When Barbara Streed’s son, Thomas, was two years old, he had an allergic reaction to nuts. At the time, in 2000, her husband Dan had been stationed in Hawaii. They were in the middle of dinner and had just opened a bag of cashews that their four-year-old daughter had insisted on having. To make things fair, Streed decided to give Thomas half of a cashew.
“He spit it out and started combing his tongue with his fingers,” Streed said of his immediate reaction. They raced to their neighbors to get Benadryl and off to the hospital they went as her son’s face became puffy and his eye swelled shut.
“He was crying, clinging to me, itching his tongue — acted like he had ants all over,” Streed noted.
It was due to her son’s reaction, learning that he had a nut allergy, and the many years after her family spent avoiding products with nuts, that brought her to the business she started in 2007: We’re Not Nutz.
“It’s very odd when you get the diagnosis, like someone takes you and throws you in the deep end of the ocean – you don’t know what you don’t know,” Streed said, in reference to the many ways nuts can cross-contaminate with just about any food group.
Her business is based on selling baked goods that do not contain nuts and are prepared in a nut-free kitchen connected to her Eaton Rapids home.
I’ve always liked to bake and eating desserts seems to be the one thing they miss out on the most,” Streed said.
The Streeds are now accustomed to going out to dinner without routinely ordering dessert, because, according to Streed, desserts at restaurants without being cross contaminated with nuts are hard to come by.
“He can’t go to a restaurant and have dessert — how fun is that?” Streed said. “We have a policy if he can’t get something, we don’t so we don’t make him feel bad.”
In May 2009 Streed started developing cookie dough to promote her business and help local organizations with fundraising efforts. She currently sells six different types of cookie dough. Five dollars per box of cookie dough sold goes toward the cause for that organization. Thus far she has sold her products to soccer teams, youth groups, a couple schools and gymnastic groups in the area.
“I’m supporting them and putting my money back into Michigan products,” Streed noted.
Streed sells a variety of cookies, cheesecakes and other delicious treats, and is open to experimenting to make anything her client may want. Although she doesn’t have a favorite treat, she can often be found devouring many of her chocolate delicacies. She does highly recommend one of her newer cookies, her cappuccino chip and her triple chocolate cookie.
“I sometimes feel guilty pushing cookies, with weight problems kids have nowadays,” said Streed.
One day she hopes to expand her line of sweets to offer healthy alternatives to snacks. She mentioned that she is trying to create a cereal bar, and would like to look into protein bar opportunities.
“I do a lot of playing — I have a team of very faithful taste testers,” Streed said with a smile.
We’re Not Nutz
Eaton Rapids, Mich.