If you’re anything like me, when you hear about people cutting gluten and such from their diets you think, “So, what can you actually eat? I could never survive on so little variety…” It’s a common misconception that a clean diet means a lack of variety. Actually, there’s no truth to that idea.
We can still eat bread, muffins, cookies, pizza – we just make them without gluten, corn, or refined sugars. You’d be amazed at what great flavors you can achieve without the “junk”. The thing it requires is time. We don’t cook from boxes anymore, and we can’t just pick up bread from the shelf. If we want bread, we make it from scratch. I know it sounds intimidating, but it’s not as difficult as you’d think. Baking bread is not difficult – mix up the ingredients, let it rise, stick it in the oven. Voila! You can make your own gluten-free pasta, or better yet, vegetable pasta. You get the idea. You don’t have to be deprived.
Here’s what we eat:
- Spices and seasonings – I’m starting here because it’s key to all the rest. If you want to eat good food, you need to get comfortable with spices and seasonings. In our house we love strong flavors and spicy foods. We don’t do bland food.
- Vegetables – We eat all veggies, cooked a bunch of different ways (though simple roasting brings out wonderful flavors in most veg).
- Meat – We primarily eat chicken, turkey, and beef. Of course there’s more variety of meat than that, we just don’t prefer them. We also eat fish – primarily shrimp and salmon. Again, that’s because those are what we prefer.
- Fruit – Some people say you should limit your fruit intake, and maybe you should, but we don’t really. Aria loves fruit and eats it all the time. Andy and I eat less, but still partake regularly. Apples, oranges, grapes, and bananas are favorites around our house. We also eat a lot of tomato (including canned) and avocado. Both technically fruit, though they aren’t treated as such in the kitchen.
- Rice – We eat quite a bit of rice. We like to make a cilantro-lime rice (basically a knockoff of Chipotle’s) to eat with our favorite shredded chicken taco meat. We eat several things over rice. Aria and I eat unsalted rice cakes with peanut butter and jam regularly. We also bake with rice flour.
- Legumes – We don’t eat these nearly as much as we do the other things listed here, but they are still in our arsenal. For example, we eat black beans in some Latin dishes, and a variety of beans in chili (we don’t use chili beans, because they have additives). For some people legumes can trigger illness, so that’s something to keep in mind if you keep them in your diet. It’s best to use dried beans, but they take some prep, and we often eat dishes with beans because I’m in a hurry, so I’m not good about that.
- Breads – As I mentioned above, we do eat bread. However, we don’t eat it with the frequency common in our culture. I may make a batch of muffins or a loaf of bread in a week, and it will take the three of us that week to eat. We may make a pizza for one dinner. We eat these things regularly, but not necessarily often.
- Eggs – Eggs get a lot of play around our house. Fried, hard boiled (great in salads or as a snack or quick meal), and as omelets. We eat them every day.
- Sweet Potatoes – These get their own bullet for a couple reason. First, there’s some controversy about whether they should be considered a vegetable or a starch. Second, we eat them a lot. They’re one of my favorite foods. We make chipotle chicken stuffed sweet potatoes for a healthy, yummy dinner. We make sweet potato fries regularly. I have a wonderful recipe for coconut cilantro mashed sweet potatoes (in the slow cooker). The other week we tried this wonderful beef brisket recipe that is eaten over sweet potato waffles (yep, you cook the sweet potatoes in a waffle maker). That meal was fantastic.
- Almond milk and tea are our favorite cold drinks, other than water. Aria drinks unsweetened almond milk and dark chocolate almond milk regularly. We use this tea maker to brew tea, our family favorite. Andy and I also drink hot tea and coffee (I just do decaf).
There are many great desserts. I don’t recommend indulging often, but you can make pretty much any sweet imaginable without refined sugars or gluten. They’re not the same, but – get this – sometimes they’re better. This Salted Peanut Butter Cup is my favorite go-to when what I really want is ice cream.