Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kids and Celiac's Disease

One of my good friends forwarded a link to a touching blog post by the cute lady that wrote the Year of Slow Cooking blog. Her name is Stephanie O'Dea, and she wrote this post on her other blog called Totally Together Journal. It was about her struggle with going through the diagnosis of her then two year old daughter with celiac's disease. Her daughter is the only one in her family that has celiac's disease and she has decided to go completely gluten free at home to make it easier on her daughter to stay healthy. It got me thinking: there are so many parents out there who have struggled with the same feelings. It is so heart wrenching to watch our children suffer in any capacity, but when it is something as life-changing as celiac's disease, it's twice as difficult because we as parents have to do the worrying about the food for them. It's hard enough to worry about yourself, but when there's a toddler who'll put anything into their mouths, you may as well check yourself into a looney bin. So today we are going to talk about gluten free kid food.

After having five children, I've learned a few things about what makes a meal something they want to eat. They want fun. They want shapes. They want stuff they can dip into other stuff. Most of them love fruit. And they all love a sweet treat as a reward for eating the healthy stuff.

Most of the menu items I've put together are for lunches. I simply hate lunch. My kids hate to stop what they're doing and eat lunch. So I try to make it fun so that all of us are excited about it. Breakfast isn't too hard with celiac kids. Lots of mainstream cereals like Trix, Chex, Honeycomb, Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, and Crunch Berries are gluten free, although pretty sugary, you can get away with them a few days a week. There's Yoplait yogurts. Then there's your basic scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage. Hash browns come to mind, and Van's has a great wheat free toaster waffle. But lunch? Lunch is hard. Kids want macaroni and cheese, and unless you have two hours to make it yourself, you may not be able to deliver that one. They want chicken nuggets and sandwiches and noodles. Some of those we can deliver on.

Meal Idea #1:
Lunchmeat Rolls with Cheese cubes
Fruity Pebble treat

These are so fun. You just pick up your toothpick and pop it in your mouth. These are great for boys who like to be pirates or Jedi Masters. All you do is slice three pieces of turkey or ham into strips and roll up. I cut up a Sticksters Cheese stick into cubes. And when you're done with your turkey rolls, you can stab your grapes. This also works with whole black olives. The recipe for the cereal treats is here. You can use any gluten free cereal with this recipe. Some work better than others, but you can always experiment. I always mix Fruity Pebbles with Erewhon Rice Krispies because then they aren't as sugary.

Meal Idea #2:
Peanut Butter and Jelly heart
Kinnitoo Oreos

I really love the Grandpa's Kitchen Bread Mix. I finally figured it out here. Take two slices about 1/2" thick, spread with peanut butter and their favorite jam. I always use a cookie cutter to cut my kids' sandwiches. They love the shapes and you can get really creative. I also always use jam because it seems healthier. It's not, but it sure seems like it. We've had jam toes, jam bones, jam letters and numbers, and jam dinosaurs. And those cookies? Hi, I've died and gone to gluten free oreo heaven.

Meal Idea #3:

Ian's Chicken Nuggets with Hunt's Barbeque sauce
Curly Cheetos (Technically, they're Cheetos Twists, but who's keeping track?)
Sliced Pears

I really like the Ian's brand Chicken Nuggets and Fish Sticks myself, so sometimes it's hard for me to share them! They don't have exactly the same texture as McDonald's chicken nuggets, but I'm okay with that. I like the different taste. And three of my five children will eat them, so that has to mean something. Don't forget the saintly people at Hunt's who make gluten free barbeque sauce. Kids love the shapes of these Cheetos, and if you have a child who has a problem with constipation, give them some pears whenever you can. Pears keep it moving.

Meal Idea #4:

Cheesy Corn Tortilla triangles with salsa
Baby Carrots
Mi-Del Ginger Snaps

You've gotta love the versatile corn tortilla. I just put shredded cheese between two tortillas, melt it in the microwave for about a minute, and cut them into triangles with a pizza cutter. The kids love that. Another great dip for this would be a gluten free ranch dressing. They might like the taste of that with both the carrots and the triangles. And I've gotta say, those ginger snaps got me through two pregnancies, so they hold a special place in my stomach.
Meal Idea #5:

Open Face Tuna circle
Mi-Del Arrowroot Animal cookies

I don't know how many kids out there actually like tuna, and I really don't know how many like pickle relish, but I couldn't resist this cute little face. I have one child who has loved tuna sandwiches since she was two, so it could happen. I simply take a piece of the Grandpa's Kitchen Bread, toast it twice so it's nice and crispy, cut it with a circle cookie cutter, and put my tuna/mayonnaisse mixture on top of it. This is a great meal for when you only have one piece of gluten free bread left! And these cute little fruit bowls are so great for kids. They love having their own little container to eat from. I usually drain a little juice out of them first so I don't have a juice spill all over the table. And don't forget the animal crackers!

If you have the time, you can always cook up some Tinkyada noodles for them and add a little butter and parmesan cheese, or leftover marinara sauce, if that's their style. Add some raw broccoli on the side and ranch to dip it in, and you have a full on meal. I hope this has given the parents of celiac children some ideas and options to help broaden your lunch and dinner choices for these little ones. Who knows? They may become some of your favorites, too! Happy eating!

1 comment:

  1. You know that gluten free extravaganza I went to? I discovered Mi-Del Ginger Snaps. OMG - so good and gingery! They'd get me through two pregnancies too... if I were so inclined. YUM!


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