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Hooray for a Successful Easter (and Peanut Butter Eggs)!

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This weekend was crazy-busy for us and I’m exhausted.  But every last detail was worthwhile! I am so excited and can’t wait to tell you about how well everything went!

This year we hosted Easter for the first time, which was an honor and a little stressful.  My great-aunt has hosted  an Easter open house for nearly 60 years but was unable to do it this year, so I offered to have her traditional party at our house.  This was great because it gave me some control over the menu and we had all of E’s toys which were great distractions from all the food (it also gave me a good reason to do some intense spring cleaning).  We stuck pretty much with the traditional menu – kielbasa, ham, potato salad, and pasta salad.  There were some allergens on the menu but we decided not to mess too much with tradition.  We felt confident that we would be able to keep E away from those foods and decided to make a special meal for him.  It turns out that he doesn’t really care if he’s eating what everyone else is eating, as long as he’s eating when everyone else is eating.  I tend to get caught up with making a safe version of the traditional holiday meal for E, which causes me more stress and then he may or may not even eat it.  Luckily my husband was able to step in and prevent me from embarking on crazy recipes or rushed food trials this time.  We decided to keep it simple and went with tried and true favorites.  After all, what toddler wouldn’t be thrilled with an Easter hot dog?  

However, as you may recall, I was determined that we were going to pass down some Easter traditions.  Last Easter E was only about 7 months old and we were still dealing with the end of chronic FPIES so we weren’t feeling up to dyeing eggs.  I was a little torn about it this year too.  I figured it could either way – he could totally love it or not be interested and make a huge mess.  And then there are the eggs – one of E’s allergens.  Dyeing eggs doesn’t really require eating the eggs, but the kid still puts everything in his mouth!  And what was I going to do with a bunch of hardboiled eggs? Eggs were fairly easy for us to eliminate from the house after we found out E was allergic – my husband and I never ate a ton of eggs so it wasn’t hard to just not have them.  I didn’t need to start now.  I wondered if I could find something else to dye, so I started scouring the internet.  I found a company that makes ceramic dyeable eggs, but they were a little expensive and I was afraid they were too fragile to give a one-year-old who doesn’t have a gentle bone in his body.

I was ready to give up when a friend and fellow FPIES mom told me about plastic dyeable eggs that Walmart was selling.  I was so excited – completely allergy-safe and rough-little-boy-friendly.  It’s like they were made for E!  I will generally go out of my way to avoid Walmart, but I’ll do anything for my son, so off to Walmart I went.

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We finally got around to dying the eggs on Saturday afternoon and it was a blast!  E loved it!  I also think I will seriously consider using plastic eggs forever.  He was able to throw the eggs into the dye cup, smash them down with egg holder, and drop them on the floor without having to worry about any broken eggshells.  And the eggs were beautiful!  The sentimentalist in me is also excited to save one of E’s first dyed Easter eggs.

IMG_2940Next up was the Easter candy.  So after a day of cleaning, egg dyeing, last minute Easter outfit shopping, and cooking, I started to make candy.  I was glad I had done a test run of the giant chocolate bunny and smaller chocolate candies that I made out of enjoy life chocolate chips.  That was easy.  But I also decided to make allergen-free peanut butter eggs based on a recipe I came across on Pinterest.  These were fairly easy, but a bit time consuming and I started around 10pm (which is past my bedtime, I know I’m pretty lame).

The results were totally worth it! The peanut butter eggs are delicious! Seriously.  Better than than Reese’s.  There’s about 5 ingredients in them – so they are pure yumminess!  But even better than the yum-factor is the safe-factor.  E can eat them and he loves them!  I love having a safe snack for him and watching him enjoy the indulgence.  It’s also nice that I can treat myself to one without hiding in the kitchen and going through an entire decontamination procedure afterward.

On Easter morning, the Easter Bunny left a basket that contained the safe chocolate bunny, a few smaller chocolates and two peanut butter eggs, along with a Curious George lunchbox, safe crayons, a new book, and a couple small toy cars.  E loves cars and Curious George, so I didn’t know which was going to be the bigger hit in the basket.  Turns out it was the peanut butter eggs!  He didn’t even hesitate – he grabbed one and took a bite as soon as he saw them! I thought my heart was going to burst with pride, love, and joy!  He was so excited and happy to see a candy that he could eat.  I loved that he loved them!

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He didn’t waste any time digging into the candy!

We set out some small chocolates and peanut butter eggs on the coffee table when our guests arrived.  Everyone raved about them.  I love finding things that are safe for E that other people can also enjoy.  It was also so exciting that E could walk up to the coffee table and indulge in a little treat.  I guess it’s a feeling only an allergy-parent can understand.  I spend so much of my time anxious about E being exposed to allergens and preventing him from eating things that other people take for granted.  Being able sit back and relax as I was watching him enjoy a safe treat was the best Easter gift I could imagine!

We had a wonderful Easter surrounded by family and sharing traditions with our little boy.    I hope you also had a wonderful and safe Easter! I know that it’s a bit late, but below is the adapted recipe for safe peanut butter eggs.  I will definitely be making these year-round (maybe as just balls or other shapes if I’m feeling really ambitious) and I hope you enjoy them too!

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In all of the craziness of this weekend I forgot to get a picture of just the peanut butter eggs.

