Recipes and Tips for Kid-Friendly, Allergy-free Lunches


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Need some tips for gluten and allergen free lunches?  Here are some “out of the lunchbox” ideas.

Parents with children that have severe food allergies can especially feel challenged by the morning lunch prep routine– easy options for lunch seem limited.   Without advance planning, the morning rush can make your head spin. Here are some easy ideas to help overcome those mental blocks that we can face during the hectic, rush around mornings.  The tips below are all geared towards the gluten-free and allergy-friendly lunchbox but really anyone can add these ideas to their lunch prep repertoire.

1. Plan and prepare in advance

As much as possible, prepare at least part of lunch the night before, while you are preparing dinner.  If you are making a salad for dinner, make an extra salad for your child’s lunch.  If you are preparing pasta, make an extra serving and re-warm in the morning.  Soups, pastas, risottos all make great lunch box options.

-Wash and chop a plethora of fresh veggies and place in air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Use what you need as you go.

-Make and freeze larger batches of items such as gluten-free granola bars and home-made gluten-free cookies.

-Purchase handy lunch containers, a thermos and a large enough lunch box to fit everything.

 

2.  Think outside of the regular sandwich

The challenge with gluten-free sandwiches is, of course, the bread. It often crumbles, doesn’t taste good, has holes in it, is expensive, etc.  A great way to prepare sandwiches on gluten-free bread is by using a panini maker or sandwich press.  The flavor and texture of purchased gluten-free bread is enhanced by toasting or grilling.

Panini’s:

Turkey Pesto Panini:

2 slices whole grain gluten-free bread such as Rudi’s

2-3 turkey slices, nitrate free, try organic brand like Applegate Farm

1 slice cheddar, Monterey Jack or Provolone Cheese, or Daiya dairy free cheese

Sliced tomato or avocado

Pesto sauce for the adventurous kids

Spray a little cooking spray on the Panini maker, place your first bread piece, then add nitrate free turkey, a cheese slice or Daiya Cheese Shreds (our favorite!)  add optional sliced tomato or avocado, then another cheese slice, and top with second slice of bread, for the adventurous kids, pesto sauce can be spread on the top piece of bread.  Cook as instructed.  Wrap in reusable sandwich wrapper.  While the Panini will not stay hot until lunchtime, it still tastes great.

Almond Butter, Jam and Fruit Panini: Spray a little cooking spray on the Panini maker, spread one piece of bread with almond butter, the other with low sugar, organic jam, place first bread piece, thinly sliced apples or bananas, place other piece of bread on top.  Cook as instructed.  Wrap in reusable sandwich wrapper.

Waffle sandwiches: Try The Pure Pantry Buckwheat Flax Pancake and Baking mix to make waffles on the weekend.  Make extra a freeze.  In the morning, lightly toast two waffles, spread with nut butter and organic jam or cream cheese and jam.  Try turkey slices or ham with swiss cheese or Daiya Mozzarella to create a “Montecristo” type of sandwich. 

Cookie Cutter Sandwiches: appearance is everything to some kids.  Create cute cut-out finger sandwiches with large shaped cookie cutters.

3.Make a Hot Lunch

Not a lover of the gluten-free bread choices out there?  Think outside the sandwich, and get into thermoses!

This Bento box type thermos provides great versitility: www.ebagsetc.com

Thermos Meals

Again, planning ahead pays off in the morning.  Left overs make great lunches the next day.  Soups, stews, pastas, risottos, are all easily reheated and packed into a thermos.

Soups: What can be more satisfying that a nice homemade cup of soup?  Here are a few ideas:

White Bean Oregano Chili: A family favorite in our home. A large pot can be made on the weekend and doled out during the week.  Accompany with organic corn chips or gluten-free corn muffins.

Asian Noodle Soups: gluten-free rice noodle packaged soups with added veggies are a perfect, quick hot meal to take to school.

Pastas:

Pasta Salad: gluten-free fusilli pasta tossed with chopped celery, cooked broccoli, shredded carrots, diced black olives, and 1 tablespoon Balsamic salad dressing. 

