Despite what people might think, eating a gluten free diet is not limiting at all. In fact you can get more variety eating a gluten free diet than most people do eating their average diet. When people don't have any limitations, it is ironic, but that is when people tend to eat the same thing day in and day out. When one is restricted to a specific diet either for health reasons (allergies, intolerances, sensitivities or digestive problems) - it forces you to become more creative and add more variety to your everyday eating.
On Wednesday night at my "Gourmet and Gluten Free" cooking class, my participants learned just that. By incorporating gluten free foods in your diet you can have more variety, colour and balance then you ever would have dreamed. For example we made these delicious "Everything Cookies" (recipe below) that had just about everything in them - except for gluten! Based on the response - these cookies tasted better than anything they had ever expected. Also included in the menu was a creamy carrot ginger apple soup, a quinoa pilaf salad with cashews and cherries, a tofu vegetable stir fry with buckwheat soba noodles, black bean and yam burgers, a pesto sauce on brown rice penne pasta and guacamole with blue corn chips. As you can see, there is no lack of flavour, variety, colour and texture in this menu. Gluten free grains are also extremely high in protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and best of all they don't make you bloated! You don't have to be intolerant to gluten to have this variety in your diet - just be creative and have fun.
A word on Gluten:
Gluten is the protein in wheat that many people nowadays have difficulty digesting. If someone is gluten intolerant, they are likely to have Celiac Disease. This can be an exteremly severe situation for some people as everyday digestion is compromised causing inflammation of the small intestine.
People who suffer from Celiac Disease need to stick to a gluten free diet indefinitely.
If someone is just simply sensitive to gluten containing foods it is important to stick to gluten free foods as much as possible to keep the gut lining nourished and soothed.
Examples of Gluten Free Grains:
Grains & Grain Products
GF Grains: amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn (cornmeal, corn grits), fava, flaxseed, garbanzo bean (chickpea, besan, gram or channa), hominy, hominy grits, kasha (toasted buckwheat), millet, pure uncontaminated oats, quinoa, rice, sago, tapioca
GF flours: bean flours (garbanzo, fava, romano), pure buckwheat flour, buckwheat bran, cornstarch, cornmeal, corn bran, garfava flour (garbanzo + fava bean flours), mesquite flour, quinoa flour, montina flour (made from Indian rice grass), nut flours and nut meals, pea flour, potato flour, potato starch, rice flour (white and brown), sorghum flour, soy (soya) flour, teff (or tef) flour
Breads and baked goods made with GF grains and free of other gluten-containing ingredients
Pastas made from rice, beans, corn, potato, quinoa, soy, wild rice and other GF grains
Cold cereals: puffed corn, amaranth, buckwheat, millet or rice, rice flakes and soy cereals
Hot cereals: hominy grits, soy grits, cream of buckwheat, cream of rice, puffed amaranth, rice flakes, quinoa flakes, soy flakes
Rice: brown, white, basmati, jasmine or wild rice
Grains: buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, corn, quinoa
Corn or rice tortillas
Everything (but gluten) Cookies
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. almond butter
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup quinoa flakes
¼ cup puffed amaranth
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup currents
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, honey, vanilla, almond butter and tahini.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour wet mixture over dry and stir to blend well.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared bake sheets.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Cookies will firm up as they cool.
Makes 20-24 cookies.