Back-to-School Lunch Help – Nut Allergy Friendly Ideas

Tomorrow will be exciting but it will also be tough.  Tough to wake up and get it all done in time for school.  Luckily here are some quick and allergy friendly ideas from PositiveHealthWellness to get you and your kids excited to make lunch tomorrow and all the school days ahead.  Click the link at the bottom for a slide show of some great lunch options that are nut free.

10 Delicious Nut Allergy Friendly Recipes For Your Child’s Lunchbox


Finding child-friendly recipes for lunch that are exciting, delicious and nutritious can be difficult. But what if you throw a nut allergy into the equation? It can make it so much harder since nuts have always been considered the go-to for something quick and easy.

Don’t panic. You can put together the perfect menu for your child’s lunchbox. Their friends will be jealous, and you’ll have the mums and dads at school wondering what you do differently and asking you for your secrets.

All you need is a few recipe ideas to get you started. Here are 10 delicious recipes that are nut allergy friendly to try today. Many of these you can make with the kids and encourage them to try something new.


Empower Your Kids and Free Yourself of School Lunch Packing


Are you looking forward to summer because you can take time off from making your kids’ school lunches?  I have heard this complaint from quite a few moms.  Now that I got my kids to make their own lunches I’m not worried about the frantic morning lunch rush.   Ok there is a rush…but it’s not me scrambling.  My kids have made lunches in the past but somehow it always comes back on my shoulders when we’re in a hurry and my kids are enjoying a leisurely breakfast.  I love that my kids have breakfast with Dad every morning while I’m in the shower.  However is doesn’t need to go on for 40 minutes!


I turned the tables on my kids a few weeks ago and told them they needed to scale back their breakfast time and were now officially in charge of their lunches.  This was met at first with groans.  However when I told them about their new power and freedom in packing what they want they got excited with questions.

First was my daughter.  “We can pack whatever we want?!”

“Well within reason”, I said.  “I am going to check the lunches before you put them in your backpack”.

My son then requested,  “Can I put in a dessert?”

“Depends on the size and type of dessert”.  Thinking an ice cream sundae doesn’t really pack in a stainless lunch box.


I did have to confiscate a chocolate egg the size of a real egg from lunch day number one.  My kids were laughing when I found it.  Of course I expected some testing and trickery.  (I forgot about the neighbors bringing Easter chocolate)  But my son was happy when I suggested he could have a small mini chocolate egg.  “See.  If you don’t push it and put treats and sugar in every time, you can do this yourself and I won’t even have to check.  You know what gives you good energy to play P.E. and get your through the day.”  Yes, that was a bit of my usual healthy food reminder, but they get it.  That reminds me if you don’t have junk in the house, they can’t pack it.


So now it’s been a month and with the exception of Dad being out of town and the kids and I oversleeping, I haven’t had to help with the lunches.  I do have to set a timer so they get up from the breakfast table and sometimes I help clean up as we’re hurrying out the door.  The clean up part is always the bummer.  It’s the reason why sometimes I don’t feel like cooking.  It’s not the cooking but the mess and cleaning that inevitably comes after.


My kids have gotten very creative and sometimes even competitive about who’s packed a better lunch and now ask for specific things for me to buy for them to pack.  My daughter has discovered all the various burritos she can make with veggies and beans and left-overs.  They both now like pickles on sandwiches.  Flat bread pizza is easy if you toast it while gathering the rest of your lunch items.  My son now makes his wrap with less turkey and more hummus so it’s not too thick, like “mom used to make”.  And they both now cut carrots into “coin” shapes.


I hope we can keep this up until the end of the school year and then for camps and summer outings.  I’ll just look forward to sleeping in a bit this summer.


Here’s 6 tips for getting your kids to pack their own lunches:

  • Set expectations and timers so they have enough time to get the packing done.
  • Stock the pantry with things they like so they’re excited to make and eat their lunch.
  • Store all the lunch containers in one location, and within their reach, so they can find things easily.
  • Give them some variety and flexibility.  Make cookies or muffins on the weekend so they can pack for their lunches.  Make a dip they can pack with their veggies.  They may need some help with suggestions.
  • Show them which food prep items are appropriate for them  (knives, cutting boards) and show them how to use them with caution.
  • Praise their efforts and tell them how great their lunch looks.  You may have to take foodie photos too.





What to Pack – Healthy Ideas for Back to School

I put together the following list to give parents a place to start when being overwhelmed by the prospect of packing your child’s lunch.  When packing a lunch I try to pack a variety of colors, flavors and textures to appeal to kids (or really everyone) and be sure the food that packed, gets eaten and enjoyed.  Whether they’re small and just heading off to preschool or daycare or older and expressing their boredom of the same old lunch.  Here are some tasty and healthy food items to quickly make and pack for school, day trips, or anytime on-the-go.  These foods do not require much in the way of preparation.  They are easy to make and don’t need a real recipe – only your imagination and your child’s appetite.  Even kids can help make these.  This is just a start to get you and your family going with their favorites and new combinations.  Feel free to share with us here!


