I am so excited, you guys! Today I am bringing you something new on my blog: my first ever guest post! And it is a great one! Today I am introducing you to my friend, Chelsey Amer at C it Nutritionally. She is here sharing important and super-manageable information on navigating food allergies. This is essential information for all of us, even if we don’t have food allergies ourselves, as we are guaranteed to have friends or family members who do.
Chelsey is a Registered Dietician based in New York City. She is deeply passionate about nutrition, baking, cooking, exercising, and living a healthy lifestyle and she is all about doing it in a balanced way (sound familiar?)! She also has her own food allergies and so all of her recipes are nut-free, peanut-free, and sesame seed-free, plus many are grain-free, vegetarian, or vegan. So basically, she is a cooking rockstar! Make sure to check out her amazing blog here.
So take it away, Chelsey….
Hi there! Since many of you may not know me, there’s one thing you should know off the bat — I have had severe food allergies to tree nuts, peanuts and sesame seeds for as long as I can remember! At a young age, I learned how to navigate this nutty world nut-free, and now as a dietitian I help many other families do the same!
Even if you or someone in your family doesn’t have food allergies, there’s a pretty good chance that you send your kiddos to a nut free school or your child (or you!) have a friend with food allergies. So read on, my new friends… food allergies are everywhere ((and on the rise)).
Before I share my favorite Nut Free Snack Mix, however, I wanted to share some of my top tips to help you navigate food allergies…
Always read food labels! As far as food allergies go, the only part of the label you have to pay careful attention to is the ingredient list. Read it. And read it again. Line by line. Use your finger to guide you so you don’t miss ANYTHING!
If you can’t read it, don’t eat it! This is my motto and I’m sticking to it! I’m pretty sure I grew up with my mom chanting this motto to me non-stop, but I’m glad she did because it made me extra vigilant when it came to anything I was going to eat. And it is important to note that manufacturers can easily change the ingredients without a major packaging update, so just because you’ve purchased and safely eaten a product in the past doesn’t mean you can skip label reading the next time you go to purchase the same product!
Know the nicknames of your food allergy. Although there are what seems like a million different tree nuts, I think this tip is especially important for those with egg, milk, soy and gluten allergies. Eggs have about 20 different pseudonyms they can hide behind (would you ever guess lecithin or lysozyme?!). Did you know milk can be hidden behind casein and lactate? What about soy as MSG, vegetable gum or even vitamin E?
Always have your EpiPen (or other adrenaline shot). You NEVER want to be unprepared if a life-threatening situation arises, which is why I always recommend that families have an EpiPen (adrenaline shot) in multiple locations within their home, including the kitchen and one on each floor of the home. In school, your child’s teacher as well as the nurse should each have their own EpiPen! You should also always carry one in your purse.
Pack safe snacks wherever you go. You never want to be in a situation with a hungry kid (or you!) and not have something you know is safe to eat. Which is exactly why you need my nut free snack mix recipe……
You can find more information about managing food allergies here, but make sure you do your research about your specific allergy. And I always suggest talking with a dietitian when you or someone you know is newly diagnosed with food allergies to make sure you understand how to eat well with your restrictions.
I love this recipe so much because it’s easy, customizable and so yummy! As written below, the recipe is free of 7 top food allergens [contains soy], but there are plenty substitutions listed too. This snack mix stores well in an air-tight container for a few days so you can double or triple the recipe to make a big batch at once.
Nutritionally speaking, this Nut Free Snack Mix is a great afternoon snack because it contains a combination of fiber, healthy fats, and protein, which will keep you full for longer. AND it’s satisfying with salty and sweet flavors, plus crunch and chew! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…
- 3 cups air-popped popcorn (or 2 tablespoons kernels)
- ⅓ cup seeds (I used a combination of raw sunflower seeds and raw pepitas)
- ⅓ cup crispy roasted edamame [*contains soy*]
- 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is my preferred food allergy friendly brand)
- ¼ cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder (may omit for children)
- Olive oil spray (I use olive oil in my Misto Oil Sprayer).
- If not using store-bought air-popped popcorn, place popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag, fold down the top and microwave for one minute and 30 seconds, or until kernels are popped. Place 3 cups of the popcorn in a large bowl.
- Wait until the popcorn has cooled and then add the remaining ingredients. Gently mix together.
- Spray snack mix for a few seconds with olive oil and then sprinkle sea salt and chili powder on top. (Or any other desired spices).
- Enjoy! Snack mix will store well in an air-tight container for a few days.
If allergic to sunflower seeds, may use more pumpkin seeds or whole flaxseeds or additional popcorn.
If allergic to corn may substitute puffed rice cereal.
I order many of my seeds and dried fruit online from Gerbs Allergen Friendly Foods to prevent cross-contamination.