Nut-free trail mix for kids
Valentine's Day got off to a bumpy start. I was unclipping Princess Chloe from her car seat and getting a little frustrated at the level of procrastination. “Hurry up!” I said, as rush hour traffic whistled past my ear. “If you don't get a move on I'll be hit by a bus!” I was immediately engulfed with bad-mummy-guilt. It was a slightly aggressive tactic I admit. Chloe's eyes welled up with tears and she looked horrified at the thought of losing me. “But … but … “ she said, struggling to express the depth of her emotion. “But … but … HOW WILL I GET HOME?”
So after being relegated to the ranks of taxi service, I spent the next few hours in a mood.
I thought things were on the up when the florist van slowed to a crawl outside our house. Things looked even better when a lovely man leapt out and headed up the driveway with a large bunch of roses. However, after checking his delivery note he did an about turn and went over the road to my neighbour. Cruel indeed.
Fortunately the day was saved with handmade cards from the Lovely Husband and the kids. Despite the glitter explosion on the kitchen floor, I was feeling the love. In fact, after cosy bedtime stories with my girls, I was no longer feeling dejected. I poured myself a large glass of wine and got on with the never-ending cycle of lunch boxes. Possibly due to the day, possibly due to the wine, I was soon feeling warm and fuzzy. And with a flash of inspiration I came up with something new.
I'm always looking for different lunch box ideas especially for energy-boosting snacks that contain some protein and fibre for staying power. Trail mix is a handy go-to for me as an adult, but with schools needing to guard against food allergies, most of them are wisely nut-free. However this version is completely nut free. Seeds are “tree nut-free” and do not need to be avoided by someone who is nut-allergic, unless they have also tested positive to seeds.
I use raisins and Annie's bunny crackers within this mix for familiarities' sake. The pumpkin and sunflower seeds add minerals and good, healthy fats. They are also a great source of protein and fibre, so help to slow down the release of the sugar from the dried fruit. On that note, I tend to use the Eden brand of dried fruit from the organic section at Supermart. Their dried blueberries, cranberries and Montmorency tart cherries are all sweetened with apple juice rather than sugar. These particular choices are all rich in antioxidants and so provide a great burst of extra nutrition in small doses.
I confess I often put in just a few chocolate chips or mini Smarties (which are naturally coloured) too as a treat. You run the risk of course that kids will just pick out the chocolate, but if they are hungry, they will usually eat the rest too. Don't worry if the seeds get rejected the first few times, just keep including them (you can always adjust the quantity) and sooner or later they will be gobbled up. This recipe makes several servings, but it does depend on age and appetite!
Nut-free trail mix for kids (makes several servings)
2 tbs pumpkin seeds
2 tbs sunflower seeds
4 tbs wholewheat bunny crackers
1 tbs Eden dried Montmorency tart cherries or cranberries
1 tbs Eden dried blueberries
1 tbs raisins
1 tbs chocolate chips or mini-smarties (optional)
Combine, shake up and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Serve in small waxed paper bags (my kids love the crinkle), small snack bags or a little snack pot.
The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. She can be contacted at nourishbda[AT]gmail.com.