“Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy.” -Mary Berry
A love for food is a cultural aspect that is present in various societies worldwide. The taste of French croissants, the smell of freshly baked apple pie, and the joy of making Nonna's pasta are all sublime food experiences that transform us to a moment in time and are superbly delicious.
However, after eating the previously mentioned food items such as pastries, wheat-based desserts, pasta and bread, do you get stomach cramps that prevent you from continuing on with your daily activities? If so, you're not alone! There are hundreds of thousands of citizens in the United Kingdom who are struggling with the negative effects of wheat-based delights.
Going gluten-free has never been so popular!
If you've come to the realisation that gluten needs to be eliminated from your diet, you have made the same decision as more than 8.5 million Brits who are enjoying the benefits of a gluten-free diet either by choice or by necessity.
However, going gluten-free isn’t an easy thing; that is why we recommend that those who do not feel any of the negative effects of gluten when consuming wheat-based products should continue eating wheat, barley, and rye. Nonetheless, for those who cannot handle the pains of gluten anymore and are almost coeliac, we suggest completely changing your eating habits, doing extensive research to discover which foods contain gluten, and learn to cook new dishes that are 100% gluten-free.
Nevertheless, since we are living in the digital age with so many online resources published by similar individuals who are combating gluten, there is much advice on how to remove gluten products entirely from your diet.
Although, adopting a gluten-free diet means changing a few things in your life there are ways to do it without breaking the bank and without giving up unique flavours that you love. Therefore, without further ado, in this article, we'll be looking at gluten sensitivity, gluten-free food, gluten-free products, and how you can maintain a gluten-free diet.
Avoid Ready To Eat or Frozen Meals
For those who do not know the basics of gluten intolerance, it is important to start at the roots. For example, gluten is a protein that’s present in wheat, barley, oats, and rye. A person with gluten intolerance cannot digest in their intestines the protein of wheat products which are known as prolamins and glutelins.
Therefore, those with gluten intolerance need to quickly say goodbye to wheat flour, white bread, cereals, and other types of dough that are commonly found in many snacks and delicious treats. The first thing an individual with gluten intolerance must eliminate are ready to eat, processed, packaged, and frozen meals.
It may surprise people that ready meals and processed foods must be eliminated in a gluten-free diet but it must occur this way since food manufacturers tend to use gluten as thickeners in various commonplace snacks and treats. Also, it is extremely normal to find gluten-based thickeners in sauce and soup packages that are easy to make and perfect for people living on the go.
In addition, many individuals do not know that wheat-based products containing gluten can even be found in frozen chips, chocolate, and certain dairy products.
Considering the fact that gluten is present in an overwhelming amount of food products, many consumers start to think that there are not any intriguing food options left on the market.
What Can Be Done?
While there are various distinct things that can rectify the situation, the easiest solution is to solely avoid ready to eat meals, instant soups, and sauce mixes. Instead of viewing the process of going gluten-free as a disheartening chore, view it is an opportunity to get back to eating healthy and focusing on the basics.
Which means that individuals considering a gluten-free diet will start to frequently include raw ingredients and develop the habit of making things from scratch. Making broths, your favourite snacks, and delicious homemade meals may take more time in the long run but your health with thank you since it is generally better for you considering the fact that there aren't harmful additives, preservatives, and/or gluten.
Find out the reasons for going gluten-free.
Learn How to Decipher Basic Labels
Becoming gluten-free means taking care of your gut and carefully selecting food items that will not cause harm to your overall health. Also, since there are so many gluten-free consumers in the world today, there are plenty of alternatives available on grocery store shelves that don't taste like sawdust!
Therefore, if you really develop the urge to snack on some biscuits, pastries, and chips, there are various options available in the gluten-free aisle. However, it is important to state that even if it seems that a product is gluten-free, it may contain some traces or some ingredients that need to be checked out. That's when you become a master at deciphering labels to discover what’s really gluten-free.
The idea of learning which common ingredients contain gluten and checking labels may seem trivial to some; nevertheless, it is hugely important for those who have been diagnosed with coeliac disease (gluten intolerance). Also, if you’re like many who are sensitive to gluten, you can probably deal with a few traces without too many problems; nevertheless, it's always better to be safe than sorry!
Did You Know?
Gluten can practically be found hiding in everything even cold-cuts and some packaged cheeses!
Consequently, we greatly suggest that all individuals with gluten intolerance carefully check the package to be assured that it doesn’t say “may contain traces of gluten”. A valid example of how gluten can sneak into anything is the case with beans. For instance, lentils, chickpeas, or kidney beans may have been processed and cleaned in a factory that uses gluten to make instant soups or other products that contain gluten; that's how traces of gluten are found!
