Packable lunch recipes that kids (and grown-ups!) will love

Whether you’re a parent of kiddos headed back to school or looking for healthy, packable lunch options to take to work, these somewhat nostalgic, updated and nutrient-packed lunch ideas are simple to make and take all week long. Using a character lunchbox is optional.

PB&J Chia Pudding Cups

peanut butter chia pudding cups

Who needs store-bought, sugary and questionable ingredient-laden, foil-topped cups? Make these pudding cups in small mason jars for an irresistible and nutrition-packed breakfast, or pack them for an on-the-go lunch treat.  Click here for the recipe.

Throwback Meatball Soup

meatball soup

As a little girl, I begged to buy the canned meatball soup at the grocery store. I carried it in my (Wonder Woman? Holly Hobbie?) thermos. As an adult, I still love a hot and filling soup, and this grown-up meatball version, sans noodles, is rich and delicious. A bit of honey adds slight sweetness (kiddos will love this!), and you’ll never miss the soggy noodles. Click here for the recipe.

Fruit and Veggie Gummy Treats

fruit juice dummies

Fruit juice and real honey combine with gelatin to make a sweet treat that’s packable and yummy—even for grown-ups. Use a silicone mold or simply prepare in a baking pan and cut into blocks, and adjust the sweetness to your preference. Click here for the recipe. 

Cooking Class: Produce Precise Pasta

Your guide to making your own gluten-free pasta at home, with tips from our resident baking expert.

Since I don’t have celiac disease, nor any gluten sensitivities, it’s easy for me to consume a nice plate of pasta. But I do understand the pain of those who cannot, especially when you eat out, and the establishment advertises “gluten-free” pasta available. You do your due diligence by asking lots of questions, to hopefully reassure yourself before eating the product. Then, a few hours later, your real problems begin.

It may have been a true gluten-free pasta product (based on the mouthfeel texture difference), but it was most likely cooked in the same water and pot as the restaurant’s gluten-based pasta products.

If you feel angry, that’s understandable. So, now you decide to embark on some adventures in cooking pasta at home. There are many excellent dried gluten-free pasta products available. Simply cook the gulten-free pasta according to the manufacturer’s directions (of course, in a clean, dedicated gluten-free pot with fresh, clean water and a touch of salt).

If you are willing to pursue mixing, rolling and shaping your own gluten-free pasta, let’s go!

Now, I’ve only developed one type of gluten-free pasta dough, which is in my gluten-free baking book. I only use it to produce a type of gnocchi. One of my readers informed me that they took my recipe and developed a spätzle-type form.

Of course, always investigate the source of every ingredient that you are considering using, especially the flour. Most authentic dried pasta products are produced by specific manufacturers. They utilize heavy-duty extruding-type machines because the doughs are very, very dry. Many gluten-free dried pasta products are made using a type of, or combination of, “pulse” flours. Pulse flours (from a variety of dried beans, peas and lentils, excluding soybeans) are very high in protein and fiber and come in many different flavors and colors.

For the average home cook, fresh, soft pasta dough is best. Eggs are the primary wet ingredient used because of the high-protein binding properties. In fact, you can use liquid egg whites, or at least 50% of the total eggs used can be whites. The extra protein will provide more “bite” to the pasta product upon cooking. How much to use? That’s up to you. If you make the dough to feel wetter, allow for time to absorb the liquid. Refrigerate the dough, uncovered at first for a few hours. Then wrap it up. Fresh dough is highly perishable due to the eggs and the high percentage of flour, which is subject to rancidity. If you’re not using it within a few days, freeze it or make smaller batches.

Click here for our homemade gluten-free pasta recipe!

As far as rolling out the dough, proceed with caution. Keep the shapes simple, like a basic flat-egg noodle. Use high starch content gluten-free flour for dusting, which can also be mixed with some cornmeal to give the pasta extra unique texture.

After shaping, it’s best to dry out somewhat at room temperature for up to one hour before cooking. You can also keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to two days or freeze it.

