My 7 favourite gluten free ingredients to have in the kitchen

Aug 23, 2014

If you’re trialling going gluten free for a period of time, then stocking up on the following 7 ingredients will make your trial SO much easier, and a lot healthier than relying on the products from the ‘free from’ aisle in your local supermaket which they tend to be heavily processed and bare little resemblance to the food from which it was originally made. Not stocking up on these, might case your gluten free experiment to collapse so make a note of these substitutes and get them on your next food shop before you begin your gluten free journey to give it a real chance.

QUINOA

Quinoa is my go to cupboard staple when it comes to making a tasty cous cous like salad and you can even buy it in flake form which you can bake with or soak and enjoy as part of your morning porridge. It has sustained the indigenous South American people for centuries and has now officially made it into the Western world, creeping onto our restaurant menus. Although it looks like a grain, it’s in actual fact a seed, in disguise! It contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein and therefore an amazing addition to any diet, particularly if you are vegan or follow a vegetarian based diet. It’s naturally very fibrous, is a great source of iron, magnesium, manganese and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It also contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, mostly in the form of oleic acid, which improves the digestive tracts ability to absorb nutrients, as well as lowering the risk of heart disease. So, experiment with this gluten free super-seed! Lastly, one top tip when cooking with quinoa is make sure you add flavour during the cooking process (lemon juice or stock work amazingly) as the quinoa will lock in any flavours you give it…otherwise you may be disappointed and end up with a flavourless experience and write it off your list! Adding lemon juice, olives, parsley and sundried tomatoes post cooking works amazingly also!

RICE

You can get lots of different rice varieties nowadays; brown, black, red, purple and wild and they all make for naturally gluten free dishes. They all vary in their nutritional profiles and this is largely due to the level processing involved. The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer of the rice kernel, which makes it the most nutritionally valuable type of rice. The milling of brown to white rice strips and destroys nearly 80% of the vitamins as well as removing the dietary fibre and essential fats so stick to the brown, red, black and purple kinds. Many gluten free baked goods are made from white rice flour because it’s cheaper and easier to handle, so when baking your own food, include brown rice flour to enhance the nutrient content of your diet.

BUCKWHEAT

Despite it’s name, buckwheat is totally unrelated to wheat and is a brilliant gluten-free superfood that is inexpensive to buy and versatile to use! It is perfect for making porridge, granola, risotto or salads and the flour form is one of my favourites to bake with. It is rich in iron, qualifies as a complete protein and is nicely fibrous.

CORN

Corn can be used in a number of ways. It can be used fresh in salads, eaten hot straight off the cob, grounded into corn flour or popped on the stove to make popcorn. It can also be used to make bread, muffins or polenta. It is packed with vitamins, specifically B3, B5 and B6 as well as antioxidant carotenoids; lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential for healthy eye function. Corn is a good source of insoluble fibre and has been shown to support the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine since fibre helps to keep your healthy bacteria in check. The protein content in corn, coupled with its high fibre content gives it the ability to help stabilise blood sugar levels making it a great addition to a any meal throughout the day.

AMARANTH

Like quinoa, amaranth is an ancient, protein-packed seed full of iron, calcium and fibre. It’s about the size of a poppy seed and was a staple food of the Aztecs and Mayans. It comes out a lot stickier and mushy compared to quinoa so don’t be surprised or think you’ve gone wrong when you get this consistency.

Amaranth can be roasted, popped, boiled and added to other dishes, making it a versatile pantry item. As a breakfast cereal you can add it to water and simmer it and it’ll form a porridge that has a sticky consistency which is perfect with cinnamon and berries added. Add amaranth to other grains such as rice and it adds a nutty sweetness to the pot or alternatively take advantage of it’s gelatinous quality and use it to thicken soups. Adding a couple of tablespoons while the soup is cooking is usually plenty!

MILLET

Millet is a versatile gluten free grain. It can be cooked like rice, turned into “mashed potato” or used raw or toasted in cereal or porridges. Millet contains a range of minerals; magnesium, phosphorus and copper, as well as vitamins B1 and B6. Like most other grains, millet is high in fibre, which helps to keep your gut healthy, and slows the absorption of glucose (sugar) into the blood keeping you fuller for longer.

NUTS AND SEEDS

Whole nuts and seeds can be finely grinded to make flour which nutrient loaded with all the nutrients and good fats that are found in nuts. Almond flour (also known as almond meal) is commonly used in gluten free cooking as it gives sweet foods a great texture and taste. Almonds are high in heart protecting monounsaturated fats as well as vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant that protects and repairs the trillions of cells in your body and is wonderful for skin.

I hope this post has helped you realise that gluten free living is so very easy and incredibly varied, you just need to be a little prepared and be up for experimenting! There was so much trial and error for me as I got to grips with it all, but if you follow all my Jessipes you’ll bypass my failures and skip straight to the perfected version!!

Enjoy!

Jess x

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Hi, I’m Jess! Nutritional Therapist  & Personal Trainer, sharing workouts & nutrition made simple from my island home in Menorca. My mission? To educate & inspire people to achieve & sustain their personal health & body shape goals. I love to hike, cook, and bring inspiring people together.

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