Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas


The return to school can be a challenging time for parents and kids alike, particularly when it comes to getting kids to eat their lunch! Children love to play with their food. They also enjoy a rainbow of colors and a variety of textures. With these ideas in mind, you can turn just about any lunch into one they will dig into. Here are some easy ways to offer variety and fun in your child’s lunchbox.

SchärLunchbox ideas

Get creative with pizza crust. Slice an eggplant or zucchini into thin pieces and bake in your toaster oven with your child’s favorite tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings. This is a great way to get more vegetables into their lunch.

Make oodles of noodles. Switch things up with cooked spaghetti squash or spiraled vegetables with the help of a spiralizer kitchen gadget. Add your child’s favorite pasta sauce and voilà! This is another way to pack more veggie punch at lunch.

Be quick with quinoa. Quinoa is an easy addition to salads and soups and makes a wonderful, versatile side dish. It is an excellent substitution for nutrient-lacking white rice. It will fuel your child with complete protein, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. Boil gluten-free quinoa in the evening, let it cool, and add your child’s favorite finely diced vegetables, herbs, or dried fruits. Store your quinoa in an air-tight container in the fridge overnight.

Add some fun: find food picks. Think about the cute little umbrellas in cocktails. Didn’t you love playing with those as a kid? For children who are old enough, keep cake and cupcake decorations, as well as other food items with child-safe picks. Clean them and insert them into fruit, vegetables, and sandwiches.

Create cookie cutter sandwiches. It is easy to turn a plain sandwich into an irresistible one with a good cookie cutter. Simply make your child’s sandwich and push down on the cutter to cut shapes out.  (This idea works best with bread that is not toasted or frozen.)

Boil egg people. Boiled eggs are an eggsellent healthy protein source. After you boil your eggs, make or attach faces, arms, legs, and any accessories you like. For example, use gluten-free pretzels for arms, raisins for eyes, etc.

Fix some fruit kebobs. Cut up your child’s favorite fruit (of various colors) into bite sized pieces and put on a kebob stick. Make sure the ends of the sticks are not sharp.

Try tasty snacks

Create some custom trail mix. Pack a snack your child will love! Write out a list of your child’s favorite bite-sized gluten-free munchies and make a custom trail mix. For example, include healthful foods like dried fruit, banana chips, coconut chips, and tiger nuts (which are not actually nuts—they are part of the tuber vegetable family—and are school safe).

Hatch up homemade granola bars. Another nutrient-dense snack is homemade granola bars. When you make them yourself, you can eliminate white sugar, additives, and preservatives. Add pieces of your child’s favorite dried fruit. If you use oats, make sure they are pure, gluten free, and free of cross-contamination.

Veggies are vital. Do not forget the veggies. Buy in-season, local produce your child loves. Accompany with a small container of homemade Tzatziki dip with Greek yogurt and a little olive oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic, chopped or dried dill, diced cucumber, salt, and pepper.

Add extra crunch. Seaweed snacks (nori) are an excellent replacement for potato chips. They satisfy the need to munch and crunch something salty. Seaweed contains calcium, iodine, folate, magnesium, and B vitamins. When giving these snacks to children, beware of the small toxic packages that are included in each pack to maintain freshness, and remove beforehand.

Dig into this dessert recipe

Gluten-free pastries are a welcome change, especially when they turn out soft and flaky. Try this delightful mini fruit Danish recipe from Schär. Their puff pastry is incredibly versatile for Danishes. Once you know how to fold a Danish, the fillings are endless. Here is one option (raspberry apricot) to start you off.


Gluten-Free Raspberry Apricot Danishes

Gluten-Free Raspberry Apricot Danishes

Makes 9


1/2 package Schär Puff Pastry Dough

1 can apricots, halved

1 jar organic raspberry jam

Powdered sugar (optional)


Allow the Puff Pastry to thaw at room temperature for 3 hours until it yields when poked, but is still cold.

You can also defrost in the microwave on the defrost setting for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drain the apricots and cut each half in half, until you have nine quarters of apricots.

Unroll one sheet of Puff Pastry and cut into nine equal squares.

Take the first square. Using a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch into the border of the square, the cut only meeting in two corners opposite each other.

Gently fold one corner flap to hug the cut line on the opposite side.

Take the opposite corner and fold it over the border you just made, so it hugs the outside line of the opposite side.

Use water liberally to seal the folds.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat the above step with remaining squares.

Drop a teaspoon dollop of raspberry jam in each cavity.

Place a quarter of apricot on top of each raspberry jam dollop.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Dust a wee bit of powdered sugar over your baked Danishes and enjoy!


This is just one of several kid-friendly recipes found in the handy and informative Schär “Celiac Disease 101: For Parents & Children” e-book. In addition to tasty recipes, the e-book also contains information about what celiac disease is, hidden sources of gluten, cross contact, gluten-free ingredients, tips for navigating social situations, fun activities for kids, and more. You can download the e-book here for more information. 

Tips to Prevent Gluten Cross-Contamination

Celiac disease (CD) is a digestive autoimmune disease that can occur in genetically susceptible people. Those with the condition are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and their hybrids, like triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). Those with celiac can also be affected by other grains — such as oats, for example — that may have been contaminated by gluten-containing grains. These sources of gluten are found in countless packaged foods, beverages, and even medicines.

When people with celiac consume gluten, the body attacks itself and the small intestine that absorbs nutrients from food is damaged . The only current medical treatment recommendation for celiac is a gluten-free diet. When left untreated, the condition can cause serious health problems. That is why understanding how to prevent cross contamination of gluten is essential for people with celiac.

Keep cooking surfaces clean

Wash your cooking surfaces, cooking equipment, and utensils thoroughly with soap and water before preparing gluten-free food. Dedicate an area of your kitchen counter as the “gluten-free zone.” Then let it be known!

Use the right cookware

Avoid using cookware and utensils made of scratched or porous materials that can hold onto gluten, such as silicone or plastic spatulas, and wooden cutting boards, spoons, and bowls. If you choose to use such items, keep them as your exclusive gluten-free set. A dedicated gluten-free cutting board is essential.

Eliminate crumbs

Cross-contamination is caused when the food you want to eat has come into contact with another food containing gluten. According to the Canadian Celiac Association, “Anywhere you see crumbs is a potential place for cross-contamination.” For example, countertops, cutting boards, microwaves, toaster ovens, and containers with spreads can be major culprits. What can you do? Get your own toaster and cutting boards. Boil, bake, fry, and cook your meals in their own dedicated and separate pots and pans.

