Gluten-Free Nutrition: Back-to-School!

Note from Beth: This post discusses menu planning for children. As a mother of a young child, I am very aware of how picky eating can foil even the best meal plans. If you would like for Sarah to address picky eating in a future post, please feel free to request that topic by emailing me or leaving a comment below. Thanks!

Sarah Waybright is a registered dietitian and founder of WhyFoodWorksSarah offers in-home cooking classes and dinner parties, both of which happen to work really well for people and families with food allergies/sensitivities—you get a chance to try lots of delicious new recipes with the added bonus of minimal contamination risk! Talk about a win-win!!! 

I asked Sarah to partner with us because she genuinely loves food and she is an expert at using real food to make our bodies work better. So much of gluten-free living revolves around how food makes us sick or the need to deprive ourselves of enjoyable food to stay healthy—let’s turn the conversation around and talk about all the ways to use nutrient-dense real food to help us feel strong, healthy, and excited about eating again!

Take it away, Sarah!

Back-to-School Meal Planning {Gluten-Free}

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Summer doesn’t feel so long any more, does it?  Those glorious months stretched on and on as a kid, and now you’re facing a new school year of getting lunches ready to go out the door, and it feels like there was barely a break from last year!  No matter whether your child is 5 or 15, there are some lunchbox basics that can help ensure that you’re sending them off with a delicious, fast, well-balanced meal (although if they’re 15, they’d better be helping!).

Variety: the spice of lunch
There is no better definition of a healthy balance than variety.  You may be able to check off 5 servings of produce with 5 bananas, but you’d be lacking in several nutrients.  It’s easy to get into a rut with baby carrots and celery, but try to break the pattern and serve different veggies 2-3 times a week.  Sugar snap peas, sweet red bell pepper, cucumbers, and even the less common (though easy to find in the store!) jicama are all great in rotation and are mild enough that most kids LOVE them.  The same goes for meats, dairy, and especially gluten-free grains.
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It’s [slam] dunkable
Kids (and adults) will eat more veggies if they have something to dip them in – that’s proven!  Take some time on the weekend to whip up a batch of a greek yogurt based Ranch dip, some hummus, guacamole, or even a more grown-up tapenade and send it along…they’ll eat veggies til it’s gone!  Bonus: these all make great spreads for wraps or sandwiches, so you get a 2 for 1 on your time.

Portion restoration
When I was working in elementary schools with the National School Lunch Program (part of every dietitian’s internship), I saw a lot of waste – from both the lunch tray and the lunchbox! One 2nd grader came in with a beautiful salad: roast chicken over spinach with a lovely dressing…and about the size of a restaurant dinner salad.  Needless to say, most of that spinach went in the trash!  It’s hard to monitor what your kids do and don’t eat at school, so one strategy is to tell them to leave their leftovers in the box to bring home.  (Yes, it might be a little messier, but knowing what they eat is important!)  Another method: just ask.  “Did you finish your veggie and dip today, or was it too big?”
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The First Week: 5 Gluten-Free Lunches
(with overlapping ingredients!)

the | indicates packed or wrapped separately

Meatless Mexican: Black beans, corn, avocado and taco seasoning with a squeeze of lime juice | 3-4 corn tortillas | salsa | cucumber slices (bean mix could be eaten with a spoon or scooped into tortillas, depending on the motor coordination of the child)
It’s all Greek: GF wrap with hummus, thin cucumber slices, avocado, turkey, and Italian seasoning blend | red pepper slices | tzatziki
Pizza pasta: GF short pasta (like penne; quinoa blends tend to be the most nutrient-rich) with fire-roasted tomatoes (broiled or canned), mini mozzarella balls (or a string cheese, cut), dried oregano + basil, drizzle of olive oil | carrots |Ranch dip
Burger kabobs: Spear meatballs with cherry tomatoes and cheese cube | rosemary roast sweet potato wedges (replace cinnamon + nutmeg with rosemary)
Smorgasboard soup: Veggie (leftover corn, red pepper, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes) + beef soup | guacamole (leftover avocado) | rice crackers

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To ask Sarah a question or request a topic for a future blog post,
please leave a comment on any GF Nutrition post
or email me with the subject “Gluten-Free Nutrition.”

PS – For a limited time, purchase our Gluten-Free Back-to-School pack ($81.55 value) from Groupon for only $19. This pack includes:

  • One package of gluten-free instant oats (makes 10 servings of oatmeal)
  • One package of gluten-free pasta imported from Italy (8.8 ounces of pasta)
  • Two gluten-free cookie mixes (each makes 60 cookies)
  • Two gluten-free cornbread mixes (each makes a 9”x9” pan)
  • One double-pack of gluten-free pizza-crust mix (makes two 12” pizza crusts)
  • Two e-books: Guide to Living Gluten-Free and The Oats Cookbook for gluten-free oats recipes

PPS – Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get links to recent blog posts, sneak peeks at upcoming blog posts, exciting announcements, exclusive coupon codes, and/or gluten-free amusements.