Allergy Safe Lunchbox

lunchbox

If your kiddo is anything like my own, then lunchbox goodies are a BIG deal. Do you remember the days of “I’ll trade my cookie for your pudding” or “are you going to eat that“? Well, it doesn’t quite work that way for some kids. Thanks to food allergies, many cafeteria lunches and tokens from friends’ lunchboxes just aren’t safe items to trade. What’s a parent to do? What can we pack that will be filling, nutritious, and fun? When many of Superkiddo’s friends began eating the popular pre-packaged boxes (you know the ones) of cheese, crackers, and meats, he began to feel left out. We took the time to make a safe version for him, and started looking for ways to make allergy safe lunches look as exciting as what other kids could eat. If you have a school cafeteria bound kiddo, and want to give them a fun, colorful lunch, you may enjoy a few of our favorite tricks.

Power Packed Lunches

Silly & Supercool Sandwiches: We use cookie cutters to shape our bread, and then add our favorite fillings. I am a huge fan of Applegate Farms nitrate-free choices of meats, and the Daiya dairy-free cheeses. Another fun trick for us is a “Captain Hook,” or a divided sandwich on a stick (try it!).

Crunchy Cuts of Veggies: Who says that vegetables have to be bland or boring? You can slice, spiralize, or chop your favorite colorful vegetables, and pair them with hummus, salsa, or homemade dressing. Every kid that I have ever met loves to dip their food. Even if a kid claims to not like vegetables, if you give him a dip, he will try it.

Fruit Pouches: These are a fabulous, and fun way to get a little more fruit into your kiddo’s lunchbox.  My favorites are Go Go Squeez and Peter Rabbit Organics.  The best part? You don’t have to remember to pack a spoon.

Fruit: Our favorite apples are sold in “lunchbox size,” so they are a fun wash and pack option. Grapes, bananas, melons, are also a delightful, sneaky way to get in healthy vitamins. You can cut them into shapes for a fun fruit salad, or make fruit kebabs.

Smoothies: A smoothie can be filled with a combination of your favorite fruits and vegetables (try kale, blueberries, bananas, & allergy-safe milk. DELICIOUS!). I prefer freezing them the night before, and allowing them to thaw in the lunchbox. Why? They will be perfectly frosty at lunchtime, and the container will help keep the rest of the lunch items cold.

Superkiddo can never eat from the menu of the school cafeteria, or trade lunches with a friend. There isn’t a dedicated, allergy-free kitchen, and there are no guarantees of the ingredients in his friends’ lunches. We therefore make sure that he has a lunchbox filled with fun containers and delicious, safe, fun foods. Whether your kids suffer from food allergies, or if you are on the hunt for better food choices, I would love to dig deeper, and share recipes and tips.  I hope that you will join me on the journey to discover tasty, healthy options.

Until next time,
xoxo

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Menu Planning Gets Desperate

Oh, geez. I am sure that I am the only person who has ever done this. I scheduled my Monday post to publish NEXT MONDAY. Seriously brilliant, right? This is what I meant to tell all of you yesterday.  Here goes…

I was looking through planners, checking which events required that I show up dressed in more than yoga pants, and planning out our food choices for this week.  Upon seeing this week’s menu, my son asked, “are you SURE that you want to have a Taco Tuesday?” I wasn’t sure if his response was due to seeing the Lego Movie, or if he just was tired of tacos.  He didn’t have a suggestion for an alternative, so Taco Tuesday it will be. We try to find ways to mix up the menu, and jazz up our food choices here and there, but I dare say that it is quite a challenge to keep things interesting. There are weeks when we get super creative, and then there are meals that would top the list of epic failures. It isn’t always as easy as Ina Garten or B Smith make it look…

This week’s plan:
Monday – Macaroni Monday! (surprise, surprise!) I finally found a way to make vegan cheese NOT taste like dirty socks. I don’t care who you are, or if you have been a lifelong vegan, you know that stuff doesn’t taste like the real deal. Our household has to be dairy free, thanks to allergies, so we have to do what we have to do. Tonight’s macaroni will have a Daiya shreds base, with sautéed vegetables mixed in.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday! Hard shells are all the rage with Superkiddo lately. I don’t know why; I just go with it.

