Tag Archives: lunch

Gluten Free School Lunches for Kids

My Kids on the First Day of School

I’m trying to reduce the amount of wheat I send in my kids’ lunches. While I’ve always tried to include milk and a vegetable, reducing the wheat is even more of a challenge, because it affects the easy sandwich. While I can use gluten free bread, I’m also trying to be a bit more creative and up the protein quotient.

Here are the parameters I set when packing school lunches:

  • No peanuts (although my kids aren’t allergic, there are kids in their school with life-threatening allergies to peanuts and I don’t believe that peanuts have any place in schools where this is the case.)
  • Must include milk
  • Must include a vegetable and a fruit
  • Must include a protein
  • Something sweet is nice to end the meal with

I have plastic sandwich boxes for each of the kids (no waste) and last year I purchased silicon cupcake cups by Wilton that fit inside the sandwich boxes and serve as flexible partitions for various foods.  I also have a few convenience products for the sweet/fruit component of my kids’ lunches, but they are all organic and pure.

Here are some of the lunches I’ve sent with my kids.

French Toast Sticks (made with Udi’s Gluten Free bread) and Homemade Breakfast Sausage (just meat and spices)

Served with 100% maple syrup for dipping, organic apple slices, organic yogurt, organic fruit & veggie shredz, and organic milk.

Another Variation…Homemade Gluten-Free Pumpkin Waffle Sticks with Mixed Dried Fruit (no sugar added)/Nuts and Homemade Sausage

Homemade Chicken Nuggets (made with almond flour and coconut oil)

Served with organic ketchup for dipping, organic carrots and cherry tomatoes, organic apple slices, yogurt (not organic this time…my mother in law bought it), dark chocolate square, and organic milk.

Plain Organic Unsalted Brown Rice Cake with Sunbutter for Spreading

Served with an organic apple, organic yogurt, seed/dried fruit mix, and organic milk.

Brown Rice Cake and Cheese

Served with organic carrot sticks, baby sweet pepper, Laughing cow cheese for spreading on the rice cake, string cheese, cashew and freeze-dried strawberry mix, organic fruit and veggie smoothie, and organic milk.

Organic Brown Rice Cake (Tamari with Seaweed Flavor)…can you tell my kids like rice cakes?…with Turkey Pepperoni and Cheese

Served with dill pickle (from the farmer’s market), cheese (from the farmer’s market), Laughing cow cheese for spreading, organic fruit and veggie smoothie, dark chocolate square and organic milk.

Gluten Free Pizza Bagel (made on Udi’s Bagels)

Served with turkey pepperoni, organic carrots, organic fruit and veggie smoothie, homemade fruit sweetened brownie (adapted from this recipe), and organic milk.

When All Else Fails…GoPicnic

Sometimes I don’t have time to make lunch. And my kids think these GoPicnic gluten free lunch boxes are a real treat. They only get them for special occasions (they’re $4 a pop). I also give them a choice between buying pizza lunch at school on Fridays or a GoPicnic box. They choose this about 50% of the time. These are their favorite flavors:

Now obviously some of these lunches (but not all!) require some forethought. I tend to cook up a large batch of pumpkin waffles or french toast and chicken nuggets on the weekend, and freeze some for lunches for the week. Pizza bagels can be made in the toaster oven in the morning.

What do you send with your kids for lunch?

Kelp Noodle Japchae Recipe (Gluten free, Refined Sugar free, Grain free)

My beautiful babies (not so little anymore!)

My 3 kids are adopted from Korea. In learning about the culture as we prepared to adopt, I fell in love with the country, as well as the food. Korean barbeque (Bulgogi) is phenomenal, and kimchi is a spicy, addictive condiment that I love. (I even made kimchi once or twice…a process that takes several days…and my sweet son prefers mine to anyone else’s…good boy!) But one other dish I really enjoy is japchae, which is a stir-fried noodle dish made with sweet potato noodles.

The best japchae I ever had was cooked by my son’s foster mother in Korea. When we went to her apartment to meet our new son for the first time (he was 2) she had a huge spread of traditional Korean food. It was SO delicious!

I’ve made japchae in the past, but I always messed up a bit with the sweet potato noodles, which can easily be overcooked. However recently, I finally took the plunge and ordered some kelp noodles. I had been reading about them on various gluten-free food blogs, and I was curious. The reviews for them on the Amazon product page were really positive. They are not a grain, but rather a sea vegetable. And there are only 18 calories in an entire package (6 calories per serving.) For real!

But the best part is that they are, of themselves, fairly tasteless. They take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with, but they retain the texture of a rice noodle. Plus they’re full of nutrition. They have more than 70 minerals, including potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and iodine. They also contains enzymes, vitamins, trace elements, and more than 21 amino acids. It’s safe to say they’re really good for you.

