Non-salad wheat free lunches?
August 15, 2013 10:07 AM   Subscribe

I need some vegetarian wheat-free lunch ideas that are not salad based. Thanks!

The longer version is, I have some sugar sensitivity issues and my doctor has advised me to avoid wheat for a month to see how I do. Packing a lunch has been challenging. I tried packing salads with beans, grains and a bed of lettuce underneath and have come to the conclusion that I am just not a salad person. I just don't like it. I have thrown away three salads so far when I just couldn't face eating it, and then bought junk.

Once the weather cools, I will happily take soup but in the meanwhile, I am in a rut and need some ideas. EASY to pack and carry is a must! What has been working so far:

- Rice crackers and a bean dip, with fruit and veggies
- Sometimes I buy sushi from the grocery store, but it is expensive
- Frozen samosas or gyoza with fruit and veggie sides
- Imitation Starbucks 'bistro' box (hard-boiled egg, crackers, cheese slices, sliced fruit)
- Sandwich on gluten-free bread (I try and limit these to once or twice a week)

Foods I cannot have due to diagnosed food allergy:

- Flax
- Soy
- Corn
- Green beans
- Tree nuts

So, any ideas? I really want to do a good job with this but I am not much of a cook so I need grab and go ideas.
posted by JoannaC to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Gillian McKeith's recipes are predominately vegetarian, salt-free, and gluten-free. A fair amount contain tofu, but many do not, and the recipes are very makeable in large quantities for portioning.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 10:12 AM on August 15, 2013

Quinoa? I have a fantastic crustless quinoa quiche which makes a delicious lunch eaten warm or cold. The recipe suggests just tomato and basil, but you can put pretty much any veggies you like in the quiche.

Gazpacho is a lovely warm weather soup.

Tomato and Basil Crustless Quinoa Quiche

⅓ - ½ c quinoa (any colour)
⅔ - 1 c water
1t olive oil
1c diced onion
¼ c flour (quinoa or regular)
4 eggs
2T fresh basil (2t dried)
1 ½ c seeded and diced tomatoes (3)
¼ c milk
1 c shredded mozzarella
⅓ c grated parmesan
pepper to taste.

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional five minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside.

Saute the onion until tender and opaque.

Whisk together the flour and eggs. Add the quinoa, basil, tomatoes, milk, cheeses, onion, and fresh pepper. Mix well.

Bake for 50 minutes at 350 in a 9” round baking dish.

Note: can also saute the tomatoes. Can add more quinoa. Would be good with other veggies instead.
posted by jeather at 10:15 AM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]

I feel like a lot of bento recipes would work well for this, if you look for ones without soy/tofu. Rice, some sauteed vegetables, a hard-boiled egg, and fresh fruit are all filling, and require almost no preparation.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:18 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

What do you eat for dinner? Can you just bring leftovers?

Would you like your previous bean&veg lunches more if they'd been on a bed of brown rice instead of on a bed of lettuce?
posted by aimedwander at 10:18 AM on August 15, 2013

- Home made chili that you portioned off in to individual containers in the freezer. Grab and go.
- Rice casserole of some variety (mix together cooked rice, some cooked protein, some cooked veg, maybe a bit of cheese. Voila!)
- Whatever you had left over for supper the night before
- Veg and hummus
- Protein shakes/smoothies (I bought a little magic bullet blender for my office. I just bring the smoothie ingredients with me. Easy peasy and delicious)
- make your own GF tortilla wraps (loads of recipes online) and make, well, wraps!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:19 AM on August 15, 2013

Question: Is this a blood sugar (like reactionary hypoglycemia) issue? Or a specifically wheat issue?

I have borderline (reactionary) hypoglycemia. If I eat white bread, pasta, rice (even brown rice), etc my blood sugar goes up too fast, then dives too fast. Is this what you are experiencing?

If so, I have to avoid rice, therefore things made with rice-flour would have the same effect as the glycemic index - how fast it can shoot your blood sugar - of these foods is too high. Therefore any of the gluten free breads or pastas my husband buys would do the same. I have to eat whole wheat breads and eat them in moderation.

Correct me if this is a wrong assumption of your problem and if there is another reason your doctor wants you to avoid wheat specifically and not other high-glycemic index foods.

However if it is what's going on with you, I suggest getting away from high-glycemic carbs all together for a while. Obviously follow your doctors advice, but look for whole grain solutions - like Quinoia suggested above. You also want to balance proteins.

