Before getting on with the gluten free diet plan, it is necessary to know what gluten is and how it affects our health. Well, gluten is a type of protein found in grains -specifically wheat, barley and rye which gives the elastic and sticky composition to the dough and helps maintain the shape of the final product, plus renders the chewy texture. Gluten is present in almost all types of foods, especially processed foods and baked foods such as bread, cakes, biscuits, soups, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings, roux, malt, beer, etc.
Gluten is of great concern for health because it has absolutely zero nutritional value and does not promote health in any way and the human body has no use for it. Even sugar is better than gluten because it works as a source of energy. Instead, gluten acts as a root cause of various diseases such as Celiac Disease, osteoporosis, irritable bowel diseases, fatigue, cancer, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and various other auto-immune diseases. Therefore, it is best to avoid gluten-rich foods and follow a balanced diet chart containing all the necessary nutrients in order to stay away from the harmful effects of gluten.
Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
The problem with gluten is that although it is a type of protein, the human body views it as a foreign non-food substance and therefore, it promotes the immune power to respond to this foreign substance. Here are the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance.
- Unexplained and excessive fatigue
- Gastrointestinal problems like bloating, gas, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, acid reflux
- Headaches and migraines
- Mouth ulcers
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings, depression, and anxiety
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Joint and muscle pain
- Tingling and numbness in legs
- Thinning of hair
- Abdominal pain
What is a Gluten Free Diet?
Does going gluten free means giving up all grains for life? Of course not, there are a number of healthy and nutritionally dense gluten-free grains that you can still enjoy every day. The list of gluten-free grains includes corn, oats, millets, brown rice, quinoa, sorghum, teff, wild rice, amaranth, and buckwheat. Oatmeal and weight loss are closely related to each other, and it can be included as a healthy breakfast option in gluten free diets.
All these grains are an excellent source of vitamins, fiber, minerals, and riboflavin. A healthy gluten-free diet simply involves replacing unhealthy gluten-rich grains, bread, cakes and cookies with healthier options such as rice, corn, quinoa and gluten-free oats. Replace sauces and salad dressings with hummus, vinegar, peanut butter, etc. and enjoy a healthy platter of fruits and vegetables. The gluten free diet benefits include improvement of cholesterol level, enhancement of digestive health, increased energy levels as well as promoting healthy weight loss.
Principles of a Gluten Free Diet People often ask a question “is a gluten-free diet healthy?”, so here are a few basic principles of the gluten-free diet that proves it is a much healthier option compared to fad diets.
Develop New Habits: It is never too late to change. We have been eating cakes, muffins, cookies, bread and bagels throughout our lives, but it would be great if we can turn cookies and cakes into occasional treats. It is best to replace these gluten-rich foods with rice, quinoa, oats and corn. Opt for vegetable wraps instead of sandwiches and eat sausages without a bun. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole foods instead of ready to eat and processed foods. A wholesome fruit and vegetable meal plan is the secret to a healthy body.
Limit Eating Out: Minimizing eating out not only saves a lot of money and helps you to spend more quality time with your family at the dinner table but also limits the risk of gluten poisoning.
Opt for Home Cooked Food: There is no healthier replacement for healthy home-cooked food, and it is a 100% sure method of ensuring that no gluten enters your diet. You can try some easy and simple gluten free diet recipes – breakfast and lunch ideas for weight loss and ensure protection against gluten intolerance.
Feel Free to Freeze Your Meals: It is best to buy gluten-free flours in small quantities and refrigerate the flour if you buy it in bulk because these flours have a short shelf-life. Gluten-free baked foods should also be stored in the freezer.
Eat Whole Foods: Gluten free diet for kids and adults must include more of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, fresh cuts of meat, seafood, eggs, rice, beans, corn and quinoa that are naturally gluten-free and much cheaper and healthier compared to processed foods.
Bake your Own Bread: It best to bake your own gluten-free bread, cakes, cookies, muffins and scones with gluten-free flour.
