Gluten free pantry in 5 easy steps
No more wheat?! A Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity diagnosis can seem like an insurmountable task during the initial days and weeks an individual (or potentially, an entire family) is adjusting to new dietary needs and restrictions. Learning how to decipher ingredient lists and nutritional labeling is a crucial part in safe-guarding your health, but it’s a skill that can often take months to master. Though you may have to wait before understanding the finite details behind your ‘safe list’, the following 5 steps will help ease the transition to a gluten free pantry.
1. Simplify Meal Preparation
In the early months of creating your gluten free pantry, an easy way to decrease the odds of consuming food with hidden traces of gluten is to avoid combination entrees or all-in-one dishes until you get more familiar with potential sources. Avoid buying pre-packaged and processed items when grocery shopping (even dressings and sauces) to decrease later temptation or accidental use at home. Comprise meals of raw or steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, a hearty protein source, and a gluten free (GF) carbohydrate such as potatoes, white/brown rice, millet, polenta, or quinoa.
2. Purchase Clean Foods
Restrict yourself to only shopping around the periphery of the supermarket. Produce, meats, vegetarian/vegan meat replacements, dairy, and non-dairy and/or lactose-free milk and cheese options are heavily concentrated in a store’s outer ring. Make these products your basic staples in regard to meeting daily nutritional needs. In addition, buy local and organic foods when possible; learn more about the five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungent); and be wary of the term ‘natural flavors’ (a common marketing ploy to make a genetically modified or heavily manufactured item seem less processed).
3. Identify Stumbling Blocks
Know the food cravings that are most likely to trip you up. For example, if you tend to have a sweet tooth, start your gluten free pantry transformation by familiarizing yourself with gluten free baking essentials like amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, sorghum, tapioca, oat flour and teff flours. Also, make it a priority to review the packaging of favored foods already in your home to be sure they do not contain any of the following species of wheat:
4. Try Eating Raw
Limiting the amount of cooked food you and your family keep in your gluten free pantry is a simple and affordable way to decrease the exposure to potential gluten sources. If you think about it, the majority of grain or wheat-based products the average person eats need to be prepared with a heat via boiling, baking, sauteing, etc. Focusing on raw foods centers your dietary intake on plant-based and ‘living’ foods such as organically grown produce; sprouted beans, seeds, and tofu; germinated beans; kefir; and dehydrated fruits and meats.
5. Expand Your Palette
Start with what you know. Take your favorite recipes and research appropriate gluten free ingredient substitutions. If pasta is a family favorite, begin sampling the gluten free alternatives of corn, rice, and zucchini noodles (or experiment with creating your own). See this as an opportunity to embark on a culinary adventure.
Use the following websites as inspiration for the journey to a gluten free pantry:
The list of what to avoid for this particular food allergy is lengthy and complex. Give yourself and your family time to adjust to a new way of eating and thinking about food. Remember: you can always ask your healthcare provider, a registered dietician, or a certified health coach if you need additional or support in putting together your gluten free pantry. Also, feel free to access last month’s blog on Allergy-Friendly Cooking for more practical tips and suggestions for your gluten free pantry.
Rachel Werner is a Lactation Education Counselor and a Dr. Sears Certified Health Coach. She is the creator of the Green Mom Cooking series currently held in Madison, WI. Her previous occupations have involved parent education, safe environment counseling, and internet safety training. Her most valuable education, however, continues to be motherhood and evolves everyday thanks to her delightful toddler at home. Connect with her via Pinterest!