Chocolate Crunch Bites

This post is sponsored by the SoyNut Butter Company. All opinions are my own.

I love chocolate. Chocolate and peanut butter is even better but if you know someone with food allergies peanuts can be deadly. We opt for a peanut-free alternative called SoyNut Butter. It has a taste and feel similar to peanut butter but no dangerous peanuts (and it’s gluten-free).

These Chocolate Crunch Bites are peanut-free, dairy-free and gluten-free! They are full of flavor and perfect for a party or cookie exchange! Try these allergy-friendly cookies for dessert.

You probably see it in my meal plan almost every week in the form of toast with SoyNut Butter. That is because it’s a great alternative to peanut butter. I use SoyNut Butter lots of ways but today I have a delicious new recipe to share.

You are going to fall in love with these Chocolate Crunch Bites! My son said they taste like a Kit Kat but that wasn’t my intention. I just wanted to combine my favorite snacks into an easy treat with mega flavor.

These Chocolate Crunch Bites are peanut-free, dairy-free and gluten-free! They are full of flavor and perfect for a party or cookie exchange! Try these allergy-friendly cookies for dessert.

Before I switched to a whole food plant-based diet my favorite cookies were the chocolate oatmeal no bakes. I think I took some inspiration from those days but I wanted to give them some crunch and some natural sweetness. Besides, that old recipe had a ton of butter, sugar, and milk. The ingredients in my Chocolate Crunch Bites make me much happier.

I use SoyNut Butter, dairy-free chocolate chips, gluten-free pretzels, granola and dried fruit, all normal pantry staples for me. (All the links in the previous sentence are Amazon affiliate links). That is all! These Chocolate Crunch Bites are peanut-free, dairy-free and gluten-free. I wouldn’t say they are healthy, but they are a fun and easy treat to take to parties or cookie exchanges. I’m thinking of giving some as gifts to my food allergy pals. You don’t have to save them for only people with food allergies though, they are so good, everyone will love them.

These Chocolate Crunch Bites are peanut-free, dairy-free and gluten-free! They are full of flavor and perfect for a party or cookie exchange! Try these allergy-friendly cookies for dessert.

When it’s time to cook you will want to have all of your ingredients out and ready. I broke my pretzels with my hands but you could chop them with a knife. Measure them after you break them into small pieces, not before.  I didn’t want them to get too small and turn to dust.

It’s also important if you are making these for someone with food allergies to make sure all your ingredients are safe. All of the ingredients I choose were peanut free, gluten-free and dairy-free. I choose SoyNut Butter and I.M. Healthy Granola (original flavor), Enjoy Life mini chips, Glutino pretzels, and Made In Nature dried fruit. You can choose brands you love.

These Chocolate Crunch Bites are peanut-free, dairy-free and gluten-free! They are full of flavor and perfect for a party or cookie exchange! Try these allergy-friendly cookies for dessert.

The dried fruit I used was actually a Super Berry blend that also had pepita seeds. You can pick what you love but dried cranberries or dried tart cherries are both winners.

These Chocolate Crunch Bites are peanut-free, dairy-free and gluten-free! They are full of flavor and perfect for a party or cookie exchange! Try these allergy-friendly cookies for dessert.

If you have kids who like to help in the kitchen this is one of those recipes they can help with. When I say that, you know it’s a simple recipe because I’m not one of those people who invite the kids to cook with me. I’ll let them to stand on a chair on the other side of the counter and watch, sometimes. Usually I’m shooing them away, but this recipe they can totally help with.

Chocolate Crunch Bites

Go ahead and make these easy and delicious Chocolate Crunch Bites. This no bake, allergy-friendly recipe will win your family over!

