8 gluten-free + nut-free portable toddler snacks

afitmess
March 14, 2017
A Fit Mess

Hey there. Hope your week is off to an excellent start! Today I’m sharing some of the snacks the girls have been enjoying lately. I’m always curious to learn what other parents pack for their kiddos—it’s a great way to find new ideas and get food recommendations.

 

Since the girls don’t eat dairy or gluten, I try to find fun and healthy snacks to include in their lunches or to have on hand when we are out and about for the day. All of the items listed below are free of gluten, dairy, and nuts which make them ideal for school lunches or kids with allergies.

 

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Mamma Chia – Chia Squeeze

We have just started buying Mamma Chia squeeze packs, but the girls have really enjoyed them so far. I love these because they aren’t loaded with sugar like a lot of the other fruit snacks tend to be. Each pack include 1200 mg of Omega-3s, fiber, and even a little protein. There are tons of flavors (we’ve only tried the blackberry so far, but the mango-coconut is next on my list) and they are easy to toss into lunch boxes and book bags.

This Bar Saves Lives

We LOVE these bars! They are made with a nut-free granola mix and don’t contain any gluten or dairy, making them a great (and safe) snack for kids with allergies. I also love that the bars don’t contain as much sugar as the typical cereal or granola bar (8 grams) and they have 8 grams of protein per serving!

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Pumpkin granola

I usually make a big batch of this pumpkin granola on the weekend and it lasts us for most of the week. It’s sweet and crunchy and made with coconut oil, honey, and sunflower butter. The girls enjoy it with milk, but it would be delicious on its own or topped over Greek yogurt.

Carrot sticks, olives, apples, berries.

Of course, nothing beats fresh fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats. My kids really like crunchy items (like carrots and apples) as well as berries, cucumbers, and olives. Finger foods are great when you are on the go or taking a road trip. Just wash and chop everything in advance, toss into a storage container, and go!

Applesauce pouches and raisins

Applesauce is always a winner in our house. While I usually make my own in the crockpot, if I am short on time or need something disposable, these pouches are a great choice. They’re portable and easy to carry around. I am thinking about purchasing these reusable pouches to cut down on waste (I’ll let you know how they work out).

Mini-snack packs of raisins are perfect for keeping portions (and sugar) in check.

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Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar

I recently came across these in Target and was quite smitten. I love fig newtons, but the commercial kind is often made with gluten and a bunch of other processed ingredients. These little bars are soy-free and gluten-free. They come onveniently packaged in twin packs (if you’re splitting between two kids) and make for a delicious treat! Only 5 grams of sugar per bar.

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Plantain chips + sunbutter

We go through plantain chips rather quickly in our house. They are a savory snack that pairs excellent with sunbutter or any type of nut butter, really. I only wish I was able to prevent myself my kids from eating so many!

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Chomps Snack Sticks

These little beef jerky snack sticks are great for car rides or airplane travel. They are 100% grass-fed beef and don’t contain any antibiotics or offensive ingredients. The girls really enjoy them.

 

Want more ideas?

Paleo lemon cupcakes by Julie Fagan (without the frosting they become the tastiest lemon muffins ever!)

Nut-free trail mix (toss together some sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, raisins, and Enjoy Life chocolate chips). You can also add in some gluten-free cereal, like Cheerios, for extra crunch.

Baked apple chips

Spring snack mix from My Gluten-Free Kitchen uses Chex, dried cranberries, and banana chips to make one sweet looking snack.

 

 

What are some of your favorite snacks?

Gluten free + dairy free packed lunch ideas for toddlers

afitmess
February 20, 2017

As many of you know, the girls recently started a new preschool (which they love so far!) and since they stay for the lunch program, I have to send them in with a packed meal three days per week. The lunches need to be nut-free and must not require refrigeration or need to be heated. Since the girls don’t eat dairy or gluten, I was a bit worried about what to prepare for them.

 

After doing some research, I realized that with the proper equipment and a little bit of planning, the lunches were totally doable. Today I want to share some suggestions that you might find helpful if you are preparing gluten-free and dairy-free school lunches. These ideas would work for kids on regular diets, too!

 

To begin, I bought insulated lunch bags that were large enough to store the girls’ containers and utensils. The bags are durable, simple to clean, and fold flat for storage. They also have a velcro top that’s easy for toddlers to open. The material is lead-free, bpa-free, and phthalate-free.

I also purchased a couple of stainless steel thermoses for food storage. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love these! They have a wide mouth that’s easy to fill and eat out of. And they hold 10 ounces of food which is the perfect portion size for my kids. They can keep food hot or cold for several hours.

