There are so many questions for the gluten-free. Are you doomed to never again enjoy pasta? Has your ability to chow down on some pizza gone out the window? Okay, I’m being a little overdramatic, but people really love bread. And the answer to these questions is, “Of course not!” There are gluten-free versions of all these foods, but when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I chose to turn to healthy carbs to fill the gluten void. There are many ways to make vegetables the new pasta (and pizza and, yes, bread), thus bringing the joy back to foodie life.
Let’s Talk Pasta
Zoodles. Poodles. Toodles. These are not hybrid dogs or Disney characters. Rather they are the names of nutrient-dense, grain-free, vegetable pastas made from zucchinis, parsnips, and turnips.
Vegetable noodles are packed with nutrients: vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even antioxidants, so the nutritional impact packs a bigger punch than even whole grain pasta.
If you’d rather make your own vegetable pastas, try using a spiralizer. There are tons of options out there ranging from manual to deluxe, so choose based on how often you’ll actually out it to use. The best vegetables to turn into noodles are zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, sweet potato, turnips, and parsnips. They stand up to sautéing and being baked in most any sauce.
How you decide to prepare your veggie noodles can vary as much as the veggies you use. One of my favorites is a simple marinara sauce on zucchini noodles with some Parmesan cheese. A parsnip noodle pad Thai with chicken and extra veggies is also a real crowd pleaser.
As for lasagna: try strips of eggplant, zucchini, or leeks.
Next Up: Mashed Root Vegetables
There are very few things in life more delicious than a buttery bite of mashed potatoes. But let’s be honest, most what makes potatoes a favorite on any table are the toppings – sour cream, butter, scallions, chives, salt, oil, you name it. By themselves, potatoes are…pretty bland, to put it mildly.
Of course, potatoes are chalk full of complex fibers and are an excellent source of vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and vitamin C. But there’s a whole other world outside of tubers that is and brimming with essential nutrients and full of flavor.
And that world is the world of root vegetables. Think carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and turnips. With a variety of flavors ranging from earthy to sweet, smashing and mashing these bad boys can add dimension to any dish.
I like to use parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, and heirloom carrots. After chopping, boil the veggies in chicken stock or bone broth for added dose of umami. After that, use heavy cream, a couple cloves of roasted garlic, and mash away. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and serve with…well, anything.
Experiment with what you want to mash. It’s quite liberating.
Rice, Rice Baby
Making your own riced veggies is surprisingly simple. Trim, chop, and pulse in a food processor, then cook with a quick steam or sauté. Flavor with fresh herbs, spiced, nuts, other chopped veggies, or a sprinkle of cheese and voila! The best not-really rice you’ve ever had. You can rice almost any vegetable, but my favorites are broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, beet, and cauliflower.
Cauliflower rice has become so popular that you can now buy it both fresh and frozen in most stores.
That’s a Spicy Pizza Pie
There are a couple great alternatives to the cardboard they pass off as gluten-free pizza crust. The first is portabella mushroom caps used to make individual pizzas. Be sure to bake or grill them first to remove any excess water – otherwise your “crust” becomes a soggy mess. Yuck.
A green veggie pizza crust is a fantastic way to sneak some green veggies past kids – or picky adults – and make use of the pizza stone that never got used when ordering delivery.
My favorite way to make pizza crust is using cauliflower rice and goat cheese, but you can use most any kind of cheese along with egg as a binder. Shape it, add sauce and toppings, bake and enjoy.
Got Buns, Hon?
Once again, our friend the portabella mushroom makes a great delivery system for any type of burger or sandwich. My favorite recipe is this guilt-free burger made with bison on portabella mushroom buns – it will make any mouth water. And the only fruit making an appearance on this list – the avocado. Use half or whole for a buttery “bun” that would make brioche blush.
Being gluten-free doesn’t mean living a life of sub-par brownies, sandwiches, and pastas. And it certainly doesn’t have to mean living a life full of gluten-free versions of your favorite grains. There are loads of alternative carbohydrates out there that are both easy and delicious. So get creative with your carbs and have a little fun with it!
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Posted on September 18, 2017