Discover how easy—and tasty—a vegetarian and gluten-free lunch can be.
Packing a vegetarian, gluten-free lunch is as easy as 1-2-3. Just follow this formula for a healthy gluten-free lunch to provide your children with a satisfying, energizing meal packed with protein, fiber and essential nutrients.
Each gluten-free lunch should incorporate:
1. At least one serving of fruit: Fresh and dried fruit provide nutrient-rich carbohydrates to fuel your child.
2. At least one serving of vegetables: Vegetables provide nutrients.
3. A source of meat-free protein: Protein helps stabilize blood sugar.
Purchase organically grown produce and organic dairy products whenever possible. Organic produce has not been genetically modified, is free from pesticides and can be as much as 300 times higher in nutrients than conventionally grown produce. Always wash produce with veggie wash or mild soap and water and a scrub brush.
Visit your local farmers’ market to get fresh produce that is in season and straight from the farm. Fresh produce is more nutritious than canned; locally sourced fruits and vegetables mean vital nutrients will still be intact.
Dairy products, nuts, seeds and quinoa are excellent sources of protein. Quinoa is a versatile gluten-free grain packed with protein, fiber, minerals and healthful fats. Quinoa contains all eight of the essential amino acids to make it a complete protein source; one serving (1 cup, cooked) has as much protein as one egg and 12% of the recommended daily fiber. Prepare a large batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and store it in a glass container in the refrigerator (recipe follows). For added flavor cook the quinoa in vegetable broth.
Excellent Protein Sources
Ideas for what to pack in your child’s gluten-free lunch.
• Cheese chunks with fruit: Cubes of cheese with grapes or apples.
• Yogurt: Serve plain or top with granola or fresh fruit.
• Peanut butter: Use as a dip for celery or apples.
• Cottage cheese: Serve alone or top with fresh pineapple or apple slices.
• Hard-boiled egg: Whole, sliced or salad.
• Raw nuts and seeds: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are kid favorites. Make trail mix with dried fruit and nuts.
• Cheese sticks: Easy to make from less-expensive blocks of cheese.
• Fresh vegetables with hummus dip: Carrots, celery and cucumber pair well with hummus.
• Edamame: Young soybeans in their bright green pods, edamame is usually found in the freezer section. Serve cold with a dash of salt.
• Legumes: Serve kidney, garbanzo and black beans with a little salt.
• Cold quinoa or pasta salad (recipe follows).
• Mixed green salad: Add fresh vegetables, shredded cheese, raw seeds or nuts and a favorite dressing.
By Jennifer Suhr
Photography by Hillary Black