When first starting a grain-free diet it can be a little freaky to have all your staple foods suddenly taken away. The following meal suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner show how easy it is to eat a varied, interesting and nutritionally complete grain-free diet.
You are only limited by your imagination and your cooking skills to have a super-healthy, nutritionally balanced breakfast.
- Make up a favourite crepe/pancake/flatbread recipe. They are quick and easy to make and can be used for either sweet or savoury fillings.
- Eggs are one of the best ways to start the day. A favourite of mine is poached eggs on a bed of pan-fried mushrooms and grilled tomato’s with lots of herbs. Any of your favourite vegetables can be added to make a really nutritious, appealling and colourful start to your day.
- Grain-free Bread is easy to make, and then you can have toast. If you can eat nuts or want to avoid quinoa and buckwheat you can try the Paleo Bread. Use it as a base for your eggs or for any spread or topping you like. If you want the slow release carbs but prefer not to eat any kind of bread, try sweet potato (roasted from the night before or as a mash) as a base for your meat/veg toppings.
- If you live in Australia and don’t want to make your own bread, try Deeks Grain-free Bread from Canberra. Available mail-order Australia-wide.
- Smoothies are another fast nutritious way to start the day. Start with your milk of choice: coconut milk is a favourite but you can also use almond, goat or any other milk you like (if you are using store-bought soy or almond milk check the label carefully to make sure there are no hidden grains) and then add berries, banana, chia seeds, eggs, quality protein powder, whatever you like/your body likes.
- Quinoa Cereal. 1/2 cup of well-rinsed/washed quinoa with 1 cup of water, cooked for about 15 minutes on a low simmer/until water is absorbed and grains are fluffy. Add some sliced apple and cinnamon at the start so the apple cooks with the quinoa. Serve with a good dollop of cream or coconut cream. You can also try the rolled quinoa which cooks more like a traditional porridge.
- Fruit and Nut Bread, toasted with lots of butter.
- Grain-free museli (I use puffed quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat mixed in with toasted coconut, nuts, seeds like pepita’s and sunflower seeds and rolled quinoa and then add a little dried fruit of choice like dried goji berries.) Add milk of choice.
- You can get a good list of GAPS/SCD breakfast ideas from this website.
Lunch can be a bit harder if you are on the go and can’t just stop and grab a sandwich. You need to be prepared. Most of the dinner suggestions can also be used at lunch. Taking a packed lunch with you to work not only ensures you eat well (remember you are after a nutritionally balanced meal and variety always makes life more enjoyable) but saves you money as well.
- Salad Wraps made from a favourite crepe/pancake/flatbread recipe of choice filled with avocado, sliced cucumber, capsicum, rocket, baby english spinach leaves, tomato. Season with sea salt and pepper or a drizzle of vinaigrette dressing. You can add any left over roast meat or chicken, or cook up sliced mushrooms and onion and make a warm mushroom and salad wrap. Options are endless.
- Sandwich of choice using Grain-free Bread or a favourite crepe/pancake/flatbread recipe as a bread substitute. The bread rolls are fantastic and my preferred choice if I need to pack a lunch.
- My absolute preferred choice would be making up a huge salad using a quality protein such as tuna, chicken, roast meat, salmon (tinned or smoked) or beans. Meal tastes completely different by varying the protein source and details like dressing, capers, finely sliced red onion, shallots, salad leaves, herbs. You could do this option every day of the week and have a different meal each time. Make your own dressing as commerical ones nearly always have hidden grains.
- Make enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Quinoa Salad. To some pre-cooked quinoa add spices, roasted pinenuts, currants, parsley, roasted sweet potato diced and other vegetables of your choice (cooked or raw). Throw in some diced or shredded chicken or lamb and a simple dressing of lemon and olive oil and you are good to good.
- Soups and stews are great in winter. Make them yourself as they often are thickened with grains when made by others.
- Take-away – you may get lucky and find a good quality cafe or takeaway that serves healthy food, make their own dressings from scratch and you can chat to the chef/cook to make sure the ingredients are “clean” and uncontaminated by grains. Be careful with this option – read labels, ingredient listings and ask questions especially if you are super-sensitive.
- Keep a small tin of tuna and/or beans or fruit and nut mix or other long-life food in your car/bag for those times when you are stuck.
Rule of Thumb – have a protein source with either lots of lightly steamed vegetables or a large salad. Add interest to the vegetables by adding herbs, lemon juice, home-made sauces or gravy. You can add a carbohydrate such as potato, sweet potato, quinoa, quinoa, buckwheat pasta or other grain-free pasta. One of the advantages of being grain-free is that you don’t need to be scared of (healthy) fats so adding olive oil, coconut oil or cream, ghee or butter to meals is another way of making you feel satisfied and full.
JUST A FEW EXAMPLES…
- Roast dinner – roast meat of choice and veggies
- Curry or casserole (any recipe you currently cook, just substitute any flour or thickener with potato flour) served with Quinoa instead of rice or even better, serve on a bed of salad or vegetables.
- Spaghetti Bolognaise or any other pasta sauce served on a bed of “vegetable spaghetti” (eg: cut carrots, zuchinni so they are long and skinny and beans and asparagus and lightly steam) or use Mung Bean Vermicelli or 100% buckwheat pasta/noodles (read the labels).
- Use your imagination !! You can have ANYTHING YOU USUALLY HAVE – just use the SUBSTITUTES if you have to. Once you start looking, you would be amazed how many “normal” recipes are grain free and sugar free.
- For dessert or to satisfy a sweet tooth have fruit or as a treat check out the other sweet recipes for ideas.
- You can also make anything from the Lunch List above. Lunch and dinner are pretty much interchangeable.
Eating grain-free is all about removing the dependancy on pasta, rice and bread and replacing that with greatly increased vegetable intake, a moderate fruit intake, combined with making good choices about what kind of protein you eat and the condiments you use. Things like quinoa, buckwheat and other “replacements” for grains or breads shouldn’t dominate your diet. They are very handy to have available as they go along way to making a grain-free way of life sustainable for the long-term and remove the sense of deprivation that some people feel. If you are happy to live without them, then by all means do so!