When my clients are just starting a gluten-free diet, they are often lamenting all the things they can no longer eat. This is true: wheat is off-limits and that’s usually the main ingredient they’re concerned about. Gluten-free product offerings have come a long way in the 11 years since I’ve had celiac disease. I remember my first taste of gluten-free bread. Back then it was spongy, smelled bad, and was downright nasty. Today there are dozens of brands of gluten-free bread available, and many of them are pretty good. When you first go gluten-free, you can definitely tell the difference between gluten-containing foods and their gluten-free counterparts, but after a while you get used to the gluten-free versions and don’t miss the old stuff.
Here are 5 more easy swaps that will make you a believer that you, too, can do this and you’re not going to pine for the old stuff:
From the Old & Gluteny to the New & Gluten-Free
Old: Macaroni & Cheese New: Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese
This is the ultimate comfort food for many people. And you may have heard that gluten-free pasta is not great. True, it’s not usually as delicious as regular pasta, but I have to say that Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese (and the Trader Joe’s repackaged brand) is pretty darn good. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. I like to add tuna to mine.
Old: Couscous New: Quinoa
If you like couscous as a side dish or make recipes with it, try quinoa instead. Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, and it has a pretty high protein content. It’s also gluten-free. Rinse it first, and cook it in water or a gluten-free broth, either in a pan or a rice cooker. You can find it in different colors too. Trader Joe’s has a tri-color quinoa that I especially like.
Old: Cream of Wheat cereal New: Certified gluten-free oatmeal
In the winter, it’s especially nice to wake up and start your day with a hot bowl of cereal. Cream of Wheat has been a staple in pantries for decades, and it’s delicious, but unfortunately, off-limits now. Don’t replace with regular oatmeal, which is likely to be cross-contaminated with wheat. Look for certified gluten-free oats, from Bob’s Red Mill or other manufacturers, and enjoy a hot cereal breakfast again.
Old: Pizza New: Pizza with a gluten-free crust
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like pizza. It’s this awesome all-in-one meal you can eat with your hands. Check out the “Find Me Gluten Free” app for pizza restaurants in your city, to find one that makes gluten-free pizzas. Or if you want one at home, several brands of gluten-free pizzas can be found in the frozen food sections of most supermarkets, Costco, and Trader Joe’s.
Old: Soy Sauce New: Tamari Sauce and more
What’s that you say? Soy sauce has gluten in it? YES, most brands contain wheat. Crazy, right? La Choy brand does not, so keep that in mind. If you can’t find that brand, look for tamari sauce (and be certain it says gluten-free on the label) or Bragg’s liquid aminos, or coconut aminos. They are awesome substitutes for soy sauce, and taste delicious.
With all the options available, there’s no better time to go gluten-free. Download my free Gluten-Free Comfort Food Favorites recipe book, for more ideas.