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Food Allergies? Here’s What to Look for While Trick or Treating This Halloween

Food Allergies? Here’s What to Look for While Trick or Treating This Halloween

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There's a hidden meaning in the color of the pumpkins.

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Navigating everyday life can be tricky for those living with serious food allergies, but this is especially true for kids celebrating Halloween in their neighborhoods. There are many common allergens found in popular Halloween candy—including milk, eggs, soy, and nuts. It may feel like skipping trick-or-treat may be safest.

But there's actually a way that families can still safely head from door to door this year, and it all starts by looking for homes and porches sporting teal pumpkins.

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The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) group is raising awareness on the dangers of food allergies during Halloween with a project they started in 2014 called the Teal Pumpkin Project.

According to their website, the Teal Pumpkin Project began as a way to raise awareness of allergies and “promote inclusion” for trick or treaters with allergies during Halloween. Placing a teal painted pumpkin by your front door is a way of alerting trick or treaters that you have alternative goodies—including non-food options, like toys—for those that cannot eat some candies.

If you're wondering how your household can be allergy-friendly this year, FARE has organized a resource portal on their website loaded with suggestions for things you can find at most retailers. The list is filled with lots of the non-food treats that the organization officially recommends.

Looking to make Halloween a little healthier this year? Read on:

If you want to participate this year, you can sign the Teal Pumpkin Pledge and add your home to a national map that other families are able to peruse before Halloween. Look for other non-food treats (stickers, pencils, latex-free bouncy balls) at craft stores and general merchandise stores like Michael's.

The Best Halloween Treats for Kids with Allergies

When you’ve got a kid with allergies, Halloween is a unique challenge of its own. Navigating through piles of candy that your kiddo may or may not be allergic to is not the easiest task, which is why we’ve put together a list of candies and treats that skip some of the most common allergens, like tree nuts, gluten, soy and dairy. We hope it comes in handy both when buying candy and going through your little one’s haul, but remember: always check the ingredients list and manufacturing practices before letting your littles dive in!

Scary Puffs

You know what’s really scary? Forking out an outrageous amount of money for catered food which you can make yourself at the fraction of the cost! A favourite Singaporean teatime snack is the curry puff, which is a puff pastry normally filled with curried potatoes, chicken, beef and other savoury fillings.

Here is a recipe for you to create your own “Scary Puffs” from scratch so you can also mould the puff pastry into ghoulish little shapes which are sure to delight your guests!

How to Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project

Hundreds of thousands of households have committed to distributing non-food treats on the holiday. If your neighborhood is hosting some form of safe, socially-distanced trick-or-treating, FARE gives simple instructions for participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project: 

1. Instead of or in addition to candy, give out small items like mini slinkies, spider rings, Halloween-themed erasers, or vampire fangs.

2. Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home. You can paint the pumpkin, color it with markers, or buy it somewhere like a Michaels craft store. If you don&apost have a pumpkin at your house but want to support the cause and give out small toys along with your typical candy selection, you can download and print off a picture of a teal pumpkin to hang in a window or on a door here.

3. Register your home with the Teal Pumpkin Project map. Note, however, that FARE isn&apost providing a map for 2020, since they&aposre playing it safe because of the pandemic.

4. Let family and friends know about the initiative. 

Mystery Reaction

Trying new (to Charlie) processed foods is always tricky, but usually ends well. Recently, though he popped. That’s the way it goes.

Here’s how we introduce Charlie to a new processed food: By the time it gets to our house, we’ve already scoured the ingredients list (we don’t keep food he’s allergic to in the house). But we don’t trust the ingredients list alone. We start feeding it to him by giving him a single, tiny bite. He waits 10 minutes and, if he’s not displaying symptoms of a reaction, he gets a slightly larger bite. We continue until we’re comfortable that he’s OK with the food and can eat large bites. This is similar to the food challenges we do at our allergist’s office. It’s a good way to catch a problem food early, but it’s rough on Charlie’s patience. He’s three.

This time, we found some veggie popsicles that looked fine, ingredients-wise. He loves the fruit version of these, so we started our home challenge with one after dinner one night. Bam. He popped.

We’re always read for this – we were at the hospital nine minutes later. When we walked up to triage, I said “I have a three-year old with-” and the nurse immediately waived her hand in front of her face and said “an allergic reaction, I see. Come on in.” I really love the staff at our hospital.

Charlie sporting hives. He’s feeling chipper, though.

Luckily, steroids did the trick, and no epi was needed. He was lucid and even happy the whole ride to the hospital, which made the ride much easier for all of us. When you’re trying to determine if your kid is headed into anaphylaxis, a boatload of hives on his face will make you more than a little tense.

