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Land of the Gluten-Free: 10 Iconic American Recipes Without the Wheat

Land of the Gluten-Free: 10 Iconic American Recipes Without the Wheat

As the Fourth of July approaches, people across the nation are firing up the grill. Ice is in the cooler, the fridge is stocked with watermelon and hot dogs, and store windows are decked in more red, white, and blue than Uncle Sam.

Along with everyone gathering in the spirit of the holiday comes dealing with dietary restrictions and picky eaters alike. Whether it’s a sister-in-law with Celiac disease, a kindergartener on a mac and cheese kick, or both, figuring out a way to serve your favorite Fourth of July dishes so that they can eat, too, can be tricky.

Click here to see 10 Iconic American Recipes Without the Wheat

Thankfully, we’ve gathered up a handful of gluten-free solutions that will revolutionize your cookout without cutting the tradition. Going gluten-free may seem daunting, but thanks to a wealth of alternative products it doesn’t have to be. Ingredients like brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum, all found on the Celiac Disease Foundation’s list of gluten-free grains, mean that your cooking habits don’t need to change with your diet, and for that matter, neither does your list of favorite foods.

Special diets are not about deprivation. No matter what your restrictions, you can still celebrate good flavor. From grandma’s chocolate chip cookies to New York-style pizza, The Daily Meal has plenty of creative ways to take nostalgic favorites and make them gluten-free, and just in time for that Fourth of July barbecue, too.

So whether you’ve made the change for health reasons, in solidarity with a loved one, or out of curiosity, take a look at these 10 iconic, gluten-free, American eats, and indulge your taste buds without your health paying the price.


The 11 Best Gluten-Free Cookbooks Out There

Danielle Walker and Kristin Cavallari and Alanna Taylor-Tobin, oh my.

Regardless of the reason, everyone who goes gluten-free is hoping to accomplish just about the same thing: a healthier lifestyle. Here's a comprehensive cookbook starter kit to help you along your gluten-free journey.

Though Against the Grain has been around for awhile (it first came out in 2015), it's been a trusted source for gluten-free cooking ever since. Nancy Cain took on the gluten-free life after her son was diagnosed with celiac and was determined to help others in the same situation.

What's interesting about chef Marco Canora's book is that he's not strict about sticking to a gluten-free diet himself, though he explains he does try to mostly adhere to it at home. Almost every recipe is superfood-packed and meant to be delicious and filling as all hell.

Not only are Alanna Taylor-Tobin's recipes gorgeous, but they're also manageable in a way many bakers' are not. As far as the whole gluten-free bit? The Joy of Cooking's authors say Alanna's "rescued gluten-free baking from the pasty, gritty clutches of white rice flour!"

Before Nancy Cain, there was Danielle Walker&mdashafter being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, she too went all in on the GF life and hasn't stopped making best-selling cookbooks on the subject since. Against All Grain is a good place to enter Walker-land: there are shopping lists, ideas for leftovers, and good, basic recipes.


Developing Our Own Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Blend

We couldn't find a reliable blend, so we created our own.

We wanted a whole-grain flour blend that loosely mimicked the flavor, color, and texture of whole-wheat flour. We started by testing a variety of store-bought blends and published blend recipes to get the lay of the land. Surprisingly, most whole-grain blends we tested produced decent baked goods, but none of them had a deep, hearty, &ldquowheaty&rdquo flavor. We knew we could do better.

We wanted the whole-grain blend to use five ingredients or less, and we didn&rsquot want to include any binders such as xanthan or guar gum. Also, we wanted to keep this blend as allergen-friendly as possible and avoid milk powder, oat flour, and potato starch. Finally, we wanted whole-grain flours to make up more than 50 percent of our blend.

After 126 tests and more cookies and muffins than any one person could consume in a year, we nailed down the ingredients in our whole-grain blend, and learned quite a bit along the way.


