As you might know from reading my blog, our older son Sasha is an autie. Children with autism often have restrictive diets due to their condition. With Sasha it is literally either a familiar food he would agree to eat or nothing. People who have no experience of autism sometimes give unsolicited advice, feeling superior "If he is hungry, he will eat, he won't starve". Actually, he will.
Last year he stayed for four days on a residential in Bristol with his class. I packed some food with him. They stayed in a hostel, without a fridge, so it was impossible to send enough food to last for four days, and the teachers were hoping he'd be eating with the others when they were going out. I was worried that he wouldn't eat, and he didn't eat much. He had chips and some of his sandwiches, but that's about it. He came home thinner than he left.
When Sasha was younger, we went through a long line of specialists including visits to the nutrition clinic in the children's hospital. When they asked us about the foods he wouldn't eat, I said it would be much easier to say what he would eat. In the end, we decided that though limited, his diet is not that bad, as he does eat some fruit and vegetables, and I cook a "super soup" for his dinner, which is packed with vegetables and pulses.
When we travel, feeding my autie becomes more of a challenge. In Italy, for example, he refuses to eat the local bread. For all the variety of wonderful breads in Italy, they really don't make good sliced bread. So, it might look strange, but one of our suitcases is packed with several loaves of Warburton's bread, as well as enough tuna pate to last a week. Sasha loves tuna pate sandwiches. I don't know what would we do without it.
I have tried all the other possible pates - chicken, mackerel, trout, salmon etc etc - he would sniff them and put back on the plate. Back to tuna pate then.
Tuna pate sandwiches are his staple food, he has them for breakfast, he has them in his lunch box. He has them for his birthday, he has them for Christmas.
It always makes me sad that when we tuck in into our Christmas dinner, he just wants his tuna sandwiches.
To make his lunchbox a bit more interesting, I add some home bakes, like a slice of carrot cake or a multiseed muffin, a few choc chip cookies or a cupcake.
Thankfully, his school is understanding. I often read online about the school lunchbox police who do not allow children to have any sweet foods in their lunchboxes.
Sasha loves my bakes. When I make a batch of cookies, I have to ration them, as he would gobble them up in one go (that happened once or twice when I wasn't quick enough to hide the cookies).
When it comes to cookies, I love baking with Flora. If I use plain butter, my cookies often tend to end up quite flat and spread out. Flora keeps the cookies in a good shape, and they taste delicious too.
For Sasha's favourite choc chip oat cookies you will need:
100g soft margarine
100g caster sugar
65g jumbo oats or one MOMA porridge sachet
165g self-raising flour
50g of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
Sometimes I also add 1tsp of vanilla essence.
I have tried different kinds of chocolate in this recipe, from Menier cooking chocolate, either milk or dark, to Sainsbury's Basics milk chocolate, so you can make it as budget as you like.
Cream the margarine with sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, oats and the beaten egg, mix well, forming the dough. Knead lightly on a slightly floured surface, roll out to 6-7mm thickness, cut out the biscuits with cookie cutters, place them on the trays lined with parchment paper or foil and bake for about 15 minutes until golden at 180C. Don't overcook, they are still very soft when you take them out.
These cookies will keep well in a cookie tin for a few days, that is if they will last that long.
They might not be the healthy food exactly, but they are made with oats and Flora light, so actually they are not bad at all.
Flora has developed an inspiring Lunchbox Guide for healthy eating habits. This guide is a helpful source of ideas for creative and healthy lunchbox meals including this lunchbox builder:
|Image credits: Flora|
There is a page of top tips for fussy eaters, a 5-day lunchbox plan + a 5-day lunchbox plan for vegans and much more.
This post is an entry for the #FloraLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Flora. Check out their lunch planner and recipe ideas here.
Disclosure: We received a Flora lunchbox and a £5 Tesco voucher to spend on the ingredients. All opinions are ours.