30+ ways to ROCK a GRAIN-FREE lunch box [some SCD, some PALEO, all GRAIN-FREE]

You just aren’t cool unless you can ROCK a Grain-Free lunchbox (hah! At least in my own little world, that is).

So, we only have a few weeks left of summer vacation!?

Boy, does this bring on some MIXED emotions for this mamma-jamma. I am not quite ready to use that alarm setting on my phone, have a strict morning schedule, and start back up with things like packing lunches before the sun has even woken up and conducting the symphony of after-school activities; but, everyone at my house has honestly had their (albeit blessed) fill of togetherness and I think *everyone* is going to welcome the change & excitement of starting our next school year. We have so enjoyed our summer, don’t’ get me wrong, but when that bell is ready to start ringing, I know that we will be ready to be there. And I am starting early preparing myself for packing those daily lunches!

At our house last year, we were sticking to our clean eating, as we have for many years now. That means that we avoid any chemicals in our foods, we JERF (Just Eat Real Food), and we also avoid our own allergies and sensitivities, which include, for us, avoiding inflammatory grains like gluten and keeping our sugars and other grains in check.  Over the last year we have also been (sort of inadvertently)  transitioning to a Paleo-type plan, some of us here adopting more of an SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) plan.  That brings me back to the drawing board for this year’s Lunch Boxes.

Last year, I shared this post on 25 Easy Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas. There were some grain-free options included, but I really wanted to sit down and make myself a good, solid list of what we are going to be packing up starting in just a few weeks.  Eeek!

I am actually getting more and more excited as I type out this post. With ALL of the efforts I go through in my “special diet” kitchen, I want my kids to sit down at their lunch table and SMILE about what they will be chowing down on in front of their friends and peers. I am a total geak about packing those lunches   – hey, I figure, if you’re going to go domestic, you might as well do it right! I am all-in, 150% domestic over here, and waving my mom-flag high and proud. I now own more cookie cutters and silicone ice cube molds than I do shoes, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  I am SO ready to ROCK this school year’s lunchbox,  and here’s how I plan on doing it:

30+ Ways to ROCK a GRAIN-FREE lunch box  [SCD & PALEO options, all GRAIN-FREE]

1) Homemade Tortillas – Oh – the endless possibilities of rocking your kids’ lunch box with a tortilla… am I right?  Whip up a double batch over the weekend and you will be so thankful during your school week!   My two favorite grain-free tortillas are Cauliflower Tortillas (which to me taste more like a pita (recipe here)  and Coconut Flour Tortillas (recipe here).  Beyond these two, honestly, you can experiment with making {essentially} crêpes / tortillas from ALL sorts of grain-free starches. These two are my favorite because they are SCD-legal and don’t include any of gummy, starchy flours that have been creeping into Paleo recipes because they are “Technically” not a grain (like arrowroot, tapioca, and I have even seen potato flours and starches). Getting by on a technicality is okay on occasion (I’m not perfect), but these really go against the true caveman concept that Paleolithic diet stems from and they are just flat out not allowed on SCD, so they  should be an exception insisted of a rule, in my humblest of opinions, especially if you have any gastro-intestinal or other inflammatory issues that are persistent. I digress…

For the Cauliflower Pita Tortillas, I tend to stick to the savory fillings, like leftover roasts or brisket, clean cold-cuts with lettuce, tomatoes & mustard/mayo, nitrite-free salami and basil with a pesto vinaigrette, grilled chicken and sweet peppers, or even mayo salads like chicken salad or egg salad (which we call “egg-sauce” at our house).
You can also crisp these up in a frying pan or flat top and cut into pita wedges and serve with a dip. (Hummus for some Paleo eaters, or even a nut butter or yogurt dip for SCD).

For the Coconut Flour Tortillas – you can really go savory OR sweet. Apply any of the aforementioned, or try bananas and nut butter drizzled with honey, or pear and prosciutto, or Nut butter & Applebutter for a “PB&J” roll-up.

Absolutely have NO interest whatsoever in making your own tortillas? Try a coconut wrap like this one.

2) Cauliflower Fried “Rice” – This is not only a SUPER easy weekday dinner to throw together and pack as leftovers, but it really isn’t too difficult to throw together in a pan in the a.m. if you *have* to. I use frozen organic veggie blends (without corn), and if you can find the frozen Cauliflower already “riced” in stock at Trader Joe’s, its even easier! [although, they are always out of stock at mine]. One of our favorite Fried Rice dishes is Pineapple Fried Rice, which has chicken, some vegetables,  cashews, and pineapple.

For Paleo diets, and for some who can tolerate in later stages, you can use Coconut Aminos (order here).  If that product doesn’t work well for you (it actually doesn’t here at our house) try another salty addition like Ume Plum Vinegar. This is what we use and it works great for us.

