Gluten Free Kids
Easy Gluten Free Meal Ideas For Kids
If you have a child diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance you are bound to have mixed feelings. It’s a relief to know what it is that has been making him or her so sick. And you know celiac disease is easy to manage with the proper diet, even healing the damage already done. But in the same breath you may be panicking about what on earth you’re going to cook.
I feel very close to this since my grandson is also gluten intolerant and has had horrid horrid problems with skin rashes and tummy problems before we knew what it was. He is also allergic to dairy and nuts. So finding kid friendly food was a must!
Keeping gluten-free foods in the house for adults is one thing but keeping gluten-free foods for kids is something altogether different. Not only do you have to make sure your child doesn’t accidentally eat something with gluten in it (think school too), but you have to make sure the poor child isn’t going to starve! We all know kids will stare into a fully stocked refrigerator and exclaim, “There’s nothing to eat!” Imagine if most of the food in there was truly off limits.
I know this was how I felt when I would be in charge of taking care of my grandson. Things were off limits to him that weren’t to his sister.
That’s why you need to plan ahead. Creating gluten-free meals and snacks is not that difficult if you prepare yourself. Start by learning the basics about the foods that are naturally gluten-free. Once you practice and perfect your label-reading abilities, you can branch out into packaged foods with more confidence.
Let’s start by looking at a few simple ideas for meals and snacks that are not fancy, but that will certainly be a welcome sight on your child’s plate.
Here’s where you can go crazy with fruit, yogurt, and nuts. Forget trying to figure out if your multi-grain cereal has gluten in it. Dish up a bowl of unflavored yogurt with fresh berries and a big scoop of chopped almonds. There are also dairy-free dairy products to choose if your child is also lactose intolerant.
Scramble up some eggs, then roll up into a corn tortilla for a breakfast burrito. Fried potatoes are another welcome change from a bowl of cereal. How about some bacon? As a matter of fact, your child may not miss the cereal at all. Of course, Puffed Rice or Cream of Rice cereals can be enjoyed. And there are some great oat cereals that are gluten free if you read labels.
Lunch or Snack
Simplicity is the name of the game here. You want some grab-and-go foods handy, but they still have to be filling. Stock up on lots and lots of nuts for snacking and for mixing into salads. Corn chips, crackers, peanut butter, or hummus is a welcome snack on the go. Celery sticks dipped in hummus is another filling snack or light lunch. The old standby of sandwiches made with gluten free bread always is a lunch favorite.
Slice up apples and spread with peanut butter. Or, better yet, put whole apples in the oven, stuff them with raisins, and bake until soft. And don’t forget popcorn. Avoid flavored popcorn; instead choose regular plain popcorn and add your own gluten-free flavorings. And fruit, lots of different kinds of fruit.
When you cook dinner for your kids, you probably already make many gluten-free dishes. The trick here is to avoid as many packaged items as possible to make things easier on you. Use fresh citrus like lemon, lime, or even oranges to flavor chicken breasts. If you like a crunchy topping just chop up nuts and coat the chicken or crumble potato chips. Bake on a rack in the oven and you have a delicious meal that is gluten-free and simple to make. Serve with a quinoa or brown rice side dish mixed with fresh chopped veggies. My grandson loves quinoa salad with corn, beans, avocado and good seasonings.
Use corn tortillas and put together easy pizzas in a flash by adding your favorite meats, vegetables and non dairy cheese, then baking until the tortilla is crisp and cheese is melted. Toss together some good albacore tuna with salad greens, chopped red bell peppers, celery, peas, and lots of crunchy nuts, then sprinkle with olive oil and red vinegar for a light meal on a hot summer night. Dinner is the time to serve plenty of lean meats, poultry, and seafood. Once you learn a few flavoring tricks, there is no reason your child should go hungry or under-nourished.
The cupboards do not have to be bare in a gluten-free kitchen. Nor do you have to spend loads of money on specialty foods. Look for naturally gluten-free foods, learn to read labels, and be creative. You’ll get the hang of this in no time, and enjoy delicious foods right along with your child.
My grandson’s school has been very accommodating. They allow parents to bring classroom snacks, so when it is my grandson’s day to bring snacks, all the kids get gluten-free snacks such as grapes, apples, oranges, fruit leathers, chips or cookies ( Enjoy Life is a brand with fabulous gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and soy-free cookie that we all LOVE to eat!). And when other children bring snacks that are not gluten-free, the teacher has a stash of snacks that his mom provides for times when gluten-free snacks are not brought. Then he can have a snack along with his classmates even though it may not be the same.
We will be looking at Common Gluten Free Mistakes in our next post, stay tuned.