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Friday, January 13, 2012

eating gluten free

I have been essentially gluten free since October 2010.
I previously have had stints not eating wheat, but this is the longest I have gone without wheat except for the six weeks where I had to go back on wheat so I could have a coeliac test. 
The test came back negative but I immediately went back onto a gluten free diet. 
While I was back eating gluten I felt sick, my digestive system was not working properly, I was constantly tired and bloated and my hayfever was really bad.
Three of the children have at various stages joined me on this diet and have found health benefits from it.

I know of a few people who are needing to eat gluten free and I thought maybe some menu ideas might be helpful.
When I first embraced this way of eating I needed to look at the food we ate and see how I could incorporate gluten free into a large family without costing us a fortune.
Firstly go through foods that you already eat and list the stuff that is naturally gluten free.
So in our case I might put down the following:
 Steak, potatoes and salad (our standard Saturday night fare)
Tacos (check any sauces you use are gluten free)
Chicken wings and salad
Roast and veges (make gravy with cornflour or arrowroot)
Harissa Lamb Cutlets
Scotch eggs

Then list foods that are not necessarily gluten free but can be easily adapted:
Fish and chips- I usually toss my fish in flour and shallow fry it so I changed it to a GF flour (coconut or tapioca work well) or finely crushed nuts.
San Choi Bow  (Asian mince served in lettuce cups)- use GF tamari instead of soy sauce
Spaghetti Bolognaise- meat sauce is GF - change to GF pasta (to cut costs you can just use GF for the people who need it and regular pasta for the rest of the family) I have seen where people use zucchini finely cut in strips instead as well.

Enchiladas - filling is gluten free, I make my gluten free flat bread instead of tortillas, top with taco sauce, sour cream and cheese- cook until cheese is melted.

Then of course are some foods that bread is a main component like hamburgers, sausages and buns or steak sandwiches.
What we have done in the past when only some of us were GF was just ate the meat and salad component and maybe added something extra like a fried egg, while the others still had the bread.

 Then there is stuff like pizza that is essentially gluten based.
We usually have pizza fortnightly on a Sunday night, so this presented quite a problem.
We always make our own base from scratch so for the GF people we have made a GF base adapting a GF bread mix (directions were on the packet) or tried a GF pizza base recipe from the net- there are lots out there, I just look for something that is easy and doesn't require too many obscure ingredients.
Since I have been trying to lose a bit of weight I cut out pizza so the GF kids just chose to have a wheat night. Now as we are only intolerant that works OK as long as it doesn't happen too often, but obviously this choice is not available to those who have been diagnosed Coeliac as this is an auto-immune disease.
I would also suggest that not only you look at gluten free sites on the net and there are heaps out there but invest in a gluten free cookbook that you like- I find borrowing some from your local library and trying them first before spending money on something you are not happy with a great way to start out.
For my money though I love the 4 Ingredients Gluten Free Cookbook- the recipes are easy- even kids can use them and they don't require 50 ingredients which is always a pain and can become very expensive.
Once you have tea/dinner worked out you need to tackle the other meals.
Gluten Free cereal and bread can be expensive and not everyone likes the bread (I personally don't, but the kids are happy to eat it), so here are some alternative ideas.
Bacon and eggs
Homemade hash browns (grated potato, cheese, salt and pepper, press into patty in palm of your hand and fry in a little oil)
Tomatoes, mushrooms and onion stir fried, serve with an egg, or avocado and fresh herbs.
Boiled egg- serve with oven baked vege sticks (carrot, zucchini, caspicum, sweet potato)
Fruit with yoghurt (I use a goats milk yogurt)- sprinkle with a GF muesli or nuts for a treat
Fruit smoothie, based on juice, almond milk or yoghurt, or cows milk if you are OK with that.

Gluten Free pancakes with berries.

Wraps made with my GF flat bread recipe filled with salad or egg and lettuce.

Rice paper rolls - fill with salad and bean thread vermicelli
Cold meat and salad
Soft boiled egg with roast vege dipping sticks
Crustless quiche (use GF flour) or frittata by itself or with lettuce, tomato and cucumber
Leftovers from night before.
Home made Chips (french fries)

Snacks/ morning tea:
Can be the hardest things to change or adapt to a gluten free life.
 Fresh fruit is probably the cheapest, easiest and most economical snack, stick to what is in season and cheap, buy in bulk if you can.
Vege sticks, nuts and dried fruit are also good.

I like to make my own dips and the variety is endless.
Into the food processor put cream cheese and some herbs from your garden with a couple tablespoons of yogurt or sour cream or you can use semi dried tomatoes or a GF relish or chutney of your choice.
The dip pictured above is made from spinach and cashews (the Jatz are obviously not GF but the other biscuits are)
Serve with rice crackers or vege sticks.

These homemade crackers are very yummy and I will be posting a recipe for these soon.
Yoghurt and fruit, or smoothies are also great snacks.
I have found it fairly simple to adapt most recipes by just substituting normal flour for Gluten Free flour.
I have found the Orgran flour to be reasonably economical and works well.
A cheaper alternative available from Coles is the FG Roberts brand, while it works well it does contain soy which I don't overly like and it does need to be sifted before you use it as it comes out of the bag lumpy.

 Some of my favourite cake recipes contain almond meal.
Look for a bulk packet in the health food section of the supermarket rather than the little packets available in the cooking section.
Alternatively look for a wholesaler that you may be able to buy from in bulk.
A few of us go in together to buy from Santos Wholefoods which allows us to buy in bulk and share the freight costs.
If you have a mill you could buy almonds in bulk and grind fresh as you need them.

You can buy GF ice cream cones from Coles, or just serve ice cream in a cup or if you are game make your own.

Don't be afraid to try GF baking, all my baking is done with GF flour these days and I regularly serve it to guests who have no idea that it is made without wheat and they don't know the difference.
Because GF is more expensive than wheat flour you may want to limit your baking to special occasions or once or twice a week, your waistline will thank you for it as well!
To see my Gluten Free recipes go here.
I will be posting some more recipes soon so keep an eye out for them.


  1. Great post with loads of info and suggestions. You have made GF seem almost easy and appealing.

  2. What great ideas you have given.
    I have often thought how hard it must be to eat Gluten free. Your ideas seem so easy to do.
    I am inspired by this post.
    I am often concerned by the amount of wheat that appears in everything we eat, and I have suffered from most of the problems you described. I will be looking into this further.
    Blessings to you
    Thankyou for such a wonderful post. I am sure it will help many.

  3. I would be lost with out you Deanne ! Funnily enough I ordered the 4 ingredient gluten free cook book last night. Thank you xx

  4. We often use eggplant cut into strips as a form of pasta. GF waffle mix makes WAY better waffles, so that makes it easier to pay the extra for it.
    We don't need to be gluten free but my high functioning Asperger's child is SO much happier and calmer when being gluten free I always look for alternatives.


Thanks for taking the time to comment, I always appreciate your kind words.