As far as the cooking process goes, gluten-free pasta products generally cook much more quickly than others (except for many of the dried manufactured versions). I like to make the cooking water extra salty, since the dough is quite bland. Use 1-2 tablespoons per 1-2 quarts of water used for cooking. If the salted water is at a full boil, fresh gluten-free pasta will sink to the bottom, so keep the water temperature up. Within 2-3 minutes, you should see the products begin to float. Carefully remove a sample, suspend in ice water, then sample for doneness. Be careful not to overcook the pasta. You might see a continuous layer of “foam” on the top of the cooking water. This is from the starches that have fallen out of the pasta. If a continuous amount forms, then consider discarding that water and start with a new pot of water.

 

4 Back to School Twists on Classic Recipes

Back to school time means “parent-approved,” kid-friendly meals on-the-go. This menu includes a fun twist on some classic recipes and, as always, they are easy to make, packed with extra nutrition and gluten free. They are also nut free, too, making these recipes ideal for school. Start the day with Pancake Muffins—given that they are made in advance, they are great to eat on the run. Then we have mac ‘n cheese, but get this, there are veggies hidden in it. Last, looking for a new birthday or party treat that everyone will love? Try birthday cake pie that is a cookie pie, cheesecake and birthday cake combined into one.

Pancake Muffins
(photo: Angela Sackett)

Pancake Muffins

Makes 14
Gluten free, nut free, vegetarian

Pancakes on the go are a super-fun solution for a busy weekday morning or early-morning road trip. This is a fun recipe to make with kids and to get creative by adding your own spin. Get the recipe.

 

Veggie Mac and Cheese for Kids gluten free
(photo: Angela Sackett)

Veggie Mac and Cheese

Makes 5 servings
Gluten free, nut free, vegetarian

Back to school means that it’s time for easy and healthy weeknight dinners. What is more kid-friendly than mac ‘n cheese and more parent-friendly than veggies? A veggie mac ‘n cheese! Get the recipe.

 

Chickpea Salad
(photo: Angela Sackett)

Chickpea Salad

Makes 3 servings
Gluten free, nut free, vegetarian, dairy free

Looking for a quick side salad packed with protein? This is it! Colorful, fresh and an easy crowd favorite. Get the recipe.

 

Birthday Cake Pie
(photo: Angela Sackett)

Birthday Cake Pie

Makes 8 servings
Gluten free, nut free, vegetarian

This sweet treat is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It is a wonderful combination of everything fun. It’s like putting a cookie cake, cheesecake and birthday cake in a blender, and this delightful dessert is born. Get the recipe.

New Gluten-Free Breakfast Options for Babies, Toddlers

A San Francisco-based meal service is offering parents new options when it comes to delivering healthful, gluten-free meals to their little ones.

Raised Real, a direct to consumer delivery service which focuses on organic, nutritious meals, has announced the launch of its new breakfast line, Breakfast Oats, with four plant-based meal options.

Click here for learn about the keys to a healthy pregnancy with celiac disease 

According to the company, these four new meals are designed for functionality including immunity, digestive support, and brain development in infants and toddlers. Emerging ingredient cranberry seed oil is utilized in several of the options; the oil is cold-pressed from the superfood berry to provide infants and toddlers with a trio of essential healthy fats. Each meal includes a variety of ingredients and all are made with certified gluten-free oats.

The four new meals are as follows:

  •  Oats, Açaí, Banana, Raspberry, and Cranberry Seed Oil
  •  Oats, Mango, Butternut Squash, Ginger, and Coconut Butter
  •  Oats, Strawberry, Blueberry, Date, and Cranberry Seed Oil
  •  Oats, Cinnamon, Pear, Sweet Potato, and Date

Like all other Raised Real meals, Breakfast Oats are pre-portioned and flash-frozen at the farm level. Parents can prepare Breakfast Oats in a matter of minutes, by adding 4-6 tbsp. of water to the meal in a saucepan and heating for 5-6 minutes. Raised Real is available in boxes of 12 or 24 meals, every 2 or 4 weeks starting at $4.99 per meal. Shipping is free.

Founded in 2017, Raised Real has made delivering organic, nutritious meals with superfood ingredients directly its mission.

