Once you've swallowed the news that gluten is a no-go for you for life, you're sure to find new favorite foods and treats you enjoy.
For many of us, however, there are strong emotional connections and memories to family recipes and old favorites.
Making those old favorites work on a gluten-free diet may not always be possible, but with experimentation you can continue to enjoy Grandma's chicken and dumplings, dad's spaghetti sauce or biscuits and gravy.
Meat and Potatoes: Changing the Little Things to Make the Recipe Gluten-Free
If your must-have meals are meat-and-potato classics, adaptation is often easy. Most simply prepared meat dishes are naturally gluten-free or can be made gluten-free with simple changes to your old favorite recipes.
Crushed gluten-free rice cereal, gluten-free bread crumbs or almond flour can bread fish or chicken if you're missing those fried treats, or they can substitute for the breadcrumbs in mom's meatloaf recipe. Recipes calling for prepared condensed soups are harder to adapt, but Pacific Natural Foods does make gluten-free boxed condensed soup for casseroles, Crock-Pot dishes or other old-fashioned, home-cooked meals.
Making a Pasta Dish with an Adapted Gluten-Free Recipe
If you're less a meat-and-potatoes type and more a-plate-of-pasta person, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of gluten-free pastas.
Experiment to find your favorites. Gluten-free pasta is made of white or brown rice flour, quinoa and other grains. While the texture is surprisingly good, be extra-careful about cooking your gluten-free pasta to keep it from getting gummy and unappealing. Tomato and meat based sauces are typically gluten-free.
You can easily adapt cream or cheese-based sauces to a gluten-free diet. Instead of creating a roux with wheat flour and butter, use your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour.
Gluten-Free Soups and Stews: What Do I Need to Replace?
Gluten-free soups, from vegetarian options to rich beef stew, can provide the cozy feeling of home without leaving you feeling sick. Unfortunately, canned and packaged soups often contain wheat starch, modified food starch or soy sauce. If you're making soup at home, opt for canned stock or choose a purchased stock clearly labeled gluten-free to keep your soup safe.
Many classic favorites, from tomato soup to broccoli-cheese soup are easy to make gluten-free. When chicken noodle is your comfort-food preference, you may have to experiment. Try gluten-free pasta or rice noodles in place of the usual egg noodles, or experiment with making your own egg noodles if you're handy in the kitchen.
Gluten-Free Breakfast: The Easiest of All
Whether you're eating breakfast for breakfast or breakfast for dinner, breakfast dishes adapt easily to a gluten-free diet. You'll find pancake and muffin mixes on the shelf of your local health food store. Skip mixes that rely on just one kind of flour in favor of those that use several for the best flavor and texture without the grit that often accompanies gluten-free flours. Here are a few gluten-free flours that are sourced from a number of flours:
- Cup4Cup - Chefs Lena Kwak and Thomas Keller recently refined their proprietary blend and launched it nationally just a few months ago, in August 2011. You'll never be able to tell that their versatile, complex blend of flour is gluten-free!
- Jules Gluten-Free - Jules Shepard has been baking gluten-free and developing gluten-free products as long as anyone. She travels the country speaking to thousands of people annually, has developed a number of all-purpose flour blends, and has written three books on gluten-free cooking. Her flours truly reflect the trust she has built with her community of customers.
- King Arthur Flour - King Arthur's signature, specialty flours are great for everything from high-rising yeast breads to flaky piecrusts. If you haven't tried thse, you're really missing out.
In addition, eggs and bacon, fresh fruit and gluten-free oats can round out your breakfast options, allowing you to keep eating the foods you love, even after gluten is off the menu.
What about you? Do you have any tips to add to the above to make gluten-free meat dishes, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free soups, or gluten-free recipes? What are your favorite gluten-free ingredients to incorporate in your gluten-free recipes?