11 Ideas for Allergen-Free Afterschool Snack
Once your little one gets back home after a long day at school, the first thing he (or she) thinks about is after school snacks. Many kids would just tuck into a bunch of exciting empty-calorie snacks, while others may come home to a snack that was already prepared by their mom, dad, or baby sitter.
Coming up with an idea of a good healthy snack doesn’t seem to be difficult, but not in the families where kids are affected by food allergy. In this case, snacks should be not only tasty and healthy, but also completely allergen-free.
How to Ensure Allergen-Free Eating?
Having a food allergic child means you always have to check the ingredients on a product label to prevent accidental exposure to an allergen, as well as make sure to protect your kid from the risk of cross-contamination. All allergenic food products should be replaced with allergy-friendly substitutes.
Sometimes, finding a safe and healthy alternative to allergy-inducing foods like milk, eggs, nuts, or even meat that would have more or less equal nutritional value is quite challenging. But it’s important that you provide enough nutrients to your growing child to meet the daily requirements recommended by nutrition experts. This means you may need to search for new allergen-free recipes and plan out afternoon snacking beforehand.
During the day at school, kids usually use a lot of their brain power and physical energy, which often leaves them extremely hungry by the moment they come back home. The best kind of snack for a child coming from school is a good-tasting combination of proteins (to satisfy hunger and feed the muscles) and carbohydrates (to provide more energy for the rest of the day). Meals containing fruits and vegetables, full of vitamins and minerals, are a great idea for an afterschool snack.
Below, we suggest you a list of allergy-safe ideas for afterschool snacking that your child may find yummy.
Smoothie made of fresh fruits and veggies makes a perfect afterschool snack for children with or without food allergies. While only fruit-based smoothies are more common, experts recommend using vegetables, such as cucumbers, spinach or kale, as well. There are many other ingredients you can put into a blend to make it more nutritious. For example, a scoop of sun butter or a soy yogurt can be used to add more protein, while some dairy-free milk or juice will help to reach the liquid consistency. Keep your smoothies free of dairy and other allergenic foods to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
There is also an option to create a homemade trail mix adding various allergen-free ingredients. You can use gluten free cereal, dried fruits (like strawberry, cherries or apple), dairy-free chocolate pieces, raisins, roasted chickpeas, or cocoa dusted almonds (not in the case of tree nut allergies). Depending on the type of your child’s food allergy, choose a combination that is most suitable.
A granola bar is one of the most favorite snacks for many children. This high-protein bar has a pleasant sweet taste and provides a lot of energy, which makes it a great option for afterschool snack. You can find various allergen-free options in a grocery store or prepare your own granola bars using special allergy-friendly recipes available on the Internet.
Many kids believe that everything tastes better served on a stick! Think of an interesting and colorful combination of fruits and serve them with a side of yogurt. You can use a dairy-free yogurt made from soy or almond milk, if your child is allergic to dairy products.
Veggies and Dip
Crunchy fresh vegetables served together with some dip is a great healthy alternative to a typical empty-calorie snack. For instance, you can use carrots, peppers, cucumber or jicama and add hummus as a dip. While hummus may not be safe for kids allergic to legumes or sesame, there are many other options you can try, including guacamole, salad dressing, sour cream, etc.
Wraps with Cold Cuts
Another good idea for afternoon snack time is to wrap up some cold cuts, e.g. pieces of turkey or chicken, into a tortilla roll and add some cheese, salad and sauce. To avoid food allergens, choose gluten-free cold cuts and dairy-free cheeses and sauces.
Rice Cake Sandwiches
Rice cakes served with tuna, dairy or vegan (dairy-free) cheese, or egg salad will not only satisfy the hunger, but also provide some important nutrients like protein and healthy carbohydrates.
Cinnamon applesauce is a popular dessert among kids who like the taste of apples. You can serve this snack hot or cold, buy an already made product in a supermarket or prepare your own.
Sunflower Butter Spread with Banana Slices
Peanut butter is often used as a sandwich spread for lunch or afterschool snack. However, it’s not recommended in kids with a peanut allergy. If you are looking for an allergen-free alternative to peanut butter or other nut butters, try sun butter based on sunflower seeds. Its sweet taste and texture resemble the taste and texture of nut butters. Spread it on a bread and serve it with sliced banana and apple.
Popcorn is considered to be a healthier alternative to chips and other similar foods. Many children enjoy eating popcorn as a snack. Use salt, cinnamon and other spices to add some flavor, or sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top, if your child is not allergic to dairy.
Chips with Salsa
Crunchy corn-based chips are another popular snack for kids. Most of corn chips don’t contain gluten and are available in almost all major supermarkets and grocery stores. Although these chips make a good snack alone, you can also offer some salsa to accompany them.
Although food allergies in kids do cause some level of inconvenience, when it comes to preparing meals or buying packaged snacks for your child, you can still come up with a lot of great ideas for tasty, nutritious and allergy-friendly snacks.