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.

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!


Our Top 7 Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Recipes

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The slow cooker is an easy-to-use, must-have kitchen tool. Just set it and forget it. Simply prepare your evening meal in the morning and let it safely simmer throughout the day. When dinnertime arrives, all you’ll need to do is set the table and dig in…

1. Shredded Pork

Think of this shredded pork as pulled pork without the barbecue sauce. You cook a pork shoulder until it’s fall-part tender. Then serve it with a side of cornbread and veggies or use it to make tacos, nachos or sandwiches. It also goes great with eggs and potatoes for an easy “breakfast for dinner” meal. Cook up some shredded pork>>

2. Pulled BBQ Chicken

You don’t need to fire up the grill for crowd-pleasing barbecued chicken. Just grab your slow cooker. This recipe works with either boneless chicken thighs or breasts. Let’s have BBQ tonight>>

3. Apple Cider Pulled Chicken

This mouthwatering pulled chicken recipe can be prepared using an electric pressure cooker or a slow cooker. Top with the accompanying Quick Slaw for an out-of-this-world flavor combination. Try this succulent recipe>>

4. Vegan Black-Eyed Peas

These vegan black-eyed peas provide all the heartiness and taste of the traditional meat-filled versions. With this recipe, you can choose to go with the basic preparation or incorporate the optional add-ins for an extra kick. Black-eyed peas, please>> 

5. Paleo Chili

Most chili is filled with beans, which are off limits when eating Paleo. In this version, sweet potatoes take the place of the beans, adding a wonderful texture and sweetness to balance the whole dish. Make this nut- and dairy-free recipe>>

6. Sweet Potato Casserole

This casserole is made in the slow cooker, making it simple to prepare during the busy holidays. Let the slow cooker do all the work through the day while you prepare your other dishes or make it further ahead of time. The casserole is also Paleo and does not contain the sugar that is commonly found in sweet potato casseroles. It’s sweet potato time>>

7. Chipotle Black Bean and Quinoa Stew

Perfect for those cold winter nights when you need something to warm you inside and out, this hearty and healthy vegan stew contains a variety of veggies, spices and other ingredients for a filling bowl of comfort that is free of gluten, dairy, egg, soy and sugar. Curl up with a bowl tonight>>

Need some ideas or a little inspiration in the kitchen? Look through our constantly growing collection of delicious gluten-free recipes.

Our 5 Most Mouthwatering Recipes 2017

With 2017 winding down, we thought it would be fun to share our most popular dishes of the year. Here are the top five most-viewed Gluten-Free Living recipes over the past 12 months—and they all happen to be great for a crowd, so whip up one or all of them for a get-together.








1. Sharp Cheddar & Quinoa Enchiladas

These ooey, gooey Sharp Cheddar & Quinoa Enchiladas work as either lunch or dinner for a crowd. No one will even notice that this memorable dish is gluten free. Get the recipe>>










2.  Nightshade-Free Pizza

This pie utilizes a nut-free pesto instead of tomato sauce, making it an ideal treat for those who need to avoid nightshades. This scrumptious pizza is also corn free and can be made dairy free, so it’s a fantastic option when hosting guests with dietary restrictions. Make this pizza tonight>>











3.  Slow Cooker Shredded Pork

Think of this as pulled pork without the barbecue sauce. Serve with a side of cornbread and veggies for a crowd-pleasing meal or use it to make tacos, nachos or sandwiches. This dish provides the start to endless possibilities, so get creative! Find out why you should break out the slow cooker tonight>>










4.  Pigs in a Blanket

This classic appetizer gets a gluten-free makeover with homemade “blanket” dough. This recipe is free of corn, nuts and soy, and it can also be made dairy free. Serve with honey mustard or horseradish sauce for a flavorful treat that everyone will gobble up. Get this crowd-pleasing recipe>>












5.  Easy Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

This crust is the perfect vehicle for your favorite pie toppings. You can make it as thin or as thick as you would like, just keep in mind that you may need to adjust baking time depending on thickness. The dough can be frozen for up to three months, so you can keep it on hand for whenever a pizza craving strikes.Get this crowd-pleasing recipe>>

For even more delicious recipes, helpful tools and practical advice, visit Gluten-Free Living.

5 Tips for Following a Recipe

Why do so many of us try to take shortcuts, substitute ingredients and still expect a recipe to work the way it was intended? I am not a recipe developer, but Elizabeth is a very experienced one. All of the trial and error Elizabeth and other recipe developers go through to ensure a recipe works perfectly saves me time and money. To help prevent failure, here are our top five tips for successfully preparing a recipe:

1. read thoroughly

The most important rule is to read the entire recipe before starting. Sometimes recipes have unexpected steps. Nothing’s worse than getting into a recipe only to realize it requires longer than you planned or a kitchen tool you don’t have on hand.

2. measure first

After reading a recipe, do all prep work first. Chop the onions. Measure out all the small ingredients. While this step sounds more labor intensive than measuring as you go, it actually saves time.

3. No substitutions

We all have different dietary restrictions, but changing the ingredients in a recipe can cause it to fail. This is especially true for baked goods because not all gluten-free flours work the same. For example, using coconut flour in place of all-purpose gluten-free flour won’t work. It’s best to find a recipe that uses ingredients that fit your needs.

4. order is everything

Recipes have a flow, so follow the steps in the order they are written. We all want shortcuts; however, following the correct order of a recipe ensures success.

5. tweak and tinker

After you’ve made the recipe once, it’s time for experimenting. If you don’t first prepare the recipe as written, it’s hard to gauge what needs to be tweaked. Jot down some notes. Does it need more seasoning? A few more mushrooms? Write down what you loved and what you would like to change. Then make one change at a time. Soon you’ll have a recipe that’s perfect for your palate.

