09/16/2013 12:46 EDT | Updated 11/16/2013 05:12 EST

6 Ways to be Gluten-Free Awesome


Whether by choice or chance, gluten is being ditched in hoards and droves. With GF foods becoming more accessible, it's easy to get caught up in the convenience and not ask the hard questions. I'm GF by choice and have a partner who is GF by chance (or genetics, but that doesn't roll off the tongue so sweetly). Here are some hot tips garnered through experience, research and brain-power, that might change the trajectory of your gluten free lifestyle.

1. Just because the package says gluten-free does not make it a healthy choice. In fact, I'm willing to wager that more often than not, it's a bad choice. I know, this is sweeping and assuming and unfounded but I spend an abnormal amount of time reading food packaging. Let's just agree then not to confuse "gluten-free" with "healthy."

2. Ditch the pre-fab baked goods. If it's GF bread and it's in plastic, vacuum sealed and sitting on the shelf, chances are it sucks. Just look at the ingredients and colour. It may lack gluten (which is what you're after), but it will probably also be lacking in any nutritional value. I'll also go as far to assert that it will be hard to digest and make you gassy too. Double boo.

3. Learn to bake from scratch. And by scratch, I don't mean emptying a box into a bowl and adding water. I know this advice involves some trial and error, research and time, but it's well worth the effort. You'll know what you're putting into your body and avoid the slurry of ingredients that packaged foods and boxed mixes usually consist of.

4. Get creative with your bad self. There can be a lot of fear when it comes to cooking and baking. If you're a kitchen 'fraidy cat, it's time to face the music. Put on your apron and get at it. There are no failures in the kitchen, even if on occasion you create something inedible. Every lesson learned will make you a better cook. Be positive, check out some good GF blogs or cookbooks and start playing. The more you practice, the better you'll get.

4b. Get extra creative. I often ditch the bun altogether with my veggie burger and just have way more veg. Mung bean pasta, black bean brownies, almond meal muffins -- there are so many wonderful things to chow down on. Start learning, experimenting, and blowing your own mind.

5. Don't expect your GF food to resemble its glutenous counterpart. Things are different now that you're not a gluten nosher but don't fret, there are tons of wonderful options. Stop worrying about whether your food tastes just as it did before and find some satisfaction in the differences. Ask yourself : does this taste good? If the answer is yes, then huzzah! If the answer is no, try again.

6. As with all things in life, be inquisitive. Read packages, do research, and ask other GF friends what they're cooking up. Sometimes you come across a great GF pre-fab food that's actually not made of alien matter. The rules above aren't set in stone, but they're a pretty bomb-ass set of parameters. Know that you actually are what you eat and make going gluten-free a healthy and inspiring shift in your way of life.

And if you don't mind, please start saying "GF" so that A) we all don't have to say gluten-free all the time and B) because it sounds like we're part of a pretty rad gang.