Seal your meal

Having your food (especially protein sources) cooked on or wrapped in foil will also help prevent cross-contamination. This can be accomplished in a toaster, oven, or on the barbeque, for example. You can also use a separate, gluten-free toaster in your home. If you share a microwave, disinfect it regularly and make sure you heat your food on a clean plate.

Fry food safely

Do not fry gluten-free food in the same oil used for frying non-gluten-free food. The same applies to boiled pasta and other boiled/fried foods — use separate pots and pans for gluten-free and non-gluten-free food.

Keep the bread out of the spread

When it comes to spreads such as butter, cream cheese, jam, nut butter, etc., breadcrumbs often get left behind. Label gluten-free spreads to keep them as such. To avoid an accidental mix up, keep your gluten-free spreads on a separate shelf, away from others.

Avoid buying in bulk

Another important tip is to avoid purchasing gluten-free flours in bulk. Gluten-free foods and flours sold at bulk markets can become cross-contaminated from the scoops getting mixed around in different bins, so buying gluten-free food in this way is not recommended. Also, beware of certain flours that are naturally gluten-free, such as buckwheat flour and quinoa flour, as studies have found them to be at risk of cross-contamination during manufacturing processes. Select packaged flours that are actually labeled “gluten free” by the product manufacturer.

Don’t be shy

Also, don’t forget to ask, ask, and ask again if the food you are about to consume is safe — I always verify with wait staff and the chef at restaurants, whether dining in or taking out. These tips apply to cooking at home, dining out at restaurants, and in the homes of loved ones.

Try new recipes

There are so many delicious and nutritious celiac-friendly cookbooks and recipes available online, thanks to gluten-free food bloggers, chefs, and cookbook authors who take the time to share their creations. Try new recipes that look appealing, and have fun with the experimentation! Start by visiting Gluten-Free Living’s recipe section.

Gluten-Free Comfort Food Swaps

It can be challenging to make healthy choices at the best of times. With all the pressures we face as we live through a pandemic, it can be particularly difficult to eat well, even though we know how important it is to support our immune system right now. It takes time and energy to prep meals and it can be tempting to mask our feelings with the quick grab-and-go of processed junk food. Having said that, there are lots of healthy comfort food recipes you can try out and make in a snap — it’s very doable, even on a gluten-free diet.

Instead of giving up the comfort foods you crave, why not continue to enjoy them — with healthier ingredients that help reduce the amount of unhealthy trans fats, simple carbohydrates, refined sugar, and excess calories? Here are a few ideas for you to experiment with.

Stack your plate with healthy pancakes.

You don’t need flour of any kind for these two-ingredient pancakes! To make them, combine four eggs and two bananas in a blender. Heat olive or coconut oil in a skillet. Pour the batter in small, round spoonfuls. Cook the pancakes for about one minute on each side (add oil to the skillet as needed so the pancakes don’t stick). Stack and serve with butter, ghee, or your favorite fruits.

Swap pizza crust and lasagna noodles for zucchini or eggplant.

Bake your veggies of choice and then simply slice and layer the veggies in a baking dish with your favorite tomato sauce and cheeses. You’ll be surprised at how delicious this dish can be!

Replace high-carb noodles with spaghetti squash or shirataki noodles.

Here’s another comforting meal that’s quick, simple and offers far more nutritional value than traditional pasta. Simply roast spaghetti squash for about 45–50 minutes, remove the seeds, scoop the “noodles” out and add your favorite sauce. Try shirataki noodles which are also delicious when fried in a flavorful stir fry. Low in calories and carbohydrates, they’re made from glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant. Substitute mashed potatoes and fried rice with cauliflower.

Make a mouthwatering mashed cauliflower dish in minutes.

It’s much better for you with respect to unwanted carbohydrates and calories, not to mention a boost in vitamins. Simply boil and finely chop in your food processor. Mash and cook with roasted garlic, garnish with chives, and serve hot with butter or ghee and a pinch of salt. Chop and sauté your cauli into rice and make a lovely couscous or vegetable fried rice dish.

Swap your sweetener and make a healthy chocolate pudding.

There are many reasons why we should all try to avoid refined sugar. A high sugar intake has been linked to weight gain, and it’s bad for our heart health and overall immune system, to name a few. Dr. William Davis, MD, cardiologist and best-selling author, says the best sweeteners for good health are stevia (liquid or powdered), monk fruit (Lo han guo), erythritol, and xylitol (listed in random order). Go easy on honey and maple syrup, especially if you have blood sugar issues. Make a nutritious, creamy chocolate pudding by blending avocado with cocoa powder, vanilla extract, a little milk of your choice, and one of the sugar substitutes mentioned.

Get creative with cookies.

Try different versions of healthful gluten-free oatmeal cookies. If you can tolerate gluten-free oats, take advantage of their nutritional benefits. Oats offer heart-healthy fiber and are loaded with important vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and antioxidant plant compounds. The recipes available could not be easier, and some taste just like chocolate chip banana bread! One easy example is mashing three or four ripe bananas with one cup of gluten-free whole oats, a few handfuls of chocolate chips (try chips sweetened with stevia to eliminate the sugar), and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Scoop onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for about ten minutes.

Learning how to swap comfort foods for healthier gluten-free options can be an adjustment. However, the process can be a surprisingly creative and enjoyable learning experience.

Nutrition-Packed Gluten-Free Whole Grains

There was a time when I feared all grains due to their carbohydrate content, and as a result I overlooked their many benefits. Eventually I came to realize that they are not the enemy I thought they were, especially when eaten in smaller amounts alongside protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Some people can’t tolerate any grains, including those with refractory celiac disease. However, for those of us who can tolerate grains, there’s no denying that they offer a lot of bang for their buck. Most nutrition experts agree that whole grains in moderate amounts are an important part of a healthy diet. If you can tolerate gluten-free grains, consider incorporating these nutrient-rich options into your meals.

Whole grains

Gluten-free foods made from refined grains and starches are stripped of their nutrient-rich components. Whole grains, on the other hand, contain all of their beneficial layers: bran, endosperm, and inner germ. The benefits of consuming whole grains have been shown to include lowering risk of heart disease, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes, as well as helping maintain a healthy weight. Whole grains contain vitamins B6 and E, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, and folate. They also offer important minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium, and potassium. They even provide protein, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that protect our health.

Enjoy cooked gluten-free grains for breakfast, or enjoy them as a side dish or snack. They are versatile and can also be used in baked goods. Make sure package labels say “gluten free,” and avoid buying grains in bulk to prevent the risk of cross contamination. Here are a few nutrition-packed gluten-free whole grains worth considering. (The items noted below with an asterisk are not technically grains — they are referred to as “pseudograins,” but they behave similarly to grains.)