Not being able to pack peanut butter (for school and community activities) can be difficult for some children.  However alternatives such as soy nut butter,  sunflower butter, and cream cheese can be a good source of protein and makes a healthy snack paired with the following foods:

  • Spread on chunks of apple
  • Spread on brown rice cake
  • Sandwiched between two waffles or pancakes
  • Spread on wheat tortilla, topped with a banana and rolled up
  • Spread on lavosh with fruit spread and rolled and cut into pinwheels

Vegetables and fruits can make their own snacks with a little extra effort to make them special and appealing to children.  A few suggestions:

  • Celery stick spread with cream cheese and sprinkled with raisins
  • Fruit chunks (melon, pineapple, grapes) skewered on a popsicle stick
  • A cored apple stuffed with granola or cereal
  • Carrot and jicama sticks served with dip
  • Lettuce leaves stuffed with egg-olive spread, then rolled

When the bag of plain old cereal needs a shake up.  A variety of homemade trail mixes make easy to pack favorites.  You can even pop in a few chocolate chips to any of these for a real treat:

  • Favorite low sugar cereal mixed with raisins and coconut flakes
  • Granola mixed with dried apricots, cranberries
  • Dried fruit pieces mixed with wheat pretzels
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) mixed with goji berries and banana chips
  • Yogurt covered pretzels mixed with whole wheat crackers

Something other than typical sandwich bread.  Pita bread makes a handy and healthy pocket to stuff your child’s favorite fillings:

  • Stuffed with lettuce, avocado and cheese
  • Stuffed with spinach and hummus
  • Stuffed with ricotta cheese and herbs
  • Stuffed with left-over meats and veggies

Lavosh or flatbread and tortillas make a neat roll-up for little hands.  These rolls can also be cut for a special, colorful presentation – kind of like sushi!

  • Spread with cream cheese and shredded veggies (carrots, red pepper, zucchini)
  • Spread with hummus and sliced cooked turkey
  • Spread with tomato sauce, sprinkled with mozzarella cheese
  • Spread with bean dip and sprinkled with jack cheese

For something creamy and cold, which can also be put in partially frozen to act like an ice pack:

  • Organic plain yogurt (provide berries or granola to mix in)
  • Flavored organic greek yogurt (less sugar than regular)
  • Fruit gel cups (vegetarian)





Morning – Challenge Day 6 – Will We Make It?

tea for me

I’m sure as you can tell, I usually write at night.  So much during the day with kids school and activities and just now getting back to meetings, writing and excercise for me after a summer of mostly fun.  I think being busy (yoga, paddleboarding, etc) also kept my mind off eating.  Rather than sitting at a desk, like I am now.  However I am having a nice cup of tea.  I bought the tea and didn’t like it as cold, but I do like hot, so it’s a comfort and a treat on this cold and foggy morning after taking the kids to school.  I also didn’t eat all my oatmeal from earlier.  I saved it and will reheat it when I get hungry.

Here was the usual morning…  My husband went to work very early, so I didn’t see his breakfast.  I’m assuming he missed or had a bowl of cereal, by the amount of milk left.  My son had toast, yogurt, and granola.  He wanted the whole banana but he settled for half, since it was the last one.  My daughter and I shared the other half on our oatmeal.  Yes, again.  My daughter also had her yogurt grapes and granola.

Jonas' breakfast
Ellery's breakfast
Ellery's snack
Jonas' lunch and snack

I packed my son’s usual lunch.  He is a creature of habit, so this hasn’t been tough for lunch – but he usually has more choices.  My daughter is going to a friend’s house after school and will have lunch there, while I go to the radio interview at the Food Bank.  She’ll probably be happy to see some new lunch options.  We’re out of the banana bread for snack so I packed crackers and cheese for my son.  My daughter got the last few crackers with sunflower butter and 1/2 an apple (the rest we’ll save for snack later).  By the way if you slice an apple and don’t want it to turn bown let is soak a few minutes in water with a squeeze of lemon juice or a pinch of salt.

soaking apples


empty fruit bowl

We’re noticing the lack of ingredients.  We finished the crackers today.  The’re only about 1/4 cup of the cow’s milk left.  The fruit bowl is empty (we still have grapes in the fridge).   The cheese is about 1/2 thick by 4 inches.  Hopefully some for tacos tonight.  Let’s see how it’s adding up.  Here’s what I bought.  Each item is gone, unless I say otherwise…

First Shop – Trader Joe’s

almond milk 1.99 – for my daughter, she doesn’t drink cow’s milk.  I use in my oatmeal.  About 1 cup left

cow’s milk 3.29- for my son (and husband for cereal). We usually buy a full gallon, but get a half. about 1/4 cup left

organic yogurt 2.99- large.  Mix with fruit spread, fruit or brown sugar to sweeten.  Also for egg salad and tuna. About 1 1/2 cups left.

