We thank Enjoy Life Foods for their sponsorship of this blog post to help us share information about keeping kids with food allergies safe during the holidays.
Holidays are a great time to spend with friends and family. Food-focused holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Chinese New Year and other winter holiday celebrations, can create added stress for parents of children with food allergies. Try some of these ideas to take the precautions to avoid food allergy reactions during family meals and parties.
1. Use foods from allergy-aware companies. For peace of mind, use products from companies that you trust for their labeling and manufacturing processes. Avoid trying new foods during the holidays. If you want to introduce a new food, do it well before the actual holiday.
2. Freeze dishes ahead of time. Save yourself some time on the day of your holiday meal by preparing safe dishes ahead of time and freezing them. Holidays are a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Shop for and prepare dishes when you have lots of time to read labels. Stick them in the oven when you’re ready to bake them. Be sure to plan some extra cooking time if you bake them from frozen.
3. Pack a special meal just for your child. If you are going to someone else’s home, pack a special holiday meal for your child. Make it festive and holiday themed. Consider calling the host ahead of time to find out what will be served so you can make a similar meal for your child. Pack it in a microwavable-safe plate or in an insulated bag with hot packs to keep it warm.
4. Educate others to prevent cross contamination. The best way to prevent food allergy reactions is to avoid accidental contact with your child’s food allergens. Even traces can cause a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis). Make sure everyone who prepares, handles and serves food that your child will eat knows how to prevent cross contamination.
5. Practice new recipes or substitutes ahead of time. If you’re new to food allergies, or are trying new recipes or substitutes, test them out before your holiday event. This will help you know ahead of time if your dish will be a success or if it needs tweaks. Visit our Safe Eats® database for allergy-friendly recipes. You can search to meet your child’s dietary needs or browse by category. Try these Brownie-Bottom Pumpkin Bars that will satisfy both your pumpkin and chocolate cravings at the same time! This recipe is free from the top 8 food allergens, plus casein, potato, sesame and sulfites.
1 box Enjoy Life Foods Brownie Mix
3/4 cup cold water
2 Tbsp mild olive oil or grapeseed oil
1-1/4 cup mashed pumpkin
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup Enjoy Life Foods All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup Enjoy Life Foods Mini Chips
2 tsp mild olive oil or grapeseed oil
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
To make the brownies, put the Brownie Mix in a large bowl. Add the cold water and oil. Stir until well mixed.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the brownies are baking, prepare the pumpkin mixture. Put the mashed pumpkin, maple syrup, All-Purpose Flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Briskly whisk until well combined.
After the brownies have baked for 15 minutes, remove from the oven. Dollop the pumpkin mixture onto the par-baked brownies, swirling throughout the batter.
Bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean, and the pumpkin portions are firm to the touch. Let cool in the pan for at least 1 hour.
To prepare the topping, put the Mini Chips and oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 15 seconds and stir. Repeat in 10 second intervals until melted and smooth. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the top of the brownies.
Carefully remove the brownies from the pan, then cut into squares.
Serve, storing leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and any other leftovers in the freezer.