Valentine’s Day can be such a fun time for kids to show how much they love their family and friends. For holidays that focus so much on food, it can be a tricky time if your child has food allergies. Thankfully there are lots of ways to celebrate that are allergy friendly, and lots of delicious goodies to enjoy too. I started figuring this out when our son was a baby, so we haven’t been deprived on Valentine’s Day at all. I’ve made raspberry cheesecakes, red velvet bundt cakes, and chocolate-strawberry sundaes, so family and friends can’t even tell a difference. I like to research recipes by looking up recipes that don’t contain the foods I’m trying to avoid, or I use good baking substitutes for those ingredients.
Here are several other ideas for celebrating with your own kiddos.
1. Cut food into heart shapes. If there are certain foods that are staples for your child, jazz it up by using different sizes of heart-shaped cookies cutters to cut them into heart shapes. I’ve made heart-shaped pancakes, heart-shaped sandwiches, heart-shaped cookies, cut heart-shaped watermelon, and I have a baking pan to make heart-shaped brownies. Just use whatever allergy-friendly recipe you usually use, and change the shape. You can also pour red, pink, or purple jello into heart-shaped trays, then put them into the fridge to set. Jello is almost always allergen free, and you can use a variety of colors and shapes.
2. Use a fruit base for your treats. Showcase red or pink fruits, and make them into a fruit salad, or find a festive Valentine’s day dip. A favorite at our house is chocolate-covered strawberries. I just melt a chocolate that is free of the allergens I’m avoiding, then dip the strawberries in white or dark chocolate. Hershey’s does fantastic job of labeling their foods for allergens. You can also dip other fruit in chocolate, or in a yogurt dip (unless you are avoiding milk). I also like to dip pretzels in chocolate for a salty sweet combination.
3. Decorate with sprinkles and patterns. Use allergen-free sprinkles, and sprinkle red, pink, or purple sprinkles on cookies or dipped fruit. You can also decorate cookies with frosting if desired. You can also make your own sprinkles by mixing sugar with food coloring. Enjoy Life brand makes a wide variety of cookies that are free of most allergens, and they also make allergen-free chocolate chips.
4. Choose fruit-flavored candy. Several fruit flavored candies are free of allergens, such as Skittles, Starburst, Dum Dums, and Tootsie pops. However, make sure to check the label, since candy is sometimes packaged differently for holidays. We’ve also noticed that even the size of candy can make a difference in allergens. For example, there is one candy our son can have in the small size, but he can’t have it in the large size because the ingredients and allergy-processing are different. I never would have guessed this until we read the label.
5. Make cards and crafts. Let children make their own Valentine cards, cut out paper hearts, or write sweet notes to friends and family moments. Even though a lot of this holiday can be focused on food, it’s also about doing kind things for others.
6. Do a fun activity as a family. Living in Baton Rouge, we will most likely have some chocolate covered strawberries and go to Superior Grill! Whatever you do, help your child focus on what they can enjoy, and spend the day with people you love!
*This article is not meant to provide medical advice about food allergies. Always follow your doctor’s suggestions regarding food allergies, and read food labels closely.