My own daughter has allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and uncooked dairy. She also had an allergy to chickpeas, but she has now outgrown that (and we are so happy to be able to eat hummus again.) With all these allergies, I end up making a lot of things from scratch, but there are some foods that I’m just not able to make, and sometimes it’s nice to have a few convenience foods to fall back on as well. So for anyone looking for allergy-friendly foods, here are some brands that I’ve discovered over the years that are enjoyed by my family.
Enjoy Life Foods
This is one of my favourite companies. Their products are all free from the eight most common allergens: wheat/gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish, and they are delicious. Among the products they carry are cookies, cereals, snack bars, and chocolate.
Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Before my daughter was diagnosed with a dairy allergy, I assumed all margarines were dairy-free. It turns out they all have small amounts of dairy in them, usually in the form of whey powder. Becel does make a vegan margarine, but I really like the Earth Balance Buttery Spread. It has no dairy at all, and they also make a soy-free version, for those with soy allergies or anyone trying to avoid too much soy. It’s important to note that the spreads do contain pea protein, so may not be suitable for someone with a legume allergy.
Gay Lea Coconut Whipped Cream
I can’t tell you how excited I was when this product came out. I love ice cream sundaes, and while finding an ice cream that my daughter could eat wasn’t too difficult, finding whipped cream was pretty much impossible; like most margarines, most ‘whipped toppings’ also contain milk. Enter Gay Lea’s Coconut Whipped Cream. It comes in an aerosol can, so you get the full sundae-making experience. We definitely don’t get it often – usually it’s a once-a-year birthday treat – but we love that we can get it when we want it.
You may start to notice a coconut ‘theme’ here. I tend to go for coconut products over soy, mostly because I’m kind of leery about having too much soy in my daughter’s diet. Their products include coconut milk, coconut yogurt, and coconut ice cream, and my daughter loves them all.
This is another source of coconut yogurt for us. For those that prefer soy to coconut, they also have soy milk varieties.
Sweets From the Earth
This is an amazing baking company. All their products are vegan, so they are egg and dairy-free, and they have a line of gluten-free products and a line of nut-free products. NOTE: their gluten-free products do have nuts in them, so are definitely not safe for nut allergies, but they are made in a completely different factory than the nut-free products so there is no cross-contamination. They even make a vegan cheesecake!
A delicious dairy-free ‘cheese’ product! Daiya’s products include slices, wedges and shreds, as well as a cream ‘cheese’. They come in several different flavours, including mozzarella, cheddar and provolone. Daiya even makes frozen dairy-free pizzas! Their products are also gluten-free and soy-free, though they do contain pea protein.
Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates
There are a lot of holidays that revolve around chocolate, and it can be very difficult to find good quality, allergy friendly chocolate. Enter Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates, our go-to place for Easter – and occasionally Christmas and Valentine’s Day – treats. All of their chocolate is guaranteed nut-free, and it comes in milk or dark chocolate. The dark chocolate is processed on the same equipment as the milk, so it may not be suitable for someone with dairy allergies. My daughter’s dairy allergy is mild enough that we can give her their dark chocolate (with our allergist’s approval), but you should always check if you’re not sure. One disadvantage to Vermont Nut-Free is that you have to order it online, but as long as you give yourself enough time, it’s not really a problem.
Before our daughter’s allergies were diagnosed, peanut butter was a huge part of our lives, particularly my husband’s. He loved the stuff. So it was important to us to find a good substitute, and we found that in Sunbutter. A nut-free spread made from (you guessed it) sunflower seeds, it has a taste and texture that is extremely similar to peanut butter, and it’s delicious. It also substitutes easily into any recipe where peanut butter is an ingredient.
Dealing with food allergies is hard enough. Finding a few foods that you like and trust can go a long way towards easing the stress. If you’re just starting down this road, it may seem overwhelming, but it does get easier. I promise.
This blog is written by momstown Milton Blogger Lesley Stankaitis. Click here to read more of her blogs.