Chocolate Crunch Bites
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • ½ cup creamy SoyNut Butter
  • 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 cup gluten-free pretzels, broken into small pieces
  • 1 cup I.M. Healthy granola
  • ½ cup dried fruit
Instructions
  1. Put ½ cup of SoyNut Butter into a medium sauce pan on low heat. Use a silicone spatula to stir regularly.
  2. Once it starts to melt, add the 1 cup of chocolate chips. Stir often and use the spatula to scrape the bottom. Don't walk away or it could burn. Keep stirring until all the lumps are gone.
  3. Dump in the broken pretzels, granola and dried fruit and stir well.
  4. Remove pan from heat and scoop out in tablespoon size scoops and lay them on a cookie sheet, covered in parchment paper.
  5. Place the cookie sheet into the refrigerator to cool and harden. Allow at least an hour before eating. These can be left on the counter for a few hours but store in the refrigerator.

This page contains affiliate links. This post is sponsored my the SoyNut Butter Company. All opinions are my own. 

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference

I recently attended the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABlogCon) in Denver. This is my favorite conference and some of my best blogging friends attend each year.

There are many reasons I love FABlogCon and go each year.

  • Great session about blogging, social media and more.
  • Informative sessions from food allergies experts.
  • Meet the best sponsors that bring allergy-friendly products.
  • Discover the latest innovations in food allergy technology.
  • Connect with other bloggers!!!

I’ll admit that the last point is my favorite. I love connecting with other bloggers. Even though I’m primarily a plant-based blogger I jumped into the world of food allergies when my youngest son was small. He is no longer allergic but I had found my tribe. Plus, food allergy bloggers totally understand avoiding dairy, eggs and more.

We no longer have to avoid gluten or peanuts but I know many of you do so I continue to create allergy-friendly recipes and mention substitutions when needed. Plus, I’ve fallen in love with some of the allergy-friendly brands like Enjoy Life Foods, Soy Nut Butter, Zego, So Delicious, and more!

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference Instagram Giveaway

Who Should Attend FABlogCon?

There are three kinds of people who should consider going to FABlogCon.

  • Any blogger but especially food bloggers
  • Anyone wanting to learn more about food allergies
  • Brands wanting to learn more about food allergies, blogging or social media

There really is something for everyone.

In addition to all of the helpful sessions, the chefs accommodate even the most restrictive diet. I loved splurging on Daiya non-dairy yogurt every day. Their peach flavor is life changing! I also found another non-dairy milk option, Good Karma flax milk; and a gluten-free and vegan bread, by BFree Foods.

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference Instagram Giveaway

Want a Taste?

I know it’s hard to travel to conferences. If you’d like a taste of the what it’s like to travel to FABlogcon I’ve got some swag for you. (swag is all the stuff you bring home from sponsors.) I’ve picked some of my favorite products from the conference that would handle being shipped. I’ll also include some coupons for other products.

Enter to win a collection of some of my favorite products from FABlogCon on my Instagram! It’s easy as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Follow me on Instagram.
  2. Like one of the contest posts (more will come until the contest ends).
  3. Tag a friend (up to 3) for extra entries and use the hashtag #FABlogConSwag

I’ll pick a winner on November 27th and ship a flat rate box full of swag to one winner in the U.S. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

*Please read the labels. Most products are allergy-friendly but may not meet your specific food restrictions.

Handling Food Allergies at School

If you have a child with food allergies, the beginning of the school year can be a scary time. If you don’t have a child with food allergies you probably don’t understand what the big deal is. Let me explain and offer some helpful tips for navigating food allergies at school (even when it’s not your problem).

For kids with food allergies, the smallest amount of their allergen can be life and death. Imagine for a moment having to be concerned about staying alive at school. I’m not exaggerating.  Between breakfast, snack and lunch time there are many opportunities for kids to come into contact with foods that could hurt them.

Food Allergies at School

Thankfully, or maybe I should say miraculously, my son outgrew his peanut allergy. I had been dreading the start of kindergarten because I was very concerned about him coming into contact with peanuts. Even if kids washed their hands, food comes in on clothes and faces (my kids can’t be the only ones who leave breakfast on their shirts).

