Sunday, August 3, 2008

Gluten Free Snack Foods

I’ve been thinking a lot about gluten free snack foods lately. My family is about to take an end of summer road trip up to British Columbia, which from California means several long days in the car. H is particularly worried about stopping to eat in random towns along the way, especially given the constraints of my diet. He prefers to grab a hamburger here and there along the road when we take long trips, and doesn’t want to spend a lot of extra time hunting for gluten free snacks. When it comes to long driving trips, H is a big fan of the destination and not a huge lover of the journey... which is understandable for anyone who has ever driven a distance with toddlers.

Luckily for both of us, is becoming easier by the day to find gluten free foods that travel well. From cookies to crackers, your local Whole Foods Market equivalent now probably features a lot of yummy (pricey) snack food options. I truly appreciate this, even though my heart remains with foods that have been minimally (or not at all) processed.

Here are seven snack food options for long road trips that I’ve come up with so far… I will continue adding to the list as I find or create more of them.


In many ways, the banana is a perfect food. Wrapped in its own neat packaging, it stays sealed and delicious for long periods of time without mess or fuss. (Even when bananas get old, brown and soft, they can still be used for excellent banana bread!) Bananas provide a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese and Vitamin B6. They are also low in cholesterol, sodium and saturated fat.

If you eat 1 medium sized banana, you’ll essentially be eating:

• 105 calories
• 1 g protein
• 27g carbohydrate
• 1 mg sodium
• 14 g sugars

Did you notice the tricky problem with bananas? That’s right, sugar. Your medium banana has a glycemic load of 10, and is considered to be mildly inflammatory.

The good news, though (a surprise to me!) is that bananas contain both Omega 3 fatty acid (approx 32mg) and Omega 6 fatty acid (approx 54mg) – and as we all know, Omega 3 contains ALA, DHA and EPA... all great for extending your mental acuity, health and longevity. For more information on bananas, please click here.

Hard Boiled Egg

Hard boiled eggs, like bananas, cleverly travel in their own packaging from the moment they are created. Unlike a banana though, a hard boiled egg can’t sit in warmth for several days and still be edible. Especially when hard boiled, eggs have a different shelf life than fruits.

I did some research on eggs for this blog and discovered that the shell of an egg is porous. The hen adds a natural coating that keeps everything safe inside of the shell, but when eggs are processed by companies this natural coating is washed off during sanitization and replaced with a thin coating of mineral oil. The new coating will keep your raw eggs fresh in the refrigerator for many weeks – but if you place them in hot water to hard boil them, the coating is boiled off and your egg becomes porous again.

This basically means that it has no more protection against bacteria and odors. If you put your hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking it will remain edible for one week. However, if you are taking hard boiled eggs on a road trip you should plan to eat them within a few hours of leaving your home... or better yet, take along an ice chest and keep them cold so that you can enjoy them for several days.

If you eat one hard boiled egg, you will essentially be eating:

• 77 calories
• 6 grams protein
• 71% cholesterol (daily value recommended by FDA)
• Good source of Vitamin B12, riboflavin, phoshorus and selenium

Eggs and their role in human blood cholesterol are frequently misunderstood. Only about one quarter of your body’s blood cholesterol comes from your diet. The other three quarters (3/4) is produced by your body and has nothing at all to do with your diet. So while eggs are high in cholesterol they do not actually make much of an impact on your body’s blood cholesterol. It is definitely safe for you to enjoy an egg every day... and you will be enjoying a superfood whose proteins are almost 97% digestible!

String Cheese

To state the obvious, string cheese is a lot of fun. What other snack food is both squishy and stringy, and can be gently pulled apart into threads?

Happily, your silly string cheese is also pretty nutritious. One ounce of low moisture part milk mozzarella cheese (pictured here) features no carbohydrates and 7 grams of protein! It is also a great source of calcium, in addition to offering Vitamin B12 and phosphorus into your diet.

If you eat one ounce of string cheese, you are essentially eating:

• 85 calories
• 7g protein
• 0g carbohydrate
• 148 mg sodium
• 18g saturated fat

Since cheese has a fairly high saturated fat content and a decent amount of sodium, it’s probably a good idea to restrain your natural impulse to scarf down five or ten of these cute little packets in a sitting. One will do nicely, thank you!

Beach Bash Trail Mix

Got a sweet tooth? Yearning for those bad old days of Starbucks Frappuccinos and chocolate candy bars on the road?

I’m so glad to tell you that you can get your (natural) sugar fix in a completely non-allergenic way... no gluten, no casein, no soy – and that’s not all! Enjoy Life has created a yummy and sweet trail mix that is not only Kosher certified but also contains no wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, sulfites or eggs. And believe it or not, it still tastes great.

What can you look forward to? Cranberries!!!!! Apricots!!!!!!! Pineapple!!!! Pumpkin Seeds!!!! Sunflower Kernels!!!!

