Ask Mira: Wheat-Free School Lunches

So, quite a while ago I received this question on my Facebook page from my namesake, Miranda;

Brain power is running low lately.. looking for some awesome wheat free recipes to cook for my daughter and for school lunches.. any ideas?

When I was a kid and I was a little bit sick, my Mum took me off both dairy and gluten. I don’t remember everything, just little things, like eating cereal with juice, getting lollies instead of easter eggs, and this banana flavoured soy milk I was obsessed with. I wasn’t on this diet for very long, I think, but I don’t remember it being a hard time for me, because my Mum made me feel special instead of weird. The best way that she did this is still one of my most favourite memories from my childhood; my school lunches (yes, the obsession with food started at a very young age).

555843_10152436324373029_1641565520_n

Mum would seperate my lunch into little compartments in my lunch box and she was creative and adventurous with how it was presented. Instead of a sandwich, Mum would give me a salad with a chicken drumstick, a gluten-free egg salad wrap, corn thins with peanut butter, and snacks included carrot sticks with hummous served in a little egg cup, a boiled egg, or a mini fruit salad. She was very clever my Mum. Because for all the effort she put in, I would be so excited to open my special lunch that was different and more special than the other kids lunches. I was about 6 years old at the time, but even then, I just loved my food and loved to be a different. I was also a very big fan of alfalfa.

So, it is with this beautiful and heartwarming food memory that I write this post.

School lunches can be hard. Some kids don’t like trying new things, or run out of time to eat their lunch because they want to go and play, and schools these days are nut free zones, have “naked lunch” days and often have canteens full of junk food and kids will always want to swap with the other kids and be envious of their friend’s lunches in a grass-is-greener kind of way. You want your kid to be healthy, but you also want them to fit in enough so they don’t have a hard time at school being teased by other kids for being different. So when your kid has an allergy or intolerance, what do you feed them within all of these constraints?

Let me just say, that I DO NOT have kids of my own, so when I give you this advice it is purely from a place of remembering what it’s like to be a kid, and hearing what people that I know who work with kids or have their own say. Because I don’t have kids, I am in NO WAY going to tell you how easy it is, because I just don’t know. But I will do my best to give you some wholesome food suggestions.

LUNCHES

Brown rice/quinoa/cauliflower fried rice – if you make this with plenty of veg and a little tamari (wheat free soy sauce) it is a delicious lunch, and most kids I know are fans of fried rice. It’s a nice, high fibre meal that will sustain your kids energy throughout the day. You could add chicken or tuna to this to bulk up the protein a bit too.

Quinoa sushi – I saw this recipe yesterday and I think it’s a good one. You can even get the kids to help make it the night before and give them the leftovers for lunch if you like.

Gluten-free mountain bread salad wraps – make sure you fill them with protein and lots of colourful salad (grated beetroot or carrot, alfalfa, sliced tomato, capsicum, baby spinach, zucchini, cucumber, mixed lettuce, etc)

Quick salad with lemon wedge & extra virgin olive oil in a teeny tiny tub

Quick salad with lemon wedge & extra virgin olive oil in a teeny tiny tub

A quick salad – Create a salad using multiple colours of vegies (at least 5 different ones) and different lettuce, and experiment with chopping up the veggies in different ways; grating, thin slice on a mandolin, crinkle cut knife, julienne, cubes, melon balls of avocado, etc. Serve your salad with a protein – ALWAYS! Chicken, kidney beans, salmon, tempeh, kangaroo, egg, turkey, chickpeas, quinoa, lamb. And don’t forget to dress it (you can put this in a teeny tiny container to stop the salad from going soggy). I like extra virgin olive oil and a wedge of lemon, myself.

– Fritters – I am a huge fan of fritters! Zucchini fritters, salmon fritters, carrot and beetroot fritters, quinoa fritters, buckwheat fritters, prawn fritters, chicken fritters, the list goes on! Look yourself up a recipe (or try my coriander fish cakes) and serve them with a yummy yoghurt, cucumber and mint sauce, homemade satay sauce, hummus, or guacamole in a little pot (or egg cup =) ), and some salad – yummo!

