Anyone living with a toddler knows that mealtime is a challenge, to say the least. From cutting their sandwich the wrong way (“I wanted TRIANGLES!”) to having a meltdown because two items on their plate touched, just getting your child to eat is sometimes a miracle in itself. They’ll tell you they want one thing and as soon as that hits their place, they deny ever wanting that.
If that isn’t hard enough to deal with, what happens when your toddler has food allergies? That adds a wrench to the mealtime mix. While not all of the recipes here will be completely allergen-free, if your child only needs to eliminate a couple of the main allergens (soy, dairy, gluten, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, fish, shellfish), we are here to provide plenty of options.
Trying to cook separate meals is tough – trust me, I know. Therefore, the easiest way to help your youngster out is to make the whole family the same meal. This way your toddler doesn’t want “what daddy is having” because he doesn’t understand that he can’t eat that.
Our goal is to provide healthy, allergen-free meal ideas for the whole family.
As a working mom trying to get myself, my husband, and my two kids out of the house with healthy meals, I know that while some of the breakfast meals sound fantastic, they are simply not feasible on a weekday morning. I’d love to make Banana French Toast (dairy-free) on a weekend morning, but on a crazy Tuesday? Forget it.
I want meals where I can either take them on-the-go (when we’re really running late) or have them ready for a weekday morning. Two-Ingredient Vegan Pancakes fit that bill perfectly. Just mix chickpea flour with bananas and a little bit of water (ok, three ingredients) and you have pancakes that are free of all major allergens. Feel free to tweak them by adding any other fruits or even some cinnamon.
If you want to make your own pancakes and can have gluten, try these Banana Pancakes and Banana Berry Pancakes for another easy breakfast. The benefit of pancakes is you can make a whole batch of them and either refrigerate for later that week or freeze for the future. Both recipes are dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free (and can be made gluten-free with a flour substitution).
Another possibility for breakfast is muffins. These banana rhubarb peach muffins are gluten-free and soy free. They do contain almond milk. Muffins, like pancakes, can easily be refrigerated or frozen if you aren’t going to go through them all at one time.
If your toddler can have tree nuts, try these No Bake Apricot Quinoa Bites. A batch of these should last all week (again, they do contain walnuts).
Last, if you have time at night to make a batch of Overnight Blueberry Quinoa, you can set the kids at the kitchen table with this all-allergen free protein-packed breakfast. By letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight, the flavors get more intense. You can add more blueberries in the morning and let your kids enjoy.
Lunchtime usually consists of the same meals over and over again. If you are looking for some variety, check out different ways to make avocado toast. Toast – or sandwiches – are a great idea for lunch. Use gluten-free bread to make some of these recipes gluten-free. Just take your bread and add hummus or fresh jam or jelly for a simple lunch that may be different than the usual.
If you really want to step up your sandwich, try a veggie hummus sandwich or a hummus, avocado and sun-dried tomato sandwich. These are easy ways to get plenty of fresh, whole foods in a meal while also avoiding common allergens.
If you want a comfort food type meal, try a classic Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. This is dairy free but uses coconut milk. To make it gluten-free, use gluten-free bread or tortillas for the grilled cheese.
If you want to get creative, mix breakfast and lunch with Mashed Potato Waffles. This does contain flour and soy milk, but a gluten-free flour blend could be used to make these gluten-free as well. These waffles are a cross between a potato latke, mashed potatoes and, well waffles. Load them up with veggies and enjoy.
When it comes to dinnertime, the kids are usually ready to complain about anything you set in front of them. The goal for dinner (besides to get through it with some food in tummies and not on the floor) is to create a meal that is something that the whole family wants to eat.
One of the typical tried-and-true dinners is pizza. Whether you make your own crust or you buy a pre-made one, you can make a pizza be whatever your family wants it to be. Add whatever toppings your family enjoys (and can safely eat) for an easy meal.
When you’ve decided that every night can’t be pizza night, you move on. Pasta is another easy stand-by. Cook up some pasta (gluten-free for those with that allergy) and add sauces and vegetables to be sure multiple food groups are represented. One kid favorite is always Mac and Cheese. This recipe will please even the pickiest of eaters. While it won’t look like the day-glo orange kind that you find on the grocery shelves, this version is much healthier and allergen friendly.
If you want to go a step beyond basic pasta, try a Vegan Baked Ziti for a meal this week. Kids will love making a mess with this meal!
If you are trying to avoid pasta, utilize rice. This grain is gluten-free, and anything can be added to a bowl of rice. Add some sauteed peppers, onions, black beans and salsa for an easy Mexican bowl. For something more complex (and involving much more vegetables), try a Cheesy Veggie Rice Bowl. This does contain nuts. The Brown Rice with Dill bowl also contains nuts, but these may be optional.
When you really are struggling for meals, try a good old fashioned veggie burger. The black bean and salsa burger is not gluten-free, but if you are looking for other meal options, this could be made gluten-free with certified gluten-free oats and brown rice flour. If you want a burger that is gluten-free, utilize Portobello mushrooms and make an allergen-free burger the whole family can eat. Looking to get more veggies into your burger but hate that dried-out veggie burger texture? Make Italian Veggie Burgers for a twist an old favorite.
Whether you are just looking for some new meals that your toddler will eat or you are trying to find meals that are allergen-free for your family, it is easier than it seems. Just be creative with the meals, be sure to get your child’s input (or face the consequences!), and don’t be afraid to try new meals. You never know when you’ll find something new to add to your dinner repertoire.
Lead image source: Simple Mashed Potato Waffle