A gluten-free diet can be difficult to maintain, but there are plenty of enjoyable wheat-free meals to try.
Everybody is different—which can cause problems when you’re trying to cook for a family or group. People with wheat allergies and other conditions treated with a gluten-free diet require a particularly specific menu that cannot contain any wheat products. This excludes a massive portion of foods everyone else takes for granted.
Starters, main courses and desserts alike can cause problems for people on gluten-free diets. When shopping for a meal, always check the packaging for a listing of the ingredients.
Here are some ideas for making gluten-free meals, and what not to include.
Finding Alternatives to Wheat Flour
If you’re cooking from scratch, then you will need to avoid wheat flour and find a suitable substitute. Potato starch flour, tapioca flour or white rice flour are all good alternatives that are both gluten-free and wheat-free—although there are many more possibilities, such as corn starch and almond flour.
The Hidden Wheat in Meat
A lot of favorite dishes have meat as a key ingredient, but this can prove difficult when dealing with gluten-free requirements. The meat from farm animals can receive considerable processing before making it to supermarket shelves, with wheat-based additives used to both preserve and make the meat appear more succulent. This often results in problems for celiac
sufferers, and some avoid eating meat completely. As an alternative to meat, you can use fish and other seafood as key ingredients in your gluten-free meals.
Due to the problems a celiac might have with wheat and other flours, the majority of breads are considered out of bounds. This means no bread roll or croutons with a soup starter, no breadcrumbs on the fish and, of course, no sandwiches!
Certain supermarkets and health food shops provide bread made with other ingredients (such as rice or potato flour) but these can be expensive. As an alternative, you may want to try rice cakes if they’re suitable for the meal you’re preparing. However, most celiacs will be used to avoiding bread.
While all of the above might appear restrictive, there are many super meals that you can make for someone on a gluten-free diet if you want to avoid using special flour.
Potato and leek soup
- Made with leeks, potatoes, stock and a bit of seasoning, this soup can be thickened if necessary by adding more potatoes.
Steamed fish and French fries
- A healthier alternative to the classic battered fish and French fries, the fish can be cooked in a steamer or poached in the oven.
- Meat-free versions of the Spanish rice dish can be prepared for gluten-free diets—specifically paella de marisco, the popular seafood variation.
- This Indian dish relies on chick peas, lentils (or other pulses), ginger, tomatoes and various spices to create what is effectively a delicious vegan curry
- Using chili, haricot and butter beans you can create a delicious chili meal. The beans must be soaked beforehand so prepare in advance.
- You may not be able to have traditional cake on a gluten-free diet, but you can still take pleasure in a great meringue.
These ideas will get you started, but there are many more suitable wheat-free meals. If you have a particular favorite, share it with us in the comments!