4 delicious gluten-free recipes
There’s a whole lot of buzz around gluten-free dishes right now and I’m fully on board with this awesome way of eating. You see, for me, creating gluten-free meals not only is good for my health but also helps fuel my creativity in the kitchen.
Given that I follow a paleo lifestyle and have done for years, I’ve mastered the art of no-gluten cooking and I’m stoked that I’m able to substitute with healthier ingredients that are better for my body and make my meals taste more delicious.
I reckon that’s what gluten-free cooking is all about. It’s about taking the stuff out of your regular meals that doesn’t serve your health (think flour, pasta etc) and replacing it with far better alternatives such as coconut flour, nut flour and spiralised vegies.
In fact, it’s what I love most about being a paleo chef and what inspires me when I develop recipes. By simply switching a few ingredients, you can create meals that will give you more energy than ever before, boost your body’s immunity and encourage a healthier gastrointestinal system.
Beyond rice & pasta
Take rice or pasta, for example. Both are side dishes I know many people who haven’t experimented with gluten-free alternatives may feel are hard to replace. That’s where a food processor and spiraliser come in handy.
A spiraliser is my latest kitchen obsession. It’s a really cool gadget you can use to turn different seasonal vegetables and fruit into delicious substitutes in what are traditionally carb-heavy meals.
By using medium- to hard-fleshed vegetables such as zucchini, carrot, beetroot, parsnip, turnip and sweet potato, you can create oodles of different-flavoured noodles. You can also thinly slice onions, shred cabbage and make sweet potato fries.
All these are great side dishes that will ensure your next meal is full of no-gluten goodness and, more importantly, are designed to support optimal health and wellbeing.
My favourite vegetables to use in creating a rice substitute are zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli. It really depends on which is in season and therefore the best quality, but I find these are pretty much interchangeable for all rice dishes.
I love to serve a good-quality protein in a really full-on flavoursome, spicy sauce with vegetable “rice” on the side. One of our current family favourites is Bengali Fish, from my latest book One-Pot Favourites. What I love about this dish is the way the deeply fragrant tomato-based curry infuses the fish with so much flavour and how serving it with zucchini rice provides a nutritious yet incredibly light side dish.
Zucchini is also full of health benefits and an outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C. It contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper and phosphorus as well as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin and protein.
Another favourite gluten-free meal right now is Chicken Tikka Masala served with cauliflower rice. I love this dish because of its rich flavours and use of coconut yoghurt, which provides a lovely sweetness.
Take your tastebuds on an exotic tour with a dinner party recipe I like to serve up to friends: Middle Eastern Lamb Stew. I like that it uses the Arabic spice blend baharat, an all-spice mix that includes black pepper, cumin, cinnamon and cloves. It makes you feel as if the lamb is dancing on your tastebuds.
Of course, another big question I get asked is how do you substitute bread with a gluten-free option? That’s why I’m sharing Nic’s amazing Paleo Bread, which uses almond meal, coconut flour and psyllium seed powder as the base.
Why avoid gluten?
Apart from all of these meals being nutritious and delicious, what’s the point of cutting out gluten? How can this help support better health?
New research has recently revealed just how damaging gluten can be. In late July, Columbia University announced a breakthrough in understanding how gluten relates to health issues. Its findings — published in the journal Gut — reveal that the complaints gluten-sensitive people (those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity) experience are a consequence of a disruption of the gut lining.
By simply switching a few ingredients, you can create meals that will give you more energy than ever before, boost your body’s immunity and encourage a healthier gastrointestinal system.
It’s something industry experts working in the area of nutritional and holistic health have known for many years. I closely follow the work of Dr David Perlmutter, author of the highly successful book Grain Brain, and he has advocated that the best way to live for optimal health is to go gluten-free.
What’s even more interesting is a recent finding from a Harvard University study: the breakdown in the gut lining as a response to gluten exposure occurs in all humans. In a nutshell, what this means is that immune activation occurs in all of us when we consume gluten whether we think we’re having issues or not.
So how does that relate to the state of your overall health? Well, there is a very strong relationship between this kind of immune activation and diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, coronary artery disease and even obesity.
Potentially, gluten may be an initiating or exacerbating factor in the roughly 100 recognised autoimmune diseases. Recent studies have shown a 400 per cent increase in celiac disease — the best-known autoimmune disease caused by gluten intolerance — over the past 50 years.
Gluten sensitivity also impacts on your gut microbiota, which new research is confirming may also regulate your brain function and behaviour — and even impact on bodyweight. A study published in March in Frontiers in Microbiology called Gut Microbiota: The Brain Peacekeeper finds that “results from animal models indicate that disturbances in the composition and functionality of some microbiota members are associated with neurophysiological disorders, strengthening the idea of a microbiota–gut–brain axis and the role of microbiota as a ‘peacekeeper’ in brain health”.
