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Make Halloween More Fun (And Safe) For Kids With Food Allergies

Get your teal pumpkin on and get the best allergen-free candies.

It's the season of candy. While most kids love it, Halloween can be hell for those, like my son, who have lots of food allergies.

That's why you can buy teal pumpkins in places like Target. When you see them inside someone's front window in their home, it means there's a kid who has food allergies. (Not to be confused with a cobalt blue shade of pumpkin that indicates a child has autism.)

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The Teal Pumpkin Project has done a lot to create awareness about food allergies, but there are still people who have no idea. Sometimes a child will come trick-or-treating with a teal bucket, or maybe they'll just say they have food allergies when they come to your door.

Luckily there are a lot of options out there. For the record, most kids don't want another sticker. They want candy (or some other kind of treat).

Rebecca Pytell, a 25-year-old food allergy coach, shares gluten-free, vegan recipes on Strength and Sunshine.

"I still don't want to be the kid who has to ask and get the stupid pencil or pen instead of the candy," says Pytell, who was diagnosed with celiac disease as child. She has a gluten-free, vegan ghost cupcake recipe that's made with dairy-free vanilla buttercream frosting.

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For those who want candy, here are some things to make it easier on Halloween.

Allergy-friendly Halloween treats: General suggestions

First, create two candy bowls for trick-or-treaters. Have one with the candy you typically buy and then have another bowl with non-chocolate, non-nut offerings. If you want to add in something that isn't edible, slime is always a big hit.

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Many parents who have children with food allergies also have issues with food dyes and multiple ingredients. The Natural Candy Store allows shoppers to easily sort by allergy type. Ideally, find candy that's made in a dedicated facility free from top allergens. Because manufacturers are frequently changing supply chains during COVID-19, make sure to always read the labels—the list of ingredients may have changed.

If you want to go the conventional candy route, try Starburst (note that these are gluten-free, but not vegan because they use gelatin) or Skittles. Both of these have corn in them as well as artificial flavors and dyes. Not my first choice, but an option, especially if on a budget.

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Vegan, Organic. and Gluten-Free

Lovely Organic Lollipops are flavored with things like organic strawberry and beet juice and are gluten-free, vegan, and certified Kosher. The brand also makes Organic Chewy Candies. The original bag comes with strawberry, lemon, and cherry flavors. There's also a sour variety in raspberry, apple, and cherry. Both are certified Kosher.

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Trader Joe's Organic Lollipops are gluten-free and sold in a 5.6 ounce box with watermelon, pomegranate, orange, and lemon raspberry flavors.

If you're looking for something upscale, Sjaak's Organic Chocolates makes small batch options from its Blue Lake, California factory. Everything is vegan, organic, and gluten-free. Try the Pumpkin Spice Melk Chocolate Bites, an organic pumpkin pie truffle, or the Horsemeeple Bites that come in several varieties including vegan orange caramel dark chocolate. There's also a White Chocolate Skull Pop filled with raspberry caramel and a Chipotle and Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Bar.

Organic and Gluten-Free

Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears and Organic Gummy Worms are gluten-free, free of artificial dyes, and include juice. They are not listed as vegan, but can easily be found at Walgreens and Amazon.

However, there is a potential for cross-contamination because the company doesn't use dedicated production lines and has a warning label that says, "This product was manufactured in a facility where milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy and wheat are used in the production of other products."

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OCHO Candy makes mini chocolates that are certified organic, fair trade, and gluten free. Its coconut and dark peanut butter flavors are also vegan.

Annie's Organic Bunnies and Bats are vegan and gluten-free made without artificial flavors or synthetic colors. A big box will give you 28 pouches with three to four gummies in each pouch.

Free of Major Allergens

Try Yum Earth Halloween Organic Candies Variety Pack. This three-pack includes gummy bats, giggles (an organic version of Skittles), and lollipops that are vegan, gluten-free, made without soy, dairy, egg, shellfish, peanuts or tree nuts, artificial dyes, or high fructose corn syrup. You can also buy the brand's lollipops off Amazon or snack-pack size organic candy corn at Target.

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No Whey Foods makes vegan chocolate in a dedicated facility that is free of the nine top allergens: artificial dyes and flavors, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, gluten, shellfish, and sesame. It's also Kosher. They make a Bag of Terror with 14 individually wrapped chocolate-covered pretzels with orange sprinkles, and the Ghoulish Graveyard, a five-pack of cream-filled chocolate coffins. If you're just buying for a couple of people, they also have vegan chocolate lollipops in the shapes of pumpkins, skulls, and spider webs in theirFall Lollipop Collection.

EnjoyLife makes Halloween Chocolate Minis in a dedicated nut- and gluten-free facility that is clear of 14 common allergens: gluten, peanuts, dairy, tree nuts, soy, casein, sulfites, egg, lupin, sesame, fish, mustard, crustaceans, and shellfish. It's non-GMO, Kosher, and Halal certified. Many people like the Ricemilk Crunch variety.

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Free2b sells a Bag O' Treats filled with 18 vegan dark chocolate sunflower butter cups that are free from the 12 common allergens and made in a dedicated facility.

My son's personal favorites are Annie's Organic Bunnies and Bats which actually taste like real fruit flavors, not dried out wax, and the savory Garden Veggie Chips Ghosts + Bats made his squeal with delight when he discovered the chips (which are vegan, certified gluten-free, and non-GMO) are truly shaped like bats and ghosts.

Happy trick-or-treating!

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