When your kids’ needs divide, how to serve gluten and gluten free side by side

Both of my boys, but especially my son with Celiac Disease, have always been mac and cheese machines. Cheese is their cup of coffee. It’s the first thing they crave in the morning, and it’s what pretty much keeps them stable and satisfied throughout the day. For this reason, I started stocking up on the microwaveable Kraft Mac and Cheese cups. They’re easy to pack, quick to cook and a favorite pleaser for all the cheesers in my house. Unfortunately, not all of the cheesers in my house can snack on the mac. Since June, I’ve lived in a house divided, where my 5 year old son can no longer consume gluten, while my 2 year old son can be gluttonous for it (And who can blame him? For starters, it’s good! For seconds, he needs it, especially when it comes time to test him for Celiac Disease, as well. It’s important to note that children who are already on a gluten free diet will not screen accurately for Celiac Disease.).

When you have one kid with Celiac Disease, the easiest, often safest way to shop and prepare meals without worrying about cross contamination, is to keep everything identical as if you had twins. Until we had cleared out our fridge of gluten containing products, I sure earned my own quick version of a degree in the culinary arts. I’d whip up gluten free chicken strips. Serve them to my son with Celiac Disease. Then bring out a plate with the gluten containing chicken for my other son. No more. This supermom plan required too much brainpower. Making meals was no longer a routine drive to our favorite park. I had to pay attention. I had to be absolutely certain of which foods went on each plate. Yuck! Since clearing out the fridge, many of the products I purchase on a regular basis are solely gluten free. There is no more cooking up two types of chicken, two types of hot dogs or two types of meatballs. I’m not Type A enough to handle that much prep work. However, it is important that my younger son get his fill of gluten, unless we find out he has an intolerance, as well. And here’s one of the more simple solutions I’ve found to when your kids’ needs divide, how to serve gluten and gluten free side by side.

First of all, Annie’s is just AN incredible company. They make so many glorious gluten free products, including individual, microwaveable cups of mac and cheese. The only problem I’ve encountered with them is their availability in my local grocery stores. Sometimes they’re on the shelves. Oftentimes they’re no where to be found. Frustrated with coming back from the store empty handed, I began to look online. That’s when I discovered that Amazon allows you to subscribe and save. You have the option of having a pack of 12 Annie’s Rice Pasta Cheddar Mac and Cheese cups delivered to your doorstep every 1 – 6 months based on need. They got me with the 2 month plan! 12 cups every 2 months seems ideal for those times when we need a quick cheesy meal on the go. Now I don’t even have to waste a second more of my time frantically searching for them at my grocery store.

Now that I have my hands on both brands (Kraft/Gluten and Annie’s/Gluten Free), here’s how I divide and conquer. First, I prepare identical gluten free plates for both of my son’s (i.e. cut up hot dogs, carrots and apple slices). Then I simply and safely microwave an Annie’s Gluten Free mac and cheese for my son with Celiac Disease, and a Kraft’s mac and cheese for my younger son. They’re easy enough to cook and keep separated without fear of cross contamination, and both of my children are getting their needs met.

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