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Kids and Allergies: Aw nuts! Finding safe almonds was harder than I thought it would be

Submitted by on Monday, 18 August 2008 No Comment

Saturday night was one of those “what was I thinking” moments as I stood in a grocery store after work and eyed jar after jar of nuts.

My mission: Big Guy’s latest allergy tests were negative for almond, and I’d promised him I’d bring some when I came home.

I, of course, had an ulterior motive. He’s been off cheese lately and agrees to eat meat only every third day or so, which means I constantly worry that he’s not getting enough protein. Nuts also are a good source of Vitamin E, and his pediatrician recently put him on a foul-tasting Vitamin E supplement in hopes of easing his chronic stuffiness. Plus he has a world-class sweet tooth, and I was eager to introduce him to a non-sugary snack option.

Yet, as I stood in the store, I wished I’d never opened my mouth.

Planter’s: Processed with peanut oil and carrying a cross-contamination warning for peanut.

Imperial: Also processed with peanut oil.

Store brand: A cross-contamination warning and garlic, to boot.

Finally, I spied Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. Grown and processed right here in California’s Central Valley, where peanuts are few and far between.

I grabbed the can: Peanut free. No garlic, either. Yes, Big Guy, you shall have your almonds!

He nibbled the first delicately and gave three quarters of it to me. “I like the taste, but it feels funny.”

“Is it itchy?” I asked, panicked.

“No, just weird. It’s all over my teeth.”

A few minutes later, though, he asked for another. Crunch, crunch, crunch. “Hey! I like it!”

We’ve gone through one and a half 12 ounce cans since.

Words of caution:

Blue Diamond does carry a “may contain other tree nuts” warning. Though Big Guy is allergic to walnut, pecan and hazelnut, he’s not anaphylactic. The bulk of Blue Diamond’s business in almonds, so the “may contain” possibility is fairly small. While I don’t plan on serving banana nut bread or Pecan Sandies, his tree-nut allergy level is low enough at this point to allow the almonds.

I do plan to continue to look for options that aren’t cross-contaminated, though I doubt I’ll find any. A local small local producer might pan out, though since we also grow walnuts here, I’m skeptical.

Also, Blue Diamond almonds contain corn and soy ingredients, so it wouldn’t be a viable option for people with those allergies. Count me among them, which is probably why I’ve been so itchy the past two days. One more reason to keep my hands out of the jar, I suppose.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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