Peanut-Butter Eggs: Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Grain-Free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Peanut Butter (I used Crazy Richard’s 100% Natural Creamy Peanut Butter – I’d assume you could use any safe nut/seed butter)
  • 1/4 cup Soy-Free Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 10 oz package Enjoy Life Mini Chips
  • 1 tbsp canola oil (or other safe oil)

Directions:

  1. Melt peanut butter and Earth Balance for 1 minute in microwave.
  2. Stir until blended.
  3. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and mix well.
  4. Scoop out about a tablespoon of the mixture and shape into an egg shape.
  5. Place on parchment paper lined sheet and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  6. Mix the mini chips with canola oil.
  7. Melt the mini chips in microwave by heating for 30 seconds then stirring and repeating process until it is melted and smooth. (This should take about 1 1/2 minutes)
  8. Using a fork, dip egg into chocolate and flip to cover completely. Lift with fork and gently tap on edge of the bowl allowing excess chocolate to drip off.
  9. Place back on parchment paper.
  10. Refrigerate 10 minutes until chocolate has set

If you have the freezer space, I recommend freezing in two batches. This will allow you to get started with the freezing process while you shape the remainder.  It will also keep half frozen while you are dipping the other half in chocolate, which is easier to do when they are more solid.

The original recipe is here: http://www.raininghotcoupons.com/chocolate-covered-peanut-butter-eggs/.  I removed the allergens and also made them much smaller.  
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Our beautiful dyed plastic eggs! 
Happy Easter!
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The Easter Bunny’s Research Assistant – Chocolate Candy

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The centerpiece of my childhood Easter baskets was always a huge chocolate bunny.  So large that it took several weeks (or at least days) to finish.  Of course now when I look back the whole thing is a little sad – slowly maiming a bunny as you ingest hundreds of calories and piles of sugar.  Nonetheless, it is tradition.  Thus, it’s important to me that E get to experience all of the joy and creepiness that comes with finding a large chocolate bunny in your basket on Easter morning and slowly gnawing on it until it disappears.

But, alas, procuring said bunny for E is a little more difficult.  It has to be free of all of his allergens – dairy, soy, egg, coconut, rice, and oats.  The Easter Bunny has to be on the ball this year.  No procrastinating and last-minute shopping trips.  This magical confection would not be on the shelf of a local grocery store.

So a couple of weeks ago I started the research.  I was pleased to find a couple of websites that sell dairy-free chocolate Easter candy, however most contained soy.  Amanda’s Own was the one exception, the problem is that we’ve never had it.  Buying this chocolate would be taking a chance and, while all of the ingredients appear to be safe (cane sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa butter), I felt like it would require at least a mini-trial to be sure.  Nobody wants the Easter Bunny to accidentally bring an FPIES reaction.

We have, however, already passed Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, which are free of all of the top 8 allergens as well as rice, oat, and coconut.  These things are a God-send and they actually taste good!  Given that we already had some safe chocolate, it seemed logical that I should make my own bunny.  This made me incredibly uncomfortable.  I’m pretty sure my last candy-making experience was my 8th birthday party, which was held at a candy kitchen. Eight-years-old was a long time ago!  After a night of trying to convince myself that I could do this, I became empowered by a few fellow FPIES-moms on the FPIES Facebook page who assured me that making my own Easter candy was quite possible and I decided to take the plunge.

I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find large bunny chocolate molds at this time of year!  The local craft stores were a bust but I was able to find a few online.  I ended up ordering a very large one because it was the cutest.  It is unlikely that E will come anywhere close to finishing this bunny, but being the helpful mom that I am, I am willing to step in and assist 🙂

My step-by-step instructions are below.  It was so easy! Seriously, the hardest part was finding a spot in the refrigerator for it to sit while it hardened.  I felt so good about my results that I even made bite-sized easter-themed candies just for fun.  AND I got a little carried away and went all pinterest-y and made E-safe chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs (which need a few tweaks so you’ll have to wait a bit for my post about them)!  One of the things I was most concerned about was the texture.  I was afraid that the chocolate would turn out rock-hard.  But they are really perfect, the texture and consistency is just like any store-bought candy.  I think the oil might be the key (but I won’t pretend to be an expert). I really couldn’t be happier with the end result!

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Chocolate Easter Candy – Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Peanut-Free, Nut-Free

Ingredients:

10 oz bag Enjoy Life Mini Chips

1 Tbsp Canola Oil (I’m pretty sure any safe oil would work)

Directions:

1. Mix the chips and the oil in a microwave-safe bowl

2. Melt the chips in the microwave on high for about 1.5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.  At the end of the minute and a half, the bowl of chips didn’t look smooth, but once I started stirring it they continued to melt enough that I didn’t need to heat them anymore.

3. Poor the melted chocolate into a mold.

4. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, until solid.  (15 minutes wasn’t enough for my mold so I left in the fridge and then got distracted.  It was in there well over an hour and it was fine.)

5. Turn the mold upside down to pop out the chocolate.

6. Marvel at how easy it was to uphold an Easter traditional in a completely easy and FPIES-safe way

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UPDATE: Two days after I made the candy I noticed that it is starting to get a little discolored.  Some quick internet research suggested that this is probably because it was exposed to changes in humidity or temperature.  There also seems to be some debate about where to let the chocolate harden (room temperature vs refrigerator vs freezer).  My mold directed me to use the refrigerator, which I did, but you might want to experiment with where is best for you.  I think I’ll aim to make the chocolate the day before I need it next time, which is fine because it so easy!  Let us know if you have any tips or hints.  Have fun!