What Healthy, Gluten-Free Goodness Do I Pack?
By Jill Motew, Founder, Zemas Madhouse Foods
I often get asked two main questions from consumers during in-store demos. The first, “What’s my kids favorite Zemas gluten-free baking mix and recipe?” Two, “What’s inside my kids gluten-free lunch boxes?” I decided to devote this blog to all the moms, dads and caregivers who are busily trying to pack up healthy, gluten-free lunches. I will give you the inside scoop on what’s in my pantry, my favorite go-to brands and how a healthy, gluten-free lunch void of refined sugars, gmo’s and processed foods is not only possible, but better for your child’s overall brain function.
The Madhouse Pantry
It’s taken me years to create a functional and healthy gluten-free pantry for my family. Due to the rise of several new artisan-inspired, gluten-free companies providing us with healthy options, health and wellness is now well within reach at the grocery stores. Grocery stores are using better labeling systems(ie. “gluten-free”, “non-gmo”, “locally made”) to make our shopping experience much easier. Make no mistake though, savvy marketing and logos can trick us into thinking that new box of organic crackers, chips or cookies are “healthy”, but remain steadfast in READING nutrition labels at all times. It’s your last line of defense at understanding what you are eating and where your dollars are being spent.
A typical school lunchbox consists of the following categories:
Here at the Madhouse, I have given that lunchbox profile a major healthy, gluten-free facelift. While my kids lunch boxes look nothing like a typical lunchbox, I focus on foods that nutritionally support my kids ADHD in the classroom and deliver them home to me after school with a even blood sugar level. Here’s a saying I share with my kids on a constant basis, “Your food should work for you, not you working for your food”. Below, I have outlined my family’s favorite choices in the above categories(Disclaimer: I have not been asked by any of the following companies to review or support them in any way, nor have I ever been provided any free product).
I have two go-to options for my kids, and no, I do not use white gluten-free sandwich bread that can be found in most grocery stores. The first is organic brown rice crackers with vegan mayo, nitrate and gluten-free turkey, hummus with sliced cucumbers or nut/seed butters. The second, for a traditional sandwich, is Arnell’s Buckwheat Bread mix which couldn’t be easier to make without a bread machine(which I don’t even own) and it’s healthy and gluten-free. This buckwheat bread has a homemade taste, is soft on the inside, crunchy crust on the outside and does not fall apart. I often make two loaves at a time which will last me the school week.
Of all the categories, the chips/crackers healthy, gluten-free versions has exploded the most. We have a few favorites here. The top choice for the Madhouse crew is Zemas gluten-free croutons made using Zemas Gluten-Free Rosemary-Millet Pizza and Focaccia mix. Now, even if I didn’t develop this mix it would still remain my kids top choice. Croutons are traditionally made for saIads and soups, but my Zemas gluten-free, healthy crouton version is incredibly good alone or dipped in hummus for a filling and nutritious snack. See recipe below. For other options I am drawn to the chips and crackers that are made using bean and chickpea flours that are certified non-gmo and contain some form of superseeds(chia, hemp, flax). Healthy, gluten-free favs: Beanitos, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Biena Chickpeas, Tiny But Mighty Popcorn, Ziggy Marleys Roasted Hemp seeds.
My kids love fruit and veggies-my only concern here is to buy organic! Add a cup of hummus for dipping with veggie sticks!
Not a huge fan of this category, but it is my kids favorite! I buy vegan, dye-free candy. This assures methat the candy isas clean as possible. Healthy gluten-free favs: Surf Sweets, Hail Mary Cookies. Tip: I buy bulk vegan, dye-fre gummy bears and make my own snack packs, thus saving money and controlling the amount they get!
Besides the obvious, water, I often throw in other options, such as coconut water and drinks containing electrolytes. Kids with ADHD need to stay hydrated all day, especially those who take meds. The ADHD meds often suppress appetites-not a good thing for a growing child who already wants to sleep all day. For this reason, I send my kids with electrolyte tabs that can be dissolved in a water bottle, or coconut water mixed with some fruit juice. Adding some sugar is key in the middle of the day to stimulate the brain and to make sure their blood sugar level doesn’t drop too low. Healthy gluten-free favs: any coconut water with pineapple juice or Nooma electrolyte water(Chocolate-Mint or Mangosteen).
There you have it. An inside view of my pantry and the secret to keeping the Madhouse crew happily fueled and me a happy mom.
Zemas Gluten-Free Croutons
¼ c. olive oil (grapeseed oil)
1 t. apple cider vinegar
1 c. water
2 T. pure maple syrup
¼ c. egg whites (egg substitute*)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a 12x8x1 jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and pour into pan. Bake for 20 minutes, allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and allow to go stale on a wire cooling rack overnight.
¼ c. olive oil
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. paprika
1 t. oregano
1 t. sea salt
½ t. black pepper
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cut staled bread into ½ inch cubes and place in a bowl. Drizzle cubes with olive oil and herbs, mixing gently with a rubber spatula. Spread out cubes on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake 1-1 ½ hours until crisp, turning a few times.
Tip: Store in an airtight container, great for soups, salads, dipping in hummus and send in zip locks for lunches instead of chips.
*Zemas favorite egg replacer is mixing ¼ c. water with 1 T. of chia seeds. Stir and allow to gel (approx 5 minutes)
©2013 Zema’s Madhouse Foods. All rights reserved. Photos and images are
copyrighted Jill Motew ©2014. All rights reserved