Allergy friendly bento box ideas for school lunches

Allergy friendly bento box ideas for school lunches

Allergy friendly lunches can be a challenge sometimes. And when it comes to school lunches, sometimes you have to think about allergies that affect the whole school, such as if your child goes to a peanut free school (even if they themselves don’t have nut allergies).

Here we are to the rescue with some fresh ideas for you!

Allergy Friendly Asian Inspired Bento Box

What is in this box: 

This is a fun box with some different items that you might not think of to put in a lunch every day. The nice thing is you can pack one for your child and one for you too! The spicy sweet of the Lemon Ginger bar is the perfect addition to all these flavors.

It is naturally vegan, nut free, and wheat free. You can easily make it soy free by substituting tamari with another sauce that you love. Sushi can be a fun activity to make together as a family the night before, and can be made with many different types of ingredients.

An important thing to double check with these foods is for fish and shellfish. Sometimes those ingredients can show up in something like kimchi, so check that it is a recipe that works for your dietary needs. The other good news is that this box is stocked full of probiotics and antioxidants!

If your child is not a fan of traditional sushi, then you can make “fruit sushi” by rolling out a ZEGO fruit bar for the seaweed, adding sweet sticky rice, and pieces of your favorite fresh fruit. Mango or something tropical would be especially good.

Nut Free Bento Box Idea

What is in this box: 

This is not only nut-free, but also gluten-free and vegan. If you don’t need to be gluten-free, you could easily swap out your favorite pretzels and bread for the gluten-free versions. Peaches and cherry are flavors that go together well, and the kale chips add some nice crunch and veggies.

You can make the kale chips yourself, or buy your favorite allergy-friendly brand.

What is also nice about this combination is several protein sources without meat, dairy, or eggs.

While sandwiches are a staple in many lunches, you can also twist it up for some variety. Consider putting Sunbutter and Mix-Ins on a rice cake, or cutting up your favorite ZEGO flavor with toast and any other spread – like this delicious avocado toast!

Dairy Free Bento Box Idea

What’s in this box: 

Most of the boxes in this list are dairy free, but this is proof that there are lots of ways to get protein without dairy! The mini-muffin can be gluten-free if you want. And if you can’t have soy, you can swap out the roasted edamame for a handful of Mix-ins, or dried peas or lentils.

Lime and sea salt make the beans a little more interesting. You could also add salsa to the beans if you want a bit more spice.

One of the great things about ZEGO bars is that they can be slipped in a lunch box in addition to a full bento box in order to get in a little more nutrition in an easy grab package.

Soy Free Bento Box Idea

What is in the box: 

There are a LOT of flavors going on in this box, which is why a Sunflower Date bar seemed like a good fit. It adds more protein with a nice smooth taste, that goes well with the beet hummus and crunchy veggies.

If you haven’t started experimenting with your hummus choices, you should give it a try! There are a lot of different flavor options. And the crunchy sweet of the raw sweet pototo slices is a good way to add variety to the normal dipping vegetables that you might think of.

If you hae corn allergies, you can always swap out the corn chips for rice cakes, pretzels, or whatever other crunch dipper you like.

Egg Free Bento Box

What is in the box: 

  • Multi-grain tortilla chips
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Snap peas
  • Three different kinds of hummus
  • Sunflower Date ZEGO Bar

Here is another twist on hummus and chips. This one includes multi-grain chips, a couple different veggies, and siracha carrot, white bean, and black bean hummus. The Sunflower Date bar adds some subtle sweet to the box.

Again, there are always other chip choices to suit your needs, and get creative with trying different types of veggies as a dipper!

Wheat Free Bento Box 

What’s in this box: 

  • Apple Cinnamon Mix-ins
  • Spinach patties
  • Dairy-free yogurt
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Black grapes

This box is almost like a brunch box! The spinach patties are almost like hash browns, and the yogurt is ready for the Mix-ins to be added for an instant parfait. It has a lot of variety in nutrients and a high protein content. If you need to skip the eggs, the Mix-ins still provide a high-protein alternative. Maybe include both flavors if you want to make it egg free!

Pick whatever type of yogurt meets your dietary needs, and add some probiotics to your meal in the process.

Bonus: Allergy Friendly Snack Ideas

Sometimes all it takes to liven up a lunch or snack is to present it in a different way! For example, make fruit kebobs with ZEGO bars, or intermingle the bars with fresh fruit on the kebob. You can also use small cookie cutters to cut out shapes from your bars to give your kids a fun treat to look forward to.

