What’s for Lunch? Allergen Free Lunches For Home Or On The Go

Sometimes I get in a huge food rut.  Let’s face it, we are avoiding 10 foods that my son is allergic to and it’s just plain difficult to be creative sometimes.  N is allergic to dairy, oat, egg, peanut, carrot, pumpkin, celery,  and strawberry.  We also avoid tree nuts because of cross contamination and have to skip raw tomato.  We recently went on a semi-spontaneous road trip and I had to pack all of my little man’s meals in advance.  I was agonizing over what to pack for him, and I was given a bit of inspiration while perusing Facebook one day.  A friend of mine posted Chicken Nugget Kabobs.  Brilliant!  A lot of the time, it’s all in the presentation or an Oldie But Goodie with a twist.  Now, I couldn’t do this exact lunch idea for on the road, but it did give me some inspiration for these mini-kabobs made with ham, Daiya cheese cubes, and fruit all stuck onto toothpicks.  I even got a little help assembling them and they were a hit!  I served them up with sugar snap peas with hummus for dipping, and 2 mini muffins.  For an at home lunch, this would even be a great fine motor activity for the little ones, and we all know kids will eat better if they help create their meal.

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The next meal I packed for him was similar, but involved him “building” little sandwich crackers.  I used a pizza cutter to slice some ham into squares, cut some Daiya cheese into small, thin squares, and added a bag of Wheat Thin crackers.  Basically, it’s a homemade Lunchable…but much more healthy!  I paired it with fresh watermelon (a favorite!) and another mini muffin.  This is another fun lunch for at home.


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We recently were able to welcome some new foods in our lives!  Finally, we can now make our allergen free version of PB & J sandwiches….with SunButter!  I am sooooo excited for SunButter.  It’s so creamy, and has a wonderful, satisfying flavor.  The flavor is oddly close to peanut butter but without a side of anaphylaxis.  Score!  I made the sandwich the morning he would be eating it for lunch so it wouldn’t get soggy, so that’s why it’s missing in the picture below, not because I ate it 😉  N loves berries and cucumbers, and of course the Golden Oreos I put in his lunch for a treat.

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One of my favorite ideas that I found on the internet a year ago or so (but can’t remember the source), was the following idea of serving lunch in an ice cube tray.  N loves it when I serve his lunch this way, and it’s a great way to get a variety of fruits and veggies in the kids.  Like I said before, sometimes it’s all in the presentation.  This tray has cantaloupe, watermelon, and broccoli.

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I wish I had time for cute little cut outs and such, but I just don’t.  I’ll leave that to those Super Moms that don’t have kids that follow them around all day wanting to be held.  If you are one of those moms, more power to ya!  I’m happy if the kids get a mostly whole foods diet and they actually eat it before I have to mop it up off of the floor!

What’s your favorite allergen friendly lunch at your house?  

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Lasagna, Cake, and Ice Cream, Oh My!

This weekend we attended a birthday party for one of our family members.  Nathan was so excited to go to a party and see his cousins.  Thankfully, all of his cousins (and their parents) are really good about remembering his allergies.  They are very accommodating and wash their hands after they eat and before they play with Nathan.  If they forget, we just remind the kids to wash up before playing.

Parties are a whole new ball game for those with food allergies…..and especially their parents.  Once Nathan turned 3, he was definitely wanting to go off and play with friends or cousins at birthday parties.  This can be absolutely nerve wracking for us as parents.  Think about it.  There’s usually tons of kids slathered in ice cream, icing, cheese, and often times nuts.  Depending on where we are and if we know everyone or not, we just can’t ask that every kid suds up after eating.  Skipping every party, and staying home isn’t an option either.  Even food allergic kids have to have fun and, most importantly, have to learn to manage themselves in an often unsafe world.  My husband and I often take turns watching the kids play  or checking in on Nathan to make sure he’s fine.

So, what’s a stressed out mom of a food allergic kid to do?  Spend a handful of hours before the party making safe lasagna and cake, and packing up all the trimmings!  I think it’s really important that Nathan help in the kitchen to learn basic skills, but also to realize what needs to be done to keep him safe.

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We were short on time today, so we are using a Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake mix.  I usually make cakes from scratch, but this time we took the easy way out.

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I even opted for the hand mixer so Nathan could have a turn.  He likes this, but what he really loves is licking the beaters after we’re done!  Don’t be afraid to include your kids in the kitchen, no matter what their age or allergies.  Nathan has been helping me in the kitchen since he turned 2.  There are a lot fewer messes now!

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His favorite part!  Even food allergic kids should get to lick the beaters and spatulas!  I remembered doing this as a kid, and it brings back lots of memories helping my mom in the kitchen.

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If you haven’t checked out Cherrybrook Kitchen’s products, you need to!  They are dairy, egg, and nut (peanut, too!) free and you can read their allergen statement here.  They also make ready made frostings that are safe.  I haven’t tried the ready made frosting yet, but a couple of months ago we tested the chocolate frosting mix and it was really tasty!

To take to the party, I also made a safe lasagna made with dairy free cheese.  This is pretty easy, thankfully!  It’s just a basic lasagna, made with what Nathan calls his “safe cheese” instead of regular mozzarella.

Here are some things we do for parties to make them as safe as possible and high on the fun factor for Nathan:

1.  Take a safe meal.  I always ask the host what they are having and make Nathan’s version.

2.  Take plenty of baby or antibacterial wipes.  Treat this as a restaurant situation and wipe things down if you need to, especially hands before and after meals.

3.  Talk to your child BEFORE the party.  Remind them not to take food off of tables or plates, and only accept food from you or other designated individuals.  You may want them to wear an allergy alert bracelet or t-shirt at especially large gatherings or a new place.

4.  Show your child unsafe food.  I sometimes take Nathan to foods that he may not recognize and remind him they are unsafe for him.

5.  Make it known.  Talk with other guests, especially if they ask questions.   This is often a great time to say, “Would you mind having your child(ren) wash their hands after they eat ice cream and cake?”  Most people are really accommodating and will comply.

6.  Take two Epi-pens and Benadryl….EVERY TIME!

Enjoy those summer parties!