I have been living wheat free for the last 13 years due to a wheat intolerance, so I have tried and tested a lot! I do find a gluten-free diet and also a vegan diet very free from friendly so I do tend to veer that direction when meal planning and in the supermarket. I do eat meat but I also like to follow a wholefood diet that has plenty of nutrition if I can. Though, sometimes cooking for a family hampers my health-eating plans! Plus the last year has tested us all! Here are my tips for living wheat free.
- Oats! If you can tolerate oats, or use gluten-free oats if required, these may become your best friend! I think if I had to pick one food that is versatile and that I’d take with me on a desert island, I’d choose oats! I use them a lot, every day if I’m honest. The list goes on – cereals, baking, bread, flapjacks, I even throw them into smoothies. Luckily I have 2 daughters that also like oats so that really helps!
- Lots of wholefoods are naturally wheat free and gluten free. Take for example fruit, vegetables and nuts. If we just had to survive on them alone, we would cope. Look at how nutritious and delicious bananas and avocados are!
- Get used to reading food labels. Your supermarket trips may take longer with the food labels but it is worth it as you don’t come home with something you can’t eat! That has often happened to me! Just because it is in the “healthy aisle” or Free From section doesn’t mean it is! Gluten is in a lot of things for example spelt, wheat flour, durum, kamut etc. Although I am not a coeliac, I cannot tolerate rye or barley which is often in a lot of alternate foods so you can get caught out.
- Shop around and try different brands. You will be surprised at what you will find, There are some fantastic free from brands available now. The marketplace has changed so drastically especially in the last 5 years. Rice noodles do exist and so does gluten-free soy sauce. When I judged at the Free From Food Awards, I was delighted and excited to see so many great brands and such a variety of food available.
- As mentioned above, vegan cooking is often a great option. Asian/Fusion cuisine is also great as rice is often included and is so versatile too. The ingredients are often wholefoods and easily available in most supermarkets. Some cuisines are more difficult to manage than others. When I cook pizza at home, I always have to make two – the gluten-free one and the wheatflour or sourdough one, The same with pasta!
- Cookbooks!! I have too many and can’t part with them either. Cooking from scratch often just becomes a habit when you have to avoid certain foods and it is sometimes more reassuring to know what’s in your meal too. Plus it can be enjoyable and you can experiment too!
- Sauces – beware! If you are going to buy a packet or a jar, read the label! Or make your own. Though sometimes we all need the handy option, so I like to check the fridge products first to see what is available. There are free from products available and some that have won awards too.
- Be prepared! If you are abroad, bring food with you!!! Always have some sort of stash – crackers, cereal, pasta, whatever you need to get you through! If you are out for the day, bring your snacks as often you may do well to find anything gluten free especially if going to a busy attraction. You may be pleasantly surprised but it’s good to be prepared just in case.
I think this list may be added to as we trudge along the never-ending learning curve of wheat-free living and free from foods. As new products come to the market place, I try and get my hands on them to check them out and blog about them to keep you all informed.