I grew up on PBJ sandwiches for lunch, with the occasional lunch meat sandwich thrown in for variety. As an adult, especially one who is gluten sensitive, I am more interested in sandwich-free lunches these days. I see this meal as an opportunity to fit in some nutrient-rich vegetables, too, since it’s hard to get enough at dinner and snack time. Naturally, then, a variety of salads are my favorite lunches. Close behind, though, are lunches built around last night’s dinner – easy to make and a good way to clean out the fridge.
With no gluten in sight, try these easy lunch salads or spruced up leftovers.
1. Spinach Salad
2. ABC Salad
3. BLT Salad
4. Caprese Salad
5. Leftover Rice and Veggie Bowl
6. Leftover Potato Bowl
7. Leftover Chicken Bowl
Hoping you enjoy your lunch, with plenty of water and fresh air.
Did you know that year after year, surveys show the most popular breakfasts in the U.S. are grain-based? Waffles, pancakes, toast, bagels, danishes, donuts, cold cereal, poptarts, pastries, breakfast bars, English muffins, scones, and the list goes on!
Sometimes, just thinking about those foods can make a gluten-free diet seem unfair. Other times, impossible.
There are many gluten-free alternatives to popular breakfast foods (e.g. GF waffles, breads, and bars); I have seen and tried many of them, and they are usually just as tasty as the gluten-containing originals. I also make my own granola using GF oats, and have talked in previous blogs about making my own GF pancakes and waffles.
But a better use of my time has been exploring breakfasts that do not have grain-based foods at all. I find that I usually feel more satisfied, feel full longer, and have more energy if I skip the gluten-free grains above, because many of them have extra sugar and fat that I don’t really want or need.
In that spirit, with a nod to good health, I share a week’s worth of my favorite gluten-free breakfasts. Feel free to share yours, too!
Wishing you the best of health and a happy Spring!
A concern I have heard a lot recently is if there is gluten in medications and supplements. It is a fair question, because gluten may be used as a coating, filler, binder, or other inactive ingredient.
Let’s start with medications. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the majority of oral drug products are not likely to contain gluten. Specifically about wheat, their website states: “based on information available to the Agency, we are aware of no oral drug products currently marketed in the United States that contain wheat gluten or wheat flour intentionally added as an inactive ingredient. We would expect any such product, if it existed, to include wheat gluten or wheat flour in the list of ingredients in its labeling.” (FDA)
Still, always be sure to discuss prescriptions with your doctor to make sure they do not contain gluten, and check the ingredients on over-the-counter medications.
With supplements, it is a little trickier, because it depends on the type of supplement. Obviously, if you are looking at a food type supplement, such as a protein powder or meal replacement beverage, you must read the label carefully and even call the manufacturer to discuss ingredients. In these you are more likely to find gluten-containing substances as an ingredient, not just a filler or coating.
With vitamin and mineral supplements, look for gluten-free on the label. I do not recommend specific brands because formulas and ingredients change, but I do often use reference lists published by two trustworthy sites; you can explore them here:
As with foods and beverages, read the label of medications and supplement, and be on the lookout for caramel coloring, modified starch, pregelatinized starch, dextrates, dextrimaltose, and dextrin, among other ingredients.
As you know from last week’s blog, I love baking. I experimented with preblended gluten-free flours, and then got brave enough to try a variety of gluten-free individual flours. Almond, oat, rice, tapioca… so many to choose from, my pantry is now full of them.
My favorite project last week was homemade gluten-free fettuccine. My previous attempts making pasta with preblended gluten-free flours had not been great, but then I found a recipe that used brown rice flour, tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch) and xanthan gum instead. Success! Delicious and great consistency. Here is the recipe.
GF flours come from a variety of grains. Be sure to buy ones that are labeled gluten-free, because many grains are grown or processed in the same places as wheat, barley or rye, so there may be cross-contact.
It is to our advantage that there are so many varieties. It is usually necessary to combine two, three or more of these flours to get the best flavor, structure, and texture, so most recipes call for several. Thus, my full pantry.
Rice flour is a common type of flour in GF baked goods and recipes. White rice flour is ground from white rice, is a light color, and has a very mild flavor. Brown rice flour is ground from brown rice, which is higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice because it has the bran and germ still in place. These also give it a nuttier flavor.
Here is a quick list of other GF flours packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals:
For specific uses, visit Beyond Celiac’s Intro to GF Flours.
I hope you will enjoy experimenting as much as I do. Be well.
Are you ready to branch out from store bought GF breads, crackers, muffins, cookies, and banana bread? Are you ready to bake from scratch? The good news: there are many gluten-free flours to choose from. The bad news: it can be a bit overwhelming!
PART 1: GF PREBLENDED FLOURS
For me, the safest way to start baking gluten-free was to use a preblended flour. My first attempt to make my own flour-based product was cookies. Why not, right? I knew the sweet taste of sugar and soft mouthfeel of butter would hide any weird taste that might pop up, so I was up for the challenge: peanut butter cookies. I bought an All Purpose Flour mix from the grocery store. Depending on where you live (or from whom you want to order online), you might choose your store brand (such as Harris Teeter), Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, or Nuts.com, among others.
I was very pleased with the cookie results, so the next week I made GF lemon poppyseed muffins. This time, I was less pleased. They tasted good but I thought they were dense, compared to the light muffins I preferred. It was frustrating, because my daughter had made amazing GF chocolate chip cookies and my son baked delicious GF scones. Maybe I needed to try a different flour?
I did some research, and realized that preblended gluten-free “All Purpose (AP) flour” comes in a variety of flavors and weights, depending on the ingredients. The one I used was made with garbanzo beans, giving it a beany flavor and texture. Other AP flours have fava beans, cornstarch and tapioca in different amounts, changing the flavor and firmness. It just really depends on the combination of flours. I did not like the AP flour for sweet foods, but found it great for savory foods – it works well for bread, crackers and as a breading for chicken.
By contrast, the other bakers in my family used gluten free “1-to-1 baking flour”. This type of GF flour typically has a base of white and brown rice flours, giving it a neutral flavor and lighter texture. It also contains xanthan gum, an important thickening and stabilizing agent. I tried this the next time I baked muffins and they were so good, they tasted and felt like the regular gluten-full muffins I usually make. I use this lighter blend for other sweet baked goods like quick breads and cookies.
Here is my take-away for using preblended gluten free flours:
PART 2: OTHER GF FLOURS
What about pancakes, waffles, and pizza dough? So far, I have to admit I have used a GF pancake mix and a GF pizza dough mix…. see, this whole going GF journey is hard, and I’ve been focusing on label reading, getting enough fiber, adding variety to my fruits and vegetable intake, etc., just like you.
What about pasta? In my two efforts so far, I have used each blend once: GF all purpose flour for lasagna noodles and GF 1-to-1 baking flour for fettuccini. Both were just okay and I want to do some more experimenting and report back.
I am ready to go beyond preblended flour mixes for these foods, and there is a whole new world of options to explore: oat flour, almond flour, tapioca flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour, and more. They are calling to me from my pantry so stay tuned!
And stay well.
What does a dietitian, nutritionist, and health professional do when she discovers she has to avoid gluten? I mean, avoid it to prevent painful symptoms, not to follow a trend. Find out here and get insider tips on diagnosis, management, and navigating a life-long journey.