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.


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 lunchinabox.net and lunchnugget.blogspot.com. 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.