Just found out you or a family member has coeliac disease? Giving your favourite dishes a gluten-free makeover is easier than you think. Our experts share their top tips to make meals gluten free.
1 In your baking recipes, use xanthan gum to boost elasticity. Use 1 teaspoon per cup of gluten-free flour for sweets, or 2 teaspoons per cup for savoury items.
2 As a tasty alternative to pita bread, use a single-egg omelette as a wrap for your favourite filling.
3 Replace wheat breadcrumbs with polenta as a crunchy crumb coating for delicious crumbed fish.
4 For an easy, clever replacement for pastry, fold 1 beaten egg into 3 cups of cooked white rice, season with salt and pepper and press into a flan dish.
5 You don’t have to miss out on tasty stuffing just because you are going gluten free. You can still use a ‘regular’ recipe but replace the wheat breadcrumbs with cooked quinoa.
6 Make your own gluten-free plain flour using a blend of the following: 2 parts fine rice flour, 1 part maize cornflour and 1 part soy flour. To make it self-raising, add 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder per cup of gluten-free plain flour.
7 Use cooked brown rice or quinoa, instead of bulgar wheat in your next tabouli salad.
8 Prepare gluten-free sandwiches on a separate board before the household’s wheat-based sandwiches, to avoid cross-contamination from crumbs.
9 Maize cornflour used in place of plain wheat flour helps thicken sauces and gravies.
10 Try rice paper sheets instead of wheat pasta sheets for lasagne. Soak dried sheets in hot water until softened. Blot rice sheets dry with a tea towel and use three sheets per layer.
11 Make gluten-free chicken stock for your soups and sauces. Just sauté chopped carrot and celery in a large pot until golden, cover with water, add chicken bones and simmer for an hour. Strain the liquid and you have your stock.
12 Whip up a batch of homemade gluten-free muesli using quinoa flakes instead of oats. Mix it up with nuts and seeds, a little coconut and dried fruits, and add spices for a different flavour every time.
13 Make your own breadcrumbs by blitzing stale gluten-free bread, dried mixed herbs and parmesan in a food processor. This is perfect for chicken schnitzels.
14 Clearly label peanut butter, jam and other condiments as ‘gluten free’ and keep them separate to use with gluten-free bread only. This will minimise the risk of contaminating them with regular breadcrumbs.
15 Croutons are off the menu, but mixed seeds are the perfect substitute to keep the ‘crunch factor’.
16 Soy sauce is a staple in Asian cooking, but standard varieties are made with wheat flour. Make the switch to reduced-salt tamari sauce to give your dinner a gluten-free flavour punch.
17 You can easily make Mexican fiestas gluten free when you use corn-based tortillas instead of wheat-based ones.
18 To prevent contamination from the residue on a dirty barbecue grill, place gluten-free foods on top of a barbecue liner. This innovative flame-safe, melt-proof mat looks like a place mat and can be bought at homeware stores.
19 Build a collection of dried herbs and spices so you don’t have to rely on store-bought seasonings, which can have added flour (and salt). Some ground spices contain gluten so just check the label first.
20 Risoni may look like rice but it’s actually wheat-gluten free. Replace it with long-grain brown rice instead.
21 Plain air-popped popcorn is a great staple for easy on-the-go snacking instead of oat-based bars and flavoured snack mixes.
22 Udon, ramen and egg noodles are off the menu, but rice noodles or 100 per cent buckwheat soba noodles will do the trick nicely.
23 Plain dairy milk is gluten free, but alternatives like soy milk may, always make sure you check the labels.
24 If you share a toaster, use ‘toast bags’ (Google to find where you can get them locally or online) for gluten-free bread, to prevent cross contamination of crumbs. They look like little pillowslips for your bread.
25 Gluten-free wraps are just perfect for a thin and crispy pizza base. You can hardly tell the difference.
26 Love a lazy weekend grazing platter? Then simply replace your wheat-based crackers with some wholegrain rice crackers.
27 Instead of a bread roll, why not try rice paper rolls? Soak the rice paper in hot water, fill with veg and chicken, prawns or tofu, then fold together.
28 Pulse based pasta made from peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils rather than wheat flour, is a great pantry staple for hearty gluten-free meals. Pulse pasta is also higher in protein and fibre than regular wheat pasta.
29 Sunday morning pancakes aren’t off the menu. A mixture of almond meal, eggs, chia seeds and banana make a light and fluffy pancake breakfast. Or check out our banana pancakes or Gluten-free quinoa and lemon pancakes.
30 Replace bottled salad dressings with extra-virgin olive oil, gluten-free vinegars, honey and gluten-free mustards mixed ‘n matched.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body reacts abnormally to gluten.
- Around one to two per cent of New Zealanders have coeliac disease.
- Around 30 per cent of people may carry the genes implicated in developing coeliac disease, although most won’t go on to develop the disease.
- Currently, the only recognised medical treatment is a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet.