25 Super Easy Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas that DON’T include Ants-On-A-Log :)

When Back-To-School ads start up, some moms start planning out outfits, and some start sorting out school supplies. In our house, this mom’s brain goes straight to the box ~ the LUNCHBOX! I am constantly considering how to send interesting foods to school with my kiddos, lunches that will make them SO excited about eating lunch that they will forget all about what the majority of their classmates are sitting down to {less than ideal school lunches of empty calories, lacking nutritional value, and a lot of allergens that we must avoid}. 

I put together 25 quick and easy ideas this morning. I hope these can inspire you to get creative with your lunch box options as you send your students off to the lunchroom this year.

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1. Apples with Nutbutter or Seedbutter: Sliced apples can be soaked in lemon water, or in water with a drop of lemon or lime essential oil (food grade & organic preferably). Pair this with a small container of almond butter or, our favorite is Cashew Butter. There are a few companies that even offer small single serving pouches that are great to pack in a lunch box. For all-natural varieties, try Justin’s or Barney Butter. If you want an organic, raw variety and are willing to spend a little extra money, look for the Artisana brand.
Apple & Nutbutter

2. Gluten Free Pretzels and Mustard for dipping
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3. Mama Chia Pouches, or your own homemade chia pudding.
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4. Spring Rolls. I love to make these rice paper spring rolls. I can fit ALL sorts of raw veggies into them. I like to quickly blend some frozen mango, a little lemon or lime juice, and a little avocado oil to make a quick dipping sauce, too!  The rice paper can be found at most grocery stores on the ethnic isle. Give yourself some practice time, but I know you will be able to roll a spring roll in no time!
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5. Ham or Prosciutto wrapped pears or apples. Yummy!
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6. Lunchmeat Pinwheels. Roll with cheese, or, if you are dairy free, you can use hummus and veggies and roll them up into your favorite nitrite free lunch meat. Serve as is, or slice into little bite-sized pinwheels.

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7. Gluten Free Bread (toasted optional) or Organic Rice Cakes topped with Nut or Seed Butter. We like to vary these. Sometimes we top with fruit and almost always our mix of cinnamon and organic granulated coconut sugar.
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8. Bento pressed rice. These are just fun and cute and kids love them! You can find some fun bento molds and cutters on amazon.
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9. Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps – Perfect for leftover chicken. I use homemade mayo or even hummus as a dressing and send in lettuce wraps.

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10. Gluten-Free Tortilla Wraps – Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Tortillas work well here at our house. There are also potato tortillas, corn tortillas, or venture out and make your own, like these cauliflower pita wraps!
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11. Yogurt & Berries
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12. Meatballs – We do meatballs in our thermos often! You can send them just alone, or put some rice, quinoa, or mashed potatoes in the bottom. Kids love a hot meal at lunch.
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13. Fresh Fruit and/or Nuts – Need I say More?
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14. Gluten Free Pasta Salad – I like to use a organic brown rice pasta, like Tinkyada brand or Jovial brand. Great for leftover pasta, you can dress with a vinaigrette, like one of our favorites by Annie’s Naturals called Papaya Poppy-Seed, or you can use a high-quality or homemade mayo, or even hummus. Be sure to add lots of fresh veggies. Olives are a favorite here, too!
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15. Organic Rice Crackers sandwiched with nutbutter or seed butter
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16. Yogurt with Granola – We are Dairy, Soy, and one of us is Coconut Free, so this Almond-Milk based yogurt by So Delicious is a great option for us!
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17. Hard Boiled Eggs : serve them any way you like them. We do them plain, we do them deviled, and we do them “Greek”, with the yolk removed and replaced with hummus! You can even replace the yolk with guacamole, although I find that avocados don’t always last well all the way until lunchtime, so we save our avocado-eating for home where we can serve them up fresh. 🙂

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18. Veggies & Hummus – we love the individual size organic hummus from Costco. They are really friendly on the budget, too. Serve with any raw veggies you like! My kids really like sweet peppers, blanched green beans, carrots, even black olives!
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19. Gluten Free Garlic Bread Sticks with Pizza Dip – This can be as simple as taking your favorite brand of GF bread  {or your homemade cauliflower pita), rubbing it with butter or coconut oil, sprinkling with garlic, and toasting. Cut into strips, & serve with a side of Organic Pizza or Pasta Sauce. If you really want to get fancy, wrap the bread sticks with nitrite free lunch meat or pepperoni, too!
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20. Oatmeal in a thermos – who says you can’t send breakfast for lunch?! My daughter loves oatmeal, ANY time of day! { Or really porridge of any kind }. We do a thermos of oatmeal sometimes, and then I send a small container of dairy-free milk and some great healthy toppings for her to create her own lunch masterpiece with.

