Eating gluten-free doesn’t have to be difficult, even with kids. Luckily, many healthy snacks and meals contain no gluten at all – and can still satisfy your child’s taste buds. With the rising number of gluten-free options on grocery store shelves, you can even find classic kids foods like crackers and cookies in gluten-free versions.
Enzymes to support digestion of gluten, such as those found in Enzymedica’s GlutenEase™, can also be a great complement to a gluten-free meal plan. They add an additional line of defense for your body in the event of cross-contamination or accidental consumption.
Plan out a healthy week for your child with or without gluten intolerance with these meal and snack ideas.
It’s always hard to start the work week. Keep it simple with rice cereal and milk. Just be sure the rice cereal doesn’t contain maltodextrin, which contains gluten.
Let your child build their own “lunchable” with their favorite gluten-free crackers, lunch meat and cheese. Be sure to include a serving of fruit, like half a banana, and vegetables, such as carrots, to round out the meal.
A healthy snack can keep kids satisfied until dinner. Slice up an apple and serve it with peanut butter.
Kids love chicken nuggets. Make a homemade gluten-free version by coating chicken with milk, butter and corn cereal such as Chex. Add spices or Parmesan cheese for more flavor.
Add a healthy serving of steamed vegetables – like green beans, broccoli or Brussel sprouts – to ensure that your child gets the nutrients they need.
Start the day off with some protein. Gluten-free ham muffin cups will keep your child full during school.
- To make the muffin cups, spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Line with slices of ham.
- Stuff the ham with cooked hash browns and top with shredded cheese.
- Beat an egg with milk, salt and pepper. Add any diced vegetables you’d like. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the muffin cups.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Pack a delicious turkey and veggie wrap for an easy lunch. You can find gluten-free tortillas or wraps in most grocery stores. Fill with mustard, turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato and whatever vegetables your child enjoys. Pair it with apple slices for a filling lunch.
Always remember that smaller children eat smaller portions. They may only need half a wrap to be full.
Sneak in some extra protein with a few almonds or peanuts, whichever your child prefers.
Have fun on Taco Tuesday by cooking up some seasoned lean beef or turkey. Serve it with your favorite taco toppings, like sour cream, salsa, sliced peppers, shredded cheese and lettuce. Be sure to purchase 100 percent corn flour tortillas to ensure that your child is not exposed to gluten.
Make breakfast perfectly nutritious with a parfait. Top your child’s favorite flavor of yogurt with sliced strawberries, blueberries or any other fruits they enjoy. If your child enjoys a little crunch, add crushed rice or corn cereal.
Mix it up with a warm lunch on Wednesday. Pack a thermos full of hot soup like chili (with beans, not noodles), broccoli and cheese soup or taco soup. Add a crunchy snack like fresh vegetables, fruit or nuts to complete the meal.
Add some vegetables to your child’s day. A small bowl of baby carrots can be dipped in gluten-free ranch dressing for a filling snack. Since not all salad dressing are gluten free, always check the label before buying.
Barbecue chicken is good all year, not just in the summer. You can make easy barbecue chicken in a crock pot. Place chicken breasts, 12 ounces gluten-free barbecue sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ cup gluten-free Italian dressing and 2 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce in a crock pot. Cook on low for six to eight hours.
With each sauce in the recipe, always check the ingredients list for added sources of gluten. While most sauces are gluten-free, some are thickened with flour.
Serve up your chicken with some corn, coleslaw or fresh green salad.
For kids on the go, mix up a quick banana split smoothie.
In a blender, mix one frozen banana, 2 cups frozen strawberries, ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt and 1 cup low-fat chocolate milk. This recipe will make four servings, so the whole family can enjoy a nutritious smoothie.
Sandwiches are a common lunch for kids, even kids with gluten issues. Purchase some gluten-free bread so your child can enjoy a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich in their lunch. Pack a carton of low-fat milk and a serving of vegetables for a well-rounded meal.
A child’s size serving of Greek yogurt offers good protein and calcium for your child.
Even spaghetti comes in a gluten-free version today. You can purchase quinoa or brown rice gluten-free spaghetti noodles at many grocery stores. Add in your favorite chunky vegetable sauce and turkey meatballs for a delicious dinner.
Alternatively, you can make noodles from zucchini for added nutrition.
If the week has you dizzy, finish off with another gluten-free cereal. Corn- or rice-based cereal should be gluten-free; just ensure that it doesn’t have maltodextrin.
If you don’t have any leftovers for Friday’s lunch, you can still make it easy. Pack some of your child’s favorite healthy snacks, like hummus and carrots, a handful of nuts, apple slices or even a gluten-free cookie for a Friday treat.
Try out the classic ants-on-the-log: celery filled with peanut butter topped with raisins for a fun snack.
Friday night is pizza night. Purchase or make-your-own cauliflower pizza crust to top with your favorite toppings like pepperoni, peppers and onion. These crusts pack extra nutrition without the gluten.
With more time to cook, try out a gluten-free pancake recipe. You can easily substitute your favorite gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour in almost any pancake recipe.
To make it extra special, top with whipped cream and sliced fruit.
Eat a nice cool salad for lunch to balance out the heavy pancakes. Top spinach with ham, shredded cheese, shredded carrots and your child’s favorite raw vegetables. If your child isn’t a fan of salad, you can always add gluten-free croutons and salad dressing to make it more delicious.
Power some good weekend play with protein-filled string cheese or cheese sticks.
Try out some Saturday stir-fry to add some zing to your week. The great thing about stir-fry is that you can customize it to your family’s tastes. You can use chicken, beef or pork and add any vegetables you have, like broccoli, peppers, onion, snap peas and more.
When choosing a sauce for your stir-fry, check for thickeners that contain gluten. Soy sauce, a common ingredient in stir-fry sauce, often contains gluten. You can also make your own sauce and thicken it with cornstarch instead.
Celebrate the weekend with a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. For extra nutrition, add some vegetables to the eggs.
Warm up your child’s belly with a cup of tomato soup and half a grilled cheese. You can make your own simple tomato soup with chicken broth, heavy cream, tomato sauce and your favorite spices. Put over medium heat for 15 minutes.
For the grilled cheese, use your child’s favorite gluten-free bread and classic American cheese for a warm, melty sandwich.
Feed those little monkeys in the afternoon with some slices of banana.
Make a nice Sunday roast to finish off your week. Choose a lean cut of beef and roast with potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
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