3) Caveman Kabobs – There’s just something about eating from a skewer that makes the meal seem more interesting. For a simple, protein-rich addition to that lunchbox, pound out & weave a skewer into a piece of your favorite steak cut (or lamb, or chicken, or even bacon!). If you pound out and marinate the night before, you can grill them quickly in the morning and either serve cold, or stick them into a heat-proof container, like a thermos.  How to ROCK-STAR ROCK this one? : Always be on the lookout while you are out shopping for fun party favor sticks / skewers. I know it doesn’t seem to scream “kids section”, but there are some really fun picks for adult beverages (like umbrellas, swords, bamboo skewers and such) that make fantastically FUN skewers for tiny little hands. I also sometimes find some on the aisles at TJ MAX or HOME GOODS stores, and always check the isles at craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. I keep a bin in my pantry so that I always have a bag of tricks.

4) Copycat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets This recipe is really fantastic! You can keep the dry mix pre-mixed in a bag or container in the pantry. Batch cook these bad boys on any given weekend and freeze them for easy reheats. Send them woth some homage dipping sauce, like honey mustard or probitoic ranch dip.

5) Honey Mustard Bacon “Chips” – Take your favorite Paleo or SCD-friendly bacon (this means there’s no sugar added – this is one of my favorite resources )  and cut each slice of bacon into bite-size pieces (in 4-5 pieces).  In a separate bowl, mix up some honey and some organic mustard. (about 1 tablespoon honey to 2 teaspoons of mustard). Brush the bacon pieces with your honey mustard and sprinkle with a tiny bit of Himalayan Salt. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until your bacon is perfectly done for you! Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Can’t. Even. Explain. The. Amazingness.

6) Devilled Eggs – an absolute FAVORITE in our house. I make a batch every week and they get devoured. My quick and easy recipe – I add some homemade mayo ( or this mayo if I  feel like purchasing instead of making my own, and there is a great cost savings on THRIVE market, if you don’t already have an account, you can get one here.), then I add a splash of pickle juice from the lactoferment jar (or Bubbie’s are our favorite store-bought) a squirt of organic mustard and salt & pepper. That’s it folks. Sometimes when I am feeling extra fancy I add some bacon or a little pickle round to the top. These are great additions to a lunchbox, as long as you send a napkin 🙂  if they don’t like the yolk or can’t do yolk for one reason or another, just send the hard boiled rgg-white.

7) Homemade Yogurt –  We are very pro probiotics in our house, especially during the school year when we are trying to keep our little immune soldiers bulked up and beefy and filling in all those nooks and crannies so that bad buggies can’t creep into them and set up shop. One of the easiest ways for me to do this with the kids is with yogurt. I keep them some homemade yogurt in rotation in the warming drawer or yogurt maker. (This is the yogurt maker we use just for ease, but mostly, I use a quart size jar and gferment it in the warming drawer under my oven).  Be sure you sign up with your email to get updates on the next yogurt-making cook & chat for a live guided tour through making dairy AND non-dairy yogurts in your home.  There are lots of very simple ways to enjoy homemade yogurt! We have been rotating a new dairy yogurt into our routine that odd, but the benefits are very exciting! Village be posting about that latest saga soon. 😉

8) Coconut Macaroons or Meringue Cookies – Two easy little sweet treats with zero cane sugar and very minimal effort! The meringues take a little longer to cook, but you won’t regret it!

Macaroons Recipe:
2 egg whites
3 T honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla (opt)
1 teaspooon organic lemon juice (opt)
2 1/4 cups shredded organic raw coconut shreds
Pinch salt

(Preheat oven to 325) Whisk eggs and all ingredients except coconut shreds for 30 seconds to 1 minute until frothy. Fold in coconut. Scoop out (I use a #70 scoop) onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Meringues Recipe:
2 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks
1/3-1/2 cup honey drizzled in while still beating.

Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or silpat).
Bake at low temp (200 degrees) for about an hour and a half. Let cool completely. They harden as they cool.

9) Zoodles “Pasta” Salad – One of our favorite people in the world made this Zucchini “pasta” Salad for a party she hosted in hopes that we would be able to partake in SOMETHING festive even with our crazy special diets 🙂 and she totally hit it out of the park! It has since become one of our favorites, and you can make your own version any way you like it. Basically, Anything you would put into a traditional pasta salad with the grain-pasta replaced with Zucchini noodles (zoodles). The one we have been making is a basic vinaigrette dressed salad with black olives and some cold cuts and some carrots, cucumbers, and artichoke hearts. It’s seriously delicious! If you haven’t hopped on the great ride that is the spiralizer yet – you NEED one of these in your life. For real. They are really fun! I will come back and post the recipe for her dressing as soon as I can. It was SO good!

