“Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.”
Romans 14:3 (NLT)
“Mommy–when I get big and outgrow my allergies, I want to have Goldfish because they are yummy.”
The Goobies sat eating breakfast while I packed lunchboxes before school. Bags of Goldfish sat on the counter. Emery watched me tuck them into his sisters’ lunches, just like every day. His comment didn’t surprise me: I can’t blame him for wanting to eat them someday too. He thinks all the other kids eat them all the time, and he feels left out.
“You know, I hardly ever ate Goldfish crackers when I was a kid. I didn’t really like them much” I tell him casually, hoping to downplay the appeal of the common childhood snack.
None of the Goobies believed me even though every word was true.
“Let’s make our own dairy free version today!” I said, trying to redirect Emery’s attention.
“We can do that?” Emery asked, puzzled. Intrigued.
“Of course we can.”
I zipped up lunchboxes and herded the Goobies into the car. After the girls were settled at school, the boy and I set to work mixing together gluten free flour, vegan cheddar shreds, vegan buttery spread and a smattering of seasonings to make our own version of crunchy little crackers. When we were done, he took my face in his hands and kissed my cheek, telling me very sincerely, “I love you.”
Emery tends toward contempt when he sees other people safely eating foods his body doesn’t tolerate. A deep sense of injustice tempts him to throw fits and get angry, yelling “IT’S NOT FAIR!” instead of graciously conceding that foods he cannot eat are safe and healthy for most folks.
We are working to help him understand the fact that he’s right: food allergies are not fair. But our acceptance of them is not a matter of approval. Acceptance is a matter of attitude.
And in our family, we choose joy.
Even when life is hard and things don’t go our way and we can’t have what we want, we choose joy. We posture our hearts in submission to the Lord because he is the giver of life (Acts 17:25), and life is about more than food (Matthew 6:25). Accepting food allergies does not mean we surrender the fight: accepting them means we choose joy in the thick of the battle.
“What should we call these crackers, bud?” I asked. “They kinda look like teeth, don’t they?”
I imagine Emery still dreams of a day when he can rip open a crinkly bag of store-bought Goldfish just like other kids do. He believes wholeheartedly he will see healing on this side of heaven. Until then, we have a fun alternative that puts a smile on his face and helps him remember joy is everywhere, waiting to wink at us.
This picture makes my heart burst with joy. Emery loved these crackers so much he ate half the pan before I had time to snap a picture of them! The Pioneer Woman’s Cheese Straws inspired me to try my hand at dairy free snack crackers a few years ago when Emery was still a toddler. That first attempt was good, but this attempt was better– good enough to share here for anyone interested in making an at-home version of cheezy snack crackers that will make their own children cheer. Not a food allergy family? Use regular all-purpose flour, regular cheddar cheese, and good old fashioned butter. Food allergy families: if soy is on your “no” list, use soy-free vegan buttery spread and check the label of your dairy free cheese to ensure your batch is free from the top 8 allergens.
- 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour blend (such as Namaste brand, or my own favorite homemade blend)
- 4 ounces Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheddar Shreds (or your own preferred brand of vegan cheese)
- 1/4 cup cold Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread (use soy free or regular)
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In the large bowl of a food processor, add all ingredients except the water. Put on the cover and pulse until the buttery spread and vegan cheese combines with the flour and resembles course sand. Turn the motor on low and drizzle in the cold water and let mix until the dough begins to come together and forms a ball. The dough should be moist, but not sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface sprinkled with potato starch and roll it out to about 1/8″ thick.
Using a small medicine cup, cut the dough as if you were cutting out cookies. Press the open end of the medicine cup all the way through the dough until a circle is cut. Do this over and over again until you use up all the dough. Gather up the remaining dough into a ball; roll it out again, and cut more circles. Do this until there isn’t any dough left. Next, use a crinkle cut tool to cut each circle in half. Spread the shapes out evenly on the baking tray, then slip them into the oven to bake.
Bake for 15-18 minutes (18 minutes is perfect in our oven). Let cool on the pans for several minutes. The crackers will get crunchier as they cool. Store in an airtight container–if your kids don’t gobble them up immediately!