We all know we need to pop lots of fruit and vegetables in lunchboxes, and perhaps some cheese or yoghurt, but what else is there for variety and excitement? And how do you get the kids to eat it? Lots of gluten free lunch and snack products from supermarkets contain nuts, so aren’t appropriate for school. GF Pantry can however provide plenty of convenient gluten and nut-free bars and biscuits; just check out the snacks area of the store.
To get your children to eat their lunch, try to involve them as much as possible with choosing and preparing it. Explain the need to cover the basic healthy food groups and give them choice within a range. If there is no time in the morning, most foods can be prepared the night before and stored in the fridge. If foods are new, try them at home before first taking them to school.
Savoury ideas to fill bellies, provide the right nutrition and tempt a fussy eater might include:
- Crispy chicken tenders or cold drumsticks
- Small beef meatballs, made in bulk and frozen until required
- Zucchini and noodle bake
- Cold pizza
- Cold toasted sandwiches
- Cold Onion Bhaji
- Hot leftovers in a thermos
- Boiled eggs
- Olives, gherkins and other pickled veg
- Falafel balls
- Savoury muffins
- Homemade rice paper rolls
- Veggie sticks with dip
- Schar crackers with cheese and mini tomatoes
- Schar baguettes or rolls
- Lentil patties
- Baked beans
- Potato Ricotta balls
- Pasta, quinoa, noodle or rice salad
- Coleslaw or potato salad
- Lettuce wraps
- Rice cakes with dips
- Mini vegetable frittatas
- Tortilla bread and salsa
- Corn fritters and salsa
- Lentil coconut fritters
If that’s not enough, you can always check out “Lunch box” by Pete Evans. It’s filled with even more ideas!
Homemade treats can be almost anything you made before gluten was ruled out; with simple gluten free substitutions where appropriate. Do you remember making caramel slices and chocolate balls with your mum for lunch boxes and afternoon teas? Little Fairy cakes, honey joys and choc chip biscuits? Simple gluten free substitutions work well for all these traditional delights.
Here’s 2 incredibly simple recipes that you’ll remember from your childhood and that you can still make with ‘gluten free kids.’ After all, why should they miss out?
Traditional Chocolate balls, made gluten free
1 pkt Leda Arrowroot biscuits
1/3 cup of Niulife desiccated coconut
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
2/3 can of condensed milk
1 cup of Niulife desiccated coconut for rolling
(A tbsp Psyllium Husk if you are after a little extra fibre)
Process Arrowroot biscuits in a food processor to a large crumb.
Combine all ingredients except the extra cup of coconut, and roll into balls.
Roll balls in the coconut and chill for 30 minutes.
Voila! Easy lunch box snack, and if you double the quantities, some can easily be frozen for lunches next week.
Traditional Caramel slice, made gluten free.
Base – 1 pkt Leda Arrowroot biscuits
100g melted butter
2/3 cup of Niulife desiccated coconut
Process Arrowroot biscuits in a food processor to a fine crumb.
Mix butter and coconut through the crushed biscuit.
Press firmly with the back of a spoon, into a lined 20cm x 30cm tin.
Caramel - 40g unsalted butter
1 tbs golden syrup
1 can of condensed milk
Place caramel ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir for approximately 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough for a spoon line through the centre to stay separate. It should be a lovely golden colour.
Pour over the base and spread.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes before making the chocolate topping.
Chocolate Topping - 200g Sweet William Chocolate baking buttons
1 tsp vegetable oil
Microwave the baking buttons in 20 second bursts on high, stirring between bursts.
When fully melted and smooth, stir through the oil.
Pour slowly over the cooled caramel and carefully spread to the outer edges.
Refrigerate again until set, and then slice into lunchbox sized treats.
For drinks, there is only one drink to recommend and that’s water. A cool drink is always nicer, so in summer why not freeze the water and then use it as an ice pack to keep perishable foods cool and safe.
And the last thing left; cross your fingers and hope your kids will eat something! If they still won’t, despite your best efforts, aim for great nutrition at breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. Luckily most children won’t actually starve themselves by not eating at lunchtime.