As parents making school lunches can attest -- severe food allergies among kids seem more common every year. We need to think beyond the peanut restriction in lunch foods to exclude all ground nuts (such as peanuts) and tree nuts (Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts or filberts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts). Serious reactions are also attributed to seafood, eggs, milk, sesame seeds, soy, wheat and sulphites (a food additive). It’s getting harder to know what what’s safe to send with your kids to school or practise.
At my daughters’ school, for example, egg and fish has been added to the list of last year's nuts. It's a scary situation for parents of kids with life-threatening allergies, and a complicated task for parents and the rest of the school now that egg and tuna sandwiches are off the menu.
You’ve seen the no-nut butters next to peanut butter at the supermarket, but what about trying some specific seed butters instead? Seeds like pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, flax, chia and hemp are safe alternatives to nuts. Double check about sesame seeds with your school before sending.
These are a sneaky way to get some good ‘brainy’ fats into your kids. Seeds are little powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, protein and essential fats that help to speed up metabolism and healing healing time, reduce inflammation that cause eczema, asthma, arthritis and pain and in some cases are classed as superfoods.
How to pack seeds
- Make up a trail mix with a handful of pumpkin and sunflower with dried fruit and Nature’s Path Rice Puff or Kamut Puff cereal
- Add flax, chia or hemp seeds to yogurt
- Add chia, hemp or flax seeds to muffins
- Make homemade granola or bars and add in some chia powder or seeds
- Blend up smoothies with any seeds or seed butters
- Try a new recipe for Rice Crisp Squares (below)
Rice Crisp Surprise Squares
Adapted recipe courtesy of Sprout Right-Nutrition from Tummy to Toddler
½ cup brown rice syrup
2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
¼ cup pumpkin seed butter
⅛ cup tahini (or swap for another seed)
⅛ cup sunflower seed butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ box crisp rice cereal or millet puff cereal
⅛ cup chia seeds
⅛ cup flax or hemp seeds
1. Heat rice syrup, molasses, seed butter, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-low heat until well combined and almost runny. Remove from heat.
2. Add cereal, seeds and quickly stir well to coat. Press into two 8-inch (2 L) square trays and let cool. Makes about 32 to 64 squares, depending on how small you cut them.
A good source of vitamin E, calcium, zinc, vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B5, and folate.
What’s your favourite seed and how do you use it?