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?

 

Enjoying Spring with Seasonal Allergies

Enjoying Spring with Seasonal Allergies

Spring means flowers, spring break, warmer weather – and for some people seasonal allergies. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, seasonal allergy symptoms can affect up to 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. That is a lot of sneezing and itchy eyes!

The good news is there are things you can do to reduce your allergy symptoms.

Tips to Reduce Seasonal Allergies

The best thing to do is to reduce your exposure. Unlike with food allergies, where the goal is to reduce your exposure to zero, with pollen allergies the best you can do is minimize the amount of exposure. For example, it is totally worth it to hire a lawn service (or the teenager down the street) to mow your lawn and do other yard work.

Another good practice is to make a “no shoes in the house” rule so that none of that is tracked in. Maybe make a sign as a reminder, and to let guests know too.

If you get Allergic Living magazine, you might want to check out their article as well. It gives lots of great tips, including things like remembering to change your furnace filter. You might want to use these tips to create your own seasonal allergy spring cleaning checklist!

seasonal allergies

Seasonal Allergies and Food Allergies

What many people don’t know is that there are certain foods that can make seasonal allergies worse. Certain foods have enzymes that are similar to the pollen that is causing your allergic symptoms. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has a great list to cross reference as a starting point for your allergies. For example, if you are allergic to ragweed, you might notice some oral allergic responses from some melons and banana. This can be scary for people with food allergies if you don’t know what is causing the increase in symptoms. 

Of course, always check with your doctor for your own best treatment plan, and to ask how food and seasonal allergies may interact with you personally.

Allergy Friendly Spring Roll with Pear Dipping Sauce

Spring is not all pollen though – it can also inspire some fun recipes! Such as this allergy-friendly Spring Roll!

Recipe for Spring Rolls:

-Rice paper wrappers (choose a brand that is allergy-safe for your allergies)

Herbs (chopped or whole leaves):
-1 bunch of fresh basil
-Fresh mint
-Fresh cilantro (optional – some people have very strong opinions about cilantro!)

Veggies (sliced long and thing)
-Mango
-Avocado
-Red Bell Peppers
-Green lettuce leaves

Add any other veggies you like! Feel free to experiment!

Instructions:
Soak the rice paper until soft, layer the herbs and veggies in the rice paper, and roll up

Sauce:

-1 ZEGO Just Fruit Pear bar or 1 ZEGO Just Fruit Raspberry bar
-Juice of 1 lime
-Garlic cloves crushed (1-2)
-Tamari if not allergic
-Coconut aminos or miso
Add everything above to a food processor and blend until smooth

Enjoy!

What is your favorite spring recipe?

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

Nut Free School Wins ZEGO Bars for Kids!

Nut Free School Wins ZEGO Bars for Kids!

One of the daily challenges that almost every parent who has a child with food allergies deals with is food safety at school. It is a multi-layered issue that includes educating non-food allergy parents, teaching your child to self-advocate, and understanding the school policies and procedures for food allergies. As the problem grows, more and more schools are becoming nut free.

Another challenge can be simply finding snacks that are allergy safe and the kids will want to eat! Whether your own child has nut allergies, or you need nut-free snacks for your non-allergic child to take to school. That is why we decided to do our biggest giveaway ever – 132 bars to one school (a master case, if you were wondering). Our goal was to help promote discussion of allergy safe snacks, provide a conversation starter for allergy parents as they encouraged other parents to nominate their school, and reward a school with some great snacks!

Our Nut Free Allergy Friendly Giveaway Winner

So many people nominated their schools and helped to promote the giveaway. Thank you! We are excited to officially announce the winner – Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, MD! And, thank you to the teachers at the school for sending these adorable photos — we are so glad the kids loved their nut-free ZEGO snacks.

nut free Allergy Free School Snacks

Children at Temple Beth Ami School their ZEGO Fruit+Chia bars

We were even more excited that the winning school is a peanut and tree nut free school! Partnerships with schools like this can do a lot to help keep kids safe. So we wondered, what was the story behind going nut free?

Paula Sayag, director at the school, says “I have worked here for 9 years, and the school was nut-free when I came. Teachers who have worked here longer don’t even remember when they made that move. It’s been a long time! It was made when allergies seemed to be more common, and there was increased sensitivity to including children with food restrictions.” It is a part of their bigger focus on inclusion of all children. They pride themselves on being inclusive, welcoming children and families from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of unique challenges, including allergies and other food restrictions. Jill, one of the staff at the school said, “We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in our school, so they can make friends, learn, and gain confidence. Every child leaves our school with a “can-do” attitude and enters kindergarten primed for success.”

