The Gluten-Free Quick Start Guide

Month 1 The Fundamentals

1)   Don’t rush into buying and trying new products.  Don’t go out and buy a ton of gluten-free products and waste your money on going all out too soon.  What if you only like a couple things out of the dozen or so that you bought?

2)   Start with the foods you’ll think you’ll miss most when you go gluten-free.  What do you like the most that has gluten in it?  If it is pizza, then search out and start out with finding gluten-free pizza.

3)   Ease into foods that are simple to find at the grocery store and prepare at home.  A lot of foods don’t taste much different at all from gluten-filled foods.   For instance, cookies, breakfast cereal and pancakes.

4)   Discover the world of rice.  If all you know is white rice…try some new culinary adventures such as basmati, jasmine, short-grain and wild rices.

5)   Try spice racks.  If you’re not an experienced home cook, consider prepared spice packs to help you season your culinary creations.  Just make sure they are labeled “gluten-free”.

6)   To save on food costs, cook dinners that are naturally gluten-free.  “For dinner each night, we have a meat or meat equivalent, a starch and lots of veggies,”  Dr. Gibney says.  “We bake or roast potatoes, or use our wonderful rice cooker to make short-grain brown rice that’s high in nutrients and fiber.”  Round out the meal with green leafy vegetables; the tastiest options are fresh and locally grown.

Month 2 Ready For More Adventure

7) For variety and on-the-go options, try new gluten-free prepared foods. Once you have adjusted to Month One’s gluten-free foods, it’s time to try foods with tastes and textures that may be noticeably different from what you’re used to. Start with frozen waffles, and then try bread and rolls. If you can’t find prepared bread you like, consider a mix or baking from scratch. As you become more accustomed to the diet, you might try frozen pizza or crackers that are gluten-free.

8) Strengthen your label-reading skills. Many foods contain wheat and gluten without stating so clearly. Dr. Gibney says, watch for labels that say: ‘breadcrumbs, cereal extract, flour, high protein flour, gelatinized, flavored, modified starch, food starch, pasta, seasonings, vegetable protein or plant protein. Look for these ingredients especially in: alcoholic beverages, candy, processed foods and sauces.

9) Scan the labels to find third-party gluten-free certifications.

Month 3 Master the Baking Challenge

10) If you want to try gluten-free baking, think of it as a hobby with some special techniques you need to master. “Consider buying books about gluten-free baking or attending some classes,” Dr. Gibney suggests, “Even if it is a class on mainstream baking, you can learn proper techniques for working with dough.”

11) Try a “pan pizza” crust. Thick, fluffy crusts are easier to perfect at home.

12) Buy a waffle iron. There are many great gluten-free waffle mixes on the market.

13) Take the cake. Gluten-free cakes are the biggest challenge for most people. There are some mixes that work well, but recipes from scratch are more rewarding if you can do them, Gibney says.

Source:  Dr. Lucy Gibney, MD, Go Gluten-Free Magazine Winter 2013