Gluten is a common cause of inflammation, leading to leaky gut, which in turn makes the body susceptible to developing chronic disease. (Source) The effects of gluten on the body extends way beyond the gut! That’s why I recommend that most people go gluten-free — you’ll feel better in the long run and reduce your chances of developing an illness.
You don’t have to go cold-turkey if you love to bake and cook, however. Below are some ways you can still use your favorite recipes, but with some substitutes to make them friendly for a gluten-free diet.
1. Ground flaxseeds for bread crumbs
Ground flaxseeds are wonderful with a little coconut flour to “bread” homemade chicken fingers. Not only does this eliminate gluten, but flaxseeds are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are good fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Plus they’re high in fiber!
You can buy flaxseeds pre-ground, but I actually prefer to grind my own in a coffee grinder or food. Once the flax seeds are ground up, the oils in them tend to spoil more quickly so you may be purchasing rancid flax seed meal. I like to minimize that chance and purchase whole flaxseeds
2. Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini noodles for pasta
I was shocked the first time I used spaghetti squash and realized the volume of food it provided! If you take the time to cook a single spaghetti squash, it will feed a family OR you can save leftovers for lunch later
Zucchini noodles are also a yummy option, but they have a different texture, so I would recommend trying both to determine which you like best.
To cook zoodles, simply saute them for a couple minutes in a little bit of oil until they’re the texture you like.
For spaghetti squash, you can cut it in half lengthwise, brush the open sides with oil, then place both sides face down on a baking sheet and bake it for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. This will depend on your oven and the size of your squash. It should be soft enough that you can easily scrape out the insides with a fork when it’s done.
Toss your veggie noodles with your favorite sauce, add in some grass-fed organic meatballs, and you’ve got a delicious, gluten-free meal!
3. Black beans or tahini for flour
This is an easy 1-to-1 swap in your baking recipes. When baking, you can swap out 1 cup flour for 1 cup black bean purée. It’s especially good in brownies because it adds in extra moisture that works well with their texture.
It’s also fun to experiment with using tahini (which made with sesame seeds) in place of flour, or in addition to a gluten-free flour to add extra density and moisture that’s a little different than black beans.
4. Quinoa for oatmeal
Quinoa is a grain packed with gluten-free protein. Since it has a bland taste, it takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with! That means you can easily make it a breakfast item by cooking it with your favorite plant or nut milk, then adding in ground cinnamon, berries, etc.
I would love to hear how you get creative with your cooking. Drop me a comment below so I can get some new ideas too!