Teal Pumpkin Halloween Non-Food Treat Idea: Teal Beads for DIY Food Allergy Awareness Necklace

October 25th, 2016

Last Halloween we made some fun teal pumpkin jewelry and this year I wanted to take that a step further by making some teal “pumpkin” non-treat favor ideas in the form of a project that little ones and adults can do for themselves.  (Teal is the color of food allergy awareness.)

These little non-food treats are made using teal pony beads and a few other items, and are easy to make and inexpensive and can be used to hand out to older aged trick-or-treaters (pony beads are typically recommended for ages 5 and up,) or at your trunk or treat event.

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To learn more about teal pumpkins visit the resources available on Kids With Food Allergies and Food Allergy Research and Education.

These teal “pumpkins” can be made for under $5 (depending on if you have the paint at home, but this project uses less than $1 of paint.) They are great for giving out this Halloween as non-favor treats or to share with other adults to wear to food allergy walks, during Halloween, and around town to spread awareness.  

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The supplies you’ll need to make these are:
– Spray paint (shown is Rust-Oleum Seaside)
– Teal Glitter – had to pick up a multi-pack to get the color I was going for (from Michael’s)
– Pink Awareness Ribbons – since they don’t have teal ones in the store (yet!) (from Michael’s)
– String for necklace (I used knitting cord) (From Michael’s)
– Green Pipe Cleaners (Dollar Store or Michael’s)
– Teal Pony Beads – (from Michael’s)
– Clear plastic treat bags (from Michael’s)

Below is a quick step-by-step graphic of how I made them, really so simple to make!  (I was also working on some teal pumpkin charms while making these, so you’ll see those in the photo as well.)

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Here is the finished bead “pumpkin” alongside what the finished necklace will look like once strung.  This is a fun DIY project that kids can do with their parents together.  

Making the necklace involves stringing on half of the beads, adding the teal ribbon (as a charm,) stringing the remaining half of the necklace and tying.  By using more beads the necklace is long and there is no need for a clasp. Making the necklace is so simple to do.

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If you give these out to friends and family you could also include a little note about how the color teal is about food allergy awareness and what teal pumpkins represent at Halloween. Check out the teal pumpkin resources available on Kids With Food Allergies and Food Allergy Research and Education.

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Be sure to put out a teal pumpkin at your home this year and have non-food treats available.  Check out my recent post here for some non-food treat ideas. 

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And I had to share this cute photo, here is my daughter modeling the necklace as well as the teal bead “pumpkin” necklace treat idea.

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Thank you for spreading food allergy awareness!  If you have any questions on this project be sure to contact me via the contact link on my page or leave a comment below this post.

Happy Halloween!

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COYO Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative: Some of the Best Coconut Yogurt, Dairy-Free and Decadent

October 23rd, 2016

Disclosure: I received these products for free from COYO. My opinions are my own and I was not paid or required to write this review or host this giveaway. 

I recently came across a sampling of CO YO.US at my local Whole Foods and was so surprised at how creamy and delicious their yogurt was!  COYO makes dairy free Coconut Milk Yogurt that is handcrafted from the squeezed flesh of the coconut. There are no added sugars or preservatives, just simple, whole ingredients and probiotic cultures.

COYO Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative is dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.   They use rich, raw, coconut cream as the base, and the taste is so velvety and smooth.

COYO Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative: Some of the Best Coconut Yogurt, but don’t take my word for it, enter to win Whole Foods Gift card (at the bottom of this post) the try each of their 4 flavors: Natural, Mango, Mixed Berry and Chocolate.

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The natural flavor as a great velvety mouth feel and is “not too coconut.”   It is the base of all the yogurt flavors.  You can sweeten it up yourself, add berries, or layer in a parfait.  Described as described as “heaven in a mouthful.”
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The mango flavor contains mango puree which adds some sweetness but with a low sugar taste, and subtle tropical flavor.  I have never been a big mango lover, but my husband liked this one, especially when I made it into a parfait for his morning breakfast. busybeekate-coyo6

The mixed berry flavor is high in antioxidants and is made with a swirl of a rich pureed mix of blackberry, boysenberry and raspberry.   The flavor is slightly tart with a strong berry taste.  I really love this flavor and found it great for breakfast alone (or topped with a few berries and a drizzle of honey!)busybeekate-coyo5

The chocolate flavor is amazing.  It is definitely my favorite for eating as a dessert!  I am a chocolate lover so I really enjoyed this flavor.  It is made using a combination of cacao, apple juice and coconut nectar, and is not too sweet and not too strong.  I made into a parfait with my favorite granola and dark chocolate chip morsels.  busybeekate-coyo3

Below you can enter to win a $16 Whole Foods gift card which will cover purchasing each of their 4 flavors: Natural, Mango, Mixed Berry and Chocolate.