So I decided to attempt japchae again, this time with kelp noodles. And it was perfect! It’s safe to say I’ll never go back to sweet potato noodles for this dish again.

Some of the ingredients in the japchae

Kelp Noodle Japchae
Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1 package kelp noodles
  • 3 Tbsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 3-4 Tbsp sesame oil, divided (or more as needed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 green onions, sliced, divided
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, divided
  • 1-2 boneless organic chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced (dried are great in this but you have to soak first, you can also use fresh)
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 organic cage-free egg, scrambled

Here’s What To Do

  1. Rinse the kelp noodles in cold water.
  2. Boil some water in a large pot, and add the kelp noodles. Cook for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Let it sit in the hot water until you’re ready to use the noodles.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 2 Tbsp tamari, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 chopped clove of garlic, the ginger, 1/3 of the chopped green onion, and 1/2 of the sesame seeds in a small bowl.
  4. Slice the chicken thighs into strips, and add to the tamari marinade. Let sit while you slice the carrots, mushrooms and spinach.
  5. After all vegetables have been prepared, heat a tsp of sesame oil in a large frying pan, and add a little of the garlic. Add the chicken and all of its marinade, and stir fry until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the meat from the pan and put on a plate.
  7. In the same pan, add another tsp of sesame oil and some garlic, and cook the carrot strips until softened, but still with a bit of crunch left.
  8. Remove the carrots from the pan and put on the plate with the meat.
  9. In the same pan, add another tsp of sesame oil and some garlic, and cook the mushrooms until softened, about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and put on the plate with the meat and carrots.
  11. In the same pan, add a bit more sesame oil and garlic, and toss in the spinach. Cook for a minute or so, until wilted.
  12. Remove the spinach from the pan and put on the plate with the meat and vegetables.
  13. Add enough sesame oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and then add the scrambled egg. Tilt the pan to cover the bottom with egg, and allow it to cook in a thin sheet.
  14. When the egg is almost done, use a spatula to break it up into bite sized pieces, and then remove the egg to the plate with the meat and vegetables.
  15. Drain the kelp noodles.
  16. Add another tablespoon of sesame oil and the remaining garlic to the pan, and then add the kelp noodles. Stir-fry for 2 minutes to get up all the pan flavors that have accumulated into the noodles.
  17. Dump the plate of meat, vegetables and egg on top of the noodles, along with the remaining green onion, and stir fry it all together for another 2-3 minutes.
  18. Taste and add another Tbsp of tamari if the flavor needs it.
  19. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sesame seeds, and serve!

Hungry yet?

Have you tried kelp noodles? What did you think of them? How do you like to prepare them? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Favorite Gluten-Free Recipe Roundup

Chicken, Bacon, Dates and beet greens. Total yum! A recipe I’ll share next week!

This week I’ve been exploring some new recipes from some of my favorite food bloggers. All of them are gluten and refined-sugar free. I wanted to share some of these fantastic recipes with you today. Enjoy!

  • Slow-Cooked Coconut Ginger Pork: The juice this dish produces in the crockpot will blow your mind. It is so succulent. About 30 minutes before it was done cooking, I threw in some baby spinach and sliced carrots which added a nice nutritional punch, plus some color. If you do grains, you could serve it over rice. Otherwise serve it in a bowl. You’ll want to drink the liquid for sure!
  • Rosemary Spaghetti Squash Egg Nests: I’m realizing that I have quite a few vegetables I’ve avoided over the years because of some less than pleasant early experiences with them as a child. Spaghetti squash was one of them. However when I saw this recipe from the Urban Poser, I knew I needed to give it another chance. I am SO glad I did. This is awesome, and quite filling. One is more than enough to fill you. Next time I make it I’ll prepare the nests ahead of time, and then I can cook them with the egg inside when I’m ready, and I can keep the yolks gooey (they cooked solid before the nests were done.) This makes a great breakfast or even dinner.
  • Red Chicken Coconut Curry: OK, this one is one of mine. But it’s a meal that comes together SO quickly, that I had to include it. In 20 minutes, dinner is done!
  • Blueberry Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake: It’s pumpkin pie in a glass. No lie. I’m not even all that big a fan of pumpkin pie, but I LOVE this shake. And the best part is that it leaves me full and totally energized all morning.
  • Coconut Cream Pie Larabar Recipe: I’m a big fan of Kind bars, and typically prefer them to Larabars. But when I was in the grocery store this week I was starving and saw these in the checkout line so I picked one up. TOTAL yum! Because I don’t love the price on any of these bars I quickly looked up a recipe on how to make them at home. This one is great.
  • Cinnamon Bun Muffins: This is the first recipe I ever made from the Elana’s Pantry food blog, and it’s still one of my favorites. (I replace the agave with 100% pure maple syrup.) Make them. You can thank me later!

