Gluten free meal planning can be rather daunting if you are new to gluten free eating. The thought of saying goodbye to your favourite bread, pasta’s and cookies can be heart wrenching but don’t despair. There are many delicious alternatives and creating a gluten free meal plan that is delicious and nutritious need not be complicated. Changing your diet and lifestyle to a gluten free one can yield many health benefits for you and your family especially if you suffer from celiac disease (gluten intolerance).
Let’s take a look at a few simple tricks to get you started on your new gluten-free diet and start to plan some healthy delicious gluten free meals.
It is a good idea to see what your local store has available regarding gluten free alternatives. Most stores stock a variety of gluten-free bread, cereals, pizza bases and pasta. But beware, not all that is gluten free is necessarily good for you.
Start by building a framework of your current diet and identify where it includes gluten. Then one by one start thinking of creative alternatives to replace the current gluten options.
Here is a list of the most common offenders and how you can replace them.
Pasta & Noodles: If you are not able to find a gluten free pasta at your local store consider replacing it with rice noodles, shirataki noodles, root vegetable noodles, spaghetti squash or quinoa.
Bread: Most stores stock some form of gluten free bread. Be mindful here, gluten free and wheat free are not the same thing. While Rye bread is wheat free, it does contain gluten. Try out spelt bread, corn tortillas, rice crackers, cauliflowers bread or cauliflower pizza crust.
Baked goods: Baking your own delicious goodies with a with a gluten free flour is just as delicious. Most gluten free baking flour is a combination of alternatives like white rice flour, almond flour, tapioca flour, potato starch and brown rice flour to name a few.
Crackers: Try replacing these with rice crackers, seed crackers or root vegetable crisps or almond flour crackers.
Cereal & Granola: Try millet cereal, puffed brown rice or sorghum instead.
Beer: Try a hard cider or glass of wine instead. Some stores even stock a gluten free beer. Sauces: Most sauces have some thickening agent that contains gluten. Try alternative thickeners like corn starch or tapioca starch.
Now that you have the basics in place get creative with your replacements. Make it fresh and colourful to keep your food interesting. Try using big fresh leaves instead of wraps, replace burger buns with big mushrooms or pizza bases with gluten free wraps.
There are hundreds of creative and delicious recipes online to experiment with when you run out of ideas for your gluten free meal plan. Remember any good meal plan should include some snacks in between bigger meals, fresh fruit or nuts are always a winner. Eat a variety of different foods and make sure you get all the essential nutrients that you need.
Remember to drink plenty of water and enjoy the way you just start feeling better day by day as your body benefits from your new gluten free meals and diet.