“Parents are looking for clean label options to feed their kids throughout the day, and adding Breakfast Oats to our offerings is an important step for us,” said Santiago Merea, CEO and co-founder of Raised Real. “We believe that there is an opportunity to go back to the start with a product that is pretty much the opposite of what we know today as ‘baby food’ – not pre-pureed, not processed, using only ingredients you can see, and now for every meal of the day.”

For more information, visit Raised Real at www.RaisedReal.com​.

The Gluten-Free Taste Testers Sip on Rosè, Malbec and More!

Every two weeks, Gluten-Free Living taste testers sample a batch of new gluten-free foods and beverages and share their first impressions on Facebook Live. During the latest Facebook Live event, they tried a variety of different wines and even a couple interestingly flavored sakes.

And – yes –  wine is naturally-gluten free. However, wines with added coloring or flavoring, like dessert wines or wine coolers, may contain gluten. If you’re ever in doubt, be sure to contact the manufacturer. Stay tuned on Gluten-Free Living social media for more live product tasting events. All wines sampled arrived courtesy of Vine Connections

Cheers!

 

La Posta

 

 

Crafted in Mendoza, Argentina this wine is a Malbec by La Posta, specifically, the Pizzella Family. It’s a full bodied, well-structured wine that La Posta, which means “the tavern”, says is best enjoyed with food and friends.

This wine features aromas of black cherries, dark fruits, dark chocolate and baker’s spice. On the palate, it shows dense, dark berry and plum flavors along with hints of sandalwood and spice, and even a hint of violets in the finish.

 

 

 

 

Tozai – Living Jewel

 

 

 

This sake from Tozai is called Living Jewel. It’s described as a light and easy drinking sake and is named after the colorful koi fish that represent good fortune and luck.

There are aromas of white grape, anise, and a hint of sweet rice. On the palate you will find citrus, white pepper, and fresh herbal notes with a long, clean finish.

 

 

 

Luca

 

 

 

 

Another Malbec, this wine is also from Argentina made with grapes from the Uco Valley. This wine features notes of black cherry and dark berry with hints of violet, vanilla, and mocha. It is deep and dense on the palate with round tannins.

 

 

 

 

Tozai – Snow Maiden

 

 

This sake is named after Hanako, or “flower maiden”, the most famous Japanese koi fish. Flower Maiden lived for 226 years in the icy waters at the foot of Japan’s Mt. Ontake.

This wine is bright and fresh with a lovely ricey and fruity combination. There are flavors of honeydew melon, raw pumpkin, and radish. It has a creamy texture and a full body.

4 Gluten and Allergy-Free Recipes Perfect for Fall

There’s a chill in the air. Fall is in full swing, but happily being gluten free doesn’t mean going without hearty autumn-inspired dishes.

Savory turkey mornay casserole will get you in the mood for Thanksgiving without the trouble of cooking a whole bird. Feel like indulging? Gingerbread waffles and apple compote are sure to be a sweet addition to any breakfast.

These four gluten-free, fall-inspired recipes come courtesy of Joel and Mary Schaefer, founders of Your Allergy Chefs. The chefs are devoted to providing guidance, resources and recipes to anyone living with food allergies or intolerances.

Joel has developed the food allergy and special diets program for Disney properties worldwide and Disney cruise line. He lives with milk and gluten sensitivities. Mary has worked as a pastry chef at man organizations including Walt Disney World. Five years ago, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and immediately had to give up gluten and dairy. Both are well aware of the challenges people face when it comes to allergies and food intolerances.

For more on the chefs, visit yourallergychefs.com, where all of their recipes are free of gluten and the top eight allergens.

1. Turkey mornay casserole 

Let’s talk leftovers with this casserole. Turkey and vegetables or just vegetables rock the dish! Take your pick. Get the recipe. 

4 Quick and Easy School-Time Snacks

With only a few ingredients, these snacks are convenient and delicious for everyone from students to working parents during this busy back-to-school season.

1. Three Ingredient Power Bites

These power bites make a great on-the-go snack. They’re easy to make—you only need three ingredients—and budget friendly. If you like crunch, use a crunchy nut or sunflower butter and then roll the power bites in unsweetened toasted coconut. Click here for the recipe. 