Which of these ideas are you going to try?

 

Allergy Friendly Winter Drinks to Warm You Up and Wow Your Friends

Allergy Friendly Winter Drinks to Warm You Up and Wow Your Friends

Cold weather and holidays mean hot drinks! The only problem is, the eggnog and hot chocolate that most people are drinking aren’t really allergy friendly. So we decided to use our bar flavors as inspiration to make a twist on the classics and give you some amazing flavors that the whole family can enjoy.

We went back to the test kitchen to create four different drinks: Spiced Hot Apple Cider, Mulled Fruit, Ginger Lemon Tea, and allergy friendly Hot Cocoa (with a fun find to go with it!).

Enjoy!

Spiced Hot Apple Cider

During these chilly, winter months, one of our favorite things to do is curl up with a soft blanket, a good book, and a cup of spiced cider.  We wanted to take the traditional cider up a notch, so we looked to our Seed+Fruit Apple Cinnamon bars to come up with a fun, delicious take on Hot Apple Cider.

Allergy friendly hot apple cider

If you are entertaining this year, this recipe is perfect, because it is simple, easy, delicious, and it will make your house smell amazing!

allergy friendly hot drinks

Ingredients:

6 cups of Organic Apple Cider
1 Organic Orange (sliced)
1 Organic Apple (sliced)
3 Cinnamon Sticks
2 tsp Cloves
1/2 Tsp Peppercorn
1 inch of Fresh Ginger
1/4 tsp of Chinese Five Spice (optional)
Directions:
Combine above ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the house is filled with the aroma of spiced cider. Want the no-fuss version? Put it all in a slow cooker on low until it is hot.

allergy friendly ZEGO bars inspired drink

ENOY!

allergy friendly special occasion drink

Mulled Fruit (Wine Optional)

Mulled wine is one of those traditional drinks that is starting to be left out. But as we know from our Just Fruit bars, there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh fruit. Blending this drink makes it frothy and delicious, not to mention very pretty to serve! It is easy to create this virgin drink, but if you want to add an adult kick, we included those instructions as well. Another great thing about this drink is that there is enough sweetness from the juice, that you don’t have to add any additional sweetener!

Ingredients:

8 cups of Organic Cranberry-Raspberry Juice (100% Juice)
1 lb Strawberries washed and hulled
1 tsp Organic Cloves (or to taste)
Extra Strawberries for garnish
Optional: Replace half the juice for shiraz wine

Directions: 

Blend strawberries, juice, and cloves on high. This will make it nice and frothy. They pour into individual cups and microwave for 60 seconds, or simmer on low in a pot until warm, being careful not to overstir so that it stays frothy. Slice a whole strawberry halfway through the middle to slide over the edge of the cup to decorate.

allergy friendly 3 Ingredient hot winter drink

Dairy Free (Allergy Friendly) Hot Chocolate:

Hot Chocolate is an all-time favorite winter drink of ours, but its nearly impossible to find a true allergy-friendly hot chocolate at a restaurant.  Even if you sub in a milk alternative, chances are the chocolate will contain dairy, so we looked to our Seed+Fruit Fudgy Chocolate bar to make the most delicious and velvety recipe you’ve ever tried.

allergy friendly hot cocoa

This recipe makes enough for the entire season (honestly, it makes a lot!), so just put the finished mixture into a cute jar, and you won’t need to make this again all winter.  Next time you’re having a craving, just put 2-4 Tbs of the premed mix into a cup with your favorite milk alternative, and you’re ready to go!

allergy friendly ZEGO bars inspired hot chocolate

It also makes a cute gift! We keep some of these around to hand out to house guests, so everyone can leave with a tasty little treat.  Our friends and family love getting this every year!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 Cups of Organic Sugar
1 Cup of Allergy Friendly Chocolate Chips (Pascha is our favorite brand)
2 1/2 Cups of Organic Cocoa Powder
1 Tbs Salt
1/2 Cup of Macha Powder (optional)
1 Cup of your Favorite Milk Alternative when ready to drink
Candy Canes
Directions:
Combine all dry ingredients together and mix well.  Store in an airtight container.
When ready to serve, add 2-4Tbs of the mixture to 1 cup of your favorite milk alternative.  Top with candy canes.

allergy friendly holiday drink

 Do you like marshmallows in your hot chocolate? It can be hard to find ones that are allergy friendly, and even harder to find ones that are vegan and taste good! That is why we were so excited to find these brand – Dandies. They are a peanut and tree nut free facility, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan! And they were the softest, fluffiest, yummiest marshmallows we had ever tasted. It was hard to keep the kids out of them long enough to take this photo. Extra fun? They come in both traditional vanilla flavor, as well as a Peppermint flavor that is colored pink with beets (no artificial colors!) so that you can have mint hot cocoa if you would like as well. They are also Non-GMO certified, so we consider this an all-around win.