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21. Nitrite Free Pepperoni or Salami
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22. Skewered Chicken & Pineapple – another great way to use leftover chicken!
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23. Thermos of leftovers – I could create another 25-log list on JUST the leftovers I have sent in a thermos to school! I love a good crock pot meal that leaves enough leftovers for the next school day! Meatloaf, soups, stews, roasts, pulled pork, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut sugar and pecans, sauerkraut and hot dogs, beans, beanie weenies… ANYTHING!
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24. This kind of goes along with the previous, but there are lots of store-bought soups that go great in your thermos as well. One of my daughter’s favorites is Pacific Foods’ Lentil Soup. For gluten-free options, check the labels and try to avoid anything with a rue or with regular pasta. For dairy free, be sure you check the bottom of the ingredients list for the words CONTAINS: MILK or check highlighted ingredients inside the list.
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25. Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers – For some reason, anything skewered become more appealing to kids! This is one of my son’s favorite combinations. We look for organic, preferably raw mozzarella when we can find it. For my dairy-free kiddo, we just do veggies and leave off the cheese. We love raw cauliflower in our house.
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Best of luck getting your little ones off to a healthy school-lunch start this school year! Share you successful lunch box stories with us! And share your ideas if you have them, too! I would love to hear the healthy ways you are navigating the lunchroom!  ~Happy Lunchboxing~

Red, White & Blue Gluten-Free Grilled “PB-J’s”

Red White & Blue holiday pails

These little pails of yumminess put HUGE smiles on my kids’ faces this Memorial Day weekend. This festive treat may have to make a second appearance for the 4th of July!!

easy-peasy: Some gluten – free bread, organic almond butter (or nutbutter of choice), coconut oil, fresh blueberries, and glutino gluten-free pretzels for the I food ingredients.

$1 bin red, white

& blue pails, picnic pattern basket liners or napkins, and 2/$1 mini flags for the presentation.
I simply grilled up some “PB-Js”, like you would any other grilled sandwich, except I used coconut on the grilling-side of the slices instead of butter, and inside, they got filled with Organic Almond Butter & a delicious organic blueberry fruit-only jelly. Once the sammies were browned to perfection, I transferred them to a cutting board and sliced them into 4 long rectangles.

Grilled "PB-J's"
The flags serve as the prefect skewers for a pattern of blueberries and gluten-free pretzels.

Blueberry & Pretzel Flags

 

Once everything was ready to be served, I simply lined each pail with the picnic-patterned basket liners, arranged the  sandwich sections sticking up out of the pail, and inserted the blueberry & pretzel-lined flag. There ya go! Easy gluten-free food fun perfect for any red, white & blue occasion!! Enjoy!

Red, White & Blue Frozen Bananners

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I love recipes that the kids get to help with, and this one was perfect to include them on. We had lots of fun, and they helped come up with the idea for what was RED and BLUE and HEALTHY to use as “sprinkles” on our Nanner-Pops, too. Smartie pantses ;)!

I still want to perfect this dip, but it was definitely a hit with the kids, and it checked all of our allergy-friendly boxes here, so that is always a bonus!

First, prepare you toppings. We used some fresh organic strawberries, some fresh organic blueberries, and even some freeze-dried organic blueberries. Any nuts WOUDL be fabulous! Get creative!

Next, prepare your bananas by peeling, cutting in half, and skewering with kabob skewers, popsicle sticks, or I used cake pop stick that you can find at almost any craft store. Set aside.

Now, in a small saucepan {you will want one deep enough to be able to dip, or at least roll, the sauce 3-4 inches deep onto the bananas. IN the saucepan over medium heat, combine:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil
&
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut butter (coconut manna)
&
3 tablespoons of honey

Once the coconut butter has melted down, add in:

6 tablespoons of coconut milk (or more if you feel like your sauce is still too thick)
&
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Stir together until smooth and then turn off your heat.  Now, simply dip your banners and set them onto a freezer-safe dish. Take a pinch of your topping of voice and sprinkle it onto the dip. Continue with all of your banners until done. Now, simply freeze until you are ready to enjoy! (we could only wait about 2 hours!).  Enjoy!

“Sugar” Cones {Gluten-free, Dairy-Free, Cane-Sugar-Free, Paleo}

Bring on the CONES!

On this Memorial Day weekend, I really wanted to make something light and fun for the family. At first, I was thinking of some sort of ice-cream sandwich. Maybe blueberry and chocolate. Next, I was mulling over a cherry tart, but for some reason, that was still falling a bit flat. Finally, my imagination stopped on an old classic: a crispy, sweet, melt-on-your-tongue, SUGAR CONE. My mind was set, now I needed a gluten free, sugar free version of THAT to surprise the kids with. So, this is what I came up with.

I wanted to use a grain-free flour and I had some cashew meal in the pantry. I knew I wanted a flat, baked round that would be elastic enough to be rolled after baking without cracking, so tapioca flour seemed like the best choice for that. For a short ingredient list and a quick bake time, these will definitely be made again! I can’t wait to come up with all sorts of delicious ways to fill these!

Gluten-Free “Sugar” Cones
Makes 4 cones.

1/2 cup cashew meal (or almond meal would also work)
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 heaping tablespoons of coconut sugar / coconut crystals
1 tablespoon coconut milk (or milk of choice)
1 large egg (preferably pasture-raised

Simply stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Pour out 4 equal rounds onto a greased, parchment lined, or to copy my efforts exactly, a Silpat-lined perforated baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon and/or a little tapping of the tray, thin out the batter rounds to be flat and thin (maybe 1/4 inch think).

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. The edges will be browned and the rounds still flimsy. Remove from the oven and very carefully, as they will still be hot to the touch, peel of your rounds and roll them into cones shapes. If you want, you can tie them for good measure like I did, but they do harden pretty quickly, so I would suggest having your system in place before you pull them out of the oven.

If you decide to try them, I would love to know what you decide to fill your with, too! Happy eating this Memorial Day Weekend, Canaries! Love, Kendra

Ours got filled tonight with some dairy-free black Forrest Ice Cream ~ so very delicious!!
Black Forrest Ice Cream Cone