Amaranth is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium, and calcium. It can help lower hypertension (high blood pressure) and cholesterol. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It contains more protein than quinoa, gram for gram. Enjoy amaranth as breakfast porridge, in muffins, or as a side dish.

Buckwheat groats*

Technically, buckwheat is not a grain — it is the seed of a fruit in the rhubarb and sorrel family. Another complete protein that does not contain gluten (despite its misleading name), buckwheat is a great source of folate and zinc, which have been shown to support fertility in women and men. These nutrients are also excellent for your immune system. Buckwheat is also good source of fiber and magnesium. Enjoy it in pancakes, as porridge, or as a side dish replacement for rice.


Millet is mild in flavor, which makes it a great addition to any baked good. This grain is a good source of B vitamins, iron, and essential amino acids. Enjoy millet as a cereal or as a replacement for your mashed potatoes.


Proceed with caution when it comes to oats, and ensure that any you eat are labeled gluten-free. If you have celiac disease, find out from your physician if it’s safe for you to consume oats, as many people with the condition are unable to tolerate them. Oats contain B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and beta-glucan, which is a dietary fiber that has been shown to be helpful for people with diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. This fiber has also been linked to healthy gut bacteria.


 Like buckwheat, quinoa is also the seed of a fruit. This pseudograin offers complete protein, along with many other nutrients, including fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, iron, and zinc. Quinoa flour is great in baked goods and can be served in its whole form as porridge, or as a main or side dish. Add it to soup as a replacement for rice.


Last but not least, teff is the world’s tiniest grain! It is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, which all important for immune function. Enjoy teff in its whole form as a hot cereal. It is also available as a tortilla wrap.

Food Allergies in Babies and Toddlers

If you are concerned your baby or toddler may have a food allergy, you’re not alone. Food allergies are quite common today. According to research, nearly 5 percent of children under the age of five years have food allergies. It’s important to get the facts, consult with your physician and take the right steps to keep your little one safe. If you believe your child is having an anaphylactic (severe) reaction, emergency treatment is critical. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can cause a coma or even death. Read on to learn more about food allergies and what you can do as a parent to protect your child.

What is a food allergy?

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) classifies a food allergy as a medical condition. It can occur at any age, including babies and toddlers. According to John Hopkins Medicine, a food allergy is “an abnormal response of the body to a certain food.” More specifically, the immune system attacks protein(s) in the food. It is not the same as a food intolerance, which does not affect an individual’s immune system, but there may be similar symptoms. Food allergies cause an immune system response, which in turn causes symptoms involving various bodily organs that range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. Although many children “outgrow” their allergies, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are often lifelong.

What causes a food allergy?

Before having an allergic reaction to a certain food, a baby or toddler (or child) would typically have been exposed to the food in question at least once before, or may have been exposed through breast milk consumption. Usually, the second time a baby, toddler or child consumes the food, there is an immune system response and allergic reaction symptoms occur. The body has mistaken food as something harmful. At that time, Immunoglobulin E or “IgE” antibodies (antibodies produced by the immune system) react with the food. Histamines (chemicals made by your immune system that help your body get rid of foreign threats) are released, which can cause your child to experience a wide range of symptoms.

Which foods cause food allergies?

According to FARE, more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions. John Hopkins Medicine says approximately 90 percent of food allergies are caused by the following eight foods (also known as the “big eight”): milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish. Eggs, milk, and peanuts, wheat, soy, and tree nuts are the most common food allergies in children. FARE says allergy to sesame is an emerging concern. Allergies to milk and soy are typically seen in infants and very young children.

The symptoms for these allergies often include the following: colic, blood in the stool and poor growth. Doctors will often advise parents to change their baby’s formula to a soy formula, hypoallergenic formula or breast milk if it is believed there is a milk allergy. Peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish typically cause the most severe allergic reactions. Keep in mind that food allergens can get transmitted through breast milk.

What are the symptoms of a food allergy in babies and toddlers?

As previously mentioned, babies, toddlers and children will typically experience an allergic reaction to food fairly quickly after the second exposure to it. There are a wide range of symptoms that your child may experience, such as (but not limited to) hives, asthma, itchiness and digestive symptoms such as cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies can also cause skin conditions like eczema. Any of these symptoms should be investigated by your child’s doctor as soon as possible. The Mayo Clinic says more serious symptoms can include rapid pulse; drop in blood pressure; trouble breathing due to constriction or tightening of the airways; and/or swelling of the throat, lips, face, tongue or other parts of the body. Seek emergency treatment if your child develops any of these signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Risk factors for food allergies

Risk factors for food allergies include family history, other allergies (if your child has one allergy, it can put them at risk for others) and asthma — asthma and food allergies often occur together. Dr. Thomas Casale, MD, says allergic reactions to food can affect different systems of the body. Dr. Casale serves as FARE’s Chief Medical Advisor for Operations and is also a Professor of Medicine (including in the Department of Pediatrics) at the University of South Florida (USF Health). He says, “An allergic reaction to food can affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract and, in the most serious cases, the cardiovascular system. Symptoms typically appear within minutes to several hours after eating a food to which the baby is allergic. A more comprehensive list of symptoms indicating an allergic reaction to food can be found on the FARE website.” Dr. Casale advises, “in very young children, signs of an allergic reaction can include putting their hands in their mouths, pulling or scratching at their tongues, and becoming hoarse or squeaky. The FARE website also lists some of the language that children might use to describe their allergic reactions.”

One family’s experience

Living in Boston, Melanie Gold’s three year old, Ruth, was diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. When Ruth was exposed to peanuts she experienced an itchy throat and difficulty breathing. Her pediatrician said these symptoms are common in anaphylaxis. Melanie sought emergency medical attention and Ruth was administered an EpiPen, which treated her immune response. “It was a scary experience to have such a young child diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy. Over the last few years we have learned how to protect Ruth from any cross contact with nuts and tree nuts through awareness and education. As a family, we are always reading food labels and ‘may contain’ labels. We check and double check with wait staff and chefs at restaurants and we call food producers when in doubt. We inform family, friends, Ruth’s teachers and anyone who has direct contact with her about her allergies and the seriousness of them. Ruth always has an EpiPen in a fanny pack around her waist for any emergency situation. We have social support from other families with children who have anaphylactic allergies like Ruth. My best advice to parents is be brave but always be prepared. We experienced one incident where restaurant staff promised Ruth’s meal was nut free and then she experienced an anaphylactic reaction where we needed to administer her EpiPen. We later found out the meat was cooked in peanut oil and that ingredient was overlooked. Be diligent and always ask questions. Check and double check. Remember you are not alone.”