Lemon Ginger Spiced Tea

Why have regular hot tea, when you can spice it up? This is a super simple way to take a common drink to the next level and add something that will make it memorable.
Ingredients:
8 Cups Hot Water
4-6 Tea bags or 3 Tablespoons whole leaf tea (green tea works great)
1 Whole lemon, sliced
8 pieces of Crystallized Ginger
Directions: 
Brew the tea as usual, and then put a slice of fresh lemon and a piece of ginger into each cup. The longer you let it sit, the stronger the ginger flavor will be. You may want to add an extra pinch of sugar to taste, depending on how sweet you want this drink to be.
allergy friendly hot drink
Allergy Friendly Pumpkin Muffins

Allergy Friendly Pumpkin Muffins

Does fall having you craving all things pumpkin?  Well, we have you covered with this incredibly easy and delicious recipe for allergy friendly pumpkin muffins (that’s right, they are free of gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and dairy)!  We made these the other day, and the office filled with the aroma of pumpkin spice, it was just perfect for fall.

allergy friendly pumpkin muffins

These muffins disappeared quickly, so be prepared to make a second batch 😉  But don’t worry too much, because not only do they taste delectable, they also have some surprising health benefits hidden inside!

First, the pumpkin provides beta-carotene, which helps your eyes and skin stay healthy. Second, the ZEGO Bar crust adds extra protein and fiber helping you stay full longer. And of course, we never use any artificial sweeteners, flavorings, or colors that you find in most of the pumpkin spice things you can buy right now.

allergy friendly pumpkin muffins

Chocolatey ZEGO Allergy Friendly Pumpkin Muffins:

Recipe (makes 12-15 muffins):

  • 1 2/3 cups of gluten-free flour
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (we like to use Spicely organic)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 cup of pumpkin (roasted yourself has more pumpkin flavor, but canned works too!)
  • 1 cup of melted coconut oil (you can also use butter or ghee)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips (we like Pascha)
  • 2 eggs (can sub flax eggs to make it vegan)
  • 2 Seed+Fruit Chocolate ZEGO bars

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients together and stir well
  3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, coconut oil, and vanilla extract
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, incorporating well
  5. Fold in chocolate chips
  6. Grease muffin pan
  7. Add in the ZEGO bars
    1. Either dice the bars and fold into the batter (like chocolate chips),
    2. Or Press the bars out until thin, and place on the bottom of the greased muffin pan for a chocolate muffin crust (like we did below).
  8. Pour batter into muffin pan
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  10. Enjoy!

 

allergy friendly pumpkin muffins

Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie

Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie

Get ready to take your Fall smoothies to a spooky new level with our creamy, nutritious, and delicious pumpkin smoothie recipe.

Gather all the ingredients together – the secret here is using the Apple Cinnamon ZEGO bar.  It helps add fiber and protein to the smoothie, to prevent a sugar crash.

Get the kids, and let them help layer the spooky colors.  They won’t even know spinach is what makes it so green!  You can also play around with using chocolate protein powder instead to make it a creepy brown color – but we decided to go with goblin green.


Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Spooky Pumpkin Smoothie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Servings Prep Time
2 glasses 5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Ingredients
Pumpkin Base
The Green Base
Servings: glasses
Instructions
  1. Blend all the ingredients together for the pumpkin base. Depending on how creamy you like your smoothies, add more or less of your favorite milk alternative. Pour around 2 cups of the base into a clean jar, and set aside.
  2. With approximately 1 cup of the pumpkin base left in the blender add the spinach and spirulina. Slowly add the milk, being careful not to add too much (you may not need the entire 1/2 cup).
  3. Have fun assembling spooky designs, and enjoy!
The Biggest Food Trends of 2017 and Our 11 Favorite Expo West Products

The Biggest Food Trends of 2017 and Our 11 Favorite Expo West Products

If you want to understand food trends, then Expo West 2017 was the place to be. My feet are bruised from walking on concrete floors and holding meetings in hallways for 3 days. I saw every one of a dizzying array of over 3,000 local, national and international companies showing their wares in Anaheim at the Natural Products Expo West show last weekend. It was amazing to see so many products all in one place! 

