After School Snacks That Are Allergen Free, Nutritious, and Delicious!

Within minutes of the big yellow bus rolling down your block, the kids burst through the front door after a long day of school. As they drop their book bags at the door they have one thing on their mind: after school snacks!

For many kids this means raiding the snack cabinet or reaching into the cookie jar. Other kids may be greeted by their mom, dad, or baby sitter, who has already set the table with today’s snacks.

 While this all sounds pretty simple, for those families who have kids with food allergies, snack time can often be a bit challenging. It takes some planning to be sure to find snacks that are exciting and yummy while safe from food allergens.

Setting Up for Allergen-Free Eating

When your child has food allergies more time has to go into reading labels and setting up your home to safeguard against cross contamination. For many families this might mean setting up areas of the kitchen or cabinets specifically for those with food allergies. Additionally, there may need to be more time spent on finding a variety of food that also helps them to meet their nutritional needs.

While time is spent avoiding food allergens, it is important to be sure to meet the recommended daily requirements for optimal health for growing kids. Time spent in the supermarket finding new foods, researching recipes and planning out snacks will help to make afternoon snacking more successful.

Truth is kids come home and they are usually hungry. After having used their brain power all day at school, along with what seems like their endless energy, they are usually ready to refuel. Use this window of time to provide something they will enjoy, but also something that feeds the body well. Protein options will satisfy hunger and feed their muscles.

Carbohydrates will help to give them more energy for homework and activities to follow. And as we all know there is never a bad time to introduce fruits or vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals. 

Take a look at these great after school allergy friendly snacks that will hit the spot!

Popcorn: Most kids can enjoy popcorn pretty easily. It can be air-popped or microwaved for ease. Top with salt, spices, or cinnamon for an interesting flavor. Parmesan cheese can be sprinkled on top for those without dairy allergies. 

Sun butter with apple or banana slices: Sun butter is a great alternative to nut butters if you have a peanut allergy.  This spread is actually made of sunflower seeds instead. It will provide the same sweet taste with a “nut butter texture” that kids will enjoy. Place along side of apple or banana slices for a balanced snack. 

Fruit Kebobs with Yogurt: Skewer a variety of fruits that the kids can sink their teeth into. Serve with a side of yogurt. If your kids have a dairy allergy you can opt for alternative yogurts made from soy or almond milk.

Chips and Salsa: Corn chips are often a huge hit! These crunchy chips are perfect alone or served with salsa.  Most corn varieties are gluten-free and can be found in most supermarkets.

Fresh Veggies and Dip: Carrots, cucumber, celery, peppers, or maybe give jicama a try. These veggies provide the crunch the kids are looking for, while being loaded with nutrition. Why not step it up and serve with dressing, hummus or guacamole as a dip. For those with a legume or sesame allergy, you may need to pass on the hummus but there are still plenty of options.  

Cinnamon Applesauce: Serve this sweet snack hot or cold!  This is a big favorite among kids who enjoy the taste of apples but want something that feels a bit more like a dessert. Make your own or buy already made, and don't forget to add a touch of cinnamon on top.

Smoothie: This is the perfect time to blend up an after school smoothie! Use a variety of fruits and veggies to make a nutritious drink for them to enjoy. Try a scoop of sun butter to add more protein, or perhaps blend in a soy yogurt.  Keep it dairy-free with alternative milks or a splash of juice instead. Don't limit yourself to fruits, when kale or cucumbers can be thrown in as well. The kids will be amazed at what you can whip up in no time at all.

Rolled Up Cold Cuts: Why not just roll up their favorite cold cuts and let them enjoy. A few pieces of turkey or chicken, or maybe roll it up with cheese inside. There are gluten free brands of cold cuts, as well as dairy free cheeses to offer.

Rice Cakes and “Stuff”: Let the kids decorate their rice cakes with some tuna, egg salad, cheese, veggie cheese or tofu cream cheese. The combination of rice cakes and protein will give them the crunch while satisfying their appetites.

Trail Mix: Let your kids help with this one. Take a bowl and fill with a variety of your favorite finger snacks.  Mix gluten free cereal with dried apples, dairy free chocolate chips, craisins, dehydrated strawberries and roasted chickpeas. Or maybe you prefer cocoa dusted almonds, yogurt covered raisins, whole grain cereal and dried cherries. Depending on the allergy create a mix that works for your kids.

Granola Bars: This old standby never seems to get old when it comes to kids taste buds. Kids often love to be able to eat their favorite bar and head out to play or to do their homework. Try allergen free varieties, protein bars or make your own. Loads of allergen-free recipes can make this an easy option to keep around for after school snacking. 

Make after school snacking a success by planning ahead and remembering that even kids with food allergies can enjoy a delicious and nutritious snack! 

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