Allergy-Friendly Gingerbread House
Dreams of gingerbread walls, sugar-covered rooftops and colorful candy decorations recently came to life for my children. Joseph, 7, and Pamela, 2, made merry magic, decorating a real gingerbread house with sweets and tiny plastic figures.
Building a gingerbread house is a part of many families' traditions during the holiday season. But this sweet construction project was a big first for us. Each year, we see countless kits for gingerbread houses that look delightful but are strictly off limits. Each frosted windowsill and every candied doorway spell danger for my son, who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg and soy.
But this year, we have a new tradition, thanks to the A & J Bakery in Cranston, Rhode Island. This gluten-free, nut-free bakery sells (in the store and online) an allergen-friendly gingerbread house kit. When I heard about the kit from a member of my local support group, I was thrilled. Not only is the kit made in a gluten-free, nut-free facility, it’s also free of peanuts, nuts, wheat, gluten, soy, egg, dairy and sesame. (I was assured by e-mail that the gingerbread parts are made in separate pans to avoid cross-contamination with dairy and eggs.) The kit also provides a simple recipe for allergy-friendly icing to use as “glue” for all of the pieces and decorations. It works like a dream and gives the house a snowy look.
Joseph could hardly contain his excitement as he helped me assemble the house one evening so it would be ready to decorate with Pamela the following day. We happily breathed in the gingerbread aroma, laughing as our sugary fingers fitted the walls together. He kept exclaiming that he couldn't believe the gingerbread house pieces and candies were safe for him to eat.
The next day, Joseph and Pamela gave the gingerbread house their own touch of holiday cheer as they bent their heads close to line up a row of gumdrops, removed a few jellybeans for a taste and giggled as a reindeer teetered on the rooftop.
They are so proud of their creation! It looks so yummy that I'm tempted to break off a piece of the roof for myself. But for now I'll just revel in our new Christmas tradition and bask in my children's pleasure at creating such a special treat.