As stated in their official food policy: “Our policy regarding foods allowed in school is designed for the sole purpose of keeping children safe. Temple Beth Ami has students with food allergies, some of which may be life-threatening. For some children, mere physical contact with an allergen and/or the environmental presence of the allergen can evoke an anaphylactic response. We share a collective responsibility to ensure the safety of every child.”

So why don’t all schools follow a policy like this? Could more schools be nut free? One of the biggest challenges is the education of the other parents, as well as faculty and staff who may not be familiar with food allergies. As we in the allergy community start these conversations, let your school know about other schools that are being successful. Doing this can really help!

Paula said: “The biggest hurdle for schools just starting is helping parents find alternatives to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. And helping parents appreciate their role in being compassionate to other’s with allergies.” They work through this by providing the school food policy to all parents to help them understand the reasons why this is important, as well as discussing it in parent committee meetings, including it in their newsletters, and sending a mid-year reminder. 

While the ZEGO school giveaway was open to any school, we are excited that we had a chance to give it to a school that is doing such a great job of valuing their food allergy kids and families!

Did you miss getting your school nominated? We’ll be doing school giveaways throughout the year. Just enter your email address and we’ll let you know about future giveaways and sales. And, be sure to let us know in the comments section of this blog about how your school handles food allergies!

ZEGO is a B Corporation – Why This Matters!

ZEGO is a B Corporation – Why This Matters!

We have big news to announce – ZEGO is now a B Corporation! I love talking about our company because ZEGO is so much more than delicious, Free From snacks. But it’s hard to convey all we hold dear in a Tweet or Instagram post. If you had the time, I would want to tell you we are a family-based business that grew out of a desire to provide delicious and nutritious snacks that are safe for nearly everyone to eat–no matter your dietary restriction, that we are passionate about providing food safety data through dynamic labeling, and how we use our labels to communicate food safety information to you. I would tell you we believe you have a right to know what is in your food and encourage you to demand it from all the companies you buy from – especially when it comes to toxins like glyphosate or cross contact with allergens. 

I would want you to know that we are about more than transparency, nutrition and taste. I would want you to know that we work hard to support U.S. farmers by buying locally and regionally grown food for our products. We use our packaging to inform consumers how they can advocate for a cleaner food supply, and that we donate 2% of our revenue to improve nutrition for low-income kids. As you see, it takes us awhile to tell people about all we do, which is why we are so happy to be officially certified as a B Corporation!

What is a B Corporation anyway?

B Corp for business is similar to Fair Trade or USDA Organic for food, but much broader. It covers how you treat your employees, your corporate governance, and your commitment to protecting the environment and giving back to your community. Because not every question on the assessment is relevant to every type of company, to get certified you must score 80 points out of 200. ZEGO scored a full 113!

Being B Corp certified allows us to use one symbol, the B badge, to show that we care about a lot more than profit. It means that we strive to make our business a force for good in our community and in our world.

B Corporation

Why Did We Get B Corporation Certified?

We didn’t get certified as a marketing tool. We got certified as a B Corporation because it’s not enough for ZEGO to be an independent “good guy” company. To be a force for good, we need to join forces with other B Corp food companies to define new, higher standards both in food labeling and food / social responsibility. By working together, we can encourage other food companies to follow the same path. The benefits will be felt for generations. 

It is part of our bigger commitment to always improving and setting the standard for transparency for food companies!

What Does Our Being a B Corporation Mean to You?

We have been doing the things that B Corp certified us for since we started ZEGO back in 2013, but it does make a difference to be certified. The certification actually holds legal weight as it is woven into your corporate legal structure. Most importantly, because re-certification is required every two years, you can be confident that as we grow, we will hold true to our values. 

B Corpoartion ZEGO Snacks

How You Can Help

So, here is our call to action for you — It truly matters if you support companies that are making a difference by how they do business. It’s simple, we can’t be a force for good if we don’t have enough sales! So when you are choosing which product to buy, look for the B Corp logo, help us spread the word about ZEGO and other B Corp companies, and ask other companies that you love to consider getting certified! Most of all, thank you for your support.