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. 

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​.

Specific Run of EnviroKidz Gluten-Free Cereal Recalled

Nature’s Path has announced a voluntary recall of a specific production run of EnviroKidz Choco Chimps, Gorilla Munch and Jungle Munch cereals due to possible contamination with undeclared gluten, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Those with a wheat allergy, celiac or wheat or gluten sensitivity should not eat cereals with the “Best Before Date” listed below:

United States

Product Name – United States Size UPC Best Before Date
EnviroKidz Choco Chimp 10 oz 0 5844987024 1 08/27/2019
EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch 10 oz 0 58449 86002 0 08/24/2019
EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch 10 oz 0 58449 86002 0 09/21/2019
EnviroKidz Jungle Munch 10 oz 0 5844987028 9 08/01/2019


Product Name – Canada Size UPC Best Before Date
EnviroKidz Choco Chimp 284 g 0 5844987023 4 08/27/2019
EnviroKidz Gorilla Munch 284 g 0 58449 86002 0 08/24/2019
EnviroKidz Jungle Munch 284 g 0 5844987027 2 08/01/2019

The issue was isolated to a single facility due to “air contamination as a result of incorrect product scheduling,” and other Nature’s Path and EnviroKidz products are not impacted. Nature’s Path is removing affected cereals from store shelves and warehouses.

To obtain a refund, consumers should return the product to their retailer. Nature’s Path customer service can be reached at 1-866-880-7284 between Monday and Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm PST or by writing to [email protected].

“Making healthy, nutritious, organic food is our passion,” says Arjan Stephens, Executive VP of Sales & Marketing at Nature’s Path. “This failure to meet the gluten-free standard our consumers expect and trust from us is a deep concern. We have reviewed and changed our internal practices to ensure our gluten-free cereals are not impacted in the future.”

For more information about the recall, including product photos, visit the FDA website.

Product Roundup: Hot Picks for Gluten-Free Kids

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These products geared toward kids—but yum for all!—include breakfast and snack options that will come in handy this week with many kids out of school for April vacation. While your youngsters will savor the delicious flavor, you can rest assured that they have safe food options while they’re home.

Perfect pancakes

When Follow Your Heart set the goal of creating the tastiest yet healthiest pourable, ready-to-heat pancake batter, Rocket Cakes was born. And, best of all, the fluffy pancakes and decadent waffles produced by this easy heat-and-eat batter are gluten free. Just add your child’s favorite toppings and you’ll be the hit of breakfast—or breakfast for dinner!





This spud’s for you

The New York Kosher Dill kettle chips from One Potato Two Potato are the perfect pick for your child’s lunchtime snack. This delightful snack combines the flavors of two classic sandwich side staples, potato chips and pickles (without the messy juice!). Not only is the bag full of crispy deliciousness, but it’s adorable too—a sure hit in any cafeteria.


Check the price on Amazon!


Put a ring on it

Getting your kids to eat their vegetables can pose a challenge—or an impossible hurdle, depending on your child. But these Farmwise Cauliflower, White Bean & Onion Veggie Rings present the perfect delivery vehicle for nutritious ingredients. Your young one will lustily chow down on these crispy rings of goodness without realizing that every five rings they eat delivers one serving of veggies.




Get bowled over

With 3 grams of fiber and zero added sugar, these Super Morning Oatmeal Bowls for toddlers are an easy, nutritious breakfast option on busy mornings. Available in two kid-pleasing flavors, Organic Bananas & Strawberries and Organic Apples & Blueberries, these bowls contain a blend of quinoa, gluten-free oats and super chia seeds and can be warmed to your child’s liking, which is especially nice on chilly winter mornings.


Check the price on Amazon!


And for those times when you’re able to spend more time preparing meals and snacks together, check out these kid-friendly recipes:

Gluten-Free Frozen Yogurt Pops

Triple-Decker Quesadillas

Mason Jar Breakfasts




Veggies With a Side of Gluten-Free Turtle Power

Garden Lites TMNT

Packing kids’ lunch is great. After all, it gives your food the chance to get out of the house for a few hours. Oh sure, the crackers are gone—but the fruits and vegetables have returned untouched and, quite frankly, looking pretty sad.