Other suggestions:
-Sandwiches in lettuce wraps
-Soups without pastas
-Crock pot meals (they often don't have wheat or you can avoid it, then you can make a big batch of something and have leftovers)
-Stir fry (Again, leftovers)
posted by Crystalinne at 10:21 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Chili...or any hardy soup that lacks ingredients on your list. Add some cheese or sour cream and you have a feast.
posted by BearClaw6 at 10:21 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Look at making Indian curries and Thai peanut sauce recipes as well as rice dishes from both cuisines. Trader Joe's makes a brown rice pasta that's nothing but brown rice and water, where you can make any sort of Italian-style pasta. You can also do various cold pasta salads with this.

You can do spring rolls in a rice wrapper with a peanut sauce as well. You can do greek salads with tomato, cucumber and cheese. Curried chickpeas and quinoa in lettuce wraps are a nice lunch.
posted by cnc at 10:26 AM on August 15, 2013

Here's a few I've done over the years, [one] [two] - lots of good ideas from others all along those threads as well.
posted by tilde at 10:37 AM on August 15, 2013

Not trying to sound like a smart ass, but what are you eating for dinners or breakfasts. Could you just make more and take that? Use your leftovers from the night before as the start of a little bento box. Throw in a few other bits around it.

If you don't like salads how are you with crudites? I love raw veggies, but mix them all up together and it's just blergh to me, I'd rather munch on a whole carrot and some dip. Can you eat wraps of any sort? Lettuce leaf wraps are nice and you can put all sorts of in them, with a bit of some sort of asiany dipping sauce and your set.
posted by wwax at 10:55 AM on August 15, 2013

Sushi bowls are delicious, easy to make a lot of at one time (cook extra rice, chop extra veggies, keep ingredients separate in fridge until ready to pack for lunch), and so much cheaper than buying premade sushi. The recipe I linked to uses tofu, avocado, and green onions, but you can easily swap these out for whatever veggies/sushi fillings you like best (shredded carrots, cucumber, finely sliced raw snap peas, and sauteed mushrooms are all good).

Have you tried hot/warm grain salads? This article from The Kitchn has some specific recipes, but a decent general formula is cooked grain + roasted veggies (butternut squash, beets, carrots, onions, asparagus, kale, etc.) + something exciting (dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, etc.) + a bit of cheese (parmesan, goat, feta) + flavor (lemon + olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, roast the veggies with curry powder or smoked paprika or a spice blend, etc.).
posted by rebekah at 11:10 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Like sushi, but it is too expensive? Make your own onigiri. The little rice triangles are the same kind of rice wrapped in the same kind of seaweed, with some slightly different fillings including tuna-mayo, spiced chicken, fish egg, and whatever else you can think of. They are easy to make (much easier than sushi!) and FREEZE very well. (Microwave to eat, 60-90 seconds depending on size and your microwave)
posted by whatzit at 11:11 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hummus and vegetables or GF pita. When I have this for lunch I also throw in a couple pieces of cheese and an apple.

Black bean salad - a can of black beans, avocado, quinoa or rice, bell pepper, and then either make your own pico de gallo or throw in some storebought. You can add goat cheese or queso fresco, or roll it up in a GF tortilla. Tasty, filling, and keeps well in the fridge.

Mash up an avocado and a can of garbanzo beans, add lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste (good with cilantro too). It's almost like an egg salad...but better. You can use this as a sandwich filling (even better with swiss cheese) or just eat it as a salad.

Breakfast burrito for lunch! (They don't reheat that well, but they do taste good cold.) Mexican rice or potatoes, beans of your choice, veggies of your choice. Throw in scrambled eggs if that's your thing. Salsa and/or guac, cheese. Yum. You can do it in a GF tortilla or just eat it in a bowl, Chipotle burrito-bowl style.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 11:12 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mujadara, a rice-and-lentils dish topped with fried or caramelized onions, is really easy to make, tasty as a leftover, and simple to portion out. Here are a couple of variations. I suggest, even if you're not much of a cook, making a bit batch of something-or-other that's easy to prepare and then freezing lunch-size portions so you don't get tired of the same thing every damned day til it's gone.
posted by houseofdanie at 11:39 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can you just subsitute alternative whole grains? I don't eat much wheat and am very fond of:

Barley (not pearled, that's not a whole grain--you want "hulless" or "hulled" barley)

All of which are very nice in grain salads (no lettuce involved), or alongside a bean burger or grilled vegetables.
posted by epanalepsis at 11:47 AM on August 15, 2013

Here are some nutritarian lunch ideas that I think would work for you, even unheated:

Sweet and Smoky Baked Beans

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup low sodium or no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 apple, cored and quartered
1/4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water to cover for 30 minutes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard, no-salt added or low sodium
1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 cups cooked red kidney beans or 2 cans low sodium or no-salt-added, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons water in a saute pan and saute onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add small amounts of additional water as needed to prevent burning.

