Mr. Bee has largely been gluten-free for over a decade because he feels better when he doesn’t eat gluten. I never had any interest in being gluten-free, but decided to give it a try once we had kids so that we would make healthier choices about food. We’ve been eating gluten-free for a while, which hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I expected because Korean food is largely gluten-free. It does sneak back into our lives in small doses when we’re out and about or at birthday parties (and usually it’s me), but we’ve been pretty committed overall.
Recently I also removed dairy from Olive’s diet because she was having bad problems with constipation. It really had a huge positive impact! Going dairy-free was actually harder than going gluten-free since there are so many great gluten-free alternatives out there now. Going dairy-free meant giving up cheese and butter — two things that make everything more delicious, especially for kids! But the kids are young and adaptable and have actually been eating better overall since omitting gluten and dairy from their diets. Luckily we’ve found some yummy gluten-free and dairy-free products that don’t make us feel like we’re missing out too much!
1) Plum Organics Little Cremes Rice Milk Snacks and Happy Babies Coconut Milk Snacks – To say that the freeze-dried yogurt melts are Olive’s favorite snack is an understatement. She can easily polish off an entire bag, probably two, in one sitting if we let her. Unfortunately they’re made of dairy, but Plum Organics makes a version with rice milk and Happy Babies makes a version with coconut milk! Olive is going through a very clingy phase right now, and when we drop her off at daycare, we just give her some of these and she is fine with us leaving.
2) dried seaweed – Seaweed is a big part of the Korean diet so the kids have been eating these forever.
3) fruit squeeze pouches – There are so many brands out there now — Ella’s Kitchen, Plum Organics, Earth’s Best Organics, Happy Babies, Peter Rabbit, etc. I think most of the healthier ones with lots of veggies taste like crap to be honest, but Charlie will eat them anyway. I only get ones that have some veggies in them and not just fruit. They’re a great way to sneak in things like squash or kale that Charlie typically wouldn’t eat (though he will eat kale in his green smoothies).
4) Envirokidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs – This cereal has always been gluten-free (it’s made with corn), and it’s absolutely delicious! I usually end up eating the whole box by myself.
5) Tinkyada Fusilli Pasta – I’ve tried many different gluten-free pastas made of quinoa and corn, but Tinkyada’s made with rice flour is by far my favorite. The kids like the fusilli shape the best!
6) grassfed organic ghee – Ghee is clarified butter that usually has the casein (a protein found in milk) removed, so most lactose-intolerant people can consume it without any problems. It doesn’t taste exactly like butter, but it comes as close as you’re going to get.
7) Applegate Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets – I always need to have some instant foods in my freezer that I can pack into lunches when I’m running late or have nothing in the fridge. We make gluten-free chicken strips at home that are absolutely delicious (we got the recipe on the boards!), but these are great when you’re pressed for time.
8) almond milk yogurt – If yogurt melts are Olive’s favorite snack, yogurt is Charlie’s favorite snack. There are several cow’s milk yogurt alternatives including ones made with soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk. We’ve been experimenting to find our favorite brand, but Charlie will usually eat just about any yogurt.
9) Udi’s Whole Grain bread – I’ve tried a couple of different gluten-free breads, but Udi’s tastes the best and most grocery stores carry it.
10) Pamela’s Pancake Mix – I’ve tried several different gluten-free pancake mixes, and Pamela’s is hands down the best!
11) Coconut Aminos – Soy sauce is an absolute essential part of Korean cooking, but it contains gluten. Tamari and Dr. Bragg’s offer gluten-free alternatives that taste exactly the same. But if you want to be completely soy-free, coconut aminos is made with coconut amino acids and tastes sweeter, but similar to soy sauce.
12) freeze-dried fruit – Charlie and Olive love the strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries and mangoes from Trader Joe’s. Since they’re freeze-dried, they feel like more of a snack than regular fruit!
Being gluten-free means that we eat lots of protein (fish mainly as that’s the kids’ favorite and they don’t like beef), fresh fruits and vegetables, and much less snacks. Oh and we could never give up rice! It sucks when it comes to convenience — I’m not going to lie. I spend a lot of time cooking. And every time I’m craving an unhealthy snack, I open my refrigerator or pantry and there’s nothing in it but fruit! But I think it has had a positive impact on our family overall. Both kids are eating better. Both kids are dealing with their constipation issues much better (I think they’re eating better because their constipation is better). And we’re all eating healthier overall.
Do you have any favorite gluten-free or dairy-free packaged foods?