Kath Fouhy is a senior performance dietitian at High Performance Sport NZ who has been involved with Coeliac New Zealand for more than three years, first on its medical advisory board and now as its chairperson.
Q: My wife has just been diagnosed with coeliac disease. I do most of the cooking for the household. How can I make sure she’s getting what she needs, without making everything boring, now she’s gluten free?
A: Although the gluten-free diet can seem restrictive, there is no need to endure bland or boring meals. There are simple ways to make your gluten-free meals tasty and enjoyable.
Alter meals you would normally cook, rather than trying too many new ones, to begin with. Identify which ingredients contain gluten and swap them out for a gluten-free alternative. For example, if you are making lasagne, you could substitute the pasta for gluten-free pasta and plain flour for rice flour. Just be mindful that there may be gluten added to ingredients you might least expect, so it’s important to read food labels.
Rather than searching supermarket aisles for gluten-free takes on traditional ingredients, try using foods that are naturally gluten free. Continuing to include a wide variety of foods from the main food groups is important to ensure your wife is still getting all the nutrients she needs. Include plenty of colourful vegetables and fruit, lean meat, nuts, seeds, eggs, legumes, lentils and root vegetables as a great place to start.
If you’re worried your meals are missing flavour, try adding extra herbs. Fresh herbs are an easy and delicious way to pump up the flavour in a dish, with the bonus of adding extra nutrients and great colour.
Following a gluten-free diet provides a great opportunity to try new foods you perhaps wouldn’t usually. Grains such as millet, quinoa or sorghum are nutrient dense and a great way to add variety to your meals. You can also try using more familiar ingredients a different way. For example, have you have thought of having courgette fettucine? Changing the way you slice and dice your vegetables can also be an easy way to include more of them in your meals and make them a little more interesting.
For more information about being gluten free, visit coeliac.org.nz