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COYO Coconut Milk Yogurt is dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. As always I recommend checking with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you.  Labeling, facilities and process can change at any time for any company or product. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run from October 22, 2016 through November 4, 2016. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents, aged 18 and up.  The winner will be notified by e-mail and will have 24 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be drawn. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media.  All entries are optional.  Void where prohibited by law.

Disclosure: I received these products for free from COYO. My opinions are my own and I was not paid or required to write this review or host this giveaway.

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Vegan & Allergy-Friendly Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

October 7th, 2016

With 3 overripe bananas staring at us last week I knew my daughter and I had to make something… but what!?  We weren’t in the mood for banana bread or muffins, so we thought and thought, then my daughter said “what about oatmeal bars?”  Sounded good to me, so we got to work.

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I grabbed my handy notebook and started jotting down what we would need to make the oatmeal bars and decided we’d try to attempt them off the cuff, and I’m really glad that we did.

For this recipe I used oat flour and no added refined sugar, instead using brown rice syrup as the sweetener.  For the chocolates I chose Enjoy Life Foods mini chocolate chips.

This recipe is vegan (no dairy and no eggs,) gluten-free (be sure to chose gluten-free oats,) peanut and tree nut free.   The recipe is at the bottom of the post, but I wanted to share how the bars would like prior to going in the oven.  It’s definitely a thicker batter.

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After the bars are finished cooking and done cooling on a wire rack you can choose to drizzle with a chocolate and coconut oil topping.  This is completely optional!

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After the bars cooled down my daughter and I couldn’t wait to dig in!  

What I love about these is that they are low in refined sugar and also have the added benefits of flaxseed (you can grid up your own or use flaxseed meal) in them.  Flaxseed is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.  But if you’re not a flaxseed fan then you can eliminate them too.  

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These bars did not disappoint!  They are simple to make and every moist.  The bananas aren’t too overpowering and the brown rice syrup adds a little more sweetness to them.  

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Because of the added chocolate chips and chocolate/coconut topping, these bars are best cut and served when cooled.  They will hold up on the counter for a couple of days but I found it best to keep them in the refrigerator and loved how eating them straight from there.  

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12 Non-Food Halloween Treat Ideas {Great for Kids with Food Allergies} – 2016 Version + Giveaway to Win Over 330 Treats From Oriental Trading!

September 26th, 2016

Disclosure: I received these products for free from Oriental Trading to use as a giveaway to one of my readers. My opinions are my own and I was not paid or required to write this review or host this giveaway.

Halloween is just around the corner!  With just a bit over a month to go the stores are stocked with all the spooky decor and lots of treats, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll see I have been getting in the spirit with some crafts and will be attempting to start my daughters Halloween costume very soon. 

Today I’m thrilled to share with you some great non-food Halloween treat ideas, along with a chance to win a bundle of over 33o of them!  Oriental Trading as graciously provided them for the giveaway, and if you haven’t heard of Oriental Trading, they are the go-to source for everything Halloween – from costumes to decor to party supplies to treats – they have you covered this Halloween.  

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In 2014 was the establishment of the Teal Pumpkin Project™ which was started by a food allergy Mom first and then adopted more widely by FARE who gave it more attention and coverage which caused the Teal Pumpkin Project™ to explode especially among food allergy parents.  Last year it was really popular and this year it is even more so, with companies like Oriental Trading supporting the cause and working with bloggers like myself to host giveaways of non-food treats.

If you aren’t sure about the movement to non-food treats,  “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!”

At our home, our treats will be food-free and fun!  We’ll have the porch decorated with teal pumpkins (like the one shown below that is available at Oriental Trading,) and we’ll be handing out an assortment of fun non-food treats, from stickers to bracelets and everything in between.  

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Last year we did the same, and when children came by to trick-or-treat they loved the non-food treats!   “Awesome,” “Cool,” and “Neat” were many of the responses we heard from them, and I’m pretty sure whoever wins this lot of treats will also be hearing the same, so be sure to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter at the end of this post.  (And if you aren’t the winner of this giveaway you can purchase all of these directly from Oriental Trading and I’ve provided the links and details to each of the items below to make it easy for you!)

Here’s a look at the 12 items and the teal pumpkin which is also included in the giveaway!

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prAna: Comfort, Style, Versatility & Sustainability – Review & Giveaway!

September 17th, 2016

Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer.  My opinions are my own and I was not paid or required to write this review.

