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Gluten-free alternatives for eight popular dishes

10 February, 2016
For those who are gluten intolerant, coeliac, or simply choose to avoid having gluten, you are automatically restricted from eating a number of delicious food products such as regular bread and pasta. However, thanks to the increasing number of people going gluten-free, a number of substitutes for these products can now be used to ensure that you don’t miss out! We’ve put together this guide of some common substitution options to help.

1. Quinoa porridge

If you simply can’t function without your morning porridge, then a gluten-free diet would be very tough. Fortunately, many supermarkets stock rolled quinoa in their health food section, which makes for a delicious gluten-free porridge or oatmeal. And the great news is that you cook it in pretty much the same way that you would cook a regular batch of oats.

2. Chia seed bran or pysllium instead of bran-based cereals

Bran-based cereal is certainly a popular breakfast option, but there are gluten-free alternatives available. Chia seed brand and pysllium pretty much do everything you’re looking to achieve with your morning bran flakes, but without requiring your body to deal with gluten. Another advantage is that both of these options are relatively high in protein and fibre (in comparison to bran flakes). 

So if you’re looking for a tasty change up to your morning routine, ditch the bran flakes in favour of chia seed brand or pysllium for a delicious gluten-free breakfast.

3. Lettuce leaf wraps instead of bread sandwiches

Bread is one of the main culprits when we’re talking about the oversaturation of gluten in everyone’s diet, but the other parts of your daily sandwich probably aren’t doing that much harm. So instead of eliminating your sandwich entirely, opt for an alternative to traditional bread for your sandwich like lettuce leaf wraps. Other options include a lunchbox salad (or deconstructed sandwich if you were ordering it at a fancy restaurant), where you can enjoy everything that’s good about your daily sandwich without having the bread element.

4. Swap crackers and dip for veggies and dipshutterstock_298582691

If you’re in the habit of serving up crackers and dips when you’ve got guests over, it can be a nice idea to swap these for a vegetable platter with ingredients such as carrots, celery, and even capsicum. As delicious as crackers can be, they also contain gluten and should be avoided. 

Also make sure you double-check the ingredients of any store-bought dips to ensure that a wheat thickener hasn’t been used. A great idea is to make fresh dips at home, which will help you ensure that no unsafe ingredients have been used. A great example is this
Roast Capsicum Hummus that will have everyone asking you for the recipe!

5. Pasta dishes with vegetables substituted for the pasta

One of the hardest parts of moving to a diet that is low in gluten and carbohydrates is the knowledge that you won’t be able to eat as many carbohydrates in the form of pasta. However, the good news is you don’t have to cut out your favourite pasta dishes as different vegetables can often substitute the pasta element.

For example, you can shred cooked squash to go deliciously with any traditional spaghetti recipe, or you can shave a carrot or zucchini with a vegetable peeler to get ribbons that make a tasty ‘fettuccini’ dish. By being a little bit creative with your vegetables and pasta recipes you should be able to enjoy all your favourite dishes without having to abandon your gluten-free diet.

6. Cauliflower instead of couscous

On the surface it seems difficult to fathom exactly how cauliflower could be used as a substitute for couscous, but it’s actually quite an ingenious solution. If you’ve got a food processor all you need to do is pop your cauliflower in it, whizz it up for a few seconds on high, and voila – instant couscous! It’s a delicious and filling dish, and if you want it warm you can heat it through in a pan with a little bit of oil before you add it to your recipe. It’s delicious, easy and - most-importantly - gluten-free.

7. Almond meal instead of flour for baking

While there are a variety of gluten-free flours available, they tend to be very low in protein and, as a result, don’t deliver fantastic results. The good news is that almond or other nut meals tend to give better, more substantial results that could suit particular recipes better than the gluten-free flours. Your best bet is to do a little bit of research and find a recipe that’s constructed to use almond meal instead of flour, but you’ll generally find you can enjoy many of your favourite baked goods.


8. Eggs without toast

While there is a wide range of gluten-free breads available these days, a smarter (and significantly cheaper) option is to just have your morning eggs without toast. Switching to a hot breakfast for a few days every week actually provides a healthy protein-rich alternative, particularly if you’re having your eggs scrambled or poached.

For even healthier results, ensure you use oils such as rice bran oil or olive oil.

Many people are turned off by a gluten-free diet because they feel as though they’ll have to give up too many of their favourite dishes. The good news is that there is a range of substitutions you can use for gluten-based products that still allow you to enjoy your favourite dishes. By making sure you use a bit of creativity, you can eat gluten-free without having to sacrifice your favourite foods.

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