Many families these days are choosing to go gluten free. It can be daunting, however, to think about giving up all those wheat-based cereals, crackers, cookies, and breads we so love. But gluten-free cooking can be very flavorful, and there are entire aisles in some natural food stores and grocery stores dedicated to gluten-free foods. Here are some tips on going gluten free without sacrificing flavor.
If you are going to be making your own gluten-free foods, you will need to work without wheat flour. Once again, this does not mean bland and flavorless. Beans and nuts can be ground into flour, as can alternative grains such as rice. You can also purchase pre-ground, gluten-free flours. Here is a partial list of grains you can eat on a gluten-free diet:
- Oats (see Quick Tip #3 below)
There are also non-grain-based flours made from nuts, beans, potatoes, seeds (such as flax seeds), and even tapioca.
Yes, you can bake gluten-free bread. Look for a comprehensive, gluten-free bread cookbook and experiment. You can also bake flat breads that are gluten free using almond flour, flax meal, and/or rice flour. Some gluten-free recipes contain a large number of eggs to make the breads pliable and puffy.
You may be able to make gluten-free adjustments to your favorite recipes. If you have a favorite pasta dish, you can buy gluten-free pastas made from rice or buckwheat flour. If your favorite sauce contains gluten, see if you can remove the culprit and substitute it with something else. But many sauces do not contain gluten; most likely you’ll just be replacing the pasta.
Some quick ideas for sweet treats that are gluten free include meringues cookies, homemade fudge, fruit and yogurt, and cakes, brownies and cookies made with alternative flours. There are gluten-free cake and brownie recipes that actually use pureed, cooked beans such as garbanzos or black beans.
1. Any foods that are battered or breaded should be avoided. You may not realize that pan-sautéed or grilled chicken or fish may have been coated with wheat flour.
2. Wheat and its variations can be listed in ingredient lists as kamut, cake flour, matzo flour, bran, graham flour, durum, semolina, and farina.
3. Oats do not naturally contain gluten, but store-bought oats often contain wheat due to the way they are processed or handled. Oats labeled “gluten free” are fine.
4. Some grains that contain gluten that you may not think of are rye and barley.