Operation Gratitude & The Halloween Candy Buyback: A Sweet Way To Say You Care!

Halloween is over! Our houses are filled with mounds of sugary treats and kids are starting the trades with their friends. Chances are, your kids gathered enough candy to feed a small army. That’s perfect. That is where Operation Gratitude- Halloween Candy Buy-Back comes to play. I participate in this every year. It’s not because I am a “mean mom” and don’t let my kid have candy. It’s FIRST and foremost because it’s a great cause and SECOND I am a “mean mom” who doesn’t allow her kid to have 20 pounds of candy!


In all seriousness, this program works for us. With Landon’s allergies on top of his food sensitivities (food dye makes my kid nothing short of BONKERS), we are not left with much for him to enjoy. He enjoys the experience of Halloween and sure, getting a few special pieces of “SAFE” candy are always a bonus. He also knows that the more candy he collects, the more candy will be sent overseas to the troops. The candy doesn’t just represent a sugary delicious treat, it represents a good deed and that we appreciate what the soldiers are doing for our country.  It reinforces the motto “sharing is caring”, something we say on a daily basis.

You can search on their website for drop-off locations for this program or can send it yourself. All shipping information is located on their website. Chances are there are many in your area! But, if you are local to me in Little Rhody, consider dropping if off at Pezza Orthodontics in Cranston, RI. The office is having their 4th Annual Halloween Candy Buy-Back Party TOMORROW Thursday, Nov 3 from 2-5pm. Bring your leftover and unwanted candy and they will be having prizes for gift cards!  There will be food, drinks and more! They are sending everything in care packages to our troops via Operation Gratitude! No donation is too small or large. If you can not make that time, feel free to drop it off at the location earlier as well! Or drop it off to me and I will make sure they get the donation!


AllerMates: Why Is It So Important To Wear An Allergy ID?

I have a wonderful guest writer today on my blog!  Iris Shamus Wife, mother to three awesome kids and founder/CEO of AllerMates. Based in New York, Iris and her team create helpful content, answer emails, ship their products and obsess every day about keeping kids safe. Please read below to learn why wearing allergy/medical ID is so important! I have had AllerMates products for my son since he was diagnosed with food allergies many years ago. I truly love them! I know you will too! 

I started AllerMates after an incident with my food allergic son’s preschool. One of his buddies, who had multiple food allergies including a dairy allergy, was given a dairy snack by his teacher. He had a severe allergic reaction, and I started to think about how easily that could have been my son.  I set out to look for something I could slap on him to help remind his teachers and caregivers of his health concerns.

To be honest at the time I was completely unfamiliar with medical alert accessories. I think I sort of associated them with elderly people who were at risk of heart attacks or something! Who knew that I would become such an advocate of medical alert IDs… although I was determined to create a much more modern version of one that my son would think was “cool” and fun to wear!

But first, what is a medical ID?
Medical IDs are pieces of jewelry that could one day save your life. Adults typically wear metal bracelets with their allergies, prescribed medications and medical conditions engraved on the surface. However, these metal bracelets aren’t always too kid-friendly, so if your kiddo has a food allergy or health condition, try a kid-friendly medical alert bracelet or dog tag.


At AllerMates, we refer to our bracelets as allergy bracelets or health bracelets as opposed to medical alert bracelets, since most of our products are designed for kids. In fact, we like to think of ourselves as pioneers in the industry considering that no one used the term “allergy bracelets” until AllerMates came around!

 Why are they so important?
As parents or caretakers, it’s tough to imagine that your kid will ever be in an emergency medical situation, however, it’s important to be prepared for them. More than 95% of emergency responders state that they check for a medical ID when they’re called for emergencies. And they’re not the only ones. Teachers, day care workers, camp counselors and other caretakers are also trained to look for allergy bracelets or necklaces on kids. If your child is ever involved in a medical emergency, having allergy bracelets or necklace that identifies his or her health concerns is essential in preventing a tragedy.

To be honest, when I created the original AllerMates bracelet, I was more concerned with having a communication tool to teachers and caregivers to help PREVENT an incident. Some medical alert accessories have the information inscribed on the BACK of the accessory and I thought, why not have a fun visual for all to see? Why are we hiding this critical information instead of making it bright and noticeable?


If you have a kid with a food allergy, you’re probably all too familiar with the stress that comes along with sending kids to birthday parties and play dates. What if your child accidentally eats a food with his or her allergen? Because kids’ medical alert bracelets and dog tags are so brightly colored and noticeable, caretakers will immediately recognize that they need to look out for allergens when serving your child. Think of these bracelets and dog tags as a way to ease your concerns and give you a little peace of mind.


Living proof that my dream came true and that kids could actually be excited to wear their allergy bracelets. Here is Britney Spears’ stylish son photographed with his AllerMates bracelets.

When should you wear a medical ID?

Kids should keep their medical alert jewelry on at all times. Why can’t kids take it off at home? Let’s say Uncle Bill, who just so happens to stop by over the weekend, doesn’t remember that your son has a peanut allergy, and feeds him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every. Parent’s. Nightmare. Avoid this situation by keeping the medical alert jewelry on at all times so that caretakers are always informed of your child’s health concerns.

What options are there for kids?
Luckily, there are tons of options that parents will love and kids will love wearing! AllerMates makes medical alert bracelets for a variety of kids’ health concerns, as well as dog tags and charms. If your kiddo has multiple allergies or health conditions, you can purchase the charms and attach them to a multi-charm bracelet. That way, kids don’t have to wear multiple allergy bracelets to keep caretakers informed of their many health concerns.


With all of these fun options for kids, there’s no excuse to NOT wear medical alert jewelry!

