When cooking for coeliacs or those who need a gluten-free diet, it's necessary to exclude all wheat and wheat products. A gluten-free diet can be delicious, but you just need to be informed about what you can or can't eat.
Naturally gluten-free foods
There are many foods which are naturally gluten-free (all meat, fish and poultry, all fruit and vegetables and dairy products) but there are also many products now available, either in supermarkets, health food stores or on prescription that have been modified to be suitable for coeliacs. Breads, pasta, cake and pancake mixes are all available and provide more variety and choice for coeliacs.
Many recipes can be modified to exclude wheat and wheat products: different types of flour, for example, can be used. Flour made from rice, soya, potatoes, corn, almonds, carob, buckwheat and sesame can all be used in place of wheat flour but cooking with these flours can be difficult and requires a lot of trial and error to get the right combination.
This is because of the different protein content of these flours and other specialist ingredients such as gums are often needed to help combine these mixtures.
Flour can also be replaced in foods such as soups and sauces – mashed potatoes and corn flour can often be used instead of wheat flour as a thickening agent.
Hidden gluten sources
Remember to look out for foods that contain ‘hidden’ gluten: baked beans, chutney and pickles, curry powder and spice mixes, salad dressings, sausages, sauces and soups, soy sauce and stock cubes to name but a few. Do be careful to choose gluten-free brands of these foods.
Here are a couple of recipes that are gluten-free. You should be able to find rice flour in supermarkets or health food stores:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and spray a 2lb/1kg loaf tin with cooking spray. Line the tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
Cream together 100g polyunsaturated margarine and 100g sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in an egg and an egg white. Mash 3 medium to large bananas and stir in to the creamed mixture. Sieve 150g rice flour, 40g cornflour, a tsp gluten-free mixed spice, 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder and ¼ tsp salt into the mixture and fold until incorporated.
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1-1½ hours. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 12 servings.
Nutrition Information: 190 calories, 8.2g fat and 30g carbs per serving.
Fruity Berry Muffins
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
Cream together 50g polyunsaturated margarine and 150g caster sugar. Gradually beat in an egg and an egg white.
Sieve 220g rice flour and a tsp gluten-free baking powder together and fold to the mixture, along with 160ml reduced fat crème fraiche, 150g berries (blueberries, cranberries, or other berries you prefer) and ½ tsp vanilla essence.
Makes 15 servings.
Nutrition Information: 135 calories, 4.5g fat and 23g carbs per serving.
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