How to Navigate Trick or Treat Time with a Gluten Free Child

by Rachel Sircy

image1It’s that (frustrating) time of year again when everyone in the world seems to want to give our kids candy. The thing is, this candy-giving-extravaganza seems to start at Halloween and doesn’t seem to really end until after Easter. Besides the fact that candy is unhealthy and can cause dental problems, diabetes, etc., those of you out there who have celiac or gluten-sensitive children probably dread this time of year because the likelihood that your child will be given something unsafe to eat goes through the roof. Trick-or-Treat has a whole different meaning to those of us who have (or whose children have) food allergies and intolerances. While it may not be possible for every parent to monitor everything that your child is given to eat during this candy-crazed time of year, there are some preventative measures that you can take to ensure that your child is as safe as possible.

The first thing is for you, as a parent to make sure that you know what candies/treats/etc. are safe for your child to eat. You can begin your research here. Once you feel certain that you know what is and is not safe for your child to eat, you can decide how to proceed. My family doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but if yours does and you plan on trick-or-treating, you have several options to try. If your neighborhood has an HOA or a Neighborhood Watch, this might be the place to bring up the fact that your child has a food allergy/intolerance, and to request that your neighbors try to pass out safe candy. Be sure to have a written list prepared for the HOA or Neighborhood Watch to pass out. If you’re in a community where you know your neighbors, you can personally give them a list of the safe treats for your child and ask that they be mindful of what they give your youngster. Another thing to keep in mind in HOA and Neighborhood Watch communities is the possibility of having a different night for allergy sufferers to trick-or-treat on or creating a different neighborhood-wide activity that would be inclusive of everyone. Consider this zany alternative to Halloween trick-or-treating that has been in place in Des Moines, Iowa since the 1940s.

If it’s not possible to pass out a list of safe treats, or if you will be trick or treating in an area where you don’t know the people who’ll be passing out the candy, you can speak to your child ahead of time and let them know that they will have to give you any unsafe candy that they receive. You can then decide what kind of treat you’d like to replace it with, whether you pay them a penny for each piece of unsafe candy or replace the candy with safe choices that you have already stocked at home. You can also take all of the unsafe candy and either find a local business (these are usually dentists, so check with your dental office first) who will buy the candy back from your child, or you can donate the unsafe candy to anyone who was unable to go trick-or-treating.

If you need to have even more control of what your child eats, as in the case of a severe allergy, it may be best to avoid trick-or-treating altogether. To make sure that your child doesn’t feel left out, you can (if time and money allow) throw an allergy-friendly party yourself for your child. If parties aren’t your thing, but you don’t feel it’s safe to allow others to give your child candy, why not try to adapt classic kid-friendly activities, such as Easter egg hunts. Why not do a candy-filled egg hunt in the fall and allow your child to dress in costume? Just remember to keep it fun!

As is the case with all food-allergy sufferers, it’s important that close friends and family understand, in detail, what your child can and cannot be exposed to. Make sure to share this information with your child’s school as well, just in case there are any parents of other children who may want to provide treats to the class, or in case the school has its own trick-or-treat or holiday party.

Safe eating, everyone!

Easter Memories

Hello Everyone!

Easter Egg HuntEaster was this past Sunday, and as most, we had a special sunrise service at our church.  How wonderfully blessed I am to be able to worship and remember the ultimate sacrifice our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made for all of us.  I hope you and your family attended an Easter Service, too.  I am sure many new Easter frocks were worn and eggs and candy were in abundance. I can hear my grandmother singing the Easter Parade song, “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…”  Many probably participated in a church breakfast and/or family lunch, as was the plan for our day. Egg hunts (more like eggs just scattered all over the lawn) for the little ones took place as the adults cheered them on to “find” the plastic eggs with treats hidden inside. Lots of photos were taken and games were played, including croquet. However you celebrated Sunday, I hope you enjoyed and remembered the real reason the day is celebrated.

Last Easter (along with most other holidays and celebrations) was odd without my sweet husband. We were married on Easter weekend and always made it a point to celebrate our anniversary with dinner out, a trip to the beach, or a cruise like we took for our honeymoon and a few more milestone years following. The last cruise we took was in celebration of our 35th Anniversary. He was so proud and excited to tell me he had booked it himself…a suite with a balcony!  This year would be our 40th Anniversary.  I am blessed to have spent most of those years together, and that is a great testament to our love for each other. It is hard not to miss your best friend and soul mate.  Much “rain” has fallen along with the April showers. Without a doubt, we would be on a cruise in a suite with a balcony right now.

