So many people suffer from wheat intolerance. But a wheat-free diet is not nearly as bad as it sounds. Follow these simple tips for a happier, healthier lifestyle.
1. Gone are the days of tasteless, rock-hard rye bread. There are so many artisan bakers making delicious 100% rye loaves. Head to an artisan bakery or a weekend market. Look out for corn or potato bread, which work better for dishes where you don’t want the sour rye flavour (think French toast, or breadcrumbs for burgers) and which are often also gluten-free. Rye bread freezes beautifully, so slice thinly, wrap in clingfilm and store in the freezer to toast on demand.
2. Experiment with wheat-free side dishes to serve alongside your meat and veg. There are hundreds of ways to prepare rice, potatoes and polenta, so change things up to prevent temptation arising from boredom. Try mashing sweet potatoes, like in this grilled salmon recipe, or making your own potato wedges. Making curry? Boil your rice with whole cardomom, cloves and peas, or take the time to make this delicious traditional rice dish, khadi kitchari. You’ll hardly miss the naan breads.
3. If you’re in the mood for pasta, think about visiting your nearest health shop where you’re bound to find many wheat-free varieties including rice- and corn-based pastas. Alternatively go Asian, and cook up a batch of rice noodles, great with this pad Thai recipe.
4. Stock up on wheat-free snacks like rice crackers, popcorn and corn chips, which make great snacks, served as nachos with sour cream and guacamole.
5. Quinoa is an excellent substitute to couscous. Simply add to boiling water and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the grains begin to split and become almost translucent. Try serving it with green beans and cashews, rolling the cooked grains into balls, and frying, adding to a BLT salad or going Latin with coriander, chilli and lime.
6. Start your day with a bowl of warm oats porridge or make your own bircher muesli as opposed to your favourite wheat cereal or toast (unless it’s 100% rye). (Remember there is a difference between gluten and wheat; oats are wheat-free but they do contain gluten, so avoid them if you’re sensitive to gluten as well.)
7. Eating at Italian restaurants is notoriously difficult for wheat-free diners. If you’re sick of sticking to risotto, polenta, or cheating a little with gnocchi (which does contain some flour) check out our guide to good pizza, where we’ve noted which restaurants offer wheat-free pizza bases, and which don’t.
8. Stay inspired by visiting wheat-free blogs. Tartelette, Roost and Canelle et Vanille focus on wheat- and gluten-free recipes, while Smitten Kitchen and Joy the Baker also have recipe section devoted to the topic.
9. For a quick dose of inspiration, visit Pinterest. The social network is awash with wheat-free boards, like our board Eating wheat & gluten-free, where you’ll find everything from sweet potato chocolate cake to gluten-free pot-stickers. Be warned, if you’re not familiar with the social network, you should know it’s a serious time-thief. Not such a quick dose then, after all!
10. There’s no need to give up baking. If you’re after a sweet snack, try these banana chocolate crunchies, or this delicious recipe for a flourless orange and almond cake:
2 large oranges 250g (1 cup)
caster sugar 6 eggs 500ml (2 cups)
Orange syrup: 60g (1/4 cup)
caster sugar 60ml (1/4 cup)
freshly squeezed orange juice zest
segments of 2 oranges
Place the oranges in a large pot, cover with water and bring of the boil. Simmer for 2 hours, adding boiling water when necessary to keep the oranges covered. Drain and cool. Split open, remove any seeds and puree, along with the skins, in a food processor. Whisk sugar and eggs in a large bowl, then add the ground almonds and orange puree.
Pour the mixture into a greased 24cm springform cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for 1 hour, or until the cake is set in the middle. Remove from oven and cool in the tin. For the orange syrup: Add the sugar and orange juice to a saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Add the zest and orange segments and boil until syrupy and reduced, about 2 minutes.
Serve with orange syrup drizzled over the cake.
By Bernadette Le Roux and Katharine Jacobs