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7 Nut Allergy Friendly Lunch Ideas For Kids

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Even if you're fortunate enough not to have a tree nut and/or peanut allergy in your family, chances are one of your child's classmates isn't as carefree — the number of children with nut allergies has more than tripled in the past 15 years. And as more schools across the country restrict or ban foods containing peanuts and tree nuts, packing lunch is no longer as simple as slapping together a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and sending your kids out the door.

Try these easy and delicious nut-free lunch ideas to keep your kids happy while still following school policy.

Black Bean Quesadilla Rollups
Who says hummus is the only dip worth snacking on? Pureed black beans make an easy, mess-free, and protein-packed spread for flour tortillas. Top with shredded cheese, salsa, and guacamole for a Tex-Mex meal that travels well.

Power-Packed Pasta Salad
Just like warm pasta, cold macaroni salads are infinitely versatile and can be customized to taste. Start with fun pasta shapes then mix in shredded cheese, green peas, and canned chicken or tuna.

Breakfast for Lunch
Turn morning waffles into all-day fare as sandwich "bread" for your kids' favorite fillings. Try savory combinations like turkey bacon and fried egg; ham with sliced apples and sharp Cheddar; or turkey with avocado. Bonus: Leftover pancakes from the past Sunday's brunch work equally well in place of waffles.

Mac and Cheese, Please
Mixing veggies into your kids' favorite meal is a great way to add a nutritional boost to this tried-and-true lunch pick. Stir a few scoops of butternut squash puree, thawed frozen spinach, or a handful of kid-friendly peas into your go-to mac and cheese recipe.

Beyond the Bread
Instead of regular sandwich bread mix things up with fun and tasty sandwich options. Try toasted English muffins or mini multigrain bagels for mini pizzas. Dress up basic bread by cutting a sandwich into shapes with large cookie cutters — stars, hearts or even dinosaurs.

Muffin Madness
If your little one can't get enough of morning muffins, why restrict them to a single meal? Healthy carrot muffins, banana muffins, or other flavors loaded with fruits like berries or apples work just as well as a lunchbox addition.

Put Your Leftovers to Work
With a lunchbox-sized warm food container, leftover chili or chicken noodle soup can also be the next day's lunch. To keep soup hot, simply preheat the warm food container with boiling water for 10 minutes, then dump the water out and fill with hot food.

Is your child at risk for food allergies? Talk to your doctor if you have questions about allergies. Also be sure to ask about potential peanut and tree nut allergy treatment and prevention, as well as consumption of high-risk foods.

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