One of the simple pleasures in life that we get to enjoy everyday is a great meal. Unfortunately, there are as many food intolerances, allergies and dietary preferences out there as there are delicious, creative dishes. But food intolerances do not need to mean missing out! I myself have several dietary intolerances, but I don’t let that confine me to a boring diet. Using a little bit of creativity, I’m intentional about keeping things fun! Adapt your favorite recipes to suit you by mixing and matching a few substitutions in your own kitchen!
I’m grouping gluten and wheat together even though they’re slightly different: those with wheat allergies react to wheat proteins; those with gluten intolerance cannot digest cereals containing gluten.
It’s great that being gluten-free is becoming more mainstream. Modern society does indeed seem to be a little wheat-overwhelmed. Much research has surfaced suggesting that most people (not just those with wheat or gluten intolerances) could benefit from cutting wheat out of their diet. That means gluten free substitutes are available more and more often.
Of course, most substitutes are not quite the same as wheat – because they’re not wheat. What they are is an opportunity to mix new flavors and textures into signature dishes that are not only more digestible, full of fiber and nutritious, but possibly even tastier!
1. Nuts instead of croutons
Croutons add a whole other level of textural goodness and flavor, from the herbaceous topping of a Caesar salad to the crunch-tastic finish of a creamy soup. But in the same way, nuts can elevate a salad or soup from ho-hum to amazing, thanks to their sweet, delicate flavor and crunchy texture. Start with raw nuts to minimize flavor additives and preservatives. Add them either raw or toast them briefly in a skillet before serving to bring out their natural flavor. Add a touch of salt and some dried herbs or spices for an even bigger boost. Dried basil and oregano work a dream for the aforementioned Caesar; cayenne and paprika are simply divine for a Mexican-themed salad. The best part? Nuts hold their crunch just a little bit longer than ho-hum croutons.
2. Cucumber for baguette
Sometimes you just need something to hold the best part of the sandwich – the filling! To replace bread for an easy snack-on-the-go, split a cucumber lengthwise, scoop out the seeds in the middle and shove your favorite toppings in. Bacon (pork, tempeh or otherwise), lettuce, tomato and cucumber? You betcha.
3. Zucchini instead of pasta
Everyone under the sun seems to have a recipe for zucchini alfredo these days, but don’t stop there. Use a peeler to make thick or thin spaghetti strands (long, thick zucchinis work best for this) and try many different pasta sauces over them. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast, toss with chunky pesto including olives and tomatoes, or simply toss with some good olive oil, chili and garlic.
4. Nut meal for breadcrumbs
Think about Japanese panko-style breadcrumbs – finely ground nuts add just as rustic and flavorsome touch to dishes. In fact, after being introduced to the wonderful world of nut crumbs, you’ll think breadcrumbs are boring. Try ground walnuts in casseroles in the winter. In the summer, almond meal can be mixed with salt and pepper to taste with a dash of lemon zest makes a fine fish crust.