News Editor Jennifer Harris is a gluten-free consultant and blogs at Recipe developer Elizabeth Barbone is a cookbook author. She blogs at

Summertime in New Orleans Recipes

This succulent spread features three classic New Orleans recipes sure to thrill everyone at the table, whether or not they eat gluten. Two of these dishes embody some of my favorite food memories of growing up and spending my summer months in the Big Easy, simply made gluten free. The third is inspired by the incredible bounty of fresh produce we have here in the summer months that you can find easily.

The bonus with these gluten-free New Orleans recipes is the low cost to prepare them. The chowder costs about $2 per serving, the po’ boy about $4 and the shortcakes less than $1! Please keep in mind that I shop around for the best deals and prices. These products I found to be especially cheap at my local farmers market and produce stand, so do try to find your local ones as well for extra savings. I also swear by shopping at Aldi’s, so see if you have one in your area.

Click on each recipe below for the item-by-item cost breakdown.

Summer Corn and Heirloom Tomato Chowder

New Orleans-Style “Fried” Shrimp Po’ Boys

Strawberry and Basil Shortcakes with Chantilly Cream

Jilly Lagasse began cooking as a child when her father, Chef Emeril Lagasse, gave her a set of chef’s whites and let her help in the pastry and dessert department in one of his restaurants. She was diagnosed with celiac in 2004 and has written two gluten-free cookbooks with her sister, Jessie Lagasse Swanson, as the duo The Lagasse Girls,

Photos by Jilly Lagasse


Better-for-You Pumpkin Recipes

Fall is here, and it’s time to put all those pumpkins to yummy use. If you crave the seasonal staple but don’t want to consume so much sugar, these recipes from Simple Mills present better-for-you alternatives. Made with nutrient-rich ingredients such as almond flour and coconut sugar, Simple Mills’ mixes are certified gluten free and contain less sugar than competitors.

Mini Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins
Makes 24 muffins

Mini Pumpkin Doughnuts1_framed

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil*
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 box Simple Mills Pumpkin Muffin Mix
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

* If using coconut oil, make sure that it is melted and cooled enough to hold your fingertip submerged in it. This is a good litmus test for a temperature that won’t cook the eggs.


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray or lightly grease two mini muffin pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in the oil and water.

Whisk in the pumpkin muffin mix and beat vigorously until thoroughly incorporated and no clumps remain.

Add a heaping tablespoon of batter to each compartment of the prepared muffin pans.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the tops are domed and firm to the touch, and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

While the muffins are cooling in the pan, whisk together the coconut sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl.

As soon as the muffins are cool enough to handle, place each one in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, firmly rolling it around so that the cinnamon-sugar sticks. Gently toss it around a couple of times until the whole thing is covered. If you’re having trouble getting the cinnamon-sugar to stick, you can very lightly brush or spray the muffins with melted oil or butter before you dunk them in the cinnamon sugar. Once covered, place each muffin back on the wire rack to finish cooling.

Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of A Clean Bake.

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Bread1_framed

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 box Simple Mills Pumpkin Muffin Mix
  • About ¾ cup cranberries
  • Pecans and pumpkin seeds for topping

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Whisk eggs, water and oil in a large bowl. Add baking mix; whisk until well blended.

Fold in cranberries.

Pour batter into a lightly greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.

Sprinkle with pecans and pumpkin seeds.

Bake 30 minutes. Then cover loosely with foil; bake an additional 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and edges of loaf start to pull away from pan.

Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

pumpkin cupcakes_framed

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 box Simple Mills Pumpkin Muffin Mix
  • 1 tub Simple Mills Vanilla Frosting
  • Cinnamon, for garnish, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Whisk eggs, water and oil in a large bowl. Add baking mix; whisk until well blended.

Spoon batter into a lightly greased or paper-lined muffin tin, filling each 2/3 full.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If using paper liners, let cool completely before eating to prevent muffins from sticking to paper.

Frost and garnish with cinnamon, if desired.


An apple-tizing meal

Apple dishes2

Hard to believe that we’re more than a week into October! Time to take advantage of the seasonal bounty by preparing a menu to delight everyone at your table with these apple-centric recipes from Gluten-Free Living contributor Laura Hahn:

I spent my childhood in upstate New York, which is full-blown apple country in September. I was lucky to have at least 15 apple farms within a 10-mile radius.

Apple picking was always a weekly event, not something we did just once a year. Our extended family came in for the apple festivals, and we all had a blast spending weekends at the orchards.

To this day, I go apple picking a few times a year. Something about the crisp fall air and the juicy bite of an apple freshly picked off the tree is addictive to me. I spend weeks planning what I will make with the apples that I bring home and then make sure to pick the right types for my recipes.

These recipes use a variety of apples, from Granny Smith to Honeycrisp to Empire. All apples are not identical, and each brings different characteristics to the table. But any kind of apple is fun to pick.


Apple-Stuffed Chicken

Apple stuffed chicken

Apple Carrot Ginger Soup

Apple Carrot Ginger Soup

Apple Canapés

Apple canapes

Apple Butter Sundae

Apple Butter Sundae framed

Spiced Cider Cocktail

Apple Cider_framed

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Celebrate National Coffee Day With Dessert!

Did you know September 29th is National Coffee Day? Take your celebration of java to the next level with these decadent recipes from Leaner Creamer, the world’s first natural powdered creamer.

Coffee Sugar Cookies

Coffee Cupcakes with Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

Leaner Creamer Infused Cinnamon Latte

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