Yesterday, I scratched the surface of the great gluten debate: do you need to go gluten-free? What is gluten, anyway? Like most things in life, the decision is pretty personal.
What are my thoughts on the matter, you ask? Well, I’m no scientist. Let me say that again: I am DEFINITELY not a scientist. But many of my health-nut vegan friends are almost entirely gluten-free, and the idea that less gluten equals less inflammation is an intriguing one. I mean, who wants to be inflamed? So while I’ll probably never eliminate all gluten from my diet (hello, Papa John’s takeout on particularly rainy nights), I’ve been trying to eat less gluten. I’m not stressing out about it–just occasionally reaching for rice pasta instead of wheat. Haven’t woken up with Angelina Jolie’s hair yet or anything, but I feel decent.
If you’ve decided to eliminate some gluten from your diet, here are some easy ways to do it. Note: this is not a guide to going gluten-free! This is a guide to going gluten-lite.
1. Swap out your pasta.
Unless you’re eating fresh pasta that was made minutes before consumption by floury maids on the hilly vineyards of Italy, the pasta itself is just kind of a vehicle for the good stuff, right? When you’re eating pasta with sauteed spring vegetables and fresh Parmesan, you’re not paying attention to the noodles, you’re paying attention to the basil, cherry tomatoes, luxurious curls of cheese, etc. With that in mind, consider buying gluten-free pasta now and then. Note: some gluten-free pastas are gross and dissolve into a mushy mess when you cook them, so shop around and consider springing for the good stuff. Here’s a list of the 2012 Best Gluten-Free Pasta award winners.
2. Try coconut flour.
It’s really good for you! When baking, you can substitute some of your regular white flour for coconut flour to get less gluten in the final product. I wrote all about coconut flour’s magic here.
3. Treat yourself to a gluten-free cookbook.
It’s an easy way to work delicious gluten-free dishes (or meals) into your schedule without working about odd substitutions that might taste weird. Alternately, 101 Cookbooks is a cooking blog that features tons of delicious, vegan, gluten-free recipes (not all are gluten-free, but most!).
4. Buy gluten-free snacks.
Keep your meals the same, but change your snacking habits. Instead of crackers, try kale chips (I just snagged these Southwest Ranch kale chips on sale and they are out of this world). Instead of bagels, try gluten-free bagels. You get the idea. It’s the baby steps that count!
5. Substitute other indulgences for bread.
This is definitely not health-centric advice, but if you crave the bread basket, treat yourself to something else delicious instead of that gluten-packed dinner role. Like chocolate. Or ice cream. Or guacamole. Jedi-mindtrick yourself!
photo attribute: Dimitar Tzankov