Although parents of babies need to be aware and diligent, they should not catastrophize about the unknown. A recent study suggests allergic reactions to foods are milder in infants. “We found that infants, unlike older children, have a low-severity food-induced anaphylaxis, which should come as reassuring news to parents who are about to introduce their baby to potentially allergenic foods like peanuts,” says Waheeda Samady, MD, and lead author from Lurie Children’s, who also is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Since early introduction of peanuts is now encouraged by national guidelines, it is understandable that parents might be fearful of triggering a serious reaction.”

What about celiac disease?

Celiac disease (CD) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) are not caused by food allergies. Neither is lactose intolerance. However, some of the symptoms can be similar. While CD is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a gluten allergy, it is actually an autoimmune disease and digestive disorder that does not result in anaphylaxis. It can get confusing because CD can involves an immune system response when gluten (proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and their hybrids) is consumed, but the reaction is more complex than a typical food allergy.

If your child is diagnosed with CD and consumes foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs that damages the surface of the small intestine, which causes an inability to absorb certain nutrients. A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment recommended by medical doctors for celiac disease.

Are there treatments for food allergies?

Regardless of age, there are no medications for food allergies (at the time this article was written). Aimmune Therapeutics, a California-based company, has been working on submitting an orally administered immunotherapy capsule (also referred to as the peanut capsule) for peanut allergies for approval in North America and Europe. In the meantime, the best treatment is prevention of exposure to food allergens. Although it is not considered a cure, the company expects the drug to become available in 2020. Desensitization, the underlying principle behind immunotherapy like the peanut capsule, is being studied to help treat other allergies. “It’s the same mechanism behind allergy shots for dust mites and pollen,” says Dr. Susan Waserman, a professor in the Division of Clinical Immunology & Allergy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “The reason it was slow to start for food is in part because of uneasiness around making patients eat something potentially dangerous.” There was an immunotherapy study conducted in Colorado in 1997, where a child died of anaphylactic shock. “That kind of tragedy derails research for a long time.”

What can parents do?

Detection and prevention is key. Seek medical attention if your child displays any food allergy symptoms. Help your child avoid foods they are allergic to. Be aware of ingredients in foods that well-hidden, especially in restaurants and social settings. Here are some helpful tips in random order.

· This is important and could be lifesaving. Speak with your doctor about emergency epinephrine. Your child may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen, Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q) at home and at school or daycare if he/she is at risk of a severe allergic reaction. Be aware of the expiration dates on auto-injectors. If your child does not have an allergist, you can ask their primary-care provider for a referral.

· There is medical consensus (at the time this article has been written) that cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts and fish should be avoided during a child’s first year of life. Additionally, babies should not be fed solid food until they are at least 6 months of age.

· Read all food labels very carefully (pay attention to “may contain” statements) and inquire about questionable ingredients and cross contamination from food manufacturers and those who prepare your child’s food (relatives, restaurant chefs, etc.).

· If you breastfeed your child, avoid foods that your child is allergic to. Small amounts of food allergens can be transmitted to your child through your breast milk and cause an allergic reaction.

· Purchase a medical alert bracelet for your child that lists and informs others about his/her food allergy should your child have a reaction and be unable to communicate. Indicate required treatment, such as auto-injector.

· Be extremely clear and careful at restaurants. Inform your server and chef that your child can’t eat the food they’re allergic to (mention the serious consequences), and you need to be 100% certain their food doesn’t contain it. Ensure their food isn’t prepared on surfaces or in pots/pans that contained any of the food they’re allergic to. Request to have their protein (like meat or fish) cooked in foil to avoid cross contamination.

· Prepare healthy snacks before leaving home (especially when flying). Take a cooler packed with allergen-free foods when you travel or attend an event. Include a (safe) special treat so your child doesn’t miss out on dessert. Take a small sandwich maker and allergy-friendly bread with you when you travel. It can come in handy!

· Be mindful of cross contamination at home and outside the home. Ensure your kitchen surfaces are clean and sterile. Use separate kitchen tools including cutting boards, toasters, pots, pans and utensils when preparing your child’s meal.

· Teach your child about their allergies as early as possible and how to request help if needed. Educate others and indicate that allergic reactions (explain what they are) can be life-threatening and require immediate action. You can also show them how to administer an auto-injector. Speak with relatives, friends, child care providers, school staff and other adults who interact with your child. Your child’s school (and anywhere your child is supervised) should have an information form and action plan that includes all steps that should be taken in the event of an emergency. See the link below regarding laws that protect children with food allergies.

· Ask your child’s doctor if he/she should take any specific vitamins and/or minerals due to deficiencies that can arise from avoiding certain foods.

Additional resources

For more information, visit:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:

Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN):

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE):

Learn about U.S. laws and regulations regarding food allergies:

Cleanse Clarity: 5 Tips for Leaving Gluten Behind

The gluten-free diet is imperative for those who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by the consumption of gluten—a family of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye (and their hybrids). In this case, gluten can cause the body to react in negative ways, damaging the small intestine and causing a wide range of symptoms, including but not limited to those that are gastroenterological. The most effective way to limit the pain and discomfort of celiac disease is to avoid gluten completely. Individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) also need to follow a gluten-free diet.

In addition, some health professionals recommend eliminating gluten from the diet to help manage and reverse a variety of medical conditions or as a short-term cleanse. Generally speaking, cleanse diets can range from ones that replace a couple daily meals with organic juices to more extreme types where food is more restricted. They can also range from one to two days to several months. Any cleanse that lasts more than two days should be supervised by a physician.

If you have been advised to eliminate gluten from your diet in order to cleanse your body, here are some key steps you can take. It’s important to note that if your doctor suspects you have celiac starting a gluten-free diet may be advisable following a biopsy. Going gluten free before might make diagnosis more difficult. Never make changes to your diet or start a specific cleanse diet before consulting with your health care provider first

5. Understand gluten

If you are considering a gluten-free diet, one of the most important steps is to understand what gluten is and how it can interact with the body. Gluten functions as a natural binding agent, allowing these foods to maintain their shape and consistency. While whole grains can provide necessary health benefits, for some people, digesting gluten products can be quite dangerous. Individuals who are considered intolerant to gluten have celiac disease. If left undiagnosed, celiac disease can lead to dangerous long-term effects and health complications from coronary artery disease to intestinal cancers. It is estimated that 1 in every 100 people suffer from some form of gluten intolerance, with 60% to 70% of those diagnosed with celiac disease being women. Celiac disease is often hereditary, and symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain in children and anemia or fatigue in adults as well as numerous effects for individuals of any age. 

