Adapting Recipes For A Gluten Free Diet
Going Gluten Free
When I discovered that I would need to eat a gluten free diet for the rest of my life I experienced two major thoughts. The first was, at least I finally know what has been wrong with me, what a relief. The second was...
What the hell am I going to eat?!
Going gluten free can be daunting, you have to adapt to a totally different way of life. Family meals can never be the same again and this isn't a choice here, it's not a fad diet to lose weight, it isn't a lifestyle choice that celiacs make. It's an essential requirement that is needed to keep our health in tact.
The one thing that has really helped me switch over to a gluten free diet is the fact that I enjoy cooking. I love making family meals and so adapting recipes to make them gluten free has been a pleasure for me, not a chore.
Tips For Adapting To Gluten Free
- Change your mindset, instead of thinking 'I can't have that' think of all the things that you can have.
- Don't suffer ready made gluten free foods if you don't enjoy them. I've tried the bread, I've tried the pasta. It's not something my taste buds thanked me for.
- Experiment - there are so many foods that we on a gluten free diet can eat: meat, fish, shellfish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds etc.
- Get out of your comfort zone. If you used to eat pasta 5 days out of 7 and don't like the gluten free versions, try rice dishes, casseroles, soups, stir fry's...
- Accept that food shopping will take longer to begin with. Checking the ingredients on everything is a pain, but you'll find lots of good surprises if you do. Don't just stick to the same products every week, there are lots of gluten free items not in the free from section. You just have to check!
- There are loads of free gluten free recipes online, a gluten free diet though restrictive doesn't have to mean boring.
Experimenting With Gluten Free Cooking
There are some meals that have totally had to be scrapped, some that it was still possible to make and even improve upon but with gluten free ingredients, and some recipes that have been born purely through experimentation of gluten free cooking.
Unless you want to be stuck with the bad gluten free alternatives, a bit of creatvity is required in the kitchen. What I mean by bad alternatives are things like gluten free bread and pasta. I'd rather go without for the rest of my life than ingest that crap excuse for food thank you very much!
A great example of adapting a recipe is my Pork Stir Fry. It isn't a meal in itself, I usually serve it with rice, but it's something that I took from a family favorite and made into another. That recipe started out as Gyoza (Japanese pork dumplings), something which I obviously could no longer eat as a celiac. I loved the flavor of the pork filling so much that I decided to experiment and see what I could come up with.
So out went the dough for the dumplings, I made the filling exactly as I would have prior to being gluten free, threw it in a wok and hey presto. Delicious pork marinated in sake and soy sauce as a stir fry! It wasn't complicated to adapt that at all, it just takes a bit of thinking outside the box.
The Pepper Allergy
I have definitely become a better cook since I went gluten free as I'm making much more from scratch. Up until recently I was making my own stock because aside from the small matter of being a celiac, I also discovered by chance that I'm allergic to black and white pepper.
Do you have any idea just how many things have pepper in them? So even though I could have gluten free stock cubes, I couldn't use them as they contained pepper. Recently I have found a chicken stock cube that doesn't contain pepper, so I've reverted to being a bit lazy again. A stock cube is a wonderful cheat!
I went through all of my recipes, ruled out the ones that just weren't going to be adaptable and sifted through the ingredients of the ones that were to see what could be replaced with gluten free (and pepper free!) alternatives.
There have been some interesting cooking experiments! Namely with battered food, and I still haven't quite mastered that!
Coping With Celiac Disease
I have definitely expanded my use of herbs and spices in cooking and they really help to combat any blandness. Family meals are a joy, we enjoy delicious gluten free food that when I discovered I had celiac disease I would never have imagined I could eat.
I've taken a very positive approach to going gluten free, there is no point in me being down hearted about it. Sure those KFC ads annoy the hell out of me, it looks so damn good and I clearly remember the flavors and aroma, but there's no point in me being upset about what I can and can't eat. I'm healthy and that's all that matters. Cooking shows are another annoyance, but I still watch them, so what if I can't have certain things, I can eat my way through all the shellfish population! I'd far rather a lobster than a pork pie anyway.
Being a celiac is tough, I'm not making it sound easy on purpose. I was just so relieved to finally discover what was wrong with me, that eating a gluten free diet is a small price to pay. Your life does become unrecognizable for a while, but once you start playing around with gluten free food, you'll discover that great meals, delicious flavors and hungry tummies can be satisfied in a much more varied way.