Every holiday has the potential to overwhelm me. As a mom of kids with severe food intolerances, every get together, treat, and meal is an obstacle. It effects the emotions of my kids as they feel left out. It requires insane amounts of planning and cooking ahead. There are always let downs when I didn’t know a dessert or side of bread was being served because someone forgot to relay the complete menu to me. And it usually causes me to feel left out of conversations as I helicopter around Cooper, making sure he’s not scrounging off other people’s plates or eating food off the floor.
Easter is days away. After doing this for a year and a half and as my kids get older, I’m realizing I need to make compromises, for all our sakes. Food is an emotional thing. There’s a reason why the French have a million courses to their meals, why Italians lovingly make incredible pasta dishes from scratch, and why we’re called as Christians to break bread together – bonding happens over food. So when you’re watching everyone bond over a holiday meal or treat with nothing special and exciting to eat yourself, there’s a feeling of isolation. I’ve watched it in Emery many times and it requires me to balance her physical health with her emotional and social health.
I don’t think it’s wrong to guard what goes in my kid’s bodies but I do think a line needs to be drawn. I need to recognize at what point I’ve crossed the line from protecting their bodies, to driving them against me because of my control. They’re already told constantly they’re not able to eat fillintheblank that their friend is eating because the gluten, grain, and dairy causes them physical pain. But when they want a treat filled with total crap and my best answer is “it’s not healthy for you,” what 1 and 3 year old care about that more than bonding with friends?
For that reason, we have a small list of treats we save just for holidays and get togethers involving junk. It keeps it exciting for my kids because even though it’s healthier than what most of their friends are eating, it’s a rare treat. There’s the crinkle of a package [which is extra important for her little heart on halloween and easter, when homemade treats just don’t cut it when trying to fit in] and there’s more sugar involved than they’re used to, which all kids love. And I didn’t have to spend an extra 18 hours making 6 different desserts to replace the large selection everyone else will have.
So where do I draw the line on what to buy?
What We Avoid on Packages:
- Gluten [including hidden sources]
- Food dyes [including caramel coloring]
- Artificial sweeteners
- Artificial flavors
- Natural flavors [we’ll occasionally compromise on this if it’s a non-GMO product. Natural flavors sometimes contain GMOs]
- Oils other than olive, avocado oil, and coconut oil. [If i have to compromise, we’ll eat something with sunflower or safflower oil]
- GMOs [corn products, sugar not labeled “cane sugar” or “organic sugar,” citric acid, soy, canola oil, etc]
- High Fructose Corn Syrup and agave nectar [we’ll occasionally compromise on agave]
- MSG [or hidden sources]
So what are our special treats? What fits into their diet restrictions but also my ingredient convictions? There are PLENTY of things in a health food store that don’t pass inspection, so I thought this list might be helpful for those wanting a quick list of what’s best. I’ll start with the least offensive and work my way down to the ones that are a stretch for me. The first 7 are ones we actually snack on more frequently but are still a treat for our kids. The last 3 contain ingredients I don’t normally allow. Our kids get things like this maybe every 2 months?
Easter Egg Hunt Treats:
[everything below was found at Sprouts and/or Natural Grocers]
Newman’s Own Organic Raisins
Just Tomatoes Etc.’s Just Blueberries
Organic Blueberries [they also carry several other fruits and vegetables]
Funky Monkey’s Purple Funk:
Freeze dried organic banana, organic acai
Go Raw’s Lime in the Coconut Coconut Crisps
Organic coconut (unsulphured), organic lime juice, Celtic sea salt, organic coconut nectar.
Go Raw’s Pizza Flax Snacks
Sprouted organic flax seeds, sprouted organic sunflower seeds, sprouted organic sesame seeds,
organic tomato, organic tomato powder, celtic sea salt, organic spices
Quinn Popcorn Kale and Sea Salt
Non-GMO popcorn kernels, high oleic sunflower oil, dried organic kale, sea salt,
dried organic carrot, onion powder, garlic powder.
[Certified Gluten Free]
Laughing Giraffe Organic’s Chocolate Snakaroons
Unsweetened coconut, agave, cacao, coconut sugar, vanilla extract, Himalayan pink salt
Hail Merry is also a similar brand we love! Their macaroons would be perfect for egg hunts
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
Evaporated cane juice, Natural chocolate liquor [non-alcoholic], Non-dairy cocoa butter
Tree Hugger Gum Fantastic Fruit
Cane Sugar, Glucose, Gum Base (Contains Natural Chicle), Brown Rice Syrup,
Gum Arabic, Natural Flavors (including Lemon ,Grapefruit, Watermelon, Pomegranate ),
Sun Flower Lecithin, Natural Colors, (Including: Red Beet, Berry Extract, Paprika Extract,
beta Carotene, Chlorophyllin) , Carnauba Wax.
Tasty Fruit Gummies
Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Sugar Solids, Organic White Grape Juice Concentrate,
Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric, Organic Annatto),
Natural Flavors [No MSG], Sodium Citrate, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.
Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans
*Be careful with this brand – not all their products are GMO free. Be sure to look for the Non-GMO label.*
Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid,
Colors Added (Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Turmeric, Organic Annatto), Natural Flavors,
Confectioner’s Glaze, Carnauba Wax, Organic Sunflower Oil.
What did I miss? Have any store bought treats you purchase for holidays and large get togethers? I’d love to hear what you’re doing for Easter treats this year!