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gluten free lunch ideas

I could really use your help starting a gluten free diet. My main concern is what I'm going to eat for lunch. I typically eat a piece of fruit and a frozen burrito (flour tortilla, darn it) or grab a sandwich out. I don't have much time to pack a lunch and there's only so much hummus I can eat. I know I'll stick with the diet better as long as I keep things simple. I'd love some ideas.

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  1. I'm going to list various components and you can pair them (if you choose) as desired...

    You can easily do brown rice salad concotions... Brown rice with veggies, beans, fish, whatever.

    Edamame is a great choice, alongside some veggies, salad, fruit.

    Greek yogurt with fruit

    Baked sweet potato or regular potato with toppings of choice - cinnamon and butter for the sweet potato, maybe broccoli and light cheese for the regular

    Make a pot of chili on the weekend and take to work with some salad

    Hard-boiled eggs (or just whites)

    Frittatas (make on weekends) in little muffin cup portions

    Possibly fajitas if the restaurant can be certain they don't use flour on their chicken or in thickening

    Rotisserie Chicken

    Sushi - sticking to sashimi, edamame, plain steamed rice - but you can't use their soy sauce - have to bring your own bragg's or gluten free soy sauce

    Couscous Salad - 5 minutes to make


    Cottage Cheese and Salsa or Fruit Salad

    Sliced Apple with Almond Butter

    ...so many options I promise!

    13 Replies
    1. re: Emme

      Fajitas are usually served with flour tortillas and coucous is totatlly out.
      There are gluten-free breads for sandwiches, but you can also just roll up your meat or use a lettuce wrap.
      For emergency use you could also keep some instant oatmeal and raisin boxes in your desk at work.

      1. re: Stuffed Monkey

        i have a gluten free couscous, but that's totally MY BAD for suggesting that... i forget i buy a special product!! SO SO SORRY!

        you don't have to eat the flour tortillas that come with the fajitas... i wasn't suggesting that! i was suggesting the vegetables and protein combo...

        1. re: Emme

          Often if I order fajitas I just ask for corn tortillas instead. They usually have them and dont seem to mind.

          What kind of couscous do you buy? How is it? I'm always looking for something new to try.

          1. re: julseydesign



            http://www.amazon.com/CAN-EAT-IT-COUS... (but this is out of stock


            Bob's Red Mill also makes this mighty tasty hot cereal that's gluten free and couscous esque...

          2. re: Emme

            Quinoa works well as a cous cous substitute

          3. re: Stuffed Monkey

            also, there's a lot of controversy over gluten in oats. i, for one, cannot tolerate them; however, if the OP is eliminating gluten out of choice and not necessity, then this might not be an issue. but for those of us with celiac, i know a lot of people that can't do oats.

            millet is another option instead though....

            1. re: Emme

              GF oats have become much easier to find, and the prices are finally coming down a bit, thank goodness! the original Canadian brands are still out there, but Bob's Red Mill also has them now - both rolled AND steel-cut.

              as far as GF grains go, the least time-consuming one to prepare is definitely quinoa...and don't be afraid to start experimenting with some of the other exotic/unusual ones like amaranth & teff.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I agree that you DEFINITELY need to buy the GF oats if you are going to try it. I have been so excited to eat oatmeal after 10 years without lately. I do find that I can tolerate the Bob's red mill certified gf oats, but I can only eat them a couple of times a week without reaction. Dont know if thats really true.

                Emme - thanks for the links, i'm excited to try them.

                1. re: julseydesign

                  http://icaneatit.com do you know about this brand? some good products.

                  1. re: julseydesign

                    Oats can sometimes raise your IGA levels so be careful. If you are eating gluten-free oats you should talk to your doctor about IGA monitoring.

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    yes absolutely agree, but "instant oats" are generally not gluten free :) at least as i can see it, i wouldn't keep them in my desk drawer... we have plenty of other options though, don't we?

                  3. re: Emme

                    Thanks for the thought, Emme. I'm the OP and I am doing this as an elimination diet. Not sure if I'm celiac yet, but I am not going to even walk the line of regular oats and the like. It's not worth the bother if I don't do it right.

                2. re: Emme

                  NO NO NO!!!! couscous is wheat!!!!! dont eat it.

                3. My best advice is to make extras when you are cooking dinner and take leftovers. If you are a no leftovers type of person, then you can make your own frozen food by freezing sauces or dinners in individual portions . There are many GF frozen options out there - Amy's foods, etc. I don't eat a lot of them, but have on occasion and been OK with them. I would rather my own food though.

                  Get some good corn tortillas. You should have access to Guerrero if you don't have any taquerias that make their own and sell them there. They warm just fine, and you can just stick in burrito filling. Nachos work too. I use corn tortillas for all sorts of things, from dipping to tacos, to a quick pizza base when I am in the mood.

                  I like the product called corn thins or a reasonable cracker to dip or spread something on. It is less messy than rice cakes, but since I don't like most gluten-free breads that are commercially available it works for me.

