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Variety in a Gluten-Free Diet

Before I was gluten-free, going out to eat meant a chance to try out new and interesting cuisines. But let’s face it, eating out when you're gluten-free can be complicated and sometimes pretty boring. I find myself ordering everything plain, for fear that the sauce or flavoring is not gluten-free.

It can be difficult cooking for yourself on a gluten free diet - a lot of people say they get stuck in a rut, making the same things every week. In addition, nutritionally many gluten-free foods are rice-based so it’s important to branch out to use other grains. So here are some tips for bringing variety into your everyday meals.

Make sauces that will complement protein, vegetables and grains like rice and quinoa

Use mayonnaise, plain yogurt, coconut milk or a combination of them as a base for a creamy sauce. Then add ingredients like fresh ginger, garlic, citrus zest, fresh chopped herbs. This is a fast easy way to turn plain steamed veggies into something more interesting.

Traditional basil pesto is easy to find ready-made. But pesto can be made with any herbs or nuts. A few options:

  • fresh cilantro with garlic, pumpkin seeds, lime, cumin and oil

  • mint, garlic, lemon and sunflower seeds and oil

  • parsley, garlic, pistachios, orange zest and oil

Run it all through the food processor or blender, balance with some salt and a hint of sweet. This gives you a versatile pesto that goes well with chicken, fish, veggies, beef, rice or quinoa. Mix it with yogurt, mayo, hummus or mashed avocado to make a dip or sandwich spread.

Experiment with different types of flour

Rice flour is generally the standard for gluten-free flour blends. Mixing up your own blend with other flours like sorghum, millet, teff or oat can yield some great cakes and breads and is much less expensive than buying a store-bought. Check out my blog post on how to mix up your own gluten-free flour blend.

Look for store-bought products that are not rice based.

There are several gluten-free pastas that are made with quinoa and corn. A favorite of my clients' is La Veneziane pasta from Italy.

My favorite tortillas are from BFree foods. Their sweet potato wrap is yummy, pliable (most gf tortillas crack when you fold them) and has several different types of flour in the ingredients.

Siete Foods makes tortillas and several other products that are not just gluten-free but grain-free, so no rice. They use almond, cassava, cashew and chickpea flours.

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