Thursday, January 5, 2012

Safe Snacks for Kids

One of my greatest fears is that someone will give my child a goldfish cracker.

My son was recently diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy, and it really made me look much more closely at the food we eat. We were never big on fast food or processed food, but now we can't even stop for McDonald's french fries in a pinch - they are not dairy free. So many processed foods have tiny traces of dairy that could make my son very sick, in addition to having many ingredients that I can't even pronounce or recognize. Most loaves of bread in the grocery store have milk. Many brands of pretzels and crackers and chips and cookies have milk. Most jars of spaghetti sauce have - you guessed it - cheese! Margarine contains milk. Even many soy cheeses and yogurts include small amounts of dairy amongst their ingredients. So often, we may not even pay much attention to what is in our food until it really matters.

In many ways, I think that our departure from eating whole foods and from spending time outside in the sunshine has made us sicker. Incidence of food allergies is rising steeply, especially among children. In one interesting Australian study, food allergy rates are correlated with latitude, suggesting that increased sun exposure seems to have a protective effect against developing food allergies.

But besides spending more time out in the sunshine making vitamin D, and besides putting more whole foods in our bodies, how can we address the existing allergies? Most importantly, as a good rule of thumb, don't serve any food to any child without asking their parent first. If possible, avoid processed foods and serve either homemade treats, or serve the best snack of all - fresh fruits and vegetables, with a big glass of water.

My son's favorite dairy-free snacks include veggie chips with hummus, sesame blue corn chips with salsa, strawberry and blueberry shish-kabobs on toothpicks, homemade oatmeal-peanut butter cookies with vegan chocolate chips, and pasta with tomato sauce, which he would be happy to eat 24/7. However, many of these snacks wouldn't be safe for other food allergies.

What are your favorite allergy-safe snacks?


Anonymous said...

I am a private teacher to a young lady who has seven pages of foods to which she is allergic.

Dairy is a big one. I am constantly surprised at what has what in it. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason in it.

She can't have a number of veggies or fruits, too. We find solace in home made bagels with a smear of humus or pear preserves.

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I have one sister with a large family who is vegan -- she knows all about reading labels. Another sister recently discovered she needs to avoid gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugar among other things. That second sister used to live with me. The easiest thing, in many ways, is to cook from scratch. Then you can select the ingredients that ARE OK and go from there. I rely a lot on pacakaged foods for snacks -- although I'm trying to make more and more homemade. I think snacks are the biggest challenge. We do have a few favorite snacks with very few ingredients (rice cakes, corn/millet/ or kamut puffs, Midel graham crackers). If you ever need any resources for deciphering labels or finding good dairy-alternatives, let me know and I'll ask the sibs.

Also, please post the oatmeal PB cookie recipe. Thanks.

Kelly said...

Oatmeal-peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies

3/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Bake for 10 minutes at 350!

Anonymous said...

My son has a casein allergy which is the protein element in milk. i HIGHLY recommend going to and has great info that may be a great life-line. As for butter, Earthbalance has a great alternative and Smartbalance light works too if I remember right. Daiya brand cheese is dairy free too but often pricey, try nutritional yeast instead. Hope that helps :)

Anonymous said...

My son has a horrible respiratory reaction to dairy where he coughs so hard, he throws up and it often can last for DAYS (and up many nights) from just one tiny particle of cow dairy. Over the holidays, he was exposed to dairy in some food (we couldn't figure out what) and he has been miserable for two weeks. He can eat/drink goat milk, yogurt and goat milk cheese, however. Mt. Sperling out of Wisconsin makes a great goat mozzarella, cheddar and feta. He eats lots of fruit, veggies, airpopped popcorn with yeast flakes, lemon curd on toast and rice crackers with soft goat cheese. Nuts, celery/apples with p.b., and many homemade baked goods.

My 2 year old daughter has to be gluten-free. She did not grow for 6 months and finally friends suggested (b/c our doctor didn't know) that we eliminate wheat in her diet. Her eczema disappeared and she gained weight again! It has been a year and she is thriving again, although she is a peanut in size. In a year I have grown to love the gluten-free diet and learned to bake with all kinds of flours. My time in the kitchen has increased by many measures, but I am very relieved that my children will be okay now. Not knowing what was ailing them was the worst part of all. Thanks for the PB recipe!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin