Food Allergy

What is With the #TealPumpkin?

In addition to potting some mums that were on sale at Home Depot and hanging the last of my fall decor, it was time for us to put out our Teal Pumpkin. This is a tradition my family and I began last year (you can read about it here), with some inspiration from the awesome people at FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education).

Teal Pumpkin Project 15-3

For those that regularly follow, Home Everyday, you know all about my kids food allergies. But did you know (according to FARE).

  • About 15 million people in the United States have food allergies.
  • About 1 in 13 kids in the United States as a moderate to severe food allergy. (that’s about 2 per classroom)
  • Every 3 minutes a person is sent to the Emergency Room due to an allergic reaction.
  • A reaction can be mild or extremely severe and even fatal. This life threatening reaction is known as anaphylaxis.
  • Many allergies are not outgrown over time, peanuts, tree nuts, finned fish, and shellfish allergies often tend to be life long allergies causing severe reactions.
  • A food allergy can develop at any time.
  • According to the CDC, between the years of 1997 and 2011 food allergies in children increased by 50%

While my kids have food allergies, they are just like any other kids. They go to school, play sports, go to events, and restaurants. All of these activities just require a little extra care and planning. For the most part, the people we associate with are extremely helpful and accommodating. Also, while my kids have been educated from very early on to read packages to look for possible allergens, ask a trusted adult what is in a dish before eating it, come find me at a party, or when in doubt refrain from eating a treat, they are also still children who are learning how to deal with their allergies.

In The Moment 1

This is why Halloween, for a Mom of allergy kids, is extremely stressful. While my kids are planning out the final details of their costumes, I am wondering how to navigate a through a day that is so centered on candy. Who will we donate our candy to after Halloween? Can I call every candy manufacturer between now and Halloween and find out what candies ARE safe? Should we go trick or treating or a just have a Halloween party instead?

When I found out about the #TealPumpkinProject through FARE, I was so excited to participate. This campaign was designed not only to bring awareness to food allergies, but also allow children who have food allergies to participate a little more fully in the Halloween traditions that we are so used to.

When you knock on the door or ring the doorbell of a house with a Teal Pumpkin (teal is the color of FARE) this tells the trick or treater that this house is offering glow sticks, stickers, pencils, bubbles, or some other Halloween trinket other than food. For the kids with food allergies, this is so exciting! My kids have always trick or treated in the past, and we would often donate our candy or share with family and friends after the holiday was over. Now, the kids have a small memento or trinket they can play with from their night of trick or treating with friends.

Teal Pumpkin Project 15-1

This year, I have a jar of candy for those that can have candy, and a jar filled with Halloween stickers and glow sticks.

Teal Pumpkin Project 15-4

And of course, I have my Teal Pumpkin in front of my door, again, this year. For not only my kids, but for all kids to have a happier healthier Halloween.

Teal Pumpkin Project 15-3

For more information about the #TealPumpkinProject, visit the FARE website. You can find ideas for non food treats, free printables, and all kinds of awesome information!

7 Awesome Food Free Valentines {FREE PRINTABLES}

Valentine’s Day is almost here! This typically means flowers and candy, but for those who suffer from allergies, it can mean trouble.  With schools becoming more supportive of kids with allergies and other food related illnesses such as diabetes by keep parties FOOD FREE, it can be hard to know what to bring to a class Valentine’s Day Party.

As a Mom of kids who have several food allergies, I thought I would share some ideas (7 of them) for some cute and clever Valentines that are FOOD FREE, but not free of fun.

With the help of Canva (for the printable cards) and my favorite store Target (for the little goodies), I came up with a few ideas to share some FOOD FREE FUN this Valentine’s Day. I hope you enjoy it as much as my little ones have.

1.) Pencil Valentines are adorable (and handy for when you need an extra one for homework.)


Print out this card HERE and attach a cute pencil.

2.) When you’ve got it you’ve got it, and with these little notebooks


you can tell your friend they have the “write stuff.”

Print out this card HERE and add a small notebook.

3.) Erasers are always easily found in bulk for big class parties, and are nice to have on hand for mistakes. My kids have started an “eraser collection” from all the cool ones they have collected over the years. These cute erasers


and a card make a great Valentine.


Print out this card HERE, then add a cute eraser.

4.) Bubbles will never go out of style for kids. They are easily found this time of year, but can also be found around Easter time and in the wedding sections.


Tell your friends how you feel with a card.


Print out this card HERE, then attach bubbles.

