‘But what do you eat when you don’t eat any wheat?’ This may be the question I am asked most by my peers, colleagues, family and well basically anyone who I tell about the fact that I don’t eat wheat. I haven’t for 2 years now and of course, there are times when you simply have no other choice, but when I do, I find it very easy to substitute. As long as I make sure I do groceries, cook as many meals from scratch by myself, I’m never shy for food and nutrition. In the past 2 years, I’ve found myself eating differently and here are some of the products I now eat more of than I did before, or that I have started eating because I drastically changed my diet.
As I cut out grains, I subbed them more and more by nuts. Not completely of course. Eating nuts in massive quantities is not only expensive, but also not good for you. But I’ve been adding more raw, uncooked, unsalted nuts to my diet. I especially have them in salads or with my morning yoghurt and I’m not too picky. From pecan, walnut, pistachio, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, raw cashews and the like, pistachios may be my favorites, but I like anything and everything in between. They immediately add flavor and lots of other goodness.
I found that one great addition to my wheat free diet are seeds. I swear by flax seeds. I eat 2 spoonfuls every day and I can tell the difference if I don’t. I’ve ventured as far as taking my own flax seeds with me on short trips so that I have no problems with my stomach after only a few days of eating not so dandy. Other seeds I like and use on a regular basis are pumpkin, chia, hemp and sunflower seeds. Hemp and chia go into smoothies, pumpkin and sunflower go into overnight oats or salads.
3.) Other grains
Of course one logical step is to substitute wheat with other grains. However I have found that not all grains agree with me. I tend to stick to buckwheat groats or flour for porridge and baking. I like having rice cakes and rye bread for some bread/ cracker type alternatives and I also have a chestnut meal cracker that I really like. For granola, I like having rye and barley flakes lately. Combined with flax seeds I find they add a great source of grains to my diet.
4.) Pasta subtitutes
One wheat product that I can miss so so much is pasta. I love pasta! Luckily there are many ways to substitute wheat pasta. You can simply buy a different grain one. There is a lot of spelt around, but for some reason my stomach doesn’t like that much either. I therefore opt for kamut pasta which is great. I sometimes also opt for gluten free options that are corn based, or the good ole favorite: zoodles, zucchini turned into strings which is used as a pasta base.
5.) Sweet potatoes
I dislike potatoes with a passion, but sweet potatoes are my best discovery since going wheat free. The only thing the have in common with a potato is their name sake, but other than that this starchy veggie is a source of many more nutrients and flavor. I turn them into fries (either savory or sweet), put them as an extra filler in soups, stir fry them into fillings for vegan enchilladas, puree them into curries and add them to casseroles. One versatile veggie, which is delicious at the same time.
Another thing that I now swear by are sprouts. And not Brussels sprouts, which are more like a mini cabbage. No, I mean actual sprouts of seeds. I love them to add some flavor, crunch and bite to salads. They are a great accompaniment to hummus spread onto crackers too and there are so many varieties that can add a very particular flavor whenever you use them. Radish sprouts taste as strong as the veggie itself, whereas alfalfa is much milder and sometimes a bit bland.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been eating cauliflower my entire life. But it wasn’t until I went wheat free that I started having it in different ways than boiled. I have turned cauliflower into pizza, alfredo cream sauce, in soups, curries and what not. Again, cauliflower ended up being a much more versatile vegetable than I had expected. A world opened up when I found out, there is more to the white veggie than boiling it and sprinkling it with nutmeg.
8.) Beans and peas
Beans were never a favorite, but then I found out it’s a great substitute for meat and a way to add some starches to your diet when you cut out all the other ones. I love using black beans, chickpeas, green beans, haricot verts and kidney beans mostly. I used garden peas to substitute rice the other day in a curry and I used black beans with mushrooms as an enchillada filling. Chickpeas are regularly turned into hummus and I love my green beans up straight without too much fussing about.
9.) Banana pancakes
A famous ‘healthy food’ staple are the 2 egg-banana pancakes that have been making the rounds. I make them ever so often as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I love them with lots of cinnamon and a few sprinkles of coconut blossom sugar. But I also serve them with a side of frozen fruits which have been heated up and then blitzed into a sauce, fresh fruit, or shredded coconut.
Cocoa powder and cocoa nibs have become some of my favorite condiments lately. I put cocoa powder in smoothies, porridge, baked goods and the aforementioned pancakes. The nibs I love to first let sit in hot water for about 15 minutes to soften them up before I put them in my porridge or baking. It’s a great way to get that chocolate fix without all the added calories of actual chocolate.
Which of these foods do you eat regularly?