I have been out in the wilderness this past week - in Washington State all 5th Graders journey to the wilderness for a course in Outdoor Education. We spent a few days at Camp Colman learning about outdoor survival, canoeing and marine invertebrates, forging new friendships and just getting down right dirty.
I have returned home with a ton of laundry, and completely exhausted - did I mention I was with 52 fifth graders as I describe as "kids with hormones who do not know what to do with them." So I am thankful for the following guest post from Ashley Koff.
Ashley believes, as I do, that the best way to live gluten free, is to live a healthy gluten free life:
Got a young one who needs a gluten-free diet or maybe you are following a gluten-free diet and don't want your kids to feel "penalized" by the food choices. Regardless of who needs to eat gluten-free, it can seem tough to find kid and parent approved options that are gluten-free and taste good and are healthy.
First, note that when it comes to capturing the full health benefits from a gluten-free diet, it’s best to choose the highest quality ingredients – this means organic whenever possible and non-GMO as well as free from any artificial ingredients. This also means eating food in its whole form as often as possible which provides optimal ratios of ingredients like fiber to sugar, and potassium to sodium content.
Second, beyond what we feed our kids, what we package their food in matters too. From what you pack their lunch in to what they drink from, try to skip plastic (or use BPA-free) and use eco-friendly materials for a healthier child, and healthier environment.
Third, to take the pressure off, remember that kids’ bodies need “eating occasions” not meals during the day – think of the school day as a series of “pit stops” (its even great to discuss this analogy with your child – that their body is like a race car that needs “pit stops” about every three hours). Also, aim for a balance of nutrients at each eating occasion – some carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat – plus unlimited vegetables. This way, with eating occasions, you can pack a bag of fun “sample-sized” items and your child can choose what they eat and when thereby further engaging them in their eating behaviors.
Need some Kid-tested, Parent and AshleyKoffApproved (AKA) ideas:
- Real potato chips – choose organic or baked – and achieve portion control by re-packing it at home into a portion controlled container or buying a 100 calorie pack. For nutrient balance, pack a string cheese and for a way to get in some extra veggies pack some salsa. You can also crumble corn tortilla chips (gluten-free too) into a salad and make a taco salad with beans, avocado, salsa, and chicken (optional).
- Nature’s candy bowl: create a trail mix from a whole grain gluten-free cereal (Nature’s Path Gorilla Munch), add some nuts and / or coconut pieces (coconut is not a tree nut so it’s ok if the school has a “no nut” policy), organic chocolate chips, and dried fruit (avoid dried fruit with sugar, try Just Berries or Just Mango).
- PB & Fruit: Take an organic, gluten-free waffle and spread an organic nut butter (almond, peanut, or sunflower seed if skipping nuts) and then place sliced strawberries on top.
- Quick sundae, everyday: grab a plain, organic yogurt and send them with their own toppings: organic berries and a gluten-free organic granola or organic, whole grain cereals (you can also use your trail mix here – see #1)
- Dip-it! Dips are a perfect way to upgrade nutrition and even hide in some veggies – if you use organic Greek yogurt you get more protein and less carbohydrate so it pairs perfectly with your baked chips. Make them in kid-friendly flavors (and even hide some pureed broccoli in there) by adding spices or blending with a nut butter and some honey (kids love this dip and it goes great with vegetables or chips). Homemade bean dips don’t just have to be hummus – you can make them from different beans and oils to change things up. And a lot of kids like pesto which can be a great way to get in some omega 3 fatty acids and goes with veggies, chips, and even can replace the yolk filling for yummy deviled eggs.
For more recipes, visit ashleykoffapproved.com or get my cookbook Recipes for IBS or The G-Free Diet by Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Ashley Koff RD
If you'd like to submit a guest post for this blog, email me at [email protected]