Cornstarch

Cornstarch

This refined product, made from the starchy endosperm of corn, has a neutral flavor and has long been used as a thickener for sauces and gravies. Some gluten-free recipes use it in large quantities in baked goods, but we found this approach sometimes imparted a starchy texture. In addition, cornstarch isn&rsquot the most nutritious ingredient, so using it by the cupful isn&rsquot terribly appealing.
Where to Store It: Pantry. [Buy on Amazon]


Most home bakers use the dip-and-sweep method when measuring flour, but this doesn&rsquot work well with gluten-free flours and starches. These flours and starches are finer than wheat flours, making them hard to pack evenly and consistently into a measuring cup. Also, they&rsquore often sold in small bags or boxes, so it&rsquos hard to maneuver a measuring cup inside the package without creating a mess or unevenly packing the cup. The simple solution is to just use a scale and weigh the flours instead of relying on wavering volume measurements. We strongly recommend that you use a scale when baking gluten-free recipes. If you insist on using measuring cups, we found the following method delivers the most uniform results.

1. Place sheet of paper towel on counter and set measuring cup in center.

2. Spoon flour into cup, occasionally shaking cup to settle flour, until flour is mounded over rim. Do not tap cup or pack flour.

3. Using flat edge (like back of butter knife), scrape away excess flour to level.

4. Use paper towel to help funnel excess flour back into bag/container.


We’ve found that the best gluten-free recipes rely on a custom blend of flours and starches. To make your own sorghum flour, blitz whole sorghum to a powder with a Vitamix blender or a NutriBullet.

This salad recipe hits all the flavors we crave in a weeknight dinner: a hit of spice from the chiles, heartiness from the beef, crispy crunch from fresh veg, and even a bit of sweetness from the honey. We highly endorse cooking off extra rice noodles to keep on hand for low-maintenance stir-fries and soups for later in the week.


Gluten-Free Foods List

Your ultimate resource for gluten-free eating and shopping.

If you eat gluten-free, a gluten-free foods list can be a valuable resource. Navigating stores and restaurants to find gluten-free food options may be challenging at times. This gluten-free foods list can help you know what to look for (and what to look out for) when choosing grains and other foods that may contain gluten.

Currently, using a "gluten-free" label is optional on food products sold in the U.S. All products that are labeled "gluten-free" must contain less than 20 parts per million gluten. The 20 ppm threshold was set because it is virtually impossible to reliably detect levels below this (it&aposs like finding a grain of sand in a swimming pool). Plus, research shows that most people with celiac disease, an immune response to eating gluten, can handle these small (<20 ppm) amounts of gluten with no ill effects.

All food labeled "gluten-free" meets these standards, but not all gluten-free food is labeled (especially products that are naturally gluten-free). The ingredient list on the package label is your best tool to be sure, and you can always contact the food company directly if you&aposre unclear.

Here are some things to look out for when you&aposre buying gluten-free foods.

Gluten-Free Whole Grains: Oats, Cereals, Breads and More

Pictured Recipe: Quinoa Power Salad

Grains (including bread, pasta, rice, crackers), specifically whole grains, are an important part of a healthy diet. Whole grains are a good source of healthy carbohydrates, providing energy to get you through the day. Most whole grains are high in fiber, which keeps you full and helps with digestion. Though many grains have gluten, a wide variety are naturally gluten-free.

Naturally Gluten-Free Grains & Starches:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Oats (use oats that are labeled "gluten-free," as oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat and barley.)
  • Cassava/Yuca
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Potatoes and potato flour

What to Avoid When Shopping for Grains:

If you&aposre not sure if your bread, crackers, pasta and other grain-based products are gluten-free, a quick look through the ingredients can help you tell. Avoid products that contain any of the following, as these are NOT gluten-free.

  • Wheat
  • Other forms/varieties of wheat that should also be avoided: whole wheat, spelt, wheat berries, kamut, durum, farro, farina, bulgur, graham, semolina, bromated flour
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between rye and wheat)
  • Malt

Gluten-Free Vegetables & Fruits

All fresh, whole vegetables and fruits are naturally gluten-free and important to include in a gluten-free diet. Produce delivers a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

But when you move out of the produce aisle and start looking at packaged produce, you&aposll have to look out for sneaky gluten. Some types of processed vegetables and fruits may be prepared or preserved with ingredients that contain gluten. Plain fresh and frozen (without sauce) vegetables are all gluten-free, but double-check ingredient lists on packages to be sure. When buying canned veggies, buy those packed with water or natural juices (typically the healthier option anyway). For dried and pre-prepped vegetables, double-check the ingredients to make sure there are no gluten-containing flavorings or stabilizers. The concern for gluten in fruit comes when fruit is canned, dried or (less likely but possible) frozen, as gluten-containing ingredients may be added during the process. Here&aposs what to look out for when selecting gluten-free fruit and vegetables.


