Gluten Free Substitutions Part III – Easy One Ingredient Substitutions

by Jenn on July 26, 2010

in GF Substitutions,Gluten Free

_PAG1524cheese California Style Cheesecake

Welcome to Installment III of the weekly series here at Jenn Cuisine, all about gluten free substitutions.  Last week I showed how many great gluten free dishes you already know how to make, and this week I’m actually going to get into some substitutions.   The easiest substitutions don’t involve the many mysterious white bags of flour, as my friend Wendy so aptly described the myriad of gluten free ingredients commenting on my intro post.  This week is all about the one ingredient substitutions that are so easy to incorporate into several of your favorite meals.  I’m going to cover just a few of the most common substitutions that we use to make gluten free dishes, and I would really like to know what some of your tricks and techniques are as well!

PAG_0016millet PAG_0823quesadilla

1. Corn Tortillas.  Replacing flour tortillas with 100% corn flour tortillas opens up so much of the world of Mexican food again.  Say  hello to burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas, tortilla chips and all of your favorite variations!  Just make sure to read labels and verify that there are no cross-contamination issues (such as “made in a facility that also processes wheat products”).  Some corn tortillas are better than others.  We’ve found some great ones at a local store that roll beautifully without cracking.

2. Quinoa and Millet.  These whole grains (well, really I think they are properly in the category of seeds) make some great subs for couscous and tabouli.  Quinoa tends to have a distinctive flavor, whereas millet is much more mild.

3. Premade GF Bread – That kinda dry tapioca/rice bread that no one would ever assume was a replacement for fresh sandwich bread? Well it turns out it that when buttered and fried it makes some pretty decent grilled cheese sandwiches.  And if you happen to find some nice gluten free baguettes, you can whisk yourself away to Paris with some toasted croques monsieurs.

_PAG3546lasagne _PAG0947rolls

4. GF Pasta – There are many versions of gluten free pasta around, and this is probably the one-sub ingredient that we incorporate the most into our day to day cooking.  Our favorites tend to be of the corn and quinoa variety, but the use of any decent GF pasta will dramatically open up your cooking options.  We tend to cook with pastas a lot, and have made things such as lasagna, stir fries, mac & cheese,  pad thai,  and any number of other tasty pasta bowls.

5. Wheat Free Tamari – Next to pasta, this is probably our next most used one-ingredient sub.  Wheat free tamari is generally easy enough to find in the Asian foods section of most major grocery store chains I’ve had experience with in the U.S, and I can find it easily enough en Suisse.  I’ve had good luck with finding a nice little “gluten free” label on the jar as well.  It’s the perfect replacement for soy sauce, and opens up a wide variety of many Asian foods that would otherwise be off-limits to gluten free folks.  While a soy sauce connoisseur would identify the difference in flavors, it’s very slight and unnoticeable (at least to me) when used in dishes, and also works well with dipping sushi:)  Some of my favorites to make with wheat-free tamari are spicy peanut dipping sauceMongolian beef, pan-seared marinated tuna, and an Asian slaw.

6. Premade GF Cookies – I love to buy gluten free cookies and crush them up in a food processor into little itty bitty crumbs.  Then they can be used just like any other cookie crumbs and create a yummy crust for a pie – this little tidbit allowed me to make my mom’s famous cheesecake gluten free (or you can use your GF cookie failures too), with hardly any extra work at all.

These are some of my favorite easy ways to make dishes gluten free.  Next week, I’ll be talking about another easy one-ingredient sub, all-purpose gluten free flour!

What are your favorite ways to use these ingredients, or what other gluten free subs have you found are simple to convert your favorite meals to GF???


gfe--gluten free easily July 26, 2010 at 4:11 am

Jenn, this is great starter and refresher info. :-) I’ve never missed the bread although I will eat Udi’s if it’s around. 😉 Since I’ve given up dairy, I haven’t been eating corn tortillas much because I always eat them with cheese. But, they make a great “grilled cheese” IMO. Just add grated cheddar cheese as in a quesadilla and grill until nice and crispy on the outside. I still love to fry the tortillas as strips and use them in place of crackers in soup. Nothing much to add right now, but I like your ideas!


