Summertime brings back powerful food memories for us adults and can be a beautiful time to celebrate seasonal summer fare, enjoy special snacks and meals, and enjoy camp lunches. However, summer can also be a stressful time for kids with allergies and parents of children with allergies. Camps may not be as vigilant about food allergy safety as school-year facilities are.
There are nine “top” allergens that comprise most food allergies. While it would be impossible to accommodate every single allergen, we can all do our part and at least consider hosting nut and sesame free gatherings. Interesting fact: Sesame is an allergen exploding in incidence worldwide, and often co-occurs with nut allergies.
Allergies and Social Gatherings
Whether you choose to live nut-free, or do so because of a family member, maybe pack nut-free fare for your child at their nut-free school or facility, or simply stand in solidarity with the food allergy community… We can all be thankful for parents like you that will commit to provide scrumptious and nutritious options for sufferers for nut allergies as you pack your child’s food or host a gathering this summer and make guests feel supported, safe and included.
If attending someone else’s gathering, it would be considerate to call the host beforehand and inquire about any other guests attending with nut allergies and offer to bring a nut-free dish. If you’re the host, best of luck, we know it’s stressful! You can query your guests to probe for any allergies before you design your menu. It’s a good idea to completely eliminate allergens from your menu if a guest has a food allergy to minimize cross contamination. You can compassionately ask your guests to educate you on how best to avoid an accidental allergen in a hosted meal.
- Keep nuts and sesame seeds at home; they aren’t allergy-friendly for camp or summer travel.
Allergy Friendly Snacks
Popcorn, especially from allergy-friendly brands like Safe + Fair, can be an allergy-friendly and nutritious snack for summer camp, travel, or social gatherings. Keep in mind that popcorn is a choking hazard for small children, though!
Good news…you can create your own allergy friendly snacks. Seamlessly swap out nut butters to craft gorgeous and decadent nut-free summer recipes. There are many wonderful products on the market these days that taste, bake, and cook just like nuts and seeds. Try these two allergy friendly summer snacks!
PB + J: PUMPKIN butter + Chia Jelly
Spread sprouted grain bread with pumpkin seed butter and a sliced banana or some mashed up berries mixed with chia seeds and fold into a sandwich.
Sautee both sides with olive oil and some cinnamon.
Paleta Popsicle Paws
Buy some paw print silicon molds. Fill one-third with melted (in the microwave) allergy friendly dark chocolate (brands like Enjoy Life or Pascha). Layer pureed strawberries, banana, berries, or watermelon. Add another layer of chocolate. Sprinkle chia seeds or crushed pumpkin seeds on top. Freeze to harden and pop out of molds once ready.
Making Allergy Friendly Fun
The great advances in food science have allowed us to engineer products that taste in no way artificial, overly sweet, or overly salted. For example: pumpkin seed butter, watermelon seed butter, and even soy nut butter are just a few of the nuts-free options available.
You can also swathe a pinecone in faux nut butters and roll it in some oats as a bird attractor, a timeless American summer kid activity. We can’t say for sure if the birds will be able to tell the difference.
Nut-free products can add a calcium, fiber, magnesium, and protein kick to your summer style you’d otherwise miss out on. Pumpkin seed butter, for example, is a wonderful source of manganese.
Sending your kids with allergies to camp? You can also provide fruits like bananas or oranges in the peels, or non-edible treats like toys, games, toothbrushes, hair accessories, water bottles, utensils, etc.
For more information on food allergies, visit the Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE) website: FARE.