And to think, I thought meal planning and prep was hard when you're cooking for one. Try doing that for a whole family - especially when you have kids with different likes and dislikes and some with different allergies. Moms, Dads, and Grandparents have got their work cut out for them.
Earlier this week, I was tapped by the friend of a loved one. Her granddaughter was recently diagnosed at six-years old, and had no clue where to begin. Being the compassionate kind-hearted, and frankly (self-absorbed at the time of writing this) person I am had to help out.
Let's be frank here. I'm no PARENT. Nor am I a DOCTOR or a R.D. Shoot I'm not even a 6-Year-Old. So what do I know? In my defense, I've lived with an autoimmune disease for nearly a decade and in frequent communication with lots of folks with celiacs and gluten sensitivities.
So to help this concerned Grandma out - I went straight to the source (in this case "sources") for insight.
First order of business - I talked to a few kids with and without celiac disease to gauge what they like eating. Their answers may surprise you.
Fan favorites -
- For breakfast - pancakes seemed to be a hit with the youngins. Some liked putting fruit in them and others just liked them plain. I personally wanted to encourage them to eat them with chocolate chips - but I don't want any angry mom's out to get me. I digress.
- Lunchwise - sandwiches, rice and beans, and wraps/meat filled roll-ups were popular.
- At the dinner table - these kids like their veggies. Broccoli and green beans. They like to eat them with turkey burgers and pasta, too.
Important note -- not one kid mentioned pizza.
After going to the kids themselves - I went to the moms and dads. They informed me that really do try to offer variety but still throw in the fruits and veggies. They all were firm believers that food can and should most definitely be FUN! Balance in their mind is key. They weren't afraid to throw in a little chocolate or with Easter on the horizon - jelly beans.
When chatting with a friend who is an RD - she informed me that every kid is different when it comes to portion-size. She said as a general ballpark school-age kids should be eating in the 1400-2200 calorie range. (The more active the child - the more food, That and boys burn calories quicker than gals) She also pointed out that depending on the weight of the child you can also guesstimate the calories per pound -- (so 35-40 calories per lb).
So, with all of this knowledge I went to the drawing board, and created a week's worth of different breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas for kids that are gluten free and have the option to go dairy-free as well.
Here's what I got . . .
ONE WEEK'S WORTH OF KID-FRIENDLY GLUTEN FREE MEALS
- Scrambled eggs with spinach, ham, and diced tomatoes + fruit + GF toast/bagel
- GF Toast w/ Peanut Butter + Banana + Cinnamon
- GF Bagel Sandwich - load with ham/bacon + cheese (optional) + egg + tomato
- Pumpkin Muffins - try this 4-ingredient recipe
- GF Breakfast Cookies - My apple pie recipe is a fan fave!
- Nut and Yogurt Bowl - Cashews, Mixed Berries, Yogurt, or maybe even GF granola
- Popular brands: KIND, Udis, Purely Elizabeth, Aldi's, Kitchfix (its Chicago-based)
- GF/Paleo Pancakes - love this recipe!
- Pro tip - mix in fresh fruit into the batter for extra nutrients!
- GF PB&J (peanut butter, bananas, and jam) + carrot sticks + apple slices + raisins
- GF Sub Sandwich (favorite deli meats, lettuce, and veggies) + berries and yogurt
- Turkey Roll-ups + Grapes + Sliced Cucumber + Raw Broccoli + GF Pretzels
- GF Wraps with Turkey, Spinach, and hummus + bell peppers + cherry tomatoes + nuts and dried fruit ( nut-wise 100-cal packs are sold at Aldi and dried fruit like cranberries/blueberries/raisins are delish. I'd avoid pre-made trail mix packs. Making your own is healthier and cheaper!)
- Fave GF Wraps: Mission Foods are the only ones worth trying
- Hard Boiled Eggs + Mini Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and grilled chicken + clementine
- Tuna Salad (I love mixing a can of tuna with half an avocado, diced celery, and grapes) + carrots/celery + mashed sweet potato
- Chicken Breast + peapods + GF crackers + apple slices + peanut butter
- Grilled Meat (ground turkey/chicken) + baked potato + roasted carrots, peas, and broccoli
- Baked Fish (tilapia or salmon) + rice + black beans + corn + diced peppers + onion
- Zucchini noodles!
- GF pasta + crushed tomatoes/basil + spinach + ground turkey/beef
- GF Pizza Bagels with tomato sauce, cheese, veggies of your choosing
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash + Chicken + Peas + Asparagus + my Pesto recipe
- Salsa Verde Chicken (my easiest recipe and staple!)
- GF Grilled Cheese (mix it up with provolone, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes)
Did I miss any? What are your favorites to make for your kids? Share links and ideas in the comments below! I'd love your feedback!