Monday, March 25, 2013

Shortcuts

Wow, I have been away for a while. Three kids and going back to work full-time took my focus away. But, of course, not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of food allergies. My oldest is now 8 and still has the same allergies. We have a great routine going at home and at school, so I can't complain. She is very responsible in terms of her allergies and doesn't eat anything unless I have approved of it. Her teachers are great about emailing or texting me ingredient labels so I can tell them if something's safe, and of course we have a supply of frozen treats at school in case someone is having a birthday.  But I still hate food allergies.  I guess this feel won't go away until (please God) her allergies go away. 

I have been feeling more and more impatient lately.  But that post is for another day...

Right now, in the few minutes I have, I want to focus on what one of the toughest aspects of having a food-allergic kid is, from a practical standpoint: Giving them a yummy treat when you have almost no time. I have encountered this situation a few times recently and have a few ideas. Let's say you just found out about a class party the next day, but are dog-tired and don't feel like baking a dozen cupcakes (or two or three). What to do? Here are 5 quick ideas:

1. Icing-dipped cookies. Buy safe cookies from the store - like Enjoy Life crunchy or soft cookies, Oreos, or animal crackers (Barnum's) and dip 1/2 of the cookie in safe store-bought icing (I have used Pillsbury icing or Betty Crocker cookie icing) and then in a bowl or plate of safe sprinkles. Put the cookies on foil or wax paper to set. I did this for my daughter's Valentine's party this year and the cookies looked so cute! 

2. Chocolate-dipped cookies.  Melt some safe chocolate chips in the microwave and dip 1/2 of each cookie into the chocolate and then into the sprinkles. To melt chocolate chips, put about a cup of chocolate chips in a bowl (preferably paper so you can throw it away afterwards).  Heat on high for 1 minute, stir with fork, then heat on high for 30-second increments until chips are melted. You can  cut the chocolate with a little bit of vegetable oil to make it a tad smoother (add oil before or after melting chips).  Then dip the cookies.  Who doesn't love chocolate-dipped cookies? 

3. Icing- or chocolate-dipped pretzels. Buy safe pretzel rods, open a can of safe icing (e.g., Pillsbury), dip 1/2 of the rod into the icing, roll the icing-dipped pretzel on a plate of safe sprinkles, then put on foil to dry.  I sent these to school for Ainsley's birthday and they got rave reviews.  Alternatively, dip 1/2 of a pretzel (the bow-tie kind) in icing or melted chocolate and then dip in sprinkles.

4. Homemade chocolates. Melt chocolate chips in a bowl (see how in #2), spoon chocolate into candy molds, put in refrigerator until chocolate is set. You can buy candy molds at Michaels, Joanne's, most party stores, or on the internet. They are very cheap.

5. Chocolate-dipped strawberries. Wash strawberries. Make sure they are very dry! Melt chocolate chips (see how in #2). Dip strawberries in the chocolate and set on foil or wax paper to set. Add sprinkles if desired.

Right now, I am all about easy solutions. I hope these help you too.