Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A few of our favorite things... peanut free version

Grocery shopping for a child with food allergies can be tiring, and I have it easy with my child only being allergic to one food. At the moment our goal is to avoid all products that 1) contain peanuts (obviously), 2) are processed on the same equipment as peanuts, 3) are labeled as "may contain peanuts", and 4) are processed in the same facility as peanuts. Seems like that shouldn't be too hard since we only have to avoid one thing, right? Well, surprisingly there are a lot of foods that fall into at least one of the four categories above.

After numerous hours reading labels, searching allergy blogs, and contacting companies, I have found several peanut free products and options that we love. Since I found a lot of these things through other blogs, I thought I would share them here in case someone else is looking or wondering. However, please, regardless of what I recommend here, ALWAYS read labels if you have a food allergy as companies and their products are constantly changing and what is safe today, may not necessarily be safe tomorrow.

Tree Nuts
We're lucky enough to be able to consume all other tree nuts provided they have not been roasted in peanut oil (we made that mistake once) or cross contaminated during manufacturing. My current favorite place to purchase our tree nuts is Tierra Farm. So far all the products I have purchased are fantastic, and they have the best chocolate covered almonds (if you like dark chocolate).

Blue Diamond is also a peanut free facility that produces almonds. The nice part about Blue Diamond is that you can find this brand at most chain grocery stores!

The monkeys love sunflower seeds. Sadly, many sunflower seeds (like many nuts) are also roasted in peanut oil. Tierra Farms sells sunflower seeds. Gerbs on Amazon also sells peanut free sunflower seeds. I believe (but have no confirmed) that their pumpkin seeds are also peanut free. The last I have heard, David sunflower seeds are also peanut free, but I have not contacted the company to confirm this. We have consumed this brand with no problems, but the same may not be true for all. David brand is often sold in chain grocery stores as well.

Nut/seed butters 
I think the one thing I have missed most about becoming a peanut free household is peanut butter. I used to love a spoonful of peanut butter as a snack or topped with a few chocolate chips as a treat. I have spent years searching for a peanut free nut butter that could replace peanut butter. I finally found one this year! Barney Butter makes the most amazing crunchy almond butter. I can't wait to also try their creamy version.

SunButter is also a wonderfully delicious sunflower seed spread, although it does not resemble peanut butter at all.

WowButter is also a yummy alternative to nut/seed butters. We limit our consumption of this since it is a soy-based product.

Coconut/Coconut Oil
Lets Do Organic shredded coconut is peanut free and I found it both at amazon and Whole Foods Market.

I've found two sources of coconut oil. Nutiva has a peanut free manufacturing line for it's coconut oil. However, the larger 78oz (think Costco size) product is produced on the same line as peanut oil. So be careful with this product. The Vitacost brand coconut oil is peanut free, tastes great, and is reasonable in price.

Guittard makes fantastic chocolate chips and I've found them at our local grocery store. Their facility is peanut free. Enjoy Life makes chocolate chips that are not only peanut free, but free of all the top 8 allergens. They also make other products, but we haven't tried any yet.

We haven't had to worry about peanut free bread too much. We've eaten several brands of bread with no issue; however, I was quite pleased when I discovered that one of my favorite breads is from a peanut free facility. Alvarado Street Bakery has wonderful bread that is also egg free (we ate this bread for the year that Big Monkey was also allergic to eggs). I still love this bread and buy it when I can find it. I can't get it at chain grocery stores, but Whole Foods, Sprouts, and even my local Costco does carry it.

Sara Lee and Thomas' Bagels (the large 6 pack bagels) are also safe.

Other Resources:
So not all companies label "may contain" or "produced in a facility" as they are not required by law to. So how do you know if a product is safe or just not labeled properly? I stumbled across Trust the Label. This is a great resource. You can search for a brand/manufacturer and the site will tell you weather you can trust their label or weather they fail to label for cross contamination.

Another source for all sorts of treats is Peanut Free Planet

The list goes on and on, but these are some of the items that were harder for me to track down.