Life without pasta primavera, ciabatta paninis, wood-fire pizza, chocolate-chip cookies and vegetable tempura may seem just short of a death sentence. But with the right know-how – and maybe a vegetable spiralizer, bag of buckwheat, cup full of nuts and a fresh head of cauliflower – you can have an array of gluten-free alternatives right at your fingertips. The switch is both easy and fun to make, opening the door to new uses of your favorite ingredients!
With people adopting the gluten-free diet as quickly as they are signing up for juice cleanses, new products are keeping up with the onslaught of consumers. Don’t worry if a DIY gluten-free dish is not in your near future – healthy gluten-free options are easily accessed in most grocery stores and restaurants. From kelp noodles and quinoa pasta to buckwheat cereal and cauliflower crust pizza, sometimes the gluten-free alternative is actually more attractive than the real thing (just make sure to read your labels and keep it simple)! Try some of these substitutes and fall in love with gluten-free living…
13 Gluten-Free Alternatives
If avocado toast or a roasted veggie sandwich is a part of your daily food regime, the thought of ditching bread may seem daunting. The good news is that there are now many gluten-free alternatives that taste like the real thing. Just make sure to look for the brands that have the least ingredients. Many gluten-free breads use multiple stabilizers and binders that are not easy to digest and may even be worse for you than their wheat counterpart.
TCM Pick: Exotic Black Rice Bread by Food for Life
Non-wheat pasta alternatives have been around for quite some time, which is why there are so many delicious options to choose from. Whether you are looking for the pre-made kind or the DIY version, we have ideas for you. Looking to be adventurous? Buy a spiralizer and make noodles from a large zucchini or a sweet potato. These both mimic the noodle texture without the heaviness that wheat noodles have. Need a pre-made kind? We adore pasta made from quinoa or lentils. Both taste just like regular pasta but have more protein.
TCM Pick: Tolerant Food Lentil Pasta
In our opinion, there is nothing worse than taking the first bite of gluten-free cake and quickly realizing it is far from the real thing. Fortunately bakers have come up to speed, creating gluten-free alternatives that are exactly like the cakes we remember eating in our younger years. The best part is that they not only taste like a cake should taste, but can be much better for you too! Look for local bakeries that offer gluten-free options, like Coco Bakes, and definitely try our recipe below.
TCM Pick: Coco’s Carrot Apple Harvest Cake
One of the things that makes pastries, cookies and cakes such a “no-no” item on the nutritionist’s food list is their wheat content. These sweets are made with refined wheat flour that acts like a glue in the digestive tract. They prevent the proper absorption of nutrients while impairing normal digestion and bowel movement. Gluten-free alternatives made with nut or coconut flours do not have this same negative impact. They are easier to digest, and also have many health benefits due to their high fat and mineral content.
TCM Pick: Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour
Pizza has always been the food that we sadly give up when trying to shed some pounds or going gluten-free, but no longer. Somewhere along the line, the cauliflower crust was born. Made with finely chopped steamed cauliflower, eggs, fresh herbs, garlic and either chia or organic cheese, you will never know the difference. It is the perfect replacement for wheat pizza crusts and it can easily be made at home. Did we mention it also has less calories and carbs?
TCM Pick: Green Kitchen Stories’ Cauliflower Crust
Crackers are the perfect carrier for some of our favorite dips, spreads and jams. And let’s be honest, no wine tasting is complete without them. That is why we dove into every gluten-free cracker box around to find the ideal substitute. And what did we discover? Mary’s Gone Crackers. These crackers are made solely from seeds, brown rice and quinoa, making them completely gluten-free and vegan. In our book, these are the best.
TCM Pick: Mary’s Gone Crackers
Breakfast cereal is the staple of the American breakfast, and one of the top gluten-containing foods. If you can’t seem to start your day without your bowl of cereal, then we have the perfect gluten-free option for you. Buckwheat cereal. While not as ubiquitous as its wheat alternative, the cereals made with buckwheat are just as tasty. Plus, buckwheat offers far more nutrition, containing high levels of cholesterol-lowering fiber, and blood-stabilizing minerals. One of our favorite pre-made versions is by Living Intentions. With flavors like Acai Blueberry, Maca Honeycomb, Hemp & Greens, Raspberry Detox and Cacao Crunch, each one contains energy-boosting, beautifying superfoods.
You may not know this, but many of the veggie burger brands are not gluten-free. Using wheat as a binder, your favorite veggie burger could be that hidden source of gluten that you missed. Fortunately if you are fond of cooking, whipping up a batch of homemade gluten-free ones is quite easy, just try these sweet potato burgers. Not crazy about home cooking? Then check out our latest obsession, Hilary’s Eat Well frozen burgers. They come in creative flavors like Hemp and Greens, Root Veggie, and Black Rice.
TCM Pick: Hilary’s Eat Well Veggie Burgers
If you are as in love with Udon as we are, you will be happy to find out we found the ultimate gluten-free udon noodle – Kelp Noodles. While not exactly like Udon, they do a great job of mimicking the texture we crave. They also contain hardly any calories, so feel free to load up on the extras, like veggies, cashew cream sauces and organic chicken.
TCM Pick: Kelp Noodles by Sea Tangle
If we had to pick one dessert that we just could not live without, chocolate brownies might be it. That is why when going gluten-free, we had to find out how to make them sans gluten, and fast! What did we discover? Brownies made with black beans. Now before you write them off completely, we urge you to give them a try. We promise that they are nothing like you would expect. Somehow the beans have a neutral taste and provide the consistency needed to bake the most decadent brownie. Call it food alchemy or call it magic, either way we are adoring this gluten-free swap.
TCM Pick: Black Bean Brownie
Fan of nachos, tacos, quesadillas and all things south of the border? Then make sure to ditch the wheat-flour tortillas. Opt for the corn tortillas instead, but make sure they are GMO-free and organic. Most corn is now genetically modified, so be a mindful shopper. One of the best options we have found is a sprouted version by Food for Life. By sprouting the corn, the tortillas are easier to digest and offer far more nutrients than the non-sprouted versions.
TCM Pick: Food for Life Sprouted Corn Tortilla
Yes, salad dressing is a hidden source of gluten. And why? Because many salad dressings use gluten as a thickening agent. Therefore, opt to make your own dressings at home such as this Nordic Citrus Dressing, or this Ginger, Apple, Pear Butter Dressing. Looking for a pre-made kind? We love Hilary’s Eat Well line of dressings that includes Chia Ranch, Apple Fennel and Balsamic Thyme.
TCM Pick: Hilary’s Eat Well Salad Dressing
Waking up for Sunday brunch would not be the same without pancakes. While we only indulge in a fluffy sweet stack from time to time, we needed to find a great gluten-free substitute. Both almond or coconut flour seems to do the trick, but what is even more enticing are pancakes made with gluten-free oats. Oats are loaded with fiber and minerals, and who doesn’t adore the nostalgic taste of oats. Try our favorite recipe below and ditch the wheat version for good.
TCM Pick: Oat and Applesauce Pancakes
Excellent substitutions. I have been gluten-free for almost 2 years now and I will never go back. I understand the need to feed many mouths, but I do hope the process by which we gather, assemble and sell our food becomes cleaner and more organic.
So well said, Sydney!