Ever eaten a pizza only to have joy crushed with stomach cramps? Then you might be gluten sensitive. Gluten – the protein in wheat, barley and rye – has been waging havoc on diners for decades.
For some gluten can be a serious (even life threatening) ingredient. These people have Celiac Disease: an intolerance that can cause digestive, bone and reproductive problems. For others (including those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome) it inflicts bad digestion.
So what can be done if you fit either category? Well avoid these grains and you will avoid symptoms. But this is not as simple as it sounds, with many products disguising grain, such as couscous and semolina.
Add to this the temptation of hot baked goods and gluten free life can be hard.
But fear not! There are plenty of tasty substitutes in home cooking or dining out. So here is some temptation -tackling tips:
The key to gluten cooking is getting a good flour substitute. There are a myriad of options including: corn flour, rice flour and potato flour, all of which you can source at Chinese supermarkets.
Corn flour is great for coating/ deep-frying anything (tempura style). It is also good for thickening sauces.
Rice flour – on the other hand – has a pungent taste, which overpowers much home cooking; so is best avoided unless specifically cited in a recipe. The best rice products are fettuccine noodles,which can be steamed, boiled or deep-fried instead of pasta.
Potato flour is contrastingly versatile, suiting both savoury and sweet recipes. Potatoes can also be used to thicken sauces or baking by adding Smash (dried potato substitute) to the wet mixture.
But the freshest way to bake with potato is by using mash to make a cake. Fresh mash can be made the old fashioned way (peeling, boiling and crushing totties) or can be bought pre-cooked, in the vegetable aisle. To use it instead of flour, take the flour weight equivalent and split it into three parts mashed potato and one part ground almonds; before putting both into your mixture. This will make a fresh moist bake.
Another great baking substitute is egg whites, which can be whipped into peaks to make treats like:
Flourless pancakes can also be made by soaking porridge oats in yogurt overnight and frying. And oats’ uses don’t stop there; their chewy texture also make great biscuits, granola, and flap jacks.
Texture is a challenge in gluten free baking, with many flour substitutes unable to meet wheat’s moist elasticity. So, to stop your bakes from crumbling, add ground nuts and fruit wherever possible.
Possible and probable are two different things; while it is possible to bake a gluten free pizza, it is improbable that the base will hold. So why not leave it to the professionals and dine out in a gf friendly Italian, like Paperinios.
Another chain embracing gfree foodies is La Tasca. This Spanish tapas joint offers both gluten free food and beer! Its stock of Estrella Damm Daura will spark joy in the hearts of lost lager lovers.
Surprising treats can also be found in Dakhin, a Glasgow based Southern Indian restaurant. Here foods like onion badgies are made with garum flour, a gluten-free delight.
But if you are looking to lunch (or even brunch) in Glasgow, the Butterfly and the Pig is best. The Bath Street tearoom offers gfree soups, sarnies and cakes (that would make your stomach grumble).
If this sounds good, but you prefer a takeaway treat then why not visit Tapaorganic (a Glasgow gf friendly bakery). With a store in the West End and another in Dennsitoun, Tapaorganic offers Fairtrade coffee to accompany gfree bakes.
So now you see, you can dine like a king without suffering wheat- hangover. Happy eating!