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Tips to Help Make Going Gluten-Free Easier

Have you been recently told that you are gluten intolerant or have a gluten allergy?

Maybe you've done your research and want to cut out gluten to see if your health might improve from it. Maybe you have no idea how to go about it.

I have been in your shoes, my friend. I know I was overwhelmed and because I have a gluten intolerance, I had to go gluten-free for my health. It seems gluten is in everything. It is in a lot of things. Especially lots of processed foods, but I am writing you today to try to help you navigate a gluten-free lifestyle. It can be done, and I am going to get you started.

First is what is gluten? It's in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oat.

What is the first thing you think you'll have to give up when you go gluten-free? That is what you are thinking, isn't it? What do I have to give up? Well, let's just say you are going to make some different choices.

I bet you were worried about bread first and pasta second. When we think of gluten we associate it with bread and pasta. True, they top the list of gluten-containing foods. But we can still have these somewhat staples, just sans gluten.

From now on I will refer to gluten-free as GF.

Let's get started on that list of tips to get you started on your living a gluten-free life!

#1 Bread. You can still have that sandwich with or without the bread, your choice! You will want to find a GF bread that is a blend of GF flours. I find these the tastiest. One made up of only one type of flour, such as rice flour, will be bland and the texture won't hold up together well. GF bread tends to be crumbly since gluten is what makes bread and pastries fluffy and stick together. I also find toasting gluten-free bread will make it taste better.

Kinnikkiis my favorite bread, found in the frozen section. I keep mine in the freezer at home until needed and then toast it as I use it.

There are a lot of restaurants that offer a GF bun as an alternative to regular bread, just ask. Many times it's on the menu. Or you can ask for a lettuce wrap. Lettuce used in place of a bun, wrapped around your goodies. Or, go without a bun. That's generally what I do. I'll eat my sandwich naked, without any bun, with my knife and fork.

Another tip is if you are eating a hamburger you'll want to find a place that grills the meat, it will be less greasy and taste much better.

#2 Pastas.There are many GF pasta choices to select from. Again, a blend of GF flours is definitely the best. A blend will cook better and have a better texture and flavor than a single GF pasta will.

There are many to choose from: rice, corn, potato, quinoa to bean-based pasta that contains higher levels of protein.

There are some restaurants that offer GF pasta. Just ask. Sometimes it's noted on the menu or they have a separate GF menu.

You can also ask to substitute potatoes in place of pasta; diced potatoes work well, or rice.

#3 Thickeners. We take it for granted how much gluten or wheat flour is used in our day-to-day cooking. That's OK. We can get good at reading labels.

You can use a pre-blended GF flour as a way to thicken soups, gravies or sauces. You can also use starches such as corn, tapioca or potato. You'll still get what you're looking for!

#4 Baking. Blending is key here. To start out with I suggest purchasing some already blended GF flours and see what you like. Again, blending more than one GF flour will provide the best taste and texture.

When you are ready to begin baking GF I advise you to get a GF cookbook. There are many on the market today

You'll want one that explains how to bake GF. You'll need to blend different types of flours and use different things to help make the bread rise and stick together properly. AND GF flours are not cheap, they can be expensive. It's very easy to mess up your baking. Leaving you without a finished product and money down the drain.

It will take some practice, so start with small batches of whatever you bake. But soon people will love your GF items just as much as the real thing and never know the difference.

Just remember, you can do this! You can still cook the meals you love with some adjustments.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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