It makes sense to embrace a gluten-free way of eating so we have as much energy as possible to pursue the things we love.
What I also find particularly fascinating is that there is actually no human requirement for gluten. In fact, humans lived happily without grains for nearly 3 million years before the advent of agriculture, so it’s not unreasonable to suspect that politics and economics have played a role in the types of foods we now eat.
At the end of the day, my simple rule of thumb is to consume a small to moderate amount of animal protein from animals with a natural diet, an abundance of vegetables and good fats, daily broths and fermented foods. Even Nic’s Paleo Bread should be considered a treat.
Ensuring we consume nutrient-dense, healthy foods and committing to making our own meals at Home are two ways we can really support our mental and physical health, improve energy levels and protect ourselves as much as possible against the onset of serious diseases.
I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I can nourish my body and brain in every way possible so I can be surfing and enjoying life for a long time to come.
I know the way I feel when I don’t eat gluten, dairy, soy, wheat or sugar is fantastic. I feel better than ever and urge you to try some of the no-gluten recipes I’ve shared in this issue. I hope embracing a gluten-free way of cooking boosts your kitchen creativity and takes care of you and your family in the same way it has mine.
Cook with love and laughter,
- 200g (2 cups) almond meal
- 60g tapioca flour
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 115g (½ cup) honey
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, at room temperature
- 1½ tsp vanilla powder
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 125mL almond milk
- 4 ripe bananas
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cases.
- Combine the almond meal, tapioca flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl. Use a fork to crush any almond meal clumps, then mix to a fine crumb.
- Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the honey and oil for 2–4 mins, or until creamy. Add the vanilla and eggs and continue beating for a further 1–2 mins until well combined. Add the almond meal mixture and beat to combine. Slowly mix in the almond milk with a wooden spoon until just combined.
- Mash three of the bananas with a fork and gently fold into the batter.
- Divide the batter between the paper cases. Cut the remaining banana into 12 slices and place one on top of each muffin. Bake for 25 mins until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
- Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and allow to cool before serving.
- Note: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- 1½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- For the marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.
- 600g mulloway, blue-eye trevalla, snapper or other white-fleshed fish fillets, skin removed, flesh cut into 3cm pieces
- 4 tbsp coconut oil or good-quality animal fat
- 500g cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 small green chillies, deseeded & finely chopped, plus extra to serve
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp finely grated ginger
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1–2 pinches of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 500mL fish or chicken bone broth
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- A few coriander sprigs, to serve
- Zucchini Rice (see recipe below), to serve
- Add the fish and coat in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge for 15 mins.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil or fat in a large frying pan over medium–high heat until just starting to smoke. Add the fish and cook for 1 min on each side, or until golden but still raw in the centre. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tbsp of the oil or fat and the cauliflower and sauté for 5–6 mins, or until the cauliflower is lightly golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Melt the remaining oil or fat in the pan, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5–6 mins until translucent. Add the chilli and garlic and cook for 30 seconds until softened, then add the ginger, mustard seeds, ground coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper (if using) and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a further 30 seconds.
- Pour the broth into the pan, mix to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, return the cauliflower to the pan, cover and simmer for 15 mins until the cauliflower is tender. Return the fish to the pan and cook for 2–3 mins until the fish is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter on the coriander sprigs and serve with the zucchini rice on the side.
- Cauliflower, florets & stalk roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Place the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse into tiny, fine pieces that look like rice.
- Place the coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and lightly cook for 4–6 mins, or until softened. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Middle Eastern Lamb Stew
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 large eggplant, halved lengthways & cut into 1cm-thick slices
- 900g boned lamb shoulder, cut into 2.5cm cubes
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp baharat or garam masala
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp coconut oil or good-quality animal fat
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 long red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 large turnip, cut into 2cm chucks
- 4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 handful of coriander & mint leaves, roughly chopped
- Cauliflower Rice (see recipe above), to serve
- Place the salt in a bowl, pour in 1 litre of water and stir to dissolve. Add the eggplant, cover with a small plate to keep the eggplant submerged and allow to soak for 30 mins. Drain and pat dry with paper towel.
- Meanwhile, combine the lamb and spices in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Melt 1 tbsp of the oil or fat in a large flameproof casserole dish over medium–high heat. Add the lamb in batches and seal until well browned, about 3 mins per side. Remove from the dish and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium, melt the remaining oil or fat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 mins until soft. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 min, then stir in the carrot and turnip.
- Return the lamb to the dish, add 1.25L of water and stir in the pomegranate molasses and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium–low, cover and cook for 2 hours, skimming off the fat and adding more water if needed.
- Add the eggplant to the stew and cook for a further 30 mins until the eggplant is soft and the meat is very tender.
- Scatter over the coriander and mint and serve with cauliflower rice.
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