25 Allergy-Friendly Snacks For Your Child With Special Needs

25 Allergy-Friendly Snacks For Your Child With Special Needs

At the PTA meeting on the first day of school, the principal announced a schoolwide ban on edible birthday treats.  Most of the audience fell silent.  I was the obnoxious parent who clapped and cheered – loudly!

But as Halloween approaches, costume parties are being planned at school.  Almost every classroom has at least one child with a food allergy – my kindergartener is one of them.  And every party planner is asking, “What kind of food can we have that won’t cause an allergic reaction?”

Personally, I’d prefer to keep the party food out of the classroom.  But that’s a battle for another day.  Today I’ll offer a list of allergy-friendly foods for school party planners.

1. Homemade snacks

Most parents of children with food allergies prefer pre-packaged snacks at school events because of the serious risk of cross-contamination in a home kitchen – for example, there could be peanut butter residue on a spoon that was used to stir cupcake batter.

The most common food allergens are:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shelfish (not kosher)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Rice Krispy Treats -Allergy Gluten FreeMost kitchens in the USA contain at least 2 of those allergens. If you know the parents of the children with allergies, ask if it would be OK to bring in rice crispy treats (nut-free and egg-free) or gluten-free muffins from a mix.

For my son’s school snack every day, I make fruit bars by blending dried fruit with raw sunflower seeds.  For snacks at home I often make dairy-free chocolate “pudding” by whipping together avocado, banana, honey and cocoa powder.  A friend of mine makes popsicles by freezing blackberry puree – no sugar added.

2. Fresh fruit and vegetables

Fruit And Vegetables Allergy FreeYour best bet for safe snacks will always be fruit and vegetables, because they are free of the 8 most common allergens.  Keep in mind that some tropical fruits may trigger a reaction – for example, people with a latex allergy are usually also allergic to bananas, because the plants are related.  Here is a list of recommended fruits and vegetables:

  • Apples, applesauce or apple cider
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Grapes – fresh or frozen
  • Raisins (Sun-Maid brand are kosher pareve)
  • Dried cranberries (Trader Joe dried cranberries are kosher)
  • Canteloupe chunks
  • Watermelon slices
  • Oranges
  • Carrot sticks
  • Broccoli florets
  • Slices of bell peppers
  • Sliced tomatoes with sea salt
  • Sliced cucumbers

3. Frozen treats

Frozen Treats - Allergy FreeIt wouldn’t be a party without ice cream – except for the fact that ice cream contains dairy and eggs, and is usually cross-contaminated with nuts.  Fortunately, there are dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free alternatives:

  • Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade
  • Luigi’s Real Italian Ice
  • Nestle Ice Pops

4. Crunchy snacks

SnickerdoodlesWhen party guests have food allergies, it becomes necessary to substitute the old standbys with gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free foods like these:

  • Lays Simply Natural Thick Cut Sea Salted Potato Chips
  • Ruffles Original Potato Chips
  • Trader joe’s snickerdoodles
  • Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo
  • Lundberg brand lightly salted rice cakes – delicious with jam, marmalade or apple butter
  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Plantain chips (baked with sunflower seed oil)
  • Enjoy Life brand cookies and chips – all free of the 8 most common food allergens

It’s a good idea for everyone to think about what we eat.  When we stop and look at a list of ingredients, we are more likely to choose something healthy.  In the long run, that means more parties!

Please share your family’s favorite allergy-friendly treats in the comments below.

Karen
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  • Susan

    Our kids love “Veggie Stix”, sometimes called “straws” depending on the brand. Our local brand is from Giant and the package states “Good manufacturing practices used to segregate ingredients in a facility that also processes peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, wheat and soy ingredients” ! Not the same as a guarantee of allergen free. The actual ingredients are “potato flour, sunflower and/or safflower oil, corn starch, tomato puree, spinach powder, salt, sugar, turmeric, beet powder.”

    And, believe it or not, SEAWEED is a great favorite. You can buy “Nori” seasoned with teriyaki or other flavors, or just plain salted. Some children also like dulse, which is a little harder to find.

    Pickled foods make great snacks – classic dill pickles, pickled carrots or other vegetables, pickled garlic for kids with a bit more adventurous taste, and sauerkraut, right out of the can (favorite brand is Snow Floss, which seems tastier than most), or mixed with raw cranberries and carrot shreds and a little honey or sugar to taste.

  • Susan

    Oh, forgot some old classics: corn tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole! Popcorn! Rice crackers with hummus!

  • Vera

    Classes at my school can can collect tokens that can eventually get their class special prizes (extra recess, extra time on computer games, etc.). The popcorn party is always a big hit…we have one of those carnival-style popcorn machines, and can customize the butter and salt level. Of course, the ultimate prize is eating your own bag lunch with the principal!

  • Jj

    My family is anaphalax allergic to corn some of us airborn. We just skip the public school all together. There is no catering to us. But please don’t forget corn is a growing allergy.