Homemade Dairy-Free Chocolate and Marzipan Penguins for Valentine’s Day

The professional version of chocolate-marzipan penguins

Our local chocolate shop always makes these cute little chocolate and marzipan penguins for Valentine’s Day. This year, I decided to tackle a homemade version.

After my son’s successful food challenges for eggs and almonds last year, marzipan is one of my new favorite ingredients (remember the Swiss Stollen at Christmastime?). Even thought it’s a major improvement, his milk allergy still prevents him from enjoying store-bought chocolates at this time.

To prepare for my confectionery experiment, I bought some dairy-free marzipan and food coloring. After shaping the penguins’ bodies and wings out of the marzipan, I spread some melted Enjoy Life Foods chocolate on their backs. Then, I dotted some chocolate on small drops of powdered sugar icing for the eyes (they seem a bit scared, don’t they?). My family of penguins certainly look homemade, but they taste really good, and the kids are excited to try them on Valentine’s Day.

My very homemade-looking penguins

If you’re looking to make some allergy-friendly Valentine’s Day treats, here are some recipes I’ve shared during the last few years. All of them are dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free and tree-nut free.

And, for another super-easy and no-bake recipe, check out Allergy Shmallergy’s Sweet Strawberry Hearts.

What allergy-friendly treats are you planning on this year for Valentine’s Day? Please share your suggestions and recipes by leaving a comment below. Thanks so much! 

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Special bites: A Zürich “Sweet Studio” with Delicious Gluten-free and Dairy-free Treats

Special Bites Sweet Studio 2560x3153

Elegantly decorated cupcakes, rich double chocolate cookies and cake citron garnished with candied lemon—all made without dairy and gluten by Special bites in Zürich. I had the chance to meet the baker who creates these delicious treats over the weekend, and my family and I are now her biggest fans.

Hungarian-born Timea Megyeri opened Special bites in October 2013 because she wanted to make sure that people avoiding dairy and gluten could still enjoy delicious sweet treats. Her goal is to make high-quality baked goods that taste just as good, if not better, than those made with milk, butter and wheat, for example. With offerings like Bakewell Cake and Victoria Sandwich Cake, Timea has a strong British influence in her baking, as she received her formal training at University College Birmingham.

After admiring her stunning photos of cupcakes and other treats on Facebook for months, I finally placed an order for pick up in Zürich. When I arrived at her commercial kitchen, her brightly lit workspace was immaculate and absolutely free of products containing dairy or gluten. Timea had set out a platter heaped with freshly baked cookies and bars. There was a layered sponge cake with berry filling and some lightly sweetened breakfast cookies, including one with grated carrots, gluten-free oats, agave syrup and raisins. I also had the chance to meet Timea’s boyfriend, Malcom Hett, who serves as her taste-tester and marketing advisera fitting role given his day job working as a global marketing manager.

Special Bites Tea Time

Photo courtesy of Special bites

For my 3-year old son with a milk allergy, it’s not often he gets to eat something that I haven’t made for him—which is why I was so excited to discover Special bites. He can safely eat gluten, so I don’t normally buy gluten-free products, but from my experience in Switzerland, its more common that dairy-free products are also made without gluten. Unfortunately, the few prepackaged cookies like this we’ve bought for him haven’t been very good. However, the photos I kept seeing from Timea made it seem that gluten-free ingredients weren’t holding her back from making really delicious baked goods, so I had to give it a try.

I had such a lovely time chatting with Timea about her baking, it wasn’t long before I realized an hour had passed! My usual snack time routines involve cleaning up spilled soy milk and reading children’s stories, so I enjoyed the opportunity to just sit and talk with someone who really understands how to bake exceptionally well, including for people with food allergies and intolerances. When it was time for me to leave, she bagged up my order of chocolate cookies and lemon cakes in a Special bites tote bag, and I could haven’t been more pleased.

Back at home, both of my sons were thrilled with everything from Special bites. The lemon cake had a great flavor and light icing, without being too sweet (she admitted to actually liking salty things more than sweets, and it’s reflected in her baking). I was especially impressed with the double chocolate cookies—so rich and with a texture almost like a brownie. I had to remind myself they were for my son, so I wouldn’t eat them all!

