Today’s post is a guest post written by Serena Morris of Kittymoms. She writes on topics related to pregnancy, birth, babies and children, particular in topics relating to health. I’m happy to have her here on The Naturopathic Mama as a guest contributor, where she shares great information on allergy-friendly packaged foods for children:
Having a child with allergies can be difficult where mealtimes are concerned. As I found with my own children, though you can prepare foods that avoid their allergies when you make meals, snacks are much harder, especially if you want to make sure your children have something tasty in their lunch box every school day. That is where packaged foods come in very handy. However, not all packaged foods are allergy-friendly. With that in mind, today I am going to tell you how to choose good allergy-friendly packaged foods for children. After that, I will give you some suggestions for delicious snacks that they will love.
Choosing Packaged Snacks for Children with Allergies
Stepping into the grocery store may seem overwhelming. After all, there are so many varieties of foods to choose from, both ones that are allergy-free and ones that aren’t. However, there are some ways to choose appropriate foods.
Read the Label
The first step in choosing healthy snacks for your child is to read the labels. Labels on foods are required, by law, to list all of a food’s ingredients, including those that are present in trace amounts. You can scan down the label, looking for things your child will be allergic to, for example gluten, nuts and dairy.
Check the Factories
Wherever possible, choose food from factories that do not also produce things your child is allergic to. For example, if your child is allergic to nuts, do not buy them potato chips that are made in the same factory that also makes peanuts.
Do Your Research
If you have to buy food from a factory that does make something your child has an allergy to, you’ll find yourself having to do some research like I did. You need to get online and look up the company’s practices. Read up on them, and familiarize yourself with how they prevent cross-contamination. After all, you wouldn’t want your child to have an allergic reaction from a seemingly innocuous food.
Even while focusing on finding products that are allergy-free, it is important to remember to make sure that the food you provide your child is nutritious. After all, if you are like me, you want your child to eat a balanced, healthy diet as nutrients can be lost when a child cannot eat the most readily available foods that contain that nutrient. Packaged snack foods can be good sources of lost nutrients. Make sure to read the nutrition Information.
Common Allergy-free Foods
Now that you have a guide for choosing allergen-free foods, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. That is why I am going to give you some ideas for some of the snacks my own children love.
Freeze-dried Fruits and Veggies
Everyone knows that fresh fruits and veggies are a great source of nutrients, and most children do not have allergies to these foods. However, the downside to fresh produce is that it needs to be kept refrigerated to avoid spoiling and does not travel well.
That is where freeze-dried fruits and veggies come in. These packaged snacks can be found at most grocery stores, and are an excellent source of snacktime nutrition. Just remember to read the labels carefully as some brands can contain a lot of sugar and you don’t want that.
Go for a freeze-dried option that contains as little sugar as possible and that is fortified with extra nutrients if you can find that.
Since the delicious veggies and fruits are dehydrated or freeze-dried, you won’t have to worry about keeping them refrigerated. As a bonus, if you have a dehydrator like my family does, you can easily make your own fruit chips and put them in baggies yourself.
Vegan Chocolate Bliss Balls
If your child has gluten allergies, you can make them chocolate bliss balls for a snack. However, be warned that these delicious treats are not appropriate for children with nut allergies or those who are allergic to sugar.
Not all crackers and chips contain allergens. However, most of them are not healthy. However, with quinoa puffs, this is not a problem you will have to worry about.
These puffs come in a variety of flavors, suitable for even the pickiest tastes. There are even some which are dairy free as well, though you will need to check the label carefully.
Most children love cookies. However, for those with gluten allergies, having a cookie can be difficult. Thankfully, however, there are gluten-free cookies on the market and they are relatively easy to find and taste just as delicious as the wheat-filled version.
If your child doesn’t like Snickerdoodles, there are other types of gluten-free cookies as well.
Rice cakes are another wonderful snack food, great with a bit of jam, marmalade or almond butter if your child is one of those who doesn’t like them plain.
If you are going to get rice cakes, it is important to read the label. Some of them include flavoring, and may include sugar which though not a common allergen can occur in some children. Make sure to check the ingredients before serving these snacks to a child.
Packaged Fresh Veggies
Though these are not a good snack for school days without refrigeration, packaged, prewashed veggies such as baby carrots, can be an excellent snacktime option for home snacks or for packing into a lunch box if you include an ice pack.
Carrots have a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients which make them a great snack. However, baby carrots are far more portable than their bigger counterparts and kids love to crunch them!
Individualized cups of applesauce are a great resource for your child when those schooltime parties come up or they get hungry during class. They are allergen-free, not messy, and easy to eat. On top of that, if you get the sugar-free type, or one made from all-natural ingredients, you can count them as some necessary fruit servings in your child’s diet.
Though you can make this safe snack yourself, there are some brands of packaged popcorn that are quite tasty and allergen-free. Your child can happily munch on popcorn instead of candy or chips.
If plain popcorn cramps your child’s style, there are also flavored popcorns that are allergen-free. Just be careful and read the label before purchasing to make sure that your choice of popcorn isn’t flavored with anything your child is allergic to.
Though finding snacks for a child is overwhelming, sometimes, it isn’t impossible. In this article, I gave you all the tips you need to make sure your child’s snacks are safe. I also gave you a list of the healthy snacks my children love best. Hopefully, some of these will work for your children too. Have fun, be creative, and remember to always snack safely.