Cold weather and holidays mean hot drinks! The only problem is, the eggnog and hot chocolate that most people are drinking aren’t really allergy friendly. So we decided to use our bar flavors as inspiration to make a twist on the classics and give you some amazing flavors that the whole family can enjoy.
We went back to the test kitchen to create four different drinks: Spiced Hot Apple Cider, Mulled Fruit, Ginger Lemon Tea, and allergy friendly Hot Cocoa (with a fun find to go with it!).
Spiced Hot Apple Cider
During these chilly, winter months, one of our favorite things to do is curl up with a soft blanket, a good book, and a cup of spiced cider. We wanted to take the traditional cider up a notch, so we looked to our Seed+Fruit Apple Cinnamon bars to come up with a fun, delicious take on Hot Apple Cider.
If you are entertaining this year, this recipe is perfect, because it is simple, easy, delicious, and it will make your house smell amazing!
6 cups of Organic Apple Cider
1 Organic Orange (sliced)
1 Organic Apple (sliced)
3 Cinnamon Sticks
2 tsp Cloves
1/2 Tsp Peppercorn
1 inch of Fresh Ginger
1/4 tsp of Chinese Five Spice (optional)
Combine above ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the house is filled with the aroma of spiced cider. Want the no-fuss version? Put it all in a slow cooker on low until it is hot.
Mulled Fruit (Wine Optional)
Mulled wine is one of those traditional drinks that is starting to be left out. But as we know from our Just Fruit bars, there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh fruit. Blending this drink makes it frothy and delicious, not to mention very pretty to serve! It is easy to create this virgin drink, but if you want to add an adult kick, we included those instructions as well. Another great thing about this drink is that there is enough sweetness from the juice, that you don’t have to add any additional sweetener!
8 cups of Organic Cranberry-Raspberry Juice (100% Juice)
1 lb Strawberries washed and hulled
1 tsp Organic Cloves (or to taste)
Extra Strawberries for garnish
Optional: Replace half the juice for shiraz wine
Blend strawberries, juice, and cloves on high. This will make it nice and frothy. They pour into individual cups and microwave for 60 seconds, or simmer on low in a pot until warm, being careful not to overstir so that it stays frothy. Slice a whole strawberry halfway through the middle to slide over the edge of the cup to decorate.
Dairy Free (Allergy Friendly) Hot Chocolate:
Hot Chocolate is an all-time favorite winter drink of ours, but its nearly impossible to find a true allergy-friendly hot chocolate at a restaurant. Even if you sub in a milk alternative, chances are the chocolate will contain dairy, so we looked to our Seed+Fruit Fudgy Chocolate bar to make the most delicious and velvety recipe you’ve ever tried.
This recipe makes enough for the entire season (honestly, it makes a lot!), so just put the finished mixture into a cute jar, and you won’t need to make this again all winter. Next time you’re having a craving, just put 2-4 Tbs of the premed mix into a cup with your favorite milk alternative, and you’re ready to go!
It also makes a cute gift! We keep some of these around to hand out to house guests, so everyone can leave with a tasty little treat. Our friends and family love getting this every year!
2 1/2 Cups of Organic Sugar
1 Cup of Allergy Friendly Chocolate Chips (Pascha is our favorite brand)
2 1/2 Cups of Organic Cocoa Powder
1 Tbs Salt
1/2 Cup of Macha Powder (optional)
1 Cup of your Favorite Milk Alternative when ready to drink
Combine all dry ingredients together and mix well. Store in an airtight container.
When ready to serve, add 2-4Tbs of the mixture to 1 cup of your favorite milk alternative. Top with candy canes.
Do you like marshmallows in your hot chocolate? It can be hard to find ones that are allergy friendly, and even harder to find ones that are vegan and taste good! That is why we were so excited to find these brand – Dandies. They are a peanut and tree nut free facility, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan! And they were the softest, fluffiest, yummiest marshmallows we had ever tasted. It was hard to keep the kids out of them long enough to take this photo. Extra fun? They come in both traditional vanilla flavor, as well as a Peppermint flavor that is colored pink with beets (no artificial colors!) so that you can have mint hot cocoa if you would like as well. They are also Non-GMO certified, so we consider this an all-around win.
Lemon Ginger Spiced Tea
Why have regular hot tea, when you can spice it up? This is a super simple way to take a common drink to the next level and add something that will make it memorable.
8 Cups Hot Water
4-6 Tea bags or 3 Tablespoons whole leaf tea (green tea works great)
1 Whole lemon, sliced
8 pieces of Crystallized Ginger
Brew the tea as usual, and then put a slice of fresh lemon and a piece of ginger into each cup. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the ginger flavor will be. You may want to add an extra pinch of sugar to taste, depending on how sweet you want this drink to be.
Does fall having you craving all things pumpkin? Well, we have you covered with this incredibly easy and delicious recipe for allergy friendly pumpkin muffins (that’s right, they are free of gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and dairy)! We made these the other day, and the office filled with the aroma of pumpkin spice, it was just perfect for fall.