organic eggs 3.99  – 2 boiled left and 5 raw

wheat pizza dough 1.29 – pizza

organic hummus 2.29 – wraps. About 3 tablespoons left.

organic ground beef 6.49 – for tacos

2 red peppers 2.99 – roasted veggies and pasta dish.

organic baby carrots 1.49 – Trader Joe’s regular carrots aren’t organic.  Ate one bag and bought another for lunches and snacks.

organic grapes – 3.99 duet of green and red. For lunches and snacks.  About 20 grapes left.

broccoli 1.69 – stir fry.  About 1/2 head left.

orange juice 2.99 , half gallon – I usually buy organic, but too $. About 1/4 left

bananas 3 – .19 each

organic black beans 1.19 – for taco night

organic frozen edaname 2.29

wheat pretzels 1.69, About 1/4 bag left.

sharp cheddar cheese 2.87 – for pizza, and lunches. Small piece left.

Shop in My Pantry and Freezer (things I already had and didn’t want to rebuy)

orechette pasta .99 – first night’s pasta, lentil and veggie dinner and some left-overs

rice 2.99 – I should’ve checked I didn’t even have a whole bag. Have left-over cooked from stir fry.

canned organic tomatoes 1.99 – I usually buy Pomi

tea – 2.29 – this is just one of many we have.  I chose because least expensive, but I only like it hot, not cold.  Half box left.

tuna 1.49 – for sandwiches

hemp granola – 2.99 – for yogurt and granola

sandwich bread – 2.99 – for lunches

canned minestrone soup 2.99 – my kids love this.  Good when I don;t have time to make my own.

fruit spread – 1.79 – for sandwiches with sunflower butter and toast. Lots left

sunflower butter – 3.79 – Chose this instead of peanut butter since our school is nut free. Half left.

sliced turkey 4.79 – my son’s wrap choice this week

half loaf of banana bread – my kids and I made banana bread a few days before the challenge (to use some overipe bananas) and I froze it.  I used half the loaf for my kids’ snack at school the first few days of the week (sorry forgot to show).  It probably cost me about $2 in ingredients.

banana bread snack

Shopping at Farmer’s Market – all organic

apples (5) – 3.45 – lunches and snacks

kale – 2  – chips and stir fry

heirloom tomatoes (4)- 2.80 – wraps and salad

sweet potatoes (2) – 2.10 – chips – 1 left

zucchini (2) – 1 roasted veggies and pasta dish

spinach – 1.45 in wraps and salad

olive baguette – 2. First night’s pasta, lentil veggie dinner

Subsequent shopping yesterday and day before …

bananas – (3) 1.16

Tejava tea – 1.29 – couldn’t handle life without an iced tea and bought a bummer one.

flatbread/Lavosh bread – 2.29 for wraps. 5 left

whole wheat sandwich bread 2.49 – almost whole loaf left

corn tortillas – 1.99 – for tacos

organic chicken breast 3.94 – for stir fry

organic tofu – twin pack – 1.99 – for stir fry and tacos.

avocados – 1.79 for tacos

So we have almost no fruit and veggies left.  What food we have is mostly allocated for tonight’s dinner.  Tomorrow we’ll have stuff for sandwiches for lunch.  Dinner may be rough.  We have lots of bread – so we can always have toast and sunflower butter.



Jamie Oliver – Look Out America

I’ve been a fan since the days of The Naked Chef and Pukka Tukka (way back).  Who doesn’t love Jamie Oliver?  He’s cute, has a funny accent, makes yummy and easy (peasy) looking food and seems like a great dad and friend.  I’ll tell you who…the lunch ladies in the town of Huntington, West Virginia.  If you haven’t seen the show Jamie’s Food Revolution, you should.  It’s a great look at the American school system’s archiac nutritional rules and guidelines, staunch opposition to change and how overall poor eating habits are hurting our kids, families and comunities.

There are certainly some wonderful voices and movements of change in the area of food and food production.  Some that come immediately to mind are Michel Pollan, Alice Waters, Eric SchlosserSlow Food USA, Morgan Spurlock, as well as others.  It’s great that food is getting so much attention – whether you see it as a political issue, safety issue, health issue, economics issue, human rights issue, animal issue…there’s no doubt it is an ISSUE that affects everyone.

I’m excited to help anyone that raises awareness about the lack of fresh, safe, healthy food for everyone, especially children.  Lately I’ve been doing more parent education at local preschools and elementary schools in the Bay Area to assist with healthier food guidelines, tips and ideas for packing a healthy lunch, and how to create waste free lunches.  I’d love to be doing more in the area, and helping the cause.

Read more about Jamie Oliver’s campaign to keep cooking skills alive, and change and improve school lunches in America,  then sign the petition to join the revolution.