5 Gluten-free Cooking Tips You Need to Know
At its simplest, gluten free cooking can be easy, fast, affordable and taste just as good as ‘regular’ food. I know that probably all sounds hard to believe, but trust me, it is possible! I’m Becky Excell and I’ve been gluten free for over 11 years – I also run a food blog over at www.glutenfreecuppatea.co.uk and share recipes over on my Instagram.
Being gluten free can be incredibly overwhelming at first (and for many years after the fact!) so here’s 5 gluten free cooking tips that’ll hopefully make your culinary life a whole lot easier.
1. Make as much of your food from scratch as possible
I’m just going throw this out there straight away: gluten free products are always more expensive than ‘regular’ products. The sooner you get used to that fact, the better! But that doesn’t mean you just have to grin and bear it.
As buying gluten free, convenience products in the “free from” section can soon add up, the best way to combat this is by making your food from scratch.
Not only will you have the benefit of knowing what is (and isn’t) in your food, but starting with basic ingredients like meat, veg and rice means your bill won’t be sky high. But do bear in mind that if you fancy pasta or bread, you will have to buy those slightly more costly gluten free equivalents.
Unless you own a breadmaker like the Panasonic 2522 of course! It has a special gluten free functionality which allows you to make your own fresh gluten free bread, pasta dough and even cakes, fresh and entirely from scratch. It’s automated functions means you don’t have to sit and watch it, it does it all for you – I couldn’t live without mine now!
2. And try to waste as little food as possible too
As I said, gluten free products can be expensive so it makes sense to reduce how much of them you waste also. You can easily do this by freezing any leftovers, especially when we’re talking about gluten free bread.
As it’s pretty common to be the only gluten free person in your house, you’re usually left with an entire gluten free loaf to yourself. So I usually freeze mine and just defrost or toast a couple of slices at a time, as and when I need them.
You can always blitz any leftover gluten free bread into breadcrumbs to avoid wasting it too. Stale bread works perfectly for breadcrumbs! I often use mine to bread chicken for my Katsu curry. Make sure you head over to Love Food Hate Waste’s website for even more tips on reducing food waste.
3. Safety first! Be wary of cross-contamination.
Ok, I said ‘safety first’ and this is tip number 3, but pretend you didn’t notice!
If you’ve been diagnosed with Coeliac disease or are incredibly sensitive to gluten, you’ll need to be clued up on cross-contamination. Again, I am fairly lucky with my 2522 breadmaker, as all ingredients go into it, but it’s especially crucial when safely preparing gluten free food in a kitchen where gluten is also present. Here’s some tips from Coeliac UK on minimising the risk of cross-contamination:
- Wipe down all cooking surfaces
- Thoroughly clean your pots and pans with soap and water
- Standard washing up liquids are fine to use or using your dishwasher will remove gluten
- You do not need to use separate cloths or sponges to clean utensils and cookware
- Use separate chopping boards to keep gluten free food and gluten food separate
- Use a separate toaster or toaster bags for toasting any bread
- Use clean oil or a separate fryer if you’re frying gluten free food
- Use separate utensils and dishes for condiments, jams and spreads. Never ‘double dip’ your utensils if spreading onto food containing gluten!
4. Meal prep and batch cook in advance
As being gluten free often involves more cooking from scratch, you can end up needing a little more time in the kitchen in the evenings. After a long day at work, when you probably just fancy ordering a takeaway, an intense cooking session doesn’t always sound that appealing!
I combat this by batch cooking and doing a little meal prep ahead of time. You don’t even have to go out of your way to do this either. Whenever you make a meal, simply make twice as much, then freeze the leftovers.
I effectively make my own ‘ready meals’ which I can defrost the night before and reheat the following evening. It allows you to have all the benefits of cooking from scratch, with all the convenience of pre-prepared food.
5. Always read the ingredients labels on everything
If you’re new to being gluten free, one of the biggest (and easiest) mistakes to make is not reading the ingredients labels thoroughly enough. Trust me, you get used to doing it eventually!
Even when cooking from scratch, you can find gluten in some very strange and random places that might catch you out. For example, did you know that soy sauce always contains wheat flour?
Even beansprouts in some supermarkets have a ‘may contain wheat’ warning – a big no-no for cross-contamination. So just remember – it never hurts to triple check all the labeling, all of the time!