Gluten Free Living - Post 2!
Here is the second post on my series about gluten-free living; you can find my first post here!
I have been mulling it over for a while now, unsure of exactly what this second post should focus on... but I think basic shopping and 'safe' ingredients should be fairly high on the list of 'what to know'; so have decided to start here.
People generally freak out when they hear 'gluten-free', and worry about what to feed us when we come to visit; but seriously - it is not that hard to come up with a main meal that is safe and tasty! Lunch is a much harder meal to plan for, as bread is a main staple in New Zealand, and tends to be the focus of most lunches.
My main rule of thumb has been 'keep it whole and keep it simple...' you will find it is mostly processed foods that contain gluten, so things like my old favourite 'Maggi Cook-In-The-Pots' are totally out now! However, if you look in the gluten-free aisle of your local supermarket, you'll find that there are a few gluten-free alternatives there. I don't buy them any more, as there are only 3-4 different flavours, and they seriously don't do it for me, just not very flavoursome at all. BUT, they have their place and are good for those nights you just can't think of anything to cook, and also when you're first starting out and not very confident cooking gluten-free. There is also available, a gluten-free cheese sauce and a gluten-free gravy mix - both of these I use a LOT, and always have on hand! They taste great, and work well... (photo below).
Basically - for main meals, you have a fairly large selection of foods you can use... all fresh vegetables, meat (except sausages, but there are g-f sausages available), rice etc, are perfectly fine; it's the condiments you need to look into. Everyday soy sauce is a no-no, and normal pasta also - but both of these have alternatives (I will include photos). Another thing to be aware of is stock - some stock is gluten free and some isn't, always check the back before buying it! I am starting to make my own chicken and vegetable stocks these days, reasonably easy and always safe! I use a lot of tinned tomatoes as a base for my cooking, as well as herbs (fresh and dried). You'll also find some pasta sauces are safe, but some aren't - you'll need to learn to check all ingredients lists until you get the hang of things, and know instinctively what is safe, and what isn't. You can't use normal noodles, but rice noodles are safe and can be bought at any supermarket (cheap also). I buy rice by the 5kg bag, as we do use it quite a bit, and I always have rice noodles on hand, as well as 2-3 bags of gluten-free pasta.
We are so lucky living in this world of technology, with everything just at your fingertips... not only is the internet an amazing source of recipes and ideas, but it also allows you to check on things you're just not sure of! So if there are ingredients in something that you haven't heard of before, and you have your smartphone with you, just google 'Is _____ gluten-free?', and you're bound to get a quick and accurate answer! But always err on the side of caution, so when unsure - just don't buy it! Research the product or ingredient later when you're home, and you can always purchase it next time if you find it is safe after all!
My current favourite blogs / websites for recipes (dinner in particular) are as follows:
Food In A Minute - do a search for 'gluten free recipes', and you get quite a few pages of idea's come up, as well as some basic information on what gluten is! I was quite impressed, however - be careful, they recommend a lot of processed sauces, even in their gluten-free recipes, and not all of them are safe. So check everything thoroughly...
Petite Kitchen - again, Eleanor isn't gluten-intolerant herself, and while a lot of her recipes are inspiring and safe, you do need to check the ingredients list thoroughly. She uses a lot of stock, and as explained above - not all stock is gluten-free.
Nicola Galloway and Home Grown Kitchen - Home-Grown Kitchen is just Nicola's blog, and both have different recipes available on them, Nicola herself is gluten-intolerant, but her children aren't; so there are a lot of safe recipes, but not all of them are. So once more, it is just a matter of reading through the ingredients list carefully.
Gluten Free in New Zealand - another blog! Lisa however, focuses on 'normal' recipes that can be used with just a little bit of adjustment...
And I have literally JUST discovered Every Recipe, I have not had a chance to search through it yet, but am sure there'll be some gluten-free recipes available on here also!
Above is some of the gluten-free food we have available at all times... two different sorts of pasta, soy sauce, maggi packet mixes and hellers sausages.
Next time I will share some of my quick and easy dinner recipes that the whole family love (everyone has to have a few of these for those 'uh oh' days)... and my favourite sweet treats as well!
I had a really positive response to my first post - so if you have any questions, or something you'd like me to cover; please let me know! I'd love to hear from you, and I'm happy to help in any way if you're struggling with this... chances are, if you are, others will be also! It has taken years for me to get to a place of peace about cooking and baking gluten-free, and to be confident. I still make mistakes though, and buy things that make hubby sick; it is very much trial and error, however it does get easier!