Food & Wine
When I design recipes, I try to cater for people who have intolerances to foods such as gluten.
Whether you're intolerant to gluten or you'd rather just go without it, there is a long list of foods you can't eat because gluten is in so many items on the supermarket shelves.
The good news is that living a gluten-free lifestyle is not as difficult as you might think. When you start thinking creatively, the possibilities are endless - you just have to change long-held habits.
First, a quick lesson on what gluten is: the protein found in grains such as wheat (including semolina, couscous, spelt and kamut), rye, barley, oats and triticale. It's found in starch-based foods such as breads, pasta, cereal, biscuits and cakes, as well as store-bought ingredients such as sauces, soups, dressings and stocks. It's actually in most of the processed food on supermarket shelves.
Gluten is what gives bread the elasticity to be able to rise, as well as its structure, chewy texture and density.
It gives pasta dough that silkiness, holds it together and gives it the ability to stretch paper-thin through your pasta machine.
It's worth remembering that ''gluten-free'' written on the packet doesn't automatically mean the product is good for you.
Most such items are full of refined white ingredients that raise blood glucose and act like glue for your insides.
A good rule to remember is that if you focus your diet on avoiding processed foods and making meals for yourself, you are on the right track.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean free-range meats, eggs, natural pot-set yoghurts, raw nuts, brown rice and chestnut, beans, lentils and seeds including quinoa and buckwheat are all gluten-free.
Healthy cold-pressed monounsaturated oils and natural vinegars are also gluten-free, great in salads and a key ingredient of many other delicious dishes.
It's possible to make a gluten-free version of just about any food you love to eat but don't expect it to taste the same as the original.
I relish using ground almonds, quinoa and linseeds (flaxseeds) when baking gluten-free cakes, muffins, biscuits, pies and breads.
For a traditional wheat pasta replacement, use 100 per cent buckwheat noodles, brown rice or vegetable linguini made entirely from fresh vegetables such as zucchini, pumpkin or carrot.
Making stocks for soups by simmering offcuts from vegetables or chicken is delicious and easy.
Changing the way you eat and preparing real food from scratch doesn't have to be time-consuming and, with a little planning and the right ingredients, you can have real food on the table that's healthy, delicious and gluten-free.
Gluten-free carrot cake
500g (3 large) grated carrots
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 cups (300g) almond meal
1/4 cup (60ml) macadamia nut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup raisins
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
Preheat oven to 160C. Combine carrot, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond meal, oil, honey, raisins and baking powder. Mix well until combined.
Pour into a prepared 20-centimetre baking tin and bake for one hour to 1½ hours, or until cooked through.
Cover if necessary with foil. Remove from oven and cool completely in the tin, then turn out. Serve alone or topped with thick natural yoghurt, or a topping of your choice. It keeps in the fridge for up to five days.
Nutrition each serve: protein, 5.7 grams; carbs, 13 grams; total fat, 15 grams (saturated, 1.6 grams); kilojoules, 887. Gluten-free, low GI.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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