4. Read ingredient labels

Typically, when purchasing packaged food, it is best to look for a certified gluten-free mark, which typically indicates a product has been manufactured in a gluten-free facility or contains virtually no gluten. However, even with stickers or advertisements, it can be difficult to truly know whether something is actually gluten free. The American Chemical Society argues that even gluten-free labeled products are not always completely gluten free. FDA labeling is an important clue for anyone looking to change their diet and pursue a gluten-free cleanse. It is vital to correctly read packaged food labels to ensure that you are not consuming hidden gluten.

In order for a food item to be considered gluten free, it must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. It is also imperative to remember that “wheat free” does not always mean “gluten free.” For instance, the Celiac Disease Foundation provides a checklist for reading packaged food labels that advise consumers to check for obvious ingredients like wheat, barley, rye, oats (oats are often contaminated with wheat because they grow in the same fields), malt and brewer’s yeast. As well, consumers should always read the allergen statement indicated on food labels; typically the statement may read “contains wheat;” however, if the allergen statement doesn’t include a gluten warning, you should check the ingredient list in order to ensure the product in question is completely gluten free. 

While labels may state that something is gluten free, researchers at Kansas State University argue that not everything that is considered gluten free is healthy. This is key if you are eliminating gluten to cleanse your body. Mark Haub, associate professor at Kansas State and head of the department of food, nutrition, dietetics and health in the College of Human Ecology, urges those who are on a gluten-free diet to keep a close eye on their caloric intake since sorghum (a gluten-free alternative), corn or rice flour have a similar caloric density to wheat flour, which might lead individuals to over-eat, as they may believe they are consuming fewer calories. While approximately 1% of people have celiac disease, Haub argues that if diets are rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables in conjunction with portion control, a gluten-free diet can also be beneficial for those without celiac disease or related conditions. 

3. Clean out your pantry

To begin your gluten-free diet or cleanse, it is important to completely re-organize your kitchen. Products like regular bagels, non-gluten-free breads and pastas, some gravies and sauces, flour tortillas and chips are just a few common food items that are not conducive to the gluten-free diet. These products can have adverse effects on the body for those suffering from celiac disease and for those looking for healthful dietary options.

Fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meat, fish and most dairy products are gluten free and safe to incorporate into your diet. There are several healthy gluten-free grain alternatives to restock your pantry with, including sorghum, polenta, brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat. Sorghum, a type of bran, is high in antioxidants, surpassing levels found in blueberries and pomegranates. Researchers from the University of Georgia measured compounds within sorghum and found that two variates, black and sumac, had properties associated with reducing inflammation. Diane Hartle, the study’s co-author, argued that sorghum bran delivers not only fiber but many other antioxidants as well.

2. Create a gluten-free home

Another important step is to make sure other products within your home are gluten free as well. Many people are unaware that medication, cosmetics, toothpaste and hair products can contain gluten as an added, low-cost filler.

Luckily, some companies have started producing gluten-free cosmetics, including bareMinerals and Marcelle. Some companies already sell home care products that don’t utilize gluten as filler, such as Acure, Dove and Paul Mitchell. Researchers from George Washington University found that cosmetics, including lip and body lotion products, harbor gluten additives. Sometimes an individual with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can experience rashes and/or negative reactions to the skin. The researchers note individuals searching for gluten-free cosmetics and lotions have to observe ingredient labels or contact manufacturers to ensure the products are safe.                                                                                                                                                           

1. Drink lots of water

Last but not least, water is where it’s at! Consuming adequate amounts of water on a daily basis is important, especially throughout a gluten-free cleanse. Typically, water can help control weight and reduce sugar, sodium and saturated fat intake, all of which can be associated with a gluten-heavy diet. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted a study involving 18,300 American adults regarding water consumption and found that increasing plain water consumption by 1% can reduce the daily intake of sodium, cholesterol, sugar and saturated fat. Researchers detailed how adding 1 to 3 cups of water to your diet can decrease daily caloric intake by 68 to 205 calories. As well, cholesterol consumption can lessen by 7 to 21 milligrams and sugar can fall by 5 to 18 grams daily. 

Healthy Gluten-Free Alternatives to Traditional Grill Fare

Fire up the grill without breaking a sweat

With summer here, it’s important to ensure that you maximize the nutritional benefits of seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as gluten-free and grill-friendly protein sources. Doing so will fuel your body with the vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats and phytonutrients it needs.

For many, barbecuing is likened to an art form; it’s an activity we get revved up about, as spring and summer are often short. Be creative with your cooking and savor the flavors.

When you grill, make every bite matter with meals that are nourishing for you and your loved ones. You can do this by choosing unprocessed whole foods, clean protein choices and lots of flavorful vegetables. Make your own marinades, sauces and dips from scratch to avoid unwanted sugar, starch and sodium. Here is a comprehensive look at some of the healthiest gluten-free food options for the grill this summer.

Nutritious protein options for the grill

Turkey is a key choice

Turkey is a wonderful lean protein source and can be easily adapted for the grill. Researchers at New York University School of Medicine found that turkey meat, especially the dense nutrients found in the dark meat, has cardiovascular health benefits. The study found that the naturally-occurring nutrient taurine, present in the dark meat of turkey and chicken, has the ability to lower the risk of coronary heart disease in women who suffer from high cholesterol levels. In regard to the study’s findings, Dr. Yu Chen, associate professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Medicine and principal investigator, stated, “Taurine…seems to have a significant protective effect in women with high cholesterol.”

Taurine has little effect on women with low cholesterol levels; however, women with high cholesterol are 60 percent less likely to develop or suffer complications from coronary heart disease when consuming taurine. Let your turkey absorb your favorite marinade overnight in the fridge before you pop it on the grill for fuller flavor.

Salmon is a summertime favorite

Salmon is a summertime favorite for many people and provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. A study conducted at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston discovered that the consumption of fish such as salmon can improve the aging process in adults. Through extensive research that took place between 1992 and 2015, American researchers found that properties in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found most commonly (in abundance) in fish like salmon, can aid in “healthy aging,” through the regulation of blood pressure, heart rate and inflammation.

Another study from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, found that omega-3 fatty acids can affect serotonin levels in the brain, which control important cognitive functions, including mood, decision making, aggression and impulsive behavior. The omega-3 found in salmon positively interact with serotonin to improve cognitive function. Try honey-and-Dijon-mustard-basted salmon steaks on the barbecue for a delicious, heart-healthy, lighter alternative to red meat (steak).

