Even though only one percent of Americans need to avoid gluten for medical reasons, the gluten-free diet has become a popular lifestyle choice. In a 2015 Gallup poll, one in five Americans are avoiding gluten. Although it’s gaining in popularity, this lifestyle switch can be a challenge. It may seem like you‘re required to give up all your favorite foods, and gluten is everywhere, so you always have to be careful about what you choose on the menu. However, if you learn how to use some key gluten-free ingredients, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods.
Cauliflower is not only a healthy vegetable, but it’s very versatile. If you’ve been exploring wheat-alternative recipes, you’re likely to discover cauliflower crust pizza, which most people claim tastes almost exactly like regular pizza. The same dough can also be used to make flatbread or taco shells.
Cauliflower is also great if you want to cut down on calories and starch. Many people like mashed cauliflower as much as potatoes, and there are various ways to shred cauliflower and cook it similar to hash browns or rice. Search online for cauliflower recipes and you’ll discover numerous ways to create healthier versions of your favorite dishes.
Rice in all its varieties is a staple on the gluten-free diet. Every type of cuisine on Earth has terrific rice dishes. If you’re not a fan of Asian food, you can always have Italian dishes with risotto rice or American dishes from Louisiana such as Chicken gumbo or Creole rice and beans. Also, let’s not forget about rice flour, which is an effective substitute for wheat flour in noodles, crackers and other starchy dishes.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a seed often used to create gluten-free flour. It’s a very popular ingredient among people who are health-conscious, not only because it’s gluten-free, but also because it’s one of the few sources of protein that provide all the essential amino acids. Quinoa is also high in fiber, is usually grown organically, and is high in a variety of other nutrients, which is why it has been labeled as a “superfood” among health food enthusiasts.
One of the challenges of cooking gluten free is making sauces and gravies without using wheat flour as a thickening agent. Tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, is derived from the root of the cassava plant and it’s very starchy, so it’s good for thickening sauces.
As you may guess, almond flour is made from ground almonds. It’s also gluten free and is usually available in local stores. Almond flour has several health benefits that are lacking in wheat flour. It’s a source of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s high in protein, low in saturated fat, and it works particularly well in gluten-free waffle or pancake recipes.
Soy sauce is a common ingredient in Asian food, but the typical Chinese variety contains wheat, so it’s not used in gluten-free dishes. If you still want that umami flavor in your Asian dishes, you can use tamari as an alternative. This Japanese variety of soy sauce has a dark color and rich flavor. However, not all brands are wheat-free, so you should still check the label before purchasing.
No matter what path you choose for healthier living, you’ll get better results if you learn how to cook. Don’t rely on pre-made foods for every meal, because they often contain refined ingredients and sugar, which makes them less healthy than the high-gluten foods they’re replacing. Try incorporating the five ingredients mentioned here, but don’t stop there. Keep exploring new ingredients and recipes, and your life without gluten will be better than it ever was before.