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.