Gluten-Free Spaghetti and Meatballsmake a big batch for dinner, then warm and serve it up for lunch the next day.

Mac and Cheese – Dairy based or Dairy-Free with peas or broccoli. 

BBQ Chicken:

Left over BBQ’d chicken: My son’s favorite.  Barbeque extra chicken legs or thighs, pair them up with coleslaw or a side salad.

4. Get in the greens with salads

 I am proud to say my 3 year old eats salads.  If your children are salad eaters, a whole world opens up for lunch box choices.  It is easy to prepare a chef salad or garden salad with a protein.  For dinner the night before, prepare an extra portion and place in a lunch container.  Put salad dressing in a smaller container.  There are endless options. Here are a couple of ideas:

Chef Salad: top lettuce mixture with slices or turkey,cheese, add hardboiled egg slices, cherry tomatoes, avocado slices.  Place salad dressing in a separate small container.

Greek salad: top lettuce mixture with cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, Greek olives and feta cheese crumbles or Daiya Mozzarella shreds, add sliced grilled chicken if desired.  Place salad dressing in separate small container.

Garden salad with tuna: top lettuce mixture with sliced carrots, sliced cucumbers and any other veggies your child likes. Combine one can tuna with 1 tablespoon Vegenaise (egg free,dairy free mayo) ½ cup diced celery, ½ cup diced pickle, a squeeze of ½ lemon, dash of dill.  Place one scoop of tuna salad on top of greens.  Place salad dressing in a separate small container.

5. Add Some Easy Snacks and Sides:

Trail mix: make your own or purchase.

Yogurt Parfait: Your child’s favorite yogurt or coconut yogurt flavor with a small container of sliced fruit and a container of gluten-free granola to top it off.  Our favorite gluten-free granola is from Healthy Creations.

Home-made Gluten-Free Granola Bars: try this recipe for Cherry-Almond Oat Bars. Make double batches, cut into bars, wrap each bar individually and freeze.  Pull out a ar when needed – it will defrost by snack time.

 

Home-made allergy-friendly cookies:  Try some fun fall recipes like Pumpkin Pie Bars, or Molasses Ginger Cookies, or an old time favorite, Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip cookies.

Gluten-free Chex Mix: try my Agave-Almond Chex Mix recipe for a great snack to pack for lunch or to bring to a class party.

Pre-packed healthy snacks: Organic Fruit leathers, organic squeezable fruit purees, organic apple sauce are all easy to throw in options.  Gluten-free crackers and cheese, and organic gluten-free corn chips with salsa are also easy to pull together.

Fresh fruit is a staple in every lunch we make.  We always keep apples, oranges, bananas and grapes on hand as a grab and go lunch item or snack.  More fragile fresh fruit such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, we place in small containers.

Fresh veggies and dips: Carrots, celery, red pepper strips are all great with hummus, organic ranch dip, or Edamame Pesto Dip (recipe in “Fresh from Elizabeth’s Kitchen”).

There are so many options for gluten-free, allergen friendly lunches.  With a little advance planning you can provide healthy, tasty lunch options that will keep your kids well-fed and make your mornings flow smoothly.

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Easy Gluten-free Banana Pancakes

gluten-free banana pancakes

What do you do with all those over ripe, brown bananas?  Banana bread, banana smoothies, banana pancakes?  Here is our favorite, easy recipe for banana pancakes.

2 eggs

1 cup almond, rice or coconut milk

1 cup gluten-free Old Fashioned Pancake Mix from The Pure Pantry

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil or other cooking oil

 

1. To make the pancake mix: whisk eggs in medium size bowl.  Add half the milk and half the pancake mix and blend together.  Add remaining milk and pancake mix and mix until combined.

Blend in mashed bananas and oil.

2. Heat griddle to medium heat.  I use the Skinny Griddle as it has a non-stick surface and I don’t have to use extra oil.  They are available at Sur La Table online: Skinny Griddle.

It is always a good idea to have a dedicated “gluten-free” griddle.  I write more about gluten-free kitchen supplies here: Gluten-free Cooking Tips.

skinny griddle 3. Ladle 1/4 cup mix onto griddle forming a circle.  Continue making pancakes leaving at least 1 inch in between each pancake.

