My dear friend Brianne is taking over the site today with an awesome post about her experience being mom to a little boy with food allergies. Please chime in to add suggestions of your own!
Guest post by Brianne Sanchez
All it took was a spoonful of hummus and, suddenly, I was an "allergy mom."
Weaning was underway, with some early successes. Rice cereal was slurped with gusto, and sweet potato put a sparkle in my little man's eye. So when I read about another mom whose baby adored hummus, I thought it sounded like the most genius baby food of all time. Healthy, just the right texture, and something we already had in the fridge. Yet, minutes after serving my son his first bite—and the ensuing hives and vomiting—we were booking it to the Emergency Room, beginning a journey that would involve an allergy/sensitivity diagnosis that includes sesame, wheat, oats, soy, eggs, tree nuts, and more.
Meals, which had been such a joy, became a mine-field. My husband (the cook in the family) and I tried to focus on what Emmett can have: meat, most vegetables and fruit, dairy, rice, etc. and build a solid diet around those. Then, we diligently read labels because even if it's gluten-free, often there's another allergen further down the ingredient list.
I'll admit, managing our son's diet was a lot easier when he didn't really recognize he was eating something different than his cousins or friends, but now that he's two and in a group daycare environment, we're experiencing more challenges. Sometimes, you're OK with the fact your child's probably be the 'cleanest' eater on the block. Other times, you wish for your kid to be able to eat as close as possible to what the other kids are eating. (Maybe he can't have the birthday cake, but I don't want him to completely miss the party, so I try to pack something comparable!)
We've found a few allergen-free store-bought brands that make grab-and-go snacks, treats, or quick meals easier:
Crunchy Rice Rollers by Bamboo Lane: Our Costco carries these.
Ener-G - Gluten Free Pretzels
Stove popped popcorn with mini marshmallows and raisins/craisins (our DIY version of "trail mix")
Simply Balanced Fruit Strips
Van's Ancient Grains waffles: Some of the other Van's GF options contain soy or egg. These are hearty and have a lovely hint of cinnamon!
GF pancake mix: Hodgson Mill is currently in our cabinet, and we can often get away subbing mashed banana for the egg in most mixes.
Rice Krispies, Crispix, Kix and Chex: These classic cereals were always the staples in my house growing up, so these gluten-free options were easy!
Rice Krispy Treats - homemade, because the store-bought bars contain soy
Enjoy Life chocolate pieces & Chocolate Chip Crunchy Cookies
Choice Batter Gluten-Free Allergen-Friendly chocolate chip cookie mix
Menchie's Frozen Yogurt:We love that they list out the ingredients by the handles and there are lots of soy and gluten-free options
Applegate Farms Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets: We go for the big bag at Target!
Annie's Gluten-Free Rice Shells with Creamy White Cheddar: Confession - I always sneak a bite of these from the saucepan!
Quesadilla on corn tortilla: Sometimes I add some shaved meat and my son loves to help make it himself!
Red Robin: I love that they have an interactive allergen menu.
P.S. Getting a handle on Emmett's diet helped control his eczema/skin flare-ups, and I know that the two conditions are tied for many kids. A non-kitchen item we embraced early in the struggle (until he recently learned to Houdini them off) were ScratchMeNots.