Easy Swaps & Ideas for Going Gluten-Free

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If you’re thinking about trying out a gluten-free lifestyle, summer is a great time to give it a go—with seasonal produce filling market tables and farm animals producing their best eggs, butter, and cheese, it’s a snap to switch your main ingredients from processed wheat-based ingredients to fresh-from-the-farm goods. Peak flavor means that it’s even easier to make simple dishes with only a handful ingredients. How about a perfectly ripe peach with a dollop of mascarpone and a sprinkling of chopped nuts for dessert? Or for dinner, how about grilled salmon with a quick slaw made of spiralized zucchini strands, thinly sliced sweet onion, and chopped tomatoes tossed with balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil? No need to rely on commercial breading or bulky lavash wraps when you can let the flavor of seasonal ingredients shine through.

As you’re pondering what to have for dinner tonight, keep these easy gluten-free swaps and ideas in mind:

Pasta

Nowadays, you can find pasta made from just about anything: corn, quinoa, brown rice, mung beans, chickpeas, even seaweed. (The latter is kept refrigerated and used for non-cooked dishes.) If you have a spiralizer, you can also make your own fresh pasta-like strands from zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, butternut squash, or any other veggie with a firm texture that’s the right size to fit into your spiralizer. Many grocery stores are also starting to carry these ultra-low-carb “noodles” in their refrigerated produce sections. One tip when it comes to grain-based pasta: avoid varieties made with white rice flour, tapioca flour, and other heavily refined starches—instead, stick with pasta made with all or mostly all whole grains.

Sandwiches

If a bread is easily wrappable, you can bet there’s gluten in it—gluten is what creates elasticity in grain-based wraps. But there are other wrapper options, from coconut wrap (a recent Paleo trend) to yuba (made of soybeans, this the “skin” that forms when tofu is made – although read here why I am not a fan of soy) to rice paper wrappers (you’ve probably seen those used to make raw spring rolls). Another easy way to reimagine your favorite sandwich is to take everything inside of it and toss it with freshly chopped Romaine. Think of it as personalized antipasto! Or toss your favorite sandwich fixings with cooked brown rice to capture a hearty grain flavor. Once you’ve blanched leafy greens like collards and Tuscan kale (also called dinosaur kale and lacinato kale) for 2 minutes, you can use them as wrappers, too, or use crisp lettuce varieties like Romaine and endive as sandwich “boats.”

Breading/Breadcrumbs/Croutons

Goodbye, bland store-bought breading, and good riddance—making your own breading/breadcrumbs out of almond flour mixed half-and-half with grated Parmesan-Reggiano is a revelation. A nutty, savory, umami-rich revelation! Or if you’d prefer to stick with grains, use buckwheat flour (for a heartier flavor) or brown rice flour (for a milder flavor) to coat your chicken tenders or fish filets. Crouton swaps include sliced or chopped nuts, tortilla chips, popcorn, or chickpeas cooked in extra-virgin olive oil until crisp and then sprinkled with sea salt. Really, anything crunchy works.

And that’s just the beginning! Once you ditch gluten, you’ll realize that endless tasty options await, options you probably never would have gotten to try if you hadn’t decided to explore what lies beyond wheat.  Get more ideas and resources HERE.

Enjoy your new discoveries!

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