Back to School {Gluten-Free and Allergy-Friendly} Lunch Ideas from Keeley McGuire


I’m so excited to share this guest post with you from Keeley McGuire! Keeley is yet another wonderful resource I have stumbled upon since I started my blog one year ago. I have really connected with some great food allergy and gluten-free advocates out there. Keeley will tell you her story but I’ll tell you this…when my son was diagnosed with celiac 2 years ago in August, I was completely overwhelmed in so many ways. One of the biggest issues I struggled with was figuring out what to pack him for lunch! I wish I had found Keeley’s blog back then and will definitely use many of her suggestions this year! You can too by following her on facebook, twitter and pinterest but, in the meantime, I asked Keeley to share some back to school lunch tips with all of us…

Hi everyone! So thrilled to be sharing today on! My name is Keeley McGuire and my site is Allergy Friendly Fun Lunch Boxes. I share my daughter’s, and some of my own, lunch creations. Our philosophy is that “Food Can Be Fun for Kids with Food Allergies”!

My daughter “Little Miss” started school at the age of two full-time. She had an educational ASD diagnosis and had already been diagnosed with food allergies. She is anaphylactic to peanuts, avoids all tree nuts, and gluten due to intolerance. She is now going into third grade and has since been fully integrated into a regular classroom and no longer in therapy.

She was an extremely picky eater, so here I was left packing lunches for a toddler who had sensory issues and a small list of “will eats”. It was my amazing sister who introduced me to the world of kyaraben bento making. Kyaraben is the art of bento by making character or cute themed foods.

As the years have passed, my daughter’s palate has expanded and lunch is no longer a daunting process. Sure she still has days where she turns up her nose to certain foods, even some I know she likes, but part of that is just “normal kid” behavior. You know what though? I’m extremely blessed. She loves spinach, is willing to try new things, knows her food groups, and smiles at her Mama’s creations she finds for lunch each day.

What I’ve learned over the past few years is that by presenting her foods in “fun ways” she was more apt to try new things. I’ve also learned how to simplify the lunch packing process by using certain tools, revamping leftovers, and a little planning ahead.

Here is my list of “Quick Lunch Tips” to help you simply back-to-school for your kiddos and make them proud of their lunches, allergies or not:

  • Cookie Cutters: Use a cookie cutter on your foods. It takes no more time than cutting the crusts of your SunButter sandwich with a knife and will add tons of fun to your child’s lunch! Freeze your gluten free bread scraps for homemade breadcrumbs or croutons!
  • Freezer Friendly: Bake ahead for easy lunches later! Allergy free pancakes, corn dog muffins, gluten free homemade chicken nuggets, and more. Find recipes at
  • Lovely Leftovers: Make extra for lunch the next day. This is great for kids and adults. Throw an extra chicken breast on the grill or boil extra GF noodles for the next day! Pack lunches while cleaning up dinner, so there’s no extra work in the AM.
  • Sneaky Snacks: Have a picky eater? Sneak veggies into baked goods or pureed into sauces.

Instead of focusing on the all the foods your kiddos can’t have, have fun and enjoy the ones they can! Food should be fun, with or without allergies! Here is one of our favorite recipes, Mini Corndog Muffins. Enjoy! 

Gluten-Free Mini Corn Dogs from Keeley McGuire
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 Cup of Gluten Free Cornbread Mix (or your preferred homemade blend, I like the mix because it already has the amount of starch, baking soda, powder and xantham gum I need)
  • 1 flax egg (1 TB of ground flax + 3 TB of warm water, mix and set aside until gel-like)
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup of milk or non-dairy sub
  • 6 hot dogs - turkey, tofu, or nitrate free, your choice!
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini-muffin tin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix flax egg (as indicated in ingredients above) and set aside.
  3. Slice turkey, tofu, or nitrate free hot dogs of choice to depth of pan: You should get 4-5 slices per dog.
  4. Mix corn bread batter in a large bowl: Cornbread mix, flax egg, applesauce, and milk.
  5. Pour batter into muffin tin, filling each cavity about half full.
  6. Press a hot dog slice to the center of each.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.


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