This year, the timing was off for my class to make and sell our hand-made and decorated peanut butter eggs. Our Spring Break came the week before Easter. The annual sale of 500+ of the confections preceding Easter was just not possible.  Many of our customers were disappointed, however my students were not. One class made a few batches, dipped them in chocolate and decorated them for both classes.  When we first started making the Peanut Butter Eggs years ago, I remember having some of the filling left over and bringing it home to make a few for my sweet husband who LOVED peanut butter eggs.  They were shaped and placed on the island in my kitchen to dry overnight so I could dip them.  He had already left for work early that morning before I came into the kitchen only to discover some were missing!  I called him to ask why he ate them before I finished them.  He replied that he had not eaten any of them. Puzzled, I turned around to see our Jack Russell and realized she had to have jumped up on one of the island chairs and helped herself to the missing eggs!  It was like she was giving me the, “I was just making sure they were fit for human consumption” look.  She was immediately banned to the yard for the day!

I am including the small recipe we have used for years to make the peanut butter eggs, though converted to make very large batches!

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Peanut Butter Eggs

@ 16 1.4 oz. (@ 3 T.) Eggs before dipping in chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. Softened Butter (3 sticks)Peanut Butter Eggs
  • 3/4 c. Peanut Butter, Smooth or Crunchy
  • 1 T. + 1 1/2 t. Light Corn Syrup *Tip-Spray measuring spoons with pan spray before measuring
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 lbs. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 package @ 20 oz. Candy Coating Chocolate, Ghirardelli Chocolate Melts or Wilton Candy Melts
  • Royal Icing or Fondant Decorations

Procedure

  1. In a mixer bowl combine butter, peanut butter, corn syrup and vanilla.
  2. Gradually add in powdered sugar a couple of cups at a time to form a stiff dough-like filling.
  3. Line a sheet pan with waxed or parchment paper.
  4. Weigh 1.4 oz. or scoop 3 T. together of the filling.
  5. Roll each portion into a ball and then shape into an egg shape.
  6. Loosely cover with a paper towel and allow to air-dry overnight or several days. The more dry they are, the better for dipping.
  7. Melt chocolate per package instructions.
  8. Dip each egg in chocolate and return to waxed or parchment paper to harden.
  9. Carefully trim any excess chocolate from bottom of each egg.
  10. Place each egg in a paper cupcake paper cup.
  11. Decorate as desired.
  12. Store at room temperature.

 

Easter is on its Way

Hunting eggs, reciting speeches, dressing in your Sunday best, having dinner with family, and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ – that’s what Easter is made of.

Risen

Easter was such an eventful holiday weekend as a kid. It was that one time of year that I’d get my hair straightened, usually the Saturday night before, but I remember at least once struggling through the process on Easter Sunday morning while constantly trying to avoid the steam from the hot comb. After we decked out in our new Easter attire, we’d pose in front of Grandma’s beautiful azaleas or other flowering shrubs and plants for the annual Easter pictures captured with either a Polaroid, a Kodak 110 or a disposable camera, depends which was trendy at the time. Families have it so lucky now. No more having a roll of film sitting around for weeks, or even months, before it gets developed. Just smile, snap and share them immediately with family and friends via text or social media before heading to worship.

I can’t even remember learning an Easter speech, though I’m sure I did, but I do recall the years after I was too old to recite a speech. I dreaded sitting through the two-part program when kids got up and bashfully recited those classic speeches. Do any of these ring a bell?

  • Happy Easter Day! (This one was the backup speech for any kid that didn’t get a speech or forgot theirs.)
  • What you looking at me for? I didn’t come here to stay, I just came to say happy Easter Day. (Or something like that. Who came up with that one?)
  • Christ arose on Easter Day and that is all I have to say. (Cute, right?)
  • All I came to say is Happy Easter Day!

Sadly, the only Easter egg hunt I recall is one we had in our yard. Kids love this annual tradition and I get to see their faces light up next Saturday during when my church hosts the fun event. Sunday will be one of the longest days because we’ll have “Son” rise service, the annual Easter program and morning worship. They all make for a long day, but the unmatched sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes it all worth it, for our risen Savior is the one Christians reverence on this special day and every day.

Happy Resurrection Day!

 

Easter Traditions

By: Leah Prescott

Happy Spring, Columbia! Other than the bugs and pollen, I am so happy to see the end of winter and to welcome warm days. Easter is early this year, so I wanted to share some things we plan to do to celebrate this special season.

Easter Wheatgrass

Sprouting Wheat Grass

It’s always fun to plant with the kids and quick-sprouting wheat grass brings extra quick gratification! All you need is a shallow container, wheat grass seeds, and some eager kids to water them. If you’d like to speed up the process, soak the seeds in water for 12-24 hours, changing out the water once or twice. Then fill some shallow containers with dirt and let the kids cover the dirt with the seeds. (The finished product looks best if the seeds cover every bit of soil). Water gently or spray with a spray bottle several times a day (the kids love this). These eager little guys will start sprouting in a matter of days. After just a couple weeks you will have a thick gorgeous crop of grass. We like to add other spring-y décor and make it our centerpiece for the table. Some grocery stores carry wheat grass or you can order them on Amazon!

