Lunch is really important…this noonday meal should provide you with a store of vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates your body can use to power through the latter half of a busy day. Many people rely on sandwiches for easy office lunches or homemade meals – however, the wheat, rye and barley flours in most commercial breads are off-limits on gluten free diets. Even fast microwave meals can be filled with trigger foods that aggravate Celiac disease, food allergies, and food intolerances. If you’re tired of the fatigue, gas, and stomach pain caused by gluten-rich food products, you may be looking for lunch ideas that support your gluten free lifestyle. By planning ahead and avoiding the dangers of wheaten breads, pastas, noodles and fast foods, you can prepare healthy meals that make you feel more energetic and alive.
Gluten free pizza can be a healthy, easy option for lunches. A slice of gluten free pizza can be wrapped in aluminum foil and eaten cold, or warmed for a few seconds in a microwave oven. If you’re not into making your own pizza dough (this can be surprisingly easy to do with a rice flour blend and a few other basic ingredients), simply look for pre-made pizza shells you can cover with your own sauce, cheese and toppings. Sliced hothouse tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a profusion of chopped veggies will provide you with a treasure trove of nutrition you can use to stay alert and productive in the afternoon. Balance your meal by drinking pure fruit juice, skim milk or some select soy milks, and adding in a piece of fresh fruit for dessert.
Gluten free corn tortillas can be purchased at most health food stores or larger grocery stores. These handy products are perfect for burritos and wraps – for a tasty Mexican vibe, you can fill your tortilla with ground beef or chicken, shredded lettuce, diced jalapenos, diced tomatoes, and a delicious, piquant hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot Original. For a fresh, citrus-y tuna salad wrap, combine drained, canned tuna with lemon juice, Annie’s Organic Non- Fat Yogurt with Dill dressing (or a similar salad dressing), tomatoes, chopped green onions, and diced cucumber. For best results, pack your wrap fillings in separate containers, and assemble your wraps right before you eat them; burrito meat can be reheated first in the microwave.
Now and then, you may want to buy a pre-packaged meal you can microwave or prepare with some boiling water – however, old standbys like Lipton Cup-A-Soup, Ramen Noodles, and Lean Cuisines may be loaded with unfriendly glutens. If you can find Glutino frozen meals in your area, consider checking out their Chicken Pad Thai meal -it’s fast and easy to make, and it’s chock full of a savory combination of gluten free rice noodles, chicken and spices. Conte’s Gluten Free Meat Lasagna is another choice that can be ordered online. Bear in mind that gluten free microwave meals may be pricier than their gluten-rich counterparts. If you’re looking for cup noodles, be certain they are rice noodles without gluten-free spice blends and thickeners.
Knowing what to avoid in restaurants can also be helpful – for example, products like chicken nuggets are made with fillers and coatings derived from gluten rich flours. Even fast food or restaurant salads may be contaminated by the presence of croutons and gluten-rich salad dressings. In order to get a safe meal while you’re out, opt for a burger without the bun, or a simple salad without dressing. Occasionally, an order of French fries, which are generally gluten-free, can be a nice treat. Most diet sodas, pure fruit juices, and gourmet coffee drinks (excluding creamy frappes) will also be safe choices when eating lunch outside of the home or office. Grilled meats without sauce, rice without soy sauce, and baked potatoes can be safe choices, too, as long as you ask some questions beforehand – your server may know whether or not certain menu selections are gluten free – don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want.
Lunches don’t have to be boring – they can be delicious, healthy, and filled with a diverse range of ingredients and flavors. Experimenting with new foods and sauces can be the key to staying on target with your diet. Splurging on a few special condiments, such as gluten free soy sauce, hot sauce and organic salad dressings, can be the perfect way to spice up basic meats, fish, vegetables, and gluten free starches. Spend some time perusing the aisles of your favorite local grocery stores and health food outlets – look for products marked with a gluten free label. You can find some interesting snack ideas to round out your lunches – crunchy rice crackers and cookies will make your meals more interesting and satisfying.