If you or other members of your family have been living gluten-free, chances are you’ve discovered how difficult it is to find much that’s edible for lunch: most places where one can pop into for a bite at lunchtime are full of pre-made sandwiches, snack crackers and the like, all of which are wheat-based. The same is quite likely for school lunches: pasta salads, sandwiches, cookies, etc. packed full of gluten and who knows what else. When it comes to sticking to a GF diet, it’s really best to pack one’s own food, but sometimes it’s hard to keep things interesting, isn’t it?
Most of us have a standard set of fall-back ideas that we keep packing for lunch, and those get very tedious after a while. If you’ve ever sighed into your lunch bag upon encountering the same old thing yet again, you know what I mean. Kids get just as disheartened with repetitive meals, and of course, they don’t have the option to trade with their friends unless the lot of them are gluten-free. To mix it up a bit, here are some great GF lunch ideas that are as fun and delicious for adults as they are kid-friendly:
For those of you who have never heard of them, bento boxes are Japanese lunch pails. That might not sound terribly exciting, but many people have taken packing bento lunches to an art form. These lunch pails are fabulous for portion control, and can be packed with anything you can imagine… so don’t hesitate to get creative with the contents! Never mind how happy the kids might be to dig into such cuteness—you know your own face would light up with a huge smile if you were to open your dish to discover a happy little scene frolicking about within. Admit it.
Photo: Sakurako Kitsa
In the depths of winter, a reminder of summery sunshine can be a sweet pick-me-up at midday. Consider packing a small container of potato salad, a hard-boiled egg, some fresh fruit, and a gluten-free lemon bar for a smile-inspiring lunch of glee.
Corn tortillas are gluten-free, and you can also get rice paper wraps from Asian grocery stores. Use the tortillas for quesadillas, burritos, or soft tacos, and try filling the rice paper rolls with rice or bean vermicelli noodles, shredded lettuce, turkey, and scallions. Small containers of dressings and dipping sauces on the side will keep you from dealing with soggy, sagging meals, and you can mix and match sauce flavours as you like.
Crust-less Quiches/Savoury Muffins
Ideal as on-the-go snacks, light lunches, or even for portable breakfast options, crust-less quiches are spectacular handfuls of deliciousness. Savoury muffins are also great for those who don’t have a sweet tooth, and they keep sugar intake down while still satisfying carb cravings. They’re also great for using up leftovers: I like to make mine with ham, broccoli, and sharp cheddar, while my husband likes his with broccoli, feta cheese, and pesto.
Filling and packed with protein, beans are delicious little nuggets of happiness than can be prepared in countless ways. Try out some options like:
- Dinosaur kale and chick pea salad with lemon-tahini dressing
- Creamy bean salad with celery and walnuts
- Chicken and white bean salad
- Black bean and red pepper salad with corn, cumin, green onions, and olive oil dressing
- Moroccan lentil salad
…just to name a few. To kick up the fun factor, pack them in glass jars topped with fabric, and have a similarly matched jar of dessert on the side, like…
Pie or Cake in a Jar
Gluten-free pie crust + tasty filling + a sturdy glass jar = portable heaven.
Photo: Melissa Bernais
GF lunches don’t have to be tedious, flavourless slop at all: there’s a wealth of deliciousness out there to dive into, and all it takes is a bit of creativity (and some cute containers). Have fun, and bon appetit!