Overall, the message of the show was clear – our bellies hurt, and our kids (and some of us) have serious food allergies. Those two things kept showing up again and again in the products we saw and tried. 

Trend 1: Probiotics

To help our digestion and improve our gut flora, probiotics and fermentation were suddenly the #1 marketing angle of new companies – replacing last year’s coconut waters (the most clever put probiotics in their coconut water). And it wasn’t just naturally fermented and cultured beverages, yogurts and cheeses, it was everything from jelly beans to cookies to tortilla chips, drinking vinegar to pickle juice! I’ll cover the nutrition issues with the added probiotics in another blog, because today I want to tell you about the trends and our favorite new products.There are questions to explore about whether added probiotics more marketing than health.So, let’s move on to the other trend—allergy friendly food.

Trend 2: Allergy Friendly

Now, just like with gluten free, this will take some navigating for the allergen community – not every company could tell me how often they test for cross contact and some seemed puzzled by the question. We hope to convince them of the value of batch testing and reporting the results to consumers through the QR code on the product package like we do at ZEGO in the long run.But the fact that there were a lot more companies marketing they are free from problematic ingredients and allergens is good news nonetheless!

After all, now that buyers for grocery store see this trend growing, they are more likely to buy more free-from products for their stores. This will make it easier for all of us to meet the needs of our special diet friends and family. Maybe allergy friendly will follow a similar path to gluten free, with the next step being an “allergy friendly” section in the store.

Our Top Product Picks

Enough about the trends, let’s move the really fun part – the companies and foods we loved! We are picky at our house, despite our many food intolerances and allergies, so when we say it’s good, we really mean it. Here is what Kelsey, my teenage daughter, and I want you to know in new products. (Note: please call these companies to confirm their allergy situation in the facility, salespeople at food shows don’t always have the correct facts!)

Artisan Tropic

Artisan Tropic Cassava and Plaintain Chips

Cassava and Plantain Chips. Free of virtually everything! The only other ingredients in their facility are Palm Oil, Salt, Cinnamon. This was the first one I ordered when I got home. You have to buy in bulk, but they are worth it! You can order on their website: http://artisantropic.com/

Artisan Tropic Product Sample

Hu Chocolate

Allergy friendly chocolagePaleo Chocolate? Yes! And it is the best we’ve ever had and no soy/dairy/refined sugars!

They are in distribution so ask you favorite store to start carrying them if they don’t already. And, check out their restaurant next time you are in NYC. https://hukitchen.com

 

Happy Camper

Happy Camper Gluten Free Bread

Fluffy, true sandwich bread. Seriously. You don’t even need to toast it and it is delicious! Some versions have added pea protein so be aware of that if you have a peanut allergy or a sensitive stomach. Free from most everything else. (www.happycampersgf.com)

Also in stores in Washington Oregon, Nor Cal, So Cal and on-line.

WholeMe

Snack Clusters – seriously good baked soft cookie clusters. Very clean ingredients, grain/gluten/soy/dairy free, contains peanuts and tree nuts. Lower in sugars than most similar products. We ordered these last night on-line.  www.wholeme.com

Nu Life 

Gluten Free FlourAll purpose flour and sorghum grain you can pop stovetop.

The popped sorghum is PERFECT for people allergic to corn, delicious and fun.

We had a warm muffin made from the flour and it was fantastic, but it does have tapioca and potato starch which can irritate tummies.

Free from milk/soy/peanut/gluten. Check on treenuts if you are allergic, they aren’t listed on the packaging, but I think they are free of these as well. http://www.nulifemarket.com

Veggie Noodle Co 

Allergy Friendly Veggie Noodles

No time to spirulize your veggies for your paleo meal? No worries, Veggie Noodle has a beautiful array of pre-spiraled options for you. Find them virtually everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains but not out West yet (sniff sniff).  http://veggienoodleco.com/

Froozer 

froozer fruit pouchesVegan frozen pops made from fruit and veggies. I ordered these in bulk already! Seriously, I just ordered $125 worth (bulk sales only on-line) – they are that good and my food allergy daughter is waiting by the door for them to arrive.  Colorado, So Cal, PNW, Louisiana and some in the NE states. www.froozer.com

Millies

Millies Vegan Ice Cream

Organic Vegan Gelato – most delicious ever of all the companies we tried. Egg/milk/soy/wheat but free some flavors contain tree or peanut and equipment is shared. Find them in San Diego and LA County but not on-line. Hopefully, they expand to your hood soon or you can pick them up on your next visit!

