In addition to religious celebrations, Easter is a time to enjoy cherished traditions… the iconic bunny, candy-filled baskets, decorating eggs and the thrill of Easter egg hunts. With some tweet-tastic tweaks, Easter can be inclusive for all, including those with allergies to eggs or dyes. So hop to it and try the following Easter alternatives.
Egg-cellent Allergy-Friendly Easter Alternatives
“My niece was diagnosed with food allergies, with eggs among the list of items she is highly allergic to. Her parents quickly learned how to read ingredients on food labels to identify foods safe for her to eat or even touch. This education is an ongoing process for our entire family,” Cheryl Spielman shared with AmeriDisability. “I’ve always enjoyed gathering with my seven nieces and nephews for seasonal activities and holiday celebrations. For years, one thing we could never do was dye Easter eggs. My heart broke to hear that while her classmates in school, church and scouts were coloring eggs, my niece was separated from the other children and the activity,” she explained.
Cheryl learned that egg allergies — one of the top eight most common food allergens — affect approximately 2% of children and 1% of adults (statistics that do not include sensitivities). So, in 2012, she created eggnots, a dyeable ceramic replacement for Easter eggs. Aside from allergy suffers, eggnots offer a holiday solution for vegans and those that simply prefer to bypass the hassle of boiling, refrigerating and peeling real eggs.
The eggnots testimonial page is full of praise. One comment reads: “My three-year-old has a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease: eosinophilic esophagitis. He is allergic to all food, both to ingest and some airborne. He is fed 100% through a special tube as he also suffers with gastric paralysis. When we received your eggs last year, it allowed us to participate in a typical Easter tradition. It was so wonderful to share this tradition with him and our older son. Your product is life changing,” ─ K.M.
Food Dye Alternatives for Easter
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) affirms to be “responsible for regulating all color additives to ensure that foods containing color additives are safe to eat, contain only approved ingredients and are accurately labeled.” Nine certified color additives are approved for use in the United States. Color additives seem to be in just about everything – from cereal to canned veggies. [Allergy-Symptoms.org compiled a list of foods containing yellow dye, red dye and blue dye.]
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, however, has a firm warning about the negative effects of food dyes. The organization affirms “commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 and Red 40, pose risks including hyperactivity in children. Some also pose a risk of cancer (like Red 3) and allergic reactions.” CSPI even petitioned the FDA to eliminate food dyes altogether, similar to actions taken in Europe where foods containing such additives have warning labels.
If you need or want to forgo the use of traditional Easter egg dyes, try making your own natural colorant using vegetables, fruits and spices!
Here’s how to make natural Easter egg dye:
· Orange = paprika
· Yellow = turmeric, cumin or orange peels
· Green = spinach or kale
· Blue = Purple cabbage or mashed blueberries
· Pink = cranberry juice or beets
· Purple = red onion skins
· Brown = dark coffee or steeped tea bags
· Desired natural ingredients (above)
· White vinegar
1. Wash and dry eggs.
2. Hard-boil eggs.
3. Combine 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar, a quart of water and natural ingredients (a few cups for solid foods, like spinach, and a few tablespoons for spices).
4. Boil and simmer for up to 30 minutes. Then, cool and, if needed, strain.
5. Dip (and, if needed, rotate) eggs in dye; soak for several minutes (the longer you dye, the more vibrant the color).
6. Remove from dye; set aside to dry. Refrigerate if you intend to eat the eggs.
More No-Dye Easter Decorating
That flimsy metal egg dip stick is challenging to use and, perhaps, more so if you have fine motor limitations. For alternative decorating methods, try sponge-painting,stickers and/or decorative tape, foam cut-outs, the marker-led Eggmazing kit, chalkboard eggs, melted crayons and paper decoupage.
Candy/Chocolate-Free Easter Basket Ideas
Other food allergies, including dairy, may influence what the Easter bunny brings. Here are some candy/chocolate-free basket filler ideas:
· Bunny books, such as Guess How Much I Love You: One More Tickle by Sam McBratney [Editor’s note: my son loves this book because the bunny puppet pops through the pages.]
· Bunny-themed movies, such as Hop
· Egg-shaped sidewalk chalk
· Plastic eggs filled with anything your kiddo likes (money, stickers, figurines, figure puppets, erasers, lip gloss, decorative shoe laces, etc.)
· Easter themed playdoh
· Easter themed bubbles
· Bunny slippers
· Anything dinosaur egg-themed
Have an egg-cellent Easter!