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Gluten Free Lunches

Posted: November 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Gluten Free | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

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Gluten allergies, wheat allergies, and celiac disease have recently become a major concern for a growing percentage of the population. For people allergic to gluten, ordering lunch at a cafe or restaurant is nearly impossible – even when dishes are seemingly gluten free, risks of contamination are high.

Fortunately, packing a healthy lunch that tastes delicious and is gluten free is the best way to avoid eating harmful foods. Here are just a few ideas for gluten free lunches that take minimal amounts of time, (more are coming soon!) and will not leave anyone hungry or unfulfilled. Best of all, these ideas are useful for everyone!

1. Pack leftovers:
Make your life easy the night before! If you are cooking dinner, cook an extra portion, and save it for the next day. Then, when packing lunch, start with a portion of leftovers, and supplement from there – add freshly cut vegetables and fruit, small portions of nuts, or anything little that will add some novelty. (This is a useful strategy for anyone packing a lunch).

2. Not just leaves: Salad lunch: start with leafy greens, but don’t stop there: add cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, avocado, grated carrots, any vegetable you have in your refrigerator. It’s helpful to pre-cut vegetables a few times a week. For some heft, add legumes such as chickpeas, edamame, lean protein like chicken or a hard-boiled egg. Pack a simple lemon vinaigrette on the side, and toss when ready to eat. Making a home made vinaigrette is simple, and essential for those who need to keep track of ingredients – premade salad dressings are notorious for having long lists of ingredients. An easy homemade vinaigrette can be 1:1 oil to acid, although some people prefer a little less tang, and use one part acid (such as lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or flavored vinegar) to three parts oil. Best of all, you can make a large batch of dressing, and keep it in your fridge for a week.

3. Oven roasted vegetables:
Pre-roast a large batch of vegetables at the beginning of the week, and eat all week long. These can be supplemented with brown rice (not all GF people can eat rice, so please keep that in mind), legumes, quinoa, or gluten free pastas. They can be topped with home made tomato sauce, home made vinaigrette, or even gluten free cheese.

4. Brown rice salads, or Brown rice sushi:
Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that is a filling option for lunches. It can be mixed with beans, vegetables, and other lean proteins such as chicken, tofu, and eggs. It has a nice bite, and is nutty in flavor, but picks up the flavor of sauces or other accompaniments. Cooking a large batch of brown rice in the beginning of the week is an easy way to have it on hand during  the week. Learning how to make sushi is fairly easy, and is great for the lunchbox. (To keep in mind: Soy sauce has gluten, so instead use bragg’s liquid aminos, or gluten free soy sauce).

5. Potato or Sweet Potato or Squash:
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash are filling options for lunches. Simply roasted, these hold up well particularly for lunch, and they can be topped with home made salsas, or made into delicious fresh salads with fresh herbs and a vinaigrette.

For a sweet option, try a Greek Yogurt Parfait: Make sure your yogurt is gluten free – they should be, but you should double check. In a ball mason jar, (or tupperware) create a layered parfait with nuts, fruit, and honey.

Stock up at the supermarket:

Many supermarkets are now carrying a variety of gluten free foods, although the best way to ensure a gluten free diet is to cook whole foods on a regular basis, and avoid prepackaged, processed food. (Yes! Natural, Organic, Gluten-Free, etc. foods can still be processed!) That said, a supermarket carries what its customer’s buy: If you are looking for gluten-free foods and you can’t find them, ask! Most grocers will be more than willing to carry new foods.

Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are both good sources of gluten free foods, but increasingly even big-box stores like Walmart are adding gluten free products to their shelves.  Trader Joe’s also has a list of gluten free foods.

For more resources on gluten-free eating:

Just a few of some of the great gluten-free blogs and books out there (and simply some great sites, period.) Be sure to check out the blogrolls of each of these sites for more direction!

Shauna, author of Gluten-Free Girl is a wonderful resource for gluten free recipes that taste (and look!) delicious. An incredibly useful website for anyone switching over to a gluten free diet, or if you have a gluten free guest and need some great recipes and ideas! She also has a book on the shelves: “Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too.

Heidi Swanson of 101 cookbooks has an ever growing list of gluten free recipes on her website 101 cookbooks, including a variety of hearty salads and soups perfect for the lunchbox. Her cookbook Super Natural Cooking is also a great source for recipes.

A Gluten-Free Guide is a great food website with product reviews, recipes, and even restaurant experience!

Ginger Lemon Girl is another great gluten free blogger with a southern twist.

Craving Bread? Why not make your own? Zoe Francois and Dr. Jeff Hertzberg have a great method in “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” with new gluten free recipes – and is based on master recipes that you can whip up in less than fifteen minutes, and store in the refrigerator over the next few weeks, baking the amount of bread that you want to eat. Genius!

What are your Gluten-Free lunches like?

Photo: Chemtec

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