Cooking for someone with Coeliac Disease, which means they are intolerant to both wheat and gluten, can be a daunting task. As you will find from reading this article, if you are well prepared then cooking them need not be scary, nor should it compromise your ability to cook a great tasting and healthy meal.
1. Probably the most important thing to remember is to always check the labels of any food that you are using, to make sure that the food does not contain any hidden gluten. It is vital to remember that hidden sources of gluten include preservatives, additives and stabilizers found in processed food. A great way to combat this problem is to cook only with basic ingredients that you are sure do not contain gluten, omitting products such as pre-made sauces and dressings.
2. As mentioned before, using good, fresh foods is one of the best ways to ensure that whatever meal you are cooking will be suitable for Coeliacs. So look for dishes that include – fresh meat, fresh fruit & vegetables, fresh herbs, egg and dairy products and pure oils and vinegars. Knowing this gives you a large scope to be able to cook a variety of delicious dishes, without having to worry about using any ingredients that are not safe.
3. If you have your heart set on using ingredients, such as flour, that are not suitable for Coeliacs, there are a large range of alternatives that are gluten free. Instead of using ordinary flour you could instead use any of the following – rice flour, potato flour, corn flour, cornmeal, soya flower and buckwheat flour. With these substitutes you can cook many dishes that would not normally be suitable.
4. Whilst it is gluten that gives things like bread their elasticity and cakes their spring, this does not exclude you from baking either of these items when cooking for a Coeliac. Gluten-free cakes actually work very well. You can use flour alternatives such as ground cornmeal or a mixture of rice flour and ground almonds to create light and delicious gluten-free cakes. A great tip when doing so is to use a mixture of flours along with ground almonds so the cake remains moist when baked.
5. When purchasing the ingredients for your meal, do not forget to check out the specialist sections in health stores and most big supermarkets. These sections will include a plethora of wheat and gluten free products that you can use in your meal, safe in the knowledge that they have been properly tested and are safe to be eaten by Coeliacs.
6. Remember that for some people even the tiniest trace of gluten or wheat in their food could lead them to become very ill. With this in mind make sure that your food preparation areas, including any chopping boards and knives used, have been thoroughly cleaned before use. Do this to ensure that no traces of wheat or gluten from previous meals remain on the utensils and are transferred into your otherwise safe dish.
7. If you are unsure about any products or ingredients that you plan to use in your meal, there are many great online resources for finding out if they are safe. Simply Google ‘Coeliac food directory’ for more information.
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