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Gluten-Free Time Saving Tips in the Kitchen

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2004 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity.

Celiac.com 09/25/2014 - Every year, life seems to get more hectic.  There is never enough time to get the things done on the ever-growing “to-do” list, let alone find time to relax.  Then you are diagnosed with celiac disease and suddenly realize you can no longer stop at Subway for a hoagie sandwich on your way home.  You get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as you acknowledge that you will have to actually cook most of your own meals at home!  

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Photo: CC--Stopwatch TestThere is no need to panic.  There are many shortcuts that can help you get in and out of the kitchen faster.  Here are just a few:

  • Make a list of all the items you buy at the grocery store.  Make your list very specific, organized by aisles at the store.  Print off multiple copies.  As you run out of things during the week, put a check mark next to the item on your list.  When it is time to go shopping, most of your list will already be done.
  • Keep a “basic pantry.”  These are items you should always have on hand.  Not only does this include spices, household cleaners, paper products, and canned goods, but a back-up pantry meal is always good to stock as well.  This can be anything from cans of beans for a bean salad, gluten-free pork and beans or a can of tuna fish, to gluten-free spaghetti and gluten-free spaghetti sauce.
  • Make extras.  If you are making soup, chili, spaghetti sauce, marinated chicken breasts, cookie dough, etc., make two or three times the quantity you need; freeze the extra portions so you have meals that just need to be popped into the microwave on the days you don’t have time to cook.
  • Use disposable foil cookware for those really messy recipes.  Also, dish out dinners in the kitchen, from pot to plate; that way, you won’t have serving dishes to wash.
  • Soak whole potatoes in hot water before baking them—they will cook much faster.  When potatoes need peeling, peel them after they are cooked when they are cool enough to handle and the skins will slip right off.
  • Use leftovers to make a different meal.  Open a bag of ready-to-use lettuce and top it with last night’s leftover corn, taco filling, diced tomatoes, and sprinkle with gluten-free cheddar cheese.  Or top the salad with thin slices of the leftover roast beef, diced leftover asparagus spears…you get the idea.  You can also chop leftovers into bite-sized pieces and place them in a resealable freezer bag, and the next time you have leftovers toss them in.  When the bag is full, open a large can of gluten-free chicken or beef broth, add the contents of the bag, and voila—you have Recycled Soup!
  • Save the crusts.  If you can’t get the kids to eat their crusts, trim them from their bread and store them in a resealable freezer bag (gluten-free bread is too expensive to buy and too time-consuming to make to throw out the crusts!).  When the bag is full, let the crusts dry out for 24 hours, then run them through a food processor or blender, adding spices like dried parsley, garlic powder, paprika, and/or Italian seasoning, and make breadcrumbs.
  • Use a crock pot.  There are many meals that can be made in crock-pots, such as the recipe that follows.  Cut up your leftover veggies and meat from the night before.  You can also cut up potatoes ahead of time and soak them in cold water in the refrigerator.  In the morning, layer everything in the crock pot, add some liquid (gluten-free barbecue sauce, gluten-free spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, gluten-free broth, or salsa), turn the temperature to low or slow cook, and eight hours later your meal is ready.

With a little practice and planning, you can enjoy healthy, quick, gluten-free meals.  Planning ahead is the key to saving time.  Plan your meals for the week, including how you are going to use up the leftovers.  There definitely is time for “life after cooking” on a gluten-free diet.  You can find more quick meal ideas in my book, Wheat-free Gluten-free Cookbook for Kids and Busy Adults.

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1 Response:

 
Sylvia Dellas
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said this on
29 Sep 2014 1:18:11 PM PDT
I cook two cups of raw brown rice at a time and freeze it in 3 or 4 ounce portions so I have the rice available anytime I want to have a meal with rice-- gluten free canned chili, fresh cooked fajitas, stewed peppers, onions and tomatoes-- you get the picture. I live alone, but for larger quantities, just freeze the rice in bigger containers.




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@cyclinglady thanks for checking in Restricted diet didn't do much. Still had some VA last time they checked. Heath still otherwise fine, so RCD remains unlikely. My sxs kick in lockstep with life stress, so that kind of points to some general IBS stuff on top of celiac disease. Very doubtful I'm getting any gluten in, but fingers crossed my system is just a little hyper-vigilant, as I ponder on this thread.

I have always noticed that the table wine in Europe is pretty damn good! I am a wine lover and so is my husband but he does like his Green's beer.

The reason they set the limit at 20ppms is that through scientific study, they have proven that the vast majority of people with Celiac Disease do not have an autoimmune reaction to amounts below that......it is a safe limit for most. Also, just because that limit is set at 20ppms, does not mean that gluten-free products contain that amount of gluten. Testing for lower levels becomes more expensive with each increment down closer to 0-5ppms, which translates into higher priced products. Unless you eat a lot of processed gluten-free food, which can have a cumulative affect for some, most people do well with the 20ppm limit.

I'm in the Houston area so I'm assuming there are plenty of specialists around, though finding one that accepts my insurance might be hard. This might sound dumb, but do I search for a celiac specialist?? I'm so new to this and want to feel confident in what is/isn't wrong with my daughter. I'm with you on trusting the specialist to know the current research.

Hi VB Thats sounds like a good plan. Would it help to know that a frustrating experience in seeking diagnosis isn't unusual With your IGG result I'm sure a part of you is still wondering if they are right to exclude celiac. I know just how you feel as I too had a negative biopsy, but by then a gluten challenge had already established how severely it affected me. So I was convinced I would be found to be celiac and in a funny way disappointed not to get the 'official' stamp of approval. Testing isnt perfect, you've already learned of the incomplete celiac tests offered by some organisations and the biopsy itself can only see so much. If you react positively to the gluten free diet it may mean you're celiac but not yet showing damage in a place they've checked, or it may be that you're non celiac gluten sensitive, which is a label that for a different but perhaps related condition which has only recently been recognised and for which research is still very much underway. We may not be able to say which but the good news is all of your symptoms: were also mine and they all resolved with the gluten free diet. So don't despair, you may still have found your answer, it just may be a bit wordier than celiac! Keep a journal when you're on the diet, it may help you track down your own answers. Best of luck!