Do you or a family member have gluten or wheat sensitivity, or diagnosed coeliac disease? By some estimates, one in ten of us are affected!
Being gluten- and wheat-free (GF/WF) at home takes planning and practice, as well as smart label reading. After a while it becomes routine, though it can still be tricky when eating out.
However, GF/WF products are not always the healthiest way to go. Many are based on refined starchy flours, with low nutrient density and high GI. Learning to understand and enjoy healthier options will help take the whole family’s health to another level.
The fact is that lot of familiar family meals are gluten free and very healthy – as long as you prepare them yourself.
Basic Tips for healthier WF/GF living
  • Avoid all forms of wheat, including spelt, rye, bulgar, couscous, durum wheat, barley. (Fortunately, most people do not react to oats). Learn to read labels for hidden gluten – wheat and or gluten are often used as fillers or thickening agents in such things as baking powder, seasoning mixes, sauces, stock cubes, etc.
  • Protect against cross-contamination. For example, don’t prepare gluten-free foods on the same surface used for gluten-containing foods, unless it has been cleaned thoroughly. Store them separately, and make sure all utensils are properly cleaned, too.
  • Be aware that many GF/WF products are highly refined and nutrient depleted - and often rather tasteless! Try not to rely too much on these. As far as you can, prepare your own family meals, as well as breads, cakes and biscuits.
  • If you decide to make all meals GF/WF, this will save you cooking two different dishes for each meal. (Some ideas below)
  • Get organised in advance. Plan family meals. Invest time in cooking – it’s worth it!
Healthier GF/WF foods to enjoy:
  • All the vegetables and fruit (fresh and dried) you can eat
  • Meat, fish, poultry (check labels on packaged products)
  • Legumes, beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, millet
  • Most soy milks, tofu, tempeh, miso (not barley miso)
  • Tamari soy sauce (not shoyu or other soy sauces)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Most dairy products - good quality cheese (avoid packaged grated cheeses), yoghurt, cream, milk, kefir
  • Goat’s & sheep’s cheese and yoghurt
  • Coconut yoghurt
  • Eggs
  • Upgrade GF grains pastas and noodles to wholemeal versions – they have higher nutrient density and more fibre. This means brown rice, and pasta/noodles made from brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat and corn.
Quick and healthy GF/WF meals & snacks
  • Breakfast: Eggs - boiled, scrambled, poached, frittata (also great in lunch boxes); smoothies; quinoa, buckwheat or millet porridge; fruit salad with yoghurt, seeds and nuts; home made GF granola; kippers, mackerel or sardines on homemade GF bread
  • Snacks: Avocado on rice, corn or oat cakes, raw or lightly toasted nuts – with or without dried berries/fruits; cooked and salted edamame beans; GF popcorn (sugar free); hummus and crudités on rice cakes; nut or seed butters - peanut, cashew, almond, hazelnut, pumpkin or tahini (sesame) - on rice, corn or oat cakes.
  • Lunch and dinner: Homemade soups, salads, stews, frittata, stir-fry vegetables (leftover meat from night before can be added to stir-fry); canned, vaccum packed or fresh sardines, mackerel or salmon. Lots of vegetables - specially green, red and orange (frozen is fine); bean and veggie casseroles; stir fry with vegetables, brown rice or quinoa, plus a protein source, e.g. chicken, smoked fish, canned beans, tofu, tempeh, quorn.
Maggie’s next gluten free class is on Sat Nov 15th 2014, 10.30 am – 4 pm. Details:
What you get from the day:
  • Introduction to a range of healthier GF whole grains, and how to prepare them for optimum nutrition.
  • Understanding the gluten-free flours, grains and binders available.
  • Guidelines, tips and tricks for gluten-free baking, including sourcing, flour combining and storing.
  • A pack of 10-12 recipes, all demonstrated on the day, including: yeast bread, soda bread, scones, pancakes, granola, quiche, tempura batter for fish or vegetables, quinoa, tasty hummus, a yummy cake, and more.
  • Safer alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners.
  • Healthy options for those sensitive to milk products or other foods.
  • Quick and easy substitutions when preparing meals that have to be gluten-free yet acceptable by all the family. Includes thickening agents for sauces.
  • Tips to achieve more health-supporting and satisfying eating habits.
  • A nutritional therapist on hand to answer specific questions and explore health issues that poorly managing intolerances can lead to.