Cooking Gluten-Free

Need to cook gluten-free? Here's a set of basic guidelines of what to eat, and what to avoid for those avoiding gluten.

Photography Credit: Karina Allrich

Please welcome Simply Recipes guest author Karina Allrich of the gorgeous and ever informative food blog, Karina’s Kitchen: Gluten-free Recipes. Karina is kicking off a series of articles on gluten-free cooking and recipes. ~Elise

Imagine if you were told you had to give up bread. And pasta. And cookies! Here’s a statistic for you. Roughly three million people in the U.S. have to do just that. The reason? Celiac disease. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by eating gluten, the sticky elastic protein in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt that makes pizza dough stretchy and bagels pleasantly chewy. The cure is a gluten-free diet.

Learning to cook gluten-free is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. Armed with accurate information and a hefty dash of patience, scratch cooks can adapt most recipes to gluten-free. Here are a few beginner’s tips to get you started.

Keep it simple. Focus on whole, naturally gluten-free foods. A good place to start? Fresh plain meat, poultry, and fish (check labels for added broths, seasonings and marinades that may contain gluten). Whole eggs and plain cheeses (again, read labels for added ingredients; whole milk products, plain and block cheeses are generally safer than their low fat or fat free cousins). Dairy based products such as milk, yogurt, sour cream and butter are safe if additive-free. Vegetarians can enjoy legumes, nuts, seeds, and plain tofu for protein. Vegetables and fruit are gluten-free. Potatoes are a lifesaver (many a night I have based a meal around baked or mashed potatoes).

Gluten-free grain choices include rice and risotto, quinoa, corn and polenta, millet and buckwheat. White and yellow corn tortillas make Mexican recipes a family favorite in our gluten-free kitchen. Enchiladas, tacos and fajitas are easily gluten-free. Brown rice tortilla wraps are fabulous for burrito style sandwiches and even BLT’s. Gluten-free pasta made from brown rice is excellent, as are traditional Asian rice noodles. Rice paper wraps (used to make spring rolls) are usually gluten-free; wonton wraps are not.

Starches and thickeners for gluten-free cooking include tapioca and tapioca starch, arrowroot, cornstarch and potato starch. Sweet rice flour makes a smooth gravy.

Other foods to avoid include white flour, wheat berries and bran, rye, barley, spelt, faro, cous cous, pasta, malt and beer. Hidden gluten is a troublemaker. Places gluten may lurk include soy sauce, gravy, broth, marinades and sauces, spice mixtures and blends, roux and thickeners in soup, malt vinegar and flavoring, seitan, mustard, salad dressings, tortillas and wraps, breaded coatings, Japanese panko crumbs, cereal, granola, roasted nuts. Commercial oats and oatmeal products are often contaminated (choose only certified gluten-free oats).

When I first began my gluten-free diet eight years ago I relied on back to basics scratch cooking to get me through. Planning simple home cooked meals and choosing naturally gluten-free whole foods made my transition into the gluten-free lifestyle much easier. Here are some tasty gluten-free recipes here on Simply Recipes to get you cooking:

Mushroom Risotto
Creamy Polenta
Butternut Squash Apple Soup
Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
Mom’s Ground Turkey and Peppers

Additional resources:

The Celiac Disease Foundation
The Gluten Free Girl
Karina’s Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes
Celiac Chicks
Simply Recipes Food Blog Spotlight: Gluten-Free

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Karina Allrich

Artist, script girl and creative cook Karina Allrich develops gluten-free recipes on her popular food and recipe blog Gluten-free Goddess, mentioned in Newsweek magazine as the go-to on-line source for "creative recipes and cooking tips from an experienced gluten-free chef."

More from Karina

Showing 4 of 26 Comments

  • Denise Webb

    I am new to the gluten free world. I see that there is a recipe for Beef Barley Stew. I thought barley had gluten. Please explain.

  • Kalyn

    Even though I can eat gluten, I’m a huge fan of Karina’s blog for her no-nonsense approach to delicious food. Very fun seeing her posting on Simply Recipes, and there’s no doubt that many people who need gluten-free recipes will helped from her posts here.

  • Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    My aunt swears by this – eating and cooking gluten free. I personally spent a year staying away from it and have never felt better!

  • Stephanie

    Also, I’d should point out that Celiac isn’t the only form of gluten intolerance/allergy (not that the terms are interchangeable, but…). For example, I repeatedly tested negative for Celiac, but my entire body just fails when I eat gluten. I develop all sorts of terrible conditions.

    Just want folks out there to know there’s more than one road to a gluten free lifestyle. :)

  • Amy Green @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free

    Karina – I completely agree with starting simple. That’s how I did it 6 years ago. In fact, I didn’t even know about gluten-free flours or baking until much later. I’m grateful that it happened that way because it allowed me to develop new eating habits without the struggle of learning how to bake GF – it allowed me to have success first with foods that fed me. The great baked goods and occasional roux are a bonus now.

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