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If you have a peanut allergy, or a school that does not allow peanuts in the lunch room, you need to think creatively about your lunch box. Here is a list of ideas to spark your lunch-packing creativity:
Tucking a small ice pack into your lunch box will keep your meat and cheese at a safe temperature until lunch time.
- Try an award-winning peanut butter substitute with your favorite jelly
- Go high tea with cream cheese and cucumber slices on crustless bread
- Wrap up hummus, veggies, lunch meat, or cheese in a tortilla wrap
- Scoop tuna, chicken, or egg salad into lettuce leaves for a gluten-free wrap
- Black bean salad or Middle Eastern chickpea salad
- Sushi rolls with soy sauce and wasabi for dipping
- Your favorite soup in a thermos
- Yogurt with nut-free granola
There are more and more commercial snacks being marketed as nut-free. Be sure to check the label each time you buy a product to make sure it is still safe for your allergies.
- Caramel popcorn
- Kid-sized yogurt
- Cheese sticks
- Fruit leather
- Hard-boiled egg
- Carrot and celery sticks with hummus
- Snack bags of nut-free chips, pretzels, or crackers
- Nut-free trail mix
Hurricane Sandy is getting closer to the east coast, and experts estimate it could leave 10 million people without power. If you live in an area that may be affected, act now to prepare yourself for several days without power. In addition to bottled water, flashlights, and batteries, you will need to prepare to manage your food allergies during a natural disaster:
- Make your emergency medical kit is stocked.
- Have plenty of allergy-safe food on hand.
- Have a way to cook without power - a grill, camp stove, or fireplace.
- Be extra cautious of cross-contamination when cooking out and cleaning up with minimal water at hand.
If you are evacuated, bring as much allergy-safe food with you as you possibly can. It may be difficult to find safe food on the road or in a shelter.
Packing a lunch without dairy can be daunting, but with a little advance planning and label reading (note that milk and whey are common bread ingredients) you or your child can have a lunchbox to look forward to. Try one of these ideas:
- Individual carton of soy, nut, or hemp milk
- Juice box
- Pita bread stuffed with hummus and veggies
- Almond butter and marshmallow fluff for a new twist on a kid classic
- Dairy-free lunch meat and soy cheese on dairy-free bread
- Tortilla wrap with dairy-free lunch meat, tomato, and guacamole
- Soy yogurt
- Homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, safe granola, and dairy-free chocolate chips
- Dried fruit, such as raisins, dried cranberries, or apricots
- Pumpkin seeds
- Potato or tortilla chips
- Carrot and celery sticks
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Mini rice cakes (make sure they are dairy-free) with almond butter
- Mexican chocolate wacky cupcakes
- Dairy-free pineapple upside down cake
- Dairy-free lemon vanilla cupcakes
- Dairy-free cookies
- Fun gelatin shapes
For more dairy-free school lunch ideas, see Ashley Skabar's recipes for Dairy-Free Lunches for Kids.
Are you bored of your allergy-friendly lunches? Try one of these wheat-free ideas:
- Millet tabouleh
- Your favorite wheat-free soup and gluten-free crackers
- Tuna salad wraps - use corn torillas or lettuce leaves as wraps
- Taco salad - Tossed green salad with black beans, cheese, tomatoes, and tortilla chips. Pack salsa for dressing.
- A sandwich made on homemade gluten-free bread: wheat-free lunch meat, PB&J, or hummus and cucumber.
- Allergy-friendly caramel popcorn
- Carrot and celery sticks with hummus
- Gluten-free energy bars
- "Lunchable"-style gluten-free crackers with cheese, dips, and deli meats.
For more great ideas, see Gluten-Free School Lunch Recipes, by Teri Gruss, Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking.
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Do you love cooking shows? About Food Allergies now has video recipes! Check out some of these seasonal allergy-friendly treats:
- Dairy-Free Sweet Potato Cookies
- Dairy-Free No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Load up your mobile devices and check out these new educational and informative videos!
Halloween parties and trick-or-treating can be food allergy danger zones. Even if your child is cautious about the foods they eat or touch, there are bound to be other children eating your child's allergens. The potential for cross-contamination is great.
Some families opt to hold their own allergy-friendly Halloween parties. Others may trick-or-treat in a limited way, going only to homes that they know will have safe candy. What are your Halloween safety tips for kids with food allergies? Share your ideas with other readers!
The Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are during the last two weeks of September this year.
Rosh Hashanah is traditionally celebrated by dipping apple slices into honey as a symbol of a sweet new year to come. If you are allergic to honey, or have pollen allergies, you can substitute agave nectar or even a simple sugar syrup for honey. If you are allergic to apples, try another fruit that is safe for you, or even a sweet vegetable such as a carrot.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a day of fasting. However, observers often eat a special meal before beginning their fast, and a celebratory breakfast the next morning. Check out our collection of allergy-friendly recipes for these meals and other traditional foods for Jewish holidays.
More and more research is pointing toward a link between autism and immune disorders such as asthma and celiac disease. Children and adults with autism show signs of chronic immune system activation and inflammation that affects the brain.
Many researchers think that this chronic inflammation starts before birth, and may be triggered by a mother's infection, allergies, or auto-immune responses. Mothers with celiac disease have a 350% higher risk of having a child with autism than mothers without an autoimmune disorder.
It is also true that the rise in autism has paralleled the rise in food allergies in developed countries. One theory for the reason behind both increasing diagnoses is the hygiene hypothesis - the theory that modern city dwellers lack exposure to bacteria and parasites that help maintain a healthy immune system. Other theories are that exposure to chemicals in our modern environment disrupts normal immune function.
There has been little research on the linkages between food allergies and autism. However, many parents of children on the autism spectrum have placed their children on special allergen-free diets, such as a gluten-free/casein-free diet, or a diet free of nightshade vegetables. While many families have found that these special diets help their children, many others have not. The limited research on GF/CF diets has failed to find any benefit of them at a population level.
Headed to the great outdoors? Camping with food allergies, as with all food allergy management, requires a little extra advance planning.
If you are headed off into the wilderness, or any distance from home, make sure you know where the closest emergency room is to your campsite. Find ER is a free mobile app that will locate the nearest emergency room for you on your smartphone. Make sure you have an emergency plan in place, especially if you will be in a location that doesn't get phone reception.
There are so many delicious, allergy-friendly meals you can cook outdoors on a campfire or camp stove. Here are a few recipes to try that are free of the "Big 8" food allergens:
- Campfire fried potatoes - Actually baked in the fire or on a grill, wrapped in foil, which makes cooking and clean-up simple and allergy-friendly.
- Classic Campfire Hobo Stew - The beauty of foil-wrapped cooking is that there is little chance for cross-contamination from grill tongs. Each person can customize their stew to include their favorite safe meats and veggies. Substitute olive or canola oil for the butter.
- Banana Boats - This classic campfire dessert can be made allergy-friendly by using soy-free, dairy-free chocolate chips or chocolate bars.
- Nut-free Trail Mix - Making your own trail mix is easy and much cheaper than most nut-free mixes available in stores.