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Gluten-free cooking can be intimidating, but with a little planning, great tasting food that doesn't contain this protein can be successfully prepared. Foods and ingredients made with wheat, rye, barley, and spelt all contain gluten and must be avoided in these recipes. Gluten may also be found in a number of common prepared foods, so careful examination of food labels is critical. Recipe books on gluten-free cooking will often provide good alternatives for many of these foods.
Avoiding gluten can be difficult. Many staples of a standard western diet, including most breads, cakes, and cookies contain this protein. A number of breakfast cereals, pastas, and even beer are all made from grains containing gluten as well. Wheat is the most common source of gluten.
Fortunately, gluten-free foods and ingredients can be found in most supermarkets, and substitutes can be found for many of the more common foods used in recipes. Apart from specialty items made as a substitute for other products, there are some foods like rice noodles and corn tortillas that are suitable for gluten-free cooking.
Processed foods may also contain gluten as do many products with no apparent link to these grains. Soups, seasonings, and sauces may include thickeners containing gluten. It is commonly found in soy sauce and malt vinegar, as well as many low-fat dairy products. Finding these hidden sources of gluten requires close examination of food labels.
Perhaps the best way to avoid gluten in prepared foods is to avoid using them altogether. Gluten-free cooking becomes much simpler for those willing to cook from scratch. This offers cooks complete control over which ingredients go into a meal. Basic ingredients like meat and vegetables are typically considered safe for gluten-free cooking.
Familiarity with safe grains is essential for those choosing a gluten-free diet. Buckwheat, corn, millet, and rice are all suitable choices in recipes. Flour or meal made from each of these is widely available. When thickeners are required for a gluten-free recipe, cornstarch, tapioca, arrowroot, and potato starch are all suitable.
A cookbook specializing in gluten-free cooking can be an invaluable source of information and inspiration. Gluten-free recipes can give you a variety of ideas and instructions to make fresh breads, cakes, and cookies with a taste and texture similar to baked goods made with wheat. Recipes and advice found in a good cookbook can help in the preparation of good food that doesn’t seem like a substitute.