The Best Healthy Gluten free Substitutes

The Best Healthy Gluten free Substitutes
February 13, 2018 megsri8
grain free sugar free challenge

Healthy gluten free Substitutes!

Hello! If you have been following my recipes and creations, you know I tend to make and share healthy gluten free substitutes for grain free meals. Grain free eating is a process where you remove grains like rice and wheat from your diet and substitute it with more nutrient dense vegetables, protein, seeds and pseudo-cereals. I started creating grain free meals because at first I found it a fun and innovative way to eat healthy. I was inspired by the Hemsley sisters and their cookbook. Slowly I started realising amazing positive changes. I felt I had more energy, instead of feeling heavy and sluggish after a meal, I felt fresh and energised! I lost weight in inches not just kilos and my husband also started losing inches and weight. I really couldn’t believe how I had physically changed since I started eating gluten free and grain free the past year.

avocado burger bun 2 healthy gluten free substitutes

This is why I want to share with you my favourite healthy gluten free substitutes which are wonderful substitutes for wheat and rice. It may sound hard and it needs some creativity, but slowly you will find ways to incorporate it into your daily eating. One of my healthiest decisions has been to start eating gluten free at least 95% of my lunches and dinners and now there is no looking back for me! Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favourite foods, its about incorporating healthier eating choices into your daily diet slowly and steadily. Below I have shared with you my 5 favourite healthy gluten free substitutes and links and recipe ideas to motivate you!

1] Quinoa:

I recently wrote about the benefits of quinoa. Let me share it again here. Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal originally grown in South America. This means its a seed which is eaten like a grain and hence is considered to be allowed in grain free meals. Quinoa has a high amount of fibre, though a majority of this is insoluble fibre, the fibre content helps in improving constipation and managing blood cholesterol. It also one of the few plant based sources to have a complete protein having all the nine essential amino acids. It is hence a great source of protein especially for vegetarians and vegans.  It is a great source of minerals like magnesium and has a beneficial impact on metabolic health and reducing blood sugar levels.

Due to its high fibre and protein content a small portion can easily fill you up. In comparison rice gets easily digested and has low amount of protein or fibre. You end up eating greater portions of rice to feel satiated which leads to over eating, sugar rush, low energy, bloating, low metabolic activity and weight gain. Quinoa’s benefits are enhance when soaked and sprouted. Hence quinoa is an important and necessary ingredient to have in your store cupboard. I prefer buying them in bulk to get them at a better rate.

rajma quinoa biryani 1 healthy gluten free substitutes

I find white quinoa the perfect substitute for rice. Try using it to make my Rajma Quinoa Biryani or my Healthy Pineapple Fried ‘Rice’ or use it to make Vegetable Quinoa Falafels or a part of your Buddha bowl or Salad. The options are endless and once you try out these recipes of mine, you will be inspired to create more versions of your own!

2] Amaranth:

Amaranth also known as Rajgira in India is the cheaper cousin to Quinoa. In India we have it in some festivals where its popped or puffed versions are mixed with jaggery and made int balls. I actually never knew how wonderful and nourishing this pseudo cereal is till I started working with grain free ingredients. Amaranth is also a pseudo cereal and has a complete protein profile, meaning it has the nine essential amino acids including lysine. Lysine helps in your body metabolism and muscle repair amongst other things. Again you do not receive these nutrients and protein from regular grains like rice and wheat.  Its high protein profile keeps you fuller for longer. It is a good source of calcium as well as minerals and anti oxidants including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, magnesium and phosphorus to name a few. The phytosterols in amaranth help in reducing cholesterol and heart disease. It is naturally gluten free and a great grain substitute for those who have gluten intolerances.

healthy gluten free substitutes

Amaranth has a nutty flavour with a very slight bitterness, hence its not as bland as quinoa. I have recently started using amaranth in my baking and grain free dinners. I grind the amaranth seeds and use the flour to make cakes or pies. I pressure cook the seeds with dates and water to make porridge. Recently I have started making granola with a combination of Amaranth and oats. It can also be cooked with a little salt and added to salads or used as a rice substitute just like I have done above with quinoa. Try making my nutrient dense Coconut Amaranth Granola Bars or my Healthy Banana Bread made with amaranth flour.

