The first few weeks of a new school year are hectic enough for most parents, and doubly so for those whose children have food allergies. Judi and Shari Zucker, known as the “Double Energy Twins,” know a thing or two about that. The twins have five children between them, and are frequent guests on TV talk shows. They have written five books together on healthy eating, including their newest, The Ultimate Allergy-Free Snack Cookbook (Square One Publishers, 2012). Here, we talk with Judi and Shari about healthy snacking and how to create delicious, allergen-free snacks that all kids can enjoy.
"We spent a lot of time in the kitchen and have created more than 100 kid-friendly snacks that everyone could enjoy—not just kids!" say the twins about their new book.
BN: What motivated you two to write about food allergies? Do you have children with food allergies or have them yourselves?
JZ/SZ: We began receiving an increasing number of requests for allergen-free recipes on our Web site (doubleenergytwins.com). We also noticed that a growing number of our children’s classmates were developing intolerances to a number of foods, and Judi’s son happens to
be gluten and dairy intolerant. After doing some research, we knew had the focus of our latest book.
BN: Can you give parents a few tips for going back to school, allergy-free?
JZ/SZ: Promoting awareness is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure everyone your child comes into contact with is aware of his or her allergy—teachers, cafeteria staff, the school nurse, office personnel, and classmates. And if your child has a severe allergy that puts him or her at risk for anaphylaxis, it is critical that epinephrine is accessible and that school staff know how to administer it. Another crucial tip is to prepare your child’s lunch and snacks yourself. School cafeterias typically do not use separate equipment or utensils when preparing foods, so cross contamination is likely.
BN: Your book is all about snacks: How can parents encourage sensible snacking?
JZ/SZ: Sensible snacking starts with the example set by parents and other caregivers. Those who snack on healthy foods and enjoy sensible portions promote the same in their children. We encourage the avoidance of processed snacks, which are nutritionally inferior and typically loaded with sugar, salt, trans fats, preservatives, and other undesirable ingredients.
Mrs. Marple's Maple Meltaways
Makes 30 cookies These delicious melt-in-your mouth cookies have a luscious "peanut buttery" taste without the peanuts.
2 cups oat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup toasted sunflower seed butter
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 Tbs. vanilla
PER SERVING: 127 cal; 2g pro; 8g total fat (1g sat fat); 13g carb; 0mg chol; 42mg sod; 1g fiber; 7g sugars