When your child is diagnosed with celiac disease you are bound to have mixed feelings. It’s a relief to know what it is that has been making him or her so sick.
And you know celiac disease is easy to manage with the proper diet, even healing the damage already done. But in the same breath you may be panicking about what on earth you’re going to cook.
Keeping gluten-free foods in the house for adults is one thing. Keeping gluten-free foods for kids is something altogether different. Not only do you have to make sure your child doesn’t accidentally eat something with gluten in it, but you have to make sure the poor child isn’t going to starve!
We all know kids will stare into a fully stocked refrigerator and exclaim; “There’s nothing to eat!”
Imagine if most of the food in there was truly off limits.
That’s why you need to plan ahead. Creating gluten-free meals and snacks is not that difficult if you prepare yourself. Start by learning the basics about the foods that are naturally gluten-free.
Once you practice and perfect your label reading abilities, you can branch out into packaged foods with more confidence.
Let’s start by looking at a few simple ideas for meals and snacks that are not fancy, but that will certainly be a welcome sight on your child’s plate.
Easy Gluten-Free Meal Ideas for Kids
Here’s where you can go crazy with fruit, yogurt, and nuts. Forget trying to figure out if your multi-grain cereal has gluten in it. Dish up a bowl of unflavored yogurt with fresh berries and a big scoop of chopped almonds.
There are also lactose free dairy products to choose if your child is also lactose intolerant.
Scramble up some eggs and mix in cheese and veggies, then roll up into a corn tortilla for a breakfast burrito. Fried potatoes are another welcome change from a bowl of cereal.
As a matter of fact, your child may not miss the cereal at all. Of course, Puffed Rice or Cream of Rice cereals can be enjoyed. Again, be sure to double check the label.
Lunch or Snack
Simplicity is the name of the game here. You want some grab-and-go foods handy, but they still have to be filling. Stock up on lots and lots of nuts for snacking and for mixing into salads.
Rice cakes or rice crackers with cheese, peanut butter, or hummus is a welcome snack on the go. Celery sticks dipped in hummus is another filling snack or light lunch.
Have a bag of corn chips on hand for quick nachos with melted cheese and fresh salsa. Again, label reading is a must when buying anything in a jar, can, or box. Slice up apples and spread with peanut butter.
Or, better yet, put whole apples in the oven, stuff them with raisins, and bake until soft. And don’t forget popcorn. Avoid flavored popcorn; instead choose regular plain popcorn and add your own gluten-free flavorings.
When you cook dinner for your kids, you probably already make many gluten-free dishes. The trick here is to avoid as many packaged items as possible to make things easier on you. Use fresh citrus like lemon, lime, or even oranges to flavor chicken breasts.
If you like a crunchy topping just chop up nuts and coat the chicken. Bake on a rack in the oven and you have a delicious meal that is gluten-free and simple to make. Serve with a quinoa or brown rice side dish mixed with fresh chopped veggies.
Use corn tortillas and put together easy pizzas in a flash by adding your favorite meats, cheese, and vegetables, then baking until the tortilla is crisp and cheese is melted. Bake potatoes and load them up with lots of cheese and veggies.
Toss together some good albacore tuna with salad greens, chopped red bell peppers, celery, peas, and lots of crunchy nuts, then sprinkle with olive oil and red vinegar for a light meal on a hot summer night.
Dinner is the time to serve plenty of lean meats, poultry, and seafood. Once you learn a few flavoring tricks, there is no reason your child should go hungry or under-nourished.
The cupboards do not have to be bare in a gluten-free kitchen. Nor do you have to spend loads of money on specialty foods. Look for naturally gluten-free foods, learn to read labels, and be creative.
You’ll get the hang of this in no time, and enjoy delicious foods right along with your child.
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