Keeping Gluten-Free Kids Happy

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Guest post by April Peveteaux, author of The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less

My life turned upside down when I received my celiac disease diagnosis four years ago. I’d never even heard of gluten or gluten-free food (although it was soon to be everywhere). Changing the way I had been eating for 30+ years was not really part of my life plan, but suddenly I had no choice. Or rather, no choice if I didn’t want to continue on a downward slide that was painful and potentially life threatening. Even though I was gung-ho about taking my new gluten-free diet seriously, my inner child was the first to react to this new diet. I know this because the first thing I thought of when my doctor told me what gluten was, was the fact that I would no longer be able to eat cakes, cupcakes, donuts or anything good. Anything!

This would not stand.

I threw a tantrum and declared that I WOULD enjoy delicious cakes and everything yummy even if I couldn’t have gluten. No one was taking away my comfort food! I was going to reject a cake-free life and move forward as if I was a normal person. I wasn’t sure how, exactly, but I soon discovered the world of gluten-free flour mixes and gluten substitutions and got right to work.

Admittedly, I spent a huge amount of time substituting gluten-free grains for the traditional wheat, and sorting out how to make gluten-free bread rise. I didn’t want to feel different from the other gluten-eaters in my house and beyond, so I worked hard to find the best options for gluten-free me. And I did!

It turns out I eat like a 10-year-old boy.

Pancakes and waffle were first, and success came fast and easy. Recreating my grandfather’s devil’s food cake took a few tries and a few different flour options, but by the time my son’s 2nd birthday rolled around he had a heck of a gluten-free Elmo cake. Cupcakes, muffins, breads of all kinds followed. It took me awhile to try pie, but once I found a great frozen gluten-free crust I decide to let Whole Foods do the crust work for me while I focused on the fillings. I was nailing this gluten-free baking thing and life was good. I was also about 20 pounds heavier.

In my race to replace my childhood favorites by substituting gluten-free grains for white flour, I’d neglected those healthier, naturally gluten-free foods that are also delicious and satisfying. Even ice cream was rejected because it was “too easy” and I could “have that stuff anytime.” Didn’t I tell you I was acting like a 10-year-old boy? Thank goodness I wasn’t making my own kids taste test every batch of cookies I’d attempted or they might have had the same side effects that I packed on. I realized that if I were going to be cooking for kids (and myself) I needed to adjust my idea of gluten-free treats.

Luckily The Tasteful Pantry offers a monthly Treat Box that will also fill your child’s snack jones (and mine, let’s be honest). While I’m just gluten-free, the Treat Box can also be tailored for the dairy-free, vegan, soy-free and nut-free. Perfect for a kid gathering because you never know who will be coming to hang and what foods might be harmful. The snacks are also healthier than a bowl of ice cream, with organic beef jerky, granola and allergy-safe cookies. Love it!

Don’t get me wrong—I still bake up a fantastic gf layer cake every Christmas, and gluten-free beignets are on the menu whenever I find a reason to celebrate my Cajun roots. But there are plenty of yummy snack possibilities that are kid-friendly and not packed with as many ingredients. Here’s a list of both complicated, and super duper easy gluten-free snacks for your gluten-free kids. (Note, not all are particularly healthy so mix and match to create a healthy balance!)

Go forth and make your gluten-free kids, and the kid in you, happy!

NATURALLY GLUTEN-FREE YUMS
Ice cream (with no cookies or cake pieces)
Sorbet*
Water Ice/Frozen Ice (whatever your vernacular happens to be)*
Fruit Leather*
SeaSnax Seaweed Snacks*
Purely Elizabeth Granola*
Perfect Bar (Almond, Peanut & More)*
Melon Balls*
Flan
Strawberry Lemonade
Berry Smoothie*
Nut Butter on Celery*

RECREATE THESE DELICIOUS TREATS GLUTEN-FREE
(Recipes found in The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet)

Parmesan Popovers
Breakfast Pizza
Ham & Cheese Waffles
Bourbon Joe Cake
Lemon Bars
Caramel Popcorn Sundae
Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake
Sugar Cookie Cheesecake
Deep-Fried Chocolate Cream Cookies
Pumpkin Pound Cake

*Healthier choices

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