I am so excited to bring you this review and giveaway with prAna today.  As a busy Mom I’m always looking for clothes that can take me throughout the day, whether it be hitting the playground, baking in the kitchen, hiking on our local trails, hitting the farmers market, and everything in between.   I want comfort, style, versatility, and sustainability all wrapped up in one, which isn’t easy to find.

prAna enters my life just when I need them. 

If you haven’t heard of prAna, they “create versatile, stylish, and sustainable clothing and accessories that you can wear during every activity, every adventure, every day.”  And I feel like prAna clothes were made for me.  

The fact that prAna uses sustainable materials like organic cotton, hemp and recycled poly really makes me love them more.   prAna supports Fair Trade and Renewable Energy initiatives too. While researching more about the company I found myself spending many hours on their website reading the stories written about men and women who open up to share their passions, travel, exploration, and adventures with you, the reader.  Many of the stories are very inspiring and invigorating, and take you on a journey to another place.

Now let’s take a closer look at the two items that are the start of my prAna collection, the Mantra Pants and Gotu Pullover.  (And don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end of this post where you can enter to win these items as well. )

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 The Mantra Pants are so relaxed and comfy that I don’t want to get out of them, perfect for a casual day trip, running errands, and everything in between.  They are made of soft hemp blended with stretch fabric and trimmed with organic cotton.  They are truly a versatile and relaxed pant.  

These pants already have gotten a lot of use out of them since I’ve received them.  Playground trips, picnics, out to fly a kite, dropping my daughter off at school, and wearing for our evening walks.  My husband even asked if I was going to start wearing them to bed.  They are just.that.comfortable.   I really love that they are also stylish and super soft.  These pants are made to go wherever you do and wherever your day takes you.

I’m wearing a size medium in the pants and I’m on the tall side (just a tad under 5’9″) and they are long enough for me, which is a big plus.  I often times have a trouble finding pants that don’t automatically look like capris or puddle jumpers on me.  The Mantra Pants come in sizes XS-XL.  Here is a link to their sizing chart.  

The Mantra Pants have a drawstring waist and the waistband is really soft and comfortable.  I also love the size of the pockets (2 in the front, 1 in the rear) in these pants, they are deep enough to hold my phone which is a big plus, since we never go anywhere without our phones these days.  

Here are the product details of the Mantra Pants:

  • Sutra stretch woven
  • Knit waistband with drawcord
  • Front pockets and single back welt pocket
  • Size Small = 32 (81.3cm) inseam
  • Relaxed fit
  • Straight leg
  • Mid rise

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Target Helping Families with Food Allergies & Non-Food Allergies This Halloween Season

September 12th, 2016

If you are shopping at Target and looking to purchase candy for Halloween you’ll want to check out their “Sweet & Simple Allergen Guide” which is set up near the Halloween items and Halloween candy aisles.

Target has made available a list of 2016 Halloween candy items, where those listed with a “no” means the allergen is not present in the product.   Target states this has been confirmed by the manufacturers of the candy, and also listed in their ingredient statement.

If you have food allergies I do encourage that you make sure you check the actual product labels for all ingredient information, as ingredients can change.  This list also does not take into account which items are made on shared lines or shared facilities, so I encourage you to double check with the manufacturer based on your comfort level.  

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Enjoy Life Dash Button – Making it Easy to Eat Freely

August 31st, 2016

Disclosure: Enjoy Life Foods sent me an Amazon Dash Button for free. My opinions are my own and I was not paid or required to write this review.

Enjoy Life Foods recently surprised me and my family with our very own Enjoy Life Foods Amazon Dash Button, and we were all so excited!  

The excitement was for various reasons: My daughter instantly recognized the Enjoy Life Foods logo and said “where are the cookies?!”  I thought it was such a cool concept and amazed at how technology is changing so quickly these days, and my husband was like “yea, you haven’t heard of the Dash Buttons yet?”   While our family is pretty techy (and Amazon junkies) I hadn’t yet heard of the Dash Buttons and this technology really takes shopping to a new level, and I can definitely see how useful it can be.

If you haven’t heard of the Amazon Dash Button yet either, it is a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button.

The Enjoy Life Dash Button is making it easy to eat freely.

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I’m going to share with you my 15 easy steps below on how to set one up, but first, let me tell you a bit more about Dash Button.

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Buzzing with The Bug Family Band – Review & Giveaway!

August 18th, 2016

We love music in our household, and anytime we can catch a live performance locally we do!  I was so excited to see a new band recently, The Bug Family Band, added to the San Mateo Momdays at Bay Meadows events.  These events are so great, and we try to attend as many of them as we can, and didn’t want to miss a new act in the rotation.

