How to put together a gluten-free meal
Updated: Sep 25, 2018
Now that you understand a little more about what gluten is and how it affects your body if you have an intolerance to it, it is time to figure out what exactly you can eat. This is a new lifestyle, so don’t treat it like something you only do when convenient. If you think it will be better, start gradual by slowly removing food items with gluten one by one until eventually the majority of your diet doesn’t have it. Remember that you have a sensitivity, not an allergy, so you can still have some gluten in small quantities.
Foods With Gluten
Before discussing what you can eat when you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it helps to understand exactly what foods are going to contain gluten. It is found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, couscous, bulgur, semolina, triticale, spelt, and many others. This means the majority of cold cuts, commercial broth and bullion, malt, soup, breads, salad dressings, sauces, condiments, processed cheese, and processed foods will have it. Some food items you need to get rid of or reduce considerably are:
· Condiments and salad dressings
· Canned beans
· Processed meat like hot dogs
· Non-dairy creamer
· Egg substitutes
· Granola and trail mix
· Energy bars
· Ice cream
· Fruit filling and pudding
· Cereals and breads
Fruits and Vegetables
For starters, you can begin by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Most fresh produce, and some frozen, is not going to contain any type of gluten and won’t upset your stomach. Some good vegetables to have are greens, broccoli, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, leeks, fennel, artichoke, bok choy, rasishes, onions, cabbage, green beans, celery, and mushrooms. With fruits, you want to be careful about the sugar content. Try to go for fruits like tomato, bananas, lemons, limes, and some berries. These fruits tend to have a lower amount of sugar.
Fats and Seasonings
You don’t have to worry too much about having flavor with your food, just because you can’t have most grains. Healthy fats are a great thing to add to your gluten-free diet, including olive oil and coconut oil, nut butter, olives, nuts, seeds, almond milk, and butter if it is organic and grass-fed. With seasonings and condiments, feel free to have anything without sugar, soy, and wheat. This means mustard, salsa and horseradish are fine, but ketchup is unfortunately out.
As you can see, your new lifestyle will provide you with a lot of tasty, nutritious food even without having gluten.
How to Put Together Gluten-Free Meals
One of the struggles of discovering that you have a gluten intolerance is then trying to figure out what you can eat and especially how to put your meals together. You no longer eat rice or pasta as a side, bread your chicken, have dinner rolls, or eat anything you want. Even if you were on a low-carb or low-calorie diet previously, the gluten-free diet is not going to allow for the same types of foods. Here are some helpful ways to put together your gluten-free meals.
Get a Gluten-Free Cookbook
To start with, it is really helpful to have at least one gluten-free cookbook, but preferably a few different ones. These are going to be your point of reference not just for making sure you have plenty of recipes to choose from, but so you know what foods you can and can’t have. Many of the gluten-free cookbooks available are going to provide food lists, tips, and suggestions for creating meals that help with your gluten intolerance. While many of them cater to allergies or Celiac disease, you can still use the same recipes for your gluten sensitivity.
Start Baking Your Own Bread
This might sound like a huge chore, but once you make your own loaf of bread, you will wonder why you haven’t always done it. There is something about getting bread out of the oven or using a bread maker that is satisfying. Pulling a loaf of bread you made from scratch and slicing it up yourself is rather cathartic, not to mention the smell and fresh taste when it comes from your own kitchen. Baking your own bread helps to save money since you can use a gluten-free bread recipe instead of having to buy an expensive alternative at a local health foods store. Bread machines are easy to use and a quick way to make your own bread.
Find Grain Alternatives
While you can’t have many of the grains you are used to, there are still some that don’t contain gluten. Finding these and using them in your meals can really make up for what you are missing. For example, you might not be able to have some forms of rice or pasta, but you can still have quinoa. This is always gluten-free, healthy, low-fat, and really easy to include in all of your recipes. Also look for foods that naturally don’t have gluten so you don’t have to second guess anything, such as fresh produce, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Get Rid of the Processed Stuff
With things like dairy and meat, it is okay to eat these food items, but you want to avoid anything that is processed. Now is the perfect time to stop eating so much processed food and rely more on the natural options. Instead of hot dogs and deli meat, get ground beef, chicken breasts, and steak.