I've been happily vegetarian for nearly 35 years and cooking for a vegetarian version of the amazing Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for almost six years. The discovery of grain-free cooking has definitely been life changing. It soon became obvious to all of us how much healthier we felt without gluten in our diet. Do I miss eating food made from wheat and other grains containing gluten? Not at all! I look at the picture very differently! I've discovered a plethora of delicious new foods to eat which I would never have had the opportunity to try otherwise. I feel blessed!
Our shopping basket consists of nuts, beans, seeds, lentils, vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices, extra virgin olive oil, organic milk, butter, eggs, and occasionally cheese as well as honey, sugar free jam, 100 per cent nut butters, coconut and almond flours, cartons of organic tomatoes and organic cooked beans and, though the majority of our meals are grain-free and SCD legal, we also buy brown basmati rice, quinoa, gluten-free oats, flax seeds, buckwheat and gram flours for those of us not needing to adhere to a strict SCD legal diet. We don't eat soy, but that's another story! We've also started to cut down on the dairy too. In the past few years I have further extended my knowledge of vegetarian cooking by learning to combine these basic, natural foods to create tasty meals and snacks! Below are just some of the multitude of choices for healthy gluten-free vegetarian meals, all pretty easy to prepare with some links to recipes on my blog!
Breakfast : There's nothing more refreshing than a fruit salad in the morning especially with chopped nuts, natural yogurt and maybe some toasted gluten-free whole grains! But there's a much wider selection of goodies to choose from for a healthy start to the gluten-free day including fruit smoothies, almond or coconut flour pancakes and waffles, porridge made with quinoa, buckwheat or gluten-free oats, eggs and a particular favourite of mine, grain-free muffins!
Sandwiches : Lettuce leaves are brilliant as wraps or make your own Buckwheat Wraps , gluten-free whole grain bread rolls or grain-free bread rolls. Fill your choice of roll or wrap with a selection of the following : 100% nut butters, hummus, lentil or bean dips and patés, guacamole, salsa, hard boiled eggs, yogurt cheese, salad, raw vegetables, fruits and bean sprouts.
Soup : There's no end to the number of different soups you can prepare using lentils, beans, vegetables, spices and herbs and it's simple to make stock. It's also fun to experiment with the different vegetables you have available and create wonderful flavours! If you can, invest in a hand blender. There's no need to add starchy thickeners to soups if you blend everything together!
Lentils, Beans & Nuts : Lentils and beans have a way of turning up in most of our meals! You wouldn't believe the number ways there are to cook with lentils and beans! Add them on their own to vegetables and stir fries and create burgers, rissoles, vegetable pies, chilli, spicy meals, stews and hotpots. Use chopped or ground nuts in burgers, nut roasts, salads and desserts and sprinkle on top of meals for extra goodness!Stuff a tomato, squash, leek, pepper, courgette or cabbage leaves with chopped vegetables, herbs, nuts and seeds and, if you like, add quinoa (my favourite protein packed seed) or buckwheat or brown rice and serve with a tomato, sweet pepper or grain-free cheese sauce.
Who doesn't like to treat themselves? We rarely eat cakes with sugar (except on special occasions), preferring to substitute natural sweeteners such as honey and dried fruits. The cakes I make now tend to use almond flour, my preferred gluten-free flour, and include Apricot Slice, Carrot Cake, Coffee Brownie, Ginger Cake, Raisin Cookies, Pineapple Muffins. Occasionally I do bake with a xanthan gum free gluten-free flour mix using ground flax seeds in place of the gum.
I'm often asked ... do we ever get bored of vegetarian meals and isn't it difficult to be vegetarian and gluten-free? The answer is always "No, never!" Although we often make our all time favourites, we're constantly experimenting with new flavour combinations and creating new dishes. Being vegetarian is an adventure!
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