Even though there is a ton of gluten free foods on the market these days, you may not be familiar with all the alternatives to wheat. For those of us with gluten allergies, it’s important that we have access to a bunch of options. This will not only vary our nutrition, but also keep up from getting bored. Going gluten free isn’t as difficult as you would think. All you need is plenty of healthy, fiber-rich substitutes. Keep these seven alternatives to wheat in mind as you make the transition to a gluten free diet.
1. Black Rice
Surely you’ve heard of brown rice as one of the many alternatives to wheat. But have you heard of black rice? With as many antioxidants as a cup of berries, black rice is an incredibly nutrient-dense alternative to wheat. Its rich black color reflects its high nutrient value. It also has a sweet, nutty texture and tastes similar to brown rice. Use black rice in substitution of traditional wheat dishes for a nutrient-dense starch that’s completely guilt-free.
2. Red Quinoa
You all know about the health benefits of quinoa but have you heard about red quinoa? Rich in beta carotene, red quinoa is great source of Vitamin A. Try mixing quinoa with vegetables, beans, and fresh herbs for a hearty and fiber-rich whole grain salad your whole family will enjoy. You can easily use red quinoa as a hearty starch in place of wheat products like pasta or bread. Quinoa’s unique taste might take some getting used to, but once you start cooking with it regularly you’ll be addicted.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have progressed so much farther than Thanksgiving. They’re now a totally mainstream part of American cuisine—some people eat them several nights a week. Rich in vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are a great side dish with chicken and vegetables. Try baking them in the oven and adding a little cinnamon and/or butter for easy pasta substitution. You can also incorporate them into casseroles, soups, and stews.
4. Brown Rice Pasta
Since going gluten free several years ago, I’ve tried almost every gluten free pasta on the market. While corn pasta has a nice texture, usually it’s loaded with GMOs. In my opinion, brown rice pasta offers the best bang for your nutritional buck. This whole grain wheat alternative is full of fiber and can be used cup for cup exactly like traditional pasta. Pour a fire-roasted tomato sauce over a bed of spaghetti or use chilled penne in a Mediterranean pasta salad—the possibilities are endless!
If you like making baked goods, you might notice a challenge when it comes to gluten free baking. It’s extremely difficult to master the same quality and texture of traditional pastries in gluten free varieties. Thankfully, many gluten free flours have recently emerged that make gluten free baking much tastier. One of the most popular (and my favorites) is amaranth flour. Its nutty and flavorful texture is excellent for baking bread or homemade pizza. You can even try mixing amaranth flour with other gluten free flours like sorghum flour, rice flour, and almond meal for baked goods with a round and robust flavor.
6. Zucchini Ribbons
Zucchini ribbons are a great low carb alternative to wheat, specifically pasta. I know everyone has been eating spaghetti squash for quite some time, but don’t forget about the wonder of using zucchini. This nutrient-dense vegetable is fantastic in the summer months when it hits its peak, not to mention becomes incredibly affordable. Try using zucchini ribbons the same way you would use traditional wheat spaghetti. They pack an incredible flavor that is perfectly refreshing for warmer seasons.
7. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes have some of the highest fiber levels of all starches. Simply put, they’re cheap and they fill you up! There are also tons of ways you can use them in gluten free cooking. Add different varieties to a ground beef chili. Serve it over brown rice for a gluten free meal! You can also add beans to other rice or quinoa dishes for a play on texture and flavor. Finally, don’t be shy of sprouting your legumes and eating them raw in salads or soups. Sprouting beans might actually yield more nutrients and better digestion.
Going gluten free isn’t as difficult as you would think! It’s all about adjusting your attitude towards food and getting a little creative with your meal planning. Don’t try to recreate your favorite wheat-based dishes, as you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, try making completely new dishes that make use of these fantastic alternatives to wheat. What are some of your favorite gluten free alternatives?