Jenn July 26, 2010 at 7:08 am

Thanks Shirley! We make a quesadilla/grilled cheese a lot actually, I love your idea of tortilla strips to replace crackers in soup!!

Kim-Cook It Allergy Free July 26, 2010 at 7:23 am

PS I just had to add that your photography inspires me to do better! Your pics are always so amazing. i know I have probably said this before, but just had to re-state ;0)

Jenn July 26, 2010 at 8:29 am

Oh thanks so much! That’s really the goal, to take some of the “voodoo” out of gluten free cooking. Because it can be quite overwhelming, even if you aren’t new to a gluten free lifestyle, and it doesn’t have to be! But as with everything, it all starts with baby steps first and we gradually build on what we know & learn…..

Rosa July 26, 2010 at 8:20 am

Wonderful dishes! The shots are splendid.



Jenn July 26, 2010 at 8:30 am

Thanks Rosa! Your lovely compliments always brighten my day!

Squeaky Gourmet July 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

wonderful pictures!
We use the corn tortillas for cinnamon and sugar “toast” even.

Jenn July 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Oh yum, that sounds awesome! I am sure my husband will want to give that a try…

fooddreamer July 27, 2010 at 11:55 am

My fave substitutions which often make things GF (although my intent is to make them low-carb for me)…nuts and nut flours. Almond meal makes a rockin’ tart crust or muffin, or cookie. In fact, made some almond meal/buckwheat choc chip cookies yesterday that are very good!

Jenn July 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I love the use of nut flours, and almond meal has such a light delicate flavor that suits itself very well to may many desserts. Great idea, I’ll be talking more about flours in some of the next “episodes” of the series!

Celiacs in the House July 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for the shout out. The teens eat lots of corn tortillas. Leftover steak and chicken and black beans are the usual fillings. I agree about the gf cookies. I love gingersnaps and using the crumbs as crust for cheesecake.

Jenn July 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Mmm that sounds great…I love the idea of using gingersnaps with cheesecake…I just used sugar cookies but gingersnaps would go perfectly!

Deanna July 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I’ve never bought GF cookies or bread (other than hamburger buns). But, GF pretzels are a staple one ingredient sub in our house. Crushed they work as bread crumbs! (Well, sort of. Enough to work, at least. :) )

Great series – can’t wait for the next post.

Jenn July 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I’ve never made bread crumbs from GF pretzels before – that’s so creative!!

Jessica July 28, 2010 at 5:11 am

Hi! I stumbled upon your blog from Food Buzz, and I just had to chime in to say that recently, I found Quinoa and rice pastas. I don’t follow a gluten free diet, but I am a nutrition major and have been on a real kick to incorporate more quinoa into my meals. Although I haven’t looked for the “gluten free” labeling on anything so I’d say that you’d want to check before taking my full word on it, there are boxes of pasta – spaghetti, rotini, you name it! – made from quinoa and brown rice, respectively. It’s a really nice change to the regular old way we’re used to eating those two grains.

Jenn July 29, 2010 at 7:16 am

yep, we use quinoa pastas a lot – quinoa and corn are our favorites!

art and lemons July 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I like to combine different GF grain and nut flours for optimal flavors for baked goods. Some of my favorite GF recipes are quinoa corn flour crepes, teff sunbutter cookies, and chocolate graham crackers. Thanks for all the tips Jenn, this is such a great series!

Jenn July 29, 2010 at 7:17 am

Thanks for the lovely compliment! I’ll be getting more into the flours a bit later, though I have to say I haven’t had much experience with teff yet – but those sunbutter cookies sound awesome!

Lisa July 29, 2010 at 3:48 am

Gorgeous photos Jenn! Everything looks delicious as usual! Are those Spring Rolls with the tamari??? I can’t wait to try them…..YUM!

Jenn July 29, 2010 at 7:19 am

Yep, the dipping sauce for the spring rolls used tamari – the spring rolls are really only shrimp, lettuce and veggies in a rice wrap :)

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