The best veggies for the barbie

Eggplant is good for your heart

Grilled eggplant with a touch of olive oil and salt is a great addition to any meal, and researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that dietary flavonoids found in berries, grapes and eggplant can improve your cardiovascular health. Harvard researchers found that a specific component of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, can help to dilate arteries, allowing better blood flow and the elimination of plaque buildup.

Dr. Aedin Cassidy, head of the department of nutrition at Norwich Medical School, stated, “We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits and vegetables may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life.” The study found that women who consumed considerable amounts of flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables like eggplant had a 32 percent reduction in their risk for heart attack. 

Zucchini is abundant in dietary fiber

A study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discovered that consuming fruits and vegetables that contain a high dietary fiber content can aid in lowering blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. The researchers found that individuals who consumed at least 50 grams of dietary fiber per day from foods such as zucchini, winter squash, sweet potato, oranges and papayas were successful in lowering blood sugar levels and decreasing insulin levels in the blood.

In addition, researchers at Georgia State University found that dietary fiber can also help prevent metabolic syndrome, promote healthy gut bacteria and prevent obesity. The study found that soluble fiber directly impacts gut microbiota, essentially restoring gut health, which, along with the proper diet, can lower an individual’s chances of obesity. To increase sweetness, drip some lemon juice on your zucchini before grilling it.

Brussels sprouts boast cancer-fighting properties

Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University discovered vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, bok choy and broccoli have cancer-fighting properties. Dr. Emily Ho, a researcher at Oregon State University, believes that “if you are worried about cancer…increasing your dietary intake of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are a good idea.” These dark-green vegetables contain the compounds sulforaphane and histone deacetylase (HDAC), which can aid and promote cancer prevention. This particular study specifically focused on prostate cancer, finding that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli could trigger HDAC production.

Portobello mushrooms offer antioxidant power

A study conducted at Penn State discovered that portobello mushrooms contain similar levels of dietary antioxidants when compared to colorful fruits and vegetables. Antioxidant-rich foods are often vibrant and bright in color; however, Dr. N. Joy Dubost from Penn State has found considerable evidence to suggest that antioxidants are particularly abundant within mushrooms, especially portobello and cremini mushrooms. Dubost used the oxygen radical absorbance capacity assay (ORAC), which measures the antioxidant capacity of a substance, and found that Portobello mushrooms have an ORAC of 9.7, while carrots and green beans have an ORAC of 5.

You can’t beat the taste of barbecued mushrooms brushed with olive oil and a pinch of salt. When cooking any type of mushroom, make sure you grill it properly and do not overcook. You can even use portobello mushrooms as a bun for your burger!

What about the bun?

A low-carb bun alternative

You might wonder what fun a burger is without the bun. To limit the amount of carbohydrates in your bun while still presenting an easy-to-serve, easy-to-hold, protein-filled meal, try meat on a skewer! Skewers are extremely trendy, and the hand-held skewer is easy to customize, depending on each person’s health needs and food interests.

Skewers are not just for protein. Add a colorful assortment of vegetables onto your skewer with your protein for a beautiful and balanced snack or meal.

There are also low-carb buns available on the market. Or make your own low-carb bun with an almond flour-based recipe.

Cooking With Sea Vegetables

Naturally gluten free (always read ingredient labels to verify) and an excellent source of nutrients, sea vegetables are aquatic species of algae that have been popularized throughout East Asian cuisines.

These vegetables are often incorporated in Japanese, Korean and Chinese meals, providing essential nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and E, B vitamins, folate, calcium, iron, protein (particularly in sea lettuce) and more. They are a great alternative source of healthy complex carbohydrates. Sea vegetables can be utilized for a variety of meal options and are often paired with dishes that include seafood. Some of the most popular sea vegetables include nori, kombu, sea grapes, sea lettuce and wakame. Use these sea vegetables to make delicious homemade sushi, hand rolls, wraps and salads. Here is a comprehensive look at these sea vegetables and their health benefits.

Nori seaweed

Nori is a species of red algae, commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Most people recognize nori as the seaweed wrapping around their favorite sushi rolls.

Nori is one of the healthiest seaweeds, providing the highest source of protein, approximately 50 grams per 100-gram serving.

Researchers from Stanford Medicine found that gut bacteria responded positively when nori was introduced into the diets of mice. Gut bacteria can provide essential nutrients and promote healthy digestion. The lead author of the study, Elizabeth Shepherd, PhD, believes microbes “are a very powerful lever to modulate our biology in health and disease,” and nori can add help incorporate an additional strain of healthy gut bacteria into your digestive system. Researchers from the American Chemical Society reviewed over 100 scientific studies and found that nori seaweed contains proteins similar to bioactive peptides, a protein chain found in milk products and various other animal-based products, which can reduce blood pressure and even prevent certain diseases. In addition, nori provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12.


Kombu is another edible sea vegetable that is popular in East Asia and is often found in noodle dishes or broths.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that brown seaweeds, such as kombu and wakame kelp, could have a significant effect on breast cancer in humans.

The study focused on an American seaweed variety called bladderwrack, which is closely related to the Japanese kombu and wakame kelp. These seaweeds contain properties that had an effect on the sex hormone estradiol. Estradiol is a potent hormone that can increase the risk of developing a variety of diseases, including breast cancer. This study suggests that brown seaweeds like kombu can lower the level of estradiol found in the body, effectively lowering the chances of estrogen-dependent diseases from arising. In a press release, Professor Martyn Smith of UC Berkeley stated, “Kelp is a little-studied nutrient, but there’s good reason to look at it more closely…this study opens up a new avenue for research leading to cancer-preventive agents.” While kombu and other seaweeds and kelps offer wonderful nutritional benefits, it is important not to over-consume seaweed, as it is often high in iodine.

Wakame kelp

Similar to the kombu seaweed, wakame kelp is another variety of brown algae that is commonly consumed in Japan. It has a distinctively strong flavor and is often incorporated into soups, broths and salads. Most people are familiar with wakame kelp as it is often used in miso soup, a Japanese dish found in virtually every sushi or Japanese cuisine restaurant.

Wakame can also aid in lowering the chances of developing sex-hormone related disease, as well as fighting off obesity.

A study published by the American Chemical Society found that brown seaweed and kelp, like wakame, contain a compound that promotes weight loss. The compound fucoxanthin successfully promoted weight loss by reducing the accumulation of abdominal fat in obese rats and mice. Fucoxanthin produces a brown pigment, which gives the species of brown algae its name, and is only found in large quantities in species of brown algae. It is believed that the compound interacts with the protein UCP1 to stimulate fat oxidation, which, to put it simply, is the conversion of energy to heat. Essentially, the proteins found within wakame promote the burning of fat cells, especially abdominal fat. Fucoxanthin also causes the liver to produce DHA, a compound similar to omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol.”