Even though I don’t have to worry about food allergies any more I will always be aware of how food allergies impact families.

What You Need to Know About Food Allergies At School

Food allergies aren’t once size fits all. Some allergies are more common than others but without knowing which food allergies are in your child’s classroom it is hard to keep all the kids safe. Ask teachers if you should avoid certain foods due to food allergies. Some teachers will inform you on their own but some will not. [Read more…]

When Food Allergies Change Your Life

A series of events over the last few months has completely changed our lives. I’m talking COMPLETELY!

If you have been following our journey you know that my youngest son was diagnosed with severe food allergies a few years ago. No matter what food you are allergic too, food allergies change your life.

He had a long list of foods that we needed to avoid but peanuts were the most dangerous. Although not life threatening wheat caused serious problems for him including digestive issues, eczema and more.

Over the years we added some foods back like carrots, melon, banana and others.

When Food Allergies Change Your Life

In the summer of 2014 we saw an allergists in preparation for preschool. He tested off the charts for peanuts. I still remember his doctor telling us he would NEVER outgrow his allergy.

Annual Allergy Check Up

This August we started the process for his yearly allergy appointment. We did the blood work and scheduled another appointment three weeks after that for the consult.

When that appointment arrived my husband and I both went. I dreaded the skin prick/scratch test and wanted support. I also wanted to inquire about oral immunology therapy and I had not been able to find a doctor in Arizona who practiced OIT.

Test Results

The nurse administered the test and it didn’t look too bad. I’m no expert so I just waited. She came back and said, he has NO FOOD ALLERGIES!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!

allergy birthday party edit

The boy who sat out every birthday party, who had to leave the park when people came with peanut butter or trail mix, the boy who had never had all of the things that most people think are “normal” rites of passage has no food allergies.

The Oral Challenge

We scheduled an oral challenge for peanuts for the next week. An oral challenge is when you eat very precise amounts of an allergen at specific intervals to “test” for an allergy. This is done in a doctor’s office in case there is a bad outcome.

The day came and we nervously went to the allergists’ office.

FACT: You should never perform an oral challenge at home if you have a history of food allergies!!!

We had been telling our son that he was going to eat peanuts at the doctor to see if he was still allergic. He objected.

He has always been one of those kids who never tested his allergies. He was careful. He is the kid that when he saw food in a class, party, park, etc. he would say, “I have allergies, that will make me sick!”

We convinced him that we didn’t think he was allergic anymore. I think the thing that convinced him was when we told him he wouldn’t have to wear his bracelets anymore.

We were all really nervous. The oral challenge takes about 3 hours. We took peanuts and peanut butter. They prefer to use peanut butter but I knew he wouldn’t eat it. He isn’t a fan of the consistency.

After barely getting the first dose of peanut butter down they agreed to use the peanuts.

With each dose we held our breath. He played.

We stared at him. He grew bored.

We prayed. He ate his peanuts.

When all was said and done he passed his peanut challenge.

He is not allergic to peanuts anymore. 

Life After Peanut Allergies

Even with proof we were skeptical. Our Epi pen still hangs prominently in our dining room. It took weeks before we stopped carrying it everywhere we went. He is not allergic to peanuts anymore.

Do you hear me, HE IS NOT ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS!

Let me say that if you are not a food allergy parent (or family member) you won’t really understand the weight of that comment. Really, that is life and death.

If you have a child with food allergies you might be crying right now. I know I am. There are conflicting emotions and that is ok. On one hand you really get how BIG this is. On the other you know that your child is allergic and there may not be a chance to outgrow it. For the rest of your child’s life you will live the feeling that today could be the day that they have a reaction.

I told you…life changing.

Taking on Wheat

A few weeks later, we went on to the next part of our plan. We reintroduced wheat.

Our son had never had a severe reaction from wheat but it impacted the quality of life. He hadn’t had wheat since he was about 18 months old.

Slowly, cautiously we gave him wheat. We watched, we waited.

