Starting a grain-free diet can improve digestive functions and help fight against auto immune diseases. Many people often confuse grain-free with gluten-free, but they are not the same diet. A gluten-free diet will still contain grains since not all grains are processed with gluten. However, a grain-free diet cuts out all grains (including the ones that are gluten-free).
Just because you are cutting bread out of your diet, doesn't mean that you won't be enjoying what you eat! Here are some tips on what to eat when you are going grain-free with tips on ways to incorporate them into meals.
Eggs are a great protein to start your day with. A versatile food, you can make countless grain-free meals using eggs as a base. One of the best nutritious meals can simply be poached eggs on a bed of sautéed veggies with herbs. The result is tasty, full of color, and packed with good nutrients.
Buy yourself a blender and you'll quickly become a smoothie fanatic. Once you have a few recipes under your belt, this is a quick and easy fix to compliment a grain-free diet. A typical smoothie includes milk as the base, fruit, and protein (like peanut butter, flax seed, or protein powder.) What's nice about this meal is it often requires such few ingredients. Just throw coconut milk, a banana, chia seeds and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter into a blender and soon you'll be drinking a delicious lunch packed with energy to get you through the day.
If you're on a grain-free diet, you are going to find yourself eating lots of hearty salads. Salads are the best way to pack a meal with yummy protein, fresh veggies, and delicious herb dressings. This is a great habit to get into because it's an easy one to meal plan for. Simply prepare a protein (like roast chicken or baked salmon), cut up all your fresh veggies, and have your dressing handy to throw on top.
Unfortunately, most soups you find in restaurants and delis have a flour thickener and, thus, are not grain-free. However, making a delicious grain-free soup is easy to do (especially if you have a crock pot to let it simmer all day). Having homemade broth handy in your house is a must if you want every soup to be packed with savory flavor. Use the broth as a base for vegetable soups, beef stews, creamy potato leek, and any other recipe you desire. If you miss the crunchy toast that comes on the side of most soup, go for a different crunch and throw some roasted seeds or crispy parsnips on your soup.
5. Roast Dinners
On a grain-free diet, the oven is your friend. Roasting vegetables, meats, potatoes, and foods of your choice can turn out to be some of the best meals you've ever had. For an easy tasty roast dinner, find some acorn squash to bake and stuff it with sausage and mushrooms for a comforting but healthy dinner.
An increasing number of medical professionals and scientists have been discussing links between modern grain products and chronic inflammatory and digestive illnesses. A variety of factors, such as genetic alteration, excessive input farming, and modern industrial milling have made grain-containing foods unhealthy. This has motivated some individuals to switch to a diet that contains no grain. Below are some helpful tips for transitioning to grain free eating:
Use Greens in Place of Grain-Based Wraps
Wraps are a tasty and convenient lunch, and you do not have to give them up if you go grain free. Simply use leafy greens, such as lettuce or kale, in which to wrap your favorite meat, poultry or tuna.
Fill Up on Vegetables
Fill your refrigerator and pantry with a broad range of vegetables. When you eliminate grains, you are far more likely to eat more vegetables, which is a very positive aspect associated with a grain free diet. Experiment with different recipes for healthy dips to make your vegetables more tempting.
Make Use of Your Slow cooker
Roasting meat and chicken in a crock pot is a great way to make quick, healthy meals without having to follow complex recipes or spend time with complicated preparations. Crock pot recipes abound for beef and poultry, and you can simply pair such items with salads, fresh vegetables or fruit salad to create a balanced dinner. A crock pot can also be used for beans, soups and chili, so that healthy snacks are always available.
In addition, a little-known use for your crock pot is creating tasty breakfasts, such as egg and cheese casseroles or egg and vegetable omelets. You may have to invest in a crock pot model with a timer to ensure such creations are ready at the appropriate breakfast hour, but the convenience such an appliance offers should not be overlooked.
Keep Appropriate Baking Ingredients on Hand
Obviously, everyone enjoys dessert of one kind or another, and therefore you will be pleased to know that grain-free baking is surprisingly easy. This is because you only need a few vital ingredients that are not difficult to locate. These include the following:
• Unflavored grass-fed gelatin
• Maple syrup
• Raw honey
• Coconut sugar
• Arrowroot flour
• Coconut flour
Many grain-free desserts can be made in less than 30 minutes, and numerous easy-to-follow recipes can be found online without any difficulty.
Add Healthy Saturated Fats to Each Meal
Once touted as unhealthy, it is now understood that healthy fats and proteins are good sources of energy that do not wreak havoc with insulin levels, as do most grain products. Genuine, natural saturated fats assist your body to process nutrients. In addition, they reduce inflammation and keep you feeling full longer so that the urge to overeat is significantly lessened. Good examples of healthy fats to add to meals as you transition to your new diet include ghee, organic lard, palm shortening, unsalted, grass fed butter and coconut oil.
With a little time and effort it is easy to go grain free. Fortunately, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by making this healthy lifestyle change.
So, you've decided to go grain-free. This is a great choice, and you'll definitely be feeling the benefits in no time. But, it can be hard to stick to a diet plan if you don't enjoy what you're eating. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious meals that can be eaten on the grain-free diet.
Cereal and oatmeal aren't the only breakfast meals, even if they typically come to mind first. Grain-free individuals can enjoy freshly cooked eggs with a side of bacon or ham, a nice juicy steak paired with hash browns or diced potatoes, or a Denver omelet with all the fixings.
If you prefer a lighter breakfast, you can have grain-free banana bread or pumpkin bread, made fresh at home or bought from a bakery. A simple parfait can be made with yogurt and whichever fruits you enjoy; blueberries, strawberries, and bananas are great toppings, especially when combined with nuts, giving you all the nutrients you need to start your morning. Grocery stores also sell a wide variety of grain-free breakfast bars, held together with egg whites and fruit, rather than oats or granola.
Mid-day is here, and you wanted a sandwich or a burger, but they both have a big grain-filled bun on top! Not a problem, you can have your burger wrapped in lettuce, rather than a hunk of bread. Same great taste of grilled beef and your favorite toppings, lacking just the bread. As for sandwiches, there are now more grain-free breads on the market than ever before. Some are made from Almond or Coconut flour, among other types. These can be hit or miss, depending on your preferences, but they are absolutely worth giving a try before just cutting out your favorite hoagie or club sandwich from your meals.
If you aren't in the mood for a sandwich, try cooking up some home-made fried chicken. This is where almond flour really comes in handy, because you don't have to sacrifice the breading. You end up with a great, crispy exterior with the same delicious herbs and spices as any other fried chicken, minus the grains and the issues that come with it. As a side note, vegetable and canola oil are also rough on the stomach, while avocado, grape seed, peanut, and sunflower oil are much easier on the digestive system.
There are countless great dinner meals that don't require grains at all. Even those that do contain grains can often be substituted without compromising flavor. Freshly seared salmon or any other type of fish, garnished with some lemon and rosemary, is healthy, flavorful, and doesn't contain one bit of grain.
Steak, grilled chicken, and salads are all wonderful meal ideas. The greatest benefit with salads are the seemingly limitless possibilities; Caesar, Cobb, Chicken, Chop, Mandarin, Tuna, Potato, and countless other variations of salads can be made and enjoyed. If you don't feel like cooking, there are restaurants everywhere that make extravagant salads; just order one, pick it up, and enjoy.
Lisa Ann de Garcia, MA, MEd.