In the UK and other parts of Europe, you can look for the icon with a head of corn and a line going through it to make sure. Remember to always check the ingredients; if they mention barley, wheat, or rye, you’re going to have to leave it on the shelf.
Being invited to a family member or friend's home for supper is truly lovely. Nevertheless, they may not know how to cook for you and your new diet. Some well-intentioned loved ones may not understand which food items contain gluten and how to cook without them.
They might be quite perplexed by the fact that they need to make biscuits, gravy, bread, and pasta without wheat flour.
Therefore, since we cannot change the eating habits of others and we are only responsible for our own, its sometimes best to decline an invitation to go out and eat and cook at home instead. Also, this includes going out to the pub since 98% of beers contain gluten; sorry mate!
All in all, the best way to avoid gluten is to stop eating anything that’s been preprepared and start cooking for yourself with raw ingredients that you can control.
Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of great gluten-free recipes that are enjoyed by the whole family. It is important to state that many gluten-free recipes online continue to allow individuals suffering with gluten intolerance the ability to enjoy a plethora of different cuisines.
Those with gluten intolerance need to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables as well as vegetable oils in order to obtain the nutrients and minerals they need.
The following sections will discuss some essential aspects of gluten-free cooking.
Use Gluten-Free Flour
By far the easiest to use and most commonly found flour used by chefs is wheat flour; it can be found in plenty of dishes but unfortunately, it contains many traces of gluten. However, there is no need to fret since it's extremely possible to replace wheat flour by using other alternatives and by sticking to a few basic rules.
It’s highly recommended to use different types of flours for each recipe to find a balanced and neutral taste that will suit all types of flavours. Each type of gluten-free flour has a distinctive taste and colour so blending them together is a way to neutralise them and create a hybrid flour that is more similar to wheat.
The following is a list of the most commonly used gluten-free flours that can be readily used by all:
- Rice flour: with a neutral taste that is great for cakes, French-style sauces, and pie crust, rice flour is a favourite among gluten-free consumers.
- Almond flour: albeit a bit more expensive than wheat flour, almond flour can quickly be made at home and is perfect for cookies and bread.
- Buckwheat flour: probably the strongest taste of gluten-free flours, buckwheat is either hated or loved by consumers yet it is great for savoury pancakes, pie crusts, biscuits, and cakes. Basically, if you like the taste, you should use it.
- Coconut flour: made from dried coconut meat, coconut flour has a slight coconut taste to it and should be used for making desserts and bread.
- Sorghum flour: very dense yet high in fibre, protein, and rich nutrients, sorghum flour is naturally gluten-free and is one of the most important grains on the planet.
- Millet flour: high in fibre, millet flour is great for mixing with rice flour to make bread, muffins, crepes, and tortillas. It is important to mention that it is much better to mix millet flour than use it alone.
- Cassava flour: also known as yuca flour, cassava is native from South America and is gluten, nut, and grain-free. Cassava flour is easy to digest and contains far fewer calories than more commonly used flours such as almond and coconut.
To mix things up from the norm, you might also consider chestnut flour, chickpea flour, or cornflour. Also, some gluten-free consumers have mixed in starch from potatoes, corn, or rice to get lighter results.
It is very important to systematically weigh your flour before cooking a new recipe since they all have different densities and that could affect the entire result.
Replace Chemical Raising Agents
Necessary for cooking bread and other like pastries, chemical raising agents are commonly used in baking to make the mix lighter and more airy. However, it is important to state that chemical raising or leavening agents often contain gluten. Fortunately, there are other options that replace baking powder and help to establish airy cakes:
- Guar gum: used in soups, sauces, ice cream, pastries, and bread.
- Xanthan gum: you can create a mix of 75% guar gum and 25% xanthan gum to improve the texture.
- Baker’s yeast: despite what you may think, this doesn’t contain gluten; surprise, surprise!
- Baking Soda: be careful not to use too much as the taste isn’t great, 2 to 3g is enough to make a cake rise. Bakers can also mask the taste of sodium by adding a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice.
- Egg whites: when added one after another, egg whites are perfect to delicately aerate your dough.
A final baking tip is to use unrefined sugars such as cane, coconut, sucanat, or date sugar to make the cake moist and fluffy; pure perfection!
Are you about to host a dinner party with some gluten-loving friends? Are you panicking as to what you will serve them? Do you want to make your guests a delicious gluten-free meal that you can enjoy and have them indulge without noticing there isn't gluten?