2 .Sesame-Free Hummus

The hummus craze shows no signs of slowing down. There’s just one (big!) problem if you have a sesame allergy: hummus contains tahini—a sesame paste with the consistency of almond butter. The good news? You can make a tasty sesame-free hummus at home with the help of a food processor, some peanut or sunflower seed butter, and a can of garbanzo beans. Click here for the recipe. 

3. Snickerdoodle Pretzels

These cinnamon toast pretzels are the perfect combo of salty and sweet. The buttery cinnamon-sugar coating gives you the flavor of snickerdoodles with none of the work. For a dairy-free variation, use dairy-free margarine. Click here for the recipe. 

4. Nut-Free Banana Blast Trail Mix

Five minutes and six ingredients are all you need to make this nut-free trail mix. It’s a great snack for school lunches and makes a fantastic movie night treat. Click here for the recipe. 

 

 

 

9 New Crave-Worthy Snacks to Try at Target this Fall

Target launched a new, huge addition to its ever-expanding line of owned brands (think Archer Farms, Goodfellow & Co, and Simply Balanced) when Good & Gather hit stores on Sept. 15 with 650 new products. Among the ready-made pastas, fruits, veggies and dairy are plenty of gluten-free snacks. 

The complete Good & Gather line, which includes a whopping 2,000 items, will be available starting next year. According to Target, the idea behind Good & Gather is quality food made without artificial synthetic colors, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup.

Want the latest gluten-free news, recipes, tips and more? Subscribe to the weekly Gluten-Free Living newsletter.

“Our guests are incredibly busy and want great-tasting food they can feel good about feeding their families,” says Stephanie Lundquist, executive vice president, Food & Beverage, Target. “We saw this as a huge opportunity for Target to help. So our team got to work on our most ambitious food undertaking yet, reimagining our owned food brands to serve up convenient, affordable options that do not cut corners on quality or taste.”

Looking for the basic ground rules of the gluten-free diet? Click here for everything you need to know.

If you love Target as much as we do, you likely can’t wait to try see what’s available. Don’t sleep on this list. We’ve got nine snacks to grab the next time you hit Target. Click here to find a Target store near you.

Personally, we’re looking forward to taking a bite out of the Almond, Peanuts & Sea Salt Fruit and Nut Bars.

New Good & Gather gluten-free snacks at Target

 

Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chip with Flax Seeds – 18oz – $3.99

 

18oz bag feeds the whole family
Organic, kosher and gluten free
No preservatives
Non-GMO
20g of whole grain per serving

 

 

Lightly Salted Popcorn – 5oz – $2.49

 

5oz bag is perfect for sharing
23g of whole grain per serving
Kosher and gluten free
Non-GMO
No artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives

 

 

Traditional Kettle Chips – 8oz – $2.19

 

Kettle cooked for crispy-crunchy texture
Seasoned with sea salt for a light, savory flavor
Perfect for lunches, parties, barbecues and afternoon snacks
Kosher and gluten-free
Resealable bag for freshness

 

 

Veggie Straws – 7oz – $2.49

 

Made with real fruit puree concentrate
Mango fruit strips have a sweet, satisfying taste
Gluten-free, Non-GMO Project verified and kosher
No certified synthetic colors, artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners
Contains 25 fruit strips

 

 

Almond, Peanuts & Sea Salt Fruit and Nut Bars – 4ct – $4.59

 

4pk of gluten-free nut bars provides an excellent source of fiber*
Made with almonds, peanuts and sea salt with drizzled cocoa for a simple, tasty snack
Kosher
Each bar contains 6g protein and 8g fiber for a satisfying bite
Non-GMO Project Verified and made without artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup

 

Organic White Cheddar Baked Puffs – 10oz – $4.99

 

Great-tasting alternative to potato chips
10oz bag
Kosher and gluten-free
Non-GMO
No artificial flavors or synthetic colors

 

 

Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips – 12oz – $2.99

 

Organic tortilla chips with 22g of whole grain per serving
Made from yellow corn for great taste
No preservatives
Kosher and gluten-free
Non-GMO
Chips pair perfectly with a variety of salsas and queso dips

