As a foodie and a coeliac, combining the love of food with a gluten-free diet can feel overwhelming. However the variety of options that are now available as substitutes can quell those cravings without playing internal havoc. Our love for Italian and Thai food is greatly revered in Britain, pasta and noodles are endlessly advertised on the TV, in magazines and across social media portals, so how, if you suffer from a specific food allergy can you satisfy the craving and keep yourself healthy at the same time?
Firstly there are fantastic alternatives to pasta. Most pastas are made from wheat flours such as semolina or durum. Gluten free alternatives include quinoa, rice, corn and other grains none of which contain the protein gluten. To make gluten free pasta grains such as amaranth, buckwheat and corn are used so that the correct texture can be achieved. However it is important to always directly follow the cooking instructions on the packet as these gluten free alternatives can become mushy if overcooked or too much salt and oil is added.
Secondly the nutritional content of any gluten free alternative should be considered. Pastas made from amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa have a higher protein content than those made with white rice flour, according to a study in the journal “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition” October 2010. The amino acids in these grains helps to keep the bones, muscle and skin healthy, therefore protein content is essential for sustaining your body.
Moreover, the whole grains used in gluten free pasta have a higher mineral, fibre and folic acid content than those made with refined flours. Absorbing nutrients into the system is more difficult for anyone who is gluten intolerant, therefore, choosing a pasta alternative that is made from whole grains will help to maximise the nutritional content needed to keep the body functioning at an optimum level.
So what form do these pasta alternatives come in?
- Rice pasta is one of the most common gluten free alternatives and there are variety of brands that make these. Like ‘normal’ pasta it comes in a number of different shapes and sizes, despite its flavour being relatively neutral, it tastes delicious with whatever sauce you wish to combine it with.
- Corn and corn-blend pasta is high in protein but can be tough to eat once it has cooled and doesn’t tend to reheat very well. However if immediately served it makes a great substitute packed with nutritional content.
- Potato blended pasta is made by blending a variety of grains with potatoes. Its texture is therefore slightly different from the others and tends to taste a little lighter. It is perfect for dishes such as pasta bakes, where the sauce infiltrates the shapes.
With all of these great alternatives on the market, eating a gluten free diet that still incorporates all of your favourite food types is certainly possible. So whether you choose from ready-made meals that have been specifically designed or want to create your own culinary magic, pasta can always have a firm footing in your menu.
By Harry Price
Harry Price is a writer and artist from the south coast. He lives with his wife and 3 cocker spaniels, who double as his running, training buddies.