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies

If you’re living or traveling in Zürich with special dietary needs, I highly recommend Special bites for delicious and elegant dairy-free and gluten-free, as well as vegan and gluten-free, baked goods. We plan on placing another order the next time we’re nearby. You can order products online that can be picked up in Zürich or you can find them at the following:

Eva’s Apples
Weinbergstrasse 168, 8006 Zürich
Phone: 044 363 56 54

Mr. and Mrs. Glutenfree
Forchstrasse 28, 8008 Zürich
Phone: 076 548 43 23

Simply Soup
Hallwylstrasse 24, 8004 Zürich
Phone: 044 554 66 71

Pelikanstrasse 19, 8001 Zürich
Phone: 043 497 22 32

FELFEL (no retail shop; food items delivered to enrolled workplaces)
Grubenstrasse 11, 8045 Zurich
Phone: 043 536 74 51

A big thanks again to Timea Megyeri of Special bites for hosting me and for creating quality products that taste great while catering to the needs of people avoiding dairy and gluten in Switzerland.

Swiss Christmas Cookies: Milanais/Mailänderli

A very typical Christmas cookie in Switzerland is the “Milanais,” in French, or “Mailänderli,” in German. At Coop yesterday, I found at least three different kinds of Milanais among all the baked goodies for Christmas. Dating back to the 18th century, these cookies come in a variety of small shapes. Apparently they did not come from Milan, despite what the name suggests.

milanais

I tried making Milanais sans milk and eggs in my home kitchen yesterday. These lemon-flavored cookies get their golden top from an egg yolk and sugar mixture brushed on top before baking. Even though my son can safely eat baked egg, I was concerned that 10-15 minutes of baking wouldn’t change the egg proteins enough to prevent an allergic reaction. My son probably would’ve been fine, but he’s had a few reactions with my baked egg experiments before, so I decided to make some changes.

Milanais recipes commonly call for equal amounts of butter and sugar, which I’ve maintained in my version belowexcept with dairy-free margarine. Also, I’ve replaced the egg in the dough with a flax meal mixture. Finally, instead of the egg yolk wash, I used a tart lemon icing sprinkled with some chopped dried cranberries, inspired by Swiss Milk’s recipe.

 

Petits Biscuits de Milan

Adapted from the recipe in Croqu’menus and also inspired by Swiss Milk’s version.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Dough:
125 grams dairy-free margarine, softened
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons of lemon zest
250 grams all-purpose flour

Icing:
200 grams powdered sugar
5-6 teaspoons of lemon juice

Topping:
Dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1. Beat together the wet ingredients in a large bowl: margarine, flax meal mixture, vanilla sugar, salt and lemon zest. Then, mix in the flour until dough forms.

2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a flour-dusted rolling pin to about 1/4 inch (6mm) thick. Cut out into desired shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for about 10-15 minutes.

3. Place cookies on a wire rack to cool. Whisk together the icing ingredients and spread on the cooled cookies. Sprinkle dried cranberries, roughly chopped, on top of the icing.

DSC02348It’s hard finding good daylight for photos these days; our foggy Swiss winter has begun!

 

We’ll be visiting our neighborhood Marchés de Noël this weekend and searching for new Swiss street foods. Bon week-end!

Halloween 2013: Spiderweb Cookies and Savory Monsters

Yesterday was Halloween. Since we’re Americans, we had to eat a ridiculous amount of candy and wear silly costumes—even though we live in Switzerland, where the holiday only has a subtle influence. For example, my 6-year old made a bat at school filled with a small bundle of chocolate candies. At the same time, none of the students went to class in a costume.

I tried to convince my son to dress up as Clark Kent with his Superman t-shirt peeking out of a button-down shirt. It seemed like an easy way to celebrate Halloween at school, without drawing too much attention to himself. He still wasn’t buying it. So, like last year, we donned costumes during a festive Halloween dinner at home. We ate by carved-pumpkin candlelight.


Halloween Dinner

For dinner, I made “Spooky Shepherd’s Pie” with savory little mashed potato monsters. I was inspired by Isa Chandra’s vegan version. Instead, I used Joy of Cooking’s Shepherd’s Pie recipe with ground beef. Since they were out of cilantro at the store, I pureed some spinach to color the mashed potatoes. Finally, I made the arms (or horns, depending on your point of view) with pretzels instead of fresh thyme because it was a little easier/faster, and I thought the boys would like it too.

