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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 18: Guten Free and Thriving

Spaghetti Squash is a great gluten free stand in for pasta.
Shown: Spaghetti Squash with vegan alfredo and Brussels Sprouts

It is really easy to get overwhelmed when you learn that gluten is out of your diet. Gluten is in so many different things! Some vegans eat a lot of baked goods as a carbohydrate source, but vegans can still thrive without the gluten. Fruit is a great carbohydrate source, and of course there is gluten free baking.

Here are a few Do's and Dont's that helped me cope:
  • Do learn how to prepare gluten free pseudocereals and grains. There are a lot of options.
  • Do learn to enjoy food in its whole state, prepared simply
  • Do think ahead and plan your meals
  • Do always carry a snack with you just in case
  • Do still invite people over for dinner, and offer to bring a side when you go elsewhere that could easily fill you just in case
  • Do realize that people mean well, but don't always understand allergies and cross-contamination
  • Do ask if fryers or surfaces are used for other food items in a restaurant
  • Do carry allergy medication with you just in case
  • Don't exclusively use rice products. People become allergic to rice too.
  • Don't assume a waiter knows what gluten free is
  • Don't forget to re-read labels on products you haven't checked in a while. Recipes change.
  • Don't let yourself get down. There are so many fantastic foods out there that don't have gluten in them!
A few easy gluten free pasta substitutes:
  • Rice Pastas
  • Sea Tangle kelp noodles
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Grated Zucchini
A few cracker suggestions:
  • Fresh sliced vegetables
  • Jicama
  • dehydrated Kale Chips
  • Cassava Chips
Some whole grain substitutes to barley and wheat berries:
  • Quinoa - nutty and great in savory meals or in muffins
  • Amaranth - strong nutty flavor, packed with nutrients
  • Millet - great for grinding and using in frying
  • Teff - molasses like taste
  • Buckwheat - best in crepes or dehydrated as a cereal
  • Sorghum - very mild, almost sweet flavor
  • Rice
We had some friends over tonight and had so much fun. The food was a great conversation topic because it was hearty and filling without having that taste that is unfortunately associated with gluten free sometimes. Gluten free can be delicious. It makes me sad when people get upset about a diagnosis - I want to open up their eyes to a world of incredible tasting food. People who refuse to change their diets are only sacrificing their health - taste is a whole different matter.

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