By Katrine van Wyk
You can certainly live a delicious and gluten-free life without resorting to cardboard crackers or highly processed, gluten-free baked goods and cookies!
There are plenty of nutritious alternatives out there that also happen to be gluten-free. Whether you just want to cut back on your intake of this hard-to digest, glue-like protein, have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten or you simply want some new ideas to supplement in to your diet – these foods will rock your boat!
Quinoa is actually a seed, a member of the grass family and not even a grain at all! It is however often referred to as a grain because of having similar flavor and cooking properties. This now hugely popular (read trendy!) food can be found in all sort of salad combination, in protein bars, crackers and even chocolate! I love making a bowl of quinoa, topped with steamed vegetables and a big poor of creamy sauce from herbs and nuts (very much inspired by Café Gratitude! ) One of the huge benefits of quinoa, especially for someone living on a plant based diet, is that it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein!
This is quinoa’s somewhat dryer sister and another great source of protein for people on a plant based diet. Millet is in fact a mineral-rich seed often found in birdseed mixes (fun fact!) It makes a mean mashed potato substitute when mixed and mashed up with some steamed or roasted cauliflower. Leftover cooked millet makes an easy breakfast porridge when mixed with some almond milk, cardamom, raw honey and fresh berries.
Amaranth is a super tiny seed similar to millet and quinoa and also a great plant source of protein, especially of the essential amino acid lysine, which other grains are low in. It is even thought to help lower cholesterol. Amaranth works great in soups, stews and porridges. The seeds are very fine and tend to get bit creamier and binding when cooked (think pudding and porridge texture!) Amaranth flour also works well in pancakes and breads. And talk about sustainability! Amaranth grows very rapidly and is thought of as a weed in many areas.
4. Brown Rice Mochi
You may have heard of mochi int eh form of ice cream treats at Japanese restaurants. But, did you know there is also a delicious baked pastry version. Made with only brown rice this is as clean as it gets. With plenty of different flavor varieties to choose from for flavor (from dried fruit , nuts and seeds) you can satisfy both a sweet and savory craving with these warm and chewy treats. Cut up a few squares, pop it in the oven for 10 minutes and watch them rise to the occasion. I love dipping mine in some applesauce and almond butter!
5. Buckwheat Noodles
Love yourself some stir-fry or udon soup? Try using 100% buckwheat noodles next time. They have a really smooth texture and a hearty flavor that can stand up well to spicy foods. Buckwheat is good for your cardiovascular system and great source of magnesium! And despite it’s name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and does not contain any gluten!
6. Chia Pudding
Folklore attests that the chia seed was cultivated by the Aztec and was so valued that it was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers. So, we’re talking real, ancient super food here, people! You already know these six reasons why you should eat chia, so let’s get right into the cooking!
It can be turned into a delicious and decadent pudding simply by adding your nut milk of choice, some vanilla extract, a spoon of raw cacao or carob and something sweet like honey, maple syrup or stevia. You can also stir and sprinkle chia seeds in to any smoothie recipe or your morning porridge!
7. Zucchini Noodles
That’s right. This is a great pasta and noodle alternative and it’s all about the cutting technique. If you are looking to cut down on calories, carbs and starches, these “noodles” are sure to satisfy that pasta craving! Use a spiral slicer or a mandolin to get the thin, long spaghetti like strips, dress with some fresh tomato sauce or a nutty pesto. Tada!
8. Lettuce Wraps
Need a carrier for all your stuffing? You can certainly skip the grains and pseudo-grains all together and go for leaves. Romaine and Boston lettuce leaves are big enough to hold a variety of fillings, just like a taco-shell or tortilla. You can also try to quickly blanch large collard green leaves and use those as alternative wraps. I also love using nori – think sushi maki and hand rolls. Roll up some nut butter, your favorite chopped vegetables, some avocado and a sprinkle of sprouts.