Frittata/Zucchini Slice – Oh man, do I love me a good frittata! Filled with lots of veg, easy to make, high in protein and always delicious, frittata and zucchini slice are a great, quick recipe you can whip up the night before and slice up to put straight into a lunch box. They don’t need to be made with a pastry, so you don’t have to worry about wheat, and the way I make mine is just to whip up the eggs, no cream, no milk, no cheese, so it’s easily dairy free. I love filling mine with tomato, spring onion, zucchini, grated carrot or sweet potato, herbs (parsley, dill, chives, basil, coriander), capsicum, and sometimes I throw in a tin of salmon (great way to get in the omega3s) or some leftover shredded chicken & a little salt and pepper.

SNACKS

Chia pudding – if you make my recipe, you could easily split the serves into 2 to make a good little snack size for the kids. It’s full of omega-3s, fibre and calcium, and tastes sweet without any sugar because of the yummy fruit added. If you don’t have access to coyo, try almond milk or coconut milk for just as yummy a result (or regular yoghurt if your kids can tolerate dairy).

Veggie sticks and dip – an oldie, but a goodie, veggie sticks are fresh and crunchy, and you can guarantee the ingredients in the dip if you make your own. Below is my recipe for a Dairy-free pesto. The recipe makes so much that you can easily freeze the leftovers for other days. Other dips you could try: beetroot, eggplant, avocado (guacamole), pumpkin, flavoured hummus (sweet potato, beetroot, spinach, pumpkin). It is hard to find supermarket brands that don’t have additives in them, so it is best to just make your own – they taste so much better that way anyway!

Celery sticks  & strawberries getting cozy in a compartment

Celery sticks & strawberries getting cozy in a compartment

Healthy ANZAC Biscuits – If you’re child loves baked treats, my recipe for healthy ANZACS is full of protein and fibre and fairly easy to bake, not to mention DELICIOUS!! See below

Bliss balls – bliss balls are great fun for the kids to help make, and they taste so delicious, but are very filling, so you know your kids aren’t going to be gorging themselves on them, but still get a chocolatey treat – my recipe for these is also below.

Fruit – fruit is a simple one to give the kids but sometimes kids can still be picky – I know I still struggle to eat fruit at times, even though every time I do, I think to myself, “You’re so silly Mira, this is DELICIOUS!” My tip for this then is to make fruit fun and accessible! Whether it’s making up a mini fresh fruit salad, pre-preparing the fruits (such as, cutting the tops of strawberries and chopping them into chunks), and getting the kids to choose the fruit they want to eat so that they feel involved. As with veggies, the more bright colours, the better! Kiwi, berries, red grapes, nectarines, plums, apricots, apples, oranges, banana, starfruit, papaya, mango, pineapple, melons, the list goes on! For the best tasting and highest nutrients in your fruit, be sure to buy fruit that is in season! If you aren’t sure, This link is a Victorian guide and this link is a Queensland guide to what is in season when.

Mixed nuts with dried fruit – raw or activated nuts and seeds with sulphur-free dried fruits such as Woolworths Macro Turkish Apricots (chopped into smaller chunks) goji berries, dried blueberries, sultanas. If you’d like to give the kids a little treat (and you feel they will still eat the rest if you do this) you could throw in some dark chocolate goji or blueberries (in the health food section of the supermarket).You could also add seeds, like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, for more colour and mineral content.

Boiled egg – As simple as it sounds, eggs are an incredibly nutritious food source (see the egg section of my post, here) are easy to prepare (place in pot of cold water, bring to boil, boil for 4 minutes, cool, peel) and are a savoury alternative for the kid who doesn’t have a sweet tooth.

Yoghurt – Either pot set natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt are great snacks. To give it extra flavour, antioxidants and keep it cool, chuck in a handful of frozen berries and a tiny drizzle of honey for sweetness, if they aren’t a fan of the tang. Even some chopped raw nuts or seeds go great with the fruit too.

Recipes

Dairy-free Pesto

INGREDIENTS

1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cup fresh spinach
½ cup raw or activated almonds
2 cloves garlic
Juice of ½ lemon
2tbl extra virgin olive oil
1tsp Himalayan salt/sea salt/Murray River pink salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until finely chopped.
Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days (or freeze in batches).
Enjoy this dip with vegetable sticks, brown rice crackers, plain corn chips, pumpernickel toast, as a topping for chicken, extra flavour in a wrap, or as a tasty salad dressing.

