Cooking Gluten Free? A Celiac's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Hacks

Cooking gluten free isn't easy, whether you have a celiac disease diagnosis, gluten intolerance or another medical condition that requires you to eat gluten free. You have to read the labels of all of your ingredients. You need to experiment with new gluten free recipes. And, of course, you have to find a gluten free diet plan that works for your body.

Luckily, this celiac is sharing her five cooking hacks for making cooking gluten free a little easier! Here are five of my favorite gluten free cooking hacks, from cheap ways to eat healthy to the best gluten free brands to incorporate into your celiac disease diet.

Cooking Gluten Free? A Celiac's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Hacks

1. Turn gluten-free tortillas into chips.

Although it's possible to eat a cheap, healthy and gluten free diet, most gluten free brands are pretty dang expensive. So, when you can find multiple uses for the same gluten free food, you're definitely #winning! My favorite 2-for-1cooking hack features Food for Life's rice tortillas

These gluten free tortillas are gluten free, vegan and allergy friendly since they're made almost entirely of rice flour. What makes them an awesome gluten free brand? Well, you can obviously eat the tortillas as they are in everything from burritos to my stacked crock pot enchilada bake. However, you can also turn these gluten free tortillas into chips...in less than 5 minutes!

All you need to do is tear up a tortilla so that it can sit flat in a sautée pan. No need to add oil; just place yogurt tortillas in the pan, turn the heat up to high and keep flipping the tortillas as they cook. After a few minutes, the gluten free tortilla pieces will get delightfully crispy. Hello easy, cheap and health(ier) chips! (Insider tip: store your tortillas in the freezer and just take out what you need. Let them defrost a few minutes before baking and you're set to go).

Cooking Gluten Free? A Celiac's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Hacks

Besides preventing you from having to pay for tortillas and chips, this cooking hack can help you eat healthier too. How? It's all about portion control! Because you have to cook your chips instead of just reaching into a bag, it's easier for you to control how many chips you eat with dinner. Talk about a win/win. 

2. Use buckwheat, rice or quinoa flakes in place of oats.

Following the celiac disease diet and still not feeling better? If you're eating gluten free oats, you may want to consider alternatives. Although some celiacs can eat certified gluten free oats with no issues, other celiacs (like me) react similarly to oats and gluten. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative gluten free grains you can eat instead. 

For instance, you can make porridge using quinoa flakes, which are naturally high in vegan protein. I typically buy the gluten free brand Ancient Harvest, and find them at local health stores. You can also try my gluten free porridge recipe using buckwheat flakes, rice flakes and chia seeds. I usually get mine from Bob's Red Mill, whose buckwheat and rice flakes are gluten free. You can also find rice flakes and buckwheat flakes in stores like Sprouts or Whole Foods, plus order them on Amazon (yay for technology).

*As always, make sure you read the ingredients and allergy information of the product you choose to ensure that your flakes are gluten free. Just like all oats aren't gluten free, not all alternative cereal flakes are gluten free either!*

Cooking Gluten Free? A Celiac's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Hacks

The best part of ingredients like quinoa flakes is that you can replace them for oats in most recipes. Want to make gluten free granola? Swap oats for buckwheat flakes as the base. Craving a crunchy coating for fish or chicken? Rice flakes and chia seeds are just as delicious as oats. Trying to find gluten free oats free recipe can be frustrating sometimes. When you have buckwheat, rice or quinoa flakes in your pantry, though, you're ready to make the gluten free recipes of your taste buds' dreams. 

3. Save money by turning rice cakes into a crunchy secret weapon.

When people imagine a gluten free diet plan, the "diet food" of rice cakes might come to mind. Before you start grimacing, though, hear me out: rice cakes aren't delicious (or very nutritious) on their own, but rice cakes are a secret weapon in gluten free cooking. 

What do I mean? Well, if you're trying to eat healthy for cheap, rice cakes are an affordable ingredient for gluten-free baking. For instance, instead of paying over four dollars for a box of puffed rice to use in my vegan granola, I pay one dollar for a pack of rice cakes that I can crumble up into three batches of homemade granola

Cooking Gluten Free? A Celiac's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Hacks

Not only that, but gluten free bread is usually one of the most expensive parts of the celiac disease diet. My cheap cooking hack? Replace toast and open-faced sandwiches for rice cakes covered in nut butter, fruit and chia seeds or avocado, veggies and pumpkin seeds. I actually prefer the extra crunch that rice cakes give my gluten free "sandwiches."

Trust me. Once you know how to use rice cakes right, you'll never think of them as bland diet food again!

4. Ditch hamburger buns for gluten-free options like sweet potato rounds or lettuce.

I already mentioned that gluten free bread is expensive...but what about gluten free hamburger buns? I've discovered delicious gluten free alternatives to those too!

If you've ever eaten gluten free at a restaurant, you've probably seen lettuce-wrapped burgers. Maybe a lettuce wrapped burger is all some celiacs and gluten free diners need. After all, it's an easy way to eat healthy for cheap, not to mention cut some carbs and calories. 

