By Alisa Fleming – For those of you who remember the early days of the Blow Pop, you will understand the importance of “cool” food. Yes, even lunch boxes are up for scrutiny by young peers. Luckily, as can occasionally happen with fads, “in” is crossing paths with “function,” allowing special diet tots and teens to indulge in sweets and snacks that seem down right … well, normal. To get the latest on vegan and food allergy treats for young appetites, I surveyed our product review crew of moms, college students, and of course, those of us who still eat like kids:
Janelle’s Pick: “The boys and I loved Crispy Cats.” Erring slightly toward nutritious, and all the way toward organic, I agree with Janelle that these virtuous new candy bars are bound to catch on with fervor. While the Mint Coconut Crispy Cat seemed to capture all of out taste buds, there is certainly something to be said for their other Snickers-like flavors.
Mom Notes* – Crispy Cats are organic, kosher parve, vegan (consequently dairy-free and egg-free), and gluten-free.
Barb’s Pick: “Instead of regular juice boxes, Soy Dream has a KIDZ Dream line of smoothies that comes in easy lunch box sizes that are really great.” As the mother of two kids with multiple food allergies, Barb has her share of “safe” food ideas. We think she hit upon a true find with these packably fun beverages, available in Berry Blast and Orange Cream flavors.
Mom Notes* – Kidz Dream smoothies are made with organic ingredients, kosher parve, vegan, and gluten-free.
VeggieGirl’s Pick: VeggieGirl obviously has a thing for cookies, as her own back to school picks seemed to be riddled with them – “…Newman-O's, Enjoy Life Cookies, vegan cookies from the Alternative Baking Company…” – I guess we will give her a few picks on this one, since they all sound so good.
Mom Notes* – All of the cookies noted above (all flavors/varieties too!) are vegan. Newman-O’s are organic, and a wheat-free cookie is available. Enjoy Life brands are gluten-free and produced in a dedicated, kosher certified facility (free from the top eight allergens). ABC cookies are made with organic ingredients, and they offer a wheat-free line.
Sarah’s Pick: “[My daughter] loves EnviroKidz Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Bars, and it is one dairy-free item that her friends like just as much as she does.” Sarah’s daughter loves EnviroKidz Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Bars, and it is one dairy-free item that her daughter’s friends like just as much as she does.
Mom Notes* – EnviroKidz Rice Bars are certified organic, gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free (subject to trace cross-contamination). As they do contain honey, they are not vegan.
Tony’s Pick: It is all about chocolate for Anthony. While he is well past his school days (don’t tell him I said the “well past” part), his lunch would not be fulfilled without some chocolate. Tony’s favorites are the new Dark Chocolate Bites from Endangered Species. Packaged in conveniently petite sizes (.35oz), and offered up in several varieties, he professes that the Organic Chimp Mints are the best.
Mom Notes* – All of Endangered Species dark chocolates are vegan (some are organic), though made on the same equipment as their milk chocolate line from what we understand.
Hannah’s Pick: “I do love the ZenSoy Pudding, and also those Soy On the Go soymilk boxes they make too! I went kind crazy with that yesterday… I ended up eating the entire package of banana pudding (4 individual cups) in one day… How embarrassing. I really meant to save them, but they're just so good…! ”
Mom Notes* – ZenSoy products are certified organic, kosher parve, vegan, and gluten-free.
Jen’s Pick: “I couldn’t keep the girls away from those crackers.” When the cheese-addicted gaggle of little girls, otherwise known as my nieces, descended upon our home for five days, I was nervous about how they would handle our dairy-free home. Luckily, they never found out. With a good supply of tasty hemp milk, and two boxes of the new Eco-Planet Organic Non-Dairy Cheddar Crackers, they were none the wiser. Tasting nearly identical to their very distant fishy cousins, these come in way cooler earth-friendly shapes, including my nieces’ favorite, the electric car.
Mom Notes* – Eco-Planet crackers are certified organic, kosher, and vegan, but contact the company should you have any cross-contamination concerns.
Alisa’s Pick: I am with VeggieGirl on the cookies, though I think the sandwich varieties are tops on my list for lunch box delights. While Newman O’s were the first to put the Oreo to shame, I quickly fell for the gluten-free KToos from Kinnikinnick (really, I couldn’t taste the difference!) and I am really excited about Late July’s new Organic Sandwich Cookies (Dark Chocolate & Vanilla Bean), though Hannah was the only one lucky enough to trial them thus far!
Mom Notes* – All brands noted are vegan, while the KToos are also gluten-free!
Honorable Mention: Both Hannah and VeggieGirl, our youngest writers, picked Clif Z-Bars as one of their favorite kid-friendly bars. Though she is a vanilla girl at heart, Hannah proclaimed the Chocolate Brownie flavor as excellent.
Mom Notes* – Z-Bars are certified organic, kosher, and vegan.
So what about those Blow Pops? There is a new kid on the candy block that I predict will oust those old time bubble gum lollipops. Two dads started up YummyEarth not too long ago and they are producing organic lollipops in an allergen-friendly facility (nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, etc.). As if this profile wasn’t enough, they come in very cool flavors, including Pomegranate Pucker, Mango Tango, and Cheeky Lemon … after all, a good and tasty selection is essential for lunchtime trading.
* Please note, the above article is for informational purposes only, offering up some of our personal favorites. However, if you have special diet needs or food allergies, be sure to double check on all health and ingredient information directly with the manufacturer, as processes and ingredients do change, and some products may be subject to cross-contamination with other products/ingredients.