Healthy ANZAC biscuits

Healthy ANZAC biscuits

Healthy ANZAC Biscuits

These guys are adapted from a Lorna Jane Move Nourish Believe Recipe, and are really scrumptious. I made a batch today for my last clinics of the semester, and they went down A TREAT!!
Each biscuit is 190.44 calories (797.35 kJ), contains 5.84mg folate, 24mg calcium, 110mg potassium, and 6.57g saturated fat.

INGREDIENTS

250g raw nuts (ground in a blender/food processor, etc)
2 cup rolled oats or muesli
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup slippery elm
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 cup coconut oil/butter
1/4 cup hot water
4 tbl honey

Mix together your raw nuts, oats/muesli, coconut and slippery elm in one bowl. In a separate bowl, add bi-carb, coconut oil/butter, hot water and honey and mix until combined and foamy. Add to dry ingredients. Separate into 24 balls and squish each into a biscuit shape on a baking tray. Bake for 12 mins on 150 degree celsius oven or until golden brown.

Christmas Bliss Balls

Christmas Bliss Balls

Bliss Balls

This particular recipe is one I made up for Christmas one year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have them all year round! If you like you can omit the raw chocolate chunks and substitute the powdered ginger and cinnamon for raw cacao, which would make them like the little chocolate “rum balls” someone always makes at a party.

YOU WILL NEED

1x large bowl
1x cooking scales
1x blender/food processor
1x chopping board
1x large plate/container
1x metal spoon

INGREDIENTS

300g mixed raw nuts (almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts)
150g fresh dates
1tsp powdered ginger
2tsp powdered cinnamon
1tbl honey
50g raw chocolate pieces, roughly chopped
Desiccated coconut or crushed raw pistachio nuts, for rolling
2-3tbl water, if needed

DIRECTIONS

Place your mixed nuts in a blender and blend until resembles almond meal or breadcrumbs. It’s ok if there are a couple of chunky nuts. Pour into your large bowl.
Place your dates into the blender and blend until well crushed. Pour into your large bowl.
Add ginger, cinnamon, raw chocolate chunks and syrup to dates and nuts and mix well. If your mixture feels dry, add water and stir, 1tbl at a time. You should be able to easily roll your mixture into a ball without it falling apart.
Spread your crushed pistachios and/or coconut onto a chopping board.
Take 1 scoop of mixture at a time and roll it into a ball (a little smaller than the size of a golf ball) with the palms of your hands. Roll this in the pistachios/coconut and place onto a plate (or a container). Repeat until all the mixture is gone.

You may like to add some red to your Bliss Balls by decorating with goji berries.

Coconut yoghurt snuggling up to the boiled eggs for my salad in another compartment. This lunchbox is from Nude Food Movers

Coconut yoghurt snuggling up to the boiled eggs for my salad in another compartment. This lunchbox is from Nude Food Movers

DON’T FORGET

WATER

Kids need water every day. Not only does it help to regulate their body’s temperature, it helps their brain function and prevents constipation, among many other important functions. If you can, go for filtered water and always give them a drink bottle that is easy to open so that they can easily refill it at school. If they don’t particularly like water, you can change the taste by adding strawberries, lemon, lime, mint or any other herb or fruit they enjoy. Much better for them than cordial, soft drinks or juice!

LUNCHBOX

A really functional lunchbox that is airtight, has multiple compartments and is easy for a child to use is the key to this sort of lunch approach. Especially good if you can get one of those insulated ones with an ice pack to keep things cool in summer.

For the lunchbox featured in this post, check out Nude Food Movers.

So please let me know what you think of my guide, and whether or not it was helpful. I’d love to hear if at least one of these ideas is helpful, and if the kids like them.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Ask Mira: Wheat-Free School Lunches

  1. Oh wow Miranda thank you so much for posting this! We may have to eliminate wheat and dairy at least temporarily for the kids and you have inspired me not to just get through that time, but to make it special. Your mum rocks my socks. ❤ Love your writing.

    Like

Thanks for reading my blog. I love receiving comments, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s