It’s extra difficult to cook and prepare food for children with food allergies, because their dietary limitations often rule out traditional favorites and make it tough to create meals that an entire family can eat. Whether your child has sensitivities to gluten, nuts, dairy, fish or other foods, though, it’s always possible to find and prepare healthful recipes.
Most commercially prepared granola bars contain wheat ingredients, dairy or peanuts—products that many children with food allergies can’t consume. But it’s easy to mix up a batch of bars at home without any of these ingredients that is customized to your child’s dietary needs. Combine oats; a sweetener such as granulated sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar; melted butter; nuts (for children who are not allergic); chocolate chips; and a variety of dried fruit.
Macaroni and Cheese
For kids who can’t have nuts, mac and cheese with added veggies is an ideal dinner option. It becomes more challenging to prepare for kids who are allergic to dairy products or wheat, but soy milk and vegan cheese substitutes can stand in for dairy milk and a boxed mix or real cheese. Rice noodles will work just fine in place of noodles made with durum (wheat) semolina. Boil noodles as directed, add cheese and milk, then mix in steamed veggies and serve.
Rice Stir Fry
It’s hard to find nutritious entrees for kids who have sensitivities to gluten, but utilizing rice can go a long way toward providing the benefits of whole-grain noodles or bread. Steam vegetables and combine them with sauteed chicken, beef, pork or tofu in a stir fry. Serve with brown rice or wild rice on the side, and mix up a peanut sauce for kids who don’t have nut allergies or a ginger/garlic sauce for kids who can’t tolerate nuts.
The somewhat exotic taste of curries may take kids a while to get used to, but they’re a great dinner choice for children with food allergies. The base ingredients of almost all Indian curries are tomatoes and onions, and most don’t contain any nuts, gluten or dairy. Although some curries are flavored and thickened with yogurt, soy yogurt or other thickeners can be substituted. Curries can also be made milder by using fewer spices, and they can showcase many different meats and vegetarian bases.