This was the week my son got to bring treats to church. He was so excited and requested chocolate chip cookies with m&m's. It's not too much to ask, is it?
Well, this momma didn't read the fine print on the treat bucket. In plain black letters it says to avoid peanut butter because one child has an allergy. I didn't use peanut butter, but I did use artificial almond extract instead of vanilla. I always use almond extract. I put it in everything. Frosting, cakes, cookies, coffee cake, etc.- if you put vanilla in it, I put almond extract in it. It never crossed my mind that someone may be allergic to it.
It didn't dawn on me until this afternoon that I possibly could have harmed this innocent child. I researched online and found that most artificial extracts do not contain real nuts. I dug up that most nut allergies are different than peanut allergies. Even after learning these facts, I didn't feel safe bringing those "tainted" cookies to church.
I scrambled up a quick batch of "cake mix" chocolate chip cookies and labeled them, sealed them separately, and called the leader to let him know I dropped the ball. I sent both types of cookies with my son. We only had a few come back, so they must have been good.
I know that these events probably put fear into every parent who has a child with a food allergy. After giving it some thought, I take for granted how my family eats. I don't worry about what snacks or treats my children feast on. I let them order off the menu at restraunts and I don't second guess how the foods are prepared or if nuts were in the same kitchen.
Today was a real eye opener. I give a round of applause to parents of children with allergies. It can't be easy preparing meals, eating out, or attending a simple birthday party when you constantly wonder about the ingredients or how something was prepared. I am including my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and my son's requested treat.
So tonight, make a peanut free treat and if you want, skip the almond flavoring and pecans:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla- I prefer almond extract, as stated above
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 bag (12 oz.) chocolate chips- I prefer milk chocolate and semi sweet mixed
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugars, eggs, and add vanilla. Mix the flour, soda, and salt together. Stir into the butter mixture and combine. It is a tough dough and may require using your hands to knead the dough. Add the chips and optional goodies.
Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, the centers will be a little soft. Let cool a minute before removing from the cookie sheet. This makes 6 to 8 dozen cookies.
Have you ever made a similar mistake? Do you have any tips for families with food allergies?