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From Breakfast to Dinner: Healthy Gluten-Free Foods for Kids

Feeding kids is a constant challenge, and when a gluten allergy is added to the mix, your search history quickly fills up with “gluten-free snacks for kids,” “gluten-free meals for kids,” and 12 other versions of “what gluten-free foods actually taste good?”

If this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place!

Navigating food allergies can be stressful, and a gluten-free diet might seem overwhelming at first. But don’t worry—I’m here to help!

In this post, I’ll share a variety of delicious gluten-free ideas for kids, ensuring they can enjoy healthy snacks and meals without gluten. Let’s make gluten-free living easy and enjoyable for your family!

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

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Gluten-free breakfasts

We all know breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. I love to get a good mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats in at breakfast so your little one has energy to take on the day.

While eggo waffles and pop tarts are out, there’s so many other kid-friendly options that your little one will barely miss their old faves.

gluten free cheerios blueberries and banana with coffee on table

Gluten-free cereal

Even though many cereals are made with regular flour, there are also several gluten-free choices widely available!

Some of my favorite gluten-free cereals are:

  • Cheerios
  • Rice Chex
  • Corn Chex
  • Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise
  • Three Wishes
  • Seven Sundays
  • Lovebird

Gluten-free hot (and cold!) breakfasts

Other non-cereal, gluten-free breakfast options are:

  • Oatmeal bowls (made with certified gluten-free oats)- you can top with any toppings you like: fruit, nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, a dollop of yogurt, etc.
  • Eggs in any form- scrambled, fried, hard-boiled- however your family likes them!
  • Gluten-free toast/bagel with toppings of choice- avocado, nut butter, eggs, cream cheese
  • Yogurt bowls with toppings of choice- gluten-free granola, fruit, nut butter, seeds
  • Smoothies

Gluten-free baked breakfasts

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal is a fun way to get that cinnamon roll flavor without the sugar bomb (or the gluten bomb)!

gluten free cinnamon roll baked oatmeal

Common gluten alternatives for baking

If you have a kid who loves muffins and banana bread, you can absolutely still make those foods.

Today, there are loads of high-quality gluten-free flour alternatives available, far more than there were a decade ago.

Increased awareness and more precise diagnoses have made gluten-free options more mainstream and accessible for those who need them.

Gluten-free flours

Since all-purpose and whole wheat flour are off the table, you’ll be looking for products made with flours derived from other ingredients. The most popular ones are almond flour, cashew flour, coconut flour, rice flour, corn flour, and oat flour. There are also special blends like Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free flour.

gluten free flours that can be used to make gluten free foods for kids

If you’re working with an alternative flour in cooking or baking, you’ll want to do some research to see how it compares to all-purpose flour. Recipes often need tweaking. You may need to add more or less of other ingredients to account for the differences in the alternative flours. Flours have can have different protein content and behave differently at different temperatures. 

You’ll also want to verify that these products are certified gluten-free before eating them or serving them to folks with gluten allergies or Celiac Disease. 

These flour alternatives have also been used to make a range of products like sandwich breads, bagels, cereals, and bagels.

I personally LOVE using oats and oat flour in baking! Oats have a natural sweetness, plus filling protein and fiber.

These Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are gluten-free, with almond flour and quick oats instead of traditional flour. They are so fudgy!

gluten free chocolate zucchini muffins

Gluten-free food for kids

**Disclaimer- check any packaged product to ensure it is certified gluten-free. I’m going to list things like hummus which *should* be GF, but I recommend you always check the ingredients to ensure there is no gluten-derived additive. I can’t verify every hummus brand is gluten-free!**

First, I want to start with my list of snack ideas that are naturally gluten-free. This means you shouldn’t have to search for a specific item or brand making a gluten-free version.