Foods to Avoid on a Gluten Free Diet Your list of gluten-free foods should not contain the following items:
- Wheat Bread
- Wheat flour
- Cracked wheat
- Breakfast cereals
- Graham flour
- Rye Bread
- Beer and malt drink
- Cookie dough mixes
- Gravy mixes
Foods to Include in a Gluten-Free Diet Well, now that you know what to avoid on a gluten-free diet, here is a healthy gluten free diet food list and you can add these food items to your daily meals without any worries.
- Wild Rice
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fresh Fruits
- Lean Meat
10 Delicious and healthy gluten free recipes for Lunch, Dinner, and Desserts
So, now that you know the benefits of giving up gluten from your diet let us learn a few wholesome and quick gluten free diet recipes that will cut out the boredom of eating same old foods every day. We will begin our recipes list with 5 meal recipes that can be prepared for lunch or dinner followed by 5 mouth-watering dessert recipes.
Bombay Chicken with Coconut Rice This is a complete meal which consists of a chicken dish along with rice, so you don’t need to prepare any other curry or side dish to complement it.
- 3 tablespoons oil or butter
- 3 boneless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup onions
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon
- 2 tablespoons ginger root minced
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup gluten-free chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
Procedure: Cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch pieces and keep aside. Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan and put the chicken pieces in it, cook till they are slightly brown, remove from pan. Now, cook the onions for 3 minutes, add the garlic and fry for another 1 minute and return the chicken to the pan, add the broth, salt, chili powder, cayenne, ginger, curry powder, chopped tomatoes and wine and mix all the ingredients with a spatula. Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low flame or till the chicken pieces are tender. Mix milk and cornstarch in a cup and add it to the chicken, mix well, bring it to boil and allow the sauce to thicken. Serve with rice and sprinkle chopped onion and shredded coconut on top.
Chicken Soup with Dumplings This is one of the most wholesome gluten free chicken recipes that is loaded with proteins. Chicken is one of the best natural protein sources which works as the building block of muscles and helps in burning fat.
- 5 cups gluten-free chicken broth
- 5 cups cooked chicken
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
For the Dumplings:
- 3/4 cup gluten-free mix
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
Procedure: Heat a large saucepan and add the chicken broth, chicken pieces, vegetables, salt, and pepper to it and bring it to boil. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 1 cup milk and whisk it until smooth and add it to the chicken mixture, continue to heat it. In a medium-sized bowl add the dumpling ingredients and blend with a fork. Now, gently drop 8 rounded spoonfuls of the dough into the boiling chicken soup and cook for another 10 minutes over low heat and then cover and cook for 15 minutes. Serve the soup in small China bowls.
Prawn Couscous This is one of the healthiest gluten free recipes for kids that is low on spices and yet extremely tasty. You can make it in a jiffy, and it can be enjoyed for both lunch and dinner.
- 420ml vegetable stock
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 orange deseeded and sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper deseeded and sliced
- 2 small courgettes diced
- 100g mushrooms sliced
- 1 tablespoon of herbs (parsley, mint, chives)
- 175g couscous
- 200g cooked and shelled prawns
- Lemon juice 1 tablespoon
- Freshly ground black pepper
Procedure: Pour the hot vegetable stock in a saucepan and dip the sun-dried tomatoes into it. Mix all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl, add the couscous over it, stir in the herbs and pour the stock. Cover the lid and allow the couscous to steam for 1 minute. Remove the lid and stir the contents with 2 forks, add the prawns and lemon juice, season with black pepper and serve with mixed lettuce salad.
Mushroom and Saffron Pilaf What better way to enjoy your gluten-free meals than with the delicious taste of pilaf? This is one of the most complete gluten free recipes for dinner that can be made instantly and be enjoyed by the whole family. Being a low-calorie recipe, it can be easily included in the 1200 cal meal plan for weight loss.
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 celery stick sliced
- 1 small green pepper deseeded and finely diced
- 22g mushrooms sliced
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 100g brown basmati rice dry
- 600 ml vegetable stock
- 5 to 6 saffron strands
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
- 100g frozen peas
- Black pepper for seasoning
Procedure: Heat a non-stick pan and dry-fry the onions, celery, green pepper, mushrooms and garlic over a high flame for 5 minutes, now add the rice, vegetable stock, saffron, and thyme. Stir well and simmer so that the liquid gets absorbed gradually. When the stock is completely absorbed, and the rice is ready, season with black pepper and add the frozen peas and allow them to heat up a bit before serving. Enjoy with hearty mixed salads.
