Gluten-free cookbooks and blogs keep popping up and many use "Gluten-Free" to describe recipes that are already, always have been, never needed to be questioned about containing gluten. Are you kidding me? There is no revelation here... no one needs a gluten-free recipe for squash soup, salads and steak!
Please, let me set the record straight on this one. Vegetables, beans and legumes, eggs, meat, poulty, fish, fresh herbs and fruits have been gluten-free through the ages and still are!
The hype and the number of people who have latched onto "gluten-free" as an attention grabbing catch phrase to attract readers is troubling and confusing to the general public who are just learning what is and what isn't safe to eat. It's the addition of prepared foods that may taint these naturally gluten-free foods with gluten. Either gluten ingredients are added to the products or they become cross-contaminated by the facilities they are made in. And this is where you need to be on alert and start questioning.
If you are cooking gluten-free, use REAL food. Many of the processed cans and prepared foods have fillers and added gluten that are not necessary. If you stick with the basics, you will not need a "special" recipe book. Use your trusted favourite recipes and keep some basic guidelines.
Here are some simple swaps you can start to do that will convert some of your favourite recipes so they are safe to eat.
• Minestrone Soup: Replace the wheat noodles with gluten-free noodles. When making your own, use fresh veggies, a gluten-free stock or water and if you spice it up, make sure your spices are without fillers and say gluten-free.
• Schnitzel, Southern fried chicken or cutlet, salmon cakes: Use gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour and you're all set. Instead of breadcrumbs you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs or corn meal or a combination of both.
• Dressings: Homemade salad dressings are so worth it. They are easy to make, fresher, lighter and way healthier than anything you can buy in a bottle. And you never have to wonder if it's safe. But truth be told, many dressings are already totally gluten-free...
• Hamburgers and meatballs: If you make burgers with breadcrumbs, try using gluten-free ones or even potato flakes. Check your spices and voila!
• Pasta: Use gluten-free pastas. There are many kinds of spaghetti, penne, macaroni and fusilli on the market with corn, rice & quinoa blends. Pastas are so popular these days you can find them at grocery stores and large warehouse / club stores.
• Rice and potatoes: They are and always will be gluten-free. Wash them and prepare. If you use chicken stock or powdered cubes for flavor, make sure they are gluten-free. If you fry your potatoes, make sure the oil was not cross-contaminated.
• BBQs: Check your meat for fillers. These days most companies mark Gluten-free on their processed meats like hamburgers or hot dogs. Clean the BBQ well or use a foil plate if it is used for gluten-filled foods.
• Sandwiches: Use a gluten-free bread and voila! It used to be impossible to make when breads would crack and crumble, but with today's breads available, you can make sandwiches, paninis, sliders, wraps and much more.
• Chinese heaven: corn starch is used as a thickener in many Chinese food recipes. It is already gluten-free. Have fun and try some new recipes like sweet and sour chicken and spicy lettuce wraps!
• Tacos: There are gluten-free corn tortillas and spice packets that are already gluten-free on the market. Simply fry some hamburger meat, add the spice packet and then add stir fry veggies and onions, select your toppings like olives, hot pickled peppers or sauce and fill your tortillas! This is a great family fun meal.
Making a cookbook on how to make breads, gluten-free desserts and dishes like quiche that need a recipe for the shell are totally worth your while. But if you have your favourite recipes that you have always loved and want them gluten-free, well you are in luck.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: