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When we have children, they quickly become our whole world. It’s hard to remember anything before them, and it’s hard to remember anything outside of them! But if your child had a severe food allergy that kept them from enjoying their lunches in the cafeteria with other children, you would hope that other parents would open up their world just a little bit more to include your child. While many schools have become peanut-free zones, children with severe food allergies are relying on those around them to be proactive and cautious about the foods they pack their own children.
It can feel complicated and confusing trying to navigate what foods are truly allergen safe, and realizing how little exposure children need to suffer anaphylactic shock can leave you feeling almost helpless. As we close out the school year in person and head into summer camp season, we wanted to put together a few fun ideas to send your kids packing…without panicking.
NACHO TYPICAL LUNCH! *Free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish
Ingredients: corn tortilla chips*, ground turkey/beef/chicken, seasoned refried/pinto/black beans, corn, black olives, diced tomatoes, diced sweet peppers, diced avocado, shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce, and salsa
*Corn tortilla chips usually don’t contain wheat, nuts, or soy, but check packaging to be sure
Prepare the ground or shredded meat along with corn, beans, and seasonings of your choice. We love chili powder, cumin, and paprika for a mild but kicky flavor! Warm them and keep them separate in a thermos. Chopped vegetables can be packed together in a Tupperware container or glass jar. Add a bag of corn tortilla chips. Children simply combine the hot ingredients with the cold before enjoying this satisfying, protein-packed lunch.
If dairy is not a concern, shredded Colby, pepper jack, or cheddar are welcome on most kids’ plates!
THAT’S A WRAP! Free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish
Ingredients: seasoned chicken, hummus (homemade or check the ingredient list carefully), spinach shredded, red bell pepper sliced, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, diced avocado, gluten-free wrap (We like BFree sweet potato wraps. Not an affiliate link, we just like them!)
This veggie packed wrap is so full of flavor you wouldn’t guess it was anything-free. We like to season our chicken with rosemary, thyme, and sea salt before wrapping it up with a whole day’s serving of delicious fresh veggies! BFree wraps don’t tend to rip quite as easily as other gluten free wraps, but there are many on the market to try!
PANCAKE SANDIES *Free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish (contains egg)
Healthy morning pancakes are a breeze! Simply blend eggs and bananas together until they reach pancake batter consistency and cook on a skillet or griddle as usual. We like adding vanilla and cinnamon to ours, and we serve them with blended strawberries instead of syrup.
Make a double batch and use the leftover banana pancakes as sandwich bread! SunButter, made with sunflower seeds, is a safe and absolutely delicious alternative to peanut or almond butters — and a SunButter and banana or jam sandwich is a sweet treat our kids can’t wait to eat!
COCONUT YOGURT BOWL *Free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish
Is the idea of making your own yogurt a little daunting? We have to let you in on our favorite secret: It’s so much easier than you think it’s going to be! Simply mix a cup and a half of full fat coconut milk with half a teaspoon of probiotic powder and one teaspoon of gelatin. Don’t use cold soluble gelatin for this recipe! Use less gelatin if you’d like a thinner consistency to make smoothies or shakes, and more gelatin for a thicker consistency like a smoothie bowl or yogurt parfait.
Send along a Tupperware container of your child’s favorite build-your-own-bowl toppings, such as:
CHICKEN SALAD *Free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish
Ingredients: shredded chicken, coconut, yogurt (see recipe above), shelled sunflower seeds, sliced grapes, crushed pineapple, gluten free crackers, wrap, or bread
This crunchy, sweet, savory salad is as satisfying as it is unexpected. Your child will enjoy the taste, while their brains, bodies, and bellies will enjoy the protein and probiotics.
SNACK PLATES ARE FUN FOR EVERYONE! *Free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish
Ingredients: dates, hummus with carrots, celery, cucumber, and red pepper slices, corn chips and guacamole (again, double check the label on the chips!), apple fries, jerky
When you ask you kids what they want for dinner, it’s usually because decision fatigue has you completely wiped out. When they respond “I don’t care,” it’s because they’re probably in the same boat! It doesn’t mean they don’t want options, it just means they’re spent. Give yourself — and them — a break by packing a choose-your-own adventure lunchbox!
PLAY IT AGAIN
We could fill a whole second blog with dishes that simply taste better the second day. Leftovers get a bad rap, but we know our day would be made instantly better knowing there was an eggplant lasagna or a bowl of warm chili waiting for us when lunchtime rolls around! A pot roast is a protein powerhouse, and just the pick-me-up kids can use after a long day of hard play.
Sometimes kids just want to graze. Give them a vitamin-packed lunch that will keep them guessing — and satisfied! We care about your little ones just as much as we care about ours. We know how hard it is to send children with allergies out into the world. Every time one more person chooses to look out for others, the world gets a little bigger for us all. We hope these fun, delicious recipes help more families make the switch, and make schools and summer camp just a little safer!