Keep the Gluten-Freedom Simple

There are lots of ways to make eating gluten-free really hard.  You don’t have to go there.  You do not have to find recipes that duplicate everything you used to eat before you learned that the gluten has been making you sick.  The hardest part of that lesson for me to learn involved pizza.  Good-tasting GF pizza is very hard to find, and the only place I’ve come close to finding one that tastes like “real” pizza was in Minnesota.  (I live in Washington.)  Pizza was not simple for me.

So, how do you keep it simple?  Get a little creative.  Here are a few of my go-to meals when I walk into the house and need food fast:

Quesadillas!  Corn tortillas are okay for making quesadillas if you don’t have access to GF tortillas.  (Rudi’s makes a pretty decent flour-type tortilla – info at http://www.rudisbakery.com/gluten-free/ .)  I like chunks of leftover grilled chicken, some sliced black olives and mild green chilies in mine, with a little shredded Cheddar or jack cheese.  If there’s an avocado in the kitchen, add a couple of slices or mash some into a quick guacamole – just add a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon or two of salsa.

Tuna salad – It does not have to be made into a sandwich!  Try it scooped on top of a tomato cut into wedges.  Delicious, good for you, and a very quick simple lunch.  Add a few GF crackers for crunch and carbs, and a piece of fruit for dessert.

Eggs are another easy choice that gets on the table fast.  An omelette is great for dinner – make it with 2 eggs, some sautéed fresh veggies, and a sprinkle of dill, or thyme, rosemary, garlic, or some combination you like.  Try it with fresh baby spinach (delicious with a little feta cheese on top!), zucchini, bright colored bell peppers, or asparagus, and maybe a few halved cherry tomatoes as a garnish.  Feel free to hit your creation with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, for a little extra yum.  Slice up a fresh peach or an apple, or defrost some frozen berries, and you have a beautiful and healthy meal in about 15 minutes.

Eggs, Take 2:  Scramble 2 eggs with some sliced black olives and mild green chilies left over from yesterday’s quesadillas.  Sprinkle on a little cheese if you want – but this is so good, it doesn’t even need the flavor boost.  Warm up a tortilla, and enjoy it alongside or wrap up the eggs burrito-style.  (Hint:  When the eggs are almost done, lay the tortilla right on top of them for 30 seconds or so.  It will warm up while the eggs finish cooking.)

Pizza:  Yes, pizza.  I couldn’t just leave you wondering what to do when you crave pizza.  Some pizza places offer GF pizza.  This is important:  Ask the ones near you if they use a separate oven for GF items so you don’t get accidentally “gluten-ed” when they toss your pie in the same space where they just removed a wheat-flour pizza.  Gotta be careful out there, this has happened to me more than once. 

Or, try the frozen varieties.  (For a list of frozen GF pizzas that were the best in a 2012 contest, check out http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/ReadersChoiceAwards/ss/2012-Best-Gluten-Free-Frozen-Pizza.htm).  When I need a pizza fix, I buy Garlic Jim’s Gluten-Free pizza at a local supermarket – and I accept that it will not be the chewy, crusty pizza that I used to love.  It is, however, pizza enough to get me through a serious craving.

Or, for those who enjoy baking, make your own crust.  Bob’s Red Mill makes a gluten-free pizza crust mix, as do Arrowhead Mills, King Arthur Flour, and several others.  There is a bit of work involved in this approach, of course – but the mixes are readily available is the GF aisle of many supermarkets, and some Target and Walmart stores.  You can also try the frozen pizza crusts from companies like Udi’s (http://udisglutenfree.com/ ).  More grocery stores are carrying brands like Rudi’s, Udi’s, King Arthur, and Bob’s Red Mill because the number of shoppers asking for them keeps increasing. 

Post a comment and let me know how you’re doing!  I’d also love to hear what you make when you need a quick bite and it has to be gluten free.  Best to you!

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