It’s that time of year that we are all thinking about back to school. I have a celiac and at times, over the years, I have felt overwhelmed with the idea of school lunches, snacks, school activities, class parties, play dough, food’s class etc. Wanting my little guy to feel like he could enjoy things at school with his classmates, yet at the same time not getting cross contaminated and staying healthy.
This year, my ‘little guy’ is going into grade 12 and is over six feet tall … not so much my ‘little’ guy anymore! He really has been blessed over his high school years with a great community of friends, parents and teachers. He has other celiac teens in his grade and the principal is a celiac. The principle makes sure there are gluten free options and orders safe pizza for the celiacs on special days. I do realize that not every child has this experience, we are thankful.
In my opinion, my son also has a great attitude. He is happy with whatever he can eat and he is ‘cool’ with bringing his own food to functions and is not timid to ask questions and be his own advocate. Of course, at times it is hard.
This summer, this mama’s heart smiled as I listened to a group of teen boys talk in my kitchen. My son has a newer friend, and they were all sitting around my kitchen table eating nacho’s. The new friend looked at my boy, as he was munching, and said, ‘so I heard you’re a celiac and can’t eat gluten.’ My son said,’Yes’. New Friend asked, ‘If you eat gluten will you die?’ My son said, ‘Oh no, I won’t die! BUT if your crumbs touch my food …. I just SLOWLY die!’. The new friends eyes got big and then he said, ‘Wow Man! That’s not good. So, if I gave you gluten by accident I could shorten your life by maybe a year?’ My son, ‘Yes! Simply, try to not touch your food to mine. BUT if it happens …. and you feed me gluten by accident or your food touches mine, don’t stress! It’s all cool ….. I’ll just live a year less!’ They all laughed and carried on eating nacho’s and having fun. My mom heart smiled. It was a crazy way to explain celiac! Yet, the explanation worked for this group. I am thankful for humour and good friends. Hopefully you have some smiles with your celiac kids as they grow up as well.
Here are a few things we have done along the way. Hopefully some of the ideas help make food at school easier …
- When my son was in elementary and junior high, I volunteered to be the Hot Lunch Co-ordinator. I enjoyed the position and helping in the school, but I also ensured that there were safe options for my son and other celiacs in the school. It was a win win.
- We found that bento boxes worked well. The reason being, is his food was all contained and did go onto a table or anything else. I felt that they lowered the risk of cross-contamination. He also got in a habit of washing his hands before he ate to decrease risk of cross contamination. Obviously it’s also just good hygiene as well!
We like these lunch bento boxes.
My Teen Celiac Son also loves salads with lots of different toppings.
He loves this container & uses it often.
We put meat, cheese, veggies, nuts, crackers etc in the top section and then he adds it at lunch time. He likes the ice pack, as it keeps everything fresh.
- When my son was in elementary and junior high I spoke to his homeroom teacher and asked them to put a box of gluten free donuts, cookies or pretzels in the staff freezer or teachers cupboard. I brought in the product labeled with his name and in a ziplock bag. If another parent brought in cupcakes for a birthday or there was something special, my son could be part of the celebration. Now, he wouldn’t care and would just be part of the celebration. But he did care when he was younger. These are a few of his favourites;
Lunch and Snack Ideas
Our family doesn’t love sandwiches, but have them once in a while. I make bread and you can find those recipe and video demos at Gluten Free Baking Classes. If you don’t want to make bread, as sometimes I just want to grab a loaf as well! Our favourite is Schar. It tastes great not toasted. Their buns are our favourite as well.
Bread & Buns
We Fill Bento Boxes With a Combination of the Following:
- Pepperoni Sticks from Grimm’s
- Nuts – You can make your own trail mix with all of your kids favourites!
- Cut-up Fruit
- Ant’s on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
Our favourite Crackers are the following;
My kids love muffins in their lunch. My banana loaf I add chia to add extra nutrients. I have Muffin Video Demo’s to teach tips and techniques on how to make a great gluten free muffin, I also have a muffin cookbook that shares the tips and our families favourite muffins. Here is one of the recipes out of the book for you to try in your kids lunch.
Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
- 4 medium Bananas, mashed
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 cup Oil
- 1/4 cup Skim Milk
- 1 1/2 cups My 1:1 Gluten Free Blend or use Kinnikinnick's
- 1 cup Gluten Free Oats
- 1/2 cup White Sugar
- 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum If using Kinnikinnick's Blend omit Xanthan Gum
- 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips Can use Carob Chips if can't eat chocolate
- With a fork, mix all wet ingredients in a bowl and set to the side.
- Measure the dry ingredients into a second bowl. Use a whisk to mix well.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.
- Fill Muffin Cups with dough. I use a scoop to make it fast and easy. Plus, my husband is a diabetic and counts carbs. Each muffin is exactly the same size so it is easy to calcualte carbs.
- I put two to three chocolate chips on top of the muffins, before I bake.
- Bake at 400 degress F for 20 -25 minutes.
My celiac child really enjoyed taking leftover suppers and warming them in the microwave. It’s worth having a conversation with your child, to warn on how not to cross contaminate their food when sharing a microwave. Not difficult but worth a conversation. With covid, my son’s school removed all microwaves. This invention is pretty cool! Not only could your child take it to school and have a warm lunch … but you can take it traveling.
I do hope your gluten free child enjoys going back to school. As fall approaches, follow me on social media or my blog and I will share some recipes and tips along the way.