Don’t worry about a thing! There are so many distinct gluten-free meals that can be tried by following a recipe of a reputable site.
The following is a slight example of what can be made and featured in a gluten-free meal:
- Starter or Appetizer: some simple vegetable soup or some sliced vegetables with a dipping sauce.
- Main Meal: though you're gluten-free, you can still eat beef, chicken, lamb, or wish without any repercussions. Also, consider adding either some rice, potatoes, quinoa, or dried beans with the meat.
- Dessert: fruit salad, sorbets, mousse, or ice cream makes a simple yet satisfying dessert for gluten-free eaters.
Find out which foods are gluten-free.
Discover New Grains Other Than Wheat
By cooking without gluten, home chefs develop the opportunity to discover other grains that can be used that are not only wheat; traditional wheat-based products can effectively be replaced!
An example of this is as simple as using whole grain rice rather than white rice. Why? It’s far more filling, it can be used for a number of different dishes, and it contains many minerals and vitamins.
Also, gluten-free newbies should consider consuming bean products such as lentils, peas, and chickpeas; they’re high in vegetable protein and are useful when you’re trying to reduce your meat consumption at the same time as going gluten-free.
Make Gluten-Free Bread
Many Europeans cannot go without their bread, jam, and cheese in the morning; therefore, when they learn that for health reasons they must go gluten-free, it is a complete travesty! However, as a result of the creative minds of gluten-free individuals, there are now many delicious bread recipes that are made without using any wheat flour.
While some flours are far better than others when making bread without gluten, there are some basic steps that must be taken into account to create some bread that is actually edible.
Nevertheless, it is important to state that flours such as millet, potato, almond, tapioca, and brown rice flour are by far the best when deciding to bake a fresh loaf of savoury yet wholesome bread.
Without further ado, the following are some essential tips to keep in mind when cooking bread as a gluten-free consumer:
- The yeast needs to be activated in warm water, between 38°C and 43° because if the water is too cold it won’t rise, and if it’s too warm, the yeast will die out.
- Add as much water as you do flour to help it rise.
- Don’t knead the dough and cook it in an oiled pan.
- You can add a bit of guar gum and xanthan gum to improve the aeration process.
Discover some great gluten-free recipes.
Eating Gluten-Free in Restaurants
We shall start off by saying that it is much easier to cook gluten-free snacks and meals at home than it is to find savoury delights that are without gluten while hitting the town.
At restaurants that do not offer any gluten-free options, which has become increasingly rare, it is best to opt for salads with a low-fat vinaigrette since they don’t tend to contain any traces of gluten; however, this is always a risk because it is impossible to know the source of all ingredients.
If you’re gluten intolerant, you might want to visit gluten-free restaurants so that you don’t run the risk of your food being contaminated with gluten.
For those who want to find 100% gluten-free restaurants, the following are the best options in and around major UK cities according to Stylist:
- Le Bistrot Pierre,
- Indian Summer,
- Banana Tree,
The previously mentioned restaurant options make worrying about gluten-free possibilities on the menu a thing of the past.
Nonetheless, we recommend that if you’re going to a friend’s house, you might want to bring your own gluten-free cake or bread so that you’ll definitely have something to eat and won't be a burden on those who still do want to cook using wheat-based products. Also, you may want to have a little snack before you go in case they've only made food that contains gluten.
Are You Ready To Go Gluten-Free?
If you need any help with nutritional advice on how to remove gluten from your diet, consider getting in touch with one of the private tutors on Superprof. There are plenty of talented nutritionists, dietitians, and fitness instructors who can help you at affordable prices. It is important to state that there are three main types of tutorials available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Face-to-face private tutorials are more personable since they're just between you and the tutor. Through private classes, gluten-free pupils can effectively focus on their specific goals without interruption. Of course, this does come at a cost and face-to-face tutorials tend to be the most expensive type of tutorials available.
Online tutorials are also just between you and the tutor but with the main difference being that the tutor isn't physically there in the room with you. Thanks to the internet, you can now learn online, communicating with your tutor via webcam using video conferencing software such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime. With fewer travel expenses and the ability to schedule more tutorials per week, online tutorials tend to be cheaper per hour than face-to-face ones.
Finally, group tutorials are very common and involve one tutor with more than one student. Since there are various students, less of the tutor's time will be spent focusing on you. Nevertheless, the cost of the tutor's time and expertise will also be shared amongst all the students; which means that group tutorials are usually the cheapest per student per hour.
All in all, removing gluten from your diet is 100% possible thanks to all the tips and tricks from today's article; we hope that you will eat better and enjoy healthy alternatives!