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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Don't Go Nuts Over Nut-Free Lunches

I packed my little one off for kindergarten this week. Beyond the tears (mine) and nostalgia (also mine) was the anxiety (yep, that was mine, too) over preparing her nut-free lunches and snacks every day for the next 30 or so weeks.

Sure, her pre-school was nut-free, but her appetite has wizened with age, and the daily turkey sandwich and sliced cucumbers just aren’t cutting it for her anymore.

So, how’s a parent to prepare daily nut-free lunches without going nuts? Here are a few treats to tempt your kiddo’s palate and keep you sane.

Pasta salad—This eternal crowd-pleaser is a cinch to prepare in advance, delicious hot or cold and easy to adapt to even your pickiest eaters. Start with cooked penne pasta (use whole wheat penne for extra fiber) and then feel free to mix in your little one’s favorite items: grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, sliced carrots, steamed broccoli, sliced grape tomatoes, peas, bell peppers, parmesan or feta cheese—there’s next to no limit to what you can toss into this dish. Add pesto (if your kids will eat it) for an extra kick, or just sautee your add ins with olive oil and a little garlic, and maybe some chicken or vegetable broth. Once prepared, this dish will keep for several days if refrigerated, which means a single time in the kitchen can translate into several lunches.

Tortilla wraps—As versatile as pasta salad, you can toss nearly anything into a tortilla, roll it up and lunch is a wrap. Use ham, chicken or turkey slices, or use leftover poultry meat. Lay into a flour or whole wheat tortilla, then put down a layer of cheese (provolone, Swiss or cheddar for example). Add in some cooked black beans, sliced tomato or other veggie, then roll it all up like a burrito. Seal the deal in a pan over medium heat (add a little butter if desired) and melt the cheese. Chill overnight.

Baguette sandwiches—Bag the bagged bread, and opt for a sandwich built on heartier, more satisfying baguette or other artisan breads. Fill it with grilled chicken breast, the cheese of your choice and apple slices.

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