Tricks, Treats & Gluten Free
By Colleen Brunetti, M.ED., C.H.C., author of “Aidan the Wonder Kid Who Could Not be Stopped: A Food Allergy and Intolerance Story”
Halloween is fast approaching, and if you have little gluten free gobblins at home, you’re probably already thinking about how to keep them safe during the crazy candy and party craze that surrounds this holiday.
While we’re all about delicious fun in our house (my daughter is a sweets FIEND), as a health coach, I really try to keep the processed stuff and the candy to a minimum. There’s a difference between a true treat (something you have once in a while), and ALL THE SWEET THINGS that seem to permeate every celebration and get together.
That’s why at Halloween I’m especially fond of the Teal Pumpkin Project. Launched by the non-profit group Food Allergy Resource and Education (FARE), this innovative and rapidly growing project encourages participants to provide non-food treats for Halloween. In just a few steps, you can provide a safe, healthy, and fun Halloween not just for your gluten-free kiddos, but also for other little ghosts and gouhls with food allergies and intolerances. To participate, FARE recommends these steps.
- Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters
- Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate to passersby that you have non-food treats available
- Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project map
- Spread the word!Share the Teal Pumpkin Project with your friends and family
Read more about the Teal Pumpkin Project HERE.
Curious as to what the greater allergy-free community likes to do for Halloween, I recently informally surveyed a Facebook allergy group about their favorite non-food and safe treats! Here are 10 ideas to get you started:
- Kids love to get juice boxes or small water bottles. Sometimes they get thirsty if they are out trick-or-treating.
- Stickers are always a great hit!
- Little flashlights – also a great hit!
- Hit up the dollar store for rings, necklaces, spinners, glow sticks, etc.
- Fill up a piñata with whatever you’d like! It distracts from the disappointment if the children have to hand over unsafe treats.
- Glow bracelets – or anything that glows!
- Emoji key chains and mini puzzles, ordered on Amazon.
- Let your kids cash in most of the candy for a small gift card to their favorite store. At my house, that means Game Stop. Trading in a bag of junk for a used video game seems like a good deal to me AND my kiddo.
- Try Oriental Trading.com for packs of non-food toys to fill a Teal Pumpkin with.
- Check your town for Halloween activities that have a focus on safe areas. For instance, The Moms and More Club in West Hartford will have a dedicated food-free safe area for kids at their Halloween Stroll this year (I’ll be there!), and many churches do a Trunk-or-Treat option. Call around and see what’s happening near you.
If you still want to let your kids indulge in candy or some treats this Halloween, we get it! Here are some ways to do so safely.
1) Celiac.org has a 2018 list of gluten free treats – and they also note the top eight allergens that can be avoided in each.
2) Celiac.com also has a comprehensive list, and mentions quite a few unique options as well.
3) Free2B candy is Top 12 Allergen free and is available in many regular grocery stores. Use their store locator search to find a retail location near you.
4) Check your local specialty stores and bakeries. Many specialize in allergen-safe treats, and there is nothing better than supporting your local small businesses. Use our directory to find one near you!
However you choose to celebrate, have a wonderful and SAFE Halloween!