Transform Your Favorite Recipes into Gluten-Free Recipes

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on September 25, 2012

You’ve decided to go gluten-free. Now what?

If you’re anything like me, a couple of weeks into your gluten-free journey and you’ll give anything to have Mom’s casserole again, will begin dreaming of Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, and your friends will be expecting you to bring their favorite dessert over to Sundays dinner party. Problem is, or so you think, is that all of these recipes contain gluten!

Do not fear. This is a natural step on your way to gluten-freedom. It’s time you figured out how to transform those traditional recipes into gluten-free ones. I know it sounds scary, but you can do it! All you need is a couple of recipes, some great gluten-free products like DeLallo gluten-free pasta and a couple of encouraging examples. Here goes!

Appetizers

Who doesn’t like a nice, rich soup as an appetizer? I know I do, especially with the cold weather approaching.

Soups are generally made with a chicken, beef or vegetable broth as the base. Many of these broths are thickened with wheat flour. To make the recipe gluten-free, all you have to do is purchase a gluten-free broth, easy as that! Many popular household brand name companies list whether or not their broth, bullion or stock products are gluten-free and a quick skim of the allergen list of the product will tell you whether or not it’s safe for you.

If you’re feeling a little crazy and are interested in making your own stock, you can thicken it using the following gluten-free starches in place of wheat flour:

  • corn starch
  • arrowroot starch
  • tapioca starch
  • potato starch

An example of where these points could be put to practice would be by transforming the DeLallo recipe for Pasta e Ceci – Chickpea Soup. All you’d have to do is be mindful of the broth used, and switch out the regular spaghetti for a gluten-free kind.

Another popular appetizer crostini-based, like the DeLallo Sun-Dried Tomato & Brie Bruschetta.

To make these bread-based appetizers gluten-free, you can replace the bread with:

  • circles cut from gluten-free wraps and baked for a couple of minutes until crisp
  • potato skins
  • polenta rounds
  • zucchini or carrot slices
  • potato chips
  • rice cakes

Pasta Dishes

The first ingredient you’ll have to worry about in pasta dishes is the pasta itself. You can swap out the regular pasta in a pasta dish recipe with:

  • rice pasta
  • corn pasta
  • corn and rice pasta
  • buckwheat pasta (please note that soba noodles, a form of buckwheat pasta, is usually made up of approximately 30% wheat and is not gluten-free)
  • soy pasta
  • quinoa and rice pasta
  • potato gnocchi

If the recipe calls for sausage or other processed meats, make sure you check the label of the package before purchasing. Many meat companies are going gluten-free and are now stating clearly whether or not their product is safe for a gluten-free diet. Another thing to watch for are packaged cream sauces as they could also contain wheat ingredients.

A great example of a traditional recipe that can be made gluten-free using my suggestions above is the DeLallo recipe for Spicy Sausage & Pepper Orzo.

Main Course

There’s something about breading meats with a crispy outer shell that brings comfort to a meal. To obtain this same golden, crisp outer layer you know and love, try replacing the wheat flour with:

  • corn meal
  • smashed potato chips
  • gluten-free cereal
  • gluten-free bread crumbs
  • ground nuts, like almonds
  • shredded coconut

An example of where any of these substitutions would work well, is in the DeLallo recipe for Italian Lemon-Breaded Pork Chops with Orzo & Peas. Using the pasta recommendations I listed above, you can make this entire meal gluten-free and enjoy every last bite!

Similar to breaded proteins are entree recipes that require breadcrumbs as a binder such as seen in recipes like meatloaves, burger patties, and meatballs. You can replace the breadcrumbs with an equal amount of:

  • almond flour
  • gluten-free bread crumbs
  • quinoa flakes
  • ground nuts or seeds
  • flax seed

Alternatively, try adding an extra egg and just omit the breadcrumbs completely. More often than not, the recipe will still work just as well.

An example of where these tips could be used to create a healthy, gluten-free entree is in the DeLallo recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Meatballs.