Finally, these lunch BLOX kits from Rubbermaid are great for holding sandwiches, but they work for just about anything. They have dividers inside to keep food separated if your kids don’t want items to touch, like mine.

I try not to use Ziploc baggies to cut down on waste, so I usually put small items in these little cubes. I have a lot leftover from when I use to prepare and store baby food for the girls.

 

At first, the most daunting part for me was trying to figure out what to make. Having a list of ideas to choose from can take the guesswork out of what to prepare. I always include a protein and starch along with fruits and veggies. Generally, the girls eat the same thing as one another, but there are a few items that I know Maddie won’t eat (avocados, peas, etc.) so I will only include a little bit in her lunch (I still offer!).

 

Here are some examples of the lunches I have prepared for the girls so far. Most days they return with empty containers or a small amount of leftovers (good sign!). So far I’ve really enjoyed preparing their meals because it has encouraged me to be a bit more creative with what I make them each day.

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The meals listed below require a little bit of planning, but they can all be prepared the night before to make things easier in the morning. We usually have either rice or noodles in the fridge so it doesn’t take me long to whip something up. The fruits and veggies can all be washed and chopped in the evening and sometimes I will use frozen fruit since my kids like to eat it that way, too.

 

Gluten free + dairy free packed school lunches

 

Lunch 1:

  • beans and rice
  • carrots and cucumber sticks
  • sliced strawberries
  • plantain chips and sunflower seed butter

 

Lunch 2:

 

Lunch 3:

  • sunflower seed butter and jelly on gluten-free bread
  • carrot sticks + olives
  • apples + blueberries

 

Lunch 4:

  • buttered rice noodles + peas
  • applesauce pouch
  • mini box of raisins

 

Lunch 5:

  • turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread
  • carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli
  • plantain chips
  • clementine slices

 

 

 

There you have it! Hopefully I have offered a few ideas or helpful suggestions. What do you pack for lunches?

 

First day at our new preschool + rethinking toddler meals

afitmess
February 9, 2017
A Fit Mess

Hey there! Happy Thursday, friends.

 

The girls started their new preschool on Monday. I was pretty anxious leading up to their first day, but I made sure to act excited for their “big girl school”. We talked about how things would go that first day so they would have an idea what to expect in the morning. I made sure to tell them that I wouldn’t be staying long (I know from experience that it’s better to leave right away rather than to linger), but that I would be back soon. I think it helped to set that expectation right off the bat.

 

Driving to the school I could tell the girls were nervous. Madison kept saying, “I’m not sure I’m ready for big girl school.” And she asked to stay home several times because she wasn’t “feeling well”. I kept saying it was okay to feel a little bit scared. I reminded her that she will have sissy there and not to worry because everyone is really excited to meet them. At that moment I was reminded how incredibly lucky I am to have twins. The girls have each other to lean on and keep each other feeling safe.

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When we arrived at school there were a lot of kids. Parents were busy leading their children to their classrooms. Lots of chattering and smiles. Everyone knew what they were doing and where they were going.

 

And the reality of it all set in.

 

In a way I felt like I was starting a new school.  I realized that this was just one of many, many new experiences and first days for these two.

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We met our teacher (who was super sweet) and the girls put their jackets and bags away. I stayed for just a few minutes to talk with the teacher and get the girls settled. Lots of hugs and a few kisses. Then more hugs. Before I left Ashlyn whispered to me, “I’m scared, mommy!” and I melted for a second. I told her that I was counting on her to keep sissy safe and to be my big girl. She perked up a bit knowing she had this responsibility and then I quickly left. I felt a bit emotional leaving as I realized my girls were growing up.

 

I raced to work and walked into a staff meeting a little late (whoops!) and then worked for several hours until it was time to pick up the girls. When I arrived to pick them up they were happily playing on the playground. They looked like they were having fun!

Several teachers approached me to say how well M & A did. I was told they even got up in front of the entire class to sing a song! Excuse me… My children?! So proud.

 

The teacher sent me a few pictures from their first day and it looked like they had a blast!

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When I asked them what they thought of their new school they said, “It was fun!”

 

Two thumbs up for big girl school.

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As many of you know, the girls don’t eat gluten or dairy (aside from yogurt and butter) so we’ll have to adjust to a new routine and meal plan at school. Our previous Montessori school provided breakfast and lunch and the girls received special gluten and dairy free meals (for an extra fee). I didn’t have to bring anything to school other than almond milk (almost everyone there drank cow’s milk) and the occasional replacement treat for birthdays and parties. It worked really well.

