Our Trader Joe’s Food Allergy Shopping List – Part 1
For me, one of the most frustrating things about food allergies is how much more time it takes just to buy groceries! Gone are the days when you can just breeze into any grocery store, buy whatever catches your eye and run back out. Now, I’m always clogging up the store aisles, reading labels. We, the food allergic, need to use up precious brain space to remember things like whether “sodium stearoyl lactylate” or “calcium lactate” contain dairy.* We must use our iPhones at the store to find out whether that product’s “natural flavor” contains gluten or other allergens. My poor eyes are going bad from all this reading! But, it’s necessary, of course. We can’t make everything that we eat from scratch – you might as well chain me to the kitchen island and give me holsters for my spatulas and cookie scoops. For my mental sanity, finding safe and yummy packaged foods is a necessity.
Which is why I’m providing this list of grocery items we buy at Trader Joe’s, along with info on ingredients and food allergy disclosures. We have multiple food allergies in my house so some of these products are for my son, some are for me, and some we can both enjoy. Hopefully this helps someone, even a little bit! (Look out for future posts on other packaged and frozen things we buy too.) Please use this as a guide only, and read the ingredient lists every time, as the ingredients and allergens may have changed. So here’s my Trader Joe’s food allergy shopping list, part one:
Coconut Milk Beverage – Unsweetened and Vanilla flavors
I love this coconut milk because it is dairy free, nut free, gluten free, soy free AND seed free! It comes in two varieties – unsweetened and vanilla. We use this in baking as a cow’s milk replacement and it works wonderfully. I generally don’t drink coconut milk as a beverage by itself, but it is really great in smoothies, hot cocoa and on cereal or granola. Note that this isn’t the same as coconut milk which comes in a can. That stuff is thicker and is better as a replacement for heavy cream, rather than milk. In contrast, this beverage pours like cow’s milk and is drinkable. The allergen statement on the package declares coconut as an allergen. Currently, manufacturers are required to label coconut as a tree nut. Coconut is a tree nut, but people with tree nut allergies rarely react to coconut, so it is generally considered safe for people with tree nut allergies. (However, there are people who are allergic to coconut – that’s a different story!)
Joe-Joe’s Sandwich Creme Cookies
Think of these as Oreo cookies without the high fructose corn syrup. My kids love these, and they come in at least four varieties: Vanilla, Chocolate, Chocolate Vanilla Creme, and Gluten Free! I haven’t tried the gluten free ones because they include other ingredients I’m sensitive to, unfortunately. My milk-, tree nut- and egg-allergic son happily eats these. Here’s a photo of the ingredient list and allergen statement for the Chocolate Vanilla Creme. It contains wheat and soy, and may contain traces of peanuts. The vanilla and chocolate varieties have the same allergen statement on the latest boxes we bought. (But remember to read the label every single time you buy a product!)
I don’t know why, but my son loves oyster crackers. He doesn’t need “clam chowdah” to enjoy them. (And that’s a good thing – I don’t know whether he’s allergic to shellfish! 🙂 ) Whenever I have bought these, according to the label, they have not contained milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts or soy. They do contain gluten, however.
For those of you new to this gluten-free experience, oats themselves do not contain wheat gluten. However, they can be contaminated with gluten through the harvesting and packaging process, on equipment and in silos and such. Also, they are often grown in fields alongside or rotated with wheat crops. So regular oats are a no-no for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Happily, there are a few companies who make gluten free oats just for us! These Trader Joe’s Rolled Oats are wheat free, gluten free and dairy free. They are grown in dedicated oat fields and packaged in a gluten free facility. The price is nice too – less expensive than some other brands of gluten free oats. I buy this big two pound bag and make Allergy Free Granola in large batches to keep on hand for breakfast.
Kettle Cooked Olive Oil Potato Chips
Since my recent discovery that I’m sensitive to canola oil (it comes from a seed called rapeseed), I was bummed that I couldn’t eat the one brand of potato chips I’ve been indulging in. I love Utz brand chips and was so happy that they made chips which do not use soybean, sunflower or safflower oil. But my waistline was happy to have this diet-buster banished from the pantry. Until I discovered that Trader Joe’s offers these olive oil potato chips. The ingredients could not be more simple, and they are delicious. No gluten, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, egg or seeds. I wish Trader Joe’s made a reduced fat version because they are a bit too greasy, but I’m just glad that they have these potato chips available!
Organic Mini Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
My son’s blood tests show that he may develop a peanut allergy, but he has eaten peanut butter for years without any problem. In fact, our allergist advises us to keep feeding him peanut butter or else he may actually develop the allergy. So he eats these peanut butter crackers all the time. Every other brand of peanut butter cracker that I have found contains milk, so I’m very happy that Trader Joe’s version does not. Please note that there is a possibility of trace amounts of milk, soy and tree nuts, so those who are extremely sensitive may want to avoid these. See ingredient list and allergy statement, to the left. I usually do not give my son products which state that there may be cross contamination or are made on equipment shared with things he is allergic to. However, when Trader Joe’s products state that their vendors “follow good manufacturing practices to segregate ingredients to avoid cross contact with allergens,” I generally feel confident that I can give those products to my son. He does not react when he is in the same vicinity of nuts or milk, so that helps. Of course, please follow your allergist’s advice on these issues. These are not gluten free.
Mini Hamburger Buns
These cute little buns are pictured in the group photo at the top of this post. I forgot to take a photo of the ingredient list before my kids devoured these and we threw the package away. (Oops!) But the allergen statement declares wheat (gluten), egg and soy. Note that these contain sesame, so they are not good for anyone with a sesame seed allergy either. My son can tolerate egg in baked goods, so he happily eats these.
My older son won’t go anywhere near beans because he thinks they will make you have uncontrollable gas. Maybe I shouldn’t have taught him that song, “Beans, beans, the magical fruit….”
Now why would I include black beans on a food allergy shopping list? They’re just beans, right? Well, it’s because I have actually seen cans of beans which state that they may contain allergens from the manufacturing process. I’ve never seen that on beans from Trader Joe’s, so I’m giving them props.
So there’s the first part of my Trader Joe’s Food Allergy Shopping List. If you need more info on any of these items, let me know. Stay tuned for future posts on the frozen foods and other packaged foods we buy from Trader Joe’s. Thanks for reading!
* Note: Sodium stearoyl lactylate and calcium lactate rarely contain dairy and are generally considered safe for the milk allergic.