More than a year ago, I went gluten-free for about a month to get some perspective on what it was really like for those who must seek out foods free of the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and related grains. I discovered a new way of eating, new recipes and a large amount of resources for my son, who has celiac disease.
Among my discoveries, I found an especially frustrating challenge was eating on the go. At first, it was a real issue. I went a little bananas, literally. Day after day, all I could think to do was to peel yet another crescent moon-shaped fruit. I needed to expand my horizons and eventually found that once I started to dive into labels and do a little searching, I could hang my old standby back on the hammock and dive into some more tasty options.
This week, I started to think back to those times when my 8-year-old questioned whether he could eat a granola bar during the morning rush. I set out to find a recipe so he could enjoy the same on-the-go snack his little brother, who does not have celiac.
I tinkered with a recipe from Whole Foods and baked up a batch of crunchy, chocolately bars. I made them with honey and coconut oil, as well as Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips. I cut half the batch into bars and crumbled the rest into a container to store for a yogurt topping – another snack option!
With a little planning, and skipping the junk food, the options really were endless. To this day, I snack this way. The following are a few snacks and tricks I discovered during my month of eating gluten-free.
- Find a local snack store: My choice was Sugar Kisses in Berkley for a quick scone or muffin. The bakery has many gluten-free and vegan options.
- Smoothie it up: Blend some yogurt with 1/2 cup of frozen fruit and milk (cow's or alternative) to desired thickness. I enjoy these with some Turtle Mountain So Delicious yogurt, which I found at the Troy Kroger (vanilla and blueberry) and Whole Foods (a large variety of flavors).
- Stock up on Soy Joy Bars: This is a perfect little treat on the go. Affordable and found at area Kroger and Meijer stores, I stocked up and put one in my purse if I wasn't going to be home for a while. Check out where you can purchase them here.
- Visit Celiac Specialties: Take a trip the the store's Rochester Hills or Novi locations and stock up on some of your favorite treats.
- Grab some Garden Fresh chips and salsa: The best local chip and salsa I can think of has only downside: I seem to go a little overboard!
- Carrot sticks and hummus to the rescue: Sabra Hummus is gluten-free or make your own. I like to dip carrot sticks into it because, as I stated above, I seem to go a little overboard with the tortilla chips. It also goes well with gluten-free crackers.
- Make some Chex Mix: Remember the classic treat? Well, buy yourself some gluten-free pretzels and mix a batch to snack on while on the go. I use the classic recipe, but omit the bagel chips and Wheat Chex.
- There's always fruit: A naturally gluten-free snack and it's healthy, too. Fruit leathers or fresh, cut-up fruit are good on the go. Just don't go bananas like I did!
- Go nuts: I stocked up on a nuts and seeds from the bulk section at Ferndale's Natural Food Patch then made little snack-size containers. But, be careful to wash your hands: Nut allergies are out there!
- Have a few go-to recipes: Make yourself a healthy snack, such as these easy muffins in a cup I wrote about during the holidays, and don't worry about the wrapper.
Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Derived from this recipe from Whole Foods.
4 cups of gluten-free oats*
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup honey
1 tspn. gluten-free vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Spread oats on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Allow oats to cool. Combine remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add cooled oats. Press mixture into an oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
* According to Celiac.com: It is now generally accepted that noncontaminated gluten-free oats are safe for a celiac disease diet, with the exception of a small minority of celiacs who may have an additional intolerance to Avenin.
Check back tomorrow for some more recent discoveries.