SPONSORED POST: Red Rover, Red Rover, DON’T Send Gluten Over! 5 Tips for Crushing the School Year

Just when you think you’ve got a hold on summer, school is back in session! From breakfast madness and mid-day snacking, to safe and tasty gluten-free lunches, Canyon Bakehouse has your go-to products to make this school year a little more delicious. Make school days a breeze with these fun and simple tips for crushing it at lunchtime:

1. We Checked the List and Gluten, You Aren’t On It! Write a list of all allergens, as well as approved snacks, foods and drinks, for your child’s teacher and school staff. It helps to include what they can and cannot have so those who aren’t familiar with the allergen have a quick and easy reference. You can also sit down with your child and have him/her help write out the list so they remember and have a better understanding of any restrictions. Keep it more positive than negative, focusing on all the delicious naturally gluten-free / allergen-free foods there are!

2. Think Outside the Lunchbox! Find fun reusable lunch containers to hold their sandwiches and snacks. The more fun and unique the containers, the better! You can find lunchboxes with customizable stickers, love notes or get it personalized with their name. Plus, they’re an easy way to avoid cross-contamination.

3. Smiley Faces, Happy Bellies! Playing with your food is never a bad thing! Have a little fun with lunch by topping our gluten-free breads with fruits, veggies and spreads to create Koala bears, Owls and Fishies for lunch!

4. Pack the Fun Size! Include easy-to-handle (and easy-to-open) foods that are fun and easy to eat, but also quick and easy to pack! Individually wrapped snacks like single-serve gluten-free pretzel packs or hummus and veggie sticks save time and add lots of variety to your child’s lunch.

5. Boost Their Confidence! It’s never easy for a child to say ‘no’ to sharing food with their friends, and even harder for them to try to explain what they’re going through. Help boost their confidence by practicing their ‘elevator pitch’ to explain to their peers and teachers. The more normal you make the conversation, the more normal they’ll feel in tough situations.


Gluten-Free Success in the Kitchen

For my second try at real cooking, I decided to stay away from meat altogether and found a perfect sandwich recipe.

As I’ve mentioned before, my sandwiches are usually pretty simple – peanut butter on toasted gluten-free bread. I never put a lot of thought into lunch so I figured this sandwich could help change that.

The recipe for Arugla-Pear Focaccia Panini comes from Carol Fenster’s “1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes.” I think you can find a recipe for almost anything in this book – it has 700 pages!

I did adapt the recipe a little, something that I learned can be important from the last time I cooked. First, I used bread that I already had instead of making the Focaccia. I wanted something that I could make quickly so preparing a special bread wouldn’t have fit my goal.

Second, the recipe calls for a Panini press. I definitely don’t own one of those so I made the sandwich more like a grilled cheese with a little bit of cooking oil on a frying pan. Then I pressed the spatula down hard onto the bread to flatten it out.
Carol Fenster also suggests flattening the sandwich out by putting a heavy skillet on top if you do not own a Panini press.

But before all that I put the sandwich together. The recipe called for a little bit of spinach, Swiss cheese, very thin pear slices, red onion and a special spread (the recipe for the spread is in the cookbook) all layered between two slices of bread. After the sandwich was assembled, I put it in the pan on the stove for a few minutes, flipped it and cooked it for another minute or two. Overall it was a very simple recipe that did not require much more time than it does to toast bread and then put some peanut butter on it.

I did have to go out to get a few of the items because they were not all things that I had at home.

The sandwich tasted great and was not like anything that I have previously tried. I would never have thought of using pears with onions and cheese on a sandwich.
I would definitely make this sandwich again! Another lesson I learned is that I can create interesting and different meals that aren’t much harder than very basic things I’m used to. The key is just to get a little creative and think outside the box.
I know I have said I want to make healthy meals, but once I opened the cookbook I used for this recipe, I couldn’t resist some of the desserts. So that’s what’s up next!