Lately, vegan parents have been asking us how to solve a common problem—what do you pack your kiddos for school (or pre-school) when you’ve been asked to honor a nut-free zone? Since nuts are a great source of healthy fats and calories for vegan children, going nut-free can seem daunting! Here are ten of our best ideas on other nourishing, satisfying things to pack instead:
Avocado pudding: Yes, we’ll be pushing the avocado envelope here, friends. But why not? Avocados are so versatile, and they
cover nut’s ground in that they’re chock-full of good fats and fiber—plus avocados are crazy high in potassium! There are two kinds of avocado puddings we like to make at our house. One is a chocolate pudding and the other is a zesty lime pudding.
For the chocolate pudding, simply blend the following ingredients (in a blender or food processor) until velvety smooth: avocado, cocoa (or cacao) powder, agave nectar or maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt. For the lime pudding, blend the avocado with lime juice and zest, agave nectar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
An important note on the avocado: Be sure to use ripe—but not too ripe—avocado. If your avocado is too ripe, the intense flavor will overtake your pudding. Aim for avocados that are just barely ripened (also, skip the nut topping whenever needed)
Eggless tofu salad: This protein and calorie-rich dish is satisfying and so easy to throw together! Start with a firm tofu and squeeze out the excess water. Then crumble it into a bowl and add vegan mayo, seasonings (dill, garlic, mustard powder, and sea salt), and finely chopped veggies such as carrots and celery. Stir well. Serve with crunchy crackers or in a sandwich with lettuce and thin tomato slices. Yum!
Chickpea of the sea salad: Similar to the previous concept, here we have a beany twist. Mash up cooked chickpeas with a potato masher (or pulse them briefly in a food processor). Stir in vegan mayo, minced carrots and celery, sea salt, lemon juice, and seaweed (dulse flakes or kelp powder work well). Serve with crackers (or in a sandwich with lettuce and pickles).
Photo Credit: Olga Eglite
Guacamole (or avocado) and crackers: This is insanely simple, but completely satisfying and delicious (thank you, avocado, for being nature’s perfect food)! Simply pack your kids some guacamole (or half of an avocado, lightly sprinkled with lime and salt) along with their favorite nut-free crackers or tortilla chips.
SB & J sandwiches: Have you ever tried sunflower butter? It’s absolutely delicious! Try this creamy spread on whole grain bread along with your child’s favorite jam. For an extra fun twist, slice up some strawberries and layer them in the sandwich. Kids tend to love this little surprise!
Chia pudding: You can whip up a chia pudding in less than five minutes—plus it’s perfect for an energy-boosting treat that’s high in antioxidants and omega-3s. Check out our Easy Peasy Vanilla Chia Pudding—it takes just one minute to toss the ingredients together!
Hummus with rice cakes or crackers: Good ol’ hummus. What would we do without it? If you have an adventurous child, you can also try babaganoush (kind of like an eggplant-based “hummus”). Pack either one with crackers, rice cakes, and/or fresh cut veggies for a satisfying snack or entrée.
Pasta and bean salad: Even my picky daughter loves this! She likes hers with spiral noodles, chickpeas or white beans, grated carrots, chopped celery, and a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. It takes about 20 minutes to make and stores well, so you can make several lunches out of it.
Pasta with avocado pesto: A final push of that avocado envelope! Make a creamy sauce by blending just-ripe avocado, fresh garlic, olive oil, sea salt, basil, and lemon juice until smooth. Then toss with pasta that’s been cooked al dente. Perfect for hungry kiddos!
Nori rolls: I’ve actually never met a kid who didn’t like nori rolls. Wrap up your rice and fillings (carrots, cucumbers, avocado, tofu, etc.) in a sheet of nori and provide a dipping sauce. We like a simple sauce of tamari and lime juice. Voila! A mineral-rich snack or entrée that feels fun and fancy to eat. Top with toasted sesame seeds for added crunch.
If you find it helpful, you can watch this sushi-making video I did with my daughter: