This is a very exciting day for me. Not only do I get to tell you about Curtis Sittenfeld’s brand new short story collection — You Think It, I’ll Say It, my favorite of all the books she’s written — it is the day that the real life Curtis Sittenfeld makes a cameo on Dinner: A Love Story. Yes, that’s right. This blog, this post in fact. In You Think It, Sittenfeld, whose writing we all fell in love with when we read Prep a decade ago, follows a menagerie of female protagonists navigating the most ordinary of circumstances — running into grown-up high school queen bees, hooking up with Trump supporters, crushing on other kids’ dads at school. Sittenfeld’s characters are my favorite kinds of characters: They are never exceptional, though they are often funny or smart without being pretentious. And they hate people who think they’re exceptional, believing this to be a serious flaw. Sittenfeld is the master of the withering observation, and no one is safe from it here in the best, most entertaining way. Please do yourself a favor and order her book for yourself today. (And when it arrives, read “A Regular Couple” first. Or maybe “Gender Studies.” Or maybe “Volunteers Are Shining Stars.” I can’t decide, but whatever you do, savor each one!) Until then, here’s Sittenfeld chiming in my Top 10 Series with her list of her top, uh, almost ten allergy-friendly foods for kids. Thanks Curtis!
Did you know that Oreos are vegan? If you did, there’s a decent chance you’re the parent of a kid with allergies to milk and eggs…and you’re delighted that your child can actually enjoy these junky favorites. (That creamy filling is, well, not cream. I believe it’s canola oil and/or palm oil.)
After my second child was diagnosed in 2012 with allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts, I became a scrupulous reader of ingredients on food labels. I also ended up embracing foods I hadn’t previously been in the habit of eating or even necessarily ever tasted. My daughter can now eat milk and eggs, which has significantly expanded our options for family meals, but I’ll always be grateful to the products and brands that have in the last six years allowed us to enjoy tasty food… and one another.
SunButter At this point, I eat more SunButter, which is made out of sunflower seeds, than anyone else in my family—I have it for lunch on a rice cake a few times a week. It’s easy and delicious and protein-filled, like peanut butter without the peanuts. I’ve even traveled with a 16-ounce jar, so when I learned that SunButter had started selling single-serving cups, I was actively excited (sometimes you have to take your thrills where they come).
Cherrybrook Kitchen Cake Mix and Frosting My daughter has taken her own treat many times to birthday parties, and for years, our go-to was a cupcake my husband would make with this mix and frosting. Together, they make a cupcake look and taste like…a cupcake!
Dum Dums Lollipops Dum Dums are made in a facility free of the top eight allergens, a fact they mention on their packaging. Because they’re portable and don’t get mushed or stale, I usually keep a baggie with four or five in my purse, and if we’re out and about and unexpectedly find ourselves in a situation where other kids are eating treats, I give one (or all four) to my daughter. Dum Dums are also our usual offering for Halloween (I aspire to be the curmudgeon who gives out dental floss, but I’m not all the way there yet).
Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips My husband had barely baked before our daughter’s allergy diagnosis, and he became a whiz at making pancakes and cookies that didn’t include eggs and milk but did often include these chocolate chips.
Made Good Granola Bars It’s tough to find granola bars without nuts, but this Canadian brand is like Dum Dums in being produced in a facility free of top allergens. Unlike Dum Dums, Made Well granola bars actually contain a serving of vegetables—some almost magical mix of spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets, and mushrooms that does not affect the bars’ taste. The most popular flavors at our house are apple cinnamon and chocolate chip.
Fritos Okay, I won’t pretend I was unfamiliar with Fritos prior to 2012. But Fritos and I certainly didn’t used to enjoy the very close relationship we do now. I like that Fritos have just three ingredients (corn, corn oil, and salt), meaning I don’t need to spend 45 minutes checking their label. I like that, unlike nichey granola bars, they’re sold everywhere so if my daughter needs a snack on the fly, we can grab a pack from a gas station. And I like that they’re delicious. As a Fritos connoisseur, I prefer the larger Scoops version.
So Delicious Coconut yogurt, Coconut milk, vanilla bars, and vanilla sandwiches : Oh So Delicious, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! First, I love that these foods contain a satisfying richness—the vanilla bars, for example, can proudly go toe to toe with Dove bars. I also love So Delicious’s labeling so much that I still almost weep upon reading it. Food labels and warnings are not created equal in terms of clarity, and some of the ones that say “May contain nuts…” feel as if they’re saying, “You have allergies? Tough shit! This food might be fine for you, but we don’t want to go to the trouble of making sure.” By contrast, So Delicious’s label, which I consider the gold standard, is almost a paragraph long and feels like the voice of a sympathetic and responsible friend: “Produced in a facility that processes other tree nuts and soy. We have a rigorous allergen testing program and apply strict quality control measures in an effort to prevent contamination by undeclared food allergens…” It might be an odd thing to say about a food safety disclaimer, but So Delicious’s labels are for me a beautiful affirmation of my own outlook about food allergies: Having them is a lot more complicated than not having them. But even with them, life can be, yes, so delicious.
Thank you Curtis! And now, a GIVEAWAY. (I know, the day just keeps getting better!) Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of You Think it I’ll Say It. There will be TWO winners and the contest ends Thursday, May 3, 2018 at noon ET. Good luck everyone. UPDATE: The winners have been notified. Thanks for playing and congrats Stephanie and Asia!