dollar store, especially religious or Easter themed
• Make it a scavenger hunt with clues inside each egg for the next one
• Have one big prize once they find a certain egg (like a golden one). You may want as many golden eggs and big prizes as children, though
• Try making the fun about finding the eggs, not what is in them! Let the kids take turn hiding them for game after game fun.
Just like anything, there are lots of ways around allergies; it just takes a little thinking and out of the box (or basket) thinking.
Be creative, Easter baskets don’t just have to be eggs. You can go simple or go extravagant; go practical or go whimsical. There are lots of options out there.
www.kidswithfoodallergies.org has lots of great ideas for holidays and allergies
If you still want the chocolate, there are some places to find allergy free chocolate. Divvies (www.divvies.com) has a wide selection of allergy free goodies, including a dairy free, nut free chocolate bunny rabbit. They also have allergy free jelly beans and gum balls as well as cupcakes and cookies. Divvies cookies, popcorns, and cupcakes are made in the company’s-own dedicated facility where no peanuts, tree nuts, eggs or milk enter the doors. Divvies candies, frosting, and sprinkles are certified by their manufacturers to be peanut-, tree nut-, milk-, and egg-free and are packaged in Divvies Bakery.
You can also try Vermont Nut Free Chocolates (www.vermontnutfree.com) for some premade Easter baskets at a variety of levels containing nut and peanut free chocolates, including bunnies, truffles, Easter pops and more. They also have solid chocolate Eater bunnies, cream filled eggs, Easter fudge and (yum) Easter marshmallows on a stick, chocolate dipped and rolled in sprinkles.