What triggered it? We don’t know, and that’s always frustrating. But that’s just the way it goes with food allergies: you’re always worrying, and you’re always watching, you always know how far you are from the hospital and you’re always bristling with epinephrine injectors.

Beignets, Beignets and More Beignets!

Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix, 28 oz Box

The last time my mom was in New Orleans she picked up a box of beignet mix from the famous Cafe du Monde! I've been saving it to make on a special occasion and what better way to celebrate Mardi Gras than with these French, powdery doughnuts? You can also find the boxed mix anywhere online!

Lauren Tom, Associate Content Producer

Orleans Foods Authentic Beignet Mix

Currently I’m looking for any excuse to do cooking projects and Fat Tuesday is the perfect excuse for making beignets. While making it to New Orleans from NYC is pretty out-of-the-question this year, making the city’s classic baked good at home will give me a feeling of being on vacation on Bourbon Street. This mix is created by two Louisiana natives and is ready to fry in just a couple of steps (you do have to let the dough rest, so factor that in)! It’s perfect for a weekday treat before the big celebration.

— T.K. Brady, Senior Editor

Ricotta beignets, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

I've made Erin McDowell's Ricotta Beignets three different times now, and they're sooo incredible that I'm planning on making a double-batch of them again on Fat Tuesday. Since this'll be the very first time I'm celebrating the holiday (I'm all about giving myself little celebrations throughout the remainder of 2021) I'm also planning on covering the spongy golden rounds in green, yellow and purple sanding sugars instead of confectioners’ sugar to give them a little Big Easy-inspired touch!

— Michelle Baricevic, Online Editorial Coordinator, Food Network Magazine

9 Safe Halloween Candies for Kids With Food Allergies

Trick-or-treating can be scary for the nearly 6 million kids in the United States with food allergies. Halloween is also tricky for their parents and neighbors who have to figure out what kind of allergy-free Halloween candy they can safely provide. Many of the top allergy-triggering foods are found in candy: milk, peanuts, egg, tree nuts, wheat, and soy. Fortunately, fish and shellfish aren’t included in traditional candy recipes—someone would definitely deserve a trick if they were! Have no fear, there are plenty of allergy-safe Halloween candies that will satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth and honor the season’s spooky traditions.

This classic treat is a smart choice, but you should check the UPC number before purchasing. Look for a number starting with 011206 to confirm that batch was packaged in an allergy-free factory. Smarties have been around since 1949 and are not only allergy-free. They’re gluten-free and vegan. But do you know what flavors are included in the familiar multicolored roll? Orange-cream, orange, pineapple, strawberry, grape and cherry.

These allergy-free fruit taffy chews are an American Halloween tradition, but they were invented in the United Kingdom. The classic line-up of flavors is cherry, strawberry, lemon and orange. However, there are tales of a spooky Halloween Mix that featured Mysterious Mango, Batty Blackberry, Bewitched Blueberry, and Chilling Cherry Kiwi candies and had a ghostly wrapper. There is also a rumor that the Halloween edition has disappeared from the market, but maybe you’ll spot one in a dark corner of the shelves.


With all the stores getting already into Halloween mode, I got thinking about my toddler. He's going to be 2 this October and I surmise he will want to go trick-or-treating with his six year old brother. The six year old has no food allergies but the toddler is allergic to gluten, nuts, soy, and milk. With so many Halloween candies being a "no", how do you handle trick-or-treating?

I would feel bad to exclude my toddler from trick-or-treating. I would feel really bad if he has to give all his candy to his older brother. I was thinking about sending a letter to the neighbors (we have a community of 50 homes) explaining my son's allergy and saying that I would give pre-made candy bags for the neighbors to give my son when he comes to their doors. However, one of my neighbors said that our subdivision has a lot of snobby people and that my letter would cause them all to talk and cause them offense (our neighborhood can take a holier-than-thou attitude and get offended if they think you're telling them what to do).

I don't want to offend anyone but I don't want to make my toddler feel that he is SO different. I was also thinking about letting him pick out a toy from the toy store in exchange for the candy he would have to give his brother if I didn't send the letter.

Any suggestions about how you handle Halloween would be appreciated. Warmly, Julie.

What we have always done is substitute every single UNSAFE treat for a SAFE treat when our daughter gets home. Of course I only buy and hand out treats that are safe, so we buy extras. And we always have had a rule, (passed down from MY mother, when all you had to worry about was razor blades in apples) that NO treats get eaten until you get home!
As she got older, she trick or treated with friends and when they get back to our house, they dump their stuff and the negotiations for trading begin "I'll give you this KITKAT for two bags of peanuts and the loose caramel and the unlabelled rockets".
We don't have to worry about anything other that peanuts and tree-nuts, so your job will be harder.

