Avoiding gluten can feel like a death sentence for your favorite guilty pleasures. However, a gluten-free diet doesn't have to be about limitations, in fact it can lead to ridiculously delicious new menu options.
Stock Up on Flavor
Keep your pantry stocked with gluten–free versions of tamari, Hoisin sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce, veggie broth, and hot sauces, suggests Chef Kevin Savoy of MAX's Wine Dive in Denver. "Use and exploit the toppings and flavors that are gluten-free such as hummus, guacamole, and salsa," says Savoy. The key to keep it simple is by focusing on whole, naturally gluten-free foods and use a variety of fresh herbs to boost flavor and color in your dishes, he says.
Subbing for Gluten
"I love to use chickpea flour, and have been using it long before gluten free began to happen. It is so nutty!" says the executive chef at Bookstore Bar & Café, Caprial Pence. "When you use it in a batter for deep-frying things like fried chicken, it stays so crispy. I take it and add water and baking soda, then dip veggies and chicken wings and fry them, and they are so crisp and stay crisp longer than when I use flour. Chickpea flour also makes a really great crepe called a socca.," says Pence. Cauliflower is another great substitute for color and crunch, Savoy says.
Baking Without Gluten
There are many flours that do not contain gluten (including bean, rice, potato, tapioca, quinoa, sorghum, etc.), though generally you will get the best results from a blend of several of these, says Austin-based Wheatsville's Deli Coordinator Lisa Weems. "There are numerous gluten-free flour blends on the market, for both all-purpose baking and for specific applications. Be aware that some of these flours contain dairy derivatives, so if you are vegan or avoiding lactose, read the ingredients! If milk is present, it will be listed as an allergen. There are also multiple recipes online to create your own gluten-free flour blends," says Weems, who explains gluten's function in baking is to strengthen and bind doughs; therefore, most gluten-free flours require the addition of a binding agent. "The most commonly used is xanthan gum. For bread and pizza dough recipes, use 1 tsp per cup of gluten-free flour; for muffins, quick breads, and bar cookies, 1/2 tsp per cup; for cookies, a scant 1/2 tsp per cup. Your chosen blend of gluten-free flour may have specific recommendations," says Weems.