Nut allergies are extremely common; in fact, 1 in 13 children in the United States are allergic to at least one type of nut. This can make packing their lunch a bit of a juggling act. Fortunately, there are a ton of amazing gluten and nut-free recipes out there that your child will love. Here are a few things to keep in mind while deciding what to pack your child for lunch.
A very popular alternative to nut butters are seed butters. While cross-contamination is a major concern, there are other reasons to be careful with alternative spreads. It is extremely common that for those who have a food allergy or any kind might also be allergic to other things. In some cases environmental allergens, such as pollen and mold, can aggravate food allergies. One example is that those who are allergic to latex may also have a reaction when eating bananas, kiwi, or avocados.
Choose Whole Foods
The less processed your child’s lunch choices are the less likely you will need to worry about cross-contamination. One fun way to present this to your child is through a snack lunch that is comprised of several small dishes. There are ways to reimagine this that allows for you to tailor it to your child’s likes and to their dietary needs. Gluten-free crackers are great but can get expensive. Rice can be a great alternative. Sticky rice can be formed into patties while warm and hold together during lunch. Add in your child’s favorite vegetables and protein source and they have a complete meal that will fill them for the remainder of the day.
Alternative Protein Sources
Protein can be very difficult for a nut-free household. This is especially the case if your house prefers to be low meat, vegetarian, or vegan. Soy allergies are linked to peanut allergies, and that can make finding an alternative protein source even more of a challenge. There are a ton of options for plant-based proteins beyond nuts, seeds, and soy. The thing to keep in mind is that they need to be combined together in a single meal. Giving your child whole grain rice and chickpeas will give their body a complete protein just like they would receive with a slice of deli meat.
There are so many options for a child who needs to avoid gluten and nuts. Their lunch doesn’t have to be a slice of gluten-free bread with something in between. Making lunch for your child shouldn’t leave you feeling like a nervous wreck. With a little bit of creativity, your child can be the talk of the lunch room.