It can be quite a challenge to pack your child a lunch that is healthy, quick, tasty, cold and nut-free. Believe me, I know. I used to pack my son’s favorite almond-butter-and-jelly sandwich for lunch every day, but since his school recently went completely nut-free, almond butter is no longer an option.
If your child attends a peanut- or nut-free school, packing lunches can be tough, but it is doable. Here are some healthy, nut-free school lunches that can be eaten cold and are a breeze to pack.
If you’re looking for peanut butter taste without the peanut butter allergens, SunButter is a great alternative. It’s made from roasted sunflower seeds, and is peanut free, tree nut free and gluten free. For a fast fix, try a SunButter-and-jelly sandwich on bread or a whole wheat tortilla. Bon Appetit Allergy-Free Treats recommends Ants on a Log – celery, spread with SunButter, and topped with raisins. For a healthy snack, you can send apple slices with a small container of SunButter for dipping. SunButter is a great alternative to peanut butter, and chances are your child won’t even notice the difference.
OK, so this recipe isn’t exactly on the healthy side, but who doesn’t love a hot lunch every now and then? Chances are, your child doesn’t get a hot lunch during the week unless they purchase one at school. If you’d like to treat your little one to a warm lunch, try sending a hot dog in a thermos full of boiling water. At lunch time, your kid can just dump the water out, throw the hot dog on a bun, and dress it with ketchup and mustard. See the full directions at AllRecipes.com.
Avocados are packed with health benefits; they’re chock full of vitamin E and can lower cholesterol, prevent strokes, and even help you absorb certain nutrients better. To add more avocados to your child’s diet, try sending them to school with an avocado sandwich. This recipe from Food.com will take you five minutes or less, and is a great base to add other vegetables or toppings that your kid likes. Just mash an avocado in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, add salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste, and put it on bread. If you’d like, you can add tomato slices, cheese slices or even lunch meat.
This one involves a little bit of prep work, but spaghetti squash is a great pasta substitute for kids because it has a similar texture to spaghetti and a very mild flavor – and there are so many ways to eat it cold! Here are some quick directions for roasting your spaghetti squash, which you’ll want to do the night before.
So what are the best ways to eat spaghetti squash cold? Well, anything that tastes good on pasta or pasta salad will probably taste good on spaghetti squash. Mix it with pesto to mimic your favorite Italian pasta. Add a few scoops of salsa and some black beans for a protein-packed, Mexican-inspired take. My son adores this recipe for spaghetti squash mac-n-cheese. I even heard that it can be delicious with a scoop of SunButter! With spaghetti squash, the sky is the limit!
Cold Bean Burrito
Hot, melty cheese is nice, but if cold’s your only option, try sending your child to school with a cold bean burrito. With this recipe from SparkPeople, you mix light cream cheese with salsa and then spread it on a tortilla. Then, you can top it with whatever your child likes – cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, leftover meat, black beans – or whatever you have on hand.
Did you ever eat Pizza Lunchables as a kid? Then I think you’ll agree that pizza Lunchables are by far the best Lunchables ever. Take your queue from this well-known brand with homemade, no-cook pizzas. Provide a crust (try 100-calorie Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats), some shredded mozzarella cheese, a container of pre-made pizza sauce and some pepperoni. Let your kid have fun assembling their own delicious and healthy pizza.
With a little bit of thought, you can make a delicious, healthy and nut-free cold lunch. What do you make your child for lunch? Share your ideas and recipes in the comments section below!