Going gluten free can be difficult, let’s not pretend. It’s not until we have to give it up that we realise how many foods regularly contain gluten or are at substantial risk of gluten contamination. To make transitioning to a gluten free diet a little easier, try these very simple swaps.
Soy Sauce → Gluten Free Tamari or Liquid Aminos
Soy sauce is condiment made from fermented soy and wheat that gives a lovely salty, umami flavour to your cooking. While Soy Sauce comes from China, Tamari is the Japanese equivalent. It’s often considered a safe bet because it’s usually made without wheat, but always check first to make sure it is wheat and barley free and isn’t at risk of contamination.
Liquid Aminos is a little more obscure, but definitely worth tracking down, especially if you’re on a plant-based diet. It has a lovely flavour similar to both Soy Sauce and Tamari, is naturally gluten free and, as the name suggests, is a great source of amino acids.
Couscous → Quinoa
Couscous is made of tiny balls of semolina and is quite a common element to many meals. An excellent substitute is Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Not only is it really easy to cook, it has a very similar texture to couscous and bulgar wheat. One of the main reasons that quinoa has been shouted about so much recently is that not only is it high in fibre and protein, it contains all the essential amino acids you need in your diet. This is excellent news for those omitting meat and other animal products from their diet as very few plant foods can make that claim.
Croutons → Toasted sunflower & pumpkin seeds
Croutons are pieces of bread that have been re-baked to make them into crunchy little squares. This makes them brilliant for adding a bit of crunch and texture to your salads or soups. A great alternative is toasted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Not only will they add that same texture and crunch, but they’re a good source of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. To toast the seeds just pop them in a frying pan for 2 – 3 minutes (no oil needed) and they’re done.
Cereal → Creamed Rice
Most people eating a western diet will have grown up with cereal or toast as standard breakfast fare. In winter, oat porridge is usually very high on the breakfast menu and, although oats themselves are gluten free, they can still cause complications for some people on a gluten free diet. This is due to a high risk of contamination in some oat processing factories, and the presence of the protein avenin which can cause a reaction for some coeliac sufferers. However, Creamed Rice to the rescue! You can make it day-by-day or, as I prefer to do, make up a batch to keep in the fridge for a super quick and easy breakfast during the week. You can then change it each day so it doesn’t get monotonous – dress it up with fruit, add some ground linseed, try a new type of milk… the combinations are endless!
Sandwiches → Corn Tortillas
Sandwiches are a great lunch-time meal, and while there is a growing range of gluten-free bread hitting our supermarket shelves, it’s nice to mix it up. With wraps growing in popularity, it’s not unusual to find corn tortillas stacked alongside the wheat ones. However, always check the ingredients first as some may still include wheat flour. If you fancy making them yourself, there are plenty of recipes like this on online.
Pasta → Rice Noodles
There are a lot of gluten free pasta alternatives hitting the supermarkets at the moment, made with ingredients ranging from corn and rice flour, to millet, quinoa and vegetables. However, simple rice noodles also make quite a good substitute for pasta, and often at a much lower price.
Breadcrumbs → Linseed / Flaxmeal
Breadcrumbs can be used for stuffing, topping or thickening and, as the name implies, usually contains gluten. And this is where ground linseed (also known as flaxmeal) comes in. Because of the natural oil content of linseed, it retains moisture beautifully in your stuffings, and will crisp up nicely when you use it as a coating. If you’re not a big fan of linseed, almond-meal will also work well.
For easy reference, we’ve put these swaps in an infographic for you. We hope you find this list useful, and if you have any other suggestions or tips please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!