Children who suffer from food allergies often feel left out. While their friends are digging into pasta, pizza, and cookies, they have to resist. In fact, when researchers at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City asked parents of kids with food allergies to complete a survey about the condition's emotional impact and limitations on activities, they found that families with food allergies have a lower quality of life.
But with a little creativity in the kitchen, allergic kids can enjoy the same kinds of foods as their peers. These dishes nix wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, eggs, and dairy -- the ingredients that account for 90% of allergies in kids -- yet they're delicious.
Wheat-Free Chicken Bites
Typical chicken nuggets are dipped in eggs and coated with wheat flour, ingredients that are off-limits for some kids. In this version, rice cereal replaces flour and canola oil stands in for eggs. Serve with a side of carrots, baby potatoes, an apple, and a glass of 100% juice.
- 12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 cups rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
- 1/8 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Step 1: Cut chicken breast into 2" cubes; set aside. Pulse cereal in a food processor 10 to 15 times until it's reduced to one-fourth its original size. Pour cereal into a 1-gallon plastic bag with a seal. Add paprika and garlic powder; close bag and shake.
Step 2: Pour oil into a bowl. Add chicken and stir until coated. Place one-third of chicken in the bag with cereal mixture, seal, and shake until coated. Repeat with remaining chicken. Arrange chicken pieces on cookie sheets.
Step 3: Bake chicken 15 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
Each child-size serving (One-sixth of the recipe): 149 calories, 18 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 48 mg cholesterol, 1 mg iron, 9 mg calcium, 210 mg sodium.
The typical allergy culprit in pizza is the crust. Our fix: Make it with polenta, the Italian version of cornmeal. Serve with green beans, berries, and 100% juice.
- 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 lb. tube polenta
- 1 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (omit if a child is allergic to dairy)
- 2 Tbs. dried basil
- 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce, such as Classico Tomato Basil
- 4 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, or soy cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Step 1: Brush bottom of a 9" by 13" pan with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Slice polenta into 24 circles; arrange so they cover the bottom of the pan. Using a fork, evenly mash polenta.
Step 2: In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, basil, and remaining olive oil; mix well. Spread mixture over polenta. Top with pasta sauce, leaving a 1/2" rim of polenta around the edge. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over sauce.
Step 3: Bake 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is melted and polenta is heated through. Use a spatula to cut into 12 squares. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Each child-size serving (2 squares): 170 calories, 10 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 7 g fat (3 g saturated), 13 mg cholesterol, 1 mg iron, 219 mg calcium, 568 mg sodium.
Beef and Noodle Soup
This Asian-inspired dish calls for canola oil instead of peanut oil and noodles made with rice instead of wheat flour. Serve with fresh pineapple and milk, soy milk, or water.
- 1 Tbs. canola oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 3" piece of ginger, halved lengthwise
- 6 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock, such as Kitchen Basics
- 1 Tbs. fish sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. anise seed
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 7-oz. package Thai Kitchen Stir-Fry Rice Noodles
- 1 lb. beef eye of the round, thinly sliced, then cut into strips
- 1 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh snow peas, sliced in half
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 limes, cut in wedges
Step 1: In a deep saucepan over high heat, stir onions and ginger in oil until scorched. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in vegetable stock, fish sauce, sugar, anise seed, cloves, and cinnamon. Cover mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cook 15 minutes.
Step 2: In another pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add noodles and turn off heat. Allow to stand 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 3: Add beef slices, bok choy, and snow peas to the soup pot. Cover and cook 5 more minutes. Discard ginger.
Step 4: Drain noodles. Divide among large soup bowls; top with meat and veggies. Ladle hot broth over all. Arrange cilantro, shallots, scallions, and limes in dishes on the table to be added according to taste.
Each child-size serving (one-sixth of the recipe): 326 calories, 23g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 7 g fat (2 g saturated), 46 mg cholesterol, 3 mg iron, 74 mg calcium, 627 mg sodium.
Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the October 2004 issue of Child magazine.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.