Gluten is a specific type of protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Going gluten-free means avoiding these grains, and such a diet is essential for people with gluten allergies or celiac disease.
There are lots of foods that are naturally gluten-free—fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, cheese and eggs—so they can form an easy base to your meals. A few gluten-free grain alternatives include: corn in all forms (corn flour, corn meal, grits), plain rice in all forms (white, brown, basmati, enriched rice), amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, cassava, flax, millet, quinoa, sorghum soy, tapioca and teff, and flours made from gluten-free grain, nuts, beans and coconut.
There are many simple ways to add a gluten-free recipe to your diet. Finding the right gluten-free substitute for your usual gluten-containing ingredients is a matter of personal taste, and involves experiments with gluten-free flours and baking aids.
Inspiring Recipe Ideas
- Jan Patenaude, consultant dietitian and certified LEAP (Lifestyle, Eating and Performance) therapist in Colarado advises against all processed grain recipes, and using too much nut flour. “Gluten-free should be more about whole, real foods than a lot of GF crackers, breads and cookies, some of which are nothing more than junk food,” she says.
- Emily Cope, a registered dietitian and consulting dietitian at RDN Mommy Nutrition Services, Rochester, says that creating gluten-free recipes can be a fun process. She gives the example of a kid-favorite—a grilled vegetable kebab made using grape tomatoes, orange sweet peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms with a honey balsamic glaze. A favorite super food of hers—what she calls the perfect nutritional breakfast—is non-fat Greek yogurt that takes just two minutes to prepare, and gives you 40 percent of your daily calcium, 9 grams of dietary fiber, 29 grams of protein, 15 grams of heart healthy fats, and 26 grams of carbohydrates. She makes it by mixing a cup of organic plain non-fat Greek yogurt with ½ cup organic berries, a packet of Stevia, and an ounce of raw almonds.
- Lyn Genet Recitas, executive director of Nutrition: The Plan, experiments with vegetables and fruits and different cuisines. “Try avocado fries with a sweet and sour dipping sauce, gluten-free panko crusted brussels sprouts and leeks, basmati rice with Indian spiced pumpkin seeds and mango salsa, kale and dried cranberry salad, ceviche and Korean cucumber kim chi,” she says.
- Danielle Hamo, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist in Miami has a quick-fire recipe that is a healthy alternative to regular pasta. Roast half a spaghetti squash upside down, drizzled with olive oil, for 45 minutes on 350 degrees. Top the spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and some feta and 2 percent milk cheese (or use soy cheese to make it vegan). “The spaghetti squash gets the consistency of real spaghetti and at 40 calories a cup, it is a great gluten-free recipe,” she says. “Another gluten free healthy dish is using a vegetable spiralizer to spiralize zucchini, which resembles noodles. You can eat them raw or sautéed or boiled, topped with marinara sauce.”
Head to our Food section for healthy recipes and the latest food trends. Also, here are some more recipes and tips for a Gluten-Free Diet.
Cooking With Julieanna Hever: How To Go Gluten-Free