Festive Chocolates: What to avoid when gift-giving

Happy December! The holidays are here and there’s only 3 more Saturdays until Christmas- crazy!

With parties to attend, gift exchanges to buy for, and your own list of friends and family to cross off the pressure’s on to find a perfect gift. It can be easy to just go out and buy some nice chocolate to throw into the mix.

I know as someone who’s taken part in office gift exchanges and brought hostess gifts for my friends it can be hard to find something quick, easy, and gender neutral to buy.

If you have an allergy, holidays can be a minefield for treats to avoid. Chestnuts roasting on the open fire? No thanks.

Here’s a list of the top 5 Holiday chocolates to avoid if you or anyone you know has a nut allergy:

  1. Turtles
    walk away, it’s not happening.
  2. Ferraro Roche
    the packaging is so tempting… but Ill pass
  3. Lindor Chocolates
    Although they technically don’t have a nut flavour, it’s all about the fine print (may contain).
  4. Hersey’s Pot of Gold
    Not the gift I was hoping for at the end of the rainbow.
  5. Godiva
    Don’t bother even stepping into the store.
  6. Toffifee
    Not the most popular choice, but still not safe
  7. Toblerone
    The triangle shape probably makes it taste even better, but save it for someone else.
  8. Mini Egg Christmas Collection
    Love the festive colours, but how about Eggies instead? They have a higher chocolate to shell ration anyways.
  9. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
    I’ve always wanted to slam the orange onto the table and have the pieces break apart… oh well
  10. Russell Stover Assorted Chocolates
    Don’t think I’ve seen these before… but the word ‘assorted’ should be a giveaway

That’s the roundup! Have you noticed a theme here? As a rule of thumb, avoid chocolates that come in a sample, assorted, or variety pack. They make all of the chocolates in the same factory, and usually have at least one flavour in the pack made with nuts (hazelnuts are pretty popular).

Looking for a safe alternative to these options? Herseys has some great option of Kisses available around the holidays like their milk chocolate in holiday packaging, Candy Cane or Cookies and Cream.  After Eights is also a great option if you’re looking for a box to share with a party.

Happy gift-giving.

 

Restaurants to avoid if you have a peanut allergy

Eating out is hard when you have an allergy. For reasons I will clearly never understand, restaurants seem to always use some sort of nut in at least ONE of their menu options.

However, there are a few restaurants out there that are an absolute no for anyone with a nut allergy.

  1. Five Guys- uses peanut oil to cook their fries, offers peanuts to eat and throw around while you wait…. I think this is self explanatory why you should avoid this one.

    2008-0830-uva-fiveguys-peanuts.jpg
    Five Guys offers free peanuts while you wait for your meal
  2. Texas Roadhouse- although there isn’t one in Manitoba, this restaurant is one to avoid if you head to the states. It’s famous for being able to throw your peanut shells onto the floor once you’re done with them… they boast about going through 8.3 million pounds of peanuts every year.

    Peanuts_at_Texas_Roadhouse_-_panoramio
    At Texas Roadhouse, they offer buckets of peanuts to eat and throw on the floor as as appetizer
  3. Chick-fil-A- Again, another one you don’t necessarily have to worry about in Manitoba. However, it’s a popular option in other locations. The chain uses peanut oil to cook their products.

    18662162373_b1a10c6432_b
    Since they use peanut oil to cook, there’s no avoiding a possible reaction at Chick-fil-A
  4. Finally, any and all Thai food restaurants (Thai Express, Sukhothai Restaurant, Bangkok Restaurant, Sabai Thai Eatery, etc.)- the cuisine is known for using peanuts and peanut oils to cook the dishes. It’s hard to be 100% certain it will be safe to eat, so I generally avoid eating it all together.

EpiPens in schools

On November 13, CTV reported that some Winnipeg parents are wanting the Winnipeg School Division to change its policy on allowing emergency EpiPens at schools.

kgrad
A cringe worthy snap of me at my Kindergarten graduation (you’re welcome)- note the black fanny pack around my waste, carrying my EpiPen

The parents are proposing schools have emergency cabinets with two EpiPens alarmed and locked inside. The EpiPens would be available for any student in need during an emergency, and administered by a trained staff member.

It’s an interesting idea. My mother always made sure I had my own EpiPen

on me at all times. In fact, I literally had it attached to my hip! While some parents let their kid keep their EpiPen in their backpack, I would carry mine in a fanny pack around my waist.

In an emergency, it’s important to have the EpiPen close. I understand the idea of wanting to have extras in the area at all times, but it’s important to make sure you don’t have to rely on them.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this story, and will report back on the Winnipeg School Division’s decision or any other information that’s released.

Wondering what an EpiPen is? Check out my previous post where I go over the different types of auto-injectors.

Grocery Isle Organization

It never ceases to surprise me when I see how grocery stores organize their products. Sometimes you go looking for an item that you have no doubt it should be in the refrigerated section, and you find it down a random aisle with cereal and protein bars (aka soy milk).

When it comes to shopping for peanut-free spreads, where you find them in your local grocery store just doesn’t make sense.

Now, lets say you are shopping with your young daughter. She’s 8 now, and likes helping you pick out the groceries. You need to re-stock your Sun Butter options, as your daughter likes the creamy kind, but her sibling likes the crunchy version.

You won’t find it down the condiments aisle, or the natural food section, or anywhere other than sandwiched in between 20 different versions of peanut butter.

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Can you spot the Sun Butter?

The one product you spend your days hoping your child never comes in contact with.

Now, I took marketing. I know all about how stores place product not necessarily by where it should obviously go, but where consumers would instinctively look for it.

