Healthy Gluten Free Chicken Pasta

Healthy Gluten Free Chicken Pasta
August 11, 2015 megsri8
healthy gluten free chicken pasta

One of the new forms of food I learnt about moving to London was the free-from range. I had barely heard of food allergies or people with food intolerance back in Bangalore. There is no concept of food allergy labeling or segregation either in restaurants or in super markets. I had heard little about nut allergies but nothing much about gluten or dairy allergies. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian was the maximum food differentiation available and of course the Jain version of food. For example in Mumbai any self respecting Chinese restaurant would cater to the option of Jain Kung Pao Tofu. This meant that it would be a Kung Pao Tofu free-from onion and garlic! Hence you can see how different the concept of free-from range of food is in India and UK! Put it simply, food intolerance beyond religious grounds is quite unheard off.

I was however thoroughly amazed at the range of products available here in the UK. From wheat free bread and pasta to dairy free cheese cake, you name it and an alternative can be found! Though I do not suffer from any food allergies myself what fascinated me was the creativity and use of alternative ingredients that went in the creation of these products.  I found a huge range of heathier food options in the free-from range. For example when I went for the Allergy & Free From Show at Liverpool last year I came across a healthier version of pizza bread made with a combination of whole meal gluten flours which was quite amazing! I also came across a series of gluten free pastas made from lentils and beans which I felt was a truly healthy alternative while eating pasta. Dairy free desserts are made with nut butters or tofu and a range of free from now includes free from refined sugars which is truly fantastic!

Word of caution: I did notice that some free from products were extremely processed and had a variety of unhealthy ingredients and additives to get the familiar texture and flavour. Hence it is always very important to read the ingredients list to make sure you are not consuming any unnecessary sugars or additives.

I decided to try my hand at making some gluten free dishes at home with the perspective of getting healthier alternatives on the dinner table.gluten free chicken pasta 2 I wanted to make something simple and familiar and hence I decided to make a healthier version to a regular pasta and cheese sauce. I firstly wanted to try some lentil based pasta as the first alternative. Usually gluten free pastas are made with rice which I do not find as healthy. I would prefer to choose wholemeal pasta over a rice pasta. However three delicious and healthy alternatives are buckwheat pasta, quinoa pasta and lentil/bean pasta. Packed with vitamins, protein and fibre, these gluten free pasta alternatives add a healthier alternative to your weekly dinner. In comparison regular pasta is made from refined flour which has had almost all its nutrition stripped off and is providing nothing more than bulk to your meals. You also tend to over eat when you have such pastas as compared to a whole meal version or or a high protein/ fibre gluten free alternative.

I also wanted to make a healthier version to my regular cheese sauce. Usually cheese sauce has maida or plain flour as its thickener and I gluten free chicken pasta 1wanted to avoid using this. I hence decided to use sorghum flour or jowar as an alternative. Sorghum flour is used widely in Norther India as an alternative flat bread. Not only does sorghum promote digestive health with its good source of fibre it also helps improve your body’s metabolism due to a good content of magnesium, copper and niacin. Another good factor with sorghum is that it also tends to be more filling and hence there is no over eating with this cheese sauce as it also fills you up quickly.

 

The main recipe is inspired by one of Mary Berry’s pasta recipes that she makes for her grandchildren (there recently was a very cute episode on BBC). I like this recipe because of the fun layer of chickegluten free chicken pasta 4n layered between the pasta and cheese sauce. I have made my healthy version of her recipe using a chickpea pasta and my sorghum based cheese sauce. I have also added some chopped spinach for much required greens.  I found this recipe to be a fantastic alternative to a regular pasta and cheese bake. The sorghum cheese sauce does not compromise in flavour at any any point. I have not used any other whole grain gluten free flour but do let me know if you have any success with alternatives. Wholemeal pasta can easily be substituted if a gluten free alternative is difficult to come by. I used coconut oil to fry the chicken in this recipe. This pasta can be a vegetarian option as well by adding some roasted vegetables instead of the chicken.

Healthy Tip for day!

  • Check out the free from range of products at your super market and discover some healthier alternatives for you dinner table!

Store Cupboard tip # 5

  • Stock up on some gluten free pasta alternatives made from lentils or beans or quinoa or buckwheat. You can buy them online from Ocado or from Whole Food Markets. Use them to make a quick guilt free dinner.

Finally my gluthealthy indian snacks, dairy freeen free range on Meghna’s also incorporates the concept of using healthier cereals and grains without any additives and using only natural ingredients. My Hindi Heartland Herb Munchies are one such example where I have used Buckwheat flour and red lentil flour as healthy gluten free cereals. Do take a look!

Print Recipe
Healthy Gluten Free Chicken Pasta
healthy gluten free chicken pasta
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings
Ingredients
For the cheese sauce
For the chicken
For the pasta
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings
Ingredients
For the cheese sauce
For the chicken
For the pasta
healthy gluten free chicken pasta
Instructions
  1. For the cheese sauce: Combine the sorghum flour and half the cold milk till there are no lumps. Then add the rest of the milk. Put it on the stove and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly and it should start thickening. in 5 minutes. When it becomes a thick mixture add the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper and let it cook for two minutes. Stir in the shredded spinach and take it off the heat. The spinach will wilt down in the residual heat.
  2. For the chicken: Slice the chicken into thin strips and put it into a plastic bag (I use a ziploc one). Add the chili powder, salt, herbs and oil to bag. Secure the bag and then toss all the ingredients in the bag. Make sure all the chicken pieces are coated with the seasoning. Get a pan very hot and then add the chicken and fry on both sides. Add the chicken in batches so that the pan is not over crowded. This way the chicken can get crisp and not soggy. Fry for a few minutes on both sides and remove from the heat.
  3. For the pasta: Cook the pasta as per instructions in salted water. Add a chopped onion to the pasta and water and let it cook along with the pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it along with the onions and keep aside.
  4. Pre heat the oven to 200 C.
  5. Combine the pasta with the cheese sauce and mix till the pasta is completely coated with the sauce. Take a wide baking tray/pan and transfer half the pasta to the pan and press it down. Add the cooked chicken slices and spread to cover. Add the remaining pasta and completely cover the chicken. Press down into the pan.
  6. Decorate the bake with slices of halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle over the cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes till golden and bubbling on the top. Serve hot.
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