IMG_8574

 

 

gluten-free banana pancakes

4. Watch for bubbles forming at edges of pancakes — when they begin to pop, you will know its time to flip them over.

5. Cook on second side until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Remove pancake from griddle and serve with sliced bananas and agave nectar or pure maple syrup.

 

 

 

Raw Lemon Lime Coconut Cheesecake with Nutty Crust

Raw Vegan Lemon Lime Cheesecake

All I can say is “WOW”!  I have never made a raw “cheesecake” before and with my daughter’s influence, decided to try it.  We checked out the blog “This Rawsome Vegan Life” and found some tempting recipes for raw, dairy-free cheesecake.

A shout out to Rawsome Emily for creating some beautiful recipes with all raw ingredients.  With what we had on hand, we came up with the following Lemon Lime Coconut Cheesecake.  It was literally gone in two seconds with three kids and a hubby who can eat anything and still look like Superman.

Raw Lemon Lime Coconut Cheesecake

Gluten/Dairy/Egg Free

Crust:

1 cup dates

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw pecans

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix and process until everything comes together in a sticky mixture.  Press into a 9 inch springform pan and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Cheesecake:

2 cups raw cashews

1 cup raw almonds

4 dates

3/4 cup coconut (raw, unswetened)

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup coconut milk or almond milk

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2/3 cup agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pulse nuts until finely ground in food processor or Vitamix.  Add dates, coconut, lemon and lime juice, coconut or almond milk, lemon zest, agave and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Add melted coconut oil and vanilla extract and blend in.

Pour into prepared crust.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight.   Once firm, remove side of springform pan, place on cake plate and serve.  Optional: top with fresh blueberries, strawberries  or raspberries.  I have to mention that I am a cheesecake connoisseur having owned a cheesecake business years ago.  I never imaged such a delicious treat that is dairy and gluten-free, and good for you!!  Yippy!

Strawberry Jam — A canning lesson

 

Strawberry Jam

 

It’s strawberry season and I decided to “put up” some jam with the abundant, luscious strawberries I bought at the farmer’s stand down the street. Canning has always been an interest of mine and having homemade jams in our pantry is a real treat.  There is definitely a science to  properly preparing homemade preserves and jams.  When I was visiting the Cotswolds in England over a decade ago, I purchased the most beautiful book titled “Perfect Preserves, Provisions from the Kitchen Garden” by Nora Carey.  The photography is so gorgeous that you just can’t wait to get cooking once you look at the pictures!   I definitely learned the “proper” British way to prepare preserves.  However, there are many techniques for creating the perfect jam.  Ball’s book (or website as it is now, referenced below) is the American Bible on Canning and I have cross-referenced it many times.  Today I am going to use my new Tech Fresh Jam Maker — it feels a little like I am cheating, however, it cuts down on time and creates a very nice result, so why not.  Here is what you will need:

Equipment:  There are many types of jam jars available.  My favorite are the type that clamp at the top — so pretty and have many uses after the jam is gone.  Here are some things to consider in purchasing your jars.  The clamp style, my fav, requires a new band each time you reuse them.  The jars with the twist on lid  (first two images) require that you use new lids each time you reuse the jars.  The square jars, which stack and fit side by side very neatly in the pantry, require their own special bands, which may be a little hard to find, although Sur La Table does carry them.  I love the clamp jars with the chalk board labels.  It is helpful to purchase a chalk board pen, available at Michael’s, which makes writing on the label easier and although not permanent, stays on much better than regular chalk.  There are lots of choices. All of these are available at Sur La Table, which you can view in their catalog here, some are on sale: Sur La Table.

Canning Jars

Fancy Canning JarClamp style Jar JarSquare Canning JarsFancy Canning Jars

 

Canning Jars with Labels You will also need a few other things:

A potato masher to mash the fruit

A spatula

A canning jar lifter, or as I use, a stock pot and with a pasta collander that lifts the jars out of hot water, and tongs to handle the hot jars …. and

A canning funnel, here is a kit that comes with both the funnel and jar lifter, available at Sur La Table :

Canning Jar Funnel and Jar Lifter

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the ingredients and recipe for Strawberry Jam. This is a lower in sugar version.

