Allergy-friendly Bento

Children living with allergies can often feel left out when they’re on the school playground, picnics, birthday parties and sleepover. However, many parents are starting to notice the positive effects of Bento Boxes for children with allergies. They provide kids fun and interesting lunches that ensure that they stand out for the right reasons!

In honour of Allergy Awareness Week (13-19 May), we are bringing you a selection of Bento Box fillers that cater to various allergies.

Onigiri/Rice ball

This versatile Bento filler can be shaped and decorated according to your child’s tastes, their specific allergies and your levels of motivation and creativity!

At a basic level, what you need is Japanese/sushi rice (which you should be able to find in an Asian grocery store, otherwise Arborio rice is a decent substitute). These should be gluten-free, but double check on the packets to make sure.

Roll the cooked rice into a whatever shape you desire. You can do this with your hands, cling wrap or a baking shape. Then add decorations as desired. For example, the adorable little creation pictured above can be achieved through nori seaweed eyes and smile, and rosy smoked salmon cheeks (or chopped red capsicum for a vegan/seafood-free alternative).

Meatballs

Image: Flickr/FoodBox

A lovely gluten-free Middle-Eastern-inspired meatball recipe that simply requires you to mix in a processor some lamb or beef mince, an onion, cumin, allspice, cayenne pepper and coriander leaves. Roll the mixture into balls and fry in olive oil. Wait until they’re cooled or refrigerated before you pop some into your poppet’s Bento.

See the full recipe from Good Food here.

Fun with fruit

I’m all for throwing some fruit into the Bento compartments and going from there.

But for a touch of pizzazz, check out the following creations.

Adult bento - Strawberries

Image and full instructions: One Little Project

Winter Bento - Apple 2

Images and full instructions: JustBento/Makiko Itoh

Dried zucchini chips 

Allergy Aware Party - Dried Zucchini Chips
Image: Gluten Free Goddess

Who doesn’t love chips and sauce? Better yet, it’s not only healthy but also dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan!

This recipe is courtesy of Gluten Free Goddess.

Zuchhini chips

Ingredients:

  • No-GMO canola oil or other high-heat cooking oil
  • 1 cup ground hazelnut meal
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • 4 slender, firm zucchini
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten

Method:

  • Heat about an inch and a half of canola oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the hazelnut meal, sorghum flour, sea salt and garlic powder in a bowl and set aside.
  • Wash and trim the zucchini. Evenly slice on a slight diagonal to create thick chips. Press and pat dry the slices with a paper towel and set aside.
  • Pour the beaten egg into a bowl. Working in batches, dip each zucchini slice into the egg, allowing excess fluid to drip off.
  • Dredge the coated slice in the gluten-free flour mixture, patting it to coat both sides.
  • When the oil is hot, carefully place several zucchini slices into the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown on both sides. Make sure you give the chips sufficient space to sizzle and crisp.
  • Use silicone-coated tongs to remove the chips, and place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil

Dipping sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 packed tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Combine the the Vegenaise, lime juice, fresh mint, sea salt and pepper. Add more lime or mint to taste.

Nut-free bliss balls

Allergy Aware Party - Nut Free Bliss Balls
Image: Ayomo

For a snack that’s nut-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free, you can’t go past these tasty and super-easy-to-make bliss balls courtesy of Happy Tummies.

Ingredients

  • 100g preservative free desiccated coconut
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 8 medjool dates (de-seeded)
  • 1 tbsp raw organic cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsps full fat coconut cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • Extra desiccated coconut to roll bliss balls in

Method:

  • Place all ingredients into food processor or Thermomix and process until smooth.
  • Roll into balls and place in the fridge to set

 

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