10) Coconut Flour Crackers Recipe Here These are pretty easy and were created basically to meet my kiddos’ ingredient lists and be a vessel and a crunchy addition on occasion.

11) Sliders – My kids love little sliders wrapped in lettuce or in a tortilla. Stack a few slider-sized burger patties into your thermos and then pack up some lettuce or tortillas and other toppings or sauces on the side for a build-your-own-slider lunch. Perfect with some butternut squash chips and a side of homemade pickles ;9 yummy-time!

12) Pancakes – yep, you read that right. Pancakes, or any breakfast/brunch item for that matter, can be a really fun lunch  box break from the norm. And they don’t have to be sweet pancakes, you can make savory pancakes, like veggie cakes, chicken pancakes, or even crab-cakes. I find that these travel perfectly well in the thermos for lunchtime. This is the thermos I use and it has worked very well for us.

13) Snickerdoodles or any other nut butter Cookies – Quick. Easy. No grains. No sugar. 5 ingredients. Add in your favorite cookie ingredients. Voilà.   Recipe Here.

14) Gummies – 1 cup organic juice, 3 Tablespoons gelatin, splash of lemon or lime juice. Collect all sorts of fun silicon ice-cube molds and keep them guessing on what fun shapes will be in their lunch boxes each day. The gelatin I use is this one.

15) Spiced Macadamia Nuts or Cashews – you use YOUR favorite nuts or seeds that are on your allowable foods list, obviously, but these are ours 🙂 Toss nuts in a couple teaspoons of coconut oil, spice with pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, bake at 275 degrees for about 25 minutes, stirring once in the middle of your bake time.

16) Sauerkraut Slaw – This sounds… odd…  I know. But, it was the perfect way for me to get my kiddos into eating the probiotic-rich sauerkraut that I was making and we liked it so much that it just stuck, especially as a topping to fish tacos or hot dogs. I simply mix together organic broccoli slaw mix from the grocery store, homemade sauerkraut, a little mayonnaise and a drizzle of honey and then salt and pepper. Add some cashews and some raisins and you have yourself a delicious slaw with the added probiotics of the sauerkraut. If you still want some sweetness, you can add some shredded apple to the mix as well.

17) Herbed Cream Cheese – Serve up with #10, Coconut Flour Crackers. Drip your homemade yogurt through a coffee filter for a thicker, cream-cheese consistency. Add your favorite organic all-purpose seasoning and some salt & pepper for an herbed cream cheese that is SO good with some smoked salmon or on a cracker under some salmon roe. Sometimes I stuff a little into some olives, too. Again, added probiotics to the lunchbox in a delicious way.

18) Build Your Own Lettuce-Wrap Tacos – Oh the beauty of letting them have a DIY lunch! Not only do they get to help me pick out the ingredients to include (usually, for us, this means olives, sauerkraut or slaw, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon pieces, shredded carrots, some of our cheese or Veg-veeta, and some honey mustard or other homemade dressing)

19) Toasted Honeyed Coconut – Stir coconut flakes (I like to use the wide raw unsweetened flakes) in a bowl with 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1 tablespoon honey. Spread out into an even layer on a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 5-10 minutes.

20) Smoked Salmon/ Lox. (Also great with crackers from #10) For pretty much the best seafood source in the history of ever, order from here. They are pricey, but the quality is unbeatable. If you purchase elsewhere, try to find a source that is wild caught if possible, and check the package ingredients for sugar or other additives that would take you away from your grain-free path.

21) Antipasti Skewers – nitrite free salami or pepperoni, olives, pickles, artichokes – build your own antipasti masterpiece on a stick – or let your little school-goers help!

22) Cream Cheese Stuffed Olives (see #17)

23) Roe, Roe, Roe your boat! – I want to take this time to remind everyone that you (or your child) should try 15 times with introducing a new food to a child (or an adult for that matter) before giving up on that item. Salmon Roe / Salmon Caviar has too many health benefits to list in this already lengthy post, but most importantly, they are a fantastic source of brain-healthy fats ( ounce of Salmon Roe has over 1,000 mg of omega 3 fatty acids) to keep those thinkers going for the rest of the school day! This is a premier source for anything seafood, again – and quality absolutely matters. Yes. Yes I did just suggest that you pack Caviar in your kids’ lunch box.<—- I just did that. But, hey, would you rather splurge on some fancy designer shoes, or invest in some lunch box ingredients that boast such benefits as alleviating ADHD symptoms in some children and increasing academic achievement (Okay, maybe don’t answer that. Maybe just buy the Roe without thinking about how much it costs ;)) . source

24) MAYO salads – Creamy Zoodles Salad, chicken salad, egg salad, crab salad, tuna salad. Homemade mayo is above and beyond better than any store bought, BUT, if you just have no desire to make this condiment for yourself, Primal Mayo is SCD/Paleo compliant. The best prices I have found on this mayo are through THRIVE Market, but it can also be found on Amazon. If you dont already have a THRIVE account, sign up here.  It’s my new favorite!

