I get asked two questions quite a bit. The first question is -How do you cook gluten-free and vegetarian? The second question is-What are your thoughts for a new homeschooler? I thought that I would take two posts to aswer these questions. I will start with cooking gluten-free and vegetarian.
I am not a nutritionist but I do love to know what I am eating. I know many people think that gluten-free is a fad diet. For our family, we started with two of us going gluten-free and now everyone is. For our family, we eat for health. We eliminate more than gluten. We also avoid processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, dyes and excessive sugar (notice I do not say that we completely eliminate them, but we avoid them).
So what are my suggestions for changing your diet?
1. Whole foods. Many folks begin looking for substitutes to their favorite food items such as bread, bagels, pancakes, and munchies. We use the substitutes as treats. Eliminateing gluten means changing the way you look at eating. Instead of gluten free bread, use lettuce wraps for sandwhiches or burritos. Burrito ingredients are just as yummy when eaten in a bowl as well. Find new items for breakfast, such as a yogurt or an egg. Think outside the box for lunch. Include salad. Are you missing those crutons? Add nuts or plantain chips. Snacks are another food that gluten pops up in a lot. We snack on a lot of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate (a little dark chocolate is always good for the soul), fresh fruit and smoothies are also a big hit.
2. Baking: For the most part, I use almond meal for my baking. I simply use almond meal instead of flour. The main trick to using almond meal is in the eggs. You must whip your eggs prior to putting them in your mix. I generally whip on medium speed for at least three minutes. Then I fold the eggs into the mixture. This helps keep the baked good light and fluffy. When I must use a mix, I use Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix. It is by far THE BEST gluten-free baking mix.
3. Get inventive when you eat out. Many restaurants now have gluten free items. I watch getting these mainly because the kitchen has to take extreme measures to make sure that there is NO cross contamination. We do not have Celiac’s or Crohn’s. We choose to eat gluten-free for our health. Thus, unless you have a severe allergy to gluten, try to eat items already on the menu that do not have wheat in them. I usually look for a salad or a sandwich that I can get without the bread. Some things that you do not think about with gluten include soy sauce, soups, gravies, and a lot of sauces.
4. Eat your colors. Try to get a variety of colors on your plate at every meal. This is a terrific tip with kids. They get it and it is easy. You should have a green, a red or orange, a yellow, and a brown (usually this is the protein).
5. Involve your whole family. You may think that your kids will not want any thing to do with getting rid of bread. However, they may surprise you. My youngest kiddo felt much better after going gluten-free. Let them help with shopping and cooking. When you eat whole foods, it is much easier for them to help. They can easily slice up some veggies or make up a smoothie for everyone.
The hardest part of changing your diet is sticking with it! Personally, I went cold turkey with eliminating gluten. By cutting it off at once, I became aware of what foods have gluten and what foods do not. After 6 weeks (yep-try to make it a whole 6 weeks without anything containing gluten), I did not crave bread or donuts anymore.
Are you gluten-free? What tips do you have? Have you thought about changing your diet but have fears of changing?