Sometimes, though, you crave a gluten free hamburger bun recipe that's extra filling and flavorful. That's where my sweet potato sliders come in handy! This gluten free cooking hack is simple: just roast (or grill) some sliced sweet potato rounds. Then, use them as mini hamburger buns for sliders! 

Cooking Gluten Free? A Celiac's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Hacks

While I originally made this paleo hamburger bun for salmon sliders, I've also eaten it with BBQ pulled pork, mashed black beans, and everything in between. To make your sweet potato burgers even tastier, add toppings like avocado, tangy homemade pesto or crunchy greens. You can also experiment with other vegetable hamburger buns, ranging from roasted mushrooms to eggplant to zucchini. 

Who needs gluten free bread when you can use lettuce, roasted sweet potatoes or other veggies instead? 

5. Need more flavor? Never forget condiments, sauces and spices.

When you're first learning about cooking gluten free, the most challenging aspect might be flavor. Products from many gluten free brands have a slight gluten free aftertaste...or are less flavorful overall. How can you turn up the flavor of your gluten free diet? Use condiments, sauces and spices to your advantage. 

As always, read the ingredient labels of everything you add to your gluten free recipes. Unfortunately, gluten can hide anywhere - including in your favorite BBQ sauce or spice rub. Finding gluten free alternatives to your favorite sauces and spices is relatively easy, however - especially if you shop at well-labeled stores like Sprouts, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Vons and even some Walmarts. 

Cooking Gluten Free? A Celiac's Top 5 Healthy Cooking Hacks

Where should you start when cooking gluten free and flavorful? Some of my favorite flavor boosters are curry powder (which can turn any hodgepodge of veggies, potatoes and protein into a curry), homemade pesto, paprika (for a lil' kick), Snackin' Free's paleo BBQ sauce, my vegan cheese sauce, and lots of oregano and thyme. Really, the spices and sauces you choose are up to you and your taste buds. You'll be amazed at what a few fresh herbs or a twist of pepper can do for a dish! 

The truth is, cooking gluten free comes with its fair share of challenges. Even after you can answer the question, "What is gluten?", learning how to replace your old favorite recipes, find the best gluten free brands and eat healthy for cheap takes time. With the right cooking hacks in your back pocket, though, a gluten free diet can be healthy, affordable and extremely delicious. 

Who knows? As you experiment more with gluten free cooking, you may even discover some cooking hacks, healthy eating tips and budgeting tricks of your own! 


Do you use any of the gluten free cooking hacks I listed? What is one cooking hack you love? Tell me in the comments! 




Comments

  1. Loving these hacks- packaged and processed GF foods can be so expensive, but these homemade alternatives are easy to implement. My mom has celiac and I remember a time when hardly anything was available that she could eat. She could only shop at the health food store and the bread that she bought actually listed wood pulp as one of the ingredients! It's a huge relief to have so many tasty options available today, but they can be rough on the wallet! Thanks for the tips.

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    1. Wow! That's crazy! I'm so glad that more options are available nowadays. And that I've found some other creative ways to save money and make gf goodies even tastier! ;)

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  2. My aunt eats GF so when we host her for dinner, we sometimes hit roadblocks. Thanks for the great tips, I'll definitely tell my family about these!

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  3. I couldn't agree more when it comes to condiments. Condiments and spices are key for me following a healthy lifestyle. It makes me feel more content. Thanks for the cooking hacks!

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    1. So true! Sometimes it only takes a killer sauce to take a healthy dish to the next level!

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  4. even for non celiacs, these looks delicious :) I love spices!

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  5. Congratulations! I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Read on here: https://helenechoo.com/2017/07/06/liebster-award/

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    1. Thank you so much! I mentioned you in last week's post as a thank you! <3 https://caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com/2017/07/gluten-free-monthly-favorites-june-vegan-pie-manitou-incline.html

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  6. I love all of these, especially the hacks with the rice cakes and sweet potatoes for hamburger buns. Grilled eggplant slices also work well for this :)

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    1. I bet that would be super delicious too!

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  7. Sweet potato rounds sound amazing in place of bread! Thanks for all the tips!

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    1. It tastes so good, you won't even miss the bread!

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  8. These are some great tips!! I love what you did with those rice cakes. They need all the help they can get. LOL!

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    1. Hahaha so true! Toppings and creativity make allllll the difference.

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  9. I'm going to need to start buying rice cakes! That looks so yummy! :)

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    1. They're not very tasty alone but with the right toppings? Dang crave-able! (Bet nobody thought anyone could say that about rice cakes! ;) )

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  10. Love #4 -- I've never used sweet potatoes in place of a bun, but it looks yummy!

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    1. It's DELICIOUS. So much more flavorful than bread!

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  11. My roommate in college was gluten free and I've never seen her use any of these tips! I'll have to pass this over to her!

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  12. This is really helpful! I am always looking for good alternatives for when my sister in law comes to stay. Thanks for this. :D

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    1. Glad my ideas are helpful! Hope you have a fabulous (and delicious) time with your sister in law!

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  13. would love to try the gluten free chips in the giveaway as a crunchy topping for mac nc heese

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