Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Low Allergen Lunches That Travel

Published with 6 recipes (see glutenanddairyfree.com or back issue of Living Without magazine for those recipes) By Laura Schmitt
Low Allergen Lunches that Travel

“Is it Free Mommy? Can I eat it?” My four year old asks as she looks at any new food. Price is not the issue being questioned. What she wants to know is this: is this new and ever tempting food free of gluten, dairy, and soy? Can she enjoy it or is it just another appealing item that gets packaged in the brightly colored pile of unsafe foods that all the children in the world seem to live off of…except her.

If your child suffers from food allergies or intolerances, then you know how challenging it can be to not only provide healthful meals, but also to give the comfort of being a part of all that food encompasses in our society. With a little forethought, there is no reason to be left out. What you’ll find here is an answer to traveling lunches for the food intolerant child in your life. Not only will you be able to provide healthy meals, but with this well planned selection you can keep it fresh, rotating, and perhaps more importantly…appetizing for little ones!

When the world of food eliminations poured onto our family, I was newly frantic in the hopeless feeling that it couldn’t possibly work. What could we eat? Would we starve? How could life go on without all those comforting foods I had grown so dependent on? A shift in my mindset came when a friend told me that while my child had food allergies, food allergies did not have my child. She was right! My daughter is able to participate in any event and food does not change our course of life. We just pack a different bag for the ride.

Picking a bag: When you are choosing a lunch bag, think about the types of foods you’ll be sending and try to acquire all the reusable storage containers you will need at the time of purchase to ensure proper fit. Be certain you are buying lead free bags if you opt for Vinyl. Tin, plastic, paper, PUL, cloth, bento boxes, baskets…the options are out there to fit the personality of each and every child, so make sure you found one that works well for your family, and hopefully one that your child enjoys!
A source for more eco friendly lunch bags are

Filling the bag: Not only is the outside packaging appealing, but when your child opens their lunch they will be taken in by rich colors and a variety of choice flavors. Spend a little, or a lot of time decorating and arranging the foods to be fun for your children. You can get creative by turning fruits and vegetables into animals or letters to get a giggle out of your sweet. Use their favorite flavors to twist an old idea.

How it works: For each packed lunch, try to include one “Main” item as well as one “Fruit” and one “Vegetable”. “Sides” may trade places with “Vegetables” at times. Make sure your child is getting a good variety of nutritional foods on their special diet. If you are uncertain about the nutritional content of your child's meals, bring your food lists to a nutritionist, nutrition educator, pediatrician, or dietitian to help you with the process.
Look for thermal lunchboxes or bags that are lead free and contain options for heating or cooling storage areas within! These lively lunchboxes are sure to please.

Below you will find our lunch box travel plan. It is ideal for a diet free of gluten, dairy, soy, and tomato. Substitutions for corn, egg and sugar are well tolerated. For those with nut allergies, you will have to adapt the choices to exclude those listed with nut butters. Food intolerance is a growing occurrence, and while this chart does not account for all food intolerances, we have grabbed onto some of the major offenders in order to help make it easier for you! We do not offer options specifically geared toward a vegetarian diet, as our particular food restrictions prevent us from eating many beans in addition to soy, gluten, and dairy. We find organic pasture raised meats and ocean raised salmon to be important additions to our diet, however, vegetarians can still take many ideas from this and incorporate them with their own “Main” items. Bon appetite!