Gluten-Free Food and Ingredient Substitutions
Part of the Living Gluten-Free For Dummies Cheat Sheet
If you’re tempted to experiment with making your favorite recipes gluten-free, here are some savvy substitutions for a few of your favorite ingredients. Don't hesitate to get creative!
Flour: If your recipe calls for flour, consider using cornstarch or a gluten-free flour or mix. Experiment with the many new flours available, like bean flours, sorghum, and amaranth. They’re nutritious and add flavor, and oh yeah, they’re gluten free!
Breadings and coatings: If a recipe calls for breading, bread crumbs, flour coating, or a similar preparation, consider using wheat- or gluten-free mix (either homemade or store bought). Bread and muffin mixes work well for coatings on chicken and other fried goodies. Seasoned cornmeal or corn flour (masa) and crushed potato chips are also excellent alternatives.
Thickeners: Cornstarch, arrowroot flour, and tapioca starch make great substitutes for flour and other thickeners. Dry pudding mix works well for sweet recipes, and bread or baking mixes work well for just about anything.
Binders: Consider using gelatin, xanthan gum, or guar gum.
Bread crumbs: Many gluten-free breads turn to crumbs when you look at them. And certainly, there are always plenty of crumbs in the bag; just use them as extras for cooking. Or crumble some bread slices, and toast or broil the crumbs to make them crunch.
Croutons: Cut fresh, gluten-free bread into cubes, deep fry, and then roll in Parmesan cheese and spices. Some people suggest letting the bread get just a tad stale (not moldy) before making croutons this way.
Granola: If you can find gluten-free oats, you’re set. But if you can’t, you can still make granola. Toss together toasted nuts and seeds and then mix them with gluten-free cereal, honey, vanilla, a tiny bit of oil, and spices or seasonings.
How much spices and seasonings? A smidge or so, until it tastes like you like it. Bake at 300 degrees for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Add dried fruit (that’s been soaked in water for 10 minutes), let cool, then refrigerate or vacuum seal and freeze.
Trail mix: Many trail mixes that are available at the stores are already gluten-free, but if you like to make your own, mix some peanuts, raisins, dried fruit, and gluten-free chocolate candies or chips.
Oatmeal or hot cereal: Try corn grits. Prepare them like oatmeal and top with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, or fry them. Hot cereals are also available from the producers of grain-free flours. Some new amaranth and quinoa hot cereals also are available that are nutritional powerhouses.