Cooking from Scratch
Cooking gluten-free meals from scratch is easier and not nearly as time intensive as you might think. If you are accustomed to dipping a chicken breast or fish fillet in beaten egg and dredging with flour before frying or baking, try swapping out the flour for cornmeal or crushed, gluten-free corn flakes. Spice your coating mix as you desire, but a shake of thyme and red pepper can add a little dash. Add a green vegetable prepared simply with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, or with “safe” flavorings that do not contain gluten (check labels). As a side, try one of many delicious, non-gluten grains such as quinoa or brown rice. Quinoa especially makes a beautiful pilaf. If you like couscous, try making it with quinoa instead. Or, simply serve baked white or sweet potatoes.
If you are a vegetarian, it’s amazingly easy to prepare gluten-free meals. You could make stir-fried tofu and vegetables over rice, or enjoy a myriad of variations pairing legumes like black beans or chickpeas with grains.
Cooking with Prepared Foods
Yes, we’re all busy, and sometimes just putting dinner together is a stretch, let alone making that dinner gluten-free. Fortunately, you have some help. Since so many people are having problems with gluten, food manufacturers are responding with scads of gluten-free products. If you’re willing to pay the price, you can buy ready-made soup, bread and stew mixes, and an impressive array of pastas, most of which are made with rice, quinoa or corn flours. Try making lasagna, baked ziti or simply spaghetti and marinara with gluten-free noodles. If you use prepared tomato sauce, check the labels, as some contain wheat starch or other ingredients made from wheat, rye or barley for thickening agents.
Picking up a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from your supermarket’s deli department is a well-known trick for getting dinner on the table quickly. But some of those chickens are marinated with mixtures that may contain gluten. Check the labels carefully.
Meals on the Go
Gluten-free bread is a dicey matter. Many brands, once defrosted, crumble apart. If you must have your sandwich at lunch, try toasting the bread first. Or, try wrapping your sandwich ingredients in a lettuce leaf, a sheet of nori (a type of seaweed), or a corn tortilla (available in most supermarkets). Pair with fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables or the occasional gluten-free treat like crackers or cookies. If you will be going out for a meal, don’t be shy about asking your server how the food is prepared. For instance, you’d never suspect french fries at your local diner would contain gluten, but many pre-cut, frozen french fries (among other products) have been rolled in flour before frying to make them crispier.
It can be challenging, but with a bit of preparation and knowledge of ingredients, you can easily put gluten-free meals on the table that everyone will enjoy.
Laurie Boris is gluten intolerant and needs to create gluten-free meals daily. She enjoys modifying recipes and trying new ingredients to make flavorful dishes that do not contain gluten and are safe for people with celiac disease. She has also addressed her local Celiac Society on how to choose and prepare nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
Celiac.com, “Celiac Disease” https://www.celiac.com/categories/Celiac-Disease/
CDHNF, “Gluten-Free Diet Guide for Families” https://www.cdhnf.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=40