When our childcare provider told us her home is gluten-free, I really didn’t think twice. I figured gluten-free just meant eating healthier, which is something I’m always trying to improve for our family. Who knew most of our staples were not gluten-free? You can find oodles of gluten-free recipes on Pinterest, but I just haven’t had the time. Eventually, I will get to Pinterest, but I had to adapt quickly to create meals my one-year-old daughter would eat, enjoy, and not constipate her. (Constipation is a constant battle requiring a delicate balance.)
Here are my go-to breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas. Belle is dropped off at 7:00 am, and picked up around 3:30 pm each day, so a bulk of her eating is not at home during the week. No one wants to pick up a hangry toddler at the end of the day or play with one during the day, so it is important to me to find things that work for her.
Gluten-Free Toddler Options
I tried lots of varieties of foods. We landed into a rhythm she enjoys most and is quick to prepare. Toast with a little peanut butter and fruit. Gluten free bread can be tricky. We tried several brands before finding Udi in the freezer department. Belle likes the whole grain version the best. My husband could not get into gluten-free bread, so it’s nice it stays in the freezer. You can just pop one piece at a time into the toaster without worrying the loaf will spoil. We work in seasonal fruit. As we move through fall and into winter, I’ll need to get through a new learning curve of in-season fruit for a toddler with few teeth.
Gluten-free waffles are not readily available at our super market, but do work when we can find them. Our favorite was the Nature’s Path berry waffle. Gluten-free oatmeal also works in a pinch when I can find it.
Lunch has been my struggle. We want Belle to have healthy choices, but there hasn’t been time to try a new recipe and then bulk it for lunch. Gluten-free pasta has been interesting! A lot of it turned to mush in my pan, and I’m not saying that it was the pasta’s fault. Right now, brown rice pasta has been working for us. Just like the bread, hubby isn’t a fan of most gluten-free pasta. He loved the chickpea pasta, but our daughter hated it. While she liked the edamame pasta, we didn’t; that’s the pasta saga for our family.
Since the pasta has been long road, we’ve relied mostly on rice and veggie combos for lunch. This has been nice because I can make a big pot of rice easily (and burn-proof in the rice cooker) with little time/effort. Rice allows me to make the same thing for everyone, which I know is a mother’s dream come true. I’ve done jasmine, brown, white, and wild rice variations. Sometimes I add in broth to switch things up. Just like with the pasta, I add in frozen veggies with the rice in the rice cooker. I’ve also added in diced tomatoes and black beans instead of the frozen veggies.
We love these options in various combos with a side of fruit:
- Dr. Praeger’s Heirloom Bean Veggie Burger
- Amy’s Bistro Veggie Burger
- Dr. Praeger’s Sweet Potato Littles
- Dr. Praeger’s Spinach Littles
- Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbow Pasta
Sometimes I feel like the queen of pouches when it comes to snacks. Even though she only eats one for her snack, I pack a few options. Earth’s Best Yogurt Smoothie is an easy win with the Sesame Street characters on the packaging. Here is a list of her faves in no particular order:
- Earth’s Best Yogurt Smoothie
- GoGo Squeeze Yogurtz
- Mamma Chia
- Similac Go & Grow Fruit & Veggies
Our gluten-free journey is on-going. Overall, I’m really thankful for this journey, because it really has my family looking at the food we eat and finding new healthy choices. I look forward to learning and trying new things throughout this year. Maybe I’ll get to that Pinterest list soon. As Belle gets older (and more teeth), I’ll be able to explore even more. For now, I’ve shared what have become our family’s working staples.