Wednesday – Crockpot Jambalaya! Oh, yes! We must pull out our Love Bowl again this week, and I am so excited!

Thursday – Turkey Meatball Subs. I was inspired by another bloggy friend who made buffalo styled subs, but I cannot find her recipe… We will see if my jumbled memory version turns out okay.

Friday – Well, dinner will be out…somewhere… but I am still researching fun ideas for Superkiddo’s party in his classroom. There’s nothing like waiting until the last possible moment to get those treats together, right?

Thanks to Superkiddo’s food allergies, and crazy preferences (“I like sweet potatoes, but I don’t like sweet potato tots” or “I like macaroni and angel hair, but I hate all other pastas.”), I have to be a creative food detective. I’d bet that it would be much easier for households without allergies because you would have so many more options. This mama often gets frustrated… I don’t want boring, repeat meals. I’d seriously outsource the menu planning and cooking duties if I thought that it would yield more interesting options. I will continue my quest to find the best, allergy safe, kid friendly dinners around. Meanwhile, if anyone has Ina’s phone number, invite her to cook at my house…

Until next time,
xoxo

Sweet Southern Comfort

Hi all! My weekly update is oh, so late. Why? Because I feel like crud 😦  I hope that you aren’t battling the sniffles this week.  If you are, I hope that you are fighting much better than I am! I am dragging today, and woke up yesterday feeling downright gross!

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I didn’t want to get out of the house, but I had a to-do list that appeared to be a mile long. There is rarely much rest for Moms…EVER… so I kept chugging along. One of my stops included a Bible study in the home of a dear friend.  This lovely lady offered crockpot pumpkin spice latte (ya’ll know that I’m a sucker for lattes & all things crockpot!) and blueberry bread pudding. I was in HEAVEN! Spending time with this friend reminded me of comforting afternoons at my grandmother’s house, as well as in the kitchen of a dear family friend.

My grandmother mastered the art of comfort food. If you were battling the sniffles, or just having a bad day, you could always find something warm and welcoming in her kitchen. I very much appreciate the art of pouring love into the dishes that I make. I am learning and testing new recipes these days – some for my severely allergic kiddo, and others just for healthy, alternative fun with friends. The greatest cooking tidbit that I learned from my grandmother, and people like her, was that love can be tasted.  If you simply throw a few ingredients together, and just mindlessly follow a recipe, the end result may taste ok. However, if you focus on each item, and have the best of intentions for the people who will eat the meal, you can create a culinary masterpiece that soothes all the way to a person’s soul.

I have zero plans of cooking much until I no longer feel like crud. I am thinking of great food to prepare when I am feeling better, and I hope that when I prepare these dishes that I can help those who taste them to feel warmth, comfort, and love.

I wish all of you a lovely week!

 

Until next time,

xoxoxo

Labels Matter #Yeson522

There are so many items on the to-do list, and my days often feel like I’m spinning on a hamster’s wheel.  I spend a great deal of time being the heroine military wife and mom, as well as juggling all things Just Jeanae – – writing assignments, PTSO meetings, learning music, carpool duties, swim team practice, playdate schedules…  whew! I need coffee just thinking about this…

Although my household requires proficient schedule juggling, I am determined to make our food choices a priority. Food choices?  A priority? Yes. Thanks to severe allergies, and our preferences for “REAL” food, I spend a bit more time reading the labels in the grocery aisles than many of my other parent friends.  I want to know what goes into the products that I’m expected to put into my body.  Have you ever wondered just how those ears of corn, apples, chicken legs, or other foods became so huge and colorful?  Well, I have.

