10 Ways to Go Beyond Gluten-Free
Going gluten-free? No doubt you’re experimenting with gluten-free alternatives of your favorite foods. However, as discussed in my prior post, “Going Gluten-Free? Don’t Make This Mistake!” relying on gluten-free packaged foods can take a toll on your budget, blood pressure, waistline, and digestion. The alternative? Rather than swapping out one package for another, shift your diet away from processed foods and toward more whole foods.
If your goal is to improve your health, an upgrade to a whole foods diet is a smart start. Many people find the approach so satisfying that they don’t want to go back to their prior diet. So don’t just go gluten-free. Go beyond gluten-free!
- Skip the highly processed cereal grains. Instead, go back to basics with heart-healthy oats. They are an all-star grain!
- Convenience tip: Try overnight oats (served at room temperature or slightly warmed).
- Alternate gluten-free grains. Add a twist to the morning routine with cooked amaranth, buckwheat, or quinoa served with the oatmeal-style toppings.
- Convenience tip: When cooking these gluten-free grains for dinner, make extra, then reheat for breakfast.
- Sweet potato toast. Are your eggs crying out for a companion? Make sweet potato toast! Just cut a well-scrubbed, unpeeled potato lengthwise into ¼-inch thick pieces. Pop them into your toaster on the highest setting and cook until desired level of toast, around 15 minutes. Or, for toasting in volume, use your conventional or toaster oven. Arrange the slices on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350◦F oven for 15-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Convenience tip: Toast can be made ahead, then quickly reheated in the toaster before eating.
- You can’t beat the morning convenience. Just be sure to select a high-quality powder base with adequate high-quality protein (at least 15 grams).
- Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are the perfect snack standby. They are not only convenient and shelf-stable, they provide fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fats, which fill you up. In fact, according to research, just a handful of nuts each day may even help you live longer.1,2
- Pro tip: Unseasoned nuts are your best bet, as many seasoned nuts contain gluten. And for the most health benefits, select unroasted nuts to avoid damaged fats.
- Not on the legume bandwagon yet? Try fiber- and protein-packed hummus! Convenient snack-size packages are available in a variety of flavors. Grab some carrot or celery sticks, broccoli or cauliflower florets, endive or bell pepper spears, and dip away.
- DIY tip: Hummus is easy to make at home. Blend soaked garbanzo beans until smooth and light, then add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. A food processor works best, but a blender will do the trick as well. For a lighter spread, omit the tahini.
- Gluten-free pasta is still a processed food. So try to limit its use, especially those made with rice flour, which tends to be higher in heavy metals than other flours. Textures vary greatly across brands, so you may need to experiment to find one you like.
- Think outside the pasta box and try flour-free pasta alternatives. Consider one of the many legume pastas available, such as edamame or black bean pastas. Bean pastas have a much firmer texture than wheat pasta but are much higher in protein and fiber.
- Or go veggie and roast up some spaghetti squash. Like pasta, spaghetti squash works with a wide range of flavors. Finally, experiment with a spiralizer and make noodles from zucchini, beets, or sweet potatoes.
- DIY tip: Check out Instagram or Pinterest for endless #spiralizer inspiration.
- Rather than buying croutons made from gluten-free bread (expensive), make your own chickpea croutons from cooked beans. They are simple to make in the oven or on the stovetop.
- Bread swaps. In addition to sweet potato toast, veggies can stand in for traditional bread. Wrap up your sandwich in a blanched collard greens or Swiss chard. Grill or roast a portabella mushroom and use as the base for an open-faced burger. Use large leaf lettuce, such as romaine or butter leaves, or try nori seaweed sheets instead of tortillas for light wraps.
- If your recipes call for coating an item in breadcrumbs or wheat flour, simply use milled nuts, such as almond meal or almond flour (nuts milled more finely than meal) for gluten-free cooking and baking. These swaps will give your dish a nutty flavor along with a fiber and nutrient boost.
- Guasch-Ferré M, Bulló M, Martínez-González MA, et al. Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC Med. 2013;11:164.
- Ros E. Nuts and CVD. Br J Nutr. 2015 Apr;113 Suppl 2:S111-20.