 

Organic Kettle Corn – 7oz – $2.49

 

7oz bag is perfect for sharing
12g of whole grain per serving
Kosher and gluten free
Non-GMO
No artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives

 

 

Parmesan Garlic Kettle Chips – 8oz – $2.19

 

Kosher and gluten-free
Potato chips are kettle cooked for crispness
Parmesan-garlic flavor makes a great snack and pairs with a variety of other foods
Resealable bag for freshness

 

 

Click here for 5 Seemingly Unrelated Conditions to Celiac Disease. Research shows a strictly gluten-free diet may help treat No. 5. 

What to Eat Now: Slow and Easy Back to School Recipes

It’s finally that time of year. The time when moms and dads high-five each other and, heck, even strangers in the grocery store aisles, knowing victory is almost upon us. That’s right…it’s back to school time. This is a time for celebration. And I want to help you celebrate with these amazingly, deliciously easy slow cooker recipes.

That’s right, dust that baby off, and let’s get cooking. Slow cookers, pressure cookers—whatever you’re into these days. This edition of What To Eat Now is all about getting the kitchen gadgets out for a lil’ help to get dinner on the table with zero fuss. It’s the perfect time to just throw everything in the pot and have a delicious dinner waiting for you when you get home from work, school and everything else this season has to offer. As with all my recipes, feel free to get creative and tweak them any way you’d like to suit you and your family’s tastes. Most of these recipes serve six. That way, even if you’re just a fam of 4, you still have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. What? Dinner and lunch from one meal? Yes.

Boom, you’re welcome.

Now, most of these dishes do require a little bit of prep or another side dish that you’ll have to do a bit of cooking for. But I promise you they are all worth the extra effort. I so hope you try these slow cooker favorites, and they soon become your family’s faves, too.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with creamy parmesan polenta

First up, we have my Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with Creamy Parmesan Polenta. Umm, yes. This is ultimate fall comfort food in a bowl and so, so easy to make.

I suggest getting nice marinated olives for this dish like you find in the deli section of most grocery stores. The more exciting the olives, the tastier the dish. Try to get olives marinated in olive oil, herbs, garlic, chilies…whatever you like. Polenta is just Italian ground cornmeal, so if you have trouble finding it, look for finely milled cornmeal at your store, and that will do just fine. Depending on the mill of the grain, it can take 20 to 30 minutes to cook. Have a taste while you’re cooking to see if it’s done. Alternatively, if the thought of making polenta seems a bit too daunting after the endless hours of marching band/soccer/ballet practice, feel free to serve this gorgeous chicken dish with some gluten-free pasta or crusty rolls if that’s more your speed. No matter what vehicle you put this dish on, it will be delicious.

Slow Cooker Beef Randang with Jasmine Rice

Next we have my Slow Cooker Beef Randang with Jasmine Rice. Don’t be intimidated by the name or ingredients. Trust me…this is the ultimate curry dish to warm you up on a cool night. Randang is a Malaysian beef curry that is truly PACKED with flavor—unsurprising, once you see all the spices and herbs in this dish.

Try to find a good Asian market to source some of the ingredients, like the fresh lemongrass stalks, and to keep the price down. If you are at all a curry lover (guilty!), then I know you are going to live for this dish. Making this in the slow cooker is perfect because Randang tends to be cooked low and slow for hours until the meat is truly just falling apart. Traditionally, this is quite a fire-y curry, but feel free to add as little or as much of the chilies as you fancy. Serve this simply with a bit of steamed Jasmine rice and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. There are layers upon layers of flavor in this dish. It’s magic. I so hope you try it and love it as much as I do.

Eggplant and Ricotta Lasagna

Lastly, you have my Eggplant and Ricotta Lasagna. This is low carb, vegetarian and gluten free. Pow! I love this dish for a meatless Monday night. I know some will find the salting/baking process of this to be a bit fiddly for a slow cooker dish, but I promise you…it is worth a few extra minutes of prep to avoid the dreaded soggy lasagna. No one likes that.

