For someone who has recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, the lifestyle changes required to be healthy can be daunting! While the internet is filled with recipes, many of them require foreign sounding, special ingredients. Gluten free products are hard to find, and when you do find them, they can be very expensive.
Personally, I am on a journey to eat gluten free as simply and inexpensively as possible. As I get more acquainted with this strange new, gluten free world, and as my body heals and begins to absorb more energy, I may get braver and try my hand at some of the more complicated things, but for now I want simple recipes with few ingredients, and things I can just pick up from the shelves of my neighborhood grocery store.
Perhaps the biggest challenge will be breaking the old bread and pasta habits, so learning to branch out and try new things can make gluten free eating an adventure.
You can start out by making simple changes. Beef Stroganoff is just as tasty over rice or potatoes as it is over noodles. Mexican dishes can be made with corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. Tortilla chips make a good substitute for crackers, and are great for scooping up a hearty dip. Forget the cream of mushroom soup. Make your sauces from cream cheese thinned with milk, or with a sour cream base. Corn starch can also be used, instead of flour, as a thickener for stews, gravies, soups and sauces.
There are very few gluten free products on the cereal aisle, but Chex cereals have a few, clearly marked gluten free choices available. Rice Chex, Corn Chex and a honey nut and a cinnamon flavored option are also available. Rice Krispies original has added malt, which is a wheat product, but they have just introduced a new brown rice cereal that is gluten free, so you can make your Rice Krispy Treats after all!
Oats are another possible choice, but there is risk of cross contamination, since oats are usually processed in the same plant as wheat products, even possibly in the same machinery. Certified gluten free oats are available, but not all stores carry them.
Eggs provide a healthy protein that is quick and easy to cook when you are hungry for something now! If you pair them with the southern favorite, grits, you can satisfy both your protein and your carb cravings. Omelets can also be used in place of pasta in some recipes. The Frugal Gourmet has a recipe for Italian Omelets in one of his books that I have adapted for myself for many years. Simply fill an omelet with cheeses, meat and spaghetti sauce and you will never miss lasagna.
Basic green salads are fairly easy. Just omit the croutons and read the dressing ingredients to make sure there is no hidden gluten.
All fruits and vegetables and dairy products are naturally gluten free in original form. It takes a little effort to insure that nothing harmful has been added to packaged products, but there are ingredient lists and websites to help you get familiar with the terms used to identify the gluten hidden in unexpected places.
There are many resources online to help aid and inspire you in your pursuit of a healthy, gluten free diet. You can find blogs, downloadable cookbooks, and resource pages that will point you in the right direction. One of my personal favorites is Pinterest, where I can subscribe to the gluten free recipe posts of countless creative cooks, post a few of my own, and save all the most promising recipes to try at my leisure.
My gluten free journey has just begun, so I’m no expert, but I’m determined to experience it as a culinary adventure. If you also have need to walk this path, subscribe to my “Lifestyle” column here on Examiner so we can enjoy the trip together.