These muffins disappeared quickly, so be prepared to make a second batch 😉 But don’t worry too much, because not only do they taste delectable, they also have some surprising health benefits hidden inside!
First, the pumpkin provides beta-carotene, which helps your eyes and skin stay healthy. Second, the ZEGO Bar crust adds extra protein and fiber helping you stay full longer. And of course, we never use any artificial sweeteners, flavorings, or colors that you find in most of the pumpkin spice things you can buy right now.
Chocolatey ZEGO Allergy Friendly Pumpkin Muffins:
Recipe (makes 12-15 muffins):
- 1 2/3 cups of gluten-free flour
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (we like to use Spicely organic)
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 3/4 cup of coconut sugar
- 1 cup of pumpkin (roasted yourself has more pumpkin flavor, but canned works too!)
- 1 cup of melted coconut oil (you can also use butter or ghee)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips (we like Pascha)
- 2 eggs (can sub flax eggs to make it vegan)
- 2 Seed+Fruit Chocolate ZEGO bars
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients together and stir well
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, coconut oil, and vanilla extract
- Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, incorporating well
- Fold in chocolate chips
- Grease muffin pan
- Add in the ZEGO bars
- Either dice the bars and fold into the batter (like chocolate chips),
- Or Press the bars out until thin, and place on the bottom of the greased muffin pan for a chocolate muffin crust (like we did below).
- Pour batter into muffin pan
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
One of the daily challenges that almost every parent who has a child with food allergies deals with is food safety at school. It is a multi-layered issue that includes educating non-food allergy parents, teaching your child to self-advocate, and understanding the school policies and procedures for food allergies. As the problem grows, more and more schools are becoming nut free.
Another challenge can be simply finding snacks that are allergy safe and the kids will want to eat! Whether your own child has nut allergies, or you need nut-free snacks for your non-allergic child to take to school. That is why we decided to do our biggest giveaway ever – 132 bars to one school (a master case, if you were wondering). Our goal was to help promote discussion of allergy safe snacks, provide a conversation starter for allergy parents as they encouraged other parents to nominate their school, and reward a school with some great snacks!
Our Nut Free Allergy Friendly Giveaway Winner
So many people nominated their schools and helped to promote the giveaway. Thank you! We are excited to officially announce the winner – Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, MD! And, thank you to the teachers at the school for sending these adorable photos — we are so glad the kids loved their nut-free ZEGO snacks.
Children at Temple Beth Ami School their ZEGO Fruit+Chia bars
We were even more excited that the winning school is a peanut and tree nut free school! Partnerships with schools like this can do a lot to help keep kids safe. So we wondered, what was the story behind going nut free?
Paula Sayag, director at the school, says “I have worked here for 9 years, and the school was nut-free when I came. Teachers who have worked here longer don’t even remember when they made that move. It’s been a long time! It was made when allergies seemed to be more common, and there was increased sensitivity to including children with food restrictions.” It is a part of their bigger focus on inclusion of all children. They pride themselves on being inclusive, welcoming children and families from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of unique challenges, including allergies and other food restrictions. Jill, one of the staff at the school said, “We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in our school, so they can make friends, learn, and gain confidence. Every child leaves our school with a “can-do” attitude and enters kindergarten primed for success.”
As stated in their official food policy: “Our policy regarding foods allowed in school is designed for the sole purpose of keeping children safe. Temple Beth Ami has students with food allergies, some of which may be life-threatening. For some children, mere physical contact with an allergen and/or the environmental presence of the allergen can evoke an anaphylactic response. We share a collective responsibility to ensure the safety of every child.”
So why don’t all schools follow a policy like this? Could more schools be nut free? One of the biggest challenges is the education of the other parents, as well as faculty and staff who may not be familiar with food allergies. As we in the allergy community start these conversations, let your school know about other schools that are being successful. Doing this can really help!
Paula said: “The biggest hurdle for schools just starting is helping parents find alternatives to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. And helping parents appreciate their role in being compassionate to other’s with allergies.” They work through this by providing the school food policy to all parents to help them understand the reasons why this is important, as well as discussing it in parent committee meetings, including it in their newsletters, and sending a mid-year reminder.
While the ZEGO school giveaway was open to any school, we are excited that we had a chance to give it to a school that is doing such a great job of valuing their food allergy kids and families!
Did you miss getting your school nominated? We’ll be doing school giveaways throughout the year. Just enter your email address and we’ll let you know about future giveaways and sales. And, be sure to let us know in the comments section of this blog about how your school handles food allergies!
If you want to understand food trends, then Expo West 2017 was the place to be. My feet are bruised from walking on concrete floors and holding meetings in hallways for 3 days. I saw every one of a dizzying array of over 3,000 local, national and international companies showing their wares in Anaheim at the Natural Products Expo West show last weekend. It was amazing to see so many products all in one place!
