Gluten Free Cooking Tips
There is a lot of talk lately about the gluten free diet. Proponents of this special diet plan claim that it has a variety of health benefits, from relieving asthma to combating the symptoms of celiac disease. While perhaps less than 1% of the US population suffers from Celiacs, this can still be a very healthy dietary change to implement. If you are interested in going gluten free, then you need to be ready to make some major lifestyle changes. Need some help easing into it? Here are five tips for transitioning to gluten free cooking:
Purchase over-the-counter gluten free meals
While it is true that you can go to a specially store, stock up on gluten free products, and then attempt to put them all together into an appetizing meal, it may be your best bet to at least start out taking the easy route. Most grocery stores these days have special, gluten free sections, where you can pick out a variety of pre-packaged meal ideas that you can simply follow the directions to prepare. Your best bet though is to buy gluten free grains in bulk online. You can purchase millet, quinoa, buckwheat and other grains in quantities up to 25 pounds or more and save significant amounts of money over purchasing small boxes in the grocery story.
You don’t necessarily have to go on a “special” diet or shop from an expensive health food store to adhere to a gluten free health regimen. It is likely that many of the diet staples you eat now are actually gluten free. For example, look for poultry, fish, and other meats that have no added preservatives, flavorings, or sauces; choose plain, additive-free dairy products; eat all the fruits, vegetables, potatoes, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, and tofu you want!
Use simple substitutes
It is possible that you continue to cook and eat your favorite foods, only with appropriate, gluten free substitutions. For example, sweet rice flour, tapioca and tapioca starch, arrowroot, potato starch, and corn starch are perfect flour alternatives when it comes to thickening sauces and gravies, while corn tortillas are a great alternative to flour tortillas.
Know what to avoid It may be that the best way of determining which foods are gluten free is to know which foods you need to avoid. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from white flour, rye, pasta, bran, couscous, bulghur wheat, barley, and pre-packaged sauces, marinades, spice mixtures, gravies, dressings, condiments, flavorings, and bread/grain products.
Find recipes online If you are having a difficult time sorting through all the safe/unsafe ingredient options, then you can save yourself a lot of confusion by searching the web, the library, or a local bookstore for gluten free recipes. Simply find a recipe you like, create your shopping list from that, and cook away. Check out our own recipes here.
Any major dietary change is a considerable undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may think. Keep these five tips in mind when making your gluten free switch.