  • Fruit- you can serve fruit on its own or with a companion like yogurt dip or nut butter for a more complete snack
    • Dried fruit
    • Freeze-dried fruit
    • Frozen fruit
  • Vegetables- you can also serve veggies on their own, or with dips like hummus 
    • If your kid likes ranch, try blending a small container of cottage cheese with powdered ranch seasoning (at the time of writing this, the Hidden Valley one is gluten-free) for a high protein ranch dip!
  • Cheese
    • my daughter eats a string cheese almost every afternoon!
  • Other dairy products
    • Yogurt
    • Cottage cheese
  • Rice cakes- you can top these with cottage cheese, fruit, nut butter, hummus or smashed avocado
  • Popcorn (best for ages for 4+ due to choking risks)
  • Nuts/seeds (4+)
  • Trail mix (4+)
  • Hard boiled eggs
gluten free snack ideas

There is also a great range of gluten-free packaged snacks if you’re needing easy options to throw into a diaper bag, backpack, or lunchbox! Here are some of my favorites: 

gluten free food items

Gluten-free kid-friendly meals

Finding gluten-free kids meals that are pleasing to both kids and the rest of the family can be a tall task.

In this section, there are some naturally gluten-free meals that don’t require any swapping, as well as some meals that use a popular gluten-free alternative to replicate a gluten-full favorite (hello, mac and cheese!).

Naturally gluten-free meals

(As always, same disclaimer- check the ingredient label if you’re buying a store-bought product as an ingredient for these homemade meals.)

  • Rice bowls like burrito bowls; anything with rice or quinoa as the base
  • Quesadillas/enchiladas made with 100% corn tortillas and your choice of fillings
  • Loaded tostadas, similarly prepared on corn tostadas
  • Hearty soups
    • Use potato, red lentils, or white beans blended in to soups to thicken
  • Curries with a base of rice
  • Stuffed bell peppers with rice, beans, meat, cheese, etc.
  • Lemon baked salmon with crispy smashed potatoes
  • Chicken entrees (grilled, baked, stuffed)
  • Ground turkey/beef tacos; pay attention to seasoning ingredients and ensure use of corn tortillas
  • Chili- meat or vegetarian
  • Chicken/tuna/salmon salad
    • Check out my salmon salad made with just a few easy ingredients (buy certified gluten-free and serve with GF crackers and veggies!)
  • Many casseroles- without noodles
  • Baked potatoes- any version- sweet potato, BBQ chicken, traditional

Here’s some of my favorite recipes:

gluten free meals

Gluten-free foods for kids with alternative products

These products should be available at your local grocery store, but if they’re not, I’ll link a couple from my Amazon Storefront as well!

Try my easy Healthy Pumpkin Pasta for Toddlers using gluten-free Banza chickpea pasta!

healthy gluten free pumpkin pasta for toddlers in bowl
  • Open-faced sandwiches on gluten-free bread
    • Udi’s, Canyon Bakehouse
  • Gluten-free pasta dishes
    • Chickpea, lentil, or brown rice noodles are my favorite: Banza, Tolerant
    • Any add-ins or toppings you want: can be macaroni and cheese, can be red sauce and mozzarella- anything your family likes! 
  • Cauliflower/chickpea crust pizza
    • Banza, Caulipower
  • Hamburgers on gluten-free buns
    • Udi’s, Canyon Bakehouse, Trader Joe’s brand
  • Cauliflower gnocchi (Trader Joe’s)
  • Nachos on gluten-free corn chips
  • Protein pancakes (can be gluten-free if you use certified gluten-free oats)
  • Gluten-free black bean burgers
gluten free meal components

Gluten-free dessert ideas

Gluten-free dessert can still be delicious and satisfying! Some of my favorites include:

close-up of homemade banana frozen yogurt with honey on top

Gluten FAQs

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein found in wheat. People usually equate gluten to wheat, but it is also the protein found in rye, barley, and triticale too, technically.

What’s the problem with gluten?

