Shopping for Back to School with Allergies in Mind
The school year is fast approaching. Have you gotten “the letter” yet? You know, the letter letting you know your child’s school is peanut and tree nut free? Maybe there are other food allergies in your child’s class too and you have more to avoid for snack. A lot of schools take the route of being allergen free in the classroom but not the lunchroom. Please don’t fret.
As the mom of a child with multiple food allergies, I’m here to share some of our favorite allergy-friendly snacks. I’m also here to say thank you. Thank you for keeping the safety of my son and the other 15 million Americans with food allergies in mind.
Peanut Butter Alternatives
I understand the role peanut butter plays in most people’s lives. I ate peanut butter on an English muffin every morning most of my life. I’m picky when it comes to taste. As my son’s allergies include tree nuts and sunflower, we stick with a soybean based alternative. That’s where WowButter comes in. It is creamy and amazingly close to the real thing. Many people say the same about SunButter, a great alternative if you aren’t dealing with a sunflower allergy. If the school allows tree nuts, the nut butter alternatives are nearly endless: almond, cashew, mixed nut, the list goes on! There are also some really cool new products coming to market, like The Amazing Chickpea, a legume based spread. Just watch for cross-contact labeling if that is a rule at your school or issue for your family.
A person can be allergic to anything, but produce is at least not in the top 8. For us, I’ve found involving my son in the produce picking increases the likelihood that he will eat it by about one million. Yes, of course we have a list for the week but I also always let him select a few things. Healthy Living’s little carts make it even more fun as he can load the items himself! Sunday evening, my husband and I prep as much produce as we can for the week. This helps all of us eat healthier and makes weekdays a little less crazy. Apple slices are pretty delicious dipped in Wow Butter and Daiya ranch is great for veggies if you’re dealing with a dairy allergy (as-is guacamole).
A lot of schools are going to food-free celebrations. Sometimes it is because of a food allergy, but more often than not, it’s just for the general health and wellbeing of everyone. Teachers don’t want their students pumped full of sugar 25 times per year. If you are allowed to bring in something for a birthday or other event, it may have to be healthy and store bought. This ensures the label can be checked. I’d urge you to check out Veggie Go’s. Their strips are fruit and vegetable based and contain only a few grams of sugar each. They are a fun addition to lunch as well! Enjoy Life is an allergy-friendly company that makes cookies, along with a number of other products, if you are looking for a more traditional treat.
In my son’s eyes, I’ve saved the best for last. MadeGood is an amazingly allergy-friendly company that produces all of their products in a facility that is free from peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, sesame, soy, gluten, and fish. Even better? They’re organic, low sugar, and contain vegetables. We have yet to find a MadeGood product my son doesn’t like. I always keep a bar or two with us for an emergency snack, his birthday requests consisted only of balloons and granola balls (granola minis), and their new cereal and soft-baked cookies are both great treats.
What else often ends up in my son’s lunchbox? Pouches, muffins (usually with carrots, spinach, or zucchini snuck in), wraps, crackers, rice rollers, and lots of leftovers. His lunch is usually some amount of dinner leftovers along with a ton of produce and one “bonus” snack item.
Need more allergy-friendly ideas or have another question? Don’t hesitate to ask. We are at Healthy Living multiple times each week and are always excited to be finding new, healthy, allergy-friendly lunch and snack options.
This post was written for us by Abbie Jefferis. Abbie is the founder of ollergy, a site dedicated to spreading food allergy awareness and helping families who have children with food allergies. Her son is allergic to peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, sunflower, sesame, and all legumes except soy and kidney bean. She can be reached at [email protected]. For more information about food allergies, please visit www.ollergy.com, www.instagram.com/ollergy, and www.facebook.com/ollergy.