Fall is officially here! As the seasons change, we enthusiastically welcome back so many beloved traditions and seasonal fun times! Food is often a big part of those seasonal festivities. For allergy friendly families, that means “Yay! More planning and researching to see if there are allergy friendly options available.” You may have guessed that this “yay!” comes with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
My family has been plant-based since 2011, and we’ve also been a gluten-free house since 2015. My spouse is anaphylaxis (hives, difficulty and can even stop breathing without having an EpiPen) to wheat. After having a severe cross-contamination reaction to a supposedly gluten-free meal from a restaurant, we made the choice to make our house free from gluten. I simply didn’t want the extra worry about cross-contamination at home. We take food allergies seriously, as I know many families who experience food allergies do as well.
With that in mind, I am so excited that every year there seem to be more and more allergy-friendly options available at stores and restaurants. And not just specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods! Let’s heap the praise on our beloved HEB, a store which continues to surprise me with new offerings – including, a huge range of options in the non-dairy Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamers section! THANK YOU! Many local and chain coffee shops also offer a variety of non-dairy coffee options as well, for which I am very grateful. That said, did you know we had a recent post about all the fall coffee flavors? Check it out here!
If you are looking for local festive fall treats, my favorite allergy-friendly bake shops have so many yummy seasonal options! Check out:
The Teal Pumpkin Project has been a wonderful resource for families with food allergies like mine since 2012. I also love, love, love that there are more teal pumpkins and allergy friendly options to give out (like little toys!) available in stores like HEB, Target, and even Costco! My family painted a white plastic pumpkin teal for the first year we participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project, back in 2013. It is still one of my favorite holiday decorations to put out each year.
You can find out more specific information – and learn how to support – The Teal Pumpkin Project right here.
In addition to the Teal Pumpkin Project, my favorite Halloween tradition is the Switch Witch. My kids will leave out the candy they collected on Halloween night, and wake the next morning to their Halloween buckets magically holding toys instead of candy. I have written about my family’s switch witch tradition before, you can fins out more here.
Full disclosure, I do not limit my kids on what they can collect during trick or treating. We always have a chat before we head out for the evening, which ensures that they don’t eat any of the candy until we get home. They have so much fun and are always in awe of how much candy they collect from our neighbors. This gives them the experience all kids have on Halloween, saying “WOW! Look at all this candy!!!” I also hold dear sweet memories of my children learning how to count by counting all the candy they collected when trick or treating. Oh, those tiny sweet voices of “One, two, free, four, five, nine and ten!” Followed by a well-meaning older sibling saying “No, no, that’s not how you count!” Excuse me as I wipe away my tears…
This arrangement with Halloween candy has never been a huge deal in our house, because it’s how it has always been. I know some families will come home and sort through the candy collected to let their children have “safe” candy. I of course acknowledge that it may be more challenging for families with newly diagnosed food allergies to experience the holiday, as making the necessary adjustments to ensure everyone’s safety can be really hard.
Thankfully, there are lots of Halloween treats that are able to accommodate many allergen concerns – and they are available at many stores both locally and online. My favorite brands are Enjoy Life, Made Good, Parktake, Unreal and YumEarth. Many of the more popular, commonly available candies are accidentally (not labeled) vegan/ dairy & eggs allergy friendly. Here is a comprehensive list updated for 2023 with allergy friendly common and specialty candies here.
There are also a few additional options for extra Halloween Candy which are especially helpful for families who do not want all that excess candy in the house. If you have younger kids who go out early and don’t stay out long, you can always use their extra candy to hand out to the trick or treaters who visit your house later in the evening. Otherwise, share your extra candy with someone who may have coworkers who would enjoy extra treats in the break room at work, or donate to other organizations for a good cause. Here is a list of organizations that accept Candy Donations:
San Antonio hosts so many fun events that offer Trick or Treating. I’ve researched the offerings at the following events to help you feel more confident and comforting when planning for spooky festivities with allergies.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Fest
Once Upon A Party offers the special Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Fest at the Botanical Gardens on October 28th. They offer a mix of candies and toys for the Trick or Treating at the event. They do take extra precaution to steer clear of candies with nuts.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas offers their Boo Fest with Trick or Treating across the course of several days. They offer an assortment of Mars Candy including M&M’s, Snickers, and Skittles.
BOOtanica at Botanical Gardens will be on October 21st, offering a mixture of traditional candies available for trick or treaters.
SeaWorld San Antonio’s Spooktacular takes places on several days and offers Haribo, Smarties, Bon Bon Bum & Always Original! Herbert’s Best for their Trick or Treaters.
Trick-O-Treat in the Garden
Trick-O-Treat in the Garden at the San Antonio Botanical Garden will take place on October 31st, offering a mix of traditional candies.
Vegan Trunk or Treat
Local Plant-Based Eatery & Bakery Miss Chickpea will be having a Vegan Halloween Trunk or Treat at their 10105 Broadway location on October 31s from 6-8pm. They will have Vegan Candy, Music, Vendors & Giveaways!
ZooBOO at the San Antonio Zoo is offered on several days in October, providing candy that contains palm oil from sustainable sources in an effort to help orangutans and their neighbors for the trick or treating.
If you are a fan of spooky season and willing to travel, here are some not-so-local events that offer allergy-friendly options!
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World will offer several allergy-friendly choices among the options included in their trick or treat event. You can collect teal tokens at the general trick or treating spots to redeem for allergy friendly offerings. Or you can skip that step and just head to the designated areas to pick out your favorite options! I LOVE that they have cards out with images and ingredients, so you can select exactly what you’d like to accommodate your allergen needs. They also offer little toys/crafts as well!
Oogie Boogie Bash
Oogie Boogie Bash at Disneyland offers allergy friendly treats at their treat trails. You can let Cast Members know when you are at the treat trail that you need allergy friendly options and they will be happy to offer some options.
Halloween on the High Seas
The Disney Cruise Line offers spooky themed cruises with Halloween décor, Characters in their Halloween Costumes, and trick or treating! They offer similar allergy-friendly options on board as they do in the theme parks.
Both Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line also offer yummy seasonal treats that can be allergy friendly. I absolutely adore the care and consideration the chefs at Disney Parks and Cruise Lines take to accommodate food allergies.
If you are currently working through adjusting your beloved traditions (and expectations – as well as thinking of new ways to be mindful of food allergies – I hope these tips and tricks [plus treats!] help ease your worries while giving you the opportunity to focus on the fun of this holiday. I know many parents want to have the most perfect experience of every holiday, which can add some extra weight to our already heavy parenting plates. Please find comfort in the knowledge that your child(ren) are not as concerned as you are about those perfectly posed photos, perfectly arranged decorations, or uniquly displayed food items. They aren’t worried about what they are doing, they are worried about who they are doing it with – and that’s you.