Gluten Free Lunch Ideas
Thinking of lunch ideas, day after day can be daunting, especially if you’re having to make and pack them for the whole family. Here are some tips and tricks on how to build the perfect lunch, along with some great gluten free lunch ideas.
What is Gluten Free?
Gluten free foods and products have certainly gained popularity in the last few years—have you noticed? We wanted to take a minute to explain why this diet is so important to those who need to avoid gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye, that causes an autoimmune response in individuals with celiac disease. If eaten by these individuals, it can cause a serious damage to their intestines and can even prevent proper absorption of nutrients!
Importance of Lunch
Ok, now that we’ve got a better understanding of what gluten free means, let’s talk about lunch. Eating lunch is important! It helps keep us fueled for the second half of our day and prevents us from getting extremely hungry – or Hangry – which can lead to overeating at dinner. One study has even found that days adolescents did not skip lunch were associated with lower sugar and total fat intake, when compared to days when they did skip lunch. 1 Benefits of lunch time!
How to Build the Best Lunch
Lunch is really a good thing, but maybe you’re wondering what makes a good lunch? Here’s a little guideline of what you should be including in your midday meal: whole grains, lean or plant-based protein, and veggies! If you follow that formula, you’ll be full of nutritious foods and good to go until dinner. You’ll notice our gluten free lunch ideas below also follow this pattern!
Lean protein choices like chicken, fish, eggs, as well as plant-based protein like tofu, lentils, and beans are what keeps us full until dinner, so they are extra important. Compared to high carbohydrate snacks, high protein foods as a snack have been found to delay time for dinner requests, meaning they can satiate and prevent hunger for a longer duration.2 Chicken burgers, turkey roll ups, lentil “meatballs”, and bean chili are all great protein options for lunch. Ideally, you want one quarter of your plate (or bowl) to be lean or plant-based protein.
Whole grains have a lot to offer. They’re high in fiber, which can also help you feel fuller for longer, as well as improve digestive health. They also give you a boost of health promoting nutrients, like vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which refined grains lack. Try quinoa in your next salad or brown rice instead of white in a stir fry! Make one quarter of your plate a whole grain for optimal intake.
We know vegetables are good for us, but they’re also great because they can provide a lot of bulk to lunches without a lot of extra calories. Filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, like salad greens, peppers, broccoli, carrots, or green beans will provide you with many important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. It’s also known that those who consume diets high in vegetables have lower incidence of chronic disease, like cardiovascular disease.3
Gluten Free Lunch Ideas
Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad – This salad is an ideal lunch option! Because kale and brussels sprouts are so hearty, the dressing can be mixed with the veggies and packed in the morning and will last until lunch without getting soggy. Add in your favorite gluten free grain (quinoa, wild rice, or buckwheat) and some hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas or left-over roasted chicken and say goodbye to those 4pm hunger pains.
Chicken Stir Fry – Stir fry is one of our favorite weeknight dinners because it is so easy and fast. Make extra and have leftovers for lunch the next day and serve with brown rice to complete that perfect lunch formula.
Taco Salad—Tacos are always a hit and they can be easily made into salad for lunch. The homemade taco seasoning provides TONS of flavor. You can build your own taco salad with your favorite greens, extra veggies, and your favorite taco toppings!
- Medin A, Myhre J, Diep L, Andersen L. Diet quality on days without breakfast or lunch – Identifying targets to improve adolescents’ diet. Appetite. 2019;135:123-130. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2019.01.001.
- Njike VY, Smith TM, Shuval O, et al. Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight. Advances in Nutrition. 2016;7(5):866-878. doi:10.3945/an.115.009340.
- Blekkenhorst L, Sim M, Bondonno C, et al. Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Specific Vegetable Types: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2018;10(5):595. doi:10.3390/nu10050595.