Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Allergy-friendly Easter basket

I always struggle with how to handle food during the holidays. It wasn't until I had Ellie and we struggled so much with food intolerances and allergies that I realized how holidays really revolve around food. Like if you subtracted food, there's really no scaffolding to hold up a holiday.

When you don't eat gluten, dairy, sugar, or eggs holidays get tricky.  When you add in a salicylate sensitivity and Oral Allergy Syndrome, things get darn near impossible.

Over the years I feel like I've found a good balance of choosing one big food to highlight and celebrate, and then really focusing on the non-food aspects of the holiday, like family, tradition, connection, stories, faith, etc. At Thanksgiving Ellie and I made two pies together. At Christmastime we made cut-out cookies.

When Ellie was younger I could get away with skipping the food entirely. We've had treat-free Easters for several years in a row and it was no problem - Ellie didn't know any different and had lots of fun with her Easter baskets filled with new toys and books. But Ellie is almost five (what?!?) and is much more aware these days of how things work in the world and I knew she would be delighted to find some treats in her Easter basket this year.

And so that question comes up every year: what to put in the Easter basket? When I grew up I ate so. much. candy. on Easter. Obscene. Chocolate bunnies. Chocolate eggs. Those chocolate malt ball thingies. So much sugar. Whatever else came in the basket was secondary to the chocolate.

I wanted to echo those experiences - fun chocolate in Easter-y shapes, but avoid the sugar, the dairy and the chocolate itself, because chocolate is high in salicylates. I lucked upon a fantastic recipe for white chocolates on the Whole Life Nutrition blog (this site and their cookbooks are such great resources). Then I lucked upon these adorable chocolate molds on Amazon. Here's how they turned out:

Ellie was so delighted to find a bowlful of chocolates in her Easter basket in the morning. It was so worth the work of making them (at the 11th hour the night before, of course). And I was especially glad we made them when we were at an Easter brunch later in the day and Ellie couldn't eat the candy hidden in the eggs at the Easter egg hunt, but she could eat the candies I had brought along.

The rest of Ellie's Easter basket was a sweet collection of springtime finds I just have to share because they have been loved so much:

The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle Von Olfers 
Spring by Gerda Muller 
Little Butterflies Stained Glass Coloring Book

I also have started needle felting, so I made Ellie this sweet bunny egg:

It was so great to make an Easter basket that felt like a celebration and a special treat. I want to create warm memories for her and for holidays to feel like they are bursting full with love and happiness, not times where our dietary differences stand out more than anything else.

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