Sea lettuce

Sea lettuce is a popular edible green algae that is commonly used in salads as an alternative to lettuce. Sea lettuce can be found along most coastal regions throughout the world, lending to a wide variety of recipes and dishes that it can be incorporated into.

American researchers recently discovered that varieties of edible algae like sea lettuce contain polysaccharides that can aid in lowering the effects of allergy symptoms and asthma.

Researchers also noted that the molecule gracilaria lemaneiformis, common in seaweed and edible algae, had similar anti-allergen properties, with the ability to reduce tropomyosin, a protein found in shellfish that can result in an allergic reaction. Moreover, a 2015 study published by the Institute of Food Technologists found that edible algae is a wonderful alternative protein source. For individuals interested in reducing their animal protein consumption, sea lettuce can provide the essential requirements for a healthy and reasonable protein intake. One serving of edible algae consists of 63 percent protein and 15 percent fiber. Algae protein can be found in protein shakes or smoothie mixes and protein bars.

Okinawan seaweed

Just like sea lettuce, Okinawan seaweed, or, as it’s commonly known, “sea grape,” is another variety of green algae found in coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific. Sea grapes, a beloved snack in Japan, can be consumed on their own or with rice dishes or sushi.

Sea grapes are another type of green seaweed that can provide essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as promote docosahexaenoic acid, which supports brain functioning.

Researchers from the University of Kansas found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), when taken by pregnant women as a supplement, resulted in a greater percentage of fat-free body mass in children by the age of 5. The study suggests that DHA can greatly influence body composition in the early stages of childhood, lowering the possibility of childhood obesity. As well, research conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that DHA can affect the development of Alzheimer’s disease and depression significantly. The study argued that the omega-3 fatty acids found in DHA provided anti-inflammatory properties that could help protect the brain against neurological diseases. Plus, the study found that consuming DHA-rich foods like fish and sea vegetables could greatly reduce the risk of developing depression or memory loss. Dr. Papasani Subbaiah, an author of the study, suggests, “This study is proof of the concept that we can increase levels of both EPA and DHA in the brain via supplements or by incorporating LPC-EPA in the diet.” Consuming a single serving of DHA-rich food like sea grapes can help to improve cognitive functions.

Simple Seaweed Salad

Simple Seaweed SaladOur gluten-free simple seaweed salad contains wakame kelp: brown algae with a distinctively strong flavor commonly consumed in Japan.

Quick Gluten-Free Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Miso Soup is a Japanese dish found in virtually every sushi or Japanese cuisine restaurant that uses wakame kelp. Our Miso Soup recipe is quick and easy.


Smoked Salmon Nori Rolls

Smoked Salmon Nori Rolls

Nori is a species of red algae, commonly used in Japanese cuisine.Most people recognize nori as the seaweed wrapping around their favorite sushi rolls.


Chocolate Mint Green Smoothie

Chocolate Mint Green SmoothiePut a healthy twist on a chocolate smoothie. Our chocolate mint green smoothie uses cacao powder, banana, milk, mint leaves, kale, and wakame seawood. 


Enjoy a Delicious, Nutritious Gluten-Free Seder this Passover

In early spring, those of Jewish faith celebrate the festival of Passover to commemorate the Exodus—the deliverance from slavery in Egypt during the 19th Egyptian dynasty. It is customary to read the story from the Hagaddah (book) before the meal where many traditional foods are enjoyed among loved ones. Unleavened bread (wheat matzah) is eaten to reflect on the time of slavery, when there wasn’t any time to wait for bread dough to rise. Thankfully, there are gluten-free matzah options today.

The ceremonious Passover meal, also known as a seder includes a seder plate decorated with six foods, each representing a different piece of the Passover story—meat, egg, vegetables such as parsley, celery and potatoes, bitter herbs such as horseradish, and a deliciously sweet paste made of apples and walnuts or dried fruits such as dates. The main course is free of leavened grains (this applies to desserts too) and often includes matzah ball soup, as well as various types of savory, roasted meat, vegetable and potato dishes. Make your own gluten-free and delicious seder and include some of these these nutritious ingredients and recipes.

Dates for the Seder Plates

One of the first plants cultivated by humans thousands of years ago, there are hundreds of delicious varieties of date palms. Top producing regions include the Middle East and North Africa—the dates grow well in the dry desert heat of these regions. In the United States, dates are grown in Southern California, Southwestern Arizona, and around Las Vegas, Nevada. The two most widely grown types in those areas are the “Deglet Noor” and the “Medjool.” They are typically in season January through April.

Filled with nutrients such as b-vitamins, phytonutrients, iron and dietary fiber, dates are often thought to be one of the healthiest foods in the world! Dates can be used to naturally sweeten and texture cookies, cereal, bars, truffles and any type of baked good. On the seder plate, dates are a primary ingredient in charoset (paste) which resembles the mortar used by Jewish slaves in the Passover story.   

Hearty Root Vegetables for a Seder Main Dish

Tzimmes is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish stew made with sweet and nutrient dense root vegetables–carrots, sweet potatoes, yams and sweet dried fruits like dates (yes, again and why not!) and prunes. Ashkenazi means Jews of central or eastern European descent, which is where this dish originated from.

The word tzimmes is also a Yiddish expression for “making a fuss” over something. Whether served with meat or as a stand-alone side dish, tzimmes is sweet, delicious and definitely worth making a fuss over! Brisket with tzimmes makes a savoury and hearty one-pot meal.

Parsley for the Seder Plate

Parsley is a nutritious, mild and versatile herb that you can buy or easily grow in your garden. The popular curled-leaf variety is used fresh mainly as a garnish. Flat-leaf parsley (also known as Italian) is commonly used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, stir-fries and dips. It pairs wonderfully with beef, chicken, fish, carrots, egg, eggplant, potatoes and tomato. A widely available herb, the top five states producing parsley are California, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, and Hawaii.

Although generally available before the first frost hits, parsley is most affordable and abundant during the early spring harvest. Parsley offers a good source of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Another addition to the Passover seder plate, parsley (for some it is customary to use celery) signifies the labor of the Jews during slavery. The Hebrew letters of karpas (vegetable) can be arranged to spell the word “perech,” which means backbreaking work.

On the Seder Plate: Charoset 

This delicious charoset makes a beautiful addition to the Passover seder plate. Leftovers can be enjoyed on gluten-free matzah and in warm cooked cereals, plain yogurt and smoothies. Get the recipe.

Passover Dinner Main Dish: Brisket with Tzimmes

This hearty dish serves as a mouthwatering main course. Get the recipe.

