Are you gluten intolerant? Swerve the free-from aisles and try these tasty alternatives
A world without gluten is actually pretty difficult, especially if you’re a foodie. Avoiding common grains such as wheat, rye and barley may sound simple, but those little fibre-fuelled products have found their way into a host of foods from bread to cereals so for those with an intolerance, eating classic British meals can become a trial. “Don’t be fooled into thinking that shopping wholesale from the gluten-free aisle is a move into healthy eating,” explains registered nutritional therapist Clare Grundel (nutritionist-resource.org.uk). “Those shelves tend to be sugar-laden and heavily processed.” So what are the alternatives?
A life without spaghetti bolognese and a creamy carbonara doesn't bear thinking about. For those experienced in the kitchen, making homemade gluten-free pasta may sound like a welcomed challenge but if you're short on time and lacking in the culinary department, just swap your spaghetti for ribbons of vegetables. “Spiralizers were the gift of of 2016 and they make a mean courgetti bolognese,” explains Amanda Hamilton, nutritionist and author of G-Plan Diet. “Simply peel your courgette into strings, cook in a little olive oil, and pour over your favourite pasta sauce.” And if you're looking for a fresh take on a modern classic why not try adding a bit of colour to your dish? “Spiralized courgette, carrot and beetroot make great rainbow noodles,” explains Clare. Plus, they taste delicious!
Bread is a key ingredient for many meals but it can easily be substituted for a tasty, and more healthy, option. If a sandwich is your go-to lunch option vamp up the filling and get creative with the casing. “Little gem lettuce leaves make great taco 'cups' or opt for omelette wraps,” says Clare. Similarly, burgers needn't be cast aside just because you're gluten-free – they're easy to adapt. “Swap the burger bun for large portebello mushrooms or experiment with slices of aubergine,” advises Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at Superfood UK. “In my opinion, this makes it even more delicious.” Not to mention easier on the waistline.
A staple choice in the morning, cereals and many porridge oats are laden with gluten, however cutting them from your diet may become a much healthier option – even if you're not gluten intolerant. “Cereals are usually very unhealthy due to the amount of added sugar,” says Shona. “Do yourself a favour and abandon the habit of having cereals and choose scrambled egg, or boiled egg with mashed up avocado instead.” Eggs are a good alternative breakfast choice as they are a great source of protein, have been linked to supporting healthy eyesight and may even help with brain development and increased memory retention. “At breakfast, why not try boiled eggs with asparagus 'soldiers' for dipping?” asks Clare. “These will keep you fuller for longer and reduce mid-morning snacking.” Not keen on eggs? Switch your usual oats based bowl for quinoa topped with yoghurt and berries. Yum.
A great after dinner delight or simple snack option, cheese and crackers always hit the spot. However for the gluten-intolerant, this tasty treat can hit more than just your taste buds. Instead swap the cracker for slices of cucumber or reach for oatcakes. “Stack oatcakes with layers of pesto, hummus and tomato,” recommends Clare. “Or if you're looking for something sweet, bake a batch of paleo-style dark chocolate cookies.” At NH HQ we like to consider a cup of tea with a biscuit as one of life's simple pleasures and there's no need for the gluten-free to miss out on this. Simply make your favourite biscuits using almond flour. From shortbread to peanut butter rounds, there's a vast array of recipes out there. Go on, give Mary Berry a run for her money!Illustrations: Jane Heinrichs
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