3] Buckwheat:

Another Pseudo-cereal is the very popular buckwheat. This is also known as Kuttu in North India and is usually used during Navratri or Vrat time. It can be either black or white in colour, though the more popular version is white. It’s flour is a very popular gluten free substitute and is used for baking cakes, tarts, pancakes and pies. You also find it as a base to gluten free noodles like Soba noodles. Buckwheat has a high amount of carbohydrates but a low GI, which means no worries about blood spikes or sugar rush. It has a decent source of fibre especially if using the whole groats and it has starch known as resistant starch which is a good source of soluble fibre. It has a better source of vitamins, minerals, protein and anti-oxidant thin grains like rice, wheat and oats. It helps in reducing blood cholesterol levels and improving the blood lipid profile as well as reducing blood clotting and inflammation. Hence it is beneficial in reducing heart disease as well.

healthy chicken tikka kebabs 3 healthy gluten free substitutes

You can activate buckwheat groats by soaking and then letting it sprout over a few days. You can then add this to your smoothies, granolas or salads. I like to cook buckwheat whole and serve it with curry like in my recipe for Indian Kale Curry. I also like to add it to a hot salad like my recipe for Chicken Tikka Kebabs + Buckwheat Salad where I served it as a side. Another quick and simple use of Buckwheat is buying Soba noodles made from 100% Buckwheat. These Japanese noodles are slightly more dense and have bait and make great additions for a wheat or rice noodle substitute as well as a pasta substitute. Follow these recipes to learn how to cook buckwheat and add it to your grain free meals

4] Millet : {Bajra, Jowar, Ragi, Kudo, etc}

Millet is a popular gluten free grain, native to Africa and Asia, especially India. It is small seed like and ranges from colours white to red. Popular versions of millet are Sorghum (jowar), Pearl millet (Bajra) or hulled millet. In South India a popular and very nutritious version is Finger millet locally known as Ragi. In fact India has a cornucopia of millet varieties and it unfortunately been forgotten in urban areas and chosen over by wheat for popularity and convenience.

Millet is an excellent source of Magnesium and Phosphorus. Magnesium is important for preventing and managing heart disease, hypertension as well as managing migranes and asthma. Magnesium also helps manage and reduce muscle pain. Phosphorus is important in the maintaining of the cell structure, plays an important role in ATP and energy conversion and metabolism in the body. Millet is also a good source of fibre and a useful addition in the diet to maintain cholesterol,  blood sugar and insulin levels especially for those suffering from diabetes. Millet is alkaline and helps balance the pH of the body. Studies have shown that millet especially sprouted ragi or finger millet makes iron and manganese more bio available. It is also very high in antioxidant and phenolic component.

The best way to consume it is to soak the millet for a few hours, drain and then cook in a pressure cooker, 1 cup of millet to two cups of water. You can use it instead of rice or cook it just like you would Biryani or Pulao instead of rice. The flour also is a great substitute for wheat and can be used to make rotis, parathas and bread. Sprouted millet can also be cooked like porridge for breakfast or added cooked to salad.

On point to note is that millet is goitrogenic and its effects increases on cooking. However a variety of healthy whole foods are goitrogenic such a broccoli and flax seeds. Eaten in moderation along with a diverse range of gluten free grains, seeds, vegetables and fruits, millet can have appositive effect to your diet and health.

5] Vegetables : {Cauliflower, Sweet potato, Courgette}

Finally I have to add my all time favourite rice and wheat substitutes and the most fun part of grain free eating- using vegetables! The best is cauliflower because it is so versatile due its flavour and texture. It is also packed with so many health benefits, protein and anti-oxidants. I use it as a base to make pizzas, as a rice substitute by grating it and using it to make Pulao or use instead of steamed rice. I also grate it and use it to make raw salads which makes a very filling side for a piece of fish or meat.

sweet potato noodle healthy gluten free substitutes

Sweet Potato is my next favourite because its so filling and satisfying and easy to transform. It is a great source of Vitamins and minerals with a lower GI. I use it in both savoury and sweet dishes like my recipes for a Healthy Chocolate cake with Sweet Potato frosting as well as my Plum crumble cupcake made using sweet potato. In savoury dishes I like eating it baked whole like my recipe for Baked Sweet potato with Turmeric hummus  or cut into wedges and served as part of my Roasted Chickpea and Kale Vegan bowl recipe or cut into slices, baked and served as chips.  I also use my spiraliser to make it into noodles and have it as a stir fry with my Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl recipe. The options are endless and sweet potato is a great cheap and filling way to ensure a grain free dinner!

Finally I want to introduce to you another versatile vegetable which is Courgette or Zucchini. I use courgette to make noodles or pasta using my spiraliser to make flat or curly noodles or pasta. Mainly made up of water, courgette noodles and pasts is not only a great grain free ingredient it is also low carb and low calorie option. If you are trying to lose weight, simply substitute all your noodles and pasta recipes with courgette! Some fun ideas are my  Healthy Stir fry with Courgetti and my superfood simple No-Noodle Healthy Pad Thai recipe.

healthy pad thai healthy gluten free substitutes

I really hope I have inspired you to eat healthier and adding more nutrition into your diet by adding these healthy gluten free substitutes into your daily diet. There are a whole range of ingredients you can work with and which you can decide makes you most happy! I would love to know if this article inspires you and recreate one of my recipes or start taking these healthier steps. Do share your journey with me in the comments below!

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