I won’t profess to be an expert on all of the arguments for or against GMO‘s. I am just a mom who loves her family, and a woman who is concerned about her health.  I am standing with the people of Washington who are demanding to have their products labeled. Why? Because we should. If other countries are banning certain products, shouldn’t we at least have the right to refuse to consume them? 

I have been thinking about this lately:

  • American companies currently label exports that contain GMO’s. Why are these companies keeping the governments and citizens of other lands informed about what is in their food, but not showing the same level of concern and transparency with American citizens?
  • GMO apples, fish, and corn are currently saturating our marketplace.  This is scary! Truthful labeling would allow American consumers to make educated choices about which items to buy.
  • Although there are many ideas floating around, corporations that oppose honesty in labeling have yet to substantiate their claims that labeling GMO’s would increase the cost of our food.

Again, I am not a scientist or farmer, but I am an American consumer.  I care about the food supply for my child, as well as the other children in my community. I am standing with the people of Washington, and praying that more people become aware of the necessity to support our right to choose what foods to buy and consume.

How to Sneak in Healthy Choices

Happy Thursday, loves!

So many families are on the hunt for the golden ticket to perfect health and fitness. The problem is that we will never find a magic button or solution. Sure, you can go to a surgeon to suck out or snip off fat, but you may or may not have a healthy life after that. You can get your body wrapped, drink glow in the dark juices, and wear magic lycra all day, but none of these things will improve your health…unless…YOU. Change. Your. Health.

What on earth do I mean? Am I a doctor? Am I a fitness expert? Nope. I am just a wife and mom who MADE THE DECISION to take control over my health. No one wants to hear a bunch of preachy fanatics, and most of us know what to do. It can seem overwhelming to change everything, but there are small steps that you can take to get your health and weight loss back on track. Here are 2 ways to sneak some healthy choices into your lifestyle.

1. Water. If you are like most of the people in my circle, water isn’t your first beverage of choice. I had to grow into drinking more water. I was raised on sweet tea, in the capital city of cola products, honey. I can’t prove it, but I would dare to guess that sweet tea might have been found in a few of my bottles and sippy cups. I often heard that water “had no taste” or that it just wasn’t as satisfying, so what did I grow up to believe? You guessed it: water wasn’t “good.” How wrong was I? I still do not break out in a happy dance over water the way that I do over tea or coffee, but I make sure that I get in my needed hydration.

If you need more oomph and flavor, don’t reach for those advertised powders and drops. Try something new. You can flavor your water. My personal favorite is a cucumber and mint combination. You don’t have to race out to buy an infuser; you can put your natural selections directly into your pitcher or water bottle. No, it will never be as sweet as a tall glass of southern sweet tea, but your waistline will thank you.

2. Veggies. You know that we have to eat them, but they aren’t always as much fun to gobble down as other food items. I realize that not everyone will willingly drink kale and spinach in their smoothies. There are other ways to eat your vegetables without, you know, feeling as though you are eating your vegetables. I “hide” them in various dishes. For example, macaroni is never just macaroni. My mac & “cheese” (an allergy safe alternative) always includes green peas. Pasta sauce will always have extra veggies thrown in. Burger night? Top them with avocado. Lasagna? Layer in some eggplant or zucchini. Meatballs? Grind up mushrooms or black beans, and mix them into your meat, or you could leave out the meat (if you know what you’re doing, perfectly seasoned veggies will beat the meat every time!). Just get some vegetables in.

You now have 4 short, sweet, simple, and sneaky steps to add into your daily routines.  If you missed the first two, feel free to review.

Did you drink your water today?  Have you eaten any colorful veggies?  Do you have to fake out yourself or your family with your water and food?  Do you have any sneaky recipes?

I look forward to learning more ways to overhaul my food and fitness choices.  I wish you the best in your journey.

 

Until next time,

xoxoxo

Today’s tunes are by special request– My Superkiddo’s request, of course. Enjoy!