My son will be 2 1/2 this Halloween and this will be the first year he'll go trick or treating to anyone besides family. We're going to let him collect candy but then I'm going to take all that he gets to work, we're not even going to bother going through it to pick out safe and not safe. Then we're going to have a separate bucket of safe candy that we're going to switch with. I've already started putting that bucket together (partly because my mother just went to Canada for vacation and I sent her with a shopping list). I'm also going to put other things in the bucket besides candy like Match Boxes (the cars a favorite toy of his right now), stickers and whatever other little things I can find.

Hi! I have 4.5 yr old triplet boys who have been trick-or-treating together since they were toddlers. We have handled it much like the other posters. I allow them to trick-or-treat, and then when they come home they turn over their buckets and I substitute all the unsafe candy for "safe" candy (and non-candy treats). At 2 years old, this was really simple. I gave them a safe piece of candy to eat as soon as they got home and then took their buckets to go through. I think all parents go through (or should) their kids buckets anyways. so this is just part of the routine. As far as swapping the candy out, the first 2 years they didn't even notice.
We get rid of all "unsafe" candy at our house, as I don't want the other 2 to have peanut residue all over them. When they are a little older (and neater!LOL) I will give my non-PA sons the choice of keeping or trading in the unsafe snacks. If they do choose to keep their unsafe treats, I will make sure that my PA son as a really good variety to choose from (ie, some Vermont Chocolates, small toys,etc).
I know everyone has different opinions on this, and I know you don't want your son to feel "different". but the reality is that in this respect he is different. I believe it is better to teach them the different ways we can handle this allergy, then to completely protect them from it. Sure, every once in a while my 4 year old gets a little upset that he can't eat every piece of candy/baked goods, etc that other people can. but we continue to truthfully work through each situation and try to show him all the good things he can have.
I agree that if you send the note out to all the neighbors you are stepping into a minefield. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want to fight this particular battle in this way? If you feel strongly that this is the way you want to handle it. then go for it. but be prepared for resistance. In a neighborhood of 50 or so homes, you are bound to have a couple of jerks. Just make sure that this is how you want to focus your energies before you begin.
Everyone has different opinions on how to handle these situations. Our way has worked well for us. Good luck!!

At first I thought that I'd just sort the candy the children collected, but then I realized that having non-peanut candy closed in a bag with peanut candy, (you can smell it through the flimsy wrappers), could lead to cross contamination, I decided to get rid of all of it. I exchange the bags for safe candy, and then the bags go straight down the street to some friends' children---young teenagers who are too old to go out but still love candy.
Peanut allergy aside, I wish someone could come up with a new idea for Halloween, because the whole candy thing is outdated. It began when candy was expensive and people were much poorer. With today's children suffering from obesity and poor nutrition, it's probably not the best way to enjoy a holiday.

My pa 3 1/2 yr old son has always understood about "safe" foods/treats/snacks. We have also given him "Matchbox" cars, stickers, crayons, playdoh, etc. instead of candy. I also do the same when it comes to birthday parties and party favors. Just like Halloween, it is difficult to find safe candy so we just stick to the toys.
Julieb: you will always run into people that take offense and just don't get it. You must do what you feel comfortable with and realize that when your child enters preschool it will be with the same type of people from your neighborhood some will understand, and others won't. Put your childs needs first. Maybe instead of the letter and giving the neighbors goodie bags, how about you carrying around a "safe" treat bag that your child can pick from at each house? And the small toys are a great idea, he won't feel different, just extra special!!
Good luck, and if anyone has a "safe" candy list to share I would appreciate it! Thanks!

Since my son was little (he's 10 now) we have told him that if he leaves his bag of candy by his bed then the "Halloween Fairy" will take it and leave a present in its place. Of course, she also left a few pieces of safe candy, as well. He knew that most kids didn't know about the Halloween Fairy, but he always seemed to just accept it as what our family believed in. It's worked for us, and some of our friends have also adopted this concept. Who needs all that candy, anyway?