IMG_20131031_193714

After dinner, we trick-or-treated in our apartment, if you can imagine that. My husband handed out candy from behind our bedroom doors. He played a different character each time he opened to door to our boys, who enthusiastically yelled “Trick-or-Treat!” Our 2-year old got a few Enjoy Life chocolate bars, and our 6-year old got some mini-candy bars.

For dessert, I made Chocolate-Cinnamon Spiderweb Cookies. It’s a recipe I ripped out of Cooking Light years ago for my son when he was going through a Spiderman phase. This time, I added cinnamon and made them dairy and egg-free. The recipe makes a small batch, so it’s quick to prepare.

DSC01868

 

Chocolate-Cinnamon Spiderweb Cookies

Adapted from Cooking Light’s August 2003 recipe.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil

Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons soy or rice milk

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

1. Combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Place softened margarine and sugar in a separate mixing bowl and beat together until fluffy. Add vanilla and canola oil, beat well. Add flour mixture; beat until well blended.

2. Turn dough out onto wax paper or aluminum foil; shape into a 6-inch/15-cm log. Wrap log in wax paper or aluminum foil. Freeze 2 hours or until very firm.

3. Cut log into about 15-20 slices, and place slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until set. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

4. For the icing, combine powdered sugar and milk substitute in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk until smooth. Spoon into a small plastic bag; seal. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of the bag. Working with 1 cookie at a time, circles onto each cookie. Starting at center circle, pull a wooden pick through other circles at regular intervals to create a “web.”

 

I hope you all had a happy and safe Halloween. Bon week-end!

Making Madeleines with Baked Egg

Since my son’s successful “baked egg” food challenge last month, we’ve started introducing overcooked eggs into his diet. Along with egg noodles, I’ve been serving him a few homemade baked goods that contain eggs. He’s primarily had Dutch Baby Pancakes, but I’ve also recently started making madeleines.

Madeleines, which you’ve likely eaten before, are small golden cakes that typically have a scalloped shell-like shape (although today, I found round ones at a local bakery). These petite cakes are originally from France, but we see them all over here in French-speaking Switzerland (i.e., “Suisse-Romande”). If you’re craving more information about the history of these delicious cakes, along with a recipe that influenced the one I’ve shown below, check out this 1983 NY Times article.

madeleine collage2

Trying the real thing or doing “research” – delicious, Suisse-Romande madeleines

The first time I baked madeleines with eggs, I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking that calls for 3 eggs and an egg yolk, with a baking time of 10 minutes at 230°C/450°F degrees. While our allergist recommended 30 minutes at 200°C/400°F for whenever we make something with eggs at home, I figured the smaller size of the cookie and the super-high baking temperature would meet this minimum baking standard.

Well, it turns out I was wrong. My son ate the cookies and broke out in almost unnoticeable, but still recognizable red hives around his mouth. Luckily, that was it! I feel absolutely sick this happened, and I’m so relieved (and we’re very lucky) his reaction wasn’t worse. I should have talked to our allergist first to be absolutely sure the recipe I found was OK.

Afterwards, I did check in with our allergist, and she sent me a new madeleine recipe, which calls for only one egg and a much longer baking time. I’ve made them several times now with a few slight revisions. Thankfully, the little guy hasn’t had any reactions, so we’ll be using this recipe again and again.


Why are Baked Eggs Okay?

What happens to a baked egg that makes it safe for my son? Why can’t we just make him scrambled eggs for breakfast like everyone else? I’ve been asking myself these questions a lot lately. Especially since my first attempt at madeleines caused my son to have a very mild allergic reaction. Here’s what I can tell you, based on my limited research:

  • Eggs are one of the most common food allergens in infants and children.
  • Eggs whites are the problem. The yellow yolk generally doesn’t contain the egg proteins people react to, but it’s impossible to separate the yolk from the egg white without any cross-contamination.
  • The majority of egg-allergic kids can tolerate eating a “baked egg.” And, a 2012 study found that introducing baked egg helps children to accelerate their tolerance for regular, uncooked eggs.
  • Heating an egg changes its proteins. So, it lessens the egg’s capacity to trigger an allergic reaction. The study mentioned above used homemade baked goods made with 2 eggs baked for 30 minutes at 190°C/375°F.
  • Outgrowing an egg allergy can happen. According to FARE, most kids will eventually outgrow an egg allergy.