Sure, maybe in this case if you asked your neighbour or friend to pick you up some Sun Butter (to which you will probably have to explain that it’s a product made out of sunflower seeds that looks and tastes like peanut butter) they might go looking for it in the peanut butter section. They don’t know any better and it’s the one phrase they remember you saying/ comparing it to.

But as someone with an allergy, I would never want to spend time looking through product I can’t eat just to find what I’m looking for. And this isn’t the same as someone who’s trying not to eat carbs standing in the bread isle…

So if you’re shopping with your child who has an allergy, just be aware of where the peanut free alternatives are located (this goes for WOW Butter too). It might be a product you consider grabbing yourself instead of letting your child reach for it.

 

Want more information on peanut-free alternatives? Check out my previous post where I go over a few of my favourite.

MedicAlert: Jewelry that speaks for you

I remember having a silver bracelet on my wrist everyday until I was 15 years old. I never paid much attention to it, until I went to get my allergies tested. Each year, my allergist would ask me, “Have you medical alert bracelet on?” and I would shake my wrist in the air.

MedicAlert ID jewelry has the medical needs of anyone engraved into it. The purpose of the piece of jewelry is to speak on behalf of someone. If your child was to go into anaphylactic shock, the engraving would tell anyone exactly what they are allergic to. The jewelry piece has ‘Medic Alert’ and it’s logo (a snake and a sword) on the front with the engraving on the back.

When I was younger, the options of jewelry were very slim. There was only a few styles of bracelets, one style of necklace, and that’s it.

However, the brand has expanded and they now offer a variety of styles in bracelets, necklaces, watches, and sports bands. You can choose different materials (silver, gold, fabric, etc.) so the price point can fit your needs.

Visit MedicAlert Canada to learn more about the ID jewelry and how it could save your child’s life.

Keep your kid safe this Halloween: A How-To Guide

Halloween has never been my favourite. I’ve never liked dressing up in costume, even when I was little. I remember my sisters always use to have creative, DIY costumes that my mom would help them make weeks beforehand, but I just couldn’t care less. My mom use to have to coax me into wearing a costume to school so I wouldn’t be the only one in my class who wasn’t.

However there was once part of Halloween I was 100% on board with, looked forward too, and made plans for well in advance- trick-or-treating.

I grew up in a small town, so it was always a competition to see how long I could last collecting candy around the neighbourhoods before I got too cold and had to go back home. My sisters and I, and then my friends and I when I got older, would get our pillow cases ready, put on the warmest costume we could find, and set out on the town.

As I traveled from house to house, yelling “TRICK-OR-TREAT” at the doors, I would always pay close attention to what was being placed in my bag. I would count the number of full size chocolate bars I’d been given, and feel the disappointment every time I saw a brand I knew I couldn’t eat.

As soon as I got home, my parents would take my bag away from me.

I had three rules when out collecting candy:

  1. Always stay with the group, safety first
  2. Stay within my house’s side of town (you’d understand this one better if you knew where I was from)
  3. Do not eat anything

My parents would dumb the contents of my bag into a bowl and sort through it while I warmed up and took off my costume. I’d impatiently wait as they took out ever single item that a) had peanuts or nuts in it, b) may contained peanuts or nuts, or c) didn’t have an ingredients list.

By the time they were done, half of my candy was gone. My dad would keep it in a bag and take it to his work the next day. He would joke and call it “taxes” for him.

My parents would do this same process for my two sisters. Anything that could potentially be dangerous was removed out of the house.

This method might not work for everyone, but I definitely recommend it.

Even though your child has an allergy, they can still take part in trick-or-treating!

Just make sure you set the rules for your child: no eating anything while you’re out, and hand over the bag when you get home.

Peanut and nut allergy awareness is much higher than it use to be, so keep that in mind. The number of houses giving out chocolate with peanuts and nuts has definitely decreased since I was younger. Most houses would also be willing to give your child a different option if you tell them they have an allergy too.

An Auto-Injector Cheat Sheet

Last week, I talked about epinephrine and how it works in the body. So naturally, this week I thought I would go over the different types of autoinjectors.

Depending on the age and weight of the person, there are a few different options. The decision also comes down to preference and familiarity. Each type of auto-injectors operates a little differently, so it’s best to consult with a doctor to decide which one is best for you. Here are the top 5 choices:

1. EpiPen 
EpiPen Auto-Injectors
Now, I often say EpiPen interchangeably with the auto-injector. My family chose the EpiPen for me based on my doctor’s recommendation and availability. There wasn’t a lot of options 20ish years ago.

There’s two types of EpiPens: EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. As you probably have guessed, EpiPen is for adults, and EpiPen Jr. is for children. The difference between the two is the dosage amount.

EpiPens are narrow and longer than some models. They are easy to stick into a bag, purse, backpack or any carrier.

2. Impax Epinephrine Auto-Injector 

impax

Impax offers an auto-injector that works very similar to the EpiPen. It’s long but narrower and is also enclosed in a protective case.  The process of distributing the epinephrine is almost identical to the EpiPen. It’s also available in two dosages.

3. AUVI-Q

AUVI-Q

The AUVI-Q is a little different than the other two options. Its smaller and more compact, and is designed to help anyone be able to know how to use it.  It has two unique features, voice instructions and an automatic needle retraction system.

What does this mean? When you remove the cap off of the injector, it starts to play instructions on what exactly to do step by step. Once you’ve distributed the epinephrine, the needle gets sucked back into the injector instead of sticking out the end. It also has two doses options.

 

The Kids with Food Allergies website has a great comparison chart with more information on the auto-injector options.