“Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy.” - Mary Berry
This is definitely the case if you’ve decided to go gluten-free either by necessity or through choice. 8.5 million Brits have gone gluten-free.
However, going gluten-free isn’t an easy thing. You need to completely change your eating habits, discover which foods contain gluten, and learn to cook new dishes.
This means you’ll need to change a few things in your life but there are ways to do it. In this article, we're looking at gluten sensitivity, gluten-free food, gluten-free products, and how you can maintain a gluten-free diet.
Avoid Ready Meals
Gluten is a protein that’s present in wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Say goodbye to wheat flour, white bread, cereals, and other types of dough.
Gluten can also be found hiding in a load of other food, too. For example, ready meals tend to use gluten products as thickeners. This means you’ll also find them in sauces and soups as well as ready meals. You can even find gluten in frozen chips, chocolate, and certain dairy products can also contain gluten.
So what can you do?
The easiest solution is to just avoid ready meals, instant soups, and sauce mixes. Going gluten-free is an opportunity to go back to the basics, including raw ingredients, which are generally better for your health, don’t contain additives, and are gluten-free.
Back to basics!
Find out the reasons for going gluten-free.
Avoid Gluten by Deciphering Labels
If you really want to snack on some biscuits, pastries from the gluten-free aisle, or yoghurt with chocolate chips, you’ll need to learn how to properly check the labels for what’s really gluten-free.
If you’ve got coeliac disease (gluten intolerance), this is hugely important. If you’re sensitive to gluten, you can probably deal with a few traces without too many problems.
Gluten can be found hiding in everything (even charcuterie) so check the packaging doesn’t say “may contain traces of gluten”. Lentils, for example, may have been in a factory that uses gluten to make instant soups or other products that contain gluten.
You can look for the icon with the corn with a line through it, too. Check the ingredients: if they mention barley, wheat, rye, etc., you’re going to have to leave it.
The best way to avoid gluten is to stop eating anything that’s been preprepared and start cooking for yourself with raw ingredients.
There are plenty of great gluten-free recipes you can enjoy if you cook for yourself and they allow you to enjoy a plethora of different cuisines.
Those with gluten intolerance need to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables as well as vegetable oils in order to obtain the nutrients and minerals they need.
Use Gluten-Free Flour
Wheat flour can be found in plenty of dishes but it contains gluten. Fortunately, it’s very easy to replace it by following a few rules. It’s recommended to use different flours together in order to find a balanced and neutral taste. Each type of gluten-free flour has a distinctive taste and colour so blending them together is a way to neutralise them.
Here are the essential gluten-free flours:
- Rice flour: With its neutral taste, this is great for cakes, béchamel sauce, pie crust.
- Buckwheat flour: This has a strong taste (you either love it or hate it) and is great for savoury pancakes, pie crusts, biscuits, and cakes. If you like the taste, you should use it. However, you may want to mix it with another flower to sweeten it up.
- Millet flour: High in fibre, this is good for mixing with rice flour and making bread, muffins, crepes, or tortillas.
To mix things up, you might also consider chestnut flour, chickpea flour, or cornflour. You can also mix in starch from potatoes, corn, or rice to get lighter results. You should also systematically weigh your flour when cooking as they have different densities. If you find the taste of the flour to be overpowering in sweeter dishes, you can add vanilla extract or nutmeg or cinnamon to savoury dishes.
Find a reputable nutritionist near me here.
Replace Chemical Raising Agents
Chemical raising agents are commonly used in baking to make the mix lighter. However, they tend to contain gluten. Fortunately, there are other options that you can replace it with and still get airy cakes:
- Guar gum: used in soups, sauces, ice cream, pastries, and bread.
- Xanthan gum: you can create a mix of 75% guar gum and 25% xanthan gum to improve the texture.
- Baker’s yeast: despite what you may think, this doesn’t contain gluten.
- Sodium bicarbonate: be careful not to use too much as the taste isn’t great (2 to 3g should do it for a cake). You can mask its taste with a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice.
- Egg whites: added delicately to aerate your dough.
Use unrefined sugar to make your cakes soft and moist.
Guests coming round?
Don’t worry about making different dishes for you and your guests. There are plenty of popular dishes that are already gluten-free.
Here’s an example of a gluten-free meal:
- Vegetables as a starter: Soups or crudités.
- Meat, fish, or eggs with rice, potatoes, quinoa, or dried vegetables like lentils, chickpeas, beans, and vegetables.
- Fruit, fruit salad, sorbets, mousse, or dairy for dessert.
Even if not everyone there is gluten-free, make sure you separate the foods that contain gluten so that there’s no confusion.
Find out which foods are gluten-free.
Discover Other Cereals
Cooking gluten-free dishes is an opportunity to discover the other cereals and replace dough with other vegetable products. Use your whole grain rice rather than white rice: it’s more filling and you can use it for plenty of different dishes. It also contains minerals and vitamin B.
There’s also quinoa, millet, and buckwheat. There are plenty of gluten-free options but some contain a lot of additives.
Consider lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas, etc. They’re high in vegetable protein and are useful when you’re trying to reduce your meat consumption.
Check out online sports nutrition courses here.
Make Gluten-Free Bread
If you can’t get rid of bread, you can make your own gluten-free bread by replacing wheat flour with gluten-free flour.
Here’s some advice for when you do:
- The yeast needs to be activated in warm water (between 38°C and 43°C). If the water’s too cold, it won’t rise, and if it’s too warm, the yeast will die.
- Add as much water as you do flour to help it rise.
- Don’t knead the dough and cook it in an oiled pan.
- You can add a bit of guar gum and xanthan gum to improve the aeration.
Discover some great gluten-free recipes.
Eating Gluten Out and About
It’s much easier making your own gluten-free options than it is finding them when you go out.
In restaurants, you should opt for salads as they don’t tend to contain gluten. If you’re gluten intolerant, you might want to visit gluten-free restaurants so that you don’t run the risk of your food being contaminated with gluten.
If you’re going to a friend’s house, you might want to bring your own gluten-free cake or bread so that you’ll definitely have something to eat. You may also want to snack a little before you go in case they've only made food that contains gluten.
So are you ready to go gluten-free?
If you need any help with nutritional advice, consider getting in touch with one of the private tutors on Superprof. There are plenty of talented nutritionists, dietitians, and fitness instructors who can help you. There are three main types of tutorials on offer: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Face-to-face private tutorials offer a bespoke service. Since they're just between you and the tutor, they can focus fully on you and your goals. Of course, this does come at a cost and face-to-face tutorials tend to be the most expensive type of tutorials available. However, they're often the most cost-effective, too!
Online tutorials are also just between you and the tutor but with the main difference being that the tutor isn't physically there in the room with you. Thanks to the internet, you can now learn online, communicating with your tutor via webcam using video conferencing software such as Skype. With fewer travel expenses and the ability to schedule more tutorials per week, online tutorials tend to be cheaper per hour than face-to-face ones.
Finally, group tutorials involve one tutor and several students. With multiple students, less of the tutor's time will be spent focusing on you. However, the cost of the tutor's time and expertise will also be shared amongst all the students. This means that group tutorials are usually the cheapest per student per hour.
Find nutritionist near me here.