Homemade Gifts from the Garden
As food-allergy awareness has risen, many schools have instituted rules governing the kinds of snacks and lunches kids can bring to campus. Whether or not your child suffers from food allergies, these rules matter for other kids; even the tiniest amount of peanut dust can send an allergic child into anaphylactic shock. Since so many snacks contain allergens, finding ideas for school-safe snacks can feel challenging. But rest assured that there are plenty of satisfying nut-free snacks and completely allergen-free recipes.
Of course, you can't go wrong with totally allergen-free snacks. There's a host of potential allergens, from strawberries to dairy to gluten, but nuts (tree nuts and peanuts) in particular are being banned from more schools across the country. Four to 6 percent of the nation's children suffer from food allergies, and since 2010, there has been an 18 percent increase in tree-nut allergies alone.
Complying with a school's guidelines for allergen-free snacks may be hard at first, so plan your recipes ahead. It can be helpful to compile a go-to list of snack ideas.
Before adding an item to your grocery cart, it's good to double-check the ingredient label for any possible allergens. Some labels state whether the food was produced in a facility that processes nuts. Keep in mind, however, that there is no requirement to provide cross-contamination information on food labels; food companies can warn you if a product is definitely not safe but needn't guarantee that it is safe. That's quite a conundrum for those with severe allergies.
But fear not: Keeping to simple, non-processed snacks can solve this problem. Both the Safe Snack Guide and Super Healthy Kids offer some great ideas. The time-strapped who love convenience can contact food companies directly to confirm that favorite store-bought snacks don't raise cross-contamination concerns.
There are numerous nut-free snacks and generally allergen-free recipes that kids will love. Sometimes it takes a little creative thinking, and other times the answer might be right under your nose. Below are some ideas to get you started.
- Make fruit-and-cheese kabobs by sliding grapes, strawberries, melon, and cubes of cheddar cheese onto a wooden skewer for a fun, nut-free snack.
- For a yogurt parfait, layer vanilla yogurt, berries, and gluten-free granola. Substitute non-dairy yogurt for those with dairy allergies.
- Kids love dippable snacks, so slice a variety of fruits and vegetables to eat with dips like sunflower butter blended with honey, hummus, guacamole, or tzatziki.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of unique recipes for allergen-free treats. Taste of Home provides a list of 36 allergen-free snacks kids will love. Oh She Glows has some wonderful, healthy recipes for portable snacks. The Lean Green Bean has a roundup of 20 nut-free snacks. For more elaborate tastes, The Kitchn delivers 12 creative snack recipes.
Finally, it's always a good practice to leave an ingredient list with your child's teacher or the appropriate school staff.
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Why It’s Good
When sending your kids back to a school that bans certain food allergens, rest assured that it is possible to provide healthy, allergen-free snacks. Thanks to an abundance of resources, discovering or creating delicious allergen-free treats that kids love is quite simple!