Hello chefs! Today we are looking at wheat-free diets. (Note: this blog will focus specifically on wheat-free, rather than gluten-free diets).
There have been a lot of people talking lately about gluten intolerances. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why wheat-free eating has become popular in recent times:
Coeliac disease is a condition where the lining of the small bowel is damaged by the gluten protein (gluten is found in wheat products). Symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, irritability, and vitamin deficiencies.
This is a serious condition that can only be diagnosed by a doctor. It affects approximately 1 in every 100 Australians.
Many Australians suffer from some form of gluten intolerance – including Best Home Chef’s very own professional chef mentor, Rowie Dillon. Rowie was diagnosed with gluten intolerance after noticing that she would feel tired and bloated after eating bread and pasta, and since then she has founded Rowie’s Cakes – a kitchen that bakes wheat, yeast, dairy and gluten free cakes and biscuits.
Rowie’s philosophy is that gluten-free food need never be bland or boring. Her cookbook Indulge provides many delicious recipes, including gluten-free bread, pasta, chocolate cake, and more.
For some women with PCOS (ploycystic ovary syndrome), a wheat-free diet can improve their symptoms. However this is a subjective thing – as PCOS affects different women in different ways, and there is no substantiated evidence to prove a link between gluten intolerance and PCOS.
Cutting back on convenience foods
If you’re simply trying to embrace a healthier lifestyle, going wheat-free can help by limiting the amount of junk food you can eat. If you think about it, the bulk of fast food out there (hamburgers, pizza, pies, doughnuts, biscuits, etc) all contain wheat.
In my personal experience, a wheat-free diet forced me to cook my own food, and to bring my own lunches to work a lot more – which was overall better for my budget and my waistline.
Just for something different
I’m also a big fan of trying different kinds of diets just to see what they’re like. I once went vegan for three weeks – an experience which taught me a lot, and made me feel a lot healthier.
Similarly, I trialled a wheat-free diet to see if I would feel different – which I did. I think it’s always a good thing to be mindful about the kinds of foods you put into your body, and going without for a period of time is a great way to regain appreciation for something you might have ordinarily taken for granted.
Gluten-free eating made easy
So, what are the key things to remember when embarking on a wheat-free diet?
Rice is your friend
As you will quickly notice, wheat often forms the ‘carb’ component of your meal (i.e. the spaghetti to your bolognaise, and the bread to your butter). Cutting out wheat will suddenly put a blank space on your plate – one which I filled with various alternatives including rice, quinoa, couscous, polenta and potato.
It’s possible to find creative alternatives for dishes that traditionally contain wheat – such as swapping spaghetti for soba noodles (see recipe featured below).
Gluten-free options available when eating out
Because more people are being diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, it’s becoming increasingly common to find gluten-free options on restaurant and café menus.
It never hurts to ask, either. Sometimes the chef might be able to remove wheat from the dish if you ask your waiter nicely.
Gluten-free options available in supermarkets
Similarly, most major supermarkets now stock gluten-free alternatives to their wheaty brothers. At the Coles I frequent, you can get a decent loaf of gluten-free bread – right alongside the normal bread. (If you toast it, and you’re somewhat inebriated, you could be almost fooled into thinking it’s the real deal…)
Watch out for hidden wheat
Be alert but not alarmed: wheat flour has a way of finding its way into the darndest things. Corn chips, for instance. And marshmallows! So be sure to check the ingredients list before you buy – lest you suffer the glutinous consequences.
Get yourself a good cookbook
As mentioned, going wheat-free will force you to get back into the kitchen to cook yourself some delicious, wholesome and cost-effective food. (Sorry).
Our favourite gluten-free recipes
Instead of spaghetti, Courtnay Perks suggests using quiona, rice or soba noodles. This is truly inspired and some of us here at Best Home Chef HQ will be integrating this recipe into our own catalogue of easy weekday recipes!
Go Rowie! Everyone loves a pav, and this recipe is foolproof. Delicious.
So go forth, my wheat-free army, and conquer! Until next time…
Best Home Chef's resident writer and sweet tooth, Louise once decorated ice cream cakes for a living. Although this job had several health consequences, osteoporosis was not one of them. Louise is also an ex barista whose biggest pet peeve is burnt milk. She loves travelling, and has recently returned from a pasta-eating excursion to Italy. One day she hopes to grow vegetables and make her own cheese and wine. She lives in Sydney. Google+
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Louise I have to write to you that,the blog was very,very,very helpful,for me because when I read it I realize my daughter has this problem,what you write about,so I rang her and we talk about it and she must now looking only for ,,GLUTEN FREE PRODUCT,,Thank you very much for your blog.Have a beautiful day.
we have recently gone low carb .. another interesting adventure