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  • Jean Duane PhD
    Jean Duane PhD

    Strategies for Gluten-Free Snack Attacks

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    A good snack strategy starts with the resolution that you need to carry appropriate, transportable snacks that meet your dietary restrictions.

    Strategies for Gluten-Free Snack Attacks - Image: CC BY 2.0--Epsilon68 - Street and Travel Photography
    Caption: Image: CC BY 2.0--Epsilon68 - Street and Travel Photography

    Celiac.com 03/12/2021 - The thing that can break any diet, whether the purpose is to lose weight, or to avoid certain foods, is not having a solid strategy to deal with between-meal hunger.  Snack attacks seem to hit during transitions: right after school or work: when returning to the house from an outing: when passing by the kitchen; in the late morning or late afternoon; driving; when the phone rings… just about any time that’s not a mealtime.  Temptations for infractions abound when visiting friends, going to parties, or meetings at work.  Food is present at virtually every gathering.  

    Couple this random hunger with intolerances to gluten, dairy, soy and other foods, and your choices are limited.  The best way to ensure that you don’t go hungry, or deviate, is to have an acceptable snack available with you at all times.   This may sound a bit extreme, but when you are on a special or restrictive diet, it is very hard to get suitable foods without planning ahead.  This article will discuss snack strategies and how to be ready with some delicious treats when the urge to snack hits.  

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    A good snack strategy starts with the resolution that you need to carry appropriate, transportable snacks that meet your dietary restrictions.  This could include pre-planned foods for specific snack times throughout the day.  You may also want to prepare snacks that have a caloric maximum (such as 100 or 200 calories), to ensure you don’t over-eat between meals.  Another strategy is to integrate your snack foods into your regular diet.  For example if you have a daily fruit and vegetable quota, snacks could help fulfill this quota.  We all know how torturous rather than tantalizing it can be to smell an off-limits food someone else is eating.  If you know others are going to be eating sticky cinnamon buns, bagels or chocolate chip cookies at a meeting you could bring your own “look alike”, so you’ll be eating the same thing, but one made with ingredients your body can tolerate.

    Sensible snacking is important.  Some diets require that people eat breakfast, a snack at 10:00 A.M., lunch, a snack at 3:00 P.M., and dinner.  Doing this maintains energy and blood sugar levels, prevents melt-downs and promotes a sense of well-being.  Snacking also prevents over-eating at meal times and helps maintain an optimal weight.  Eating a snack prior to going to an event can prevent being seduced into thinking an attractively present food adheres to your restrictions.  

    Before we discuss snacks that require preparation, let’s review some naturally gluten-free snacks to remember when you don’t have time to prepare something special.  Dried fruit, nuts, cut vegetables, rice cakes, popcorn, gluten-free pretzels, pre-made bars such as those by Boomi and Lara, bananas spread with peanut butter, fruit leather, fruits in sealed individual serving containers, purchased gluten-free cookies and gluten-free salty snacks are all readily available at the heath food store. 

    If you’d like more control over ingredients, consider making some easy-to-prepare, tasty, portable snacks that fit into lunch boxes, purses or briefcases.  On the salty side, an easy snack to make is Ume Cashews.  Umeboshi plum vinegar provides a tangy, salty taste to these beautiful nuts.  This vinegar is considered a salt and is available at the health food store, or in the Asian market.  Here’s how to make them:

    Gluten-Free Ume Plum Cashews

    • 1 cup raw whole cashews
    • Place cashews in a glass pie pan and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 4 minutes.  Stir and bake 4 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and stir in
    • 1 TBS ume plum vinegar
    • Stir the nuts in the hot glass pan until they are coated and the vinegar evaporates on the nuts.  Let cool and serve.

    Cereal mixes are also making a come-back in the gluten-free world since there are so many delicious gluten-free options available.  Just find one that suits your taste (one with little or unsweetened works best for this recipe).  Here’s an easy, high-protein recipe to have on hand for hungry snackers:

    Gluten-Free Cereal with Toasted Almonds

    • 8 cups cereal (use Health Valley Corn and Rice Crunch-Em’s)
    • 1 cup raw almonds

    In a large plastic bag, mix:

    • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
    • ½ teaspoon celery salt
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon onion powder

    Place cereal and almonds on a baking sheet and spray with spray-on oil.  Then place the cereal and nuts in the plastic bag with the seasonings.  Mix until coated.  Place the cereal and almonds back on the baking sheet and sprinkle on 1 TBS gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (to taste).  Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.   

    Another salty snack is Cajun Corn.  This snack features corn puffs.  

