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Tips & Tricks for Thriving on The Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Tips & Tricks for Thriving on The Gluten-Free Lifestyle

We all know that feeling of uncertainty - surrounded by the perils of gluten and eating an ever-decreasing list of foods you know are safe but you’re steadily getting sick of! Whether you have coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity or simply choose to follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons, navigating a world filled with gluten foods can feel daunting. Well, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t need to be like this! ✨
Seize control and rediscover the pleasure, indulging in mouthwatering delights. It’s as simple as making a plan and having the confidence to ask questions. Read on for some top tips on how to make your meals a fabulous experience!
Educate Yourself – Master the Art!
The good news is you don’t need a degree or nutritional qualification, although sometimes it might feel like it! 🤯 But your strongest weapon is knowledge, so learn about what gluten is and where it’s commonly found, and how it affects your health. Get the lowdown on gluten free basics and your specific dietary needs will allow you to confidently choose gluten-free options.
There are masses of resources online for free, and starting with some official trusted resources is always a good idea, so Coeliac UK and the NHS are good starting points.
Become a Label Detective! 🔎
Our key tip is to become a pro at reading ingredient lists. Look out for wheat, barley, rye and their derivatives. Keep an eye out for hidden sources of gluten such as modified food starch and malt extract. These like to sneak in there undetected so get your Sherlock-esque magnifying glass (and deer-stalker if it helps you focus) and take an extra good look! There are a few apps emerging where you can scan an item and it will highlight any hidden gluten products, taking all the guesswork out of it and making things much faster.
Top Tip - food manufacturers love to unexpectedly change ingredients or processing methods, so it's crucial to read labels regularly, even on products you've purchased before.(Not us at Baked!)
We Love it When a Plan Comes Together… 👀
Time to break out the special pens and highlighters, and one of those notebooks still sat waiting for a purpose! Meal planning is your ticket to gluten-free victory, even down to just ensuring you have snacks on hand during the day so you’re not left hanging when your friends pop into the shops and (despite your deer-stalker) you can’t find anything you can eat.
If you have the time and energy (congratulations if you do, we’re impressed) then batch-cooking gluten-free staples like rice, quinoa and beans to have on hand for quick and nutritious meals is also a way to go.
Living The High-Life: Dining Out
Dining out can be a coeliac’s worst nightmare, but you can’t go through life denying yourself the fun of a night out with friends, and especially the joy of knowing you’ll not be washing the dishes! 🍽️
Many restaurants now offer gluten-free menus or can bend to your gluten-free will with advance notice, Give them a call phone up and work out if they have options and how well a place will work for you. It's always better to ask than awkwardly sitting there not being able to eat, and you will find those special places that offer a full gluten-free menu and can adapt recipes for you when needed, those are the gems worth hunting for!
Remember to check even for things you might expect are gluten-free, for example chips are often given a flour coating, and the majority are cooked in the same oil as fish batter, which could cause issues if you’re very intolerant or a coeliac. 🍟
Restaurants will always try their best to accommodate you where they can... At the end of the day, you are a paying customer and they want you to be happy! So have the confidence to get out there and ask - once you’re through the initial work of investigating (we’re back to the deer-stalker again) it will be smooth sailing back to your favourite gluten-free safe restaurants whenever you want a delicious meal out!
Gluten-free Pantry of Dreams!
Okay now drop the notebook and pens and swap them for a label-maker! Or just some stickers, if you’re not feeling quite that dedicated.
Building a well-stocked gluten-free pantry is essential, especially if you live with others than can eat gluten, so keep your kitchen gluten-free by eliminating cross-contamination risks, and get label-happy! Store gluten-free flours, pasta, sauces, and snacks in a designated area to prevent accidental mixing with gluten-containing items. Having dedicated chopping boards and counter-tops might be a good move too.
Having a variety of staples on hand will make meal preparation easier and more convenient. Explore alternatives like almond flour, coconut flour, and gluten-free pasta to add diversity to your diet. 🥟
Get Experimental!
Let’s look on the bright side - one of the most exciting aspects of the gluten-free lifestyle is discovering new and delicious recipes! Half the battle is getting the right textures, and so if you’re a whizz in the kitchen then spend some time adapting and working with your favourite ingredients and creating some masterpiece meals.
And if you’re not a whizz then there are countless dedicated gluten-free cookbooks, blogs, videos and websites with a treasure trove of recipes waiting to be explored. Don't be discouraged by early kitchen mishaps; gluten-free cooking is a learning curve so consider failures just another step towards gluten-free world domination! 😁
Stay Ever Vigilant of Cross-Contamination
Always keep in mind the lurking dangers of cross-contamination as this can be a hidden issue for those living a gluten-free lifestyle. Even trace amounts of gluten can trigger symptoms in individuals with coeliac disease or severe sensitivity, and it can be hard to work out what went wrong!
To minimise the risk of cross-contamination:
⭐ Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and kitchen appliances for gluten-free and gluten-containing foods. Have some fun with it and get colour-coded!
⭐ Clean surfaces thoroughly before preparing gluten-free meals.
⭐ Invest in toaster bags or a dedicated gluten-free toaster to avoid crumbs.
⭐ Tell your family and friends, lay down the rules. Make sure they don’t mess with your food, and that they don’t sneak in ingredients you can’t handle. Ensure everyone knows and respects the precautions.
Last but not least remember that living gluten-free is a journey, and that it very possible to enjoy awesome food both in your home and out, with a little bit of knowledge and preparation. So get learning, get out there, and create some heavenly food experiences!
…or fill your basket with our remarkable gluten free goodies from us – take a break from the kitchen!
The Baked Crew. 🥣
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