Some 32 million Americans suffer from food allergies, and of those, 5.6 million are children under age 18. This means in every classroom, you'll likely find kids who are allergic to one or more types of food.
With peanuts and tree nuts being two of the more common food allergies, it's no wonder schools these days have to be allergy-friendly and nut-free.
If you have children, trying to think of nut-free snacks for your kids to take to school can be a major challenge — especially when your go-to food answer to "I'm hungry!" is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After all, a PB&J is easy to make, and probably what you grew up eating.
But what's a parent to do about safe snacks for school when they've become peanut-free zones? Pack an apple? Yes, we can hear you laughing right now.
A Note About Snacking
Snacks have gotten a pretty bad rep over the years, and there's a good reason for that. Our favorite snacks — deep-fried potato chips, super-salty pretzels, ultra-sweet breakfast cereal, granola bars, Oreos, Cheetos, gummies, and cupcakes — probably don't rank too high when it comes to their health benefits.
Even if they're peanut-free snacks or tree nut-free, many of today’s snacks are high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt. But not all school snacks are bad. Healthy snacks can provide much-needed energy between meals, help decrease hunger, and can keep kids from nodding off during classes and being unbearable after school.
So, where are you supposed to find peanut-free and tree nut-free healthy snacks? To stop you from going nuts thinking about what to put in your kid’s school lunchbox, we've got some fantastically simple snack ideas for you.
Whether you make them yourself or buy them in ready-to-go versions, these nut-free snacks are sure to become instant favorites.
DIY Nut-Free Snack Ideas
It's always nice to send your kid to school with a homemade snack. Not only does it add a personal touch, but you also know everything that has gone into it (other than love, time, and energy). Here are some easy nut-free snacks you (and your younger one) can make.
1. Nut-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Image: Against All Grain
This chocolate chip cookie recipe is not only nut-free, but it's also free of eggs and gluten, which are common allergens. It's crunchy on the outside and filled with a gooey, chocolatey center.
Chocolate chip cookies probably seem contrary to what you consider a healthy snack, but this version has a few things going for it. This recipe uses coconut sugar as a sweetener, which contains higher levels of minerals and antioxidants than if you were to use regular table sugar.
Coconut sugar is still sugar, so for an even healthier version, you can cut it out completely, reduce how much you use, try applesauce, or use a zero-sugar natural sweetener like monk fruit. Whatever you decide, these treats will still be tasty.
2. Fresh Fruit and Veggies
Fresh vegetable and fruit snacks are great, especially if you don't have much time. Simply cut up a few pieces of fruit or veggies and viola, instant snack. For a more appealing and fun presentation (that your kid is more likely to eat), you could skewer cut pieces of fruit and veggies to resemble a kebab. Here are some ideas of what you could include:
- Broccoli florets
- Cherry tomatoes
- Cucumber slices
- Asparagus tips
You could also add a small amount of dried fruit like raisins or apricots into the mix, or string cheese to go with the veggies.
Just be careful when using dried fruit — keep the portions on the small side and read the labels to ensure there aren’t any hidden sugars. And stay away from fruit leathers. They may sound healthy and might even be organic, but they often contain an excessive amount of — you guessed it — sugar.
3. Easy Healthy Blueberry Muffins
Image: Beaming Baker
This easy-to-make vegan blueberry muffin recipe results in moist, light, and airy muffins that are suitable for anybody with a nut allergy. (Bonus: They taste great for those without one as well.)
The best part about these muffins? You can freeze them for up to two months, which means you can make a big batch on a free Sunday (you can even get your kids to help out if they can), and snack time will be a breeze even on busy days.
4. Hummus or Other Dips and Spreads
Image: Whole New Mum
Some people with nut allergies may also be allergic to sesame seeds, which means store-bought hummus — often made with tahini from sesame seeds — is a big no-no. But don't fret. This savory sesame-free hummus recipe is a great alternative.
If chickpeas aren't your kid’s cup of tea, you could also try guacamole instead. Pair the dip with Wheat Thins, Triscuits, or tortilla chips, or use it as a spread in a sandwich with a slice of cheddar cheese and tomatoes.
If you don't have the time to make your own spreads, cream cheese and pretzels or low-sugar graham crackers are a pretty tasty alternative.
5. The Best 5-Ingredient Nut-Free Trail Mix
Image: Chelsey Amer Nutrition
Full of sweet and savory flavors, soft and crunchy textures, this trail mix is food allergy-friendly, free of nuts, gluten, grains, dairy, soy, and egg.
Made with just five ingredients — sunflower seeds, pepitas, raisins, dried cherries, and dark chocolate chips — this trail mix will help sustain energy levels with its combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Feel free to skip the chili-rubbed roasted pepitas if spice isn't a thing in your household.
The Nut-Free Snack That Kids and Adults Will Love
Cereal for a snack? Yup, that’s right. And why not? It's just so convenient and you don't even have to add milk to enjoy all that delicious crunchy goodness.
While a bowl of cereal might remind you of your younger days when you didn’t worry about ingredients or calories or sugar content, the truth is that cereal can be healthy too. Sure, most mainstream cereals today pretend to be healthy, but the Cereal School follows through on its promise of being a good-for-you food.
For starters, it contains zero sugar, but thanks to monk fruit, it tastes as sweet as your favorite childhood cereals. And because it's grain-free and gluten-free, it’s safe in a nut-free school. (The only exception is our peanut butter flavor, but you can have your pick with the fruity, cinnamon, and chocolate flavors.) As a bonus, you also won't find any chemical ingredients in the Cereal School.
At the same time, each serving of Cereal School has just one incy wincy gram of carbs and offers 16 whopping grams of protein per serving. What does this mean? It means it'll take far longer before any child of yours wanders back into the kitchen on the prowl for another snack.
We've even designed our cereal the way you want to enjoy your snacks: straight from the bag. Plus, our cereal packs are delivered straight to your door so that you don't run out of nut-free snacks ever again.