There was a time when you could find me rolling my eyes at those crazy parents who wanted everybody to be mindful of their kids’ peanut allergies. I mean seriously, your kid, your problem. Fast forward a few years and it’s my kids. My problem. (Though Big has miraculously outgrown his food allergies—yay!)
But I’m not the only one. I have more friends than I can count in the same peanut-free boat. And it’s a big discussion as parents try to figure out how to navigate back-to-school lunches. I’ve heard grumbling. Questions. Is all this fuss really necessary?
I know…it’s different than when we were kids. Allergies are out of control. I can’t explain it, but I am asking you to try to understand it.
You see peanut butter and think, “Easy lunch.” I see peanut butter and think, “Poison. Life-threatening poison.” You see trail mix and think, “Party snack.” I see trail mix and think, “Poison. Life-threatening poison.” You see mini-peanut-butter cups and think, “Goody bag.” I see mini-peanut-butter cups and think, “Ooh those look delicious…but they’re poison. Life-threatening poison.”
As the parent of kids with allergies, I most definitely understand the responsibility is mine. I need to teach my kids what they can and can’t eat. I need to painstakingly read labels. Alert caretakers, teachers, parents at play dates. My kids. My problem.
As the parent of kids without allergies, you certainly don’t have to worry (unless, of course, the school forces you to). Here’s where my plea comes in. Please, please think twice when there are other kids around—at parties, play dates, school. Because let’s face it. We can tell our little ones that they’re different, that they can’t do what all their friends do or they’ll get very, very sick. And they may even say they understand. But when was the last time your toddler or preschooler showed self restraint? (After all, there’s a reason we childproof cabinets that house poisonous chemicals.)
Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be entirely wrong), but my picky, plain family eats well without peanut products every day, so here are some ideas to help you survive those peanut-free moments.
Cold Pasta Salad
• Think fun shapes, chopped veggies (tomato, cucumber, peppers) and an oil-based salad dressing
• Throw it in pasta salad
• Mix with teriyaki or BBQ sauce & include a roll
• Mix it with a little mayo, celery and sliced grapes and include a pita pocket
• Mix it with rice and fresh salsa or brocolli
• Ham or salami, cheese & mustard
• Brie & grape or apple slices
• Cream cheese & jelly
• Cottage cheese & dried fruit
• Pita pieces or chips, veggies and hummus
• Turkey slices, veggies, pretzels and ranch
• Taco meat/cheese and chips
NOTE: I cook carrots slightly to make them easier to chew…still good to dip
• Dry cereal (no Honey Nut Cheerios…wish our former daycare provider had realized “nut” in the product name is a tell-tale sign)
• Fresh fruit, dried fruit
• Edamame- plain or tossed with a bit of salad dressing
• Use veggie peeler to make strips of carrot & cucumber
• Fresh veggies (sugar snap peas, baby carrots, cucumber slices, olives)
• Homemade trail mix- pretzels, dried fruit, dry cereal, goldfish/bunnies, M&Ms
Please share your favorite peanut-free ideas too. I’d love to add some new ones…that empty lunchbox is my nemesis some days!
Photo by duncan from Flickr.