25) LEFTOVERS!!! – always a lifesaver to go to bed with lunch for the next day already prepared!   I would say that our top 5 thermos leftover lunches are 1) Roast and veggies 2) Chili 3) Lentil or Taco Soup 4) Meatballs 5) Bacon Wrapped chicken tenders … but, obviously, you can send anything leftover! 

26) Bread & Breadsticks – This the grain-free bread that works in our house and is a very simple recipe. I like it because its easy, it only has a few ingredients, and it doesn’t have any yeast. Here’s the recipe we are using for bread at this stage of the game. .

Once the bread is made, I cut slices and freeze what I won’t use that week.  For lunch boxes, I like to cut the slices into strips so that I have little rectangles or breadsticks . Then, I have a few things that I do with them from there.
>I use them as breadsticks, sprinkling all-season salt and garlic power on top and serving with an organic marinara dip (watch those store bought brands for sugar).
>I toast them with cinnamon and ghee.
>I toast them and serve them with the “caramel” / honey-butter in #29.
>I cube them and brush them with coconut oil and bake as croutons.
Or, of course, use for traditional sandwiches, or NOT SO traditional sandwiches, like these delicious Strawberry-Cream Cheese Sammie. So,  so good!

27) Lacto-fermented Veggies – pickles, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, sweet peppers. – probiotics and salty goodness – need I say more? These are So fun and easy to make.

28) FRUIT & VEGGIE ART (those who know me HAD to guess that this was coming! Ha!)

29)  Salted “caramel” –mmmm. I think I just drooled on the keyboard a little.  If you are dairy-free Paleo, you could do a mix of honey and Super food Shortening like this one from Nutiva, or you could use coconut oil instead.

You can use this a few different ways.  You can melt down your ghee and honey mixture, , add a little salt and freeze into silicone ice cube molds. They do melt a bit once they are removed from the freezer, so for these to hold their shape, you would have to be putting them into a cold-storage method until lunchtime.

If you want to serve it more as a dip or spread (like honey butter) – send with some toasted grain-free bread or crackers.

30) Grain Free {love} MUFFINS or quick breads – a couple of grain-free muffin recipes that are versatile are this one (made into muffins instead of bread) , This grain-free pumpkin muffin recipe here. Or even these Carrot-cake bars (these are grain-free but use some bean flours)

31) Nutbutter Nuggets – take your favorite nut or seed butter and roll it with ingredients like shredded unsweetened coconut and/or dried fruit.
What I do NOT pack {unless I am desperate & out of options} in the lunch box:
I try to avoid super stinky food, I typically don’t put sliced bananas (if I do a banana it is typically a whole banana for snack time or one that I slice in half and leave the peel on), and I don’t do avocado. Avocado is fantastically nutritious, but I choose to add it to morning eggs or afternoon snacks or dinners instead.

I will continue to add to the list, I’m sure, as this year gets rolling. And I will be uploading some photos, too. I hope that this helps someone with some ideas! 🙂 Be sure to sign up for the email list so that you don’t ever miss an update.  ~Happy eating, as always!

 

Raspberry Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches {grain-free, dairy-free, honey & fruit sweetened}

Solo delicious! Messy! But, Solo delicious!
Raspberry Dreams

The “cookie”:
1 cup almond butter
1 egg
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon real salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together in a food processor. With a spatula, spread out into a rectangle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Let cool completely.

**Some tips: I scored my dough into rectangles before I baked; Make sure your cookies are completely cooled before filling your sandwiches, be prepared t lick some delicious messiness from your fingers and hands as you build these; As you work, you may want ot keep a cookie sheet into he freezer and place each new ice cream sandwich into the freezer before you move on to the next. They melt really quickly.

While the cookies bake, simply rinse out your food processor and then start the ice cream.

The raspberry “Ice-Cream”:
3 frozen bananas
1/2 cup fresh raspberries.

Mix in the food processor until creamy, like soft-serve ice cream. Transfer to a freezer-safe bowl and stick in the freezer to chill until your cookies have cooled.

Once your cookies are cooled, scoop out a spoonful of ice cream into the back of one cookie piece, sandwich with another cookie piece, and smash down slightly. I used a flat spatula and made a lap around the edges to try to sort of square off and clean up my edges, but that is completely optional. Make them as full and as messy and as wonderful as you see fit!  These will definitely get some remakes in all sorts of flavors this summer!

If you want to save for later like I have done here, you can wrap them up in parchment and store them in the freezer.

~ Happy Ice-Cream Sandwiching! ~