January 26, 2012

packing lunch..wheat-free and dairy-free


this morning, while in the busy process of preparing lunch for our 3 children before making breakfast, i thought, 'wow, it's been a long time since i've made a typical sandwich for the kids' lunches' and yet not one of them has mentioned missing them.

we have been eating a wheat-free & dairy-free diet for 1 month now (while eliminating sweets as well).  we have done this for about 2 months over a year or so ago, but this time it's now a way of life for us because we discovered that 2 of our children are allergic to wheat; one is allergic to dairy; and Dash and i also have allergies to at least one of these).  fortunately, we are taking antigens to offset the allergic reaction, so every 4 days we can rotate into our diet whatever food it is that we're allergic to.  even on that 4th day, we may have rye bread (which has wheat flour in it) or something like a samosa or spring roll which are made with flour.  sandwiches, for now anyway, are not a consideration for us, so we have become innovative, resourceful and creative to come up with alternatives..

for the most part, lunch consists of last night's leftovers -- which is usually some kind of rice with a stew or vegetable accompaniment.  i found microwavable plastic containers that have a secure lid.  the kids love rice so it's not a struggle to eat it for lunch.  they don't complain about leftovers because we know too many people who either do not have enough or any food to eat, or they eat the same foods day after day, month after month, year after year.  sometimes the rice is japanese style 'sticky rice' and i just sprinkle toasted sesame seeds all over it and douse some soy sauce for flavor.  most of the times the rice is accompanied by a curry, or bean dish, or the ghanaian style 'red sauce' which usually is made with tuna fish..
our fridge..rice, salads, beans, red sauce in pot & chana masala

what's most important for lunch boxes are the little finger food snacks that kids love to eat.  since we're no longer supplying, in moderation like we used to, crackers, cookies or sweets, i had to think about diversity -- all in the spirit of keeping their little souls happy and content with one of the joys of life: eating.  i came upon some Indian snacks that are made without wheat flour.  i was kind of excited about these as an alternative to the nutrient-depleted crackers that are consumed throughout the world.  these are made with different kinds of beans or lentils which are sometimes made into flours and fried.  the spices used make them quite enjoyable -- as long as you don't compare them to anything else you are missing! :)

when it comes to satisfying the desire for sweetness, i've relied mostly on fresh fruit like mango, kiwi and oranges.  they also will be served raisins or dried cherries, etc. to enjoy something concentrated with sugar.  the nicest part of their lunch, though, they admit is the chewable vitamin C pill that i put in there each day!

i try to rotate foods as much as possible so they have a variety of lunches throughout the weeks.  they enjoy potato chips once or twice a week which is like a slice of heaven, and sometimes they'll tell me that kids at school have shared their french fries with them which is a treat as well.

here is a small list of more alternative foods and snacks that they eat regularly:
  • homemade hummus with corn chips
  • rye crisps with tahini and salt
  • fresh veggies
  • fried plantain chips
  • roasted peanuts, cashews, almonds
  • dried figs, dates, cranberries
  • leftover dhosa or papadam (goes well with curries, stews, soups)
Ayana's favorite breakfast: rye toast, veggies & a little feta cheese (she's not allergic to dairy)

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