The Bug Family Band typically is made up of a 5 person crew, but with summer holidays and the Queen Bee aka Maddy Streicek currently on tour we were able to see 3 of the members perform, although small in numbers, they didn’t disappoint.  My daughter and I were buzzing along to their fresh, original songs. Their tunes not only appeal to children, but also to adults.   BusyBeeKate-BugFamilyBand-Paddock

After seeing these guys performed I connected with them and they offered up their 2 CDs, ABeeCD and The Bug Family Band, for a giveaway to one of my readers ~ be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post after I share the buzz about the band. BusyBeeKate-BugFamilyBand2

Both albums contain original music for kids & ex-kids, with ABeeCD being the newest album.  I love the witty album title, could that really bee more fitting for me!?  

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31 Days of Allergy-Friendly, Healthy & Balanced Nut & Egg-Free Kids Lunch Ideas with No Repeats!

August 15th, 2016

Have your kids started school yet, or is the start of school just around the corner for them?  In our area schools are gearing up to start next week, and while I’m bummed summer is coming to an end I am excited about all the fun Back to School items I am seeing in the stores.  For us, school and Fall will be about getting back into more of a routine with my family, which I am really looking forward to.

I have heard many parents having mixed emotions about back to school including some grumblings because they have to get back into the routine of packing lunches again, and are at a loss.  

Last year around this time I shared nut and egg-free lunch ideas and I’m back to to share them again with you this year.  These lunches are allergy-friendly, healthy and balanced, and the kids will love them!  

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This year my daughter will be in preschool, and as with most preschools ours is nut-free.  Before I had a child with food allergies I didn’t quite understand the need for schools to go nut-free, after all, aren’t children also allergic to other things?  In our case we know my daughters allergy to kiwi is life-threatening (read about how we discovered her kiwi allergy was so severe here,) so would schools ban all of their kids allergens?!  That wouldn’t seem possible and realistic for schools to do with such diverse range of food allergies in children these day.

Now that I’ve been educated about nut allergies, I, along with other food allergy parents, are super grateful for schools that are banning nuts and nut butters.  My eyes and ears are more sensitive now to the words ‘peanuts’ and ‘peanut butter’ and I have heard many non-food allergy parents “sighing” when they hear their child’s school is nut-free and saying “What am I going to feed my child, they LOVE PB&J and I cannot get them to eat anything else!?”  I get it.  I do.  I used to love PB&J too, but there is hope for lunch beyond the PB&J.  

Peanuts and tree nuts are two of the “top 8” which means they are two of the eight most common food allergies, with peanuts being number one; and 1 in 13 children are now affected by food allergies with that number increasing each year.  Chances are there are 1 or 2 children in your child’s classroom that suffer from food allergies.  

While some children must ingest a food to have an allergic reaction, others can have a reaction just by the proteins in the air or by touching the surface where the food protein still resides.  For instance, let’s say your child does bring a peanut butter sandwich to school and they are neat and clean up his/her area (with a napkin) after eating.  The peanut-allergic child sits in the same spot your child just left.  However, your child accidently missed a spot.  The allergic child touches it and has an allergic reaction.  This was an accident, but it could be life threatening to the child. 

Since so many schools are now nut-free I wanted to provide a month of healthy and balanced lunch options for children that both have and don’t have food allergies.  These options will also be egg-free (because there are so many children with egg allergies nowadays too.)   

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Golden Girl Recipe Challenge! (Slow Cooker) Home Sweet Honey Peach Granola Crumble

July 29th, 2016

Disclosure: I applied to participate in the Golden Girl Granola and received Golden Girl Granola for free. My opinions are my own and I was not paid or required to write this review or create this recipe. 

I recently discovered Golden Girl Granola on a whim… searching the ‘net for something completely unrelated and bam, there it was, and in big words I saw Blogger Recipe Challenge.  “Have a recipe that’s easy to recreate, great for families, delicious, and of course, original and inventive?!
Enter our challenge today!”  

Game on!  By entering their challenge, I agreed to create a dessert recipe using one of their granola varieties…. and I am so in love with the recipe I came up with: (Slow Cooker) Home Sweet Honey Peach Granola Crumble.  Easy to make, full of amazing flavor and texture, and a dessert (especially when topped with your favorite ice cream,) that is perfect for the warm summer months.  And it’s wheat, peanut, nut, egg, and dairy free!

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But before getting to this delicious recipe I want to share a little bit more about Golden Girl Granola.

Golden Girl Granola is a family granola business based in Shirley, MA. They make and sell loose granola in 14oz and 3oz bags and sell primarily in New England area stores and also online on their site. They take great pride in their emphasis on local products made by hand with the highest quality ingredients.

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