Cooking for Children With Allergies
I need to start this out by saying that I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. I am a cook for head start and I have several children that have special dietary needs such as allergies, intolerances, and religious restrictions.
This year I have a gorgeous little girl who is a vegetarian and she is also not allowed to eat eggs. I have an adorable little boy who cannot eat beef due to religious restrictions and is allergic to milk, eggs, wheat, rye, oats, peanuts, malt, and tomatoes. He can't have milk or tomatoes ever, but his other allergies are mild enough that very small amounts every now and again.
I am having a very hard time knowing what to feed these kids. I went to the vegetarian section at the grocery store to get some veggie burgers and soy sausage, but found out that all of the Morning Star and Boca meats have eggs in them.
I have to feed them a certain amount of protein, grains, veggies and fruits a day. The only grain I can think of that you don't need milk or eggs to make anything out of it is rice. But I can't feed them rice every day. I also need to make sure they are getting enough protein, I cannot use any kind of nuts at all due to the amount of children whith nut allergies and how easily their oils can get on other things causing cross contamination.
I am coming to this forum to ask for your help. I need advice on how to feed children with allergies.
No problem! I'm glad you came for advice, and I think we can help you come up with ideas for cooking for children with allergies.
I know at first the idea of feeding children with allergies can be very daunting, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually pretty simple. I am going to try to go through each of your questions and concerns, but if I miss something, please do post and ask more questions. We have a great forum of people who can help you here.
To start, you asked about what types of grains to feed them. Rice is definitely a good one, and there are actually many different kinds of rice that you might consider trying to shake things up a bit. There are also rice pastas that would be perfect for your gluten-free and vegan children. You can find these at health food stores, most grocery stores, and all over the internet.
Other grains that you might consider are quinoa and millet, which both cook just like rice (only they take less time), and are gluten-free. You can also use buckwheat, sorghum, teff, amaranth, and some oats for your flour and cooking grains. I know they are not common, but they are becoming more popular and thus, more easy to find.
As far as meat substitutes, those can be great options for children for quick meals. Morningstar Farms and Boca do make vegan option for burgers; just look for the label "vegan." You can also try Gardein, Field Roast, Tofurky, Nate's meatballs, and some of the Gardenburgers, Yves, and Lightlife products. The easiest thing to do is just look for the vegan label on the back.
As far as other protein sources, you can use beans as a direct substitute for meats. There are tons of different options for beans, as you can see here: www.vegan-nutritionista.com/legumes.html. Those beans can be cooked on the stove, baked (without bacon) like old-fashioned baked beans, formed into meatballs with a gluten-free grain, and smashed into bean dips. There is also protein in grains and vegetables, so don't worry too much about them not getting enough, as you can see here: www.vegan-nutritionista.com/vegan-protein.html. Here are a few bean recipes: www.vegan-nutritionista.com/bean-recipes.html.
This is a lot of information to take in, but if you just think of beans or meat substitutes taking the place of the meat you serve the other children, and then you give a good variety of vegetables and fruits, you will be doing a great job for them. Please let us know if you need any help, and feel free to browse around on the site for more information. On the homepage you can use the search bar to find anything you need to cook for children with allergies.