Gluten Free Substitutions Part II – When No Subs are Needed

by Jenn on July 19, 2010

in GF Substitutions,Gluten Free

_PAG1463souffle _PAG3487risotto2

Disclaimer – What I describe in this series is my own personal experience.  I am not a licensed doctor nor am I a nutritionist.  Please be advised to contact the manufacturer of any product before assuming a food product is or is not gluten free, and please consult your personal health care professional to know what foods are safe for you.  This blog and this series are NOT a form of medical advice and should not be used as such.

Welcome to Part II of my weekly series all about gluten free substitutions!  I wanted to start with that disclaimer, front and center.  Just to remind you all that I don’t have the answers to solving health problems, and that you need to be mindful of your own issues.  What happens to work for us may not work for you.  Food products differ by region, and sometimes there are recalls on products, or I may even make a mistake in describing something (though I promise to do my best not to – and if I do please let me know!).  I just happen to cook gluten free for my husband and I, and that’s about as far as my actual skills go.  I am learning with you in this process!


Part of that learning process was realizing after I had gone through all the issues of being gluten intolerant that my husband deals with, that I already had many many naturally gluten free recipes and dishes that I made every day.  I am sure you do too.  This is the theme of this week’s installment.  Before knowing how to make substitutions, it’s first good to know where we can start.  For me, the easiest gluten free meals are always the ones that I don’t have to do anything different to – the ones that I already make and am comfortable with.  Especially when I first found out about my husband’s intolerance, I found it much more positive to look at what I already could make, rather than listing all of the things that I couldn’t do.  Rather than mourning over sandwich bread, I decided to embrace the naturally gluten free.  And I was really amazed at just how many dishes that actually included!


One general guideline I’ve learned to follow is to love the fresh and homegrown and make things myself rather than looking for products.  Besides, I find cooking from scratch to be therapeutic anyways.  For example, fresh produce and greens, fruits of the season, meat from the butcher, herbs from the garden – the more I can incorporate these things by cooking from scratch, the easier it is to be gluten free.

I was reminded again of the advantage of looking for already gluten free foods during our trip to Paris this past weekend.  Our first night out at dinner, my husband had a salad of greens adorned with smoked duck, foie gras, and black truffles, in a light olive oil dressing.  Let me tell you, he was in heaven, and the restaurant did not need to make a single change to the dish – it was naturally gluten free!

As a mainly gluten free household, my husband and I are always looking for what is already gluten free, because that is the easiest to think about making.  The first step to culinary freedom is acknowledging what we already know how to do – it makes tackling the unknowns of gluten free cooking much more manageable.  We can recognize that we are never completely lost, because we were already set up to make a number of delicious gluten free dishes all along!


This week, I encourage you to look through the dishes that you like to make – which ones are naturally gluten free?  What do you like to make that doesn’t require any modifications?  Is there any dish that you love that you are thankful is already gluten free? Let’s share and we can give each other some great new ideas!

Here’s just a sampling of some of my favorite things to make, that are completely unaltered from their original recipes –

Egg Dishes:
Egg bakes

Side dishes & Snacks:
Carrot and avocado salad
Mashed sweet potatoes
Potato-based dishes
Homemade chips
Sautéd spinach and goat cheese
Smoked Salmon Pâté

Homemade pestos
Homemade salsas
Homemade curry paste
Homemade oil/vinegar based dressings

Main Dishes:
Pistachio crusted rack of lamb
Pesto & Pepper Chicken
Roasted chicken with sage butter pesto
Beurre blanc poached cod
Bleu cheese stuffed burgers
Roasted quail
Seafood Paella

Tapioca pudding
Crème Brûlée
Amaretti Cookies
Flourless chocolate torte

Also submitted to – Gluten Free Wednesdays


Rosa July 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

A great post! I also love cooking from scratch and do that on a daily basis. Your dishes and pictures are wonderful!



Jenn July 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Thanks Rosa! Yes I love to cook from scratch! I learn more about cooking that way and it’s so rewarding!

Theresa July 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I agree, looking at what is “natrually” gluten free is the best way to approach a G-free life/diet. Not only is it healthier, but it’ll be heaps better than an immitation of a gluten product.
By the way, your beautiful photos have made me so hungry right now! Pity that it’s bedtime! :)

Jenn July 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Oh thank you so much! Ha yes, sorry for the late posting…one of the joys of apartment living is having one router for the entire building, and when it needs to be reset and the tenants in the apt. with the router aren’t home…well it means I had to wait a bit to publish my post…Next time I’ll make sure to have it actually pre-submitted and scheduled so that doesn’t happen again!

Celiacs in the House July 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I think the desserts were the most surprising thing to me when we went gluten free. There are some truly wonderful desserts that I had never considered when I lived in the world of cakes and pies. I’ve found I like the things you’ve listed even better. Not that it’s such a good thing.”) Do you have the same issues of contamination with the corn in polenta like we do in the states? I know I get Bob’s Red Mill GF corn for polenta and their corn meal for baking because of it. When I drive by the farms that rotate their crops and do corn one year and then soybeans or wheat the next and use the same farm equipment, it reminds me how the cc happens from the very beginning of food production,not counting the manufacturing here in states.
Great series and those Paris pics…..ahhhh. It is even cooler as I see your growth as a photographer over the past year.

Jenn July 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Mmm yes – all those desserts were already some favorites of mine before I met my husband, and so many of the desserts were some of the things I was most excited about being already gluten free!
As for polenta, so far we have not had a problem. The Swiss are really good about labeling “peut contenir gluten” on possible cross-contaminated foods. So far as long as we read carefully for the appropriate warnings we have been just fine. In the States I do remember buying corn meal that was specifically labeled gluten free, but I also remember it being the only cornmeal I found easily.
Thank you so much for the lovely compliments on the photos! Paris was indeed lovely!

branny July 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Great topic! No need to be intimidated. Embrace the positives. When I was a vegetarian, people cooking for me continually focused on what I couldn’t/wouldn’t eat instead of the bounty of what I would/could eat!

Jenn July 20, 2010 at 11:44 am

Yes – it’s much more fun to approach a challenge from a positive point of view!

Ricki July 20, 2010 at 2:39 am

I totally agree–so many already-GF options. I used to have a GF recipe index on my blog even before I began to cook 100% gluten free, because so many recipes already WERE GF! Your photos are just absolutely gorgeous. :)

Jenn July 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Oh awesome! I wish I knew to think of those things when I first started cooking, it would’ve made finding recipes a lot easier when we were first starting out! And thank you for the compliments :)

gfe--gluten free easily July 22, 2010 at 2:47 am

You know how I feel about this approach, Jenn. It’s the core of the gfe philosophy. 😉 Another point, similar to your husband’s naturally gf and fabulous meal in the restaurant, is that people can more easily feed you safely this way. And, cooking this way (and feeding others) tends to please the gluten eaters more because there are no new flavors and textures to get used to. We all feed others, too, so that’s important. :-) Great post and listing!


Jenn July 22, 2010 at 7:23 am

Yes, it is! Whenever non-GF people ask me for recommendations of food to serve to gluten free folk, I always point them in the direction of naturally gluten free, and I think it is the easiest to approach for sure.

Linda July 23, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Another great post Jenn. I agree completely. And that’s a great list of recipes! Right now I can’t think of a favorite that is naturally gf–there are so many, but I’m eating a salad and that’s naturally gf.

Jenn July 23, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Thanks Linda! We’ve made many many salads this summer, it’s the perfect food to enjoy on a hot humid day!

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