Be sure to visit our website, www.allermates.com, and sign up for our newsletter to always stay in-the-know with allergy news!

xo, Iris

No Sugar Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bites

Let’s be honest for a minute. When you see a recipe called, No Sugar Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bites do you really think they are going to be good? I mean, sure sugar is the devil since it makes you crave more of it throughout the day. And let’s not forget the sugar crash and belly bloat! But, alas sugar makes those sweets you love even sweeter! And if you are anything like me, I love me some sweets! I was so skeptical about this recipe. I decided to make it one night when I really wasn’t even in the mood for sweets. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and still be stuck with a craving after all the work! But, I was so wrong! These are really, really, really (did I say really) good! And simple. Good. And. Simple.

3 Ripe Bananas
1/3 cup Apple Sauce (no-sugar added/natural)
2 cups of Oats
1/4 cup Rice Milk (Almond, Flax, Coconut)
1/2 cup Chocolate chips (I use dairy free chips)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Cinnamon

As you can see, the ingredients are all very easy to find and most might even have it already in your pantry! Also, notice, these cookies are egg free, dairy free, nut free, no oil, no sugar and are Vegan! Great allergy friendly recipe!


The directions are simple. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Spoon onto cookie sheet (I sprayed with a coconut oil spray) into small mounds. Press in the center to flatten a bit. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. The shape stays the same as how you placed on the cookie sheet. Watch for a little color to show on the bottoms or cut one open to see how it looks! If you want these to come out with a smoother texture, place your oats into a food processor then add to the mix. I like mine a little heartier, so I keep the oats as is! You can add raisins, dried cranberries or a dollop of nut butter to the batter as well! The possibilities are endless!

No sugar chocolate chip banana bread bites

*Tip: After they have cooled, store in an air tight container in the fridge. They keep longer and you can place in the microwave for a few seconds to enjoy some warm, gooey goodness whenever your craving hits. Enjoy!


PB & J Sandwiches Made NUT-FREE

A good old fashioned PB & J sandwich used to evoke many pleasant memories from my childhood. However, PB & anything now evokes a queasy feeling in stomach that only be described as fear and anxiety. This simple, yet tasty combo can send my boy into anaphylaxis shock. When more than half his lunchroom brings this sandwich to school, needless to say I worry. He has had a nut allergy since he was barely a year old. Not a day goes by without thinking about all the possible outcomes. It is just something we have gotten used to. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, and I am thankful his reactions have been few and far between.

As his mom, and former lover of peanut butter it is now ridden from my diet. I do crave that PB & J sandwich on a hot summers day at the beach or late at night for quick snack! There are many products on the market nowadays. This is great for the food allergy community, but not all of them are quite good! Sorry, but it’s the truth! I was happy to find alternatives that actually tasted good! I have narrowed down my favorites for making a tasty, nut-free PB & J sandwich!


Lunchbox Ready: Just thaw & enjoy! Perfect for lunch, after school snack or trips. Really anytime is the right time to enjoy! 

Dr. Praegar’s Sunwiches: Sunflower seed butter with grape or strawberry jelly! Only 200 calories, 4grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein! These crustless wonders pack a nutritious bite, made with ingredients you can recognize! Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 3.14.39 PM

Annie’s Homegrown Pea B&J Pockets: Featuring 9g whole grains, these crustless sandwiches are layered with real strawberry fruit spread and golden pea butter made from a legume variety that’s cousin to the green peas you scooted off your plate as a kid.

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Make Your Own Sandwich: These nut free butters are the real deal. Pair it with your favorite bread and jelly or add some bananas and marshmallow fluff! Or just eat if right from a spoon! I won’t judge! 

Don’t Go Nuts Organic Chocolate soy butter: Their bestseller! Almost 2X more protein & fiber and 1/3 the sugar per serving as chocolate-flavored hazelnut spreads!  It features organic cocoa. Way better than Nutella!

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 WOWBUTTER Creamy Soynut butter: 1200mg OMEGA-3 essential oils for good health; peanut butter has 0mg! Best thing about this product is that it comes in CRUNCHY as well! It tastes like peanut butter- but better!

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Even if you don’t have an allergy, these are great to have in the house for your kids to bring to school or playdates. Allergy parents truly appreciate when other moms & dads go out of their way to make their kiddo feel safe around food!

Food should bring people together, not tear them apart!

Teal Pumpkin Project

It’s October folks! While I am dreaming of eating everything “pumpkin” this season, most kids are excited for what lies on the last day of the month! Halloween! Kids get to use their imaginations and create costumes or resemble their favorite superhero or Disney character all while filling their bags with sugary sweets! For some kids, trick-or-treating is not as exciting as it seems. For they know at the end of the night almost 90% of the treats they collected must be given away or thrown in the trash. I am talking about the 1 in every 13 children who have food allergies in the U.S. I am also talking about my son. While they want to dress up and trick-or-treat with their friends, they know one bite of a candy bar might cost them their life.


What can you do?

FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project™ promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, and keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!

Join the pledge this year to provide a safe alternative for these kids along with the 100,000 other households.

Paint a pumpkin teal and place it outside for all to see! You can also download a free printable here that indicates you have non-food treats available. What a wonderful new tradition you can start with your family. You don’t have to rid your house of food treats completely.  Offering a safe alternative to a child with allergies just shows you have went the extra mile to make sure everyone is happy & safe on Halloween.



As a fellow allergy mom, it would honestly mean more to me than you know. It really is the little things that people do to show you they care that mean the most. Everything starts from one small gesture…

Get Painting~


Need non-food ideas- comment below and I will send some your way!