    Gluten-Free Cajun Corn

    • 4 cups of puffed corn cereal
    • 1 TBS gluten-free Cajun Seasoning
    • Spray-on olive oil

    Spread cereal on a cookie sheet.  Generously spray with oil.  Sprinkle Cajun seasoning to coat corn.  Bake for 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven.  (These are great right out of the oven.)

    For those of you with a sweet tooth, consider making granola.  Oats have been off-limits to Celiacs, but now, there are a couple of farms in the USA that are producing gluten-free oats.  If you are wary of oats, or can’t get the gluten-free kind in your town, use a combination of buckwheat, quinoa and/or rice flakes.  These flakes are usually available in the health food store.  This recipe also calls for Sucanut.  Sucanut is boiled down, evaporated cane sugar and is less refined than other sugars.  It is available in the health food store and has a nice wholesome taste.  After you discover it, you might use it in other recipes instead of brown sugar.  

    Gluten-Free Granola

    • 3 cups gluten-free oats (or buckwheat, quinoa or rice flakes)
    • ½ cup raw slivered almonds
    • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
    • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
    • ¼ cup Sucanut 
    • Mix in a bowl.

    In a sauce pan, combine:

    • 2 TBS sunflower oil
    • ¼ cup gluten-free rice syrup (Lundberg’s)
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    Bring to a boil and remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Pour on top of nut-oat mixture.  Stir until combined.  Spread on a baking pan and bake at 250 degrees for 50 minutes, using a pancake turner, scrape up from pan and mix every 10 minutes to brown evenly.  

    After baked and cooled, add:

    • ½ cup dried cherries
    • ½ cup chocolate chips
    • Divide ½ cup servings into zip lock bags and you are ready to go!

    Who says we can’t have the taste of a popular peanut-butter chocolate cup?  And this recipe adds CRUNCH!  These will last several days (depending on how many times you have them for a snack, of course!) and they’ll make your gluten-eating friends jealous.

    Gluten-Free Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Corn Flakes

    • ¾ cup gluten free (Lundberg’s) rice syrup
    • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    Mix together in a pan and heat, stirring with a fork until the peanut butter is melted and the mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and add:

    Mix until corn flakes are coated and form 3” balls.  Let sit until firm and dip into melted chocolate.

    Dipping Chocolate

    • 1 cup of Tropical Source Chocolate Chips
    • Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Dip cornflake balls into the chocolate and let sit on a rack until chocolate hardens.  

    If you prefer something fruitier, try making these in your food processor.  They are so easy! They’re also a wonderful way to add vegetables to your diet.  You can use virtually any dried fruit and any toasted nut.  These need to be refrigerated because of the carrots.  

    Gluten-Free Carrot-Raison Almond Balls

    Toast 2 cups of raw almonds in a glass pie pan at 350F for 8 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.
    Pulse almonds in a food processor until chopped.  Remove 1 cup and set aside.  Add to food processor (with the remaining almonds):

    • ½ cup of carrots
    • 1 cup raisons
    • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

    Add the carrots and raisons.  Process until mixture forms a large ball.  Form into 1” balls and roll in the chopped almonds.  Store in the refrigerator.   

    The trick to succeeding on a special diet is to not feel deprived, and to come prepared.  If you have foods you like to eat with you, you won’t be tempted to eat foods with unknown ingredients, or foods that look appetizing now but that may wreak havoc on your body later.  

    I hope you enjoy these new snack ideas, and can incorporate a successful snack strategy into your diet.  When you make them, I’d love to hear your feedback.  Now, with all this talk about snacks—I’m getting hungry.  I think I’m going to have a snack now.  

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    I find Cheerios - plain - can work in gluten free recipes, they are good as a snack mixed with gluten free fruit, nuts & 

    various seasonings....... sweet or savory ......,,try adding things you wouldn’t believe would work well and you might be surprised to find a good tasting snack. 
    Always make sure every ingredient is gluten free. ( one of my favorite taste treats is to mix sweet & sour, dried tomato slivers add a good “mild sour”



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  • About Me

    Jean Duane PhD

    Dr. Jean Duane is a social scientist and author of Gluten Centric Culture – The Commensality Conundrum, which summarizes a nation-wide study on understanding the social aspects of food/gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. Additionally, she wrote Bake Deliciously! Gluten and Dairy Free Cookbook and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten Free Cooking Cookbook. Dr. Duane produced several spots for Comcast's Video on Demand, made television appearances on PBS and has been a featured speaker at two International Association for Culinary Professionals' Conferences and at the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America's International Conference. Dr. Jean Duane is a certified chef, has an MBA, and a PhD. A researcher, cooking instructor, speaker, and magazine writer, she won Kiplinger's "Dream in You" contest in 2006. Jean can be reached via alternativecook.com.

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