And voila.


5.) Small action figures or toys are always a fun gift, and when you’re telling your friends they are DINO-MITE they can’t be beat.



Print out this card HERE, then add a dinosaur figure or eraser.

6.) These small heart shaped slinkies I found at Target (but regular ones would work just fine too), are an adorable way to tell your pal how you feel.



You can find the spring card HERE!

7.) Small mazes are awesome for traveling or on the go. It is fun to remember your friend when you play it too.


The maze card can be found HERE!

For a complete list of the printable cards you can CLICK HERE!


Happy Valentine’s Day, Readers!

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Free Friday: Teal Pumpkin Project

If you love someone with food allergies as I do, you might also experience the same anxiety with holidays, birthdays, occasions, and other special events. I have a confession to make. When my little ones were old enough to start reaching the tops of tables, we took a hiatus from such occasions for awhile (hangs head in shame). I hosted a lot of things, but was afraid to attend functions at other people’s houses (except family) because I was so afraid of what my kids might accidentally consume.

We have talked with our kids about how knowledge is power, and in their case knowledge means safety, but there is only so much a 2 year old can absorb. The point being: the village surrounding my kids had to be on board with helping to keep them safe, because at one point my kids were just too little to help themselves.


Now, that they are older, I am a little better about letting them out into the big wide world because they are starting to become more knowledgable about protecting themselves when it comes to what they can eat. My oldest can read labels, my middle know which adults to ask, and everyone knows to refrain from having a snack unless they are absolutely sure it is safe for them to eat when they are out and about.

However, we are coming on the scariest time of year, and it has nothing to do with terrifying costumes or spooky decorations. Halloween for people with food allergies and those that love them, can be more frightening than The Ring (seriously that movie is THE WORST).

Halloween for allergy kids often meant Trick or Treating and giving all your candy away. Attending parties and not being able to eat anything there. Bringing your own special treats to functions. It even meant being a social outcast at some schools because of certain allergy policies.

That is why when I found out about the Teal Pumpkin Project being sponsored by Food Allergy Research and Education, I was so excited! This is a chance for every single kid to enjoy Halloween. FARE is being fair. (Plus, anytime we get to do a craft project, I’m a happy camper).


The Teal Pumpkin Project operates as follows. You can download a sign here OR paint a pumpkin teal. Place the sign or pumpkin in a visible place on Halloween night. This will indicate that not only do you have traditional Halloween treats for Trick or Treaters, but you have a NON FOOD treat to hand out for allergy kids too. Some sample treats include: stickers, faux tattoos, mini bottles of bubbles, wrist bands, pencils, erasers, tiny yo-yos, super balls, or any other kind of small toy or treat you might put in a treat bag for a birthday party.

When I told the kids about this, they were so excited, and we got to painting right away.


We decided to paint one big pumpkin (this is a faux pumpkin because I thought it would be nice to have from year to year) and the kids each painted their own small one (these are real).


I found acrylic teal paint at Michael’s, and we used sponge brushes to paint. Keep in mind because of the pumpkins sheen, it is actually easier to dab the paint on rather than brush it on.


While painting we thought of good ideas for treats to hand out on Halloween night.


So, what say you? Instead of buying 5 bags of candy, will you buy 4 bags of candy and one bag of non food treats? Will you put out a sign or a teal pumpkin? Will you make Halloween a fun for everyone?

If you want to know more about the Teal Pumpkin Project you can read my post about it on Chicago ParentThis article in the where I was interviewed for Chicago Tribune. Or here, here, or here.

If you like this post and would like to read more about all things domestic with a touch of humor, become a Home Everyday follower! For blog updates or to see other places I write such as ChicagoNow or Chicago Parent follow Home Everyday on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.


Versatile Chocolate Chip Cookies & Some Allergy Back to School Tips

When my kids were first diagnosed with allergies as babies, it was a scary diagnosis, but they were little. I figured, I was still in primary control of pretty much everything they were eating. I made a lot of their food, and when we ate out at restaurants, it was easy to just bring things a long for them.

Now, with their most recent diagnoses, and the fact that they are older. The fear is worse (so much worse). Between school, soccer, playdates, and all the other places they go where I am not there to oversee every piece of food that they come into contact with is terrifying for a parent of an allergy kid. However, I have always believed that the more everyone knows the healthier my kids will be. So with school starting, here are some things that I have learned along the way.