Sauce and Gravy

It’s hard to believe that practically every sauce you’ve either made, ordered at a restaurant, or purchased at a grocery store was made with some form of gluten, but it’s true. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find gluten-free sauces to top your steamed veggies, coat your slice of turkey on Thanksgiving, or drench some French fries in at the end of a long week. Natural, gluten-free thickeners for sauces and gravies include:

  • corn starch
  • arrowroot starch
  • tapioca starch
  • potato starch

When substituting wheat flour with these gluten-free thickeners, use about 25% less than what is called for in the recipe as they tend to be a little bit more gelatinous than wheat flour. Too much, and you’ll have a gravy jello. Not good.

Baked Goods

Last, but certainly not least, is dessert. This is where gluten-free adjustments can get a little bit complicated. If there’s a minimal amount of flour in the dessert recipe, as seen in the DeLallo recipe for Ricotta Pudding, you should be okay with replacing it with a gluten-free flour such as white rice flour.

If your favorite dessert calls for a large amount of flour like a cake or cookie, purchasing a gluten-free all-purpose flour mixture will be the way to go. These mixes are often made up of a mixture of gluten-free binding and rising agents like xanthum gum, baking powder, baking soda and a variety of gluten-free flours such as:

  • brown rice flour
  • garbanzo bean flour
  • tapioca flour
  • potato flour
  • buckwheat flour
  • coconut flour
  • almond flour
  • teff flour
  • sorghum flour

Now that you have the tools to transform your favorite recipes into gluten-free ones, I encourage you to give it a shot and see just how easy (and delicious) it can be!

All images and recipes supplied by DeLallo Foods. The opinions expressed herein are those of Healthful Pursuit and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of DeLallo Foods.
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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica { EricaDHouse.com }

When my Dad was diagnosed with Celiacs 2 years ago I remember my mom’s counter top slowly being covered in different flowers. She must have every kind you’ve listed and I never realized why she needed so many until I read this!

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Beth @ Tasty Yummies

Such a comprehensive and well thought out list, Leanne. Man I wish I had something like this 8 years ago ;)

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Michelle @ Eat Move Balance

One of my dear friends has celiac, so I’ve learned quite a bit about cooking gluten-free. This a great resource! Thanks for compiling so many great ideas into one post!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

This is such a helpful post Leanne! I don’t absolutely have to follow a guten-free diet but often feel better when I do, so all of these suggestions are great and I can’t wait to experiment with them. One of my favourite binders/crispy coatings is crushed gluten free cracker crumbs. They pretty much do the same job as cereal, but if you can get herb-flavoured ones, they definitely punch up a savoury dish!

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Jeanette

Fantastic tips Leanne! When I first started cooking gluten-free for my youngest son, it was so hard to think of substitutes. This is a great resource for anyone new to gluten-free. I also make my own bread crumbs using the ends of gluten-free bread that I buy. Just whiz them in the food processor and store in the freezer.

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Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free

I love this! What a great all-purpose list-especially for those newly gluten-free goers :D I am going to save this for a friend!

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Tamikko

Great list Leanne! I haven’t thought of what I’ll do if we ever go out to eat. It’s still scary and new for me so I’m going to have to do some thinking and researching the menu’s a bit. This is a much needed list for reference. You are my savior in this weird turn of life for me. Thank you for everything you do.

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Dayanna

Great post Leanne – the breakdown on every type of meal is so helpful. Trying hard to stick to a more GF diet. I did it for about 3-4 months 2 years ago (when i just began uni) and my energy levels improved heaps! As always, another great post – thanks!

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Mrs G

Hi, Leanne! Great post as usually!
I hope that you don’t mind but I would like to add a few things to your post. First of all, potato gnocchi do contain flour as this is necessary to keep the gnocchi on shape. So, you should really make them yourself and using a glutenfree all purpose mix and possibly an egg yolk (gluten is a great binder and since it’s missing, it should be somhow replaced) and in this case the use of the right sort of potatoes is really very important.
Then, I would not encourage anybody to simply modify their wheat based recipes with gluten free flour. Since there is no gluten, it should be replaced with extra egg, butter, milk in order to bind well. A good rule of thumb would be to reduce the flour quantity by 20%. It’s also really important to measure by weight and not by volume since the specific weight od every flour is different and in the end traditional baking is just a matter of chemistry: with the wrong ingredients balance your cake will simply not raise or your biscuits will be so crumbly that they will not hold their shape.
My advice, if I may offer mine, would be to begin with recipes developed by flour mix manufacturers and when you are a bit more experienced that you can modify your grandma’s recipes to make them gluten free.
Sorry for the long post, but I hear that so many people have difficulties with glutenfree cooking and baking that they are discouraged to adhere to their diet. Having been there myself, I hope that my insights would help somebody else.
I hope that you do not take my comment as a criticism, but as another point of view to contribute to a (fruitful) discussion.

