On the Menu: Sowing the seeds for a safe Halloween
Many parents find the treats collected at Halloween can present huge problems for their children with allergies
Tropical summer fruit salad.
The least scary part of Halloween should be the treats, but for many they are a nightmare. It’s a good idea to think ahead this mid-term break and have a plan.
Have dinner before they trick or treat. Set limits in advance of the witches jetting off on their broomsticks. You can limit the number of houses they call to or limit the amount of sweets they collect, to avoid the never-ending “just one more” scenario. Smaller skull cans or poison bags can curtail the sheer volume of cheap sugary sweets eaten.
If at all possible, buy less sugar for the little goblins and fairies and look for special offers in non-food items like Halloween stickers and pencils, small boxes of crayons or bubbles.
Small boxes of raisins, fruit snacks, cereal bars and small bags of popcorn are handy. There’s an opportunity here to teach and model moderation, rather than banning sweets.
Many parents take the main focus off the sweets and establish family rituals of bobbing for apples, costume design, carving pumpkins, roasting seeds and stuffing leaves into a life-size scarecrow for the front door.
Peanuts and tree nuts are synonymous with this time of year. They contain healthy monounsaturated fats and are good sources of niacin, folate, vitamin E, protein and manganese.
They also contain resveratrol, the phenolic antioxidant also found in red grapes and red wine. This may be partly responsible for the French paradox, where the French, despite enjoying their healthy fats, have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Peanuts, however, can mean a trip to the A&E for parents of allergic children. Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts.
Peanuts grow on long tendrils underground and are part of a different plant family, the legumes (peas, beans and lentils).
The Irish Food Allergy Network reports that up to 50 per cent of children with peanut allergy will develop tree-nut allergy; all children are best to avoid tree nuts from first diagnosis until tested for tree nuts using a skin prick test or specific IgE test.
Between 60-70 per cent of first reactions to peanuts are mild to moderate but, as the severity of future reactions is hard to predict, children or their parents need to carry epinephrine auto-injectors.
Wearing Medic Alert bracelets with brief details of the allergy and a contact number in case of an emergency is a good safety measure this time of year.
While children often grow out of other allergies, peanut allergy is resolved in only about 20 per cent of cases, especially in those children who develop the allergy before the age of two.