I don’t know all the science behind what happens to egg proteins, but this information gives us hope for my son and others living with an egg allergy. It hopefully won’t last forever!

 

Easy Dairy-Free Madeleines

If you would like a dairy-free madeleine recipe, here’s my adaptation of the French version from our allergist (also shown below):

1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon peel (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable-based margarine, melted and cooled
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Whisk egg, sugar and lemon peel together. Slowly add the melted and cooled margarine until well-blended.

2. Sift flour and baking powder into this mixture. Then, fold in the dry ingredients just until blended.

3. Divide batter among a prepared madeleine mold (makes about 9 cakes). Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 180°C/350°F.

madeleine collage

Remove immediately from pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

DSC08931

If you can tolerate baked eggs and dairy, here’s the recipe (in French) for madeleines from our Swiss allergist:

Madeleines Faciles

Ingrédients:
50 g de beurre
50 g de sucre
1 petit œuf (50g)
50 g de farine
1 pointe de couteau de poudre à lever

Préparation:
1. Battre en mousse le beurre ramolli et le sucre jusqu’à ce que le mélange blanchisse.
2. Ajouter l’œuf battu et bien mélanger.
3. Ajouter la farine tamisée et la poudre à lever.
4. Mettre dans un petit moule à madeleine, beurré et enfariné.
5. Faire cuire à four préchauffé pendant 30-40 minutes à 180°C.


I need to make some more dairy and almond-free recipes with baked eggs. I’ll likely try chocolate madeleines next, but still need to expand my repertoire. If you have any baked egg recipes to share, please send them my way. Thanks!

Traditional Basel Recipes: Läkerli and Fastenwähe

Have you ever traveled to Basel, Switzerland? Maybe you live there? If so, you know last month the city hosted its annual carnival celebration recognized as one of the nation’s largest festivals. Our family visited this Swiss city in December 2012, and I wanted to share two Basel specialties—Läkerli cookies and Fastenwähe bread—that I made free of dairy, eggs and nuts.

Basel Town Hall ( Rathaus)Basel Town Hall (Rathaus)

Läkerli Cookies

When my mother was here at Christmastime, we took the kiddos to the Basel zoo—an excursion we highly recommend (the ginormous pooping rhino was a particular favorite for my 5-year old).

During our visit, I bought some delicious, chewy Läkerli (or Lekerli) cookies from the famous Läkerli Huus (not the original one; we cheated and picked them up at the train station). Filled with nuts, we took the cookies home and ate them after my food-allergic son was asleep.

We liked them so much, I tried making an allergy-friendly version. Instead of the typical almonds or hazelnuts, I used “graines de courge” (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds). While a bit labor intensive, this Food and Wine recipe worked especially well because it already doesn’t call for any dairy or eggs. Other than my nut-to-seed substitution, I followed all the recipe’s instructions—except I didn’t add a layer of pumpkin seeds before the second round of refrigerating.

Läkerli Cookies with pumpkin seedsLäkerli with pumpkin seeds

Now that we’ve tried them, I can honestly say these are my new favorite cookies! With two kinds of pepper (white and black), kirsch (cherry liquor) and candied lemon and orange peel, plus the pumpkin seeds, these cookies are highly fragrant and flavorful. Almost more like candy. I’m hoping we can try them with hazelnuts someday soon, but for now, pumpkin seeds taste great too.

Allergy-friendly, Läkerli ingredients

 

Fastenwähe

You may have noticed I often include links to Newly Swissed. I’m a big fan, and they recently posted a recipe for bread commonly served during Basel’s Fasnacht or carnival. I made a few slight modifications to make it allergy-friendly, and here’s the result, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Dough:
3-3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup vegetable-based margarine

Glaze:
1-2 tablespoons vegetable-based margarine, melted
2-3 tablespoons cumin seeds

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients—flour, yeast, sugar, and salt—in a large bowl.

2. Heat the rice milk to a very warm temperature and add the margarine. Stir to melt the margarine completely. Mix this with the dry ingredients until it forms a dough.

