If you enjoy cooking and love eating out, discovering you need to avoid gluten is not only daunting but also quite disappointing especially when you think of all the foods you will no longer be able to eat. You might think eating out will become difficult and going to friends for dinner will become risky to your health. Will they understand and know what to cook? Will you be put in embarrassing situations when they serve you a meal you can’t eat?
First of all, the best thing to do is to look at all the foods you can eat and simply stick to those. You can let you friends know the type of things you need to avoid and when eating out don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most restaurants will be able to cater for you needs and as the understanding of food allergies increases, at the very least they will be able to let you know what ingredients have been used.
Become an Expert
Whether you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, you need to know everything about your condition. Becoming an expert is essential so you can keep yourself well but also so you can advise others. There is plenty information available and organisations such as Coeliac UK are invaluable. There is also a huge selection of cook books on the market so you don’t need to feel you are missing out. With a few adjustments you will find you will be able to cook meals that will be safe for you and appeal to all the family.
A World of Choice
Avoiding wheat in all its forms, barley and malt, and rye doesn’t seem like a lot to think about but you also have to consider hidden gluten in sauces, marinades and coatings such as on breaded meat or fish. The list doesn’t look long but if you enjoy eating bread, cakes and cookies or your favourite alcoholic drink is beer, then you might be concerned. However the gluten free isles in the supermarkets have been growing over the past decade and you will be amazed at the choice available. From sliced loafs to rolls and wraps, gluten free pasta, beer, biscuits and cakes, there a great deal of choice. Not all of them are healthy options however, so don’t think gluten free means anything other than that! Even Italian restaurants have realised they were missing out on a group of people who couldn’t eat their pasta or pizzas so you will see ‘free from’ versions of your favourite meals appearing on their menus. If you are unsure whether a restaurant can cater for your gluten free needs or not, then it’s better to stick with simple meals rather than take the risk. So meals without breadcrumbs, sauces or marinades such as grilled meat or fish with vegetables would be a safe option.
A New Way of Baking
If you enjoy baking though, you really don’t need to stop. You might have to educate yourself on all the incredible flours available from rice flour to potato flour and even coconut and chestnut flours but you will enjoy experimenting with new recipes for cakes and cookies. You can even try your hand at baking bread. Whether by hand or with a bread maker, you can make a wide variety of breads including fruit bread and seeded bread. There can be the concern that about missing out on vital fibre from wholegrain cereals but you can add additional fibre to gluten free baking with the addition of seeds and nuts or rice bran. Everything becomes easy when you know how and with practice, your ‘free from’ baking will become the norm and your friends and family might struggle to tell the difference!