Surging rates of food allergies in children have resulted in a spate of new cookies, crackers, goat milk cheeses and dairy-free quesos engineered by parents looking to make an end run around their kids' culinary limitations.
"It was so hard for us to find safe food for Naya to eat," recalls Tee Britton of Bothell, explaining how she became a cereal entrepreneur. "She gets so itchy. We thought the safest thing was to make something at home."
Naya is the face of ChiaRezza!, a ready-to-eat breakfast that was one of the best products served at this weekend's head-spinningly massive VegFest. Britton and her husband, Peter, earlier this month launched the cereal line with two varieties: Mango Goji and "Forbidden Fruit," featuring Washington apples, raisins, cinnamon and ginger.
Both cereals are built on a foundation of buckwheat, chia seeds and hemp seeds, giving them a wholesome, bouncy character. (ChiaRezza! is Italian for ChiaPurity!)
"Chia seeds are so fun," Britton says. "So we played with the combinations."
While chia seeds are celebrated by nutritionists for their protein and omega 3's, the Brittons are as apt to talk about what's missing from every bag of ChiaRezza!: Wheat, egg, dairy, peanut, tree nuts, soy, fish and shellfish. The cereals are manufactured on allergen-free equipment in an allergen-free facility in California.
"These are her cereals," Britton says, motioning at a picture of her daughter on a sign alongside her sampling booth.
ChiaRezza! is currently available only online, although Britton came to VegFest prepared with product request letters which she urged impressed tasters to submit to their grocers. A nine-ounce bag of cereal costs $9.99.
"But chia expands to nine times its size," Britton points out.