This weekend, I presented a lunchbox-building workshop at Whole Foods in Winston-Salem. The workshop was hosted by Food Allergy Families of the Triad, and I had the opportunity to share food allergen-friendly lunch ideas and recipes with parents and their children.
If you’re the parent of a child (or children) with food allergies, you know first-hand that lunch at school or daycare can be a source of stress. Even if you’re not the parent of food-allergic child, lunch can still be a source of stress if your child goes to a school that restricts foods (out of respect for those with food allergies or due to religious reasons).
Over the next few weeks, I’ll post the recipes we made at the workshop. In the meantime, here are some tips I shared to help parents build a healthy and fun allergen-friendly lunchbox.
Tips for Building Healthy & Fun Allergen-Friendly Lunchboxes
- Include at least 1 fruit and/or 1 vegetable in every meal. Pair with a heart-healthy protein and/or fat.
Carbohydrates: Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, gluten-free oats for those with Celiac disease)
Proteins: Aim to include chicken, turkey, fish/seafood (if not allergic), lean red meat, beans, lentils, sunflower butter, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, rice or hemp milk (low-fat or nonfat dairy for those who are not allergic to milk)
Fats: Try avocados, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, olives, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, coconut, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds
- Make food FUN!
It’s all about fun colors, shapes and names. Use cookie and sandwich cutters for breads, fruits, pancakes, waffles and cheese.
- Get kids involved.
Kids are more likely to try foods that they help prepare. Take them food shopping at supermarkets and farmers’ markets. Give children age-appropriate cooking tasks (wash fruit, set table, mix ingredients).
- Keep foods safe.
Using freezer packs is a no-brainer. But, you can also help keep hot foods warmer for longer: Add boiling water to thermos long enough to “heat” thermos, empty hot water and then add food and close lid. Pack your own disposable or reusable (bamboo) utensils.
- Be a good role model.
We all know too well that kids tend to do what they see, not necessarily what we tell them. You are your child’s best role model… model the behavior you want them to have as they grow up.
PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite tips for packing food allergen-friendly lunches? Please share… we’d love to hear from you!