Easy Gluten-Free Meal Ideas

It can be challenging to create safe meals for those on a gluten-free diet, especially for those new to this lifestyle. Many gluten-free cookbooks focus on simulating traditional wheat-based foods and require special ingredients such as rice flour or potato starch flour. Here are some ideas that use ingredients available at your favorite grocer.

Safe Shopping
Someone who is allergic to wheat gluten is called a celiac (cee-lee-ack). Celiacs must avoid all products made with wheat flour. Gluten is in many commercial products. When grocery shopping for a celiac, avoid the following ingredients, which contain gluten:

�· Wheat gluten, wheat germ, wheat flour
�· Malt
�· Barley
�· Bran
�· Rye
�· Modified food starch

During your shopping trips, you will have to check the ingredients labels every time to make sure the product is safe. Companies change their recipes all the time; a product that was gluten-free six months ago may now contain gluten.

A Basic Meal
A meat-starch-vegetable meal is a basic combination that most of the time is already gluten-free. Meat and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. For starches, you’ll need to stick to corn, potatoes, and rice. Different sauces will help liven up these meals. Barbeque sauce is versatile, but most of the bottled varieties contain modified food starch. Maull’s original and Famous Dave’s Rich & Sassy are the two kinds we use. Teriyaki sauce can also be tricky; it contains soy sauce, which usually contains wheat. We’ve never had any problems with La Choy Teriyaki Sauce. Check out the condiments aisle and see what’s available.

Casseroles
These dishes are easily modified. Instead of using commercial cream soups as called for in most recipes, you’ll need to create your own. I use chicken broth and cornstarch as the cream basis for my gluten-free casseroles. I usually start by mixing two tablespoons of cornstarch into Ã?¼ cup milk and then add more to achieve the desired thickness. Tip: Be sure to mix the cornstarch with milk or a room temperature liquid. Cornstarch does not dissolve when placed in hot liquid. Cornstarch works for any dish that calls for flour to thicken a sauce.

Mexican Meals
Don’t give up your South of the border favorites. Use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas for quesadillas, tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas. Tortilla chips are a crunchy option.

Lasagna
In place of noodles, use layers of polenta, a type of cornmeal made from maize and broth or water. Polenta has the consistency of grits and can be formed into shapes or sliced. A simple recipe for polenta lasagna is located on DIYnet. This recipe includes directions for making polenta from scratch, but you can buy pre-made polenta at the grocer to save time.

Desserts
There are plenty of gluten-free treats out there that won’t keep you in the kitchen for hours. Rice Krispie Treats are just fine for celiacs. Rice pudding, fresh berries, Cook ‘N Serve JELLO Pudding, and JELLO Gelatin are other gluten-free choices for dessert.

Cheesecake can be modified; you’ll need to eliminate the crust altogether or try using melted chocolate. Line the pan with wax paper and spray with cooking spray. Pour the chocolate into the pan, creating a Ã?¼ inch layer. Let the chocolate harden before pouring the cheesecake batter on top. The cut slices may not be cookbook perfect, but who caresâÂ?¦it’s chocolate! You can also try using corn flakes or another gluten-free cereal instead of wafers or graham crackers in traditional recipes.

Cooking gluten-free doesn’t have to be difficult. After you learn the mechanics, you’ll have a solid foundation for coming up with your own special meals.

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