When my son was first diagnosed with celiac disease a few months ago, I kept trying to find decent replacements for many of his favorite foods. We tried multiple brands of tapioca hamburger buns with moderate success. We suffered through more than a few not-so-tasty gluten free pastas, made of rice, corn, quinoa, and millet. And while some of those were better than others, nothing was quite like real bread, or real pasta....you know....something that you would actually crave. So far, our experience with gluten free pasta and bread is that its an okay substitute for what you are really craving....”real” bread and pasta.
Since we weren’t horribly impressed with these items, we started omitting them from our menus. Which is when we made a very interesting discovery. We’ve always eaten a lot of ethnic foods at our house, but we’ve been cooking even more of them lately because many of them require little or no gluten. Take, for example, Mexican cuisine. The staples are rice, beans, meat, tortillas. Obviously, flour tortillas are out. But if you’ve ever had a really good corn tortilla, hot off the grill from a Mexican grocery store...they are soft and warm and way tastier than the plain old flour version. Most Asian food is also pretty celiac friendly. Just substitute tamari for soy sauce, and use cornstarch to coat meats before flash frying and to thicken sauces (which most Chinese recipes do anyways). You would think Japanese food would be a home run, but many pre-made sushi rolls actually contain gluten. As a rule, you need to stay away from anything tempura and I was pretty surprised to find out that the imitation crab in some California rolls contains wheat. Apparently, not all imitation crab uses wheat as a binding agent, so just make sure you read the labels carefully. Thai food is worth a mention because many of their noodle dishes, such as pad thai, call for rice noodles. And since we’ve been eating all this ethnic food, we’ve also been shopping at Mexican grocers and Chinese supermarkets. The products are more authentic and usually a good deal cheaper, too. Which is a plus, because eating well while gluten free can get pretty pricey.
Eating lots of ethnic cuisines has been an easy way for our entire family to embrace g-free meals, but that doesn’t mean that I have given up on finding yummy substitutes for bread, cookies and cakes. I’ve been loving all the product reviews that G-Free foodie has been posting. I think we’ve probably all spent 5 bucks on a brownie mix only to find it out it sucked. It’s great to be able to read what people think about products before wasting money on them. We’ve been doing a lot of taste tests at our house with different types and combinations of flours. Some successful some, some unsuccessful. I’ve been reading about how gluten performs in different situations and how to determine what flours would produce the best approximation of the original product. I’ll keep making messes in my kitchen and I’ll let you know if I make any interesting discoveries. Do I think I’ll ever find a perfect solution, or be an expert gluten free chef? Goodness, no! I’m just a girl who loves food and loves her son and wants him to have the best g-free life possible.
Gluten Free Mommy, Hilary
angie cora says
this is a very good article. me too loves to eat foods and i want to try new one for my taste but will not affect my health.
nice job! thanks for sharing it