When I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease nearly two years ago, I was bereft. I looked in my bare cupboards after disposing of everything that contained gluten. Gone was the bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes etc. But also the stock, the soy sauce, the mustard…and the cupboard was nearly bare.
I sulked for about a week and seeing anything I couldn’t eat was just torture. Once I was out of my mourning period, I decided I had to learn more about what I could eat and my fantastic food discovery has gone from strength to strength. My cupboard is packed with a wider variety of food than ever before. I eat a wider cultural range of foods and regularly eat things I had never even heard of before.
So, if you are starting a journey of gluten free eating, for whatever reason, these would be my recommendations for what to stock in your cupboard. Then you will never go hungry or be bored of cooking again.
Before being gluten free I probably stocked one or two rice’s in my cupboard; plain white rice and possibly sometimes risotto rice. Now, rice has become a main staple in my diet, as I eat a lot more Asian and Indian inspired food. There is so much more to rice than long grain. Higher fibre rice’s and rice’s with much more flavour. My current favourites are: basmati, long grain brown rice and red rice (great for salads). I also bake a lot with rice flour, which has a great short quality, making it perfect for biscuits and pastry. Finally, I love rice noodle and rice wrappers – great for speedy lunches and spring rolls.
When you think of grains or cereals I bet ones containing gluten are some of the first to come into your mind. It’s a shame really, as there are many more interesting and diverse grains that are safe for a gluten free diet and it’s worth exploring these options. In my cupboard at the moment I have two varieties of quinoa, which I use in salads as a great couscous replacement, as well as in soups, stews and baking. I also love using polenta and normally have coarse and fine in my cupboard. Finally, I have maize couscous, which is perfectly safe for a coeliac and is great if you were a couscous addict such as myself.
Sources of Protein
Not only am I a coeliac, but I’m also lactose intolerant and a vegetarian. So finding great sources of protein is important. The quinoa is a great source of protein as well as fibre. I also keep on hand a selection of lentils; I currently have red and green. I also love Puy lentils for great hearty salads and in stews. I also eat a lot of nuts, peanuts, cashews and almonds are great for adding into salads and throwing in a stir fry. Chia seeds I add to my muesli and use in baking. I have tried the chia puddings, but hugely disliked the texture, which was like frog spawn.
Baking is not all about wheat flour. In fact main wheat recipes can be replicated with the right flours. It does take a bit of practice and experimentation, as you normally have to use combinations of flours to produce the right results. I normally use a combination of rice flour, potato flour and tapioca flour in my baking- varying the proportions dependent on what you want to produce. A higher ratio of rice flour, for example, in biscuits and pastry for extra shortness. However, some flours are great when used on their own. If you want to try grain free flour baking, I would recommend chestnut flour or coconut flour. These are great for denser cakes and make great brownies, which are full of flavour.
The food world is so much more than wheat. Explore the gluten free options and have fun stocking your gluten free cupboard and cooking great nutritious food.
Ruth Cartwright is a 36 mum of two from the West Midlands. She is a cookery teacher and lifestyle blogger over at www.craftwithcartwright.com
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