Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tips from Lori Sandler: Managing Any Holiday Festivity

Because children, such as my son who lives with food allergies, love to enjoy the parties and celebrations just as much as any other kid, I reached out to Lori Sandler, 
the inspirational creator & owner of the scrumptious allergen friendly 
Divvies dessert products. According to +Food Allergy Research & Education FARE, the number of kids with food allergies is on the rise.  Today, one in 13 children (translates into 2 children in every classroom) are affected by allergies to foods such as milk, peanuts and tree nuts, ingredients commonly found in candy. With the holidays just around the corner, more parents, friends, and 
families are challenged with keeping children touched by food allergies 
safe during this festive season.

With careful planning, and vigilance, Lori Sandler, founder of Divvies and 
author of The Divvies Bakery Cookbook says, "by being ultra-prepared and making food-allergen safety a number one priority, holidays can be an inclusive experience for all." 

Lori’s following suggestions can help ensure your child's experience feels 
safe and inclusive.

1) Take care of your child's heart. Remember your child's emotional needs 
and be careful about drawing unnecessary attention to his food allergies.

2) Be available as much as possible. Plan on attending classroom and out-of-school parties in order to check ingredients of all food being served, and to resolve safety concerns. If you can't stay for the entire party, be sure to stay long enough to check all of the food ingredients.

3) Communicate in a positive manner. Make safe-food suggestions to the 
teacher/host well in advance of the party.

4) Donate safe snacks or solicit volunteers. 
Provide the snacks, if necessary, to ensure everything is safe.

5) Be prepared! Be sure to carry your child's emergency medicines with you 
while attending parties at school and at others’ homes.

6) Be 2 steps ahead! 
Bring allergen-safe & delicious meals/desserts that all will enjoy to friends' & families’ homes.

7) Check and re-check all ingredients in all dishes. Remember that familiar foods and brands, made specifically for the holiday season, may have different ingredients or be manufactured on different machinery from their around-the-year counterparts.

8) Of course, we both recommend that you Get @Divvies! Go to for nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free (some gluten-free, too) chocolates, candies, cookies, cupcakes and gifts to help make your celebrations inclusive for everyone.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Holiday Host with the Allergy-Friendly Most!

Straightforward advice from @IrisShamus for those considerate enough to include food allergic family & friends in their holiday celebrations.  Quoted directly from her blog on

"Okay hostesses with the mostesses. If you’re hosting a holiday party or gathering to be attended by food-allergic kids, first of all, THANK YOU!  I know it isn’t always easy to accommodate everyone safely, and your effort to include allergy sufferers is so very much appreciated!
We’ve put together a few tips to make it a bit easier for you and your guests to enjoy a wonderful and safe party!
  • First of all, communication leads to success! The parents of food-allergy kids will be glad to help you understand their needs and plan a safe gathering.
  • Decide if your menu will be allergen-free or allergy-friendly. An allergen-free event would be amazing, but for some family get-togethers, it might not be easy to manage.  Instead, you might opt for a menu that includes both traditional favorites and plenty of allergen-free options too. Some parents might even prefer to bring separate food for their child to make it easier to keep them safe.
  • When choosing recipes, remember that allergens can be listed under a variety of names, so be careful when checking ingredients. Again, ask the allergy parent for help if you’re not sure. They are usually experts at that kind of thing!
  • Cross-contamination can be a pitfall – using the same dishes or utensils for allergen and non-allergen foods can transfer enough particles to cause a reaction. The solution is to thoroughly wash all surfaces before preparing allergen-free foods, keep them sealed and covered until serving, and make sure that serving utensils don’t go back and forth between foods. For an extra measure of safety, identify safe foods using distinctive plates and utensils or by keeping them in a designated allergen-free area.
  • If you’re planning to have a kids table, they might enjoy a kid-friendly, allergen-free feast that’s different from the adult meal. Most kids prefer fun foods like pizza, chicken nuggets or spaghetti to turkey anyway!
  • An older child can be a great ally at the kids table! Ask them to help by watching out for food-sharing and to make sure that allergic kids don’t accidentally pick up the wrong foods. It will make them feel less “babyish” for sitting with smaller kids, too!
It may seem a little daunting at first, but everyone should be able to enjoy the company of friends and family at the holidays. Making sure that allergic kids are included is extra-special, and as an allergy mom, I appreciate it more than you know!"

Iris Shamus