According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with food allergies increased 18% between 1997 and 2007; while there are a plethora of theories about why food sensitivities are on the rise, there’s no definitive data to back up any one claim. Parents are left to manage their kids’ allergies to the best of their abilities, cautiously introducing new foods and scrupulously checking labels before letting their little ones eat anything. Because some foods are more likely to cause an allergic reaction in kids than others, here are 10 simple snacks that score low on the allergen likelihood list.
- Sunbutter with Gluten-Free Crackers – Sunbutter is an alternative to peanut butter that contains no tree nuts, gluten, dairy or eggs. It is processed in a facility that shares roasting equipment with soy, but implements a cleanout process between batches to reduce the risk of contamination. Because of this, it is very unlikely to cause any sort of allergic reaction in kids. Served with gluten-free crackers to prevent any reactions associated with grain, this low-risk snack is sure to be a hit.
- Dried Fruit – While springing for a food dehydrator and drying your own fruit is the ultimate way of knowing the exact contents of a dried fruit mix, there are several commercially-available options that boast a low allergen risk and exclusive processing equipment. This naturally sweet and healthy snack is great for kids with or without food allergies; just be sure to double-check the label.
- Fruit Kabobs – It doesn’t get much simpler than skewered fruit, but there’s something about these bite-sized morsels of delectable seasonal produce that makes them a sure-fire, no-fail hit with kids of all ages.
- Frozen Bananas – Depending on how it’s processed and what sort of additives it contains, chocolate can be a risky proposition for kids with food allergies. Chocolate-covered frozen bananas are a summertime classic, but omitting the chocolate altogether still makes for a tasty warm-weather treat.
- No-Creamsicles – Kids that are tolerant of citrus are sure to flip for this dairy-free take on a summertime classic. Mix equal parts soy or rice milk with orange juice in Popsicle molds and freeze for a cool treat on a hot day.
- Trail Mix – Commercially-prepared trail mix can be a bit iffy for kids with allergies; if you’re less than absolutely certain that a specific brand is safe for your little one, making a batch of allergen-free trail mix at home is a quick and simple fix. Toss sunflower seeds, dried fruit, raisins and other tolerated items together and pour into baggies for a safe on-the-go snack.
- Veggie Sticks and Sesame-Free Hummus – Eliminating the tahini from hummus renders it sesame-free; served with carrot and bell pepper sticks, cucumber slices and other vegetables, it’s a safe and healthy snack for most children.
- Gluten-Free Muffins – Gluten-free cake, cookie and muffin mixes are making their way to grocer’s shelves, making them easier than ever to find. One boxed mix will make dozens of cute mini-muffins, which are perfect bite-sized snacks for kids.
- Fruit Leather – The all-natural brethren of processed fruit snacks in sheet form, fruit leather can be purchased in specialty stores or made fairly easily at home. Also, making homemade fruit leather allows you to have ultimate control over the ingredients.
- Peanut-Free Ants on a Log – Kids that don’t have trouble with soy can enjoy this time-tested kid favorite with soy-nut butter; if your little one is intolerant of soy, however, Sunbutter is another great alternative to the traditional peanut butter.