It’s really hard to keep making gluten free lunches and snacks that are interesting even under the best of circumstances…Plus, the vending machines at work or school have a siren song that almost always sounds better than a lunchbox’s boring old tune. When the need to be gluten-free is added, lunches can seem even more challenging.
Believe it or not, there are all kinds of challenges associated with a gluten-free lunch or snack. Here are a few:
- 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 if the 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.
And, the list of problems goes on…
A cook has no choice but to consider the likes and dislikes of the person eating it (whether you are that person or someone else is). 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 dairy, no nuts or some other restriction.
So what’s to be done to make a lunch interesting?
Often I find that it’s variety that helps perk up my appetite.
I can make changes 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 alternating through choices like these:
- a vegetable salad with dressing vs. a Blackeyed Pea Salad-Stuffed Tomato (keep reading – you’ll find the recipe below)
- a bun vs. sliced bread
- a sandwich of sliced things vs. a sandwich of creamy chopped things
- a Turkey Lettuce Wrap (keep reading – you’ll find that recipe below, too) vs. a turkey salad 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 a lot of 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 which different underlying ingredients bring to the meal 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 –
- breads or chips made of whole grains like brown rice, corn or sorghum
- cookies or bars that include seeds like quinoa, chia or flax
- flours made from garbanzo, fava bean, almond, chestnut or coconut
- cooked veggies like roasted sweet potato cubes, marinated artichoke hearts or green bean salad
- fresh fruits, whole or in combination, such as fruit salads or smoothies
- Hummus (keep reading – you’ll find that recipe below, too) instead of dip (for veggies) or mayonnaise (for sandwiches)
- and, this list mentions only a few of the multitude of possibilities, so use your imagination!
You may not like all of the possibilities, but make a point to try something different regularly. You may discover food you might have missed that you actually do like. There are lunches and snacks that are full of nutritious ingredients just waiting to be discovered.
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 lunch and snack-time a voyage of discovery rather than a mundane experience that you must inevitably endure!
Three Gluten Free Lunch Ideas
It’s really hard to keep making lunches and snacks that are interesting even under the best of circumstances…Plus, the vending machines at work or school have a siren song that almost always sounds better than a lunchbox’s boring old tune. When the need to be gluten-free is added, lunches can seem even more challenging.
- 1 Cup Black-eyed Peas, canned, drained
- 4 Tablespoons Celery, minced
- 2 tablespoons Onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons Mayonnaise, gluten-free
- 1/8 teaspoon Pepper, ground
- Dash Tabasco Sauce, optional
- 2 Medium Fresh Tomatoes, peeled and cored
- Red Cabbage Shred or Carrot Curl for Garnish, optional
- 2 Tbsp. Onion, minced (more or less to taste)
- 2 Tbsp. Celery, minced (more or less to taste)
- 5-6 Ounces Turkey (about 3/4 Cup, Cubed, from Roasted or Slow-Cooked
- 4 Tbsp. Mayonnaise, gluten-free, or more as needed
- 16 Ounces Garbanzo Beans, drained, reserving some liquid (or your choice of beans)
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice, or Lemon
- 1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons Tahini, optional
- 3 Tablespoons Water, or liquid from beans
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, to taste
- 1 Pinch Black Pepper, or paprika, to taste
- 1 Twist of Thinly Sliced Lime, for garnish
- Carrot and Celery Sticks
Mix together all ingredients except for the tomatoes and chill.
Scoop out the center part of the tomatoes.
Divide the salad between the two tomatoes.
Garnish, if desired, and serve.
Combine the turkey, onion, celery and mayonnaise in a bowl; toss lightly.
Arrange a scoop of the turkey on a large leaf of lettuce.
Process the drained beans slightly, then add the next 4 ingredients and 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid from the beans (or water) in a food processor until smooth (only a minute or two), scraping sides as needed.
Add more reserved liquid, or water, if too thick.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cover and chill. Garnish with lime twist, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.
Makes about 1-1/2 cups, or 6 servings of 4 tablespoons each.
These gluten-free recipes are for those with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or celiac (coeliac) disease, but I’ve found that people who have no food allergies like them, too. These are some of my whole foods gluten-free recipes that are wheat-free, barley-free and rye-free, and they may be dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and refined sugar-free, too.
Shared at each of these linkies:
The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s Gluten-Free Wednesdays
Gluten-Free Easily’s Gluten-Free Wednesdays
Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures’ Gluten-Free Wednesdays
The Tasty Alternative’s Allergy Friendly Wednesdays
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday
Katherine’s Corner Thursday Favorite Things
Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten-Free Fridays
Rattlebridge Farm’s Foodie Friday
Home Maid Simple’s Foodie Friday
Simply Sweet Home’s Friday Favorites
Sunflower Supper Club’s Weekend Potluck