Spotlight on... Gluten-free
What is a gluten-free diet? Our nutrition expert Jo Lewin explains what it means for your health, what to watch out for and where you can find support.
Gluten-free flours are not as easy to bake with as they lack the elastic properties of gluten. As a result breads may rise (due to yeast or raising agents) but fall again to leave rather dense loaves. A recently discovered substitute is xanthan gum. It is a natural powder which, if added in small quantities to flour for bread and pastry making, makes a reasonable substitute for gluten.
Combination flours work best for cakes, biscuits and pastry: 60% stronger flours (such as gram or maize) to 40% finer, lighter flours (such as white rice, potato or tapioca). Corn bread made from ground corn or maize meal (NOT cornflour) is a delicious gluten-free bread substitute.
- Fancy meatballs but not the pasta? Swap spaghetti for mashed potato:
- Make thai meatballs and serve with rice:
- Super easy burgers and potato wedges - totally gluten-free (as long as there is no burger bun!):
- Or a more exotic variety:
- Omit/replace the English muffins:
- Healthy whole-food salad with gluten-free grains:
- Try buckwheat or rice noodles in your favourite stir fries:
- Swap tofu for prawns, chicken or beef:
- Eggs are gluten-free and a great source of iron and B12:
- Try polenta as a pizza base:
- Go wild for nutrient rich vegetables with easy gluten-free soup:
- Or super healthy salads:
Coeliac UK is a trusted source for gluten-free advice and has a comprehensive food and drink directory for members.
The Food Standards Agency has a useful list of frequently asked questions about gluten.
Be inspired and try more of our favourite gluten-free recipes.
Jo Lewin holds a degree in nutritional therapy and works as a community health nutritionist and private consultant. She is an accredited member of BANT, covered by the association's code of ethics and practice.