Gluten is a common food allergen. People can have a true food allergy to gluten, or more of an intolerance to it (called a gluten intolerance). They can also have an autoimmune reaction that is triggered by gluten consumption called Celiac Disease. 

In a gluten allergy, the body recognizes gluten as an antigen and activates the immune system to respond accordingly. It is similar to other common food allergies like eggs or dairy. 

In Celiac Disease, gluten consumption actually triggers a systemic autoimmune reaction. That reaction results in damage of the brush border of the small intestine and comes with many painful side effects.

Gluten intolerance, on the other hand, is a food sensitivity. People with a gluten intolerance might experience unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming gluten. However, the reaction doesn’t involve the immune system, so it is not classified as a food allergy.

Issues with gluten can be hereditary in nature. This means that if they run in your family, your child might be more likely to experience them as well– especially Celiac Disease.

Who should avoid gluten?

For a person with diagnosed Celiac Disease, the gold standard of treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet, aka: avoid it entirely. Without gluten, people with Celiac Disease are usually able to enjoy a normal quality of life and remission from symptoms. 

If someone has an intolerance or an allergy to gluten, they may need to avoid it to ensure they can stay symptom-free. Some people may be able to tolerate certain amounts of gluten, but it will vary based on their individual symptoms. 

Essentially, it’s only medically indicated to avoid gluten if you have these conditions. It’s become a little trendy in society to tout gluten-free products as healthier, which isn’t necessarily the case. 

Sure, a gluten-free product *could* certainly be more nutritious or healthier than its glutinous counterpart, but abstaining from gluten itself isn’t healthier unless your body needs you to! 

breads that are not gluten-free

Where do we find gluten?

Unfortunately for those dealing with gluten issues, gluten is in lots of places in our foods- some are obvious and some are more hidden.

Gluten is found anywhere wheat is used as an ingredient. That means things made from flour (which is made from wheat) like your traditional breads, pastas, baked goods, crackers, cereals, and cakes will all contain gluten. 

It is also in a few products you might not expect like soy sauce, salad dressings, some processed meats, and sauces.

If you need to avoid gluten, you have to become an expert at checking labels and identifying ingredients that are derived from wheat. Also, you can always look for certified gluten-free labeled products, which have to meet stringent requirements to be called gluten-free. 

If you have Celiac Disease, cross-contamination with gluten is also not safe. So factories, kitchens, or restaurants that don’t have a dedicated gluten-free production space won’t be able to guarantee that your food is truly gluten-free. 

Keep that in mind if you’re newly navigating a gluten-related diagnosis!

Final thoughts on gluten

wheat grains that are not gluten-free

I want to reiterate that it’s not unhealthy to eat gluten. There’s no need to avoid it unless you have a physical issue with it. 

If you do have a physical issue with it (or live with someone who does), you can still create healthy, delicious, satisfying meals without gluten! 

Many people feel intimidated when they first get a diagnosis with instructions to avoid gluten- either for themselves or their child. Working with dietary restrictions can be stressful and disappointing.

It takes time to adapt and find new go-to products for your family. And although it takes time, most families feel more at ease when the whole household commits to gluten-free, so there’s no question about the foods in the house being safe for everyone.

But remember that there are still tons and tons of wonderful, easy, nutritious meals that you can cook and buy. There are plenty of gluten-free foods for kids (snacks and meals) that can still allow you/your child to enjoy foods without any negative side effects.

While this entire guide isn’t dedicated to gluten-free foods for kids, it does feature dozens of meal and snack ideas that either are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free with some easy swaps. If you need some ideas to get your creative juices flowing in the kitchen, check out my Meal and Snack Survival Guide!

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Kacie Barnes holding an apple
Hi, I’m Kacie!

I’m a mom of two and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. I offer e-guides and e-books (go to my Shop page), workshops, brand partnerships, and nutrition counseling. Check out my blog for nutrition and feeding tips for your little ones.

Disclaimer:

This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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