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Becky C

New To Cooking, And To gluten-free

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Hi everyone,

I'm 23 and pretty new to cooking. I ate dorm food all through college, and I ate whatever my parents made until I moved out in December 2008. I haven't been very good about making my own food and eating a healthy, balanced diet, and now I have to eat gluten-free too. The only cooking experience I had was simple things like mac & cheese, pancakes, scrambled eggs, and quite a bit of baking, until I started working in group homes. In the past 6 months I have gotten a little more experience, but I still have no idea what to make for my own meals (or often how to make it) on a daily basis. For some of you who have been at this a while, could you help me out? I more need basic ideas than recipes, unless it's something specifically gluten-free that would be hard to find a recipe for elsewhere.

I work odd hours and it depends on the day whether I have a lot of time to make a meal or not. I also don't get hungry very often and if I'm in the middle of something I'm likely to want to put off eating if I don't have something I can make quickly. Some days I have to bring my food to work, and it's best if it's something that can be prepared quickly, and with limited contact with the counter or other cooking surfaces to avoid cross contamination (we're usually making the main meal at the same time). On the days when I have more time and not as much to do though, I love to experiment with new things and I could happily spend an hour or more in the kitchen.

I have some other conditions, so my "rules" before going gluten-free were (and they still stand, at least for now):

Not a lot of dairy--I'm moderately lactose intolerant

Not a lot of sugar

High sodium--I know this causes high BP and most people need to avoid it, but for me it's a good thing

No caffeine

Lots of fluids--I'm supposed to drink 1 1/2 gallons a day, more in the summer, so any drink ideas would be great

No alcohol, in any quantity, ever

Higher potassium? My potassium has been low a few times, but the doctors don't seem to have an opinion on it. They just give me a supplement to take, test my blood again, and forget about it.

I need lots and lots of ideas, so that I have a variety of things I can eat and I get a balanced diet...everything from breakfast, lunch and dinner, to snacks and desserts. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Oh, and I forgot to add that I don't have much money. The less expensive, the better. If it's an ingredient I can buy in bulk and will be using a lot, even better. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this boat. ;)

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For some of you who have been at this a while, could you help me out? I more need basic ideas than recipes, unless it's something specifically gluten-free that would be hard to find a recipe for elsewhere.

Hi Becky,

Here is a great primer on how to go gluten free and some basic, easy things to eat while you're figuring things out:


For my part, I would encourage you to think about what you ate before diagnosis that is naturally gluten free (eggs, meat, fish, salads, veggies, fruit, rice, potatoes, etc)....you can still eat that stuff now! Lots of ethnic foods are gluten free (Mexican food made with corn tortillas or masa, Thai food made with rice noodles, etc). You have to be careful about sauces, though. If you buy any processed foods, just be careful to read labels. Please read the following list of no-nos:


If you like sandwiches and have a microwave, here is a very simple gluten free bread made in the microwave (read ALL of the posts, because there are many variations!):


It does get easier after a while! :)


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When i first got married (only a few months ago) i made only a couple things and mixed them up every week.

one was pretty basic and is extremely easy. make a hamburger patty and pit it on a big square of aluminum foil. then slice up veggies. it was usually onion, potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn and/or peas. also you can put seasoning directly on the meat. then put it in the oven at 400 for about 45 min to an hour. you can make two or three and have two leftover meals. they take very little prep time but the cooking time is a tad long

we also had a spaghetti or alfredo night, then one day maybe chicken breasts ligtly seasoned with mashed potatoes and mixed veggies. also nachos were a good one. cook chicken or meat and season and then add beans and cheese and put it on corn chips or tortillas. we alsways had leftovers for hubby to take to work for two more days :)

there are sandwiches, you can make homemade granola bars for snacks. the options are limitless!

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Hi Becky, I'm new to this too; my daughter has been gluten free for about 5 1/2 weeks and I joined her 3 weeks ago.

A previous poster said to think about what you were already eating that was gluten free (and fit your other criteria). That's basically how we started. Since brown rice was already a staple in our household that was a help. And, being the time of year when fresh produce is more readily available, and tends to be not as expensive (specially if you have some farmer's markets around) and its grilling season - all this helped our transition. Fresh fruits, vegetables, simply cooked meats (grilled or oven roasted) and rice or a baked potato.

And I get you on needing quick meals, and something you can take to work.

Breakfast - I'm on autopilot for at least 2 hours after I roll out of bed. We haven't purchased very many prepared glutenfree stuff, but we do get a gluten free cereal. Cereal, milk and a piece of fruit. For you, maybe you could use soy milk, and bananas are great for potassium.

We cook with the idea of having leftovers. Both for the purpose of taking lunch to work and also not having to cook every single night if things get crazy. I pack my lunch the night ahead in one of those ziplock plastic containers that's also microwaveable. Today I had leftover chicken thigh mixed with brown rice and green beans.

If ever you get a little extra money, invest in a rice steamer. We use ours very frequently. It cooks rice perfectly, so that you can make enough at one time to last through the work week. And it steams vegetables wonderfully.

Right now in my fridge I have my choice of steamed carrots, green beans, squash, rice, and a little chicken and pork chop. (Plus a little fruit). This will feed the three of us tonight, allow for my husband's and my lunch tomorrow, and then we grocery shop tomorrow night, and cook some more over the weekend!

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