Are You in a Gluten-Free Recipe Rut?
Are you in a gluten-free recipe rut? Think about it: are you making the same familiar, safe recipes over and over again? Are mealtimes becoming boring? Then break free! There are thousands of wonderful gluten-free recipes available.
Don’t limit your diet any more than you have to
Not long ago, I listened to Sue Jennett of the Canadian Celiac Podcast interview Marilyn Smith, Canada’s Queen of Fiber. Sue mentioned that over time, most of us end up eating the same foods over and over. It got me thinking.
Without wheat, rye, barley, non-certified oats and any of the related ingredients we have to watch for, celiac life requires saying, “No thank you” more than most people. So the idea of a rut made sense, especially for busy people or those of us with more restrictions than just our celiac disease. Falling into a rut is easy, even for a good gluten-free cook.
Take a meal inventory
I thought about what I normally eat, and yes, I was in a rut. I have a long list of delicious and easy gluten-free meals. But I tend to make the same ones over and over, especially when I am too tired or busy to stop and think before opening the pantry. My go-tos include some simple ways to make salmon, chicken picatta, a wonderful chicken thigh bake based on one from Jamie Oliver, pasta sauce of varying kinds, stir frys, and that old reliable, the emergency tuna on a rice cake sandwich. For sides, potatoes, corn, and carrots rotate through regularly. All delicious, but after a while, just not much fun anymore.
It's time to break free!
Find new gluten-free favorites
Do your own recipe inventory. If you’re in a rut like I was, climb out! Here are some strategies for finding new gluten-free recipes to add life back to your meals.
Ask a friend: Recipe exchanges are a wonderful way to find new favorites. Ask friends and colleagues to join you. Don’t worry about specifying that they have to be gluten free - many main courses are fairly easily converted.
Mine your recipe files: When I need inspiration, I tend to reach for the same cookbooks, like Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes and an old Food and Wine Annual Cookbook that was a Christmas gift from my Dad. These days, I am intentionally choosing the cleanest (read: least used) of my cookbooks. Recent favorites: The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick and Naturally Fast Food by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent of Leon. (Note: those are affiliate links). I’m also rediscovering the 3 notebooks of recipes I have torn out of magazines over the years. They’re filled with treasures!
Sometimes I search specifically for gluten-free recipes, but most of the time I just browse through main courses, waiting for something to catch my eye. Most main courses are easily converted.
I look for inspiration everywhere: restaurant menus, meals mentioned in novels, even those free supermarket restaurant cards. Thanks to this new approach, I’ve added Moroccan-inspired lettuce cups and a roasted red pepper, tomato and chicken bake to regular rotation. And I’m sure there will be more to follow.
You can do this too. Break free of your boring food rut. Try something new once a month. Gluten-free food doesn’t have to be boring!