Passover Dinner Side Dish: Roasted Spring Vegetable Medley with Parsley

You can’t go wrong with roasted veggies. Simple and full of earthy flavor, they make a colorful, nutrient-dense addition to any holiday table. This savory side pairs perfectly with any Passover main dish. Enjoy leftovers as a topping for burgers or pasta, inside a gluten-free sandwich or a wrap. Get the recipe.

Passover Dessert: Simple Compote

Compote is a traditional dessert comprised of stewed fruits (fresh or dried) in a sweet syrup with added spices. Compotes are usually served chilled and like this recipe, they are quite simple to prepare. Get the recipe.

Benefits and Key Ingredients of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

To adhere to a gluten-free diet, you need to avoid foods derived from wheat, barley, rye, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye) and contaminated oats as they all contain gluten. If you’ve become accustomed to eating gluten-free packaged and processed foods (like many other Americans), you might wonder what you should be eating instead.

One diet that focuses on nutritious, anti-inflammatory whole foods is the anti-inflammatory diet, and most of the foods included in it are naturally gluten free.

What is the anti-inflammatory diet?

Inflammation throughout the body can be influenced by a variety of internal and external factors, from injuries to chronic diseases. Obesity can also cause inflammation and stoke the development of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The goal of inflammation, as described by Lauren Whitt, PhD, is to, “detect and destroy the toxic material in damaged tissues before it can spread throughout the body…the trouble with inflammation occurs when the defense system gets out of control and begins to destroy healthy tissue.” A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, believe the researchers at the University of Alabama, can reduce the severity of painful inflammation.

The foods described in this article are known anti-inflammatory agents and, when added to a healthy gluten-free diet, can greatly improve your overall health and ease the pain of both acute and chronic inflammation, should you experience it.

The following naturally gluten-free foods recommended in an anti-inflammatory diet boast numerous nutritional benefits and can help to significantly improve the quality of your diet and your overall health, particularly if you have celiac disease, which is a malabsorptive disease.

Avocado makes a great appetizer

Avocados have become extremely popular as a healthy fat substitute. Rich in fatty acids and similar in nutrient values to olive oil, avocados have been shown to lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or bad cholesterol. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that natural compounds found in avocados may reduce signs of aging caused by inflammation. The compound NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide), found in broccoli, edamame and avocado, is reduced in the body as age-related inflammation occurs. By including more NMN-containing foods in your diet as you get older, scientists argue, you can diminish age-related inflammation.

Click here for our Stuffed Avocado recipe.

Make fish your main dish

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that diets rich in oily fish such as mackerel, tuna and trout greatly improve inflammation. Researchers discovered that an anti-inflammatory lipid in humans is also present in the essential fatty acids found in fish oil. Fish like salmon can help to reduce inflammation due to their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are widely known to improve conditions like cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center recently discovered that fish oil might suppress the growth of breast cancer cells due to the anti-inflammatory properties found in omega-3 fatty acids. The study suggests that the fish oil and other sources of omega-3 have the potential to control the growth of cancerous tumors and that the ability of omega-3 to suppress inflammation is one factor that could stop the spread of cancer.

Click here for our recipe for Roasted Wild Salmon with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette.

Fall in love with leafy greens

Dark, leafy greens are always an essential component of any anti-inflammatory diet. Leafy greens and dark vegetables such as kale, spinach, red cabbage and broccoli are high in vitamin K and other essential nutrients that aid in reducing inflammation in the body.

A 2018 study from the Francis Crick Institute provides evidence to suggest that diets rich in dark, leafy greens can help you to maintain healthy gut bacteria and prevent colon cancer. The reduction of gut inflammation due to changes in diet can greatly improve and reduce the risks of gut-related diseases, especially colon cancer. Diets rich in indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in almost all brassica vegetables (i.e., broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and more) is known to act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the gut.

Click here for our Lemon-Glazed Brussels Sprouts recipe.

Choose the right oil

We need heart-healthy fat in our diet; it is an important macronutrient. Olive oil is another great substitute for an anti-inflammatory diet. Not only is olive oil one of the healthiest fat sources, but also it is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia discovered that oleocanthal, a naturally occurring compound in extra-virgin olive oil, can be utilized as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, similar to the effects of ibuprofen. Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD, suggests replacing butter and margarine with olive oil will “lower total cholesterol and…may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be helpful if you have or are at risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Click here for our Walnut Cake with Olive Oil recipe.

Go nuts over nuts

What about snacks? Various nuts, including pistachios and walnuts, should accompany an anti-inflammatory diet. Researchers at Penn State suggest that the antioxidants found in pistachios further aid in reducing inflammation in the blood vessels and lowering cholesterol. Antioxidants help to prevent LDL from causing inflammation and plaque buildup in blood vessels. LDL is the main contributor to high cholesterol and heart disease.

Moreover, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center published a study suggesting walnuts have positive effects on bacteria in the gut. Researchers found that the addition of walnuts to a diet can result in a change in the essential makeup of gut bacteria. By doing so, walnuts can provide diverse bacteria like Lactobacillus, necessary for combating obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. As well, the consumption of walnuts has been shown to lower the risks for cardiovascular disease and slow the growth of tumors.

Click here for our Maple Rosemary Mixed Nuts recipe.

Buy blueberries fresh or frozen

According to the Society for Neuroscience, blueberries have been found to contain compounds that reduce the inflammation that targets the central nervous system. Researchers from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, discovered that compounds found within blueberries interact positively with protein molecules in human neuronal cells, effectively reducing inflammation throughout the nervous system, specifically in the brain and spinal cord.

Further research at the University of South Florida found that supplementing blueberries into the diets of elderly rats increased brain circuitry, enhanced brain function, and reduced inflammation caused by aging in just eight weeks. While the rats were supplemented 2 percent blueberry extract into their overall diets, it would only require approximately half a cup of blueberries to yield similar results in humans. When they are not in season, consider buying blueberries frozen.

Consume nature’s candy

Last but not least, beyond blueberries alone, a variety of mixed berries make an excellent dessert. Multiple studies conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Tufts University found that the consumption of berries can positively influence brain function and reduce inflammation by combating toxic accumulation.

Both blackberries and strawberries have been cited as being beneficial to anti-inflammatory diets, targeting various brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Similar to compounds found in blueberries, blackberries are believed to aid in healthy brain function and reduced aging in the brain. As well, anti-inflammatory properties in acai berries, cherries and cranberries are known to assist in cancer prevention, arthritis, gout and urinary tract health. In general, it is suggested that fruits and vegetables with dark, vibrant colors tend to aid in the reduction of inflammation throughout the body.