These days it seems like every other person is declaring a personal war against wheat. And while it may seem like the latest in the ever-growing list of health fads, research shows that many increased gluten intolerances are pretty legit, given what modern wheat has become today (i.e., a genetically mutated crop thanks to modern farming methods that took cross-breeding a tad too far). Can’t blame anyone for being concerned about that.
But in spite of celiac diagnoses growing by the day, many gluten-wary eaters—not to mention restaurant menus—don’t seem to venture outside tried-and-tested, dime-a-dozen quinoa salads when it comes to midday meal options. Snooze.
The following list of gluten-free lunch ideas keeps the specialty products (we’re looking at you, organic mung bean pasta) to a minimum and the flavors cranked up to the max.
1. Minted Lentil Veggie Bowl With Soaked Almonds and Quick Hummus Dressing
Go ahead and used canned or precooked lentils for this recipe—not only are they way more convenient than dried beans, but they also get livened up with fresh, antioxidant-rich mint leaves anyway. Topped with avocado, raw veggies, and almonds (soaked, for maximum digestibility), this is one heck of a fiber-packed and filling bowl.
2. Brazilian Steak and Grilled Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl
Spicy, zesty, fresh—this flavor-packed bowl is sure to keep you full until dinner. If you’re looking to make the recipe lighter, sub out the coconut milk and cook the quinoa in water.
3. Quinoa and Hummus Zucchini Roll Ups
Practically the poster child for gluten-free grains, quinoa was bound to show up on this list somewhere. Here, half a cup of the iron-filled, antioxidant-packed superfood is stirred with hummus and rolled into zucchini slices to take the status of these light bites from “appetizer” to “lunchable.”
4. Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowls
One of the greatest gifts to the gluten-free eater is the humble burrito bowl. Portable, easy to eat, and filled with plenty of the good stuff!
5. Fully Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Who doesn’t love stuffed sweet potatoes? This super quick meal can be topped with just about anything you have on hand, so load it up with your leftover veggies and dig in.
6. Chopped Thai Salad With Sesame Garlic Dressing
Here’s one of the reasons we just couldn’t exclude salads entirely. How could we not share something that’s brimming with so much good (and good for you!) stuff, including multicolored veggies, edamame, buttery cashews, and practically drinkable sweet n’ spicy dressing? Gluten-free or not, you’ll want to try this.
7. Rockin’ Sweet Potato Turkey Chili
A hot bowl of chili to look forward to at lunch makes us happy. This one is hearty, easy, and makes 5 servings, so you can fill up the freezer. Just ensure the taco seasoning you choose is gluten-free friendly or leave it out all together.
8. Gluten-Free Egg Fried Rice in a Mug
If you’ve got leftover rice on hand, this recipe is the perfect way to use it up. Bulk up the grain with eggs, mixed veggies, and a bit of tamari (the gluten-free answer to soy sauce) for a well-balanced lunch that requires minimal cleanup in the middle of a busy day. Not to mention, meals in a mug are just plain fun.
9. Rice + Avo + Greens
The only thing you actually cook in this recipe is the brown rice, and if you’re using leftovers, you’ll be slashing the already-negligible prep time even further. Throw on some avocado and a pile of your favorite greens (experiment with different types to get the full range of their vitamin and antioxidant benefits!), drizzle on some tamari, and devour. It’s that easy.
10. Mushroom and Chickpea Lettuce Wraps
Big leaves of bone-strengthening romaine act as the “bread” in these Mediterranean-inspired wraps, while tahini, known for its bone-boosting calcium, makes the mushroom and chickpea mixture rich and creamy. Quick to assemble and fun to eat, these wraps work equally well as a playful weekend lunch or a take-to-work option.
11. Cheesy Sausage Quiche
Going halfsies on whole eggs and egg whites, nixing a crust, and incorporating vegetables keeps the calorie count low relative to other creamy quiches. That means you might need to serve yourself two slices to get in a substantial midday meal, but since when is being able to eat more cheese and meat a bad thing?
12. Quinoa and Chickpea Burgers
While people might think gluten-free equals low carb, this recipe totally dispels that misconception. Landing somewhere between burger and falafel territories, there’s nothing carb-shy about these patties, which feature quinoa, cholesterol-fighting chickpeas (a nice switch-up from the black beans normally used as a protein alternative), and chickpea flour.