Blend tomato sauce, apple, raisins and soaking water, vinegar, mustard, Bragg Liquid Aminos and chipotle chili powder in a high powered blender until smooth.

In a large casserole dish, combine the kidney beans, blended mixture and sauteed onions. Cover and bake for 50 minutes.

Zucchini Linguini

2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
3 medium fresh tomatoes
9 unsalted, unsulfered, dried tomatoes, soaked in water to cover for at least 1 hour
2 cloves garlic
4 leaves fresh basil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Use a julienne peeler (or spiral slicer or regular vegetable peeler) to make long, thin strips of zucchini, and arrange on two plates.

Chop the fresh tomatoes roughly and place in a food processor with dried tomatoes and soaking water, garlic, basil, and vinegar. Pulse until you reach desired consistency. Spoon the sauce over the zucchini strips.

Vegetable Chili

1 large onion, chopped
4 celery stalks and leaves, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves,crushed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups zucchini, shredded
2 cups carrots, shredded
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, with juice
1 15-ounce can white kidney beans with juice
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes, pureed
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
Saute the onion, celery and garlic with a bit of water. Add the spices and zucchini and carrots. Stir well and cook till spices are absorbed. Add beans, and tomato products. Simmer uncovered for 35-45 min.
This recipe is very adaptable to using dried beans and fresh tomatoes if you are inclined. The variety of vegetables are limitless. Also, the spices can be adjusted up or down as you prefer.

Eggplant Stuffed withTofu Puree

1 cup shelled edamame, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup firm tofu
1/3 cup water
4 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 ounces baby spinach
2 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
2 cups pasta sauce, no salt added or low sodium
Preheat oven to 350F.

Boil edamame for 5 minutes. Combine in food processor with tofu, water, pumpkin seeds, basil, oregano and black pepper. Set aside.

In 1/8 cup water, saute red peppers, onion, carrots and garlic until tender, adding more water if needed. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
Set aside.

Roast eggplant in baking pan lightly oiled with olive oil for about 20 minutes or until tender and flexible enough to roll up.

In baking pan, spread about 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Place 1-2 tablespoons edamame puree in center of each eggplant slice. Top with sauteed vegetable mixture. Roll up and place in baking dish, seam side down. Top with remaining sauce.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through.
posted by bearwife at 11:54 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Qrunch has a woooonderful quinoa and millet based veggie burger that is delicious and meets (I think) all your restrictions above. You pop it in the toaster for a couple of cycles and it's done--very crispy and savory.
posted by mittens at 11:54 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

When you say you hate salad I'm guessing you mean American style lettuce based salad? I hate it too, won't eat it. But I do love a tomato based salad - thin sliced, drained tomato slices, maybe some cucumber, maybe pickles and peppers... and either chopped hard boiled eggs or sliced mozzarella balls for protein and ballast (or maybe a diced veggie burger?.) Add herbs and dressing per taste.

(I would have said potato salad but I'm guessing if you're dealing with sugar issues that potatoes aren't ideal either.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am obsessed with cold quinoa salad right now! Make the quinoa and then add in cooked edamame, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, marinated mushrooms, lemon juice, a little olive oil, whatever you want. It makes a good "refrigerator glue" as Alton Brown calls it.
posted by radioamy at 12:43 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Gah, I can't believe I overlooked that tofu is made from soy! I'd just use chickpeas/garbanzo beans instead of tofu in the last recipe I posted.
posted by bearwife at 2:25 PM on August 15, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the comments! The reason for avoiding is that she says it is very hard on the digestive system and that my body needs a break from it to detox from processed sugar. She says fruit is ok because of the fibre and water content, but since I have diabetes in my family, I should be avoiding refined sugar.

As for dinner, we are bad about that here. Too much pasta and restaurant food. I am trying to do better, but getting lunch sorted out first.
posted by JoannaC at 3:15 PM on August 15, 2013

What did you take for lunch before you needed to make these changes? Sometimes it's easier to find things that seem similar. . . guessing you did not take salads and are now just foregoing the croutons. :)
posted by Kalatraz at 6:57 PM on August 15, 2013

Meta advice: Think in terms of meals you can cook and freeze in advance. A lot of stuff can be cooked in bulk fairly easily, broken into portions and then brought as lunches. Beans freeze very very well, so that's a good option. Potatoes and cheese freeze poorly, but will keep well cooked in the fridge for a week or two.

You will get better control of your diet in general if you put some time into cooking. I realize this is frequently difficult and can be intimidating if you're a beginner, but it is totally worth it. Given your restrictions, you may be interested in the Veganomicon (search on amazon).
posted by contrarian at 7:17 PM on August 15, 2013

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