If kids weren’t already tough-enough culinary critics things get even more complicated when they can’t have gluten. Fear not as with our society becoming more aware of gluten-based health issues like celiac disease gluten-free options are finally being made more widely available and foods that are naturally gluten-free are labelling themselves as this to provide an easy guide for consumers who must avoid this product. Let’s take a look at three things kids love and how to eliminate gluten from these classic favorites.
Macaroni and Cheese
If you look at the ingredients of this all-time great comfort food the only one that contains gluten is the pasta. You have a very simple fix as all you have to do is use a gluten-free pasta in this dish. Once difficult to find, gluten-free pasta now floods store shelves with a variety of shapes and ingredients. You can find pasta made from corn, white/brown rice, quinoa, or a blend of these base ingredients. These varieties are even available in classic elbow macaroni and the corn and/or quinoa blends have the same color and nearly the same flavor as regular durum wheat pasta. No matter how discerning your child might be you should be able to find the right mix that is nearly identical to classic macaroni and cheese. If you don’t have a picky eater in your midst the 100% brown rice pastas are also delicious. While some of these options are definitely more expensive low-price leaders Aldi and Trader Joe’s offer great gluten-free pastas at even better prices.
Like macaroni and cheese, pizza only has one ingredient with gluten: the crust. Once more you have an easy fix by simply choosing a gluten-free crust. More and more restaurants are starting to offer this as an option and if you make homemade pizzas this is now an easy option thanks to the availability of premade gluten-free dough and crust mixes. The rest of the pizza is tomato sauce, cheese, meats, and vegetables-all naturally gluten-free foods! One word of caution about finding the right gluten-free crust is that it might take some trial and error. As gluten is the key ingredient that gives baked goods their flavor and texture items lacking gluten might taste a little unusual if they are not properly prepared. Before serving gluten-free crusts to kids you might need to do a good bit of homework to find the crust that most closely resembles one that contains wheat.
Another kid’s favorite are chicken tenders yet like so many other things, they contain gluten from the flour/bread crumbs they are breaded with. Luckily there is an easy substitute that is widely available and has been around for a very long time: corn flakes. If you go to the baking aisle of your local supermarket there is usually a section or bread crumbs and breadings, almost all of which contain gluten. Yet now among these options can find a box of corn flake crumbs, a 100% gluten free food. Just get some thin-sliced chicken tenders, bread then with corn flake crumbs, and presto-you have crunchy, traditional, gluten-free chicken tenders. Another great benefits of using corn flakes as a breading is they work beautifully with healthier “oven-fried” favorites like Southern “fried” chicken and fish.