Most schools these days have a nut free policy and personally, with the number of children/people affected by nut allergies, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know if my child was affected, I would be on tenterhooks every day sending them off in the hope that they wouldn’t come into contact with anything likely to cause them to stop breathing. So many gluten free recipes contain nuts so the challenge is to find healthy alternatives that don’t contain nuts.
Trying to avoid gluten either because of Celiac disease, or any form of Non-Celiac gluten intolerance is difficult at the best of times and especially if you want to pack a convenient, easy to prepare and eat, kid friendly lunch. With symptoms ranging from poor digestion and nutrient absorption issues, lack of energy and wanting to fall asleep after eating, brain fog or weight gain just to name a few, gluten sensitivity affects many of us and we don’t even realise we have a problem with it. The sandwich or cake, cookie or biscuit that your child has for lunch might be affecting their performance in the class room or the playground and we are completely unaware of it.
In my house we try to avoid all grains (including gluten free) as much as we can. Occasionally, we’ll have organic pop-corn (to be sure that it’s not made from GMO corn) or basmati rice but generally we limit the amount of grains we have.
So the problem is how to come up with gluten free, nut free lunch options for your child and be sure that she or he is going to eat it? I’ve come up with a list of 21 ideas to get you started. There are no hard and fast rules about preparation of things this list and it doesn’t take into consideration other intolerances such as dairy or egg so please take these into consideration with your situation and substitute or leave out if necessary.
Here’s my list of ideas. There are tons more and I’d love it if you could share some of yours. I’ve made a printable version of this list for you to pin on the fridge or notice board. Click on the poster to print it out.
21 ideas for gluten free, nut free lunches:
- Cheese and apple cubes – pop them in a container as a great snack
- Egg salad – hard boiled free range eggs mashed up with home made mayonnaise, celery and some spring onion if you dare.
- Tuna salad – tinned tuna (in spring water or olive oil and from sustainable sources) with salad vegies of choice, cheese and home made vinaigrette or mayo
- Half an avocado scooped out and stuffed with tuna and mayo, egg salad, goats cheese or marinated feta and the rest of the avocado cubed and sprinkled with a little lemon to prevent oxidation.
- Skewered kebabs of cherry tomatoes, salami, capsicum, cucumber, good cheddar cheese, olives, pickled onions – a ploughmans lunch on a stick! If you don’t like the idea of skewers, just pop it all in a container free form.
- Risotto Balls – make balls of left over risotto and stuff a cube of mozzeralla in the centre. Fry in coconut oil till golden.
- Colourful vegies – sugar snap/snow peas, capsicum, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, with home made (or quality bought) tzatziki, pumpkin, beetroot or sundried tomato dip, guacamole, hummus or any other
- Sushi – home made or bought (not grain free)
- Mini Fritattas with quality bacon, quality salami, free range ham, smoked fish, capsicum, tomato, zucchini, made in muffin tin
- Waldorf Salad of apple and celery with home made mayo – add some cheese if you like. Traditionally a Waldorf has walnuts but leave them out this time.
- Chicken salad – shredded free range pasture fed roast or steamed chicken with salad of choice. Make sure you use the thigh meat if purchasing chicken pieces to steam as it’s more flavourful and contains healthy fats.
- Left over meat loaf (make them in muffin trays for individual mini meat loaves)
- Cold roast meat – lamb, beef, pork, chicken, turkey – grass fed, pastured, the best quality you can afford – cubed with salad
- Chicken nuggets – roll cubes of free range chicken thigh in arrowroot flour (a gluten free flour made from a tuber), then rolled in whisked egg then a sesame seed and Parmesan crumb – fry in coconut oil or duck fat till golden
- Turkey meat roll ups – quality fresh roast turkey slices rolled around carrot sticks, celery, avocado, cheese, pickled onion etc. You can use quality free range ham too if preferred.
- Mini meat balls – lamb, beef, turkey, chicken, pork meat balls fried in coconut oil or duck fat.
- Apple Sauce – home made or quality bought sugar free in a container with a spoon.
- Fruit dips – cream cheese whizzed up with dried apricots, sultanas, dates or sugar free dried cranberries (or a combination of any) with cinnamon. Use strawberries, pineapple, apple, pear – any firm fruit for dippers. You can do a yoghurt or sour cream dip with frozen raspberries mixed through too although it can be messier.
- Mini Tapioca pudding – make a few days worth and store in small containers
- Coconut macaroons
- Brownies – Gluten free grain free nut free
A few healthy precautions:
- If using dairy – cheese, milk, yoghurt, sour cream, make sure it’s full fat. This is important from an energy and satisfaction (feeling full) perspective and is also more recognisable to your body as a food.
- Where possible, use organic fruit and veg and where not, make sure you wash it well with a vinegar wash. Here is an excellent article explaining how to easily and cheaply do this.
- Check this list from the Environmental Working Group on the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen TM to help you to work out what is worth buying certified organic and what you can get away with as conventional produce.
- Make sure your meat is as “clean” as possible – refer to this blog post for more information on clean meat and produce.
- When using small goods such as ham, bacon or salami, make sure you use low nitrate versions from free range pork.
I’d love to know what ideas you have for your kids (and grown ups) lunch boxes.