If you or someone that you’re cooking for has Celiac Disease or wheat allergies it’s extremely important to be vigilant about avoiding any gluten sneaking into a meal! Make sure to be an avid label reader! In addition to wheat, other gluten containing foods are rye, barley, spelt and kamut. Oats are a naturally gluten free grain, but because of cross contamination they should be avoided unless they are specifically labeled gluten free. Many condiments, flavorings and thickeners also contain gluten such modified food starch, malt vinegar and soy sauce (unless it’s wheat free and labeled gluten free). One of my favorite substitutes for soy sauce (which may also contain gluten) is coconut aminos. It’s derived from coconut tree sap and has a flavor and consistency similar to soy sauce and can be used in equal measurement to replace soy sauce in recipes.
Try to eat as many foods in their natural form as possible and be the one in charge of combining them with fresh or pure dried herbs, spices and flavorings rather than buying purchasing packaged, ready to serve processed foods. Prepackaged foods often contain artificial colorings, flavorings and thickening agents which are used to keep them as close to freshly prepared as possible and help to maintain a longer shelf life. These quite often contain gluten and need to be avoided. It’s much more fun anyway to prepare a meal simply using fresh ingredients that you’ve created yourself!
Just as there are many gluten free flours available now, there are also quite a few gluten free pastas as well such as brown rice pasta, quinoa blend and corn pasta. If you’d like to try grain free pasta, there are some good types made from different varieties of beans and even almonds.
When preparing gluten free meals for someone with Celiac or a wheat allergy, it’s especially important to avoid the possibility of cross contamination with gluten containing foods. Dedicate a toaster solely for gluten free bagels and toast to assure that they won’t come in contact with any crumbs from traditional breads and bagels. Clean out your cutlery drawers to make sure there are no crumbs hiding in there that may have collected over time. Thoroughly clean your prep area and replace and clean sponges and dish towels often. It’s also a good idea to label which condiments are gluten free and store them together in a separate area in the refrigerator and cabinets than the ones that contain gluten so you won’t accidentally grab the wrong one when preparing a dish.
I prefer making my own salad dressings and vinaigrettes as many prepared ones contain gluten, soy or dairy. It’s a nice way to have fresh dressings that enhance my salads and let the vegetables in my salad shine! I usually use freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, a dash of honey and a few key herbs and spices. I also use different types of vinegar such as raw apple cider, wine or balsamic vinegars. Make sure that it’s pure vinegar and is labeled gluten free as many brands of balsamic and other specialty vinegar may contain caramel coloring which may contain gluten.