In their quest to produce delicious veggie-rich foods that even kids will eat (voluntarily), Garden Lites has created a line of gluten-free muffins. Like all of their products, the first ingredient in each variety is vegetables. Have a Ninja Turtle fan at home? The gluten-, dairy- and nut-free Ninja Power Muffins are 80 calories—and the first ingredient is zucchini.

Parents can pack the individually wrapped, frozen muffins in their children’s lunchbox in the morning and by lunchtime, they will be room temperature and ready to eat.

The muffins are available in seven gluten-free, veggie-first varieties. To find a store near you, use the Garden Lites store locator.

American Girl Bistros Embrace Gluten-Free Options


American Girl stores are synonymous with dolls and accessories created in perfect miniature, hair salon treatments and excited children trailed by exhausted parents or grandparents. But dining is also part of the experience, and the American Girl Bistro includes a variety of gluten-free options. Pizza, pasta, chicken fingers, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, fries, cake and more are available in gluten-free versions. Restaurant teams work individually with each guest to craft a meal that meets dietary needs. The bistros serve brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert.

American Girl bistros can also accommodate allergies to eggs and dairy and offer vegan and vegetarian meals. Joshua Engel, American Girl’s regional manager of restaurants, estimates American Girl bistros serve between 350 and 400 gluten-free meals per week across all 25 locations. More store openings are in the planning stages.

American Girl gets its gluten- and allergen-free products from companies including Gluten Free Nation, Udi’s Gluten Free and Rich’s.“The landscape of gluten-free products is constantly evolving, and we work with our distributors and manufacturers directly to be current on the trends,” says Engel.

When a gluten-free order is requested, a manager comes to the table to go over the guest’s needs before communicating the order directly to the kitchen. The chef, who puts on clean gloves, has been trained to use dedicated utensils, plates and cookware when preparing the meal. Items including French fries and chicken  fingers are baked to minimize the risk for cross contact.

Dessert, one of the best items on the menu, is always available for gluten-free
diners, and the bistros don’t just offer ice cream. For example gluten-free lemon
pound cake is available daily at the Alpharetta, Georgia, location.

After the shopping trip in the American Girl store, the bistro serves as an oasis,
offering children and their guests a spot to relax and refuel or celebrate a birthday or other special occasion. Visitors’ dolls get a prominent seat at the table, complete with a mini place setting. The menu, which rotates three to four times a year, offers tea service, starters, main course and desserts served in precious dishes, such as flower pots complete with plastic flowers each doll can hold.

Reservations are highly recommended, and reservation agents will inquire about
food allergies/intolerance while booking. The menu’s disclaimer reminds guests to inform their server if anyone in their party has a food allergy.

Lunches packed with love and a little flair

Every story I’ve read about lunches for this back-to-school season mention the bento-box style of lunch preparation.

My reaction is a mix of fascination and relief.

Who could help but be intrigued by the Japanese bento, described as a compact, balanced and visually appealing meal packed in a box?

First, they always look great in a photo. The collection of colorful, little containers in all kinds of shapes are designed to tuck snugly in the bento box. Then there is the food itself, everything from apple slices deftly sliced into bunnies to cucumbers cut into links like a construction paper chain to yellow peppers snipped into stars.

Aside from being really cute, it also struck me immediately that the bento box is perfect for a gluten-free lunch.

So I wasn’t really surprised when I went to the blog “lunch in a box” and read that its founder, Deborah Hamilton, had originally started making bento box lunches for her husband when he was diagnosed with celiac disease. (He later found out he was misdiagnosed, but Deborah now makes bento box lunches for their young son, who is called “Bug” on the blog.)

The bento box takes the homemade lunch and turns it into a desirable meal instead of an also-ran to pre-packaged Lunchables or cafeteria fare. The little containers are perfect for cut-up fruit and vegetables, dip, cubed meat and cheese, and a little candy treat. And they don’t emphasize the sandwich the way typical American lunches do.

There are a few blogs you can go to for packing ideas and recipes, some of which are gluten-free and others which can easily be adapted. Two possibilities are and It’s not unusual to find that the blogger has some connection to a food allergy or intolerance. Be forewarned that some bento bloggers are actually artists with a paring knife posing to be merely moms making lunch. I’m just kidding!

But that’s where my relief comes in. My gluten-free daughter is now in college and there’s no way I can whip up culinary artwork — I mean make lunch — for her everyday.