3. Remove the dough onto a flat surface and knead it for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rise and double in size in a bowl covered with a dish towel or plastic wrap.

4. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and use a rolling pin to form oval shapes about 15 cm/6 inches long.

After the first rise, dividing the dough

5. Use a sharp knife to cut four slits into each piece. Then, carefully stretch and place the rolls on a baking sheet. Let them rest for another 30 minutes.

Fastenwähe, ready for the second rise

6. Preheat your stove to 200°C/400°F. Brush the melted margarine over the rolls with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, and then sprinkle cumin seeds over them.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Fastenwähe, use a real egg if you can for a shinier finish!

 

We took Fastenwähe along for a snack during our mini-vacation last week. Look for a blog post soon about our latest adventures in German-speaking Switzerland… 

Fondue Chinoise and Linzer Cookies

Not all Swiss fondue involves a big pot of melted cheese. We’ve discovered two other dairy/egg/nut-free fondue options that are popular in Switzerland:

  • Fondue Bourguignonne – skewered meat cooked in oil.

Our broth and prepared meat options for Fondue Chinoise

Last night, we had Fondue Chinoise for the second time. During our first time making this, a small fire managed to escape from our fondue pot. No one was hurt, but it burned a hole in our tablecloth and caused some minor damage to our dining room table. Since that time, we figured out what we did wrong—there were several errors—and our second attempt was successful! We had delicious fondue that was safe for our son and an easy main course for our guests.

Our Fondue Chinoise meal coincidentally corresponded with Chinese New Year. Our small Swiss city celebrated the holiday over the weekend, with a dragon dance, Chinese lanterns strung above the streets and more. In addition to fondue, I served Jamie Oliver’s Sher Ping Pancakes, as this has become one of my favorite recipes. They’re great when you have guests for dinner because you can assemble them in advance, cook them right before everyone arrives and keep them warm in a low-temperature oven.

Chinese lanterns for our Swiss city's New Year celebration

For dessert, I served dairy/egg/nut-free Linzer Cookies. Versions of these cookies are all over our Swiss bakeries and grocery stores. The ones for kids often have smiley face cut-outs, while others have more traditional circular cut-outs. I used a recipe from an old Cooking Light magazine that I adapted slightly. The original recipe called for an electric mixer, but I’ve been making them by hand. A mixer might be preferred though, if you have one around, because the dough can be quite dry.

Linzer-like cookies at our local grocery store

 

Linzer Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar or vanilla
1/4teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4  cup sugar
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange peel
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water
about 1/4 cup raspberry jam
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, vanilla sugar, salt and cinnamon.

2. Beat sugar and dairy-free margarine (softened or slightly melted) together until light and fluffy—electric mixer is preferred).

3. Mix flax meal and water together and let set for a few minutes. Add to sugar and margarine mixture until well blended. At low speed, gradually add flour mixture and beat just until a soft dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

4. Then, roll dough into about a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a cookie cutter of your choice. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions. Place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets.

5. Cut out centers of cookies with a smaller cookie cutter of your choice, while on the baking sheet, and before you put them in the oven.

Rolling the dough and cutting out the cookies

6. Bake cookies at 190°Ch/375°F for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans for about 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

7. Sprinkle tops of cookies with powdered sugar. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon jam on each cookie bottom. Finally, assemble the cookies.

Heart-shaped cookies for Valentine's Day

 

Next time, we’ll be trying Fondue Bourguignonne. If you have any good allergy-friendly (dairy/nut/egg-free) sauce suggestions, please share them in a comment below. Thanks!

Updated December 18, 2013.

Sugar Cookies and Cautious Optimism for 2013

We just wrapped up our first holiday season free of dairy, eggs and nuts. I’m also happy to report that we met with our Swiss allergist for the first time and got some encouraging news. With my family visiting from the United States, I even got the chance to check out some local restaurants. This allowed me the opportunity to enjoy foods we typically avoid at the dinner table because of my son’s allergies, such as cheese fondue, pizza and delicious Swiss pastries.

