Tuesday, March 27, 2012

School Lunch: Passing Inspection

I've been reading about kids' lunches having to pass inspection here in the U.S. Not lunches that the schools serve, but lunches that kids bring from home. Others have stated the stupidity of both the policy and the standards and have criticized the erosion of our freedoms better than I could put it. But I haven't seen anyone address the question of what to do if your kid can't drink milk or eat grains--commonly intolerated foods that the standards require.

You could put the foods in the lunch with instructions not to eat them. If your child has serious reactions to these foods, this could be a bad idea since kids don't always do as they're told. You could go to a doctor and get a waiver for your child, but I hate this idea. A grown man or woman shouldn't need a permission slip to pack a lunch without food that will make their child sick. A trip to the doctor costs money and for many parents, time off from work. And what if your kid doesn't have a diagnosis but just feels better on a certain diet?

One solution is passing: pack foods that only look grainy, milky, sugary or starchy. Let's start with milk: coconut milk or almond milk should easily pass for milk from a cow. (Almond milk is tan--it should pass for weak chocolate milk; you could heat it and add some cocoa or baking chocolate and a squirt of stevia extract to make it look like the sugary, defatted junk served at schools.)

For grains, check out these grain-free breads: oopsie bread (scroll halfway down), which can be made to look like hamburger buns, panini, rolls, braided bread, biscuits, pizza crust, and so on. This almond bread looks like heavy, dry nuts-and-twigs style bread that you should have in the car in the winter to put under the tires if you get stuck. But since it's made with almond flour and a lot of eggs, I imagine it's moist. One reader commented that she added some ripe bananas to the recipe, and the result was "terrific." Both of these recipes are low carb (assuming you exclude the bananas).

Some vegetables can pass for noodles, fulfilling the grain requirement. Spaghetti squash is tasty and easy to cook. This recipe for zucchini noodles has gotten good reviews (obviously, you'd peel the zucchini). If you go with the "noodles," just make sure you don't count it towards the fruit and vegetable requirement.

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