Planning on going gluten-free? Read this post to find out everything you need to know!

Gluten-free cooking is a must for those who are allergic or sensitive to gluten. Celiac disease, non-celiac gluten intolerance, gluten ataxia, and wheat allergies can make your life difficult, as there are very real health consequences resulting from exposure to gluten.

When you first consider gluten-free cooking, it probably feels like a HUGE change. After all, so many of the things you’ve grown accustomed to buying and eating contains gluten. You might be feeling overwhelmed by just how much you need to adapt to cooking without gluten and reducing your risk of exposure. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!

How to Eliminate Gluten from Your Diet

Step One, obviously, will be to eliminate all of the typical sources of gluten from your diet.  That means anything that’s made from wheat, including:

  • Flour

  • Bread

  • Noodles

  • Crackers

However, we’re just getting started! Gluten can be found in a number of different grains, which means you’ll also need to cut:

  • Rye

  • Barley

  • Triticale (a sort of mix of wheat and rye)

In some cases, oats may also need to be eliminated from your diet, as they are often processed in the same location as wheat and thus may be contaminated.

Now that we’ve eliminated the obvious sources, however, we’ve got to start drilling down to find all of the various foods and food products that may also contain gluten.

The MayoClinic website has a complete list of processed and packaged food that might contain gluten:

  • Beer, ale, porter, stout (usually contain barley)

  • Breads

  • Bulgur wheat

  • Cakes and pies

  • Candies

  • Cereals

  • Communion wafers

  • Cookies and crackers

  • Croutons

  • French fries

  • Gravies

  • Imitation meat or seafood

  • Malt, malt flavoring and other malt products (barley)

  • Matzo

  • Pastas

  • Hot dogs and processed lunchmeats

  • Salad dressings

  • Sauces, including soy sauce (wheat)

  • Seasoned rice mixes

  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips

  • Self-basting poultry

  • Soups, bouillon or soup mixes

  • Vegetables in sauce

(Information courtesy of the MayoClinic)

You might be thinking, “Wow, that seems like A LOT of food!” And yes, it absolutely is. Going gluten-free is going to be a big change, and the first change to make is to eliminate all of the foods listed above from your diet.

All of them contain gluten in some form or another, which means they will trigger your gluten allergy or sensitivity. Time to cut them from your meal plans and get on with eating healthy, gluten-free foods!

How to Cook Gluten-Free

If you’re feeling a bit down at the idea that all of your favorite foods are off your “can eat” list, don’t give up hope! There are a lot of ways you can cook and eat gluten-free the healthy, delicious way, enjoying all of your favorite foods, just with a gluten-free twist!

For example, it’s pretty clear that pizza’s off the list (wheat flour crust). But if you find other gluten-free flours to make your crusts, you can still enjoy your favorite pizza.

Or maybe you’re feeling gloomy because you can no longer have a tasty meal of lasagna or spaghetti. But what if you could? All you’ve got to do is find gluten-free noodles (made with a gluten-free non-wheat flour), and you’ll have your favorite meals once more!

Step Two, then, is finding flours that you can eat while going gluten-free. Here are a few options:

  • Buckwheat, a highly versatile flour that can make for great pancakes, cookies, cakes, and noodles.
  • Millet flour, another option for making breads and pizza dough.
  • Quinoa flour, which is totally free of gluten and one of the most nutritionally-rich types of flour on the planet.
  • Cornmeal, which you can use to make corn breads, corn muffins, and corn cakes.
  • Coconut flour, which is just ground-up dried coconut meat but which works like a proper flour.
  • Soy flour, a less-common but no less useful type of gluten-free flour made from soy beans.

    Go to any health food store in your city and you’ll find quite the selection of flours made from roots (arrowroot, for example), grasses (like buckwheat), or beans (like soy flour).

    Many of these flours are used to make gluten-free noodles, which taste pretty darned close to the real deal. You’ll find you can still make all of your favorite foods even if you’re going gluten-free. It will take some getting used to, but once you grow accustomed to the new flavors of your meals, you’ll find it’s absolutely enjoyable.

    And there are still so many things you can eat!

    You’ve got all of your favorite meats, proteins, and dairy products, all of which are gluten-free. You can eat fish and seafood as much as you want without ever having to worry about exposure to gluten.

    If you’re the kind of person who likes a bowl of hot cereal in the morning or a serving of rice with dinner, try the other non-gluten grains like quinoa, sorghum, tapioca, teff, or flax.

    Focus on eating more beans, seeds, and nuts, which will deliver a lot of high-value nutrients with even smaller servings. Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, and all the high quality vitamins and minerals they contain.

    The truth is that gluten-free cooking will often make it easier for you to lose weight, manage your blood sugar, and improve your heart health. Cutting out wheat-based products and the many gluten-containing foods listed above will actually eliminate a lot of the processed, unhealthy junk food from your life. Many people who go gluten-free find that it’s easier to stay or get healthy because they have to be much more particular about what they eat.

    So make the most of your new gluten-free diet! Enjoy the many new recipes you’ll get to learn and practice with your gluten-free cooking, and get ready to be healthier than ever before.