I made these banana oatmeal cookies a few weeks ago for Madlotts' class at school and they were such a hit I thought I'd better share the recipe with you.
We signed up to be "snack friend" for the class for pretty much the whole month of September and into October which sounded like a good idea at the time - just knock it all out, you know? It actually hasn't been so bad - the hardest part is changing it up so I'm not the boring mom that brings the same thing every day.
Oh, and the allergies. Like so many classes these days we have to be mindful of food allergies, too - particularly gluten and peanuts. I'm used to eating around allergies myself but I have to admit, even I felt a little like "well, then what can they eat?!" when I was reminded allergy-free, please.
Our family is lucky that our kids haven't had food allergies at this point (knock on wood). I know so many who are dealing with them and I feel their struggle. I know how intimidating, stressful and not fun it can be, especially in the beginning.
I think about my immediate reaction when I found out the snacks at school should be gluten and peanut free. Even with all my knowledge of healthy eating and such I froze, totally unsure of what to bring.
I was stuck in my thinking. Last year my go-to snacks were Annie's Cheddar Bunnies and HEB Organics peanut butter rounds. Full of gluten and peanuts. But I knew all kids liked them and would eat them. Plus they were relatively healthier and a bargain for feeding eight kids, so that's what I stuck to. But honestly, relatively healthier junk is still junk. I'll come back to that later...
The reason I stuck with my go-to's in the past was because they were easy and routine. I had two babies, I didn't have time to bake snacks. Or cut up fruit. Pssh.
But, you know what, if you have to do it, you make the time.
And then when you do it, you realize it really doesn't take that much time at all.
And isn't feeding your kids (and ourselves!) real food worth an extra 5, 10 minutes?
That guilt trip was for myself, not you. I know we all want our kids to eat real food all the time but, TIME. And also, the other important part of the equation....are they even going to eat it??
Save the Cheddar Bunnies
I'm not saying throw out the cheddar bunnies and PB crackers. They have their place if tolerated (like bribes and long car rides), but they definitely shouldn't be an every day kind of thing.
I have to admit, I'm really glad for the allergy restrictions in Madlotts' class. If I'm being really honest I was totally phoning it in before. But I figured the other parents were doing the easy thing too, and if my kids were going to be eating junk anyway.... well, then why put in the extra effort? I hate to admit it, but it's true. Another thing... I didn't want to be that psycho health nut mom with the weird snacks, you know what I mean?
But the request means we all have to up our snack game. And I think that's a bar that's definitely worth raising for everyone.
Should We All Just Eat Gluten-Free?
Don't get me wrong, I don't think that kids should eat gluten and peanut-free if they don't have to. I just mean that eliminating those foods cuts out a lot of processed food that's just junk anyway. And most foods that are naturally gluten-free are just healthier in general.
I believe that a well balanced diet with everything in moderation is healthiest for a child when that child does not have any specific food allergies or intolerances. As long as they're not showing any symptoms of a food allergy or sensitivity I think kids should be exposed to as many types of foods with as much variety daily as possible.
Eating this way broadens their palette, teaches them to be open-minded and try new things, fosters a healthy relationship with food and also helps to develop their immune system.
So you may be wondering what other gluten and peanut-free snacks I brought to school all month. I'll list them below along with a few other favorite allergy-friendly ideas.
And if you have other allergy friendly snack ideas I'd love to hear them too. Please share in the comments!
That Feeling When You Have to Cut Out a Food....
I'm really glad I had this experience because it reminded me of that feeling when you find out you have to eliminate a food. It's shocking, scary, overwhelming, isolating and feels pretty much impossible.
I felt all those things at the beginning of my health journey, too.
If you're struggling, drop me a line, ask me your questions, share your frustrations, I want to hear all about it. And more importantly I want to be able to help.
There is life beyond gluten (or whatever food may be causing you grief). It may be hard to see it now but I promise it gets easier. And one day you may even say "who needs gluten?!"
Having support makes all the difference in the world, too.
I'd love to be that support for you - whether that's this blog, or a chat or working together. Anything I can do to help you make this big change even a little less daunting... because I get it.
Gluten-Free Snacks for Kids
- Banana & almond butter sandwiches - slice bananas and make little sandwiches with AB between
- Ants on a log - celery sticks spread with almond butter and topped with raisins
- Sliced apple with almond butter
- Sliced pears with cheddar cheese
- Unsweetened banana chips (in the bulk section of the grocery store)
- Trail mix with mixed nuts and dried fruit
- Dried apple slices
- Dried mango
- Grapes and cheese sticks
- Fruit skewers
- Rice cakes (plain or spread with almond butter and topped with banana)
- Apple cinnamon granola bars
- Banana nut muffins
- Oh-mega apple muffins
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
3 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk of choice (cow, almond, coconut, etc.)
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
a few shakes of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put bananas, apple sauce and milk in a bowl and mash bananas with a fork into smooth with minimal lumps.
Add in vanilla, cinnamon and salt and stir. Then add oats and raisins and mix well until everything is combined into a batter.
Spoon out a spoonful of batter and drop onto baking sheet. Each drop should be about 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter. They won't really spread out too much while baking but make sure not to overcrowd.
Pop into oven and bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned on top.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge and they'll last about a week. They freeze well, too.