When you’re new to a gluten free diet the question of ‘what’s for dinner?’ brings on a new level of stress. It’s not only a question of what to make but what foods are gluten free and how to keep them that way when you’re cooking.
Keep it Simple!
Some of your favorite basic meals are probably gluten free. All vegetables, fruit, fresh meats, legumes (beans) and most dairy products are naturally gluten free! So are some basic starches like corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rice. A traditional meat-potatoes-veggie meal is an easy way to make a gluten free dinner that the whole family will eat.
Keep it Safe!
Contamination can be an issue. Although you won’t die if you accidentally eat gluten, you should treat it the same way you would treat a serious allergy. Even small amounts of gluten can damage your body.
· Avoid porous surfaces like wood, bamboo, plastic cutting boards/utensils or cookware coated with non-stick material that can be scratched and develop grooves where particles from previously prepared gluten containing foods may harbor. It is best to have cutting boards, some utensils and cookware dedicated for making gluten free foods only.
· Use a separate toaster.
· Have your own condiments (peanut butter, jams, butter, etc) so you don’t get anyone else’s crumbs on your food.
· Use separate colanders for gluten free and gluten containing pastas.
· Store your gluten free pantry items (flours, etc) away from other gluten containing foods.
Keep it Savvy!
Gluten can be found in many packaged foods – from breads to soy sauce. Always read the ingredient list to determine if the packaged food you buy is gluten free. Remember: wheat, rye, barley, and triticale and any foods made from these ingredients contain gluten. Commercial oats may also be contaminated with gluten and should be avoided.
It is important to read the ingredient list every time you buy packaged foods, even if you have bought the same item before.
All of this may seem overwhelming at first, so remember to take it slowly. Once you feel comfortable with basic meals you can start to venture into preparing gluten free pastas, breads, pizzas and baked goods!
For more information on living gluten free please visit www.celiac.ca. The Canadian Celiac Association sells a pocket dictionary that will help you check foods for gluten. If you need help don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a dietitian who specializes in celiac and gluten free diets.