Vici Nilsson details four delicious, healthy lunchtime options that are gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free.
As students we want lunch to be three things: quick, easy and cheap. Either we resort to the sandwich-and-crisp quick fix from one of the UCL cafés, or have been organized enough to actually throw some pasta into a Tupperware before leaving home. Now, to us poor, intolerant souls who can’t have gluten, wheat or dairy in any shape or form, these meals aren’t an option. So, what do we eat?
I have recently begun a low-FODMAP diet, which means I’m not allowed any of the three aforementioned allergens and a whole bunch of other delicious foods. Apart from one gluten-free sandwich in the Old Refectory, there are hardly any FODMAP-friendly meals available around Uni. Quite demoralizing… Therefore I spent some time putting together four low-FODMAP recipes for quick and easy packed lunches to get me through the week, all very basic and easily adapted to suit your own allergy needs. Read on and get cooking!
1. Pesto Courgetti
This trendy new use of courgette opens up a world of healthy lunch alternatives, just think of your favourite pasta dish and substitute the pasta for this green beauty. Investing in a spiralizer to make your perfect corkscrews is well worth the money!
1-2 tbsp pesto*
A handful of spinach
4-5 cherry tomatoes
*Pesto traditionally contains garlic, which is a big no-no for you fellow FODMAPers out there. For a low-FODMAP alternative make your own pesto with garlic-infused oil rather than the actual garlic, you can find several recipes online.
- Spiralize your courgette and put in a bowl. Add your pesto and give it a good stir so that it is distributed evenly.
- Prepare your lunchbox with a bed of spinach at the bottom and put your pesto courgetti on top.
- Cut up 4-5 cherry tomatoes to add to your dish.
- Rip up some mozzarella, crumble some feta or grate some parmesan on top.
- Be on your way!
2. Kale, Quinoa and Feta Salad
Quinoa is a lifesaver; it’s one of the few grains that don’t contain gluten. It’s the perfect ingredient to make a salad more filling, and it doesn’t have a very distinct flavour so it works with almost any mixture of veg.
Ingredients for salad:
23-30 g kale
¾ cup quinoa
50 g feta
4 sundried tomatoes
A handful of walnuts
Ingredients for dressing:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
- Boil your quinoa according to instructions on the packet.
- Whilst it boils wash your kale and rip it up before putting it in your Tupperware.
- Once your quinoa is finished get rid of the water and distribute on top of your kale.
- Crumble a generous amount of feta onto your salad; you can never have too much.
- Chop up your sundried tomatoes and walnuts and add to your dish.
- Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and pour over your salad. Garnish with some extra oregano if you want to give it an extra kick.
- Hurry to your 9am!
3. Chicken Curry Salad Wrap
Another tasty university café classic is the wrap, another gluten-fiend. A great alternative is a salad wrap and you can be as creative as you like with the fillings. Here’s one option:
1 grilled chicken leg
½ diced red pepper
2 slices tinned pineapple
¼ cup sour cream*
1 tbsp. mayo
1 tbsp. curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Romaine lettuce leaves
*This will have to be lactose free for those of you who are intolerant. I haven’t managed to find lactose free sour cream in this country yet so I used lactose free natural yoghurt from Whole Foods Market.
- Remove all the meat from the chicken leg and rip into pieces into a bowl.
- Dice the red pepper and the pineapple slices and add to your chicken.
- Mix the sour cream, mayo and curry powder together in a separate bowl. I had quite a lot of curry powder in mine, as I love it. Adjust to suit your own taste buds. Same goes for salt and pepper.
- Mix the sauce with the chicken, red pepper and pineapple before you load it all onto your lettuce leaf.
- Ready for departure!
4. Tuna Egg Sandwich
The classic tuna sandwich; it is quick, easy and yummy. You don’t have to change much to make it allergy-friendly and it tastes just as good, the capers in this recipe add a salty twist.
1 can of tuna (in olive oil or water, whatever you prefer)
1 boiled egg
2 tbsp. chopped capers
¼ cup mayo
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. coarsely chopped parsley
2 slices of gluten-free, wheat-free bread*
*There are lots of variants in most supermarkets. However, if you don’t want to go for mass-produced gluten-free products, which probably contain lots of other nasty things, try making your own bread or convert the recipe into another salad wrap!
- Pour out as much as possible of the water/oil from the tuna can before emptying the contents into a bowl. Use a fork to pull the tuna apart.
- Chop up your boiled egg and your capers and add them to your tuna.
- In a separate bowl combine mayo, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and parsley before mixing it in with your tuna mix.
- Season the tuna-mayo filling with salt and pepper to taste.
- Load the creamy goodness onto a slice of bread (with a leaf of lettuce underneath if desired) and top with another slice.
- Grab and go!
For those of you who don’t have specific dietary requirements, these recipes are still great options for a healthy, balanced meal. Eating clean doesn’t have to be a hassle. In fact, once you start coming up with your own ideas for salad wrap fillings and courgetti sauces it’s rather enjoyable, and not to mention satisfying to know that you are feeding your mind and body well.
All images in article: Vici Nilsson