Let’s talk some more about gluten-free meal-planning!
For me, at least, eating gluten-free was very similar to eating paleo (but with extra cheese)! It was a matter of re-examining familiar favourites and seeing how they could be made gluten-free, as well as mostly just planning my week with fewer or alternate starches. As with any other meal plan, planning was key. It was important to have lots of fresh ingredients in the house, and to have a good idea of what each day’s meal plan (and back-up meal plan) would be.
Here’s a tip with any dietary change – aim to have a back-up plan that takes you less time and effort, but still complies with your dietary strategy. Sometimes derby practice runs long, or work piles up. You don’t always have hours to spend in the kitchen. With a Plan B (for me, it’s usually a can of tuna on a green salad), you can have a healthy meal that takes no time or brain power.
…Back to gluten-free eating. With this diet, I didn’t have any serious digestive upset, or changes in mood or energy. To be fair, though, I try to keep my regular meal-planning pretty grain-light. If you’re someone who is eating refined grains every day, the switch to gluten-free might be a bit tougher.
One challenge with a gluten-free diet can be the deceptive marketing of gluten-free products. Remember, gluten is often what gives our pastries and baked goods that extra something – grains generally have strong textures and flavours. When you remove the gluten, some food providers will fill the void with added fat, sugar and salt. So, be careful to read your labels, not only to avoid gluten, but also to avoid unwanted extras in your gluten-free fare.
While I didn’t go crazy buying gluten-free everything, I did try a few pre-made gluten-free snacks – Udi’s carries a variety of gluten-free products (many of which are also dairy-, soy-, and nut-free). I tried their muffins, which were tasty and didn’t feel dry or mealy like some gluten-free baking can. Are pre-packaged gluten-free snacks the best choice? Probably not – but with more and more people choosing to eliminate gluten, there are more and more decent options for meals on-the-go gluten-free meals that won’t break the bank.
If you’re curious about whether or not you have a sensitivity, trying a short-term elimination diet (under the guidance of a registered dietician or nutritionist) won’t be likely to do you any harm, though you might find that you’re cranky, or have energy dips for the first few days. Remember, while gluten itself has no real health benefits, some gluten-containing foods do offer necessary vitamins and minerals to your diet. If you go gluten-free, make sure you’re getting enough fibre and vitamin B. While grains are good sources of those nutrients, fibre can also be found in corn, beans, avocado, edamame, pears, peas, apples and almonds. Vitamin B can be found in legumes, potatoes, and bananas.
All sorts of meals can be made gluten-free; just substitute your breads and pastas with rice, corn or potato. Or try switching your grains with greens: eat your wrap in a lettuce leaf, or your stir-fry on a bed of steamed bok-choy. Easy switches!
While I didn’t do too much gluten-free baking during this experiment, I found this helpful guide to keeping your baking light and moist.
My one baking experiment turned out great (and wasn’t even that difficult):
Gluten-Free Banana Bread, from The Kittchen
Ingredients: 3 tbsp room temperature butter, 1/2c brown sugar, 3 ripe mashed bananas, 2c almond meal, 1/2c gluten-free flour, 2 eggs, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4tsp nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4c walnuts and/or dark chocolate chunks,
I am a great lover of all sorts of banana bread, so what better treat to try gluten-free? Now normally, with a recipe as simple as banana bread I’d be mixing up my butter for coconut oil and subbing out my sugars with honey or applesauce, but since we’re already using unfamiliar flours, I thought it best to stick pretty close to the recipe (next time, maybe I’ll be a bit more adventurous).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar, add bananas and beat until smooth. Fully mix in almond meal, then eggs and gluten-free flour. Next add baking soda, nutmeg, vanilla and walnuts/chocolate. Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
Tip: I like to make mini-loaves because they are finished sooner and tend not to fall as easily!
The final product was delicious and moist. While the texture wasn’t quite the same as regular banana bread, the chunks of nut hid the change well. It’s so good – you’d swear it has gluten!
“My Homemade Gluten-Free Parmesan Chicken”
Ingredients: 1 large chicken breast, approx. 1/2c cooked quinoa (follow the package directions), garlic powder, parmesan cheese, pepper, paprika, 1 egg, EVOO
Preheat oven to 400. Blend cooked quinoa, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, pepper, paprika together. Dip chicken breast in beaten egg and coat with quinoa mix. Pan-fry chicken breast with olive oil for one minute per side, then bake in oven at 400 until cooked throughout. Top with marble cheese and salsa. Fraxx likes to serve with a side salad.
Now it’s your turn! Any other awesome gluten-free dishes we need to know about? Please share with us in the comments!