Healthy Lunchbox 2012: Tessa the Domestic Diva

When Tessa the Domestic Diva first started entering my Ingredient-Challenge Monday’s, I must say the events took on a new level of excitement. 

You see, when I do our Ingredient-Challenge Monday reviews, I actually do my best to make every recipe entered.

Yes, every recipe.

And Tessa’s first ICM Winning Recipe for Sautéed Kale with Caramelized Onions has become a staple in our home because of it. 

Anything that gets my kids excited to eat their greens is a welcome item in my home.

Since the this year’s Healthy Lunchbox series was well under way when I would normally have posted a challenge, I opted to skip this month but promise to feature our winning Blueberry Recipe when the ICM challenge opens again in September (and yes, Tessa is definitely in the running!).

Until then, I am so pleased to share Tessa’s lunchbox tips and delicious recipe below.

Thanks, Tessa! xo


I have never considered myself a lunchbox guru. Just like every other mom out there, I find myself whirling around the kitchen to assemble a lunch before the bus arrives. But time and time again, I get asked about lunchboxes, AND I GET IT!! I have learned a thing or two about packing TASTY gluten free lunchboxes, and I would love to share with you! I did a whole 10 day day series on GF lunchboxes which could help inspire you in your GF Allergy-Friendly lunchbox endeavor this year! The topics I covered: Here are the topics I’ve covered in this series of lunchboxes: Reusable Lunchbox Wares, Sweet GF Wrap Ideas, Packing a Balanced Lunchbox, Stocking Up w/ an Oatmeal Snack Cookie, Lunch on a Stick, GF DF Dips & Spreads for a Lunchbox, 10 GF Wrap Ideas, Sweet GF Wrap Ideas, Making Use of Leftovers, Muffins & Waffles for a Lunchbox?!, Top Foods for a Healthy Lunchbox.



The quintessential lunchbox filler: the sandwich. When gluten is out, sandwiches can be the very first thing that people look to recreate. But gluten free breads lack the softness, the texture, and appeal of most of their gluten counterparts (THERE, I said it!).

While my family has several breads we have grown to love…if you are looking to replace your old sandwich bread exactly…you might be disappointed. I have yet to find a GF bread my husband will accept in the form of a sandwich! Great Harvest makes a good loaf on Thursdays, but there are eggs and butter. Udi’s Chia-Millet is my daughter’s favorite, but it has eggs too. We have a local bakery (New Cascadia) that makes many delicious loaves …but all have eggs.

I propose you think OUTSIDE the box when packing a gluten-free lunchbox. Or more accurately: outside the SANDWICH!!

  • The Deconstructed Sandwich: Leave the bread off and cube some favorite sandwich meat, allowed cheese, cherry tomatoes etc. Serve with a toothpick and a mustard and mayo ‘dip’! In this method, I provide a serving of whole grains the form of a muffin or crackers…both popular with my kiddos.
  • The Toasted GF Bread Secret: OK, so maybe it is not a secret, but lots of newbies don’t know this: To get the BEST texture out of your GF bread for sandwiches, toast it lightly first!! I do this before I assemble the sandwich, and it improves the texture drastically in most instances.
  • Protein is protein: protein does NOT need to be housed in a tidy sandwich mold!! make yourself of list of proteins your child will go for (allowed yogurts, nuts, seeds, eggs, meats, nutbutters, etc). Figure out a a serving size, and stuff in it’s own container along with something from every other food group: wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, sensible treat. Think a mini buffet or salad bar: a little of this, a little of that…kids love it!

The Pizza Wrap (foundation):

Finding a perfect wrap. It was my mission.

When corn is out, so are corn tortillas and teff tortillas (they are made with corn too). And quite frankly, we don’t even like corn tortillas as a sandwich wrap, and the teff tortillas are not up our alley (strangely, as teff is one of our very favorite flours?!) We started using brown rice tortillas, but I REALLY wanted a soft, pliable tortilla that mimicked a whole wheat tortilla. It took loads of attempts, but I eventually came up with a recipe that I think is SO good, that even if I COULD have gluten again, these would be in my fridge at all times like they are now.

I used that here, and best of all? I have provided plenty of options for making it grain free or nut free (yet always vegan!) as your allergies dictate. And every version I have made ( and I change it up almost every batch) turns out great! Versatile and handy to have around, this is one recipe you definitely want in your repertoire!

I created this wrap to incorporate one of my kids favorite foods: pizza. The fillings you choose to put in can cater to each person’s preferences and is easily adaptable.


  • 1 GF Flour Tortilla (find my favorite tortilla recipe here)
  • 1-2 slices deli ham, thinly sliced
  • Sliced pepperoni (we like Applegate Farms, no dairy, no gluten)
  • Grated mozzarella cheese (allowed), or any allowed cheese
  • Additional Topping Options: peppers, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, etc.


  • Gently heat the meats in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  • Place the tortilla in an oiled pan, sprinkle with cheese, and top with warmed meats of choice. As the cheese begins to melt, remove from heat. Roll the tortilla up as tightly as possible. I like to make sure there is some cheese on the very end of the tortilla that I roll to to help ‘glue’ it closed in it’s rolled form.
  • Serve along with a marinara ‘dip’!




  1. Those look so delicious, Tessa! Love your tips.

    Honestly, I didn’t even know that Great Harvest made a gf bread. I only knew about the fellow in NC who was passing their gluten-full bread off as gluten free. 🙁 Will look up their truly gf bread.

    Thanks again, dear! Btw, I would love having you pack lunches for me. 😉

  2. Thanks Shirley…Great Harvest explicitly states they prepare their breads in the same location, so it would not be safe for cross-contamination sensitive people for sure! Luckily, our family has been OK with crumbs with no issues so I don’t have to stress about cross contamination.
    And I would pack a lunch for YOU any day! (;


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