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Eating Gluten Free: 5 Healthy, Gluten Free Alternatives

Eating Gluten Free: 5 Healthy, Gluten Free Alternatives

These gluten-free swaps are the perfect way to make sure you’re not missing out on some of your favorite healthy foods.

These days, it appears that the gluten-free trend is the butt of everyone’s jokes (skyrocketing to fame as Miley Cyrus’s diet of choice probably didn’t help the cause!) But for genuine sufferers of celiac disease or gluten-free intolerance, the most innocuous of every-day dishes can be the source of symptoms ranging from discomfort to extreme debilitation.

It’s undeniably a rough trek through the world of food when you constantly feel like an afterthought. Looking for a snack at your favorite coffee spot? No problem, try this gluten-free coffee cake with the consistency of cardboard that’s been sitting here long enough to make friends with the regulars!

I see this less-than-rosy world through my sister’s eyes -- not that she ever complains (much), but it’s no fun when you want to dive into the guacamole at margarita happy hour with everyone else only to find that the complimentary chips are flour-based, and the corn chips will be an additional $2.

Even for those of us who are fine with gluten, choosing the gluten-free option can open the door to new great, healthy flavors -- buckwheat or amaranth, anyone? Cutting down your everyday intake of refined flours isn’t the worse thing in the world, either.

Whether you’re cooking with a gluten-free or celiac-suffering friend in mind or just want to dabble, try out some of my family’s five favorite healthy swaps that take gluten out of the equation:

Pizza

One of my sister’s favorite dishes is pizza. Often it can be a tricky swap as most pizza doughs are synonymous with the lift and chewiness offered by gluten. While you can make your own gluten-free pizza dough, our gluten-free pizza recipe uses a corn tortilla or another gluten-free wrap as the base.

Go a little lighter than usual on the toppings to accommodate a thinner base, bake at 450˚F (on a pizza stone or pancake griddle, kept in the oven during preheating) for 15 minutes and you’ll end up with a gourmet, thin crust pizza that’s a terrific, fast and healthy substitute.

Choose a healthy tomato base, fresh toppings like vegetables (or even halved grapes or pineapple) and go easy on the cheese -- opt for smaller quantities of feta or mozzarella. Small dollops of our healthy kale pesto will also kick up the flavor quotient. Your gluten-free pizza will satisfy your cravings (and your gluten-free buddy’s); plus, you’ll duck the food coma of a Domino’s.

Salad “Bowls”

Many restaurant salads are served in a bread bowl. This not only counteracts the health attributes of the salad you’ve picked, but also decisively cuts out gluten-free diners.

Solve both problems by creating an avocado cup salad: halve and pit an avocado, score each half in a criss-cross pattern (for easier scooping later!) and fill the indents with a salad mix. We like black bean-based salads with red onion, corn and tomatoes, or perhaps a cucumber mix with radishes and miso. You won’t regret trying this healthy South American Quinoa Salad recipe, leaving out the extra avocado. And you won’t miss the bread!

Hors d’oeuvres

The bite-size appetizers that make the rounds at every wedding are almost always irresistible--and almost always not gluten-free. Luckily, there’s an easy, healthy gluten-free alternative for the typical pig-in-a-blanket or mini quiche.

We’ve fallen in love with blini, the tiny Russian pancakes made with buckwheat flour (gluten-free and a complete protein). Mix up your own batch, cook them in olive oil rather than butter and you’re on your way to the most popular snack at the party.

Customarily, blini are decadently topped with caviar and crème fraîche -- go for the cheaper and healthier topping of smoked salmon and a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt. Garnish with chives or capers if you’re feeling fancy.

Flourless chocolate cake

By any approximation, flourless chocolate cake is the perfect dessert: it’s both delicious and gluten-free by design. Make sure to choose a recipe that features dark chocolate or cocoa powder to maximize both flavor and dark chocolate’s beneficial antioxidant content.

Oatmeal

This one is a bit of a cheat, but still useful information! Most major oatmeal brands (most notably, Quaker Oats) are not gluten-free, as the oats they use are grown in fields adjacent to wheat crops or processed in facilities where wheat is also processed. But if you seek out a gluten-free brand such as Bob’s Red Mill or GF Harvest before you whip up your bowl of breakfast comfort food, oatmeal can make for a great gluten-free breakfast or snack. Here’s one easy prep method:

⅓ cup gluten-free oats
⅓ cup water
Skim milk to taste
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup blueberries or chopped strawberries

Mix oats with water in a microwave-proof bowl, stir and let sit 1 minute (this helps avoid in-microwave explosions!). Cover with a microwave-proof plate and microwave for 1 more minute. Remove, stir and microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Stir in milk and syrup. Top with blueberries, strawberries or any fresh fruit of choice. Enjoy!

You can also make our overnight breakfast muesli without the need to microwave, making the same gluten-free swap.

 

What are some of your favorite gluten-free swaps? Share them with us in the comments below!

 

nutrition advice, nutrition facts, gluten, gluten-free


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