A handful of this certified gluten free Beach Bash mix will not only make your day, it can continue doing so over the course of a longer trip without refrigeration thanks to a shelf life of approximately 6 months!

If you eat one handful of the Beach Bash mix (approx ¼ cup) you are actually eating:

• 130 calories
• 4g protein
• 9g sugars
• 13g carb
• 0 cholesterol

Based on my experience, one handful alone will give you enough sweetness to buzz happily through your morning without yearning to eat the whole bag in one sitting.

Oh, and check this out... Enjoy Life has an outstanding ingredient glossary that tells you more about their products right here than most companies ever do!

Turkey Jerky

Turkey Jerky really takes me back... When H and I first started dating years and years ago, he played keys and guitar for a great local band that started doing big things around the country. During our first year together they toured the United States in a passenger van four times! Thanks to the need to stop for snacks a lot on these long road trips, before one tour they decided to make their own homemade beef jerky. I can still remember how long it took to marinate the meat and dry it... the delicious scent wafting throughout their entire apartment building. My mouth waters just remembering the amazing flavor of that homemade jerky (a project never repeated, for whatever reason).

Needless to say, I’ve got a soft spot for jerky.

Here are a few great reasons for you to love jerky too! Shelton's Turkey Jerky comes from free range turkeys that are raised without antibiotics. High in protein and with almost no carbs or saturated fat, a little jerky will give you the mild salt fix you’ve been craving without adding too much sodium to your diet.

If you eat one package of Turkey Jerkey (equivalent to ½ oz) you will essentially be eating:

• 50 calories
• 9 g protein
• 1g carb
• 0 g saturated fat
• 125 mg sodium

By the way, Shelton’s Poultry offers a whole range of gluten free products definitely worth sampling!

Tiger's Milk Bar - Protein Rich

Styling themselves America’s Original Nutrition Bar, my favorite Tiger’s Milk Bars have been around since the 1960s! Containing 16 vitamins and minerals and 9 – 10g of protein in any of their King Size varieties, Tiger’s Milk bars have a lot of nutrition to offer. Yes, they are highly processed. But if you can stomach that (forgive the pun), a normal 35g bar will provide you with an excellent source of B vitamins in addition to magnesium, vitamin C and iron.

If you eat one normal size Tiger's Milk Bar, you are actually eating:

• 140 calories
• 6g protein
• 18g carbohydrate
• 13g sugars
• 0 cholesterol
• 60 mg sodium

Thanks to the high carbohydrate content, allow myself one of these delicious bars a day. They are the perfect boost when my blood sugar has dropped and it is going to take a good 30 minutes or more to either find or cook a healthy gluten free meal.

In-N-Out Hamburger: Flying Dutchman or Protein Style

Photo by Doreen Orion
I really debated with myself over whether or not to add hamburgers to my healthy gluten free snack food list. On the one hand, what is a road trip throughout California without eating at least one In-N-Out hamburger? On the other hand, we’re still talking about ground up meat that has been processed and handled outside of your own kitchen.

That being said, H and I have always felt that In-N-Out is a food chain that strives for high quality in its handmade food. Using simple ingredients and cooking your order fresh when you are actually at the store both contribute to making this a ‘healthier’ fast food.

To get a gluten free In-N-Out burger you will have to order off of their secret menu. Here are a few options:

Flying Dutchman: Two hamburger patties, two slices of cheese

Protein Style: Served in a lettuce wrap, order it without the special sauce

Animal Style Fries: potatoes fried in gluten free oil (a gf dedicated fryer) with onion and cheese. If you are concerned about cross contamination, get it without the special sauce.

To read an excellent article about this, please click here.

Unfortunately the only nutritional data I could find on In-N-Out hamburger includes both the sauce and the bun, so my information is not as accurate for this one... but,

If you are eating one In-N-Out hamburger, you are sort of eating this:

• 390 calories
• 16g protein
• 39g carbohydrate
• 10g sugars
• 40mg cholesterol
• 650mg sodium

...but not really, since you won’t be having the bun or the sauce. If I can get more accurate information, I will be sure to update this post right away.


divamentors said...

Fantastic post. There are very few gluten free resources as good as yours!

You've got an amazing blog. I would love to be able to keep your link up on the Be Naturally Well community. Our forums will be up and running soon as well and hopefully you will find time to participate and bring these views to a wider audience.

Link here

Many Blessings,

strivingChef said...

I would be honored, Shelley! Thank you for sending me the link to your forums. I'm so glad to hear my posts are helpful, going gluten free wasn't easy at first... but having the support of the online gluten-free community really helped me! I hope other newly diagnosed celiacs will feel better when they see just how delicious the gf diet can be.

MiaPalona said...


stumbled across your post researching tasty gluten free snack foods and it was so awesome i'm printing it out as a reference point. ty!

MiaPalona said...

also! i was inspired by these snackies and thought i'd share the link so you could see .. they taste kind of like a crispier rice cake, -just- sweet enough!

MiaPalona said...

these snackies. sorry about the multiple posts, didn't go through!