By Naturopath Amy Hotz
Do you get lost looking for healthy, gluten-free snacks suitable for work or your kids’ lunchbox? Then you’ve come to the right place. Shopping for gluten-free goodies is a favourite past time of mine, and I’m passionate about educating my clients on how to make savvy food choices. As the health food industry booms, so too do the amount of products that claim to be healthy, but are in fact, quite the opposite. Here are my top 5 tips to help you shop for both nutritious and tasty gluten-free snacks.
Whether you are coeliac, gluten intolerant or simply want to reduce the amount of gluten in your diet, the first step is to get to know gluten. When you know your grains, it becomes much easier to find alternatives. So let me tell you a bit more about gluten. A protein found in certain grains, which include wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats or derivatives of these products, common foods that contain gluten include: breads, pasta, cereal bars, biscuits, sauces, processed meats and cakes. By familiarizing yourself with these foods, and with ingredients that contain gluten, finding alternatives will become oh-so-easy.
Giving up gluten still leaves us with plenty of healthy wholefoods that make delicious snacks. Remember that there is an abundance of foods that we can enjoy that are naturally gluten-free. These include fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, protein, grains and pseudo cereals such as brown rice, amaranth and quinoa. Pop these delicious alternatives on your shopping list as a friendly reminder.
If you take just one thing from this article, let it be this: just because it says ‘gluten-free’, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy; and just because it’s in the health food store, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Some ‘gluten-free’ products are marketed to look healthy, when in actual fact they’re highly refined, and contain cheap and processed ingredients. As with all packaged goods, it’s important to read the label and steer clear of additives, synthetic ingredients, preservatives, or any numbers.
My mantra for food is fresh is best! Try searching for gluten-free snacks with short ingredients lists, or no ingredient lists at all. Fresh seasonal fruit and vegetable make for killer snacks and are mostly naturally gluten-free. Crunchy crudités are a great snack when on the go and make a great addition to your kids’ lunch box.
If you are unsure of your snack ingredients, don’t be afraid to ask someone for assistance. While certain foods such as nut bars, deli meats, sauces and dressings may not be obvious culprits; they too can contain gluten. Be proactive and ask. If the shop’s staff don’t know, it’s best to give that snack a miss to stay on the safe side.
Quinoa is one of my favourite gluten-free grains. It’s full of fibre, protein and is super nutritious! I was absolutely delighted when I came across the delicious Quinoa & Co ready-to-go quinoa range. These handy pods make the perfect gluten free snack. The quinoa provides a fantastic source of slow releasing energy that will keep your feeling full and satisfied. I love the mango and coconut variety as the fresh mango provides a delightful tropical flavour.
I am absolutely obsessed with Quark at the moment. Quark is a European style of fresh cottage cheese (I think it tastes like a mixture of ricotta and Greek yoghurt). When made from quality dairy, Quark is a great source of calcium and contains high amounts of protein. Sweeten with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some fresh berries. Need a dairy-free alternative? Swap Quark for your favourite coconut yoghurt.
I keep a box tub of organic miso paste in my fridge as it makes for the perfect gut-loving snack. Simply add a teaspoon to warm water and enjoy all the probiotic goodness. I recommend the Spiral Foods Organic Genmai Miso paste.
There’s no better snack than crunchy veggie sticks dipped into a fresh avocado dip. I take a carrot, cucumber and capsicum to work most days and cut it up at my desk. Munch away on the natural goodness, and if you fancy something more substantial, mash an avocado with some lemon juice and Himalayan salt for a tasty dip. The avocado is a great source of healthy fats that will help balance your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling satiated.
These are one of my favourite gluten free snack bars on the shelf. Not only because they taste delicious, but they also include a simple list of wholesome ingredients. They are so good it's hard to choose between the Lamington, Banana Bread, Cacao Mint and Sour Cherry!
Do you have any healthy gluten free snacks you can recommend?