Once you get the hang of your gluten-free diet, you become evermore savvy in the ways of creative recipe substitutions. Your thinking naturally adopts a “what if” approach and you’ll experiment with different gluten-free ingredients in your favorite recipes. There are no wrong answers, just opportunities to explore and play with tradition! Don’t hold back. Experimentation is a part of the gluten-free life … always. You’ll often be delightfully surprised with what you come up with.
But in the beginning, the creative gluten-free substitution wheels aren’t always as well-oiled. The following examples illustrate some simplistic approaches to making traditional foods gluten-free. Making baked items such as breads, cookies, and cakes are more advanced and require even more experimentation, using different flour blends to see what works best and tweaking a recipe’s chemistry.
• Meatloaf or meatballs: Replace bread crumbs with your own freshly made bread crumbs using slices of toasted gluten-free bread, crumbled gluten-free crackers, or rice.
• Noodles: Substitute gluten-free rice noodles when traditional egg noodles are called for in a recipe.
• Barbecued meats: Substitute gluten-free barbecue sauce for regular sauce.
• Italian pasta dishes: Replace traditional wheat pasta with gluten-free Italian-style pasta.
• Gravies: Instead of wheat flour, thicken with corn starch, potato starch, arrowroot starch, or rice flour. Consult cookbooks for guidelines on using the ingredients properly.
• Macaroni and cheese: Replace traditional wheat elbow macaroni with gluten-free elbow macaroni and substitute finely ground rice flour for any small amount of wheat flour the recipe calls for to thicken the cheese sauce.
• Cheesecake: Choose recipes for cream cheese filling that don’t call for flour to raise the filling. Be creative with replacing the graham cracker crust, try gluten-free biscotti cookie crumbs, gluten-free crumbled cookies, or hazelnut meal for example.
• Asian dishes: Where soy sauce is the only forbidden ingredient, simply substitute wheat-free soy sauce.
• Small amounts of wheat flour: For recipes that call for one to three tablespoons or so of all-purpose flour such as goulashes, stroganoff, creamed corn, or soufflés, experiment with a gluten-free cup-for-cup substitution flour blend.
• Leave it out: Have you often wondered why a small amount of flour is included in a recipe and question if it really makes all that much difference? In these cases, simply leave it out!
• Go crust-free! Many pies can be enjoyed without making the crust, thus making them deliciously gluten-free. Honestly, how many people do you know eat the pumpkin pie just for the custard anyway?