13. Chicken, Bean, and Spinach Soup
If you’re looking to switch it up from salads but still want a produce-packed lunch, check out this hearty alternative. The several cups of veggies shrink in volume when cooked down and allow you to eat more of them, so you may be reaping just as many (if not more) of their nutritional benefits.
14. Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad With Maple Pecan Parmesan
Here’s another salad that made the cut—and for good reason. We can’t remember the last time we saw kale and Brussels sprouts look so good. Teamed up with a sprinkling of dried fruit; a zesty, lemony dressing; and a sweet and salty pecan garnish, two veggies often regarded as kinda “meh” become a lunch you’ll want seconds (and thirds) of.
15. Green Detox Bowl With Thai Basil Pesto
Although the word “detox” has a stereotypical link to extreme concepts like juice fasts or watery soups, this recipe chooses to take the real-food route. With fiber-rich and mostly high-alkaline (or non-acidic) ingredients, such as broccoli, avocado, kale, and cilantro, it’s a lunch that does your body good and tastes amazing.
16. Cauliflower Pizza Bites
While scientific studies haven’t proven it yet, we’re pretty sure that anything tastes better when it’s in muffin form. Case in point: these wheat-free bites. A cuter take on the increasingly popular cauliflower crust pizza, they use eggs and olive oil instead of dairy to hold their shape. Dust them with classic pizza seasonings and pack in some extra veggies and meat just like you would on a regular slice.
17. Garlicky Beans and Lemony Greens
With just a few additional ingredients, this recipe amps up a seemingly plain beans-and-greens combo. Sautéed garlic and a touch of cayenne add a subtle kick to the legumes, while milder shallots and a squeeze of lemon give the leafy veggies some sweetness and zest. The result is a dish that’s worth every minute of your lunch break.
18. Clean Eating Raw Broccoli Balls
Make a big batch of these easy, flourless green bites on a weekend to pop into your lunchbox for a no-brainer lunch throughout the week. They may look little, but they pack a big, healthy-fat punch thanks to the cashews and olive oil. Plus they also boast a bunch of gut-aiding fiber from the broccoli.
19. Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes
If you can’t have your tuna melt between bread, stuff it into tomatoes instead. Hollowed out, the anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting veggies become perfect vehicles for the fish mixture, which otherwise follows a pretty standard recipe (so you’re still getting that classic tuna salad taste).
20. Detox Broccoli Soup
When you’re short on time, this 15-minute soup will be your new go-to. Simply heat and blend the two main ingredients (vitamin-rich broccoli and coconut milk) to create a creamy, comforting lunch that’s good for you. For additional crunch and healthy fat, we highly recommend the sliced avocado and crushed macadamia nut garnishes that the blogger suggests.
21. Lemon Millet With Chickpeas and Dill
Venture beyond rice and quinoa, and you’ll discover plenty of other, naturally gluten-free grains to easily build a meal with. Take this recipe, where millet—which, gram for gram, has more protein and fiber than brown rice—becomes a lemony base for the herbed-up chickpea and almond mix-ins.
22. Easy Gluten Free Salmon Sushi Roll
These rice-free rolls may look like they require finesse, but they’re deceptively simple to make. With just a bit of whisking and mixing, you’ll get a salmon salad-like mixture snuggling in between the folds of a thin omelet. Cut to look like the latest creation from your favorite sushi restaurant for an enviable, bento box-ready lunch.
23. Guacamole Rice Salad
It may have the word “salad” in its name, but this portable meal is more like a simple (but oh-so-satisfying) burrito bowl. The recipe is basically a standard guacamole recipe mixed with brown rice. Throw in some dark leafy greens for extra fiber and vitamins, and you’ve got yourself a ridiculously easy meal that demands way less time and money than its restaurant counterpart.
24. Creamy Coconut Cauliflower and Potato Soup
Making enough for 4-6 servings, this fewer-than-10-ingredients recipe is a convenient lunch to make once and enjoy throughout the week. A trio of potatoes, cauliflower, and coconut milk thickens it up nicely without the need for flour. Leave the chunks of veggies untouched for a chunky stew-like texture or use an immersion blender to whip them into silky soup.