Here we are, already facing the last half of the school or preschool year. If you are like me, all those great ideas for healthy lunches are starting to be replaced with boredom and routine, resulting in the same lunches every day. Or maybe you’re getting a little tired of buying Pirate Booty and Goldfish and want to try branching out with your little ones’ snacks. I have some great ideas for you!
Over the last year, we’ve been on a journey to deal with my son’s food intolerances and difficulty absorbing nutrients. I’ve had to modify our eating and snacking habits a little bit to lower his gluten and dairy intake and up his exposure to the vitamins that he needs when he has trouble absorbing things. So I’ve had to be a little creative in his eating.
I thought I’d share some of the snacks and lunch ideas that we’ve made a regular part of our lives, since I often get comments from other moms who never considered some of the options that are available for toddlers and preschoolers’ healthy and allergy-free snacks or lunches!
Nori (dried seaweed) snacks – (#1, above) find them at Trader Joe’s or in the Asian section of your local grocery store. You can even buy a huge pack at Costco, which is how we buy ours.
Rice cakes – (#2, above) they come in all kinds of flavors, and by choosing the organic brown rice version, they’re getting some extra whole grains.
Dried fruit – think outside the raisins and craisins box. If you go to Whole Foods, Sprouts, or Natural Grocer you can find dried papaya, mangoes, cherries, pineapples, and even dried veggies. These do contain a lot of sugar, so watch how much your children consume throughout the day.
Freeze dried fruit and veggies – (#3, above) my favorite brand is Just Fruit and Just Veggies.
Nuts and seeds – if your child does not have a nut allergy, you can buy dry roasted nuts of all kinds, not just peanuts. Almonds, cashews, pistachios. If there is a nut allergy, search your local natural grocery store for salted, roasted seeds like sunflower and pumpkin.
Rice crackers – great for kids with gluten sensitivity, you can even buy sweet puffed versions like Toddler Mum-Mums in Strawberry (#4, above). My 3 and 4 year old love them, even though they are well past the baby stage!
Nut crackers – gluten sensitive kids who are OK with almonds and soy might love crackers like Nut Thins, which come in a variety of flavors. They can be found at nearly any grocery store.
Hummus – dip those rice or nut crackers in hummus, which is made of garbanzo beans and tahini, for an added protein boost. Again, one of my favorite places for unique flavors of hummus is Trader Joe’s. Cilantro hummus, anyone? YUM.
Cultured Coconut milk – (#5, above) instead of yogurt, a dairy-free child can eat cultured coconut milk, which is found in the yogurt section of Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocer. Individual containers can be pricey, so you can always buy a larger container of the plain Vanilla and add your own fruit or jam. Instead of the go-gurt type containers, I use Squooshi reusable food pouches.
Frozen smoothie popsicles – if you make green smoothies at home, you can change it up a little and freeze them in popsicle molds. When I make a smoothie that my kids don’t love, I take the extra and freeze it into a popsicle for later. Often, they like it much better in it’s frozen form.
Deli meat wrapped around apples or pears – (pictured, below) it’s the gluten-free, dairy-free version of a ham and cheese wrap! I like to use cute bento food picks.