Today I want to share with you my top 15 essential ingredients in your gluten free kitchen…
Around 20 years ago I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. After numerous inconclusive tests, including a biopsy for coeliac disease, I was left to get on with it.
I suffered for years before I worked out that wheat was one of my major triggers. It followed a six-month trip around South America, where being vegetarian, I ate a diet high in wheat.
I had spells when I couldn’t eat a thing because of the hugely distended tummy that I had. I felt uncomfortable most of the time and I couldn’t enjoy the wonderful food on offer.
Once I cut wheat from my diet my symptoms vastly improved.
Fast forward to 2007 and my daughter was born.
‘Roo’ was unhappy from her first night, screaming in pain for nine months. At that point the doctors finally took me seriously and carried out allergy testing. She tested positive for eggs and cows milk protein.
Then in 2010 she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease necessitating a strict gluten free diet.
At that point I was still avoiding wheat as far as possible but both my husband and younger child ‘Sunshine’ were eating it.
For about a year I juggled making gluten free food for me and ‘Roo’ and food containing gluten for the other two.
The eczema on my hands got progressively worse as I constantly washed my hands between food items to avoid cross contamination.
In the end, for both my sanity, and ‘Roo’s’ health (she was still reacting to something…we later discovered was milk which we had been told to re-introduce), I decided to make my kitchen entirely gluten free.
I often get asked what essential ingredients I have in my gluten free kitchen. So I thought it was time I shared that information with you.
It is something I cover in depth in my Gluten Free Diet: Basics online course. I even give you a tour of my kitchen in a video! The course also covers:
- Cross contamination and how to avoid it,
- Food and drink you can eat (and those you can’t)
- How to meal plan for the family
- How to cook and bake gluten free food
- How to eat on a budget
Amongst a host of other essential things you need to know.
In addition to the teaching, it also provides you with online support from me and others who are in the same position as you.
Anyway, back to my list of essential gluten free ingredients for your gluten free kitchen.
Over the years I have used my science background to experiment food. I always try to keep my recipes simple with as few ingredients as possible. I don’t have the space in my gluten free kitchen for hundreds of ingredients.
So these are the ingredients that I think are essential:
1) A good quality gluten free flour blend.
This is essential for your gluten free baking. One gluten free flour will not work to replace wheat flour in your recipes. Equally trying to blend your own flours is a tricky business since each gluten free flour lends a different property in baking.
My wholegrain gluten free flour blend is not only made from a blend of 70% wholegrain flours, but it can also be used to bake and cook all your gluten free foods. That includes bread, pastry, pasta, cakes, biscuits, scones, sauces and pancakes.
2) Psyllium husk powder.
This browny/white fine powder can be used as a replacement for gluten in baked goods. Only a small quantity is required to stop gluten free baked goods from crumbling.
I mainly only use it for bread products with my flour blends but if you are using other blends you will likely need to add it to most recipes. That’s because other flour blends rely on cheap gluten free starches which do not bind well together.
If you want to know more about psyllium husk then check out my article here.
3) Xanthan gum.
This is another white powder that is used as a gluten replacer. I prefer to use psyllium husk powder because it’s more natural and also high in fibre. Some people also find that they react to xanthan gum.
You can find out more about what it is here.
4) Flaxseed or linseed.
These are the same thing but with different names. Once again, when finely ground they act as a gluten replacer by binding gluten free baked goods.
They can also be used as an egg replacer (for it’s binding properties) by combining 1 tbsp with 3 tbsp water.
5) Chia seeds.
These are similar to flaxseeds and can be ground to replace gluten and eggs. They are also high in fibre and protein.
A useful grain to use in place of cous cous or rice. We try to avoid eating too much rice because it contains arsenic.
I use a lot of nuts, both in baking (ground almonds mainly) but also for snacks and breakfasts. They are high in protein and fibre along with many other essential nutrients.
8) Gluten free oats.
Some people who have coeliac disease have to avoid oats. However if you can tolerate them I recommend having them in your gluten free kitchen.
They can be used to make a wholesome porridge but are also perfect ground into a flour to add softness to gluten free bakes.
9) Gluten free pasta.
I always have a bag of pasta in the cupboard, ideally one that isn’t high in rice flour.
Nowadays there are a huge variety of gluten free pastas. I try to choose one that is made from lentils for less carbs.
This is a fabulous, versatile gluten free grain. I use it to make polenta chips but it’s also a wonderful accompaniment to lots of main meals. Just make sure that the brand you are buying is actually gluten free.
11) Dried pulses.
I usually have a variety of dried lentils in my gluten free kitchen cupboards. They are incredibly useful for adding fibre and protein to meals which is often lacking in gluten free food.
They are often labelled as ‘may contain gluten’ but if you pick through them, soak them and then wash them well they will be fine to eat.
12) Tinned beans.
I use these in the same way as dried pulses but when I am short of time. They don’t need soaking and can be added to salads and meals to increase the fibre and protein content.
13) Tinned tomatoes.
The perfect gluten free ingredient for curries, Bolognese and simple pasta sauces
14) Dried herbs and spices.
A selection of herbs and spices will allow you to make most meals from scratch combined with my other gluten free staples. Be aware that some spice mixes do contain gluten. It’s therefore a good idea to buy spices individually so you can mix your own spice blends.
15) Konjac noodles and ‘rice’.
Konjac is a Japanese herb whose corm is used to make products that are a rich source of soluble dietary fibre. Research has found that it can be useful in reducing cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
I found a brilliant company called Yu & Mi who sell dried noodles and ‘rice’ made from it.
I’d love to hear what you have in your gluten free kitchen. Just leave me a comment below.
And if you’d like more free tips about starting a gluten free diet then check out my free 5 day email course here.