Today we have a guest spotlight: Margo from Off The Wheaten Path! She is my friend from Utah, who is an expert at keeping her family gluten free! She is excellent at feeding her family on the go, and making sure nobdy gets sick! I'm excited to have her here to teach us about quick and easy lunches.
Make sure to swing by her blog to check out my posting on gluten free baking science, flour combinations, and my favorite pizza dough!
The Problem With Lunch
There are three times most people eat during the day: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. And for folks with celiac's disease or a wheat intolerance, I think Lunch is the most difficult.Think about it: sandwiches, soups, leftover pasta salad, macaroni and cheese. Lunch is traditionally a pretty gluten-heavy meal. Oh, you can find ways to just leave out the bread, but have you ever tried to pack that stuff when you're going on an outing with your children? Or when you're traveling and don't know what's available? Or when you're trying to cut down on expenses by packing a lunch for work?
Here are a few options for eating lunch on the go.
Blue Diamond Cheddar Cheese Almond Crackers and Tribe Classic Gluten Free Hummus. I like to take ten crackers, spread one with hummus and top with another cracker, just like an oreo. They pack well in a ziploc. Pair these with a cheese stick and some fruit. Great for the zoo or an outing where you don't want to use utensils.
Smart and Delicious Teff Wraps with Roast Beef and Cheddar. Talk about easy. Just spread the wrap with whatever sandwich spread you like, mayo, mustard, horseradish even, layer on the meat and cheese and roll it up. I like to cut mine in half so they are easier to handle. You could also use a rice wrap from the Asian food section. You need to soften them with warm water before you roll them up. Pair these with your favorite flavor of greek yogurt and some baby carrots and all you need is a plastic spoon.
Lettuce Wrap with Turkey, Green Onion, and Asian Mayo. I know Asian Mayo sounds fancy, but it's just regular mayo with a little La Choy soy sauce and some garlic salt mixed in. These are great because you probably have all of those things in your refrigerator right now. Take a large piece of Romaine lettuce, spread with your mayo mixture, layer the turkey and place the green onion right in the middle. Roll up the lettuce. If your lettuce is really big, cut in half lengthwise. Secure with a toothpick if that helps keep it together until lunchtime. I like to eat these with Boulder Canyon brand Rice and Adzuki bean chips.
If you have the time to sit down and eat at a table (like in a cafeteria) I suggest making up some Perfect Pasta Salad and putting it in individual tupperware containers. You can get three lunch portions out of one recipe and the flavor tastes better when it's had time to chill in the refrigerator, making it a perfect option for those mornings when you don't have time to prepare lunch. This dish is great with a 123 Gluten Free biscuit. If you have access to a microwave, those are great heated up for about 15 seconds, just to warm them through. I like to make a batch of Decadent Chocolate Cake mix and make it into cupcakes. Then I frost it with Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting and freeze each one individually. Then, not only am I not tempted to eat the whole batch at once, I can just grab a ziploc baggie, throw it in my lunch, and by lunchtime it's defrosted and ready to devour. Yummy.
You can also take leftovers of Homemade Mac and Cheese, Potato Soup, Funeral Potatoes, or if you're at home, you can make Nachos Libre, or heat up a can of Progresso Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. I also like to make Grilled Cheese sandwiches with Kinnikinnick Brown Sandwich Bread or Grandpa's Kitchen Bread with Meunster cheese and a can of Amy's Chunky Tomato Bisque Soup and a can of Progresso Creamy Mushroom soup and 1/2 cup of Minute Rice mixed together. It makes a great Creamy Tomato Mushroom Rice soup. I also like Amy's Cheese Enchilada Meal. It's just the right size and heats in only 5 minutes.
Sometimes you don't have time to pack a lunch and you don't have a microwave. Or, you may go out to lunch with friends or coworkers. What should you eat then? As far as fast food goes, here is a great website reporting on gluten free fast food menus. Wendy's has saved me with their chili and fries more times than you can count. They also have some good salad options. Just check the salad dressing and make sure you order grilled instead of crispy chicken. Carl's Jr. has the lettuce wrap option on all their sandwiches. (A hint: order the Famous Star as a low carb wrap. It's a lower fat patty. The Six Dollar Burger Patties are SO fattening.) If it has a Green Burrito inside, you can also get a side of chips and salsa if that tickles your fancy. You can order several salads at Subway. And there's always a crispy shelled taco or taco supreme at Taco Bell. Here is an example of why you should always check restaurants out on Gluten Free Fox or Gluten Free Fast Food: I was under the impression that McDonald's fries were gluten free. In fact I ate some yesterday. However, THEY ARE NOT. In 2006 (where have I been? Happily eating fries, that's where...) McDonald's admitted they have gluten in their fries. Aaaugh! And the Chicken Breast filet is not safe, even if you order it grilled. So your best bet there is a plain hamburger patty and stop at Wendy's on the way back to the office.
If you're eating at more of a sit-down restaurant, Chili's has a Mushroom Swiss burger you can order without the bun that is great with a side of vegetables. Another good go-to at any restaurant is to order a Cobb Salad without the blue cheese and a vinaigrette dressing (careful of those creamy ones!) Pier 49 Pizza now offers a gluten-free crust, and some Chinese restaurants will make dishes with cornstarch breading on chicken and LaChoy sauce in the sauces. Always, always, always ask for a gluten-free menu or ask your server about ingredients. Don't forget to say no croutons on the salad! I'm sure lots of you have found other options. Leave a comment and let us know what you have found to eat for lunch that is gluten-free.
Keep your chin up, out there. Staying positive in the face of having to order weird food at a restaurant or packing your lunch every day is the key to staying strong on your gluten free diet. Together we will conquer lunch! Happy eating!
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