Ingredients That Work

White Rice Flour: ideal for its neutral flavor and smooth texture
Brown Rice Flour: imparts earthiness and lends heft to baked goods
Potato Starch: helps with tenderness and binding
Tapioca Starch: provides chew and elasticity
Nonfat Milk Powder: helps with structure, tenderness, and browning adds a rich, caramel-like flavor and helps temper starchiness (and you can omit this ingredient to make this blend dairy-free)


Key considerations

Texture

There are many types of gluten-free flour out there, and they don&rsquot all react the same way as wheat when it comes to baking. Here are the three main markers to measure when choosing a gluten-free bread that is right for you.

Airiness: Bread should be light and airy, but it shouldn&rsquot have too many large air holes in the slices because they can ruin a sandwich and make it fall apart at the first bite.

Density: Some people prefer more texture in their gluten-free bread, but for the most part, bread should remain soft without being overly gummy, heavy, or wet, problems with some gluten-free products.

Types of flour

Cutting out gluten can sometimes mean cutting out valuable essential nutrients , which is why it&rsquos important to know what&rsquos inside your gluten-free bread. Choosing a blend of gluten-free flour types may offer a more realistic bread flavor, but some people prefer to choose just one flour type to avoid cross-contamination concerns. Here are some of the most popular flour types used to bake gluten-free bread.

Almond: Almond flour, a common replacement for wheat, has a nutty, full-bodied flavor. It&rsquos commonly used in baked goods and as an alternative to breadcrumbs. Almond flour contains many minerals and vitamin E , but it is relatively high in fat and calories.

Millet: Made from millet seeds, this flour is often praised for its wheat-like softness paired with a slightly nutty and versatile flavor. It also has more fiber than brown rice flour and is packed with calcium, iron , protein, and various vitamins, including niacin, folic acid, and B-6. Millet may be beneficial to those suffering from inflammation issues.

Sorghum: Sorghum flour has been used for thousands of years. It is light in texture with a mild and subtly sweet taste. It can be too dense and heavy to be used on its own, so it&rsquos used in blends instead. Sorghum is high in protein, fiber , and iron and contains more antioxidants than pomegranates or blueberries.

Brown rice: This nutty-tasting flour is commonly used for noodles and is more healthful than refined white rice flour. It&rsquos high in fiber, protein, iron, and B vitamins , and it can help lower blood sugar levels while protecting against heart disease.

Quinoa: This superfood is a complete protein and packed with nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, vitamins B and E, and all nine essential amino acids. Made from ground quinoa seeds, this flour yields fluffy bread that doesn&rsquot disintegrate.

Oat: Made from ground whole oats, this flour often makes bread that is more chewy and crumbly than wheat bread, but it yields more flavor than all-purpose flour. Oat flour is a great way to add moisture to bread, and it also contains beta-glucan fiber, which can lower bad cholesterol, insulin, and blood sugar levels.

Corn: Corn flour comes in yellow and white varieties. It has a high fiber content and is also high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which can benefit eye health and help reduce the risk of cataracts. Corn flour is also high in vitamin B6, magnesium, and manganese.

Other gluten-free alternatives include lentil, chickpea, amaranth, buckwheat, tapioca, coconut and other nuts. Make sure to check labels to be sure a product is certified gluten-free.


Gluten-Free Goodies

Going gluten-free has been catching on in the culinary world in recent years, as many folks are finding that they are anywhere from mildly to severely affected by gluten. You don&rsquot have to have celiac disease to be affected by gluten. Even milder forms of wheat allergies are enough cause for some to steer clear of wheat products completely, in hopes of avoiding side effects.

Although more people are discovering their aversion to wheat products, the good news is that, with some minor adjustments and ingredient substitutes, they can still eat their favorite baked foods. There are a slew of recipes available that keep the gluten out and the delicious flavors in. You might even find that the gluten-free version of your favorite banana bread tastes even better than the original.

Those who are not gluten intolerant have even reported that cutting back on gluten in their diet has helped them feel better overall. The following recipes are simple and delicious, and allow everyone to enjoy breads, baked goods, and even pizza. Happy gluten-free baking!