Ah, the sandwich - it's the perfect go-to lunch for kids of all ages. PB & J, ham and cheese, egg salad (usually traded for something less smelly) - the "sammie" is simple, healthy and easy to prepare for parents on the go. But for moms and dads raising gluten-free kids, a bread-heavy lunch box can be a little tricky.
The number of kids who are allergic to gluten is on the rise. So is the number of kids who are gluten-sensitive. That means no wheat, barley or rye - primary ingredients for breads.
"It was a challenge initially to pack his lunches," said Emma Cech about her son, who has celiac disease. "Coming up with really good gluten-free recipes took a while and I have to say that my first bread recipes were disasters."
Cech's son, Colin, was diagnosed with celiac disease when he was 12 years old. Like most children who suffer from a gluten allergy, wheat-based breads are off limits. That forced Cech to get creative.
"Colin really liked eating soups and stews for lunch," explained Cech. "So I bought a really good wide mouth thermos and we would heat soups and stews at home and they would still be hot by the time he had lunch."
Luckily, parents have more options than ever these days. Gluten-free products are a multi-billion dollar business. And breads come in all sorts of wheat-free varieties.
Look for breads made from: Rice Soy Corn Potato Bean starches
Cech and her daughter also have gluten issues. So with pretty much the entire family in the same boat, she decided to turn lemons into lemon tarts. Earlier this year, Cech opened a 100 percent gluten-free bakery in Alexandria called The Happy Tart. She says parents of kids with celiac disease are always relieved to find her gluten-free breads.
"There is nothing wrong with having a sandwich (gluten-free) every day," adds Cech. "But with the insulated lunch bags and cute reusable containers, you can get a lot more creative and introduce your child to new and fun foods."
For those having a tough time finding gluten-free breads, there are other options. Like Cech says, sandwiches are not the be-all and end-all food.
Gluten-free foods Meats Eggs Fruits & veggies Beans Most yogurts and cheeses (read those labels)
If packing a gluten-free lunch box has you just as nervous as your soon-to-be kindergartner, have no fear. Here are some recipes that will get the school year off to a healthy, happy and gluten-free start.