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The subtitle says it all: “Every Story whispers His name.” The Jesus Storybook Bible will be going in each of my girls’ Easter Baskets. We already own the digital version but I know they will enjoy having their own copies. This is a beautiful retelling of Scriptures that poetically reveals Jesus at the center of the entire Bible. Rather than simplified Bible Stories, it helps to teach how each passage is tied into the rest of the story of salvation. Amazon has a great price on this item right now!

Easter activities

The Resurrection Eggs

This is by far our very favorite activity over the Easter Season (aside from attending church with family). We have owned this set for three or four years now and we pull them out throughout the year to remember the story of the death and resurrection of Christ. Each egg contains a small item that tells a piece of the story and the booklet includes a verse and explanation for each one. This simple visualization of the story never fails to bring me to tears. I was amazed when the girls began telling the story on their own around age 4, using these simple props. This is an Easter must-have for sure!

Spring cookies

Bird’s Nest Cookies

This recipe is just too easy not to share. It’s a perfect recipe for the kids to help out with and even taste along the way since it’s a no-cook version. The finished product is adorable and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz package of butterscotch chips
  • 12 oz package of chow mein noodles
  • Cadbury mini eggs or peanut M&Ms

Instructions:

  • Microwave the butterscotch chips, 30 seconds at a time until melted.
  • Pour over chow mein noodles and gently stir to combine.
  • Form into circles and place “eggs” inside the nest. Allow to cool or quick cool in your fridge. Done!

I hope that you and your family have a truly rich Easter celebration and that you find time to celebrate what makes this day so important!

Fun In The Kitchen

By: Shannon Shull

As one of our fun Easter activities together this year, my li’l angels and I had some sugary fun in the kitchen! We brought out a cookbook that I had bought years ago, which inspired us to want to get creative with some sweets. If you ever get the chance to check out this particular recipe book by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson, you will see why it’s called “Cupcakes, Cookies & Pie, Oh, My!” This book of super cool baking creations is from the creators of the New York Times bestseller “Hello, Cupcake!” I think the pictures alone in this book are enough to spark anyone’s interest and capture your imagination! Leading up to our special baking “date,” the kids and I scoured over the cookbook choosing our favorite recipes that we wanted to try out. My daughter made a list of each of our favorites and we voted in order to decide what we wanted to create on our day of baking and making artistic desserts.

The super cool cook book and the creation we attempted...

I also came across a really cute creation on http://www.JustaPinch.com and had saved a picture of this Kit Kat dessert creation called Redneck Piggy Pool. My 7 yr old son, Sawyer, absolutely loves Kit Kats! So, I saved the picture on my desktop for a couple of months knowing I eventually wanted to attempt this one. A recipe with Kit Kats was  the main enticement that helped me to get my son to actually participate and join us in the kitchen! When it was time for the Kit Kat dessert making, my son was in the kitchen in a flash ready to play and, of course, sample along the way! And now, because I couldn’t get my hands on any fondant (much less had a clue at first what it was!), instead of making little piggies to go in our mud bath, we put pink Peeps in our chocolate puddin’, Kit Kat fenced in, mud bath! We all thought our little ‘Peep show’ creation was very appropriate here at Easter time! 😉

The Kit Kat lover and his Peeps Mud Bath...

Naturally, my creative 9-year-old girl, Mina, loved every bit of the baking and creating. In fact, the child is quite the artist in her own right, and I must admit, her creations were WAY better than mine! She’s got quite the knack, so we will certainly make sure to do more of this kitchen fun in the future so she can really tap into her artistic baking talents.

The creative, artistic process...

A  big thanks goes to my mother, my babies’ grandmother, a.k.a. “MamaMe,” who opened up her kitchen and aided us in our fun quest to produce some of these neat treats. We  destroyed her newly remodeled, lovely kitchen! Cupcake and brownie crumbs, chocolate, loads of different colored sprinkles, M & M’s, and several different flavors and colors of icing were not only all over the counter tops, but were spilled and splattered on the floor and cabinets! Fortunately, my precious Mama was so excited to have us there playing with her for the day that she didn’t mind the mess one bit! Thankfully, we escaped with only one kitchen injury (I burned my finger from accidentally touching an incredibly hot cupcake pan), and we made out pretty darn well, had a blast, and ended up very proud of our artistic baked creations.

The Fun in the Kitchen!

I of course, was overly ambitious in my plans to make lots of cool, culinary creations and discovered that baking – especially baking with children – takes more time than you ever plan for. So we ended up accomplishing only two of the many recipes we’d chosen, but that’s ok! As you’ll see, our edible art did not come out quite as professional and fancy as the pictures in the book, but we learned several lessons and discovered the importance of specific ingredients and baking tools! And for a first go at it, I’d say our artistic sweet treats turned out pretty darn cool lookin’!