Zucchini Pasta This is a simple and delicious alternative to wheat pasta that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner. It is one of the easiest gluten free recipes that takes very less time to prepare and can be enjoyed with meatballs or shrimps.
- Olive Oil
Peel the skin off 1 or 2 zucchini and then shred the zucchini into strips with the help of the peeler and you have gluten-free vegetable pasta at your disposal. Now, cook the zucchini strips in a skillet for 2 to 3minutes tossing with olive oil and enjoy it with meatballs, shrimps, salads or gluten-free pasta sauces.
Pumpkin and Ginger Muffin Life without the sinfully delicious taste of oven-baked muffins is meaningless and we are not asking you to give up this dessert from your gluten free diet chart. The gluten-free pumpkin and ginger muffin is extremely healthy and easy to prepare.
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 cups pureed pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
- 3 cups gluten-free flour
- 5 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Procedure: Preheat the oven to 325 degree F. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, sifting them one by one using a spatula and stirring continually. Now, pour the mixture into muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes. Top each muffin with whipped cream and nuts.
Quinoa Pancakes Quinoa pancakes not only make a delicious and healthy sweet dish, but is also one of the healthiest gluten free breakfast recipes that can be enjoyed each morning with a steaming cup of coffee.
- 1/2 cup Quinoa flour
- 1 tablespoon Potato starch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Organic Honey
Procedure: Combine all the ingredients except honey in a bowl and add some water to it to make the mixture thick and fluffy. Heat a non-stick greased skillet and add a ladleful of the batter to it, fry each side until golden brown and serve with honey drizzled from the top.
Carrot and Almond Cake Who says you have to give up cakes and baked goods completely when you follow a gluten-free diet? This gluten free carrot and almonds cake tastes wonderful, and it is loaded with vitamins, beta carotene, and nutrients.
- Butter for greasing
- 5 cups grated carrots
- 1 piece lemon
- 5 cups almond meal
- 4 tablespoon brown rice flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Greek yogurt
Procedure: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cake pan with baking sheets and butter. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and some lemon zest to the carrots. In a separate bowl mix the almonds, rice flour, baking powder and xanthan gum. Beat the eggs and sugar to a mixture till it turns thick, fold in the carrot mixture and almond meal mixture with a spatula. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 35 to 50 minutes. Cool and decorate with Greek yogurt and pine nuts.
Brownies We all love brownies – be it with chocolate syrup or vanilla ice cream, so here is a gluten free brownie recipe which is made with black beans and tastes absolutely heavenly.
- 15 ounces black beans rinsed and drained
- 3 medium eggs
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoon yogurt
- Butter for greasing
- 1/4 cup assorted chopped nuts
Procedure: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking pan with butter. Pour the beans and eggs together into a mixer and mix till it turns into paste. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the cocoa, vanilla, sugar and yogurt to it and blend well using a whisk. Pour the batter into the baking pan, sprinkle the nuts and bake for 25 minutes. Let it cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Cherry, Ricotta and Honey Tart This is one of the best gluten free dessert recipes that should be enjoyed after an elaborate feast. It contains the goodness of cherries and honey along with the rich taste of ricotta cheese which makes it a sumptuous treat.
- 375g pack ready rolled puff pastry
- Baking sheet
- 25g butter
- 2 tablespoon caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 250g ricotta
- 125g mascarpone
- 350g pitted cherries
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoon pine nuts
Procedure: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Unroll the pack of ready rolled puff pastry on a baking sheet and brush melted butter evenly over it. Mix 2 tablespoons of caster sugar with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the pastry evenly and bake it for 15 minutes or till it turns golden. Let it cool. Take the ricotta, mascarpone, ground cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and whisk them together in a bowl and spread over the pastry, scatter 350g of pitted cherries over it topped with 2 tablespoons of honey and toasted pine nuts.
So, now that you know the harmful effects of gluten on health; follow a gluten free diet and include these gluten free meal and dessert recipes into your daily diet to avoid the risk of gluten poisoning.