There are loads of utterly delicious, gluten-free alternatives to wheat! If you’re looking for an alternative to couscous, something instead of pasta or noodles, or an some ingredients for your cereal, here are some great ideas. Experiment with different types and see which ones you like – you may prefer the more nutty, flavoured ones, or the ones with a fuller flavour. Now’s the time to experiment!
A superfood, packed with minerals and all eight amino acids, this is available as a grain and in some pre-prepared cereals and rice cakes. You can use the grain in the same way as you would use rice, and while it’s not generally available (you’ll find it in good health food stores and on internet retail sites) it’s easy to cook. Simply place 250g in a saucepan and cover with 500ml/2 cups water. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 30 minutes until soft. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
related ingredients: amaranth flour
Barley contains a small amount of gluten, but is often a good alternative for those sensitive to wheat, rather than gluten. It has a strong taste, so it’s best to use it in small quantities. Available as a grain and flakes and in some cereals. And, because of its high nutrient values, you can buy this as a barley grass powder, as an alternative to wheat grass. It also comes as pearl barley or pot barley, both of which are great thickening additions to soups and stews, and also make good side dishes or salads.
related ingredients: barley flour
Not to be confused with wheat – buckwheat comes from a different food family, from the seeds of a herb. Available as – raw ‘groats’, flakes (which are good in muesli), some pre-prepared cereal puffs and in some crackers.
related ingredients: buckwheat flour
Also known as polenta, this is a fantastic ingredient for side dishes, especially if served with chicken or fish. Stir 225g/8 oz quick-cook polenta into 1 litre/13/4 pints/4 cups of boiling water in a large saucepan. Simmer for 5-6 minutes until thick and then add 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Either serve like this, or spoon into a baking tray and smooth into a flat layer. Then leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until set. Cut into slices and grill as many as you need under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Keep any remaining slices in the fridge for 2-3 days and either heat up in a saucepan with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, depending on how many you’re cooking, or grill as above. You can also buy pre-cooked polenta in many stores and supermarkets now.
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related ingredients: corn pasta, corn/maize flour, corn syrup
Kamut contains some gluten, so don’t eat this if you’re sensitive to gluten. As a non-hybridized grain, though, this is sometimes a good option for those sensitive to wheat. You can buy this flakes (which are great for muesli) and in some pre-prepared cereals.
related ingredients: kamut pasta, spelt pasta, kamut flour, spelt wheat flour, spelt wheat
contains: gluten, wheat
This is generally widely available and what’s more, a superfood. It is packed with minerals and contains all 8 essential amino acids. It’s also highly alkalizing. Buy this as grain, to use in the same way as amaranth, quinoa or rice, or in flakes, to use in your muesli and also in some pre-prepared cereals. Cook this in the same way that you’d cook amaranth – place 250g in a saucepan and cover with 500ml/2 cups water. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 30 minutes until soft and serve.
related ingredients: millet flour
Oats are widely available and also a great high-fibre, antioxidant-packed, low-GI ingredient. They do contain gluten, so they’re not suitable for gluten-sensitive people. But if you can tolerate gluten, you can use the flakes, rolled oats and oatmeal to make biscuits, oatcakes, muesli and, of course, porridge. (You can also use oats to help alleviate the symptoms of eczema – just add some to a muslin bag, place under the hot tap when you’re running your bath, and soak in the oaty bath water.)
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related ingredients: oat milk, oat flour
As well as potatoes, you’ll find that similar carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, yams, eddoes and dasheen are becoming widely available. Nutritionists consider it best not too eat too many potatoes, or any other ingredients from the Nightshade family.
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related ingredients: potato flour
Another fantastic superfood, quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids as well as high quantities of calcium and iron. Use quinoa grain as you would use amaranth, millet or rice, especially as a substitute for couscous (which is made from wheat), rice or pasta. Rinse 150g/5oz/3/4 cup of quinoa thoroughly and drain. Put into a saucepan and cover with 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup of cold water, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. You can also find quinoa flakes which are great for adding to muesli, and in some pre-prepared cereals and crackers.
related ingredients: quinoa flour
There is a fantastic selection of different types of rice available, as well as different forms. The main types of rice fall into 2 categories – long grain (most white and brown rice, including wholegrain, easy cook and basmati) and short grain (risotto, sushi and pudding rice). You can also buy rice flakes, and pre-prepared rice cereals (although make sure you buy the additive-free versions) as well as the ubiquitous rice cakes and crackers.
You can also buy wild rice, although bear in mind that this isn’t a rice (and not from the rice food family) but a seed from an acquatic grass. Use this with rice to add flavour, texture and a fantastic contrast of colour.
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related ingredients: rice milk
Rye contains gluten, so don’t use this if you’re gluten-sensitive. If you can tolerate gluten, though, rye flakes make a great addition to muesli.
related ingredients: rye flour
A non-hybridized version of wheat which is sometimes tolerated by wheat-sensitive people. But don’t have this if you’re gluten-sensitive. If you can tolerate it, though, you’ll find flakes which you can add to your muesli mixture, as well as some pre-prepared cereals and crispbreads.
contains: gluten, wheat
Derived from the cassava root, you can buy tapioca as ‘pearls’, which you can use to add to soups, casseroles and stews, and flakes, which you can add to muesli.
related ingredients: tapioca flour