By Guest Blogger Angela Fuller, Founder & President, Food Allergy Families of the Triad
The start of a new school year comes with new adjustments; new teacher, new friends and possibly a new school, new classroom and new rules. With an average of 2 kids per classroom diagnosed with a food allergy, there is a good chance your child is in a Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free or Wheat Free Classroom. It may feel like the only foods your child will eat are no longer allowed. Packing lunches and snacks can be time consuming and stressful, but don’t fret, here are some easy to find alternatives you can use to make your child’s favorite recipes, snacks or meals more allergen friendly.
Before you shop, talk to the teacher or parent of the food allergic child so you know exactly what foods/ingredients must be avoided. Be sure to ask if items labeled “May Contain” or “Made in the same facility” need to be avoided as well. Even if you aren’t an expert label reading detective, you can still learn very quickly how common allergens like egg, dairy and soy are added to popular foods. The good news is, there are TONS of alternatives and many can be found at WalMart, Aldi’s, Food Lion, Costco, Ingles, Whole Foods, or ordered on Amazon and shipped to your door!
Allergen Friendly Alternatives
~ Nut Spreads
~ Peanut Butter: WowButter, SunButter, Don’t Go Nuts
~ Bread Products/Crackers/Chips/Pasta/Pizza
~ Bread products: Udi’s, Ener-G Tapioca Bread
~ Tortilla: Rudi’s Gluten Free
~ Graham Crackers: Kinnikinnick S’morables
~ Crackers: Vans Gluten Free
~ Pretzels: Glutino pretzel sticks & twists
~ Cereal: Vans Gluten Free, Rice Chex, Lucky Charms, Cheerios (some flavors)
~ Chips: Santitas Tortilla Chips, Lays Original, Enjoy Life Plentils, Pringles Original, Veggie Stix
~ Pasta: Tinkyada
~ Frozen Pizza: Daiya
~ Waffles: Vans Gluten Free
~ Cheese: Daiya (slices, sheds or block), So’Delicious, Chao Slices, Go Veggie (shreds now at Costco), Go Veggie
~ Parmesan, Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free
~ Mac & Cheese: Daiya makes several favors
~ Butter- Earth Balance, MELT
~ Milk Beverage: Coconut Milk, Soy Milk, Rice Milk, Oat Milk, Hemp Milk
~ Yogurt: So’Delicious, Daiya, Silk Coconut Yogurt
~ Sour Cream: Follow Your Heart
~ Cream Cheese: Follow Your Heart, Daiya
~ Mayonnaise: Just Mayo, Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
~ Salad Dressing: Hampton Creek, Daiya (Blue Cheese, Caesar, Ranch)
~ Chocolate Chips: Enjoy Life
~ Trail Mix: Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mixes, Gerbs Granola, Gerbs Seeds, MadeGood Granola Minis
~ Granola/Snack Bars: Enjoy Life Baked Chewy Bars, Enjoy Life Decadent Soft Baked Bars, Enjoy Life ProBurst ~ Bites, Live G Free, MadeGood Granola Bars
~ Cookies: Oreos Original, Enjoy Life
~ Dried Fruit: Made in Nature dried fruit
~ Candy: Dum Dum Suckers, Spangler Candy Canes, Surf Sweet Gummies, Yum Earth Suckers & Gummies, Skittles, Swedish Fish, Smarties
Whether the foods are restricted from the classroom or your child wants to sit with her new best friend at lunch who happens to have allergies, swapping out foods/ingredients you use every day for allergen-friendly ones is super easy once you figure out what to buy. Check the shelves at your local grocery store and you might be surprised at what you find. Some stores have special “Gluten Free” sections, which have a selection of allergen-friendly foods, or some stores merchandise the items by category. It may take some time to figure out what stores near you carry a product, but you can often find a local supplier by checking out the “Product Finder” feature on a manufacturer’s website.
A child’s favorite allergy containing food may be enjoyed on the weekends or as a special after school snack. This way the child doesn’t feel deprived and exercises compassion towards others by adhering to classroom restrictions to keep another child safe. No parent would require a food to be kept out of the classroom if it was not medically necessary. The classroom should be a place of learning, inspiration and exploration which is not possible for a food allergic child if their learning environment is cross contaminated with foods that could cost them their life.
For more back-to-school resources, visit Food Allergy Families of the Triad.
Chewy SunButter Granola Bars
~ 1/2 cup SunButter Spread
~ 1/4 cup Spectrum shortening
~ 1 cup honey
~ 3 cups uncooked rolled oats
~ 1 cup diced dried fruit (I used Made in Nature Fruit Fusion)
~ 1 cup Enjoy Life Flax Cereal
~ 1/2 cup honey
~ 1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
~ Melt SunButter, shortening & ½ cup of honey in sauce pan over low heat. Allow to cool completely.
~ In large bowl combine oats, dried fruit, flax cereal and ½ cup chocolate chips. Pour SunButter mixture over oat mixture. Stir well. Add 1/2 cup of honey. Stir well.
~ Line a 9×13″ dish with parchment paper.
~ Pour mixture into dish. Spread evenly, pressing down firmly. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top and press in. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
~ Cut into bars and wrap in parchment paper or roll in to balls. (makes approx. 14 bars)