We couldn’t believe it. There were no noticeable reactions. None. He had already tested negative on blood and skin tests.

He has been eating wheat for over a month.

Two weeks ago he had his first donut. His teeth would chatter with excitement has he brought that pink, sprinkled donut to his lips. HE LOVED IT! My baby had his first donut.

Let me take a break and let out a loud sigh and take a deep breath.

When Food Allergies Change Your Life

Our son has zero food restrictions. Yesterday was a birthday party at his school. He got to eat a cup cake! I’m done restricting his food, he is not allergic anymore.

We don’t know how or why he got over his food allergies. Some people will insist he simply outgrew them, others will talk about healthy bacteria and the immune system, while others–those who have prayed for him believe it was divine healing. It may be all three.

I do know that every day is a gift. I thank God for every day with my kids. I thank God that we walked this food allergy journey and that at least for now it appears to be over for us.

A Changed Child

I’m thankful and still a little in shock. If he coughs weird or eats something new I watch him like a hawk. I’m not sure if this will ever end. I will tell you that he is more carefree now. I think the weight of the allergies kept him cautious. Now he is more daredevil.

Food Allergy Parent

Being a food allergy mom and a food allergy advocate was a big part of who I was. It is a weird feeling to be on this side of it. Even the subtitle of this blog is Allergy-Friendly, Whole Food, On A Budget.

Everything is different, our shopping list, the special stores or online orders, having to always be prepared with food when we leave the house, avoiding all but two restaurants, not to mention that a large part of my huge pantry is dedicated to gluten-free peanut-free products. I’m still trying to figure this out.

When I heard about the two kids who died recently from food allergies it hurt. I hope it always does. I hope I’m always this sensitive to the weight of food allergies. I will admit, there was a small amount of relief that my son is not allergic anymore. But I’ll always have the feeling this gift could be taken away.

Having a son with food allergies made me a more compassionate person. It helped me realize that there are children in every school in the country who live with food allergies. Many of those kids are constantly on alert because a food could kill them. How could you actually learn something if you were afraid?

If you have no food allergy connection thanks for hanging in this far!

I Need Your Help

I want to hear from you. I know some of you come here for the allergy-friendly recipes and meal plans and others are just here for the plant-based resources.  Please take 2 minutes to fill out this survey.

I want to know which foods you avoid. Before food allergies I baked with whole wheat, with food allergies I struggled with gluten-free baking, now I need to decide where to go from here

Your survey answers will help me decide what types of recipes to make. If the answers are overwhelmingly gluten-free I’ll avoid gluten, if they are split I’ll likely do a little of both (like I did in the beginning of this blog).

This short survey will help me immensely. I really need you to fill it out.

Now that that is out of they way, will you celebrate with me? Cry with me? Either way, I understand this is big. I’d love to hear from you. What is your story? Do you have food allergies? Do you fiercely advocate for your child with food allergies?

Teaching Others about Food Allergies

Yesterday I posted the last Back to School giveaway of the year and today is the last post in the Teach Your Kids to be Food Allergy Advocates series.

I’m thrilled to have Kathryn Martin joining us today. I met Kathryn at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference last year. (This year the conference will be in Denver!) We hit it off right away and shared many meals together. She blogs at Mamacado about her family, healthy living and food allergies. Today she will share about a very important topic, teaching other people about food allergies.

Teaching Others about Food Allergies

5 Tips for Teaching Others about Food Allergies

If you’re a parent of a child with food allergies, you know what it’s like to quickly become a food allergy “expert”. I wouldn’t call myself an expert yet. Still, ever since my son was diagnosed with food allergies 5 years ago, I’ve had to teach countless friends, family, child care providers and teachers about food allergies and EpiPens. After doing it a few times, I’ve become more and more comfortable with teaching others about food allergies and how to keep him safe.

I thought I’d share some tips with you about how to teach others about food allergies. I hope this helps you in your food allergy journey!

