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Try These Tips for Healthy, Gluten-Free Snacks

Savor go-to treats such as smoothies, Garden Fresh chips and salsa, carrot sticks and hummus, fruit and nuts, or whip up a batch of Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

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 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 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 (vanilla and blueberry) and (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 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 . 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 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 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.

Lisa Gray January 19, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Thank you for this informaton, we are just learning that our son may have celiacs disease and are worried about our options for food since we also are on the run a lot to and from activities. I just spent about 2 hours at the grocery story reading labels and looking for different food options to feed my son so that he doesn't feel like he is limited.
Leslie Ellis January 19, 2012 at 08:05 PM
We're happy to help, Lisa! Alissa writes this column several times each month, so stay tuned for more tips. Here's a link to our previous Cooking for Special Diets columns, which you also may find useful: http://berkley.patch.com/topics/Cooking+for+special+diets ... Good luck!
Alissa Malerman January 19, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Hang in there, Lisa. It gets easier! I'm happy you find this column useful and hope you find, like I did when my son was diagnosed, that there are a lot of options out there.

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