A slice of pizza followed by a chocolate chip cookie equivalent to the size of a small pet may be a favorite lunchtime splurge for the elementary school crowd, but unfortunately kids with celiac disease cannot be as liberal in their choice of carbohydrates. Celiac disease is a hereditary disorder in which the body mounts an immune response when foods with gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, or rye, are ingested. Since the response takes its toll on the small intestine, it can lead to permanent damage of portions of the gastrointestinal tract. The only treatment for kids with celiac disease is a limited gluten-free diet that includes foods without the offending protein.

Kids on gluten-free diets can still sink their teeth into delicious substitutes that won’t burn a hole through parental wallets. Here is how to keep your gluten free kid happy, without shelling out three times the amount for foods with gluten free labels:

Rock the quesadilla. When flour tortillas are not an option, try corn or brown rice substitutes before reaching for the pricier gluten free pack. Pack on veggies, meat, salsa, and avocado on a taco or in the quesadilla to complete the fiesta.An added bonus? You can also save on calories!

Flour Power. Baked goods do not have to be completely off limits. Try almond or coconut flour in lieu of the regular white stuff. Almond flour packs on extra protein and infuses baked concoctions with a unique nutty flavor.

Noodle alternatives. Spaghetti squash or rice noodles can make a fantastic pasta, especially if enhanced with a medley of veggies and sauces. Eggplant is a vegetable that also adds a similar noodle-like consistency to a meal keeping it gluten-free and flavorful.

Peanut butter rice cakes. If your little monster is free of nut allergies, spread a favorite nut butter on a couple of rice cakes, slice a banana, and top it with honey or a sprinkling of nut halves for an extra crunch.

Black bean brownie cups. A favorite brownie recipe can be crafted from a list of gluten free ingredients, including a can of drained black beans, a great substitute for flour. Use cupcake tins to make individual desserts that the kids will love.

What are some of your favorite gluten-free dishes?


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