Do you have some favorite gluten and refined-sugar free recipes? Please share them in the comments!

Roasted Beets and Beet Greens with Dates and Goat Cheese Recipe (Paleo, Vegetarian, Gluten Free)

Do you have a vegetable you’re afraid of? Something you had an unfortunate experience with early on that completely turned you off to the whole institution? There are only a select few like that for me, and beets were near the top of the list.

If memory serves, I’m fairly certain the beets I was exposed to were pickled beets out of a can. I loathed them.

But recently I’ve been seeing more and more recipes with beets, and the nutritional benefits are huge. And I do believe that any vegetable can taste good if cooked properly. So I decided this weekend to pick up a bunch of organic beets, and give it a go.

Beets and their greens

I scrubbed them clean, cut off the greens (and reserved them in a glass of water), and cut them down to a relatively uniform size.

Next I put them in a foil pack with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

I sealed up the edges of the foil and roasted them in a 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes. Basically, you roast them until you can easily spear them with a fork.

Once they’re done, let them cool enough to handle and then slide the skins off. I didn’t take a picture of this step (because my hands were full of purple beet juice!)

When you’re done, you’ll have a lovely plate of roasted beets. You can eat them like this, or use them in recipes like the Roasted Beets and Beet Greens with Dates and Goat Cheese recipe I’m sharing with you today.

Roasted Beets and Beet Greens with Dates and Goat Cheese
Serves 2 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 roasted beets, sliced
  • 1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and chopped into 3-inch pieces
  • 8 dates, sliced
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 oz goat cheese

Here’s What To Do:

  1. Heat some olive oil over low heat in a frying pan. Add the sliced onion and saute about 5 minutes until carmelized and soft.
  2. Add the roasted beet slices, beet greens, and sliced dates, and cook until greens are wilted.
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Remove from heat and add goat cheese. Stir gently.
  5. Serve.

The Verdict: This was a lovely dish that convinced even this non-beet eater that beets can taste good. I think the sweetness of the dates and carmelized onions worked perfectly with the beets and greens, and the goat cheese added a perfect note to the overall dish. Thanks to this, I would make beets again!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy beets? Would love to learn about your favorite recipes in the comments below!

Red Chicken Coconut Curry (Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free)

I originally  gave up bread and refined sugar to lose weight. (Then I started reading…darn the internet!) Since this was (at least originally) primarily about weight loss (and then maintenance) for me, I keep a close eye on the scale. And I find I do best when I make vegetables the foundational element in my diet. Now this doesn’t mean eating salad all the time. But it does mean that I try to incorporate vegetables in all 3 meals a day. In doing so, I get more nutrition, and I find that my weight remains stable.

But wait! you may be saying. Veggies for breakfast? Really? Yep. There are 2 primary ways I do it.

  1. Eggs and Omelettes. This is the easy one. Our favorite omelet is mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, and some cheese. Sometimes I’ll throw in tomatoes.
  2. Smoothies. I giggle inside a little when my son automatically reaches for the baby spinach in the fridge when making his own smoothies. Fruit-based smoothies can include spinach and carrots and, if you use blueberries, you’ll never know they’re there!

I’ve also been known to do a soup for breakfast of broth and veggies. You can throw in rice, protein of your choice, or drizzle in a scrambled egg. If you like things spicy, adding some kimchi is delicious too (and you won’t be able to eat too fast, which ensures you’ll stop when you’re full.)

Here’s a quick and easy recipe full of veggies that my husband RAVED about when I made it. (And don’t let the word “curry” scare you. It’s not spicy at all!) His exact words were “It’s so buttery!” And there’s no butter in it at all!

Red Chicken Coconut Curry

Red Chicken Coconut Curry
This made enough for lunch for 2 adults.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. raw chicken, cut into strips or bite-sized pieces
  • Salt & pepper (or all purpose seasoning of choice)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • coconut oil
  • 1/2 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste (have I mentioned yet how addicted I am to this stuff?)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florettes
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup prepared brown rice
  • 1 big handful spinach

Here’s What To Do

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, or seasoning blend of your choice.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
  3. Press the garlic clove into the oil.
  4. Add the chicken slices and cook until browned on each side.
  5. Add the cauliflower and carrots, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut milk and red curry paste, and stir gently until well combined.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add brown rice and cook for another minute.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Stir until just wilted.
  10. Serve!

How do you incorporate veggies into your meals? Please share in the comments!