                  If you want to make some Emme has some great ideas. Cold noodle salads with rice noodles or 100% buckwheat work well too.

                  1. Unfortunately, in order to eat well, going gluten free does require a little more effort. I definitely second eating leftovers. Its what I usually do (especially because I like a hot lunch, and I like my cooking). It will also save you money. There are various gf breads out there to make sandwiches with (again doing it yourself) my favorites are the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse and also the Glutino bagels. Once you get into the routine, time is no excuse for not packing a lunch. toast some bread while you're getting dressed - takes 5 minutes, and leftovers packaged properly mean grabbing a tupperware from the fridge.

                    If you want takeout...soup and salad, just be sure to look at an ingredient list. Creamy soups are out. I end up eating lots and lots of salads when out. Mexican takeout can work well too - rice and beans, etc. Indian food depends on the region but is often gf too. so is korean food.

                    Eating GF is a great opportunity to explore other food cultures where wheat is not a staple grain. Hope you can think of it as a way to explore your culinary horizons.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: julseydesign

                      Thanks for the good thoughts, Julsey. I'm already a super adventurous eater, so it's actually making me a bit paranoid to think about having to grill (politely) restaurant staff about their ingredients. But you're right, this is a great excuse to eat some fun food.

                      1. re: Vetter

                        www.glutenfreeregistry.com lists restaurants with gluten-free items identified on their menus.

                      2. Starting a gluten free diet is really challenging! Good luck! The lunch combos listed here are great ideas - I use many of those myself. I have a really hard time with the commercially prepared gluten free breads, etc - just don't like the taste - so I often skip the bread altogether! I find myself bringing lots of leftovers, and some days,when I'm in a hurry, I just throw together a bunch of "snacks" that will give me plenty to nibble on all day long - yogurt, baked potato, fruit, single serve frozen veggie micro-in-bag things...and lots of salads! turkey roll - ups with cheese or avocado, a little chive is really tasty. Rice cakes/apple/banana/celery with peanut butter. String cheese is good too. There are lots of things you can just grab and go if you have your fridge/cabinet stocked well, and plan your grocery shopping accordingly. Good luck!

                        1. my good girlfriend is GF. she brings her lunch each day. She makes batches of tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, etc, and brings lettuce or corn tortillas to use as a bed, or a wrap. She makes ham and cheese rollups, cheese and GF crackers and fruit, and takes a lot of dinner leftovers, too. She often freezes portions of soup and stews in individual containers to grab for work.

                          Good luck !!

                          1. I make a pot of soup on the weekend and bring it in a Thermos throughout the week. I try to always make a soup that includes vegetables, beans or lentils, and a gluten-free grain. This could be something minestrone-inspired (with brown-rice pasta), something southwestern (black bean soup), or something Asian (tofu, veggies and rice noodles in spicy broth). I eat gluten-free by choice, and I also strive to eat dairy-free (except yogurt), AND I'm a vegetarian (non-negotiable!), and I do okay. For me, soup is my savior!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Jetgirly

                              I'm very interested in being gluten free by choice. I'm not really sure why you would go through that effort. I can totally understand wanting to eat whole grains and eliminating processed wheat for spelt or something. But i've been GF (not by choice) for a while now, and I dont think i would choose it. What were your reasons behind that decision?

                              1. re: julseydesign

                                I'm a Celiac, as are my grown sons, but our diagnosis’ were confirmed at different times and we have different reactions to gluten. I have gut wrenching, all out classic intestinal-flu like reaction, my youngest will have seizures and migraines, my oldest was diagnosed as high functioning autistic also known as Asperger syndrome. He is now a very successful technical guru but after ingesting gluten does not usually have classic digestive symptoms but instead lots of brain fog, heightened ADHD symptoms and terrible psoriasis.

                                A GF diet has proved to be helpful for some affected by autism as publicized by actress Jenny McCarthy for her sons autism. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/24/jenn...

                            2. We make enough supper for leftovers for lunch the next day and pack them the night before. We're vegan and I'm GF.

                              For store bought items consider TJ's dolmas, TJ's black bean and corn frozen enchiladas, things like snow peas, apples, grapes, peaches, pears, cherries, etc (in season) TJ's tortilla chips, TJ's rice crackers, trail mix (read the labels). Maybe even TJ's frozen GF waffles? Sunshine burgers! TJs and WFM have list of their GF products available.

                              For eating out, check www.glutenfreeregistry.com for restaurants in your area.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lgss

                                If you're stopping into TJ's, here's the list for their gluten free products:

                                You could pick up...
                                Yogurt and Nuts
                                Egg White Salad (in the fridge section) and some Tortillas Chips with an Identity Crisis (these chips are great!
                                )Or chips w/ Spicy Black Bean Dip
                                Some of the prepared soups could easily be nuked
                                In a pinch, Lara Bars or Think Thin bars or Tiger's Milk bars (I like the carob flavor of these actually :)

                                1. re: Emme

                                  Organic Food Bars! Vegan, Omega 3, and Belgian Chocolate Chip!