1. Assume No Knowledge

When you’re meeting with someone for the first time, assume he or she has NO knowledge of food allergies. Come prepared with ALL your tools. Then, when you talk a little more, adjust your conversation based on what they already know.

For instance, I recently met with my son’s future Sunday school teacher to talk about his food allergies. She immediately told me she has two sons with severe food allergies to peanuts and sesame. She knows all about EpiPens and emergency action plans.

WHEW.

I breathed an immediate sigh of relief. I knew I didn’t have to teach her how to use an EpiPen, so I focused on other points I wanted to cover.

However, just remember that everyone’s food allergy journey is different.  Even if the person has prior experience with food allergies, you can still teach them a lot about your child’s specific food allergy journey. Make sure you still cover all the information about your child to keep him/her safe.

2. Give Them Resources

I give each teacher a binder of information about Little Guy’s food allergies, and other related educational information. The content includes:

Here’s a photo of everything I recently included in his Kindergarten binder.

kindergarten binder

I also make a cover page to go on the front of the binder that includes his name, grade and photo. I ask them to keep the folder is his classroom in an easily accessible place.

3. Outline Your Key Points

After two or three meetings with teachers, I realized I was writing down the same notes before each meeting.  Write your key points down, and keep them in a safe place where you can find them again.  Here are the main points I usually focus on during my meetings.  I ask the teachers/caregivers to:

CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT

  • Keep food out of the classroom as much as possible
  • Offer non-food rewards
  • Know there can be allergens in crafts – check labels
  • Wash hands and surfaces/use wipes before and after eating
  • Monitor snack/lunchtime and no sharing of food

INCLUDE MY CHILD

  • Plan non-food focused activities and lesson plans
  • Give me advance notice so I can read labels or provide safe alternatives for anything that may be food related
  • If bullying occurs, make sure it’s addressed immediately. Educate the other students (through books or conversations) about food allergies to reduce the possibility of misunderstanding and bullying.

GIVE EPINEPHRINE IF NEEDED

  • Know how to recognize the signs of an allergic reaction, and especially how younger children might describe a reaction
  • Understand the emergency action plan and know where to locate it
  • Know where the epinephrine is located
  • Know how to use the epinephrine and use at the first sign of an allergic reaction. DO NOT WAIT.

There are so many other points to cover during a meeting, but these are usually my main topics!

epi pen

4. Encourage Them to Practice Using Epinephrine

It’s important for child care providers and teachers to have actually practiced using an EpiPen. So, I always bring 3 “practice” related items to my food allergy meetings:

  • EpiPen trainers. They are look-alike EpiPens with no needle or medication in them that you get with each EpiPen prescription.
  • Expired EpiPens. Yes, keep that expired epinephrine for future practice.
  • Oranges. What? Yep, the oranges are a safe place for the teachers to release the needle of the real EpiPens when they practice.

Remember to throw away those oranges after you’re done!  Then also ask your allergist where to dispose of the EpiPens.

5. Keep your cool

Talking about your child’s food allergies is emotional. There’s no question about it. Practice out-loud what you’re going to say ahead of time. Laugh a little before the meeting (watch something funny, or remind yourself of a funny moment). Think about something positive you’ll do AFTER the meeting to take off the pressure. Bring water to drink to distract you if you feel emotional.

Also, think about asking your spouse, a trusted friend or family member to come to the meeting who understands food allergies and can be there to support you. I’ve found that I do feel more confident and in control of my emotions each time I have a meeting. Practice does make it easier.

How do YOU teach others about food allergies?  Have you become an expert at teaching others yet?

Bio

kathrynI am Kathryn Martin, creator of the blog Mamacado, and working mama of two who loves my family, healthy living, and avocados (of course!). My Little Guy is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame. Despite his food allergies, we try to create healthy and delicious meals we can all enjoy. I’d love it if you’d check out my blog, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook pages for great ideas on food, family and fun…with a food allergy twist! 

 

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