Overall, the message of the show was clear – our bellies hurt, and our kids (and some of us) have serious food allergies. Those two things kept showing up again and again in the products we saw and tried.
Trend 1: Probiotics
To help our digestion and improve our gut flora, probiotics and fermentation were suddenly the #1 marketing angle of new companies – replacing last year’s coconut waters (the most clever put probiotics in their coconut water). And it wasn’t just naturally fermented and cultured beverages, yogurts and cheeses, it was everything from jelly beans to cookies to tortilla chips, drinking vinegar to pickle juice! I’ll cover the nutrition issues with the added probiotics in another blog, because today I want to tell you about the trends and our favorite new products.There are questions to explore about whether added probiotics more marketing than health.So, let’s move on to the other trend—allergy friendly food.
Trend 2: Allergy Friendly
Now, just like with gluten free, this will take some navigating for the allergen community – not every company could tell me how often they test for cross contact and some seemed puzzled by the question. We hope to convince them of the value of batch testing and reporting the results to consumers through the QR code on the product package like we do at ZEGO in the long run.But the fact that there were a lot more companies marketing they are free from problematic ingredients and allergens is good news nonetheless!
After all, now that buyers for grocery store see this trend growing, they are more likely to buy more free-from products for their stores. This will make it easier for all of us to meet the needs of our special diet friends and family. Maybe allergy friendly will follow a similar path to gluten free, with the next step being an “allergy friendly” section in the store.
Our Top Product Picks
Enough about the trends, let’s move the really fun part – the companies and foods we loved! We are picky at our house, despite our many food intolerances and allergies, so when we say it’s good, we really mean it. Here is what Kelsey, my teenage daughter, and I want you to know in new products. (Note: please call these companies to confirm their allergy situation in the facility, salespeople at food shows don’t always have the correct facts!)
Cassava and Plantain Chips. Free of virtually everything! The only other ingredients in their facility are Palm Oil, Salt, Cinnamon. This was the first one I ordered when I got home. You have to buy in bulk, but they are worth it! You can order on their website: http://artisantropic.com/
Paleo Chocolate? Yes! And it is the best we’ve ever had and no soy/dairy/refined sugars!
They are in distribution so ask you favorite store to start carrying them if they don’t already. And, check out their restaurant next time you are in NYC. https://hukitchen.com
Fluffy, true sandwich bread. Seriously. You don’t even need to toast it and it is delicious! Some versions have added pea protein so be aware of that if you have a peanut allergy or a sensitive stomach. Free from most everything else. (www.happycampersgf.com)
Also in stores in Washington Oregon, Nor Cal, So Cal and on-line.
Snack Clusters – seriously good baked soft cookie clusters. Very clean ingredients, grain/gluten/soy/dairy free, contains peanuts and tree nuts. Lower in sugars than most similar products. We ordered these last night on-line. www.wholeme.com
All purpose flour and sorghum grain you can pop stovetop.
The popped sorghum is PERFECT for people allergic to corn, delicious and fun.
We had a warm muffin made from the flour and it was fantastic, but it does have tapioca and potato starch which can irritate tummies.
Free from milk/soy/peanut/gluten. Check on treenuts if you are allergic, they aren’t listed on the packaging, but I think they are free of these as well. http://www.nulifemarket.com
Veggie Noodle Co
No time to spirulize your veggies for your paleo meal? No worries, Veggie Noodle has a beautiful array of pre-spiraled options for you. Find them virtually everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains but not out West yet (sniff sniff). http://veggienoodleco.com/
Vegan frozen pops made from fruit and veggies. I ordered these in bulk already! Seriously, I just ordered $125 worth (bulk sales only on-line) – they are that good and my food allergy daughter is waiting by the door for them to arrive. Colorado, So Cal, PNW, Louisiana and some in the NE states. www.froozer.com
Organic Vegan Gelato – most delicious ever of all the companies we tried. Egg/milk/soy/wheat but free some flavors contain tree or peanut and equipment is shared. Find them in San Diego and LA County but not on-line. Hopefully, they expand to your hood soon or you can pick them up on your next visit!
Superfood smoothie from fruit and veggies—better than juice because they retain their natural fiber.
Shelf stable! Use coconut but appear otherwise free of the top 8 allergens. https://www.nokaorganics.com/
“Tummy Friendly” brand of hot cereal and cookies with added probiotics, gluten/dairy/soy/egg free. National distribution. https://nurturme.com/
Best cookie and brownie dough we’ve tasted. Soy/gluten free, contains nuts. LA only and on-line. www.becausecookiedough.com
Do You Want to Try These? Enter to Win!
If you didn’t get to go to Expo West, don’t worry, we will bring the show to you! We are doing a giveaway Friday March 23 at 7pm ET, 4pm PT on Facebook Live. Turn in a leave a comment about which of these new products you are most excited about and we will randomly choose a winner to receive a gift bag with a selection of these amazing products for you to try!