Meal planning for a toddler with allergies
November 11, 2018 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Looking for ideas for how busy parents can feed a toddler (and themselves). Difficulty level: allergies.

The kid is 12 months old, has some teeth, and is reasonably interested in eating various foods. But he can't have egg, sesame, peanuts, wheat, or oats.

What's good and obtainable in stores, easy to make, or freezes well? I'm looking for anything that will make our lives easier and our meals somewhat diverse. Ideally we'd be making meals that work for all of us.

Bonus points for avoiding all the top allergens, as we're not sure the above list is going to prove exhaustive.
posted by parudox to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Toddlers can (and should) eat anything you are eating. My eldest ate everything, my youngest was picky, but we never relented, just served whatever we had, sometimes blended in a mini food processor.
For instance both kids to this day love broccoli. In the beginning they had it lightly blended with potatoes and butter to a mash. Eventually I added other root vegs to the mash to make the taste more complex. Then I separated the broccoli from the mash and served the steamed florets with some melted butter alongside a mash of root vegetables. The adults might be having boiled potatoes and oven-roasted root vegetables. I just put whatever it was in the mini blender with some butter. (Small children need more fat than bigger children and adults).
First time the picky one ate any form of meat it was a roast leg of duck, I think she found it interesting to be able to hold the leg and gnaw off the meat. It might as well have been chicken. Then she started to eat a lot of stuff, for instance she loved fish cooked on the bone. And fishcakes.

I was single from when #2 was 6 months (but lived with a friend, so there's still a we there). For a stress-free evening, I usually sat both kids at the table with a book to look at or drawing materials while I was cooking, and a tableful of healthy snacks: carrot and cucumber sticks, frozen peas (BIG favorite), yogurt with herbs for dipping the sticks. Also a glass of water. If they didn't eat at dinner, I'd know that they at least had some healthy snacks. For a while they enjoyed edamame beans too, but that fell out of favor.
Sometimes, I'd make hummus instead of the yogurt dipping. When you make it from scratch, you can avoid the tahini, and it is really easy and fast with canned chickpeas in that mini chopper thing.

Often children don't like when they can't recognize the elements in the food, so stews and soups aren't great. But I made stews with big chunks of stuff and they enjoyed them. They also loved alphabet soup, and I have gluten free alphabet pasta, so maybe that's an option?
An exception to this rule is lasagna, and since you can't do that, what about shepherds pie for a dish that is easy to make and freeze ahead? With a nice salad side.

You need to look at rice dishes. There are so many options, from all over the world. Risotto is delicious, and so are rice noodles. I'm allergic to a lot of stuff in Asian cooking, but an Indian friend taught me the basic principles of her regional cooking and since then I've been able to adapt to something I can eat, mainly with pulses and spices. My kids have happily eaten tons of lentils since they began to eat food.
posted by mumimor at 1:50 PM on November 11, 2018

Most food and recipes that are tagged as Paleo or AIP would be in the mix for you and your kid. I've skipped the baking for the most part as it gets tricky with flours,egg substitutes etc but those recipes do exist.
Mel Joulwan's Well Fed series of cookbooks and her blog have a lot of great resources for tasty food (meatballs OMG!) She does give directions for a weekly cookup of vegetables and protein which is a good framework for busy people. She gives directions for freezing some of her recipes as well. They are all tasty and usually avoid the allergens you described. Most of her ingredients are easily sourced in a typical grocery store. Simone Millers Zenbelly site also has great simple recipes and directions and easily available ingredients.
Trader Joes has a lot of frozen entrees and vegetables,sides etc which are well labeled and usually delicious. I finally succumbed to Thrive Market after looking at ads for a few years, and I really like it. You can shop by brand,diet etc. All ingredients are included and the food is great and arrives quickly. I am not near a Whole Foods so I haven't shopped there in a long time, but I'm sure it would be a good place to look also.
posted by bookrach at 4:59 PM on November 11, 2018

Hello! Our baby turns one next week and also has allergies! We are in your boat!

Our guy is on a pretty limited diet (he has maybe twenty single ingredient foods he’s eating so far since introducing stuff is hard and time consuming with allergies). We know he can’t have dairy or sesame and we suspect soy and maybe gluten/wheat are issues too. Thankfully he’s okay with egg and peanut but we haven’t tried fish, shellfish, or tree nut yet.

Someone else here recommended Cybele Pascal’s recipes, and I also really like Heather Christo’s recipes (her book Pure Delicious looks amazing - just got it recently) and the stuff at Allergy Awesomeness. Most of these are top 8 free but watch for sesame in these recipes.

Enjoy Life is a great brand for sweets (maybe more for you than your kid if you’re trying to keep allergens out of your home). We get some of their stuff on Amazon.

For meal food we’re doing a lot of premade food from Whole Foods like from the hot bar (check check check labels) or super simple stuff like shredded chicken with roasted veggies, corn tortillas, and guacamole. We have not been great about variety but we aren’t starving. (I’m still breastfeeding so I’m off his problem foods too.)

Please (please please!) MeMail me if you want to talk about this more. This stuff is so hard and I’d love to trade ideas/commiserate/etc.! Good luck!
posted by bananacabana at 7:19 PM on November 11, 2018

I was just at the supermarket tonight and noticed that they'd rearranged part of the freezer section to lay out a bunch of products from a major mainstream frozen vegetable vendor (can't remember which one at the moment, unfortunately) all marked "New!"... the one that caught my eye was a pre-made cauliflower pizza crust shell.
posted by XMLicious at 12:35 AM on November 12, 2018

The nice thing is that kids that age and a few years more, whole foods can be what they tend to prefer - especially if they can identify what they are.

Peapods, sweet corn, carrots, green beans, ham, tofu, roasted chicken and turkey, salmon, cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, apples, oranges, pears, apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, rice noodles, wild rice, barley, millet, cheese slices, steamed broccoli, popcorn, bananas, edamame, sliced bell peppers...

My kiddo really likes rice or wild rice or steamed broccoli with Braggs Liquid Aminos (tastes like soy sauce, but is gluten free).

Deconstruct what you are eating. :)
posted by jillithd at 9:34 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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