A friend recently posted on The Willing Cook facebook page (you should become a fan if you’re not already) the following question:
I would love some help on how to find EASY dairy free meals/snacks for a 1 year old. I am a bit stumped… I am at a loss and tend to feed her the same things over and over…She loves things that have lots of flavor though and I think she is getting bored! Thanks for any info you can give me!…Can’t do soy either for now.
This is a very common concern as many food allergies are discovered at this time when solids are first being introduced. It is hard to cover all the nutritional bases when feeding a one year old.
Factors that must be taken into consideration when feeding a young child with food allergies:
- Nutritionally balanced for ultimate growth. The first few years of life are compact with physical and developmental growth. Poor nutrition can have a detrimental affect on both.
- Avoid/eliminate all food allergies.
- Gear food toward the developing palate and small motor skills.
Here are the suggestions that I recommended to this new allergy mom:
- Milk: Almond or Coconut milk. Be sure your child does not have a tree nut allergy before giving Almond Milk.
- Butter substitute: Earth Balance makes a dairy and soy-free margarine.
- Sweet Potatoes: Great cooked as fries or mashed up. Add ketchup to fries or doctor the mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Avocado: Such a nutritious vegetable (or is it a fruit?) packed with healthy fat. It isn’t typically a food that older kids like, so the earlier you can introduce it, the better you’ll be. Just cut it up into little chunks and she can eat it plain. You can also add it to rice or beans for more of a “meal”.
- My son loves flavored rice vinegar in rice. It gives it a little tangy sweet flavor and stirs up the flavors a little for her.
- Beans, any and all: Great for the little pincher grasp and very nutritious.
- Olives are great too.
- Mashed Potatoes: Since my husband is limited, we don’t make the traditional mashed potatoes. But the alternative is very good and my non-allergy girls love them too. I add a touch of olive oil (about 1 Tbsp) and enough chicken broth to bring it to the desired consistency. Add salt to taste. If you desire butter on it, you can add a pat when served. You could use the Earth Balance butter mentioned above instead of the olive oil (although the olive oil is a very good fat for her to have).
- If she’s on the small side, a nutritionist always recommended adding olive oil to as many foods as possible.
- Hummus: My son LOVES hummus. He eats it about everyday. Since she’s so little, you probably don’t want to serve it with hard things like carrots or tortilla chips, but you could serve it with cut up tortilla shells or pita bread. Just be sure to read the ingredients on the breads as they may contain dairy and/or soy. Read hummus labels as well because some contain vegetable oil (soy-based).
- Sorbet: There are dairy free sorbets on the market (you’ll have to read labels for soy). Be sure to read labels for cross-contamination. You could also make homemade fruit sorbets or popsicles. Just google it.
- Yogurt: Whole Foods carries a wonderful coconut milk yogurt, but it is pricey. I want to try my hand at making homemade coconut or almond milk yogurt, but I haven’t yet.
- Bread & Jam: Since it’s probably wise to hold off on PB&J at this stage, most kids love Bread & Jam (just be sure to read those labels for bread and jam ingredients). Since you have to avoid soy, you might have to resort to making homemade bread. You can read the book “Bread and Jam for Frances” to go along with the treat.
- Buttery Noodles: Cook fun shaped noodles, add dairy & soy-free margarine or olive oil and a touch of salt. She will love the taste and working with her “pinchers.”
- Soft Pretzels: I guess that store-bought brands contain soy, at the very least. Here is a Whole Foods recipe for Homemade Soft Pretzels. Substitute non-dairy milk. I have not made this recipe myself, but it sounds great!
- Couscous: My son loved this stuff when he was younger. It really helps the little ones learn to eat with a spoon.
- Polenta: This was recommended to my son by the nutritionist. You will have to read labels and find one that doesn’t contain milk, but I’m not sure about soy. I haven’t made it for a long time, but he always liked it. I cut it into slices and fried it in some oil in a skillet and served with a little ketchup.
- When a recipe calls for milk, like pancakes, I just do a straight substitute with a non-dairy milk.
- Grains: If she seems to be handling those well, try different versions of oatmeal. Steel cut oats, baked oatmeal, oatmeal w/ cinnamon, diced apples & raisins. Cream of wheat is also very good. Cooked rice with sugar and milk (non-dairy) is very tasty too.
- Snack: Mike Sell’s Puffcorn-they are made with corn oil and contain no butter. My son loved these at this age because he could pick them up and they are easy to chew with fewer teeth.
- Of course, there is always the tried and true fruit, vegetables and meat.
- I’m not sure what your doctor has said about peanuts, but I would steer clear of that right now.
- Keep in mind that it takes about 10 times trying a new food before a child will develop a liking to it. So don’t give up if she doesn’t like something on the first try.
A note of encouragement: When first dealing with food allergies, it is VERY overwhelming. But you learn to work with it. Pretty soon it becomes second nature, but remember that you always have to stay on your toes.
I am still thinking on more ideas for a 1 year old. Can you help this new allergy mom with any suggestions?