(Family Features) Busy parents know that packing healthy lunches and snacks that kids will eat and not throw out or trade day after day is a challenge. For kids with food allergies – which, according to the CDC, is one in 13 kids or about two per classroom – or who attend a peanut-free school, it gets even more difficult.
Here are some tips for packing healthy and delicious allergy-friendly lunches and snacks that fuel kids’ active minds and bodies all day long.
Send a Kid-Approved Snack
There will be birthdays and celebrations in school where the snacks may not be allergy-friendly. Talk with your child’s teacher and make sure they understand his or her dietary restrictions. Send a snack they can eat for the teacher to keep on hand for these occasions. Or, if it’s your child’s birthday, send something delicious everyone can enjoy together.
One to try: EnviroKidz Granola Bars and Crispy Rice Bars, the first organic, gluten-free, peanut-free bars for kids, in tasty Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Granola Bars and Berry Blast and Chocolate Crispy Rice Bars. The strawberry and berry blast flavors are also dairy-free, and 1 percent of sales from all four flavors go to help endangered species.
Make It Positive
Instead of focusing on the things your child can’t eat, focus on all of the delicious foods they can enjoy. You can look online for ideas and talk about them with your child, involving them in the process to come up with a list of things they love. Try gluten-free waffles instead of bread for sandwiches, nut-free butters like sunflower seed butter, smoothies or soups in a thermos, or fruit with dairy-free yogurt for dipping. Make sure to stock the fridge and pantry with these items so you can easily pack lunches without stress. You can even post the list on the refrigerator and let them choose what they want.
Go for the Gold Standard: Organic
If your little one has allergies, it’s important to think about lunches in a holistic way, not just avoiding certain foods.
“When packing allergy-friendly foods, considering the quality of all the ingredients, not just the ones it’s ‘free of,’ is really important,” said Ashley Koff, registered dietitian. “The easiest choice: organic ingredients, which means non-GMO, because they give you what the body recognizes easily and avoids ingredients that can detract from better nutrition and better health.”
Make It Fun
Just because you are avoiding certain foods doesn’t mean that lunch or snack time can’t be delicious and fun. Pack foods in a variety of colors and shapes, including rolls and stacks. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes and create pops, kebabs or other easy recipes that use kid- and allergy-friendly foods and make eating a blast. Additionally, a simple, sweet note or picture drawn on a napkin can be a nice lunchtime surprise.
Packing lunches and snacks for kids with allergies can be a challenge, but with some planning you can find delicious, nutritious foods your child will love. Find more allergy-friendly recipes and lunch and snack tips at envirokidz.com.