It has been brought to my attention that I have yet to make a blog entry that talks about foods and snacks in the Montessori environment. Coincedentally, this week at school has been a week where snack has been fore front of my mind.
Our school now has a nut free policy as well as the natural healthy eating policy. This hasn't been an issue in the past as there has been a rota for providing snacks from a pre-set list, however, this year, in the lower elementary classrooms, snacks are to be provided daily from home. Naturally, this is the year my "difficult eater" is in this environment, so providing nut free snacks that disguise any element of fruit or veg and maintain healthy eating status is my quest for this year.
Naturally, foods and snacks for any child need to be slow releasing energy. High sugar content, of course, releases a rush, and then the down side can be lethargy or lack of concentration.
My favourite book for snack ideas is Lunchboxes by Annabel Karmel.
Listed below I have shared ideas for snacks that are nut free and low sugar. There are also ideas for other school morning breakfasts and lunches. Please feel free to add to this via the comments as it would be great to share thoughts and ideas.
School Morning breakfasts (the theme is healthy and QUICK!!)
Oatmeal - always a favourite
Natural Yoghurt and honey
Poached or Boiled egg and wholemeal toast or muffin
Toaster waffles with fresh fruits
fruit salad with granola (you can make your own if you want nut free and just use rolled oats)
Breakfast bars - I will dig out a link to the recipe for this later
Banana (or any other fruit) smoothies
Snack ideas for school
Hummus to dip veg in
Hard boiled egg
Raisins or dried fruit (my kids love apple rings and mango pieces)
Dehydrated fruit - you can either do this yourself or buy all kinds of exotic fruits that have been deydrated. My middle child (the self assigned "vegandfruitaphobe" will happily consume these on the premise they "taste like candy"!!)
Mini pitas (with dips or spread)
Healthy O's (cereal without the added sugar - think cheerios without the crap!)
Yoghurt (I send in a little pot with natural yoghurt and honey on the top - half the price and half the sugar!)
Dried banana chips
Healthy valley's oatmeal bars (there are no nuts in these as far as I am aware)
Tofu (Whole foods and trader joe's do lovely flavoured tofu that can be sliced)
Soy butter is a great, nut free alternative to peanut butter and can be a great dip
Obviously as with all these items, if there is a child with a nut allergy in the class, always check how severe, because even if an item doesn't have nuts in it, it may be made in a factory that produces nuts and this can sometimes be enough to set off an allergic reaction. Also, always ensure your child washes their hands after eating any nut product if they are going into school and into contact with children who may be allergic!
We tend to use any of the following as the "outer"
tortilla flour wraps
egg and mayo (you can add corn and chives if your child isn't picky!!)
tuna fish, cucumber, mayo
Tomato and cheese
grated celery, mayo and grated cheese (my fav!!)
mini muffin pizzas
pasta salads made with hidden veggie sauce (I will post a link for a recipe later)
mini potato skins with home made salsa
homemade soups and oyster crackers - great way to get the reluctant veggie eater to eat some!!
noodles and homemade sauces
Occasionally as a treat my kids love pot stickers and shimu or veggie sushi (they would eat the regular raw fish sushi, but I have a feeling that nut allergies tend to go hand in hand with seafood allergies too.)
any leftovers that you know your child will eat !!!
I do encourage my children to pack their own lunchbags with my help and they make choices from the foods I have bought in for the purpose.
At school I know the children all eat together. In the primary programmes this is a beautiful occasion that is prepared by the children. All the tables are set for lunch with silver and glassware, a candle and the lights are dimmed and music is played. The lunchtime is a revered occasion that the children and teacher enjoy together.
At home, we manage to replicate that as often as we can. It is hard in a working family environment to all find time to eat together due to work schedules. In the Beehive we try, wherever possible to eat together, occasionally that may be me enjoying a cup of tea at the dinner table whilst the children eat if I am waiting for my husband to come in later from work on a Friday.
We set the table appropriately with silver and glassware and use china plates rather than plastic. The reason behind this is that children want their table to look nice and there is a reason to take care with things otherwise they will break. If you carry a plastic item, there is not the same need for care.
We use cloth napkins and jugs for water, milk or juice as often as possible. The only thing I don't tend to do at home is the candle, primarily because there is a side of me that is just damn forgetful and also, no matter what you are lead to believe, kids will behave differently at home than school, thus at school the candle is respected, at home......the respect somewhat forgotten!! *sigh*
I hope this has been of some help. Please feel free to add your own thoughts and comments.