Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Foodie Gifts

In years past, I've relied on boxed chocolates and holiday cookie tins as gifts for certain people, like the wonderful women who runs DJ's home-based daycare. This year, even though I know that DJ won't be partaking in any of those treats, I'm simply more mindful of giving gifts laced with allergens. One alternative treat that I think they'll enjoy (in addition to gift-cards for dinners out, movies etc) are the hand-made jams and jellies available at Petite Thuet. I picked up a variety earlier today. Some of the more reasonably-priced items include Fig Jam for $8.50, and Wild-Blueberry Jam for $12. If you're feeling like a splurge, the wild-raspberry jam at $33 might be just the right treat for the favourite foodie in your life.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dessert and Passion Nut-free baked goodies

I noticed a christmas yule log by Dessert and Passions in No Frills earlier today. I wouldn't normally buy something like this but for some reason I picked it up just to see if it had nuts, almost assuming that it would.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that it carried a nut-free symbol. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any allergy info on their website.  Here's another company missing the peanut-free marketing boat. They should be all over this! I've never seen this company come up in any peanut-free searches that I've done. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Wild Baker

The Wild Baker, mentioned in my earlier post on the holy miracle of a peanut-free gingerbread house, is indeed peanut and nut free. While nobody at the company got back to me via email, I called to follow up and spoke with a representative. She confirmed there are no nuts and peanuts used in any of the products. Unfortunately the website doesn't have any allergy information available. I mentioned the company could really benefit from sharing this type of information considering the number of people looking for peanut-free products. Let's see if they really listen to their consumers and take up that suggestion!

NAFTA Nut Free Gingerbread Kits!

Thanks to Jennifer B for the tip on NAFTA Gingerbread kits; they are indeed peanut free!

Here's the response from the company that I received earlier today:

Thank you for your inquiry.

NAFTA is indeed a Nut Free facility but I would suggest the following with respect to the Kits.

We manufacture the icing and cookies in our facility but purchase the candies in bulk from outside, Nut Free vendors. However my suggestion, to be absolutely certain at all times, it to purchase candies with which you have a 100% certainty and with which you have previous experience. Use those candies along with our icing and House to do your kit.

Vice President, Sales and Marketing
NAFTA Foods and Packaging Inc.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas Miracle?

Maybe! It looks like I found a nut-free gingerbread house! I found it at Sears in the kids clothing department - the absolute last place I would have ever expected to find one. And I've been looking: at nearly every store I've been to in the last month. This one is from The Wild Baker.

There are no nuts or peanut products listed on the ingredients and there is an allergy caution that reads: Contains: Wheat and Soy.

I don't know why I'm getting caught up in all of the wording. Or maybe I do. Maybe it's because I am surprised there is no peanut-free symbol. While not every product that doesn't have peanuts in it carries that symbol, it just seems like in this specific case the maker would market it with the symbol. Having it would surely help drive sales since seemingly every other similar product has the 'may contain' warning. If the rest of their products are also peanut free, this would be a great resource.

As well. I think I'm also finding it hard to believe there really is no peanut; again, since all of the other comparable products have it. This is one case where I'll be calling the manufacturer to double check.

Keep your fingers crossed. The box has been sitting out for days now, and DJ is super excited to help me build and decorate it. He would be heart-broken if it didn't happen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Craisins - A Nut-Free Stand-in

Lots of my family's favourite holiday baking recipes call for nuts. While I'm forgoing some alltogether, other recipes look ripe for adaptation. I was happy to see that Ocean Spray Craisins are labelled as nut-free. They add a nice hint of chewy when nuts aren't an option, giving a cookie recipe some added depth and flavour. I'm going to try substituting them in this recipe for chocolate biscotti.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates

Chocolate is a mainstay in our house at Christmas. I usually keep three to four boxes on hand for last-minute entertaining and of course, for holiday snacking.

Nuts and chocolate go hand in hand; nothing adds more depth to a delicious dark chocolate than the crunch of a nut. Maybe that's why crusing the grocery store aisle has been so sobering. Nearly all boxed chocolates have at least the "may contain" warning. The only one I've found that appears safe is After Eights.

The idea of a chocolate-free Christmas isn't sitting well with me. I want DJ to experience all of the fun that comes with the season - including noshing on chocolate now and then.

It's why I got online and ordered a whack of chocolate from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. It seems to be one of the only places that makes nut-free boxed chocolates. While the prices are a bit steep and delivery just adds to the cost, my thinking is that the extra money is worth being able to snack safely. I did feel guilty ordering nearly $80 worth of chocolate, but that included a chocolate santa for DJ's stocking, and plenty of small foiled wrapped shapes I'll use to decorate a gingerbread house, a long-standing tradition in our home.

Of course, now I've got to find a peanut-nut/nut-free gingerbread house kit. Every brand I've seen stocked in the stores so far simply isn't safe. I'll keep looking and let you know what I find.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time for new holiday favourites

Wow, time sure does fly! I just realized weeks have passed since my last blog entry while I've been busy hustling to get ready for the holidays.

When we first learned about DJ's peanut/tree nut allergy, I never thought about how much our holiday celebrations would change, but now that I'm knee deep in preparations, I am realizing just how many adjustments will be necessary.

Like my Christmas baking for example. Nearly every treat I made last year contained nuts. The only exception was sugar cookies made from a Robin Hood pre-packaged mix.

So I guess it's out with the old nutty holiday baking traditions and in with the new nut-free ones.

I'm looking for recipes my family will enjoy that are nut free and also trying to adapt a couple traditional favourites. I'm sure there will be plenty, including this great recipe for warm white chocolate cookie bits. While the recipe calls for toasted pecans, I'm going to substitute dried cranberries or cherries. I'll be sure to blog on how they turn out.

At the same time, I'm wondering about the potential for substituting sunbutter for peanut butter in peanut butter marshmallow squares. Has anybody tried this substitution with any success? If so, I'd love to hear about it.