Let Them Eat Cake…Money and Time Saving Treats for Kids with Allergies

The number of kids with food allergies has increased dramatically over the past decade. I can’t remember a single child with a food allergy when I was a kid, yet now there is the need for peanut free tables and classrooms in nearly every school.  After having two children, I never really gave food allergies a thought, but that all changed with my third child. At age 2, contact with a small
amount of peanut butter caused hives and facial swelling. Blood tests revealed he was allergic to both eggs and peanuts. Everything changed at this point. I now needed to check every label and be allergy-free-treats-for-kidscautious of any ingredient I used when cooking or baking. When I had my fourth child 18 months later, we had him tested as soon as possible, and, just my luck, he also suffered from the same allergies.

Now that my boys are older, there are constant invitations to birthday parties for their friends. While I want them to be able to attend these parties, there is always the anxiety about what is in the cake, ice cream or any other snack they will consume. Some may think it’s easy to just tell them not to eat anything, but these kids deserve to have a treat, as well. I usually send along a treat with my sons so that they can feel included. Unfortunately, what this now means is that I not only need to bake a peanut and egg free treat for my kids’ birthdays, but I need to make something for everyone else’s birthday, as well. This can be inconvenient, as well as expensive, but I’ve learned a few tips along the way.

Cake/Cupcakes

There are many great egg and peanut free cake recipes out there, but if you’re a working Mom, let’s face it, there isn’t much time for baking from scratch. There are allergy free cake mixes available, but they tend to be quite expensive, and sometimes lacking in flavor. The best solution I have found is a soda cake. Take any boxed cake mix and add one 12 ounce can of soda. That’s it! This not only replaces the eggs, but the oil and/or water, as well. Simply add the soda, mix until the ingredients are combined, and bake as usual. The carbonation in the soda causes the cake to rise. I have been using this method for years, and it’s truly foolproof. I no longer have to make one cake for my kids, and another for my guests. I make one cake that everyone can enjoy. Regarding the flavor of soda to use, it generally doesn’t matter. I have found that the soda flavor cannot be detected in the cake. You can also use seltzer water or even diet soda if you want to save a few calories.  If making a white or yellow cake, however, stick to clear sodas like Sprite or 7up because a darker soda can darken the cake a bit. I use the same method for cupcakes.  I recommend using slightly less than a full can when making cupcakes. The cupcakes can fall apart if the batter is too thin.  To make sure my kids are prepared when attending a birthday party, I try to plan ahead.  I will make a batch of cupcakes in advance, freeze them, and thaw one or two as I need them. The kids have a worry free treat they can bring, and I’m not baking every weekend!

allergy-free-cake

Cookies

There are many allergy friendly chocolate chip cookie recipes available in cookbooks and online. The one I found to be the best for my family is a recipe I found online several years ago: http://www.kitchenmonki.com/recipe/Madelines_Dairy_Free_Nut_Free_Egg_Free_Chocolate_Chip_Cookies.  This recipe is free of the common allergens and can be used as is. My kids do not have a milk or dairy allergy, so I am able to use butter, milk, and nut free chocolate chips (I use Hershey milk chocolate chips). You can adjust the recipe as needed. I usually bring a batch of these cookies with me to cookouts and holiday parties. They are a hit with everyone, and I know there will be something safe for my kids to eat.

allergy-free-cookie-recipe

Brownies

The key to a perfect egg and nut free brownie has eluded me until recently.  I tried many recipes from scratch, but they are time consuming and lacking in flavor and texture. I wanted the chewy, fudgy consistency of a boxed brownie mix, but finding a substitution for the eggs was not easy. Soda does not work with brownies as it did with cake mixes (found that out the hard way). I have tried applesauce, egg replacer, yogurt, etc. and nothing seemed to work. I recently saw a recipe for three ingredient brownies (family size brownie mix, can of pure pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice). I was intrigued, but although it sounded delicious, I really didn’t want a pumpkin flavored brownie. I decided to give it a try, omitting the pumpkin pie spice. The batter seemed a bit thick, and it took a while before the ingredients were combined. I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to moisten the batter. The result was a delicious, fudgy brownie, but the best part was that the flavor of pumpkin could not be detected. I recommend smoothing the batter with a spatula before baking because there is not enough liquid for the batter to spread on its own. I will continue to experiment with different substitutions, but if you want to give your kids a fudgy egg free brownie and sneak in a vegetable at the same time, this is the way to go!

allergy-free-brownies

Have any tips for allergy-free treats? Let us know in the comments below!

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