I love this dish because you can throw it together in no time using mostly what you already have in the pantry. Try to find the most gorgeous eggplant you can. You want shiny, vibrant purple and unblemished skin. Also, check around the stalks to see if they look fresh. Use any store-bought pasta sauce you like, I prefer to use Emeril’s Home Style Marinara for this. What can I say? My dad’s brand really is my favorite! This dish is better on the second day, so don’t fear if you have leftovers. I like to serve this simply with a good gluten-free roll or baguette to sop up all that sauce and goodness. But feel free to serve with pasta or whatever your family likes.

I so hope you enjoy these dishes. Happy back to school, everyone!

 

Top 5: Delicious Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts Made with Veggies

We could all stand to get more veggies in our lives, right? One of the easiest ways to accomplish this task without having to think about it is with pizza. Yes, pizza. That wonderful crusty dough continues to show its versatility as riced cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato and kale are being incorporated to produce crispy pizzas loaded with vegetables that promote eating well.

By transforming what is normally thought to be too high in carbs and fat into a healthful option, pizza has turned the corner, becoming more than just a weekend or Friday-night splurge. Whether you are short on time or lacking dinner inspiration, pizza is a crowd pleaser, but now its healthful benefits outweigh any guilt parents might have felt serving it in the past.

Here are our top picks for gluten-free pizzas and pizza crusts loaded with veggies:  

1. ALDI 

gluten-free pizza crust

In the deli refrigerated case at ALDI are two take-and-bake cauliflower crust pizzas—Uncured Pepperoni and Three Cheese. These 12-inch pizzas offer the most bang for your buck, coming in at under $7 per pie. Made by Mama Cozzi, each pizza is certified gluten free and is held together with only cheese, cornstarch, potato starch, olive oil and sea salt, producing a crispy, cheesy pizza that makes seconds a sure thing.

 

2. Caulipower

Leave it to Caulipower to introduce the first-ever frozen Paleo cauliflower pizza crust. This grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free crust makes the perfect pizza base for a low-carb and high-vegetable pizza option—and no one will taste the difference. The company also has the first-ever personal-size cauliflower crust pizza, too. Each takes only minutes for hungry kids (and adults) to bake and delivers a crunchy pie bursting with flavor, protein and fiber.

 

3. Costco 

gluten-free pizza crustStop by Costco to stock up on Milton’s Craft Bakers cauliflower crust pizzas in three flavors: Roasted Vegetables, Four Cheese and Margherita Four Cheese. Mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan cheeses, Roma tomatoes and basil top these thin and crispy crusts, made with a combination of rice flour, cheese and tapioca starch. Sold in a two-pack, these pizzas are a steal at less than the typical cost of one cauliflower crust pizza.

 

4. Spinato’s

gluten-free pizza crustFinally, a way to eat spinach without getting it stuck in your teeth. Spinato’s broccoli crust is made from a blend of broccoli (first ingredient), rice and tapioca flours, and cheese. Topped with aged cheeses, slow-roasted tomatoes and crispy vegetables, the pizzas are available in four styles: Mediterranean Supreme, Margherita, Primavera and Aged Asiago, Romano & Mozzarella.

 

 

5. Trader Joe’s

gluten-free pizza crustTrader Joe’s two vegetable crusts, cauliflower and kale and broccoli, serve as perfect pizza bases suited to your busy lifestyle. And each veggie-filled crust, made with a short list of ingredients, is also free of dairy and eggs. With a base of riced cauliflower, corn flour and potato starch, the cauliflower pizza crustis a picture of modern nutrition waiting to be dressed. Or maybe the broccoli and kale pizza crust, with broccoli, black kale, corn flour, cornstarch and potato starch, makes a better base for your family. Any way you slice it, these crusts offer a vegetable canvas that stands up to a boatload of toppings.

 

Bonus: We haveheard that Udi’s Gluten Freeis getting into the vegetable fun with two new grain-free sweet potato crust pizzas in Barbecue Chicken and Four Cheese. Sweet potatoes for the win, seriously! Sweet potato makes an excellent base for quiche, so we can only imagine what a wonderful crusty combination it will create with pizza dough.