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How To Make Any Recipe Gluten-Free By A Nutritionist

Today, I am sharing you with the necessary steps and substitutions to create a gluten-free version of just about any recipe. Adapting a family favourite or trying out a new dish is great way to still enjoy traditional recipes and childhood favourites. And as a Nutritionist I promise you, making recipes gluten-free does not mean you have to compromise on flavour or texture. Pin this post for future reference and start transforming any recipe into a gluten-free delight. Ready to make some swaps? Let's start cooking...

How To Make Any Recipe Gluten-free By A Nutritionist  |  Eat Nourish Glow
How To Make Any Recipe Gluten-free By A Nutritionist | Eat Nourish Glow

Before diving into the art of gluten-free cooking, it's essential to understand what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives. It gives bread its elasticity, pasta its chewiness, and baked goods their structure.


For those like myself living with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten can lead to digestive problems such as tummy pain, nausea, and flare up IBS symptoms. It can also adversely affect the small intestine by preventing the body from absorbing essential nutrients from food. The immune system can also be affected, causing a weakness against colds and infection. Gluten can even trigger an overactive bladder. Given the extent of sensitivity, for many affected, it may be necessary to fully eliminate it from your diet.


Can I Just Replace Flour With Gluten-free Flour?


In many recipes, yes you can swap regular wheat flour with a gluten-free flour option (see below). However, it's not always a simple one-to-one substitution. The success of the substitution depends on the type of gluten-free flour you use and the specific recipe you're working with.


What you need to consider is that the gluten in wheat flour provides structure and elasticity to baked goods. When using gluten-free flour, you may need to add binding agents like xanthan gum or guar gum to help achieve a similar texture. These are commonly included in gluten-free flour blends, but you may need to add them separately if they're not present.


Gluten-Free Flour Options


One of the most significant challenges in making a recipe gluten-free is finding the right flour substitute. Fortunately, there are numerous gluten-free flours available, each with its unique properties. Here are some popular gluten-free options:


  • Rice Flour: a versatile option that can be used in a wide range of recipes.

  • Almond Flour: ideal for desserts and baked goods, almond flour adds a nutty flavour and moist texture.

  • Coconut Flour: is high in fibre and absorbs a lot of liquid, so use it in combination with other flours or in recipes that account for its absorbency.

  • Oat Flour: made from ground oats, oat flour is perfect for pancakes, cookies, and muffins.

  • Cornmeal: cornmeal works well in recipes like cornbread and certain batters.

  • Chickpea Flour: common in gluten-free recipes from Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, chickpea flour is excellent for savoury dishes.

  • Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blends: many commercial blends are formulated to work as a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour in most recipes.


The key to a successful gluten-free swap is to experiment with different flours and combinations to find the best match for your specific recipes.


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Gluten-Free Binders & Starches

Gluten-free Binders & Starches  |  How To Make Any Recipe Gluten-free By A Nutritionist
Gluten-free Binders & Starches | How To Make Any Recipe Gluten-free By A Nutritionist

Gluten-free binders and starches is what provides structure, texture, and thickening properties to traditionally gluten-based recipes. Some common gluten-free binders include xanthan gum, guar gum, and agar agar. These natural binders are often used in baking to replace the gluten that gives elasticity to dough. Gluten-free starches, such as corn starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch, can also be substituted as thickeners in recipes for sauces, soups, and gravies. These starches help to create a smooth and creamy consistency without the need for gluten.


Overall, gluten-free binders and starches are versatile ingredients that allow individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease to enjoy a wide range of gluten-free dishes. So when cooking gluten-free, try these natural binders and starches:


  • Xanthan Gum: commonly used as a binder to mimic gluten's elastic properties. It's especially helpful in bread and pastry recipes.

  • Guar Gum: similar to xanthan gum, guar gum is another thickening and binding agent.

  • Arrowroot Starch: perfect for thickening soups, sauces, and gravies.

  • Corn starch: used in various recipes, corn starch can replace wheat flour as a thickener.


As a coeliac myself, I have had great success using many of these substitute binders and starches in my home baking and recipe creation. They key is to experiment to find the right balance and flavour adjustments. I promise its well worth it to enjoy your own homemade baked goods over the often experience store-bought alternatives.


Gluten-Free Recipe Adjustments


To adapt your favourite recipe to a gluten-free version, first you'll need to replace the regular wheat flour with a gluten-free flour alternative. This can be a blend of non-wheat flour options such as brown rice, almond, oat* or tapioca flour. Once you have chosen a flour substitute, you'll want to use a binder as mentioned above. Binders such as xanthan gum or guar gum are my go-to choices to replace the gluten many recipes. As mentioned before, binders provide structure and elasticity to the gluten-free baked goods.


  1. Flour Replacement: replace the wheat flour in your recipe with an equivalent amount of your chosen gluten-free flour.

  2. Binders: add xanthan or guar gum according to the recipe's guidelines. Typically, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per cup of gluten-free flour is a good starting point.

  3. Liquid Adjustments: gluten-free flours often absorb more liquid, so you may need to add extra liquid (such as milk or water) to maintain the right consistency.

  4. Leavening Agents: you may need to adjust the amount of baking powder or baking soda, as gluten-free flours may require more leavening.

  5. Flavour Enhancements: gluten-free recipes sometimes benefit from additional flavour enhancers like vanilla extract, cinnamon, or citrus zest.


Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients used in the recipe are gluten-free. This includes checking labels for hidden sources of gluten, such as soy sauce or malt vinegar. You'll also want to be especially mindful of cross-contamination by using separate utensils, pans, and baking sheets for gluten-free preparations (especially if baking for with coeliacs disease or severe allergies). But by following these suggestions, you can successfully adapt your recipe to be gluten-free.


WARNING: If you or someone you're cooking for has coeliac disease like I do, or a severe gluten sensitivity, it's crucial to avoid cross-contamination. I know it may seem a bit extreme, but it is best to use separate utensils, cutting boards, and cooking equipment for gluten-free preparations, and double-check labels for hidden sources of gluten. Even trace amounts can trigger very unpleasant immune responses in this those who are sensitive. Trust me as life-long coeliac, you really do not want to inflect this on your loved ones. Its very uncomfortable and unpleasant!


Conclusion


Transforming any recipe into a gluten-free is entirely achievable with the right ingredients, a few minor adjustments, and a little experimentation. Play with the combinations until you master the art of gluten-free cooking, making it possible to enjoy your favourite dishes without the worry of gluten-related health issues. Happy cooking!


Recipes You Might Like:


Free Wholefood Recipe Sampler Download

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Get this FREE recipe collection with healthy and delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes that nourish from the inside out. Each recipe is jam-packed with goodness and created by a qualified Nutritionist, for nutrition you can trust is good for you. Stop eating boring food to be healthy, come see how good healthy tastes – download your free recipes today!






→ For more expert meal prep tips, and time-saving meal planning hacks, head over to my Meal Prep category and discover how to make nutritious and delicious meals in advance.


Emma Lisa, Nutritionist & Women's Practitioner

Emma Lisa is a Nutritionist & Women's Health Practitioner with over 12+ years experience in wholefood nutrition, meal planning and health coaching. She is a published cookbook author, passionate food recipe creator and lifestyle blogger, and an advocate for women's health and anti-diet culture. When she's not in clinic, Emma is mum to five kids, in her test kitchen and a wellness digital creator. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
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Emma Lisa xx

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Guest
Nov 10, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you so much for this post. I am newly diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity and looking for GF recipes that wont upset my stomach. This was most helpful.

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Emma Lisa
Jul 01
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You’re most welcome xx

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