Things will change slightly with our new school. We’ll have to have breakfast here before heading out. I’ll have to prepare daily snacks and lunches three days per week. Even though I’m used to preparing meals for the girls, it will be a bit challenging to stick to the school’s guidelines (no nuts, almond milk, etc. and food must be okay to be kept out for a few hours). I totally understand the need for these guidelines and in a way I’m hoping this will help me be a bit more creative with their meals.

 

For their lunches, some of my ideas for meals include:

  • rice + beans + avocado
  • sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches (on GF bread or GF waffles)
  • chicken (corn) tacos + sliced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers
  • turkey chili + sliced veggies (carrot sticks, celery, tomatoes)
  • GF chicken nuggets, ketchup, snap peas
  • hummus sandwiches + veggies for dipping
  • buttered rice noodles + peas
  • yogurt + dried fruit + sunflower seed butter

 

I recently bought these insulated lunch bags for the girls (they loved picking out their pattern) and I just ordered these stainless steel thermoses online. I’ve read they keep food warm for several hours so hopefully they will do the trick.

 

I would love some meal ideas from other parents. I don’t want the girls to get bored with their food. And if you have suggestions for lunch containers, please let me know. I’d like to eliminate plastic bags and foil to cut down on waste.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

 

Indoor activities for toddlers {that don’t cost a thing}

afitmess
January 11, 2017

Good morning friends. Thanks for stopping by. I hope your week has been great so far!

 

Today I’m sharing some of the girls’ favorite (and free) indoor activities. Although my kids get outside just about every day, some days the weather forces us to stay indoors. We try to limit screen time in our house, so I often have a list of activities I rotate through to keep my kids busy and engaged. While I love taking them to fun places like DefyGravity, Kidzu, and Notasium, these activities can add up fast (especially with two kids) so I try to incorporate activities that don’t cost much, if anything, into our schedule. Since I know many of you are parents, I thought I’d offer some of these today in case you wanted ideas for your toddlers.

Mall walking: We love, love, love mall walking! As many of you know, I haven’t actually shopped at a mall in years, but I enjoy wandering through the empty floors with the girls before the stores open. My kids can run around and explore and we all get a little movement in. Plus there’s usually at least one coffee shop open (thank you, Nordstrom!) so I can grab a cup while we walk. It’s a win-win!

Southpoint Mall in Durham has an indoor play space for kids which is fun for little ones. There’s tons of seating for parents, too.

 

Barnes and Nobles: I have been bringing the girls to Barnes and Nobles ever since they were infants. As a new parent, it was a friendly and comfortable place to visit when I needed to get out of the house with my babies. Years later, my kids still enjoy going to B&N to explore, play, and read. The kid’s area is a fun space where the girls can wander around, yet still be contained, and there’s always something new to discover.

My children love playing with the train table and can usually stay entertained for quite a while, especially if we stay for story tine. I love being surrounded by books (my favorite atmosphere) and having an interesting area for my kids to explore.

 

Kid cooking: The girls are super interested in cooking and making food right now, so I let them help me prepare some of our meals. Typically they assist with washing vegetables or adding ingredients to the mixing bowl. Other times, I just give them measuring spoons and bowls and let them do their own thing. I’ll put raisins, plantain chips, or Cheerios in bowls and ask them to sort them to help me cook. They usually just eat them! 🙂

Public library: Many local libraries offer story time and other free programs for preschoolers. The girls and I like to attend a weekly Music and Movement class at our library. Afterwards, we’ll stay to look at books and play. There is always something to do in the children’s section, like puzzles, games, and coloring. I also appreciate that there’s a kitchen area in the back where you can sit and enjoy snacks since my children become ravenous whenever we leave the house.

Arts and crafts – We’re big fans of arts and crafts in our home. There is so much you can do with construction paper, scissors, glue, and crayons. Lately I have been letting the girls cut out shapes from our Christmas wrapping paper and old magazines.

We’re always working on some type of project in our house. M & A are really into making beaded necklaces and bracelets. The yarn and beads below came from Michael’s, but you could also use string and buttons for a fun craft!

My friend recently gifted the girls a puppet making craft which they really enjoyed. The kit includes everything you need, like glue sticks stickers and bags. They were fun to put together and were easy to clean up. You could easily replicate this using brown lunch bags and some craft supplies, like markers and stickers. Puppets are fun for acting out plays and bringing stories to life.

 

 

There you have it! I hope this provided you some fun ideas for your kids. I would love to know what you would add! Please share in the comments below!