Noka

noka fruit and veggie pouchesSuperfood smoothie from fruit and veggies—better than juice because they retain their natural fiber.

Shelf stable! Use coconut but appear otherwise free of the top 8 allergens. https://www.nokaorganics.com/

Nurture Me

“Tummy Friendly” brand of hot cereal and cookies with added probiotics, gluten/dairy/soy/egg free. National distribution. https://nurturme.com/

Because

Whole Me Allergy Friendly Food

Best cookie and brownie dough we’ve tasted. Soy/gluten free, contains nuts. LA only and on-line. www.becausecookiedough.com

Do You Want to Try These? Enter to Win!

If you didn’t get to go to Expo West, don’t worry, we will bring the show to you! We are doing a giveaway Friday March 23 at 7pm ET, 4pm PT on Facebook Live. Turn in a leave a comment about which of these new products you are most excited about and we will randomly choose a winner to receive a gift bag with a selection of these amazing products for you to try!

Perfectly Spiced Chocolate-Pumpkin Pie

Perfectly Spiced Chocolate-Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is definitely a fall favorite, whether forimg_1107 Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just to enjoy some pumpkin fun. If you have food allergies though, it can be hard to find something that fills your craving for pumpkin pie without wheat, gluten, dairy, or a number of other ingredients. Even if you don’t need to avoid these foods for allergy reasons, you might be looking for a way to satisfy the craving without so much sugar, and with some added protein and fiber.

With the leaves changing and crisp morning air, we felt inspired this weekend to step in the test kitchen – and I’m so glad we did because we created this mouthwatering, allergy-friendly pumpkin pie.  It is incredibly delicious – and the crust does not get any easier than this.  We guarantee everyone will be asking for your recipe over the holidays. This will be a guilty pleasure no longer, but one of your new family favorites. All the goodness of pumpkin pie, with the added layer of chocolatey flavor!

Perfectly Spiced Chocolate-Pumpkin Pie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 Pie 15 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 Pie 15 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Perfectly Spiced Chocolate-Pumpkin Pie
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 Pie 15 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 Pie 15 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Ingredients
ZEGO's 2 Ingredient Coconut Crust
Perfectly Spiced Pumpkin Pie Filling
Servings: Pie
Instructions
ZEGO's 2 Ingredient Coconut Crust
  1. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan with coconut oil.
  2. Unwrap 4 coconut ZEGO bars and press them into the pie pan until the bottom and edges are evenly covered.
  3. Scatter chocolate chips over the bottom of the crust. You can use as few or as many chocolate chips as you'd like - trust us, this step makes the pie truly divine!
Perfectly Spiced Pumpkin Pie Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Combine sugar, salt, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice*
  3. Using a mixer, gently add the coconut cream, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin puree** to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  4. Pour mixture over the chocolate chip covered crust. Allow pie to rest for a couple minutes - then firmly and evenly set pie down on the counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles.
  5. Bake for 60 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center of the pie is set.
Recipe Notes

Top your pie with freshly whipped coconut cream - and enjoy!


Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend*

We are all about making things easier, but most of the time, store bought pumpkin pie spice just falls short, which is why we like to make our own! This recipe makes a lot, so you can save it and use it over and over again.

All of these spices are pre ground, but you of course can grind them yourself to make it even fresher.

What you'll need:

  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 3 tsp ginger (dried)
  • 1.5 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp cloves

Stir all the above spices together until very well combined.

You will only use 1 tablespoon of this mixture in this recipe, so you will have plenty leftover. You could even double the recipe and make some cute DIY holiday gifts too - who wouldn't like getting homemade pumpkin pie spice!


Roasted Pumpkin Puree**

As we mentioned with the pumpkin pie spice, some things are just better you make them yourself. But we get that everyone is busy, so you can use canned pumpkin, but trust me when I say this will take your pie to the next level!

What you'll need:

  • 2 sweet pumpkin pie pumpkins* (they are usually small, so you'll probably need 2)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Slice pumpkins in half, scrape out all the gooey insides, and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until pumpkins are golden brown and fragrant.

Let the pumpkins cool completely before removing the skin.

* Even though this is called pumpkin pie, I actually prefer sweet meet squash over the pumpkins.  It can be hard to find at the grocery store, but if you're lucky and can find it, give it a try.

Enjoy! And once you try the recipe, be sure to share a photo with us on Facebook or Instagram!