When the words “gluten free” come up, many of us Foodies will try to talk our way out of it. “I can’t do that, I work around food all day” or “I could never live without bread.” Trust me, I’ve said all of those things and much more. I discovered early on that the only way to keep on track with a gluten free lifestyle is to not feel deprived. It’s not about restriction, it’s about freedom. The freedom to feel healthy and happy, and most importantly, to not have to order a side salad every time you meet friends at a restaurant.
Every healthy diet is dependent upon leafy greens, fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins. To help supplement this base of the food pyramid, I’ve put together a list of foods that are flourless and fabulous. Some are indulgent, and some you can eat every day, the choice is yours:
Tex-Mex: The quote, “A life without Mexican food is a life not worth living,” is posted in one of my favorite Tex Mex eateries and I have always identified with it. I don’t think I would have been successful on a gluten free diet without Tex Mex. Tacos, nachos, enchiladas, fajitas, all of which are perfect with corn tortillas. I load up on the aforementioned with plenty of fresh guacamole and salsa, beans of any variety, and wash it down with a salty, citrusy margarita on the rocks, which is also flourless last I checked. Just stay away from flour tortillas, cream sauces, or anything fried and you’ll be fine. Our pre-marinated fajita steak in Market has a following of its own, and our Seafood Partners offer the day's freshest catch along with amazing fish taco and ceviche suggestions. Don't forget to grab the freshest pre-made guacamole in town in Produce.
Asian and Sushi: Dieters of all affiliations unite – Asian food is our friend. This culture has the key to good health and long life, and we are fortunate to borrow from them whether we’re going gluten free, low fat, low carb, vegetarian – it’s all good if we do it right. Rice is naturally gluten free so it makes it easy. I love cold spring roll wrapped in rice paper filled with anything from the garden: avocado, cucumber, cilantro, grilled tofu, shredded cabbage and crisp carrots. Rice noodles offer an endless source of ideas for stir-fry, pad Thai, or pho soup. Prepare your own sauces from scratch or choose a bottled variety- many of them contain no gluten. Just watch out for soy sauce, it is processed with fermented grains, much like beer, and therefore does contain gluten. There are gluten free soy options available, just check the labels closely. Our well-stocked Asian foods selection is conveniently located near the gluten free aisle.
Charcuterie: All hail the cured meats. Anything in the deli case is naturally gluten free. I love to do a “Tony Soprano” when I get home from a long day of toiling over a hot keyboard – open the fridge, grab a handful of butcher paper-wrapped “gabagool” and eat standing up. I have a theory that if I leave the food on the kitchen counter and don’t sit down, I’ll actually burn calories walking back and forth to eat it. Occasionally I’ll arrange the salami and prosciutto on a nice platter and serve with wine and cheese, but that’s only for guests. Don’t forget to grab olives and roasted peppers from our self-service bar.
Cheese: See above. Pair with any variety of gluten free cracker, chip or bread if you want. I prefer Nut Thins made by Blue Diamond, which are available in our snack aisle in varieties such as pecan, almond or hazelnut. Your favorite corn or potato chip is also naturally gluten free. We’ve got a few different varieties of cheese to offer as well. Like 600 or so.
Wine: Enough said.
Quinoa: An unbelievably versatile superfood, quinoa is a nutty, flavorful, high-protein grain that can be substituted or made into almost anything. You can use quinoa in your recipes that call for pasta or cous cous, but you can also buy gluten free pasta made from quinoa and be pleasantly surprised at its quality, taste and texture. Check our Chef’s Case for Quinoa Tabbouleh and Latin Chipotle Red Quinoa – two amazing recipes that have been in popular demand since their introduction a few years ago.
Ice Cream, Gelato, Frozen Yogurt: Traditional baked goods are not gluten free, but as long as I can have ice cream I don’t feel deprived for dessert. What I’ve found now that I no longer eat flour is that I crave sugar way less than before. Just a bite or two of something sweet is all I need, and even a vanilla flavored Greek yogurt can count as a treat for me. It’s a great freedom in itself to not feel confined to a sugar habit, but when the “Chocolate Fiend” takes over late at night, I turn to ice cream. Just make sure it doesn’t have cookie dough, brownie bits, or other ingredients that may contain flour.
Lettuce Wrapped Burgers & Sandwiches: As stated in previous blogs, I love a good sandwich. Everyone has those days when only a big, fat cheeseburger will suffice. There are plenty of gluten free ways to take care of this, but a light and inexpensive option is lettuce. I like Iceberg for its endurance, crispness and long refrigerator life. Hydroponic butter lettuce works great too, or Napa cabbage for your Korean BBQ beef. Grill a Cowboy burger from Market or fry up some bacon, fill with your usual toppings and roll it up. If a bun is a must, then a favorite is from Local Oven and found in the frozen gluten-free area.
If you're exploring the gluten free lifestyle I think you’ll discover that the list of great food you can have is seemingly endless. The above is just a snapshot of how fulfilling life can be without flour. If you feel restricted, just come to Central Market and browse our selections or talk to a Foodie about the many options that are available to satisfy your cravings for the foods you love. As always, feel free to share your experiences or favorites in the comments below.