In spite of what you might have heard, wheat allergies and gluten intolerances are not the same thing. A person who is allergic to wheat must avoid wheat but can enjoy foods made with other grains. Someone who is gluten intolerant cannot have gluten at all, which presents some interesting dietary challenges–especially for people who like carbs.
But fear not, carb lovers! There are options out there to help you get your fix–and none of them will exacerbate your gluten intolerant digestive system!
- Introducing… Almonds!
Almonds are a fantastic and gluten-free substitute for many gluten-based ingredients. Almond meal, for example, is often used in place of flour. What is almond meal? From the experts at Bob’s Red Mill:
“Our Almond Flour is made from almonds that have been blanched to remove the skins, then ground to a fine texture that is great for baking. It is a go-to ingredient for gluten-free and low carb baked goods, and a must-have for paleo and other grain free baking recipes.”
Whole almonds are also a good option when you crave a salty snack. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, opt for some lightly salted almonds instead. This is good advice even if you aren’t gluten intolerant!
- Beans, Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart
Beans are another great gluten-free alternative to gluten-based flours and other additives. The garbanzo bean (or chickpeas, they’re the same thing), in particular, is a fantastic substitute. Garbanzo beans are far cheaper than other substitutes and gluten-based alternatives. You can buy them raw, canned, or frozen. One of the best uses for garbanzo beans is as a substitute for cookies and other baking-based snacks. By themselves, garbanzo beans don’t taste like much of anything. But coat them with, well, whatever you want, and they take on a whole new life.
Want some chips? Coat some garbanzo beans in olive oil, salt and garlic and roast. Want cookies? Coat garbanzo beans in olive oil, cocoa powder and cinnamon. You get the idea.
Ground garbanzo beans can also be used as a thickening agent instead of flour–keep this in mind for your sauces and gravies!
Yes, you read that right. Vegetables can be repurposed into substitutes for gluten-based foods. The most common and popular way to do this right now is with pasta. Instead of gluten-based pasta, use veggies to create your noodles!
The most popular veggie noodle is the zucchini noodle or “zoodle.” You can buy zucchini noodles already made and pre-packaged at the grocery store. If you want to experiment with different veggies (sweet potatoes are another popular option) you can buy a tool like a spiralizer and make noodles at home. This is the cheaper option, by far.
The great thing about veggie-based pasta is that in addition to being gluten-free, veggie noodles are lower in calories and far better for you, nutritionally speaking, than anything else you could use for the same product–even nut flours or bean flours.
Another option is to put veggies like broccoli or cauliflower through a grater or ricer to create veggie-based rice. Rice is, itself, gluten-free (as is corn) but veggie based “rice” is much healthier (though it isn’t typically cheaper).
- A Word About Quinoa
Quinoa is most often used as a substitute for oats, making it a fantastic option for people who love oatmeal and shredded wheat. Often mischaracterized as a grain, this food is rich in protein and B vitamins. It is important to be vigilant, though, because many quinoa products are processed in the same facilities as gluten-based flours and other ingredients. And even when processed separately, quinoa stores proteins in almost the same way as wheat, rye, barley, etc. This means that some people experience the same effects when they eat quinoa as they do when they eat gluten.