9 November 2020

9 Simple gluten free carb swaps

Whilst switching to a gluten free diet following a diagnosis of coeliac disease is likely to be a big adjustment for you and your family, the increasing awareness of gluten related conditions has certainly boosted availability of gluten free options over recent years. Whether you have coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy, you’ll find more choice than ever before at your local supermarket, cafe and even corner shop.

Specialist gluten free products are great for normalising meals times and satisfying snack cravings, who wouldn’t want to indulge in a gluten free waffle at breakfast, dunk a gluten free digestive in their mid-morning coffee, or a crunch into a warm gluten-free ciabatta with lunch? But after filling your basket in the free from aisles, you may be surprised to know that there are just as many naturally gluten free foods waiting on the remaining supermarket shelves. With a bit of research and a willingness to try new foods and flavours, you might just discover an Aladdin’s cave of naturally gluten free options that you’ve never considered before.

Carb cravings

Starchy carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. A great source of energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre, it should be no surprise that health experts recommend this food group should make up 50% of our daily energy intake and be included with every meal.

Unfortunately, the starchy carbohydrate food group is also the one most likely to contain gluten. So what are the options for filling the carb section of your gluten free dinner plate? Classic staples such as potatoes and rice are great choices, but can quickly become repetitive. Below, we’ve listed some suggestions for lesser-known, cost-effective and naturally gluten-free carbs to help refresh your meal repertoire and boost your nutrient intake.

Butternut squash – Try roasting thick chunks in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, or look out for ready-prepared butternut squash ribbons (a bit like noodles!) in the veg aisle of larger supermarkets.

Sweet potato – Leave the skins on, slice into wedges and roast with olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika, or boil and mash with a little milk, butter and black pepper.

Carrot & swede (turnip!) – a classic Sunday roast accompaniment, but why wait until the weekend? This cheap and colourful carb boost is easy to make – just dice, boil and mash. Add a dash of single cream and horseradish sauce (check the sauce ingredient list for gluten-containing ingredients first!)

Polenta – this true ‘multi-tasker’ is simply maize that has been dried and ground. Polenta’s neutral flavour means it works well in any type of dish – sweet or savoury. Try boiling to make a smooth mash, before adding a dash of olive oil, parmesan and seasoning. Or make polenta chips by frying strips of a ready-made polenta with a little olive oil and garlic.

Buckwheat – despite the name, buckwheat is unrelated to wheat and is classed as a ‘pseudocereal’. These nutty, earthy grain-like seeds can be cooked in the same way as rice. A great alternative in risotto or sprinkle cooked buckwheat over a salad to balance up your food groups.

Quinoa – another pseudocereal that can be boiled and used as an alternative to rice. The chunky seeds are also great to bulk out broths and add texture to a gluten free salad. Try making a quinoa porridge by boiling with double the amount of milk to quinoa. Add toasted almonds, fresh berries and a drizzle of honey.

Cassava – this starchy root vegetable has a delicious nutty flavour and is often used in traditional South American cooking. It can be boiled, mashed or roasted similar to a potato. Cassava should never be eaten raw and remember to remove the thick skin with a knife before cooking. Try making cassava chips by roasting thin pre-boiled slices of cassava in a hot oven, with olive oil and garlic.

Rice re-vamp – we all know that rice is great gluten free staple, but why not expand on this familiar favourite and experiment with a different rice variety? Try Thai black, fragrant or sticky rice, wild rice, or simply brown rice next time you’re making your favourite stir fry or curry.

Beans, pulses and lentils – these nutrient packed legumes are often hailed for their protein content, but did you know that they’re also a great source of gluten free carbs? Tinned options are ready-to-use and can be added to casseroles, stews and soups. Try adding Cannellini beans to a simple chicken casserole, or drain and roast a tin of chickpeas with a little olive oil and salt to make a nutritious snack or salad topping.

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