How to Go Apple Picking When You Have Food Allergies

apples from apple picking
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As the cooler weather rolls in and the leaves start to change color, the excitement of fall starts to fill the air. From crisp autumn temperatures and pumpkin patches to harvest season and corn mazes, there is something about this time of year that makes families appreciate the great outdoors. But nothing says fall better than heading out for a fun-filled day of apple picking. This is one activity that even those with seasonal and food allergies can enjoy with the right planning.

Apple picking is a great way to spend family time among nature, as you hike through fields of trees with your favorite varieties—Rome, Granny Smith, Red Delicious. Little kids often get a kick out of reaching high atop a tree to grab an apple that still hangs from a branch, while parents dream about the many recipes to cook up after heading home.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

About one-third of seasonal allergy sufferers also experience oral allergy syndrome. This is not a true allergy to a food, but instead it is a reaction to the protein in pollen that your body identifies as similar to the protein in certain fruits and vegetables. Someone with oral allergy syndrome may experience tingly or itchy lips, mouth, or throat, or sneezing after consuming a raw fruit or certain vegetables. Apples are one of the many fruits that can be problematic for those with oral allergy syndrome.

Luckily, most people who have oral allergy syndrome are able to still eat the cooked form of the same fruit that might otherwise cause the reaction. This is due to the fact that heat changes the proteins in the fruit or vegetable. This will be a well received fact for those who might want to enjoy some homemade apple sauce or apple pie after the big day. Be sure to fully understand the difference between oral allergy syndrome and a food allergy prior to indulging.

Food Allergies

Less than 3 percent of people have allergies to fruits and vegetables, as most of these are a result of oral allergy syndrome. However, if you or your family member has a true food allergy to a fruit or vegetable, it is important to understand how to live safely and avoid these foods. This means being careful of cross-contamination, reading labels, and having a care plan for allergic reactions. It is important to discuss your diagnosis with your physician to understand possible reactions and if you are susceptible to an anaphylactic response.

Done Apple Picking—Now What?

As you head home with your bags of apples to enjoy, the conversation often goes what to bake, how many you will eat, and when will it be ready? For many, just the idea of biting into a crisp apple does the trick. For those who are a bit more adventurous, there are many ways to enjoy apples. Check out these favorites:

  • Slice up the apples and pair with a piece of cheese. For those with a dairy allergy, opt for soy or rice cheese.
  • Imagine how sweet the smell of hot oatmeal is with diced apples to enjoy. Gluten free, made with water or soy milk, oatmeal is perfect for everyone.
  • Slice up your apples and serve with a spoon of peanut or almond butter. For those with a nut allergy, reach for the sun butter instead. Sun butter is made of sunflower seeds and is a great alternative.  
  • Dice up apples and add to your favorite pancake mix! For those with a gluten allergy, add them to your gluten free mix instead.
  • Make an apple crisp by dicing up the apples and baking with a crumb topping. For those who are gluten free, use gluten free oats to place atop the apples before baking.
  • Make apple sauce with a variety of apples and serve hot or cold. Enjoy a sprinkle of cinnamon, as long as no allergies to this spice, to add a bit of flavor. For most people, since the apples are cooked, apple sauce is a safe option for all to enjoy. 
  • Baked apples can be made with a few simple ingredients. Many opt for coring apples, adding some water, and a small amount of maple syrup for sweetness. Once baked, the apples plump up and are delicious served warm.
  • A good old fashioned apple pie is always a hit! Choose a recipe that meets your allergy needs, so that everyone can enjoy.
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