Strawberry Jam – Low Sugar

• 5 cup(s) (crushed) fresh strawberries
• 1 package(s) (3/4 ounce)  lower-sugar powdered fruit pectin
• 2 1/2 cup(s) sugar
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions to prepare in Dutch Oven over stove top:

1. Prepare six 8-ounce canning jars and their lids and bands for processing following manufacturer’s directions.  Here is a step-by-step guide from the Ball website:  http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/steps/high-acid-foods.asp Meanwhile, wash and clean strawberries, remove stems. In large bowl, with potato masher, crush enough berries in batches to measure 5 cups.

2. Place strawberries in 5-quart Dutch oven.  With a wire whisk, gradually stir pectin into crushed berries. Let mixture stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place lids in small saucepan and cover with water; heat to boiling and set pan aside.

3. Heat strawberry mixture to boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and return strawberry mixture to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in lemon juice. Remove strawberry jam from heat. With metal spoon, skim off and discard foam as it accumulates on top.

4. Place jars and lids upside down on wire rack set over towels to drain. Spoon jam into hot, drained jars, fill to 1/4 inch from top of jar. Wipe jar rims clean. Seal jars. Process in boiling-water bath for 10 minutes (instructions in above link). Cool jars on wire rack to room temperature. Label jars and store in cool, dry place. Use within 6 months. Once opened, store in refrigerator and use within 3 weeks.

Directions to prepare in the handy-dandy FreshTech ™  jam maker (click here to see at Sur La Table)using recipe above:

Strawberry Jam Fresh Tech Jam Maker After making the jam in the Fresh Tech Jam Maker, follow the steps above for the canning process.

There are several other options for storing jam if you are pressed for time or just don’t want to hassle with all the preserving jars, lids, etc.  You can put portions of the jam in airtight containers and store in your freezer for up to 1 year or your refrigerator  for up to 3 weeks.   You can even recycle jars and lids, wash them with hot soapy water, dry them, fill with jam and place in the fridge.   The advantage of canning is your jam will last for a longer period of time, can be stored in the pantry, and my favorite thing, given as gifts without the concern of how the recipient will store the jam.  And now….the best part…eating the fresh strawberry jam on some gluten-free bread.

strawberry jam on gluten-free bread

Next, what to make with my fresh strawberry jam?  I think Strawberry filled Crepes are in order.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls

 

I came across the greatest bakeware invention — a cookie bowl pan!  It enabled me to create these fabulous cookie bowls.   I filled them with ice cream and poured chocolate sauce over the top.
Voila! A quick and elegant dessert in less than 20 minutes.  The new Cookie Bowl Pan can be ordered at:  (click here) Sur La Table. 

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls

Here is the recipe:

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls

1 package The Pure Pantry gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix (click here to purchase)

3/4 cup butter or butter alternative (such as Coconut Butter — click here for product)

1 egg or equivalent amount of egg replacer

1 tablespoon good quality vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using electric mixer, cream together butter (or butter alternative) and egg (or egg replacer) until well blended.  Mix in vanilla.  Add contents of package.  Mix well with electric mixer until all ingredients are combined.   Place covered bowl with dough in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Roll out dough on generously-floured surface  (you can use rice flour or The Pure Pantry gluten-free All Purpose Baking Mix) to ¼-inch thickness. Cut 5-inch circles from dough. Drape one circle over each cup bowl of pan, pressing to form smooth surface.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake 12–14 minutes or until cookie cups are firm and golden brown. Cool on pan over a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Gently loosen bottom edges of cookies, remove from pan and let cool completely. Wash, dry and spray pan; repeat with remaining dough.

Let cookie bowls cool completely.  Fill with ice cream and/or fresh strawberries, top with chocolate sauce and/or whipped cream.

The Pure Pantry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photos credited to Sur La Table, www.surlatable.com

Sur La Table logo

 

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