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks for your feedback! It’s great to hear from others that have gone through a similar transition. This hasn’t been my experience with gluten-free baking, but I appreciate you sharing your tidbits as well. The more information that’s out there, the better!

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Mrs G

I totally understand your point of view. I also never had a problem with your own recipes, they always work very well. But that’s because you haven already given an ‘healthy twist’ to your recipes. The experience I described above, it’s about ‘traditional, grandma style’ sort of baking with white flour, white sugar, butter, milk and so on.

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Donna

Brilliant, well-organized go-to sheet when one is searching for gluten-free answers to cooking/baking conundrums…I appreciate you getting this out in such a handy format and I will bookmark this STAT for easy reference! (Love the suggestions/comments from your readers as well…I like to use crushed asian shrimp/tapioca cracker/rounds as “breading” or crushed buckwheat crackers…I also second the idea that an extra egg is often all that is needed to “bind” certain meat mixtures…So well done Leanne!!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Donna! I love the idea of crushing crackers for the crumbs. I’ve honestly never thought to do that!

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Iris Lee

Thanks for this super informational post! I’ve been GF for a while but am usually too intimidated to attempt any complex GF baking… Your recipes are inspiring me to try more!

I’ve been a reader for some time now, and I’m always drooling over your pictures. Thank you for always posting such creative and thoughtful recipes! I actually just started my own blog and would be thrilled if you have a moment to stop by and say hello. (My recipes are not even comparable to yours though!) :)

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Headed over there now to check out your new space!

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Sherrie

What a perfect compilation; I will certainly bookmark this. Thank you Leanne!

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cat

POTATO SKINS! The perfect sub for mushrooms! THANK YOU!!!!! These are all such great ideas… thanks for taking the time to put them all together in one spot. :-) c@

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Glad you liked my gluten-free suggestions! Yeah, potato skins are the BOMB as a gluten-free substitution.

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Min

This is great! Thanks, Leanne! I don’t have gluten intolerance, but I’m def opened to trying and experimenting with gluten-free recipes! I’ve started using arrowroot to thicken sauces…works beautifully! And I actually didn’t know that soba noodles are not gluten-free! Glad you pointed that out! Oh those meatballs look so delicious! I’m going to make them soon for sure!

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Patricia

Leanne would you consider adding a few recipes that are not only wheat and corn, but also dairy free? I love the economic considerations that you’ve included because I believe we can all eat better by systematizing our shopping and food preparation. 80% compliance is adequate for non-allergic diet changes, so I like having the occasional support of ready mixes as you’ve suggested.

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Patricia – are you suggesting that I add recipes to this roundup that are dairy-free? If so, many of the recipes at DeLallo have dairy, but the dairy can usually be replaced with non-dairy milk for milk, daiya or other dairy-free cheese for cheese, if there’s ricotta or sour cream you can get away with making these products out of dairy-free yogurt (there are a bunch of recipes online on how to do this). I’ll be sure to keep the dairy-free aspect in mind as well when I do my next roundup. Thanks for your suggestion!

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Mandi

Hi, I love the recipes that you have on your website! Your Upside Down Banana Bread Pancakes are absolutely positively DELICIOUS!! I was just wondering — do you have celiac disease or have you just chosen to cut gluten out of your diet, and if so, do you mind me asking why? Thanks!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Mandi – thank you! I haven’t made those pancakes in a long time… I should get to it! I went off gluten many years ago at the recommendation of my naturopath and instantly began feeling better so I’ve never been tested. I wrote a bit about my gluten-free journey on my about page if you’re interested. Here’s the link: http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/about/

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