1. TEACH YOUR CHILD: Constantly remind your child what foods are safe for them to eat. Talk about how sharing foods with people at lunch, on the bus, on the soccer field, and anywhere else is not safe. Teach them to ask a trusted adult (parent, guardian, teacher, or anyone else who knows about their allergies), if they aren’t sure about a food before eating it. Teach them to look at labels, read them. Have them talk with their friends about their food allergies. Remind them that when in doubt, say, “NO thank you.” Talk about symptoms of an allergic reaction, calling 911, and using their Epi Pens.

2. TEACH EVERYONE: Anyone who is to come in contact with your child (family, friends, teachers, coahces, babysitters, everyone) should know what foods are safe for your children and not only how to administer the EpiPen, but when it should be administered.

3. READ: I know it seems like all allergy parents and kids is spend their time reading labels, but it is also important to also read up on allergy safe recipes, information regarding allergies, and treatments for food allergies.

4. FILL OUT FORMS: Make sure to fill out all of your child’s allergy forms completely, and thoroughly for school. If you have any questions, be sure to discuss them with the school nurse, teacher, and your physician so the proper precautions can be taken in case anything does happen. Also, make sure to make notes on all other forms of your child’s allergies, such as sports and activities forms.

5. KEEP IT UP: Sometimes things change throughout the course of the school year. For example, sometimes medications dosages change, EpiPens expire, treatments change, or a child may develop a new allergy or grow out of one. Be sure to keep everyone updated of any changes regarding your child’s health.

Now, that everyone is armed with the knowledge to have a safe and healthy school year, let’s have a fun and and allergy safe snack. I know this isn’t the healthiest after school snack, but every once in awhile a kid needs a treat, and chocolate chip cookies are just the treat. These cookies can be made a variety of ways, and taste awesome!

Versatile Gluten Free NUT SAFE Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter Room Temperature (NO DAIRY NO PROBLEM: Try a Dairy Free Butter Stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs (NO EGGS NO PROBLEM: Try ENERG Egg Replacer)
1 1/2 tsp gluten free pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups gluten free, nut free all purpose flour blend (NAMASTE brand is my favorite)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag allergy safe chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is my favorite)



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In an electric mixer bowl with paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until completely blended. Lower speed, and add eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated. Add vanilla. Next, very slowly add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Finally, add chocolate chips.


Using a 1 Tbs cookie scoop, or two spoons, spoon 1 Tbs balls of cookie dough onto cookie sheets.


Bake for 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Cool.


Enjoy after school with milk!


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Heaven in a Jar: Homemade (Nut Free) Chocolate Spread

Ahhh Nutella. Everyone who can have it loves it. However, there is a huge portion of the population that cannot have this delicious treat because of the hazelnuts in it. I was feeling bad that my littles were being denied such a wonderful and versatile treat and was trying to find something that would be similar. Unfortunately, many of these spreads have nuts or are processed in the same facilities as nuts or other allergens.

I had to take matters into my own hands. I scoured the internet, and to my delight I found ONE recipe sans nuts.

Thank you so much, SugarHero! My kids now know the joys of spreading chocolate on toast. They know how glorious pretzels and chocolate taste together. And they will never look at graham crackers the same way again.

The only change I made to the original recipe was I did add a bit more sugar and vanilla, but it is truly Heaven in a Jar.

Heaven in a Jar
1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 squares of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
1 stick of unsalted butter cold and cut into small chunks
pinch of salt

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat add water, sugar and cocoa powder. Stirring constantly, cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Then, bring to a slight simmer. This should take about 2 – 3 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla, chocolate, butter, and salt until a smooth texture is formed and all the ingredients are melted and incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a jar or airtight container. Cover with plastic wrap so the wrap is touching the top of the chocolate (so a skin doesn’t form), and then cover with lid.

Refrigerate overnight, and enjoy. (According to SugarHero! the spread will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)

There’s only one thing I can say about this recipe. You’re welcome!

For a Printable Version of this recipe CLICK HERE!

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Quaker Oats Keep Us Going All Summer Long


I am thrilled to be writing a sponsored post on behalf of Quaker and their amazing line of breakfast foods.While I was
compensated for this post by Quaker, the opinions are my own.
This summer has been pretty active. Between soccer, ballet,
swimming, baseball, and all of the other fun activities that summer entails, I
am always trying to think of new and creative breakfasts that will keep us full
until lunch. 


