Friday, February 4, 2011

Gluten-Free Favorites: Dinner at Home

As a follow-up to the gluten-free experiment I did in November, I'm writing a series on my favorite gluten-free (GF) foods. Since I follow a gluten-free diet now, I have been continuing to try out different GF menu options. Last week, I wrote about breakfast and lunch, this week will be about dinner at home, next week will cover eating out, and the final week will be all about desserts and snack foods.


I love to cook, so we eat at home most nights. It was a little challenging at first to modify my cooking habits to be gluten-free, but once I got the hang of it, it's been pretty darn effortless. I hardly have to think about it anymore—I just use the GF staples that I have in the cupboard to make the same recipes I've always enjoyed.

For the most part, I just substitute a gluten-free alternative for the wheat products in most of my recipes. Bob's Redmill makes a great gluten-free all-purpose flour that substitutes wonderfully for wheat all-purpose flour in a recipe (like if you need a little for a Beef Stew or when making the cheese sauce for some Rattlesnake Pasta).

We also eat pasta or noodle casseroles fairly frequently (since they're so darn quick and easy), and I've had great success with using alternative noodles in all of my noodle recipes. Some of my favorites are: Lasagna, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and Pesto Penne.

My favorite kind of gluten-free pasta so far have been quinoa noodles. Quinoa seems to hold up a little better than brown rice pasta (doesn't overcook as easily or get mushy when re-heated) and has a better texture in some of the shapes. However, I've liked almost every kind of rice noodle that we've tried. We use Thai-style rice noodles for stir-frys, and the more traditionally Italian-style pastas for most other dishes and noodle soups. The trick with rice noodles is learning how to not over-cook them. For me, it was a lot of trial and error, but I would highly advise that you follow the cooking directions on the box and check the noodles for done-ness at the earliest time listed. (Sometimes, that's even too long.)

I've also found that rice or quinoa pasta fills me up faster than wheat pasta ever did. I rarely want seconds of any noodle dish we have for dinner, and I can only speculate that it's because the grains we're eating are of higher-quality, and they're more nutrient-dense.

For a change of pace, here are a few gluten-free dinner recipes I've previously published that are not noodle-based:
  • Creamy Baked Chicken Enchiladas: Made with corn tortillas, this is truly comfort food in my family. 
  • Ratatouille: One of my favorite vegetable recipes which contains no grains. It's Summery, vegetarian, beautiful, and extremely delicious and healthy for you.
  • Mom's Meatloaf: More comfort food! This recipe uses oats instead of breadcrumbs as the binding agent.
  • Spaghetti Squash Casserole: One of my new favorites, this recipe also doesn't have any grains. Spaghetti squash is such a delicious and versatile Winter squash.
  • Crock Pot Risotto: A rice-based dish which is highly-modifiable to suit anyone's taste preferences and/or dietary restrictions.

Here are some other dinners we've had since the gluten-free experiment (for which I have not published recipes):
Hot cilantro lime chicken wings with
spinach, mushroom, and pepperoni gluten-free personal pizzas

Gluten-free salmon cakes and green beans sauteed with bacon bits

Vegetable and rice noodle stir fry with spicy Thai sauce

Cheeseburger with roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato oven fries

We've also been eating a lot of soups lately, which I hardly ever photograph or post the recipes for because I usually make them up as I go along. We've been eating bean soups more lately, as they're just so easy, not to mention packed with protein and very healthy. (Mmmm, soup—maybe I'll do a soup series next.)

Bob's Redmill makes a gluten-free cornbread mix, which is nice for a quick side to a soup or stew. I can't help but add things to a recipe, so if you're going to make it, here's how I'd do it (measurements are approximate): Mix in some butter (about 2 Tablespoons) and Parmesan cheese (⅓ cup), along with some whole corn (½ cup). Spread evenly in the pan as directed (you will need a larger pan than it calls for, since you've added volume with the corn and cheese), then sprinkle a little more cheese on top. Then bake as directed. Yum!

Other great GF side-dishes: Twice-Baked Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

A note about alcohol (not really a dinner item necessarily, but it doesn't fit into any of the other categories): Wine and most liquor (except for malt liquor) is gluten-free. The catch here is beer and other malt beverages (like Mike's Hard Lemonade, etc.). Almost all beer is made of wheat, but if you like beer and need to eliminate gluten, there are gluten-free beers out there—you just have to look a little harder. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of beer, so this limitation hasn't affected me at all.

Really, you can eat almost anything for dinner, as long as you're not having bread. I've found that I naturally eat more vegetables since eliminating gluten, as I'm not getting filled up on bread products and wheat-based side-dishes.

Next week, I'll write about eating out gluten-free. Hope you'll be back!

Linked up at Friday Food at Momtrends, Food on Fridays at Ann Kroeker, Friday Favorites at Simply Sweet Home, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free and Food and Health Carnival at Lisa's Gluten-Free Advice and Healthy Living.


  1. The cheeseburger and sweet potato fries look delicious!

    I just finished a month of wheat (and dairy) free eating. One of the reasons that I'm not continuing the diet is that I found myself buying and eating MORE packaged and processed foods by trying to use the wheat free alternatives. Do you do this, too?

  2. @Amydelle: Thank you! It really was a delicious dinner.

    That's a great question...I don't think I use more packaged and processed foods now that I've gotten the hang of the gluten-free diet, but I did use more in the first month (partly because I wanted to try out what was available). The only exception would be dessert foods, because I haven't spent a lot of time working on my GF baking. I also haven't even tried to make or buy breads. I think the main things that I buy pre-packaged now are pasta/noodles (which I did before) and baking mixes (which I don't buy often, anyway). The rest of the processed foods that we still buy are versions of things we used to buy (like instant and canned soups).

    I'd love to talk more with you about this, and also hear how your month off of gluten and dairy went!

  3. um, hello crab cakes? recipe please!!!

    Also: i add veggies to my meatloaf: food processor chopped or steamed and mashed, to boost veggie consumption in my kids, & it tastes delish. I'll try the oats instead of breadcrumbs trick, thanks! If I can afford it that week, I do ground turkey/chicken instead of beef, too, yummy!

    but seriously now: can we be blogfriends if you voluntarily eat brussel sprouts? I'm not so sure....

  4. @Melissa: Your comment made me LOL. I love Brussels sprouts! I think we can still be blogfriends, just look the other way while I eat my veggies. =P

    I like your idea of adding extra veggies to the meatloaf, I'm going to try that. I'll post the salmon cake recipe after this series is finished in a couple weeks. Thanks for your interest!

  5. I researched your previous posts and found your Zucchini brownies. WOW, what a lovely recipe to save until my garden grows! Good ideas here in this post also.

  6. Wow, didn't know they have pre-mixed GF flour in the market. That's convenience. No need to measure 10 different ingredients to make the GF-AP flour mix any more.

  7. Oh, that looks simply devine. Keep up the good work. Thank-you for linking up with my food and health carnival.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Lisa's Gluten-Free Advice and Healthy Living

  8. Great recipes! Thanks for posting! We're also vegetarian so it's even more challenging to find gluten free meals to make.

    Re: rice pasta...I've found that Tinkyada Rice Pasta is the best because it rarely gets mushy as a lot of them do.

    Look forward to your next recipe post :)

  9. @coastalwaves: I totally agree about the Tinkyada pasta. It's definitely the best brand and it comes in so many different shapes. Thanks for reading & commenting!

  10. Great Idea for recipe . Lovely your dinner planning and nice your this post.Thanks for nice posting .

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