                              2. A friend of my mom's has a teenage son with celiac's and she's always coming up with new ideas what to send him for lunch. He's kind of picky, so she stays with simple things, but you can always spice up any dish.

                                Quinoa salad with black beans and sauteed spinach (for a kid who hates spinach, he loves this)

                                Tomatoes stuffed with brown rice/roasted peppers

                                Arugula salad with chickpeas, oranges, avocado, feta cheese, and a lime dressing

                                Brown rice pasta baked ziti with roasted vegetables

                                1. Bean or lentil salads are good. I especially like puy lentils and often make a salad to take to work with feta, spring onion and sun-blushed tomatoes.

                                  1. There's also a gluten-free brown rice tortilla that is supposed to be halfway decent if you want your burritos.

                                    1. I have two teenage sons that eat gluten free and they take their lunch everyday to school. I cook up a large batch of chicken tenders once a month. I bread have of them with gluten free brown rice bread crumbs (grounded up in the food processor) and I grill the other half. They boys will eat them cold with BBQ sauce or chopped up on a salad. I also make up pasta salad the night before ham cubes, peas and cheese with a homemade ranch dressing. There are numerous gluten free blogs that have great ideas. You will feel better eating gluten free.

                                      1. For a quick lunch, Lean Cuisine glazen chicken is gluten free...it's their only gluten free item, BTW. Also, Amy's makes several different frozen meals which would make great lunches at work--they even have a teriyaki rice bowl that is GF. Plain grilled chicken breast over white or brown rice, or over a salad is a good option. If you have a toaster or oven at work Bell & Evans makes gluten free chicken nuggets, strips and chicken cutlets--all delicious. Progresso clam chowder is gf...also, many canned soup options at Whole Foods (and probably Trader Joes). Trader Joes has jambalaya rice in a microwavable pouch--gf and also very convenient for work lunches. Chicken or tuna salad and rice cakes or Mary's Gone Crackers crackers.

                                        1. I haven't read through the comments, but Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks has some great vegan and gluten-free recipes....

                                          64 in all at the moment!


                                          1. interesting, vetter. i'm doing an elimination diet right now since i suspect i'm gluten or at least wheat intolerant (i seem to get itchy and break out after i eat large amounts of wheat). my lunches for the past several days have been:

                                            * tortilla chips with salsa, bean dip and/or guac (could also have with a ready-made chili like amy's)
                                            * cheese, grapes and rice / gluten free crackers
                                            * omusubi (prepare some white rice, pack a sheet or two of nori and your'e good to go; can fill with anything you like; i've been filling with kimchee since that's what i have on hand, but you could fill with anything you enjoy eating, including leftovers of almost any sort)
                                            * brown rice (make a batch once a week) with leftover stirfry, sliced leftover steak, grilled canned sardines in tomato sauce, or scrambled / hardboiled egg; slice a cucumber and tomato to serve on the side
                                            * smoked salmon and cream cheese on a lundberg brown rice cake (i really like this brand of rice cakes)

                                            I like mom22tots' suggestion of Amy's products if you want something ready made. I've tried and liked their canned chili. Health Valley makes a good, gluten free potato leek canned soup. Pacific, I think, makes a good roasted tomato / red pepper GF boxed soup.

                                            A wheat allergic friend of mine regularly brings sandwiches made out of Food for Life bread (which come in brown rice, almond and other varieties). The bread is a little dense and crumbly, but the flavor is actually very pleasant. Trader Joe's sells it for a non-unreasonable price.

                                            TJ's also makes a decent gluten free waffle. I've made "sandwiches" out of two of these with cheese and deli meat in between.

                                            1. I have been GF for 2 years and don't like buying a lot of the GF products (they are so expensive and usually don't taste that good! I make my own breads and pasta and encourage other GF people to try doing it! Once you learn the basics it's not hard!
                                              There are tons of great ideas here and I usually just eat leftovers...that being said I have a few fall backs that I don't think have been mentioned.
                                              Try having your favorite sandwich/fajitas filling rolled up in a piece of lettuce instead (this is a good fix when you realize that you don't have any bread! Or you can by rice paper wrappers (check the Asian section of your supermarket) these can be used and eaten cold or you can fry/bake them for a eggroll/spring roll type meal.
                                              When I really feel like a wrap I buy corn bread ones...they are usually cheaper which is a nice bonus!
                                              I usually make the biggest mistakes when I forget my lunch and try to eat out...it usually doesn't work out too well. So take a day and make (or just go out and buy from a GF supplier) a bunch of little frozen lunches. (Some mainstream ones with rice are ok) or make mini chicken pot pies, or pizzas. This way you always have a back-up if your alarm doesn't go off one morning!

                                              1. You can still make burritos. Try Sonoma's Teff Wraps, they're a good gluten-free substitute to flour tortillas. We sell them in Sacramento, California. I'm sure there's somewhere near you that has them too.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: melaniedawnGFS

                                                  Trader joes also sells GF brown rice tortillas which are pretty decent.