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Dairy can be scary — planning an allergy free Halloween

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday! Between the ability to add pumpkin to every dish I prepare, costume planning and neighborhood fun, I can’t wait for my calendar to flip to October every year.  When I found out that my son Garrett could not partake in the same sugar coma as his sister and friends due to his dietary limitations, I decided to change the meaning of Halloween in our house and focus it less on candy and more on fun! Garrett trick or treats, and he collects the same amount of goodies as any other kid, but we have his “Plan B” bag waiting at home to swap out while everyone else begins dumping their stash on the driveway to dig into.  Here are a few tips to make an allergy free Halloween happen without saying, “booo for Halloween:”

1.  Have a PLAN B bag, as I mentioned above, waiting at home. Make sure it looks identical to the one the child used to trick or treat with so there’s no struggle. In the PLAN B bag, I include some treats Garrett can have. For example: Enjoy Life Choco Boom bars (found at Sprouts) are allergen free and come in a variety of decadent flavors. They are only $2 a bar and will give your child their chocolate fix. Also available at Sprouts are TASTY brand organic fruit snacks. They are allergen free, all natural and low in sugar. Dum Dum suckers are high in sugar but gluten and dairy free, so if sugar is not a limitation for your child, definitely include some colorful Dum Dums! Popcorn balls or haystacks made with gluten free pretzels, kosher marshmallows, allergen free popcorn and sun butter can be a yummy homemade treat to dress up in orange cellophane and give as a festive sweet treat in a PLAN B bag. All these ingredients are available at either Sprouts or Whole Foods.

2.  Because my son is allergic to lactose and sucrose, he often thinks of fruit as a dessert item. Fruits can easily be dressed up in costume for Halloween and handed out after the festivities. Some ideas include: Cutie Orange Pumpkins with a sprig of celery stuck in the top like a pumpkin, Banana Ghouls cut in half and adorned with two Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chip eyes to look like a ghost, or make a fun fruit platter by cutting up cuties and placing them on a circular platter in the shape of a pumpkin with blueberry eyes and a mouth made of sliced strawberries, for hanging out later Halloween night.

3.  Make sure your allergic child has a filling and creative dinner before Trick or Treating begins. This is a good rule of thumb for all kids, so they don’t feel the need to gorge themselves on candy. Our classic Halloween dinners include:  Hamburgers or veggie burgers with sliced American cheese or dairy free cheese cut into the shape of pumpkins before melting. This can be tweaked into a pizza dish as well (english muffins, halved and topped with tomato sauce and cheese). For a festive sidedish, I like to prepare a Caramel Apple Bar. We use the sliced apple wedges so it’s less messy with popsicle sticks for dipping. I then put out a variety of toppings: caramel, sunbutter, pretzel bits, graham cracker crumbs, cream cheese (Tofutti for allergen free cream cheese), soy based yogurt (like SILK brand) and dried fruits.

4. When in doubt, visit Party City or the Dollar Store for a selection of stickers, toys and art supplies for your child. This will never disappoint — I know my son would almost prefer a bag of dinosaurs and crayons over candy!

Don’t let an allergy free Halloween scare you. You can “sugar coat” the issue with some creativity, preparation and a plan!

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This post is sponsored by:

bike-land-150x150The Brett Saks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hopes  to make our Arizona communities safer for bicyclists by teaching adults and children about road safety and mutual respect between drivers and cyclists in fun and engaging ways. We are “Shifting Gears to Saves Lives,” as more than 600 cyclists are lost each year to car-bike accidents. Learn more at gearupaz.org.

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