Each year, the back-to-school season has parents racking their brains. It’s time to rearrange the schedule, plan activities for the kids, double-check the school supplies list, and sort through the clothes.
And of course, it’s also time to start making lunches and snacks again! And if any of your family members suffer from a food allergy, the task can be even more daunting. Here are a few tips for starting the school year off with colourful and delicious meals everyone can enjoy!
Allergen-free homemade snack ideas
Crudités and legume dip
Grain-free crackers, sunflower butter, and apple slices
Fruit salad topped with allergen-free homemade granola
Mixture of dried fruits* and seeds*
Plain popcorn (or seasoned with your favourite spices)
Homemade kale chips
Corn tortilla, fruit jam, and banana roll-ups (cut into wheels)
Want to make muffins, breads, cookies, or energy bars? Learn how to replace the common food allergens often found in these “classic” recipes.
- Nuts: sunflower or pumpkin seeds*, hemp or chia seeds
- Nut butter: seed or pea butter, legume purée
- Butter: tolerated margarine, vegetable or coconut oil (replace 1 cup of butter with ¾ cup of oil)
- Eggs: replace 1 egg with 1 tbsp. chia seeds or ground flax seeds with 3 tbsp. of water (let rest 5 minutes before using), or with ½ a mashed banana, or with ½ cup of apple sauce.
*If your child is allergic to nuts or peanuts, make sure there is no cross-contamination.
Wheat-and gluten-free lunches
Do you know the difference between a wheat allergy and celiac disease? In the case of an IgE-mediated allergy to wheat, consumption of the proteins found in wheat can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Anyone suffering from such an allergy must avoid consuming any foods that contain wheat (even in small amounts). Celiac disease is a chronic, auto-immune disease. For those suffering from celiac disease, consuming gluten can cause the immune system to have an abnormal and disproportionate reaction. Symptoms vary from one individual to another and can be severe, although there is no risk of anaphylaxis. Like with a food allergy, removing gluten from their diet is essential for people with celiac disease. Gluten is found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), as well as in other cereals such as rye, regular oats (contaminated), barley, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
To prepare a wheat-and gluten-free lunch, opt for the following ingredients:
- Whole-grain foods: rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, chickpea or legume pasta
- Fruits and vegetables: fresh, frozen, or canned
- Protein -rich foods: legumes, meat, poultry, tofu, or fish (if not allergic to these foods)
Here are a few wheat-and gluten-free
- Gluten-free bread topped with chicken salad, cucumber and tomato salad, coconut milk rice pudding or tapioca
- Quinoa salad with chickpeas and vegetables*, gluten-free orange and raspberry cake
- Dragon bowl (rice, cooked and chilled Chinese fondue meat, homemade Dragon sauce), chocolate and avocado pudding
*Use gluten-free whole grains as a salad base. Add protein, vegetables and/or fruits, a homemade dressing and voilà . . . a delicious and balanced meal!
Back to school also means back to birthday parties with friends! The traditional birthday cake can quickly become a challenge if you’re dealing with children with food allergies. However, there are several ingredient substitutes
that will allow you to bake a delicious, safe-for-everyone cake! If you’re pressed for time, you can pick up a cake mix that’s free of priority allergens instead.
Another option is to bake a variety of allergen-free desserts. Depending on the allergens to avoid, you could make:
*Make sure to use allergen-free ingredients (tolerated chocolate and margarine, allergen-free marshmallows).
- Rice Krispie squares prepared in an angel cake mould and served with a colourful white chocolate coulis*
- A Jell-O “cake”
- Banana pops (dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, if permitted)
- A deconstructed chocolate fondu*, with fruits and allergen-free mini marshmallows
Happy back-to-school season, everyone!