We have never had a problem with the safe stuff being in the same bag as the unsafe stuff, but here's a suggestion, how about when your child goes up to get the stuff you go with her/him and take the stuff in YOUR hands, then you can carry 2 bags, one for the safe treats and one for the unsafe treats and sort them as you get them. It will take a little bit of extra time this way, but you will be the one in control.
What we have always done (my son is 7 1/2, we have a few halloweens under our belts) is allow him to "buy" safe treats with his unsafe ones. he can trade them in for more candy or use them to collect better things. for example, 25 unsafe chocolate bars can buy you lunch at McD's on the weekend or 15 for a new video, etc.
My boys caught on early on that they can trade their stuff with their friends.(we always trick or treat in groups) My oldest son, who is not allergic trades 3 chocolate bars for one bag of safe chips, etc.
The other option is to not trick or treat at all, and throw a HUGE halloween party at home with of course, only safe treats. (We do both, I LOVE Halloween!)
I was surprised this weekend while doing some back to school shopping to see all the halloween treats already in the stores.

Oh, and I forgot to mention. Last year we were asked at over 50 % of the houses we went to if any of our kids had allergies. Lots of people seem to be more aware and had special "safe" (Thanks Nestle's!) treats that they were holding aside for the nut allergic kids!

Feeding Our Lives, LLC

As the school year continues to be super-busy, I've realized that I need to make a few schedule changes. I'm enjoying sharing interesting articles and passing along helpful information about living healthy through food and spirit.

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Christmas Gift Ideas that are NOT toys.

Gluten-free, rice-free cut-out oat cookies

Santa needed Christmas Eve cookies this year, but I didn't want to make cookies that everyone else could eat and I couldn't because of my wheat issue. what to do. Well, with the help of the Internet, several various failed recipe attempts, and lots of tasting, I came up with a very yummy gluten-free, rice-free cookie!

(Note: if you're beginning a gluten-free lifestyle, and you can tolerate rice, then you can use a gluten-free flour blend. That's not an option with my family's allergies, though, so I was left creating a recipe.)

Trick-or-Treating with Food Allergies

1. Hand out goods instead of food: We hand out pencils, stickers, erasers, rings, fake teeth, fake eyeballs, small decks of cards, glow sticks, etc. instead of candy each year.

2. Hand out food instead of candy: We give out snack bags of popcorn, pretzels, or cheddar crackers, trail mix, mini boxes of raisins, or bags of dried fruits. (Don't make the baggies yourself buy the prepackaged servings.)

3. Hand out coins instead of goods or food: we get a roll of nickels, dimes, or quarters from the bank and drop coins in halloween bags instead of candy.

Trick-or-Treating Sugar Content & Halloween Candy Alternatives

Y'all. Sugar consumption is Out. Of. Control. in America.

We are all (yes, I include myself) are addicted to sugar, and it's killing us. We have rotting teeth, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, and addiction problems. If you don't believe me, read this article by Kristin Kirkpatrick from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Or this one from from the New York Times arguing that sugar is a toxin. Or this one by Mother Earth Living discussing all forms of sugar.

Or, just trust me that sugar isn't healthy and read on.

As Halloween encroaches upon us, I thought it relevant to share this article I read in Popular Science. Basically, it summarizes that candy has a lot of sugar AND that "The average U.S. trick-or-treater takes home 600 grams of sugar on Halloween - equivalent to 3 CUPS OF PURE SUGAR."

Can you imagine ever giving your kid 3 cups of pure sugar?

There are a few things you can do this Halloween to impact the sugar consumption by kiddos:
1. In our area of the nation, many dentists and orthodontists pay the kids for their candy. Ours gives a dollar a pound for candy. My daughter made 3 dollars last year.

2. Hand out goods instead of food: We hand out pencils, stickers, erasers, rings, fake teeth, fake eyeballs, small decks of cards, etc. instead of candy each year.

3. Hand out food instead of candy: You can give out snack bags of popcorn, pretzels, or cheddar crackers, trail mix, mini boxes of raisins, or bags of dried fruits. (Don't make the baggies yourself buy the prepackaged servings.)

4. Hand out coins instead of goods or food: get a roll of nickels, dimes, or quarters from the bank and drop coins in halloween bags instead of sugar. Really, if you calculate how much you spend on a bag of candy, this might make a lot of sense (no pun intended)!

  • Opt for a limited invite party and celebrate Halloween with just the VIPS in your life.
  • Throw a Netflix party, complete with Halloween flicks for the whole family.
  • Make your&aposs a scavenger hunt house, with candy, toys, and prizes set up in different rooms.

So, how are your Halloween plans shaping up? While Hershey&aposs new website is an easy way for parents to map out risk near them and make plans, it&aposs still important to follow the recommendations and safety guidelines of local health officials𠅊nd revise your trick-or-treating game plan if necessary.

And, of course, it&aposs important to remember some over-arching safety guidelines no matter where you live to keep things a little more fun and a little less spooky: stay home if you&aposre sick, remain 6 feet apart, wear a mask, wash your hands or use sanitizer, and inspect candy before consuming anything.