Teri Gruss, MS

Pack a Healthy Gluten-Free School Lunch for Your Gluten-Free Child

by Teri Gruss, MS on August 31st, 2011


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There are lots of ways to pack a healthy gluten-free school lunch. Start by including your gluten-free child in the weekly menu planning process- this will increase the odds that he or she will actually eat what you pack for them!

Good quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats are key to improving your child's diet. These tips and resources will help you plan and pack healthier gluten-free school lunches for your gluten-free child.

Suggested Reading:

Gluten-Free School Lunch Recipes and Tips School Lunchbox Safety

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varies - Plan ahead to save time!

Here's How:

  1. Start with a healthy protein
    • High quality gluten-free deli meats (See tips for product links)
    • Gluten-free cheeses and cheese spreads
    • Chicken and turkey salads
    • Left-overs (homemade chicken gluten-free noodle soup, vegetable beef soup, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, lasagna, tacos, fried rice with eggs, etc.)
    • Nut butters and jam sandwiches
    • Deviled eggs
    • Gluten free yogurt flavored with fresh fruits and honey
    • Black bean salsa with gluten free corn chips
    • Protein powder smoothies blended with fresh fruit
    • Homemade gluten-free protein bars

    Note-Include a thermos and ice packs in lunchboxes to keep these foods safe.

  2. Add healthy complex carbohydrates
  3. Include healthy essential fatty acids Most American diets contain adequate, if not excess amounts of omega 6 essential fatty acids. Vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil and cottonseed oil are rich sources of omega 6 fatty acids. Fish oils and flax seed are excellent sources of essential omega 3 fatty acids.

  4. Send healthier gluten free sweets

    Add healthy gluten free flours to your dessert recipes - brown rice, amaranth, almond meal, teff, millet, bean flours and sorghum all bring nutritional value to sweets!

  5. Avoid sending sugary juices and soft drinks that add calories without bringing nutritional value to the table! Pack fresh plain water or occasionally send a fresh fruit flavored water like Aqua Fresca from Guide to Mexican Cooking, Chelsie Kenyon. Cut back on the sugar or use stevia, a natural, herbal sweetener to further reduce sugar content.

Tips:

  1. Get your child involved in the process of planning a weekly lunchbox menu. Let them pick out a fun lunchbox that has a thermos and ice pack in it. That way they will look forward to carrying it and it will keep foods at safe temperatures.
  2. Make sure your child understands the importance of avoiding foods with gluten. Trading lunches with friends is off-limits!
  3. Avoid the temptation to fill your child's school lunch with packaged sweets and refined carbohydrates. Of course kids love eating cookies, candy bars, potato chips and drinking sugary fruit juices and soft drinks but these foods lack the nutrients growing children need. Add a small healthy, homemade gluten free cookie, bar or muffin instead.
  4. Change things up! Don't send the same foods day after day. Gluten- free kids need variety for a balanced diet. Utilize left-overs like homemade soups, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, lasagna, herb-flavored rice dishes and fruit salads. These foods add nutritional value and variety to school lunches. And they break up the monotony of sandwiches!
  5. Gluten-Free Product Resources-Gluten Free deli meats and dairy products Applegate Farms Gluten Free Organic Deli Meats and Cheeses Boar’s Head® Deli Meats, Cheeses and Condiments Hormel™ Natural Choice® Deli Meats Organic Valley® Gluten Free Dairy Products Thumann’s (Certified Gluten Free) Deli Meats

    Gluten Free Protein Bars Homemade Gluten-Free Energy Bar Recipe Certified Gluten Free Larabars and Jocalate Bars

    Find More Gluten Free Ingredients

     

What You Need

  • A list of your child's favorite gluten-free lunch foods
  • A lunchbox your child likes - with a thermos and ice packs to keep foods safe!
  • Gluten-free deli meats, cheeses and yogurt
  • Good quality, preferably whole grain gluten-free sandwich bread
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Gluten-free left-overs like spaghetti, lasagna, soups and rice dishes
  • Fresh water instead of sugary juice boxes and soft drinks
  • Gluten-free crackers and corn chips
  • Gluten-free condiments including mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup
  • Several packable, lidded 4 ounce containers
Related Articles

 

----------------------------- Author Information: Teri Gruss, MS About.com Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking Teri was diagnosed with gluten intolerance after decades of symptoms that culminated in malabsorption syndrome. Teri has written numerous health and nutrition articles for the popular website naturalnews.com and was a founding member and moderator of nutritioncircle.org, a nutrition forum for healthcare professionals and students. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association and supports the non-profit organization Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) of North America as a member. Email Teri Gruss, MS here.


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