Cappuccino and carac, a Suisse-Romande pastryCappuccino and a carac, a Suisse-Romande pastry

 

Holiday Baking

Our family celebrates Christmas, and each year when I was growing up my mother would make her famous sugar cookies. Ever since I moved away from Minnesota, I’ve continued to bake these delicious cookies every Christmas for friends and family. This year, I wondered if I could make an allergy-friendly version for my son, without having to sacrifice taste or texture.

Luckily, and with only a few slight modifications, I was able share my mom’s sugar cookies with the kids. While it’s a small thing, I’m so happy that these cookies will be part of my children’s Christmas memories, just like mine. Here’s the recipe, which I only make during the holidays, although they can be enjoyed year-round.

 

White Sugar Cookies

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 1/2 cups dairy-free margarine
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flax meal mixed with 6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla (or vanilla sugar)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1. Cream margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix well.

2. Roll into balls and dip in sugar or sprinkles. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten the cookies a little with a flat-bottomed glass (or another smooth, flat surface).

3. Bake at 350°F/180°C for about 10-12 minutes.

Mom's White Sugar Cookies

 

Food Allergy Testing

Before the holidays, my son had a skin prick test during his first Swiss allergist appointment, and the preliminary news was good. He’s had this done before in the United States, but only for milk, soy and eggs. For this test, the doctor tested him again for his known allergens, along with peanuts, almonds and a few others. She drew a cat on his arm with a ballpoint pen, which he thoroughly enjoyed watching, and then dropped the different solutions onto different parts of her cat drawing (e.g., on the ears and the mouth, etc.)

Skin prick test for food allergiesSkin prick test for food allergies

While his reaction to milk was still very severe, his reaction to eggs was less severe than when he was tested six months ago. In addition, he had no reaction to peanuts. He did have a slight reaction to almonds, which may be a tree nut we’ll continue to avoid. Even though he’s never had a reaction to peanuts, tree nuts or sesame (that we’re aware of anyway), our allergist in the United States had advised us to avoid these foods because egg and milk allergies have been linked to peanut allergies, in particular.

Based on these results, our son’s blood was drawn about a week ago for more testing. He’s had one blood test before in the United States. However, this initial blood test was done by our pediatrician’s office and relied on non-CAP studies. Both our allergists in the United States and in Switzerland recommend CAP testing. Therefore, these new results, which we’ll receive any day now, should be more accurate. I’m not a medical professional, so I’m trying to learn about this stuff as we go along. WebMD has some good information about blood testing that I thought was particularly helpful.

Generally, it seems that a negative skin test, like my son had for peanuts, is a very good sign. So, as the new year begins, our family is cautiously optimistic that this most recent blood test will provide more good news—possibly for peanuts, and maybe even eggs, as well.

Here’s hoping we all get some good news about food allergies in 2013, including new research, successful food challenges, etc. Happy New Year!

Cocoa and FauxPB Cookies

I love chocolate and peanut butter. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, Peanut Butter M&M’s, and Trader Joe’s peanut butter-filled chocolate-covered pretzels. I could eat these things ALL DAY. Unfortunately, my little guy can’t because of his allergies.

This afternoon during naptime, I whipped together some quick allergy-friendly cookies with ingredients from our local market and a jar of Trader Joe’s sunflower nut butter from our suitcase. Peanut butter is such an easy snack/lunch option for kids, and we had tried replacing it with soy nut butter, but none of us really liked the taste. I bought sunflower nut butter for the first time a few weeks ago and found it much tastier than the soy option.

While my son avoids eating soy or sunflower nut butter on bread or crackers, he ate it up when hidden in these cookies. When throwing ingredients in the bowl, I had my favorite Whole Grain Chocolate Cookies recipe in mind. I added sunflower nut butter, vegetable-based margarine, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, soy milk, oats, and flour. I ended up dumping in too much salt, so I added some sugar on top of the dough balls to sweeten them up a bit.

I baked the cookies for about 10-15 minutes. They tasted great, according to my family, and I thought so too. My oldest son who won’t normally touch the sunflower butter, ate and enjoyed an entire cookie. I thought these were easy and quick to make, and provided a good chocolate and peanut butter alternative for children with food allergies. Now I need to perfect the measurements! And, find a store in Switzerland that sells sunflower nut butter…

I would like to include some links to stores/shops/restaurants in Switzerland that offer food allergy-friendly options. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below or send an email to dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com. Thanks!