Sunday, December 21, 2014

8 nut-free snacks to pack for a healthy school lunch

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Packing a healthy school lunch your kiddo will love is hard. Add on the restriction of avoiding all nuts and it can seem downright exhausting.

With so many schools mandating nut-free lunches, parents are being forced to learn the ropes when it comes to avoiding nuts in packaged and prepared foods. And it’s not just about reading the ingredients list — you also have to consider other factors like finding out if a food was manufactured in a facility that processes nuts.

Fortunately, mom, we did some of the legwork and scoured the grocery store for you. Here’s eight nut-free lunch options that are healthy to boot:

Seed Butter: A nut-free PB&J? Yes, please! Sunbutter, which is made from allergen free sunflower seeds, is rich in protein, healthy fats and fiber, and can be used the same ways you would use peanut butter or almond butter. Spread it on a sandwich or pack an “on-the-go squeeze pack” for crackers or apple slices.

Granola Bar: This is a case where label reading is really important as many granola bars contain nuts or are made in factories that process them. Several flavors of multi-grain, low-sugar KIND Healthy Grains Bars are nut-free. Even though the bars are processed in the same plant as nut containing foods, they do FDA-grade allergy cleans every time they switch between products and then test their machines with protein swabs to ensure that there is no residue left behind or cross-contamination.

Chips: Ditch the regualr chips for these slightly sweet, multigrain, nut-free Cinnamon Sugar “Pita Puffs” from Food Should Taste Good. Your kids will love ‘em and you will, too (only 3 grams of sugar!).

Cookies: Back To Nature Honey Oat Grahams are lower in sugar than most cookies and can be used as a great vehicle for sunflower butter and light cream cheese or simply snacking.

Crackers: Surprisingly, many crackers are made in facilities that process nuts. Annie’s whole-wheat cheddar bunnies are nut-free and made with organic wheat flour. Plus, considering the cheesy flavor and kid-friendly shape, they’ll be a winner with your little ones.

Trail Mix: Enjoy Life Foods has a pre-packed nut-free Mountain Mambo “seed and fruit” mix that contains satisfying seeds like pumpkin and sunflower that are paired with dried fruit and kid-approved dark chocolate chips.

Pretzels: Locally made and delicious, Uncle Jerry’s Whole Wheat Pretzels are nut-free, contain only real food ingredients and have 3 grams of good-for-you fiber—plus, a low salt variety is available.

Sweet Treat: Chocolate and peanut butter is a match made in heaven. Thankfully, Suncups created a nut-free version of our favorite sweet treat. My top pick is the dark chocolate and sunflower buttercups, which only have 7 grams of sugar per serving. (Not bad for candy!)

Katie Cavuto, MS, RD Culinary Nutritionist, Dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies
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