It’s really hard to keep gluten-free snacks and lunches interesting even under the best of circumstances. Frequently, your gluten-free diet will become mundane and boring because of the problems that naturally go along with preparing snacks and lunches.
Believe it or not, there are all kinds of problems associated with snacks and lunches.
- Everything needs to be kept fresh and tasty.
- The cool things need to stay cool.
- Keeping the crispy things crispy and protecting them from being crushed is a continual challenge.
- If the moist things leak or cool things condense water out of the air, the dry things will be real bummers when it’s time to eat.
- And of course, the gluten-free snack or lunch absolutely must remain uncontaminated by the gluten-y work or school environment.
- There are probably more but the first five items are what immediately came to mind.
Plus the vending machines’ Siren Song almost always sounds better than the lunchbox’s boring old tune.
And, the list of problems goes on…
You have no choice but to consider the likes and dislikes of the person eating it (whether it’s you or someone else). Not to mention what they should be eating, despite their likes and dislikes.
Often, you want them to eat protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals…even though they might demand more refined sugars and starches. And, it’s even harder when there’s another allergy or condition that needs to be considered like no casein, dairy or whatever.
Often I find that it’s variety that helps perk up my appetite. You can do a lot to keep a boring, mundane snack or lunch interesting by changing up things like texture, color, or size.
I try to vary the form of the food I eat by using choices like these:
- a bun vs. sliced bread
- a sandwich of sliced things vs. a sandwich of creamy chopped things
- a wrap vs. a sandwich
- a salad of bite-size chunks (think grape tomato, olive and cucumber chunks) vs. a salad of creamy chopped mixture (think tuna salad)
- a bar of chunky, crunchy whole-grain bits vs. a bar of melt-in-your-mouth smooth flavor
- a bowl of chunky fruit salad vs. a fruit smoothie
- red cabbage instead of lettuce – the color is a visual delight and the flavor has more punch
And, in my personal situation, I always need to do things from a gluten-free perspective.
Besides varying the form of the food, there is the variety in the tastes that different underlying ingredients bring to the table to create a more satisfying luncheon or snacking experience.
Some people seem to think that eating gluten-free is all about refined white rice flour or cornstarch rather than their wheat-contaminated counterparts. But, really, there are so many other possibilities
- whole grains like brown rice, corn or sorghum;
- seeds like quinoa, chia, flax;
- flours of garbanzo, fava bean, almond, chestnut or coconut;
- raw veggies like celery or carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, etc.
- and, this list mentions only a few of the seemingly infinite multitude of possibilities.
You may not like all of them, but try different ones occasionally to discover which ones you actually do like. There are snacks and lunches that are full of nutritious ingredients that can be made with an almost unlimited variety of ingredients.
Look for foods in different shapes, colors, sizes and textures which are made with the healthier ingredients that you like, and incorporate them into your snack or lunch plans.
Make snack and lunch-time a voyage of discovery rather than a mundane experience that you must inevitably endure!
This is Pat Yarbrough wishing you and yours a healthful, exciting culinary experience until my next tip.