Gluten intolerances and celiac is becoming more and more common. But what exactly is gluten? You know it as a main squeeze in many carbs, but more specifically, gluten is a protein. It’s formed when wheat and flour mix together into things like bread and pasta, giving food structure. Thankfully, as gluten-free diets become more mainstream, restaurants and food manufacturers are taking note. It can be challenging to eat gluten-free, but these simple food swaps offer ease without sacrificing great flavour. And who wouldn’t want that?
Easy gluten-free swaps
Spaghetti squash in place of pasta
Of course, the key ingredient in pasta is wheat, and wheat is the number one source of gluten. Instead of your usual noods, pick up a bright yellow spaghetti squash and discover why it got its name (this is a very cool feature for kids). Cook it in the oven (don’t forget to poke a few holes in it), cut it in half, scrape out the stringy bits and add your favourite sauce. You can also try gluten-free pastas from the grocery store. It may take a few tries to find your fave.
Make it: Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Pancakes and waffles
Good morning! Those pillowy stacks all smothered with syrup are still yours for the taking. Rice flour is naturally gluten-free and an easy swap for your go-to recipe. You can also find a lot of gluten-free flours with a one-for-one substitution, making your job as Master Pancake Maker so easy.
Cauliflower has been having a moment. You’ve probably seen it as a stand-in for vegan wings, as a mashed potato substitute and, the reason why we’re here, a pizza crust. To make your own, pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor, then steam them and combine them with mozzarella, parmesan, eggs and other seasoning. Shape dough-like substance onto a pizza pan and cook for 20 minutes, then add your topping and cook for 10 more. Buon appetito!
Sandwiches might be the best thing since sliced bread. But alas, most commercially available bread is made with wheat. Take a page from your favourite Asian restaurant and try using lettuce wraps or rice paper wraps to hold your sandwich fixings together.
Cereal is a go-to for many, it’s quick and easy. But there are a lot of gluten-free options if you take a look. Cheerios even have five gluten-free flavours. (Oats are naturally gluten-free, however, as anyone following a gluten-free diet knows, oats are often contaminated with gluten-rich wheat, rye and barley during growing and harvesting.) Chex cereal also proudly bears the gluten-free symbol.
Want to indulge in some tasty homemade granola on your yogurt, or by the handful (we’re not throwing shade)? It’s super easy to adjust your favourite recipe by sourcing gluten-free oats. Bob’s Red Mill makes a good one.
Make it: Olive Oil and Maple Granola
If you’re a fan of sushi or soy sauce in general, you might be momentarily bummed to learn that the salty black sauce is loaded with gluten. But don’t despair for long, tamari to the rescue. It’s made from fermented soybeans and a bit thicker than soy sauce, but a very easy swap for recipes or dunking.
A version of this article was originally published in August 2016.