The gluten free lunch predicament
Have you ever tried to go off gluten? It's easy if you're able to eat at home or have the budget to eat out in a nice restaurant every day, but if you pack a lunch, gluten free becomes a mid-day predicament. Going breadless isn't easy; there is nothing like a simple sandwich to pack for school or work. Sandwiches are easy, yummy, and fit into little Ziploc bags so that you don't have to carry around a big container of salad that, let's face it, doesn't fit into your handbag, messenger bag, briefcase or any other remotely cute bag that you own. Don't get me wrong; salad is wonderful, and half my diet consists of the green rabbit food. But when it comes to lunch, I welcome variety like a new pair of shoes.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, but also in barley, rye, farina, spelt, kamut and other derivatives of those grains. Gluten has quickly gained a bad reputation among the growing number of people with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, and others who have felt side effects including inflammation, weight gain or low energy. The number of gluten-free products is ever growing and I have observed people's immediate assumption that gluten free products are better. This is not always the case.
Gluten free products often replace gluten with massive amounts of sugars and syrups, and are often heavy laden with starch derived from potato or corn. They are typically a far cry from healthy. On the rare occasion where gluten free products are healthy, their astronomical price is enough to give you a heart attack, which definitely contradicts your healthy eating efforts. As a result, I stay away from breads and choose lettuce or collard green wraps, salads, and gluten free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet or buckwheat.
Should you go gluten free?
If you aren't sure whether gluten affects you positively or negatively, a sure way to know is to go completely off of it. There are tests you can get, however these tests have not proven completely accurate. I recommend trusting your body to tell you how it reacts to the notorious little protein. Eliminate it from your diet for two weeks, and then reintroduce it by having a big bowl of wheat pasta so you get a nice big dose, and then simply observe how you feel.
Gluten free lunch in a bag
Recently, I discovered that a simple frittata is easy, inexpensive and packs easily into a Ziploc bag. I usually pair it with some raw veggies and flax crackers. Here is a basic recipe, however, feel free to deviate by adding mushrooms, different cheeses, herbs and anything else that appeals to your appetite!
Recipe: Gluten free frittata
10 organic free range eggs
1 cup (packed) kale or spinach leaves, chopped
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop onion, bell pepper, parsley and kale. Beat the eggs until blended and then add all ingredients into the mixing bowl. Stir well and then pour mixture into a pie-baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
So, the next time you are ready for something different for lunch, but still want to keep it gluten free, try this delicious new recipe. You can even make it the night before and it will last several days in the fridge.