Earlier this year I promised I would work through some very simple recipes for those of you like me, who have to cook gluten free and dairy free but are not overly skilled or confident. Some of my recipes and ‘cheats’ might also be good for anyone a bit short of time or for anyone like me who has a tendency to skip a page, when you find a recipe that has more than about 6 ingredients and multiple steps.
As I managed to find about a fortnights worth of simple breakfast options, I think it is time to move on to mid-morning snacks or ‘elevensies’ as they used to be called. I have already covered a fair few in separate blog posts, so here are links to the ones that I think are nice and simple and a relatively wholesome or indulgent mid-morning snack. As we all know little ones often need an energy boost mid-morning and when you have a gluten free, dairy free child a babybel and some cream crackers are definitely off the menu.
Obviously fruit is a great option, and something that Zac, thankfully, naturally asks for – but when your snack options are limited too much fruit in one day can leave a sensitive little tummy even more sore and bloated. Raw vegetables are obviously another great choice for a mid-morning snack and I am lucky that Sophia is always happy with a raw carrot, but since we did all the elimination testing/low residue diet with Zac, and had to cut out a lot of fruit and vegetables, it has been very hard to get them back into his diet. He has recently started to nibble the odd bit of raw carrot, but it was not without a grumble. But as they regularly offer them at snack time at pre-school, I am sure one day he will be so hungry he will just conquer his fears and start eating them again. Roll on that day!
So if your child, like mine often does, has already a banana and some grapes or raisins with breakfast, perhaps they don’t need yet another bit of fruit at snack time. It wasn’t until a recent conversation with dietician that I started to think about portion size with regard to fruit. Apparently a whole banana is closer to two portions of fruit for a little tummy, half an apple is also regarded as one portion, as is a small handful of grapes. On those measurements, Zac probably has well in excess of his ‘five a day’ just from fruit, as he can do a whole banana, large apple and handful of grapes all before lunch. No wonder his tummy looks bloated some days, too full of fruit gas!
I am a firm believer in little and often, and I also prefer home-made stuff to shop bought, so I don’t actually mind letting him have a little home-made rock cake mid-morning. So that is why I have listed the links to my other little treats too. I am not saying these are things you should have in your cupboard every day, and should offer at every snack time, but it is nice to know that there are some quick and easy treats that you can offer a hungry little chap in need of an energy boost.
Obviously not all mid-morning snacks need to be of the sweet variety too and Zac doesn’t have that much of a sweet tooth anyway, so there are some other options out there.
Rice cakes – he likes the plain Kallo http://www.saykallo.com/ones and the Marmite flavour ones. I know that Marmite can be a problem for coeliacs, but Zac seems to get on ok with them. He used to like the caramel flavoured Snack a Jacks – a bit too sweet in my opinion and I have since discovered they are not always dairy free, so we don’t eat those any more.
Breadsticks – Dietary Specials http://www.dietaryspecials.co.uk/ make these. I have only found them on the shelves in Asda and Sainsburys. They also make crackers and crispbreads. Less popular with Zac – but worth trying.
Popcorn – I am always reading mixed reviews about the virtues of popcorn. My kids love it. They don’t like the sugary kind and Zac can’t have the buttery kind and so plain is best, or lightly salted if you don’t mind a teeny bit of salt in their diet. Again, I think it is all about moderation and if you don’t add salt to your cooking, then it should be ok to let them have a handful of lightly salted popcorn once in a while.
Sandwiches/toast – when you are on a gluten free, dairy free diet, sandwiches are very hard to manage because you are at a bit of a loss as to what to put in them! Fortunately Zac is quite happy with just a bit of Pure Dairy Free spread scraped across a slice of gluten free bread, and if he is really feeling adventurous, a scrape of marmite too.
Crisps – again, not something that we like to admit we let our kids eat, but if you are out and he is hungry and you have exhausted your healthy and safe snack supply, it is useful to know what crisps are ok-ish!
So for any coeliacs, or people with gluten issues you probably need to be wary of salt and vinegar flavours, as vinegar is often malt vinegar and malt comes from barley and barley contains gluten. There are many crisps and snacks that are covered in wheat flakes, or made with wheat, so the safest options are usually just the simplest and cheapest of basic potato crisps and usually just the ready salted flavour, as we have discovered almost every other flavouring seems to contain milk protein.
Zac’s favourite are ‘red crisps’ – Walkers ready salted, ‘white crisps’ – Kettle chips in the white bags, and ‘nachos’ – the plainest, cheapest, usually any supermarket own brand corn chips – in the ready salted or lightly salted option. http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/sainsburys-price-comparison/snacks/sainsburys_basics_tortilla_chips_200g.html
I know these are not a great snack to encourage your kids to choose, but sometimes you have no option or are at a kids party and they want to get stuck in, so you need to know what is safe. Also, when I read that a pack ingredients just says – potato, vegetable oil and salt, I don’t feel so repulsed as by the packs that have a billion chemical names on the side, e.g. Maize, Sunflower Oil (14%), Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil (8%), Beef Flavour [Flavourings, Lactose, Dried Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin, Flavour Enhancer: Monosodium Glutamate, Dried Onion,Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid], Salt, Potassium Chloride
I am not saying crisps are necessarily a good snack, but there are less evil kinds out there and it is worth knowing what they are.
The other supermarket aisle worth exploring if you are out and have run out of safe snacks is ‘baby foods’. The brand I was a fan of when they were babies is Organix http://www.organix.com/. They claim that they use no ‘nasties’ and as a result a lot of their snack range is naturally dairy free and gluten free. Thankfully Zac still likes them, even though many of the varieties are incredibly bland. Just the other day he happily shared a bag of the Organic Carrot and Tomato rice cakes with his nine month old cousin.
Other favourites of Zac’s are the ‘carrot sticks’ and ‘sweetcorn rings’. Just always remember to check the ingredients, we have discovered that a food that is safe one week, may not be a few weeks later because manufacturers often meddle with recipes and add milk protein and wheat to products without warning and for no apparent reason.
Dips – kids love to dip. At preschool one of the favourite snacks is pittas or carrot sticks with dip – usually a cheese based one, as health visitors and Annabel Karmel and weaning experts are always telling us to get lots of calcium and dairy in the small people. What about those who can’t take it? Houmus is an all time winner. It is garlicky and has a creamy texture – both things a lot of little people love. It is not too runny, so not as messy as some other dips and of course because it is made from the virtuous chick pea it is rich in protein and iron. Result – but not if you are allergic to sesame, as it is also made from tahini which is made from sesame seeds!
Another great instant home-made dip is avocado. Great for those with eczema too I have been told. They have more potassium than bananas, are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and K. They are high in fibre and also high in ‘good’ fat, so a great choice and what could be easier than slicing one open and mushing it with a fork. Great accompaniment to those corn chips and actually quite a good sandwich filling. A brilliant weaning food, if you have a really little one who is dairy free.
Most of the ‘free from’ bread making people have their own versions of crumpets and muffins and pittas etc and all are a good alternative and would work well with a bit of houmus or avocado lightly spread on them. They are just expensive, so shop around! Definitely worth keeping them in the freezer and just getting one out at a time, as they go off very quickly too.
Obviously many of the ‘breakfasts’ I worked out in my earlier blog posts could be good mid-morning options too, so it might be worth revisiting those for an extra bit of inspiration, particularly the carrot and courgette muffins, eggy bread, banana toastie, scotch pancakes and granola.
So there you have it. A few thoughts on what to give a hungry four year old as a mid-morning snack.