I have
been eating Quaker oatmeal for a long time, so I was thrilled to be a part of
their ongoing commitment to fueling active and healthy families. Also, because
I have three little soccer fans in my house, I was excited to learn about
Quaker’s ongoing partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) club, The Chicago
Fire.  As part of the partnership, Quaker serves as the title sponsor of
the Chicago Fire Juniors, the club’s youth player development program that
supports more than 10,000 soccer kids and families in Chicago and nationally.

August 9 through August 11, Quaker and The Chicago Fire will team up to host
The Quaker Invitational, which brings together hundreds of Chicago Fire Juniors
teams from around the country for a weekend of soccer, community and fun.
The two winning youth teams will earn a chance to play on The
Chicago Fire’s home field, Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL on Sunday, August 11,
and each player in the tournament will receive a free game ticket to attend the
Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact MLS game at Toyota Park on Saturday, August
Luckily, I only have to feed my family of five, and I cannot
even imagine fueling all of those active little bodies that will be at Toyota
Park. However, I think I have come up with the perfect summer breakfast using Quaker
Oatmeal that does not involve hot cereal. Let’s face it, in the summer, cold is
where it’s at.
Brian and I will often eat a Quaker Chewy Granola bar for
breakfast as we chase the kids out the door to an activity. The kids on the
other hand, enjoy smoothies and love anything with yogurt. I like making them
parfaits, but, often times I have to leave out the granola because of their
food allergies. This is when I came up with the awesome idea to make my own nut
free granola with my favorite Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal. 


Erin’s Nut Free Granola with Quaker Oats

3 Cups Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
1 ½ Cups Rice Cereal (I used Rice Chex)
1 Cup dried berries
2 Tbs milled flax seeds
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup honey
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, mix together oats, cereal, and berries and
until well combined. Add brown sugar, syrup, honey, oil, vanilla, and salt and
fold together gently. 


Put on a greased baking sheet, and bake for 20-24 minutes
stirring occasionally (about every 6 minutes). Remove from oven, and let cool
before serving. 


This recipe is great, and it would be great with a little milk poured over it as a cereal or as an afternoon snack in the car. So far though, we have already made yogurt and
berry parfaits. 

There almost as many things to do with Quaker Oats as there
are activities to do in the summer. Almost!

Check out my other recipes using oatmeal HERE and
For more information about Quaker and their partnership with
Chicago Fire, click HERE.
If you would like to read more recipes or enjoy gardening, DIY, Cooking, Baking or all other things domestic you can check me out on Facebook or become a follower of Home Everyday here

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Honey Wheat Bread and Grilled Cheese [How I Get Around a Food Allergy]

My kids have a few food allergies. I feel bad for them sometimes because they have to be denied certain foods that other kids get to have so regularly, but overall, they are very healthy.

One of the allergies that we have at our house is an egg white sensitivity. We call it a sensitivity, as it is not severe, and according to the doctor, it will probably be outgrown over time. Egg whites are everywhere it seems, including bread. This is why sometimes I make my own bread for the kids. There are a few brands out there without egg whites, but if you suffer from an allergy, it is nice to have a recipe that you know EXACTLY what all the ingredients are.
My cousin, Sarah, sent me a recipe last summer from It is a Honey Wheat Bread that is outstanding. It is pretty simple to make for the first time bread baker, and you can make a few alterations to the recipe. For example, Sarah’s suggestions were to change up the white to wheat flour ratio, or possibly add some flax seeds or sunflower seeds.
Just like last week’s french bread recipe, I wanted to share some things we like to make with Honey Wheat Bread. Brian and I love it toasted with the chicken salad recipes I shared on Tuesday. The kids absolute favorite is Pear and Cheddar Grilled Cheese. 


Pear and Cheddar Grilled Cheese
1/4 of a large pear cored and sliced thin
2 sandwich sized slices of sharp cheddar cheese
2 slices honey wheat bread
1 tbsp unsalted butter softened*Disclaimer: If you know how to make grilled cheese, skip the directions. I actually felt weird typing them out, but I figured someone (cough cough Brian cough) could use them.


Spray a small skillet with non-stick spray and preheat over low heat. Then using a butter knife, divide the butter evenly and spread on one side of a piece of bread. Place the slice of bread butter side down in the skillet. Quickly add one slice of cheese on the bread, then the pears.


Finally, add the second slice of cheese. Butter the second slice of cheese with the remaining butter, and place butter side up on top of the sandwich. When the bread is starting to brown and cheese just starting to melt, this takes about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the sandwich over, and cook until the cheese is completely melted. Serve while still warm.