Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Help! Does anybody have any ideas for inexpensive, child-friendly, gluten-free snacks? I have a new child in religious school who needs gluten-free food, and I cannot bring myself to provide one thing for the rest of the children and tell him, “You can’t have that; this is for you.”

Yeah, yeah, I know: While an estimated 90% of processed food contains gluten, most fresh foods — fresh fruit, for example — are gluten-free. We do serve fruit, but children also want goodies. And that’s all the time; not the now-and-then the health-minded adults make them put up with.

So far, we’ve had traditional Rosh Hashanah fare: apples and honey one week, honey cake and grapes the next, and pomegranate granita (and chocolate shofars) the next. (I made the honey cake and the granita.)

Now, I’m at the scratching-my-head phase. Make-your-own sundae with fresh fruit, gluten-free granola, and yogurt? Snack mix? Chex has several gluten-free cereals and a bunch of gluten-free snack recipes using the cereals. Including puppy chow. (For those of you who are out of the loop, puppy chow is Chex cereal mixed with chocolate, peanut butter, and such. But they’re calling it Muddy Buddies now.)

Recently, I got a package of a Mike-Sells product called Puffcorn Delites. While the package didn’t say it was gluten-free, it didn’t appear to have any ingredients that contained gluten. Just to make sure, I e-mailed the company and found out that it is, indeed, gluten-free and is even made in a gluten-free facility. In Indianapolis, yet, which is near where I live. I was even given a contact name so I can find out what else they make there. Gee, wouldn’t it be great if the place had an outlet store filled with inexpensive, gluten-free goodies? Although the price of Puffcorn isn’t too bad. Billed as popcorn without the hull, it’s tasty (addictive, even) and is only two bucks for a big bag.

Back in the day (like, last year), the parents took turns providing snacks. With the exception of the child’s mother, this year they are avoiding even answering the question “are you going to take turns doing snacks this year?” as if I were a malaria-carrying mosquito and they were caught without a net. It can’t possibly be rocket science for this group. I mean, we’re Jewish. We manage to cook plenty of stuff sans wheat (and other gluten-containing grains) for Passover every year.

“Ho-hum,” you say. “Why should I care about gluten-free food — or its cost?”

Because, I explain, if you have Type 1 diabetes, you’re at risk for celiac disease, which is a sensitivity to gluten, a mixture of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and maybe oats. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 1 in 10 people with Type 1 diabetes has celiac, compared to 1 in 100 people in the general population.

If you have celiac, ingesting gluten can damage the tiny projections in the lining of the small intestine (called villi) that increase the surface area of the intestine and allow for the fast absorption of nutrients. If the villi are damaged, many of the nutrients in food will fail to be absorbed. It’s kind of like pouring water on a carpeted floor versus a wooden one. Which will absorb the most water? The carpet, of course. (Or the mop you’re using to soak up the water from the wood flooring. But, then, our bodies don’t have “mops.”)

Back to my original plea, however: Please share any ideas you have for inexpensive, child-friendly, gluten-free treats. Who knows: You may be helping a fellow reader, too.


  1. Jan,

    Have you tried http://www.glutenfree.com or http://www.glutenfreemall.com? I don’t have celiac, but found these from Amy Tenderich’s site.

    Hope you find a great recipe!
    Best to you,


    Posted by Mark |
  2. My daughter, age 5, has Type 1 and Celiac. I also happen to have it, too. There are a few snacks out there, but they are pricy. Some suggestions include: gluten-free rice crispy bars (I like Nature’s Path), gluten-free brownie bites (I like Pamela’s), gluten-free mini-cupcakes (Betty Crocker GF cake mix), Glutino pretzels, fruit snacks (Kellogs or General Mills are GF), SF popsicles, cheese sticks/slices, apples slices with peanut butter….that’s all I can think of right now. Hope this helps!

    Posted by Jennifer |
  3. As you said, many Pesach treats are gluten-free. You can get potato starch year round, and it doesn’t take more than that, eggs, oil, and sugar (and in some recipes, lemon zest or orange juice) to make sponge cake. If I remember correctly, macaroons are also gluten-free, and egg kichel uses almond meal rather than any sort of flour.

    There are also a number of gluten-free mixes available in the supermarket. Look down the diet aisle or the health-foods aisle to find them.

    Rice cakes may be gluten-free, depending on their flavoring. You should also be able to find rice crackers in either the Asian food aisle or the health food aisle; these may also be gluten-free.

    Depending on whether or not you have to deal with peanut allergies, PB on fruit (apples, bananas) may be a good treat. There’s always chocolate (once we hit Thanksgiving, think of buying those bags of foil-wrapped chocolate “Chanukah gelt” in bulk — in both milk- and dark-chocolate varieties).

    Posted by tmana |
  4. Have a look at this site - http://www.glutenfreemike.com - There is a lot of great information, product reviews including Shabtai baked goods as well as a frequently updated recipe section that I use…

    Posted by Ken |
  5. Sam’s club has a very nice brown rice cracker that has such a great nutty taste. Cost around 8 dollars a box. Each box has 2 bags. I love the crunch and nutty taste. They are in the cookie and cracker aisle and the box is yellow.


    Posted by Judy |
  6. Have you tried It’s really great because you can enter in your allergies and intolerances like gluten intolerance in addition to your likes and dislikes. Then they give you back items that you can eat and more importantly find in the regular grocery store.

    Posted by Flora |
  7. Hi Jan,
    Dipping fruit in chocolate makes for a great and yummy snack. It’s fun and simple to make at home or in school.
    Funny, I stumbled on your question because I’m teaching a Kosher cooking class for teens tomorrow night and I know one of the teens is gluten-free. We’re making potato latkes, kale chips, hummus, dates with melted feta, and a couple of other things that might not appeal to the younger set. Good luck!

    Posted by Carol D. |

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