Being gluten free and vegan is not easy if you don’t pre-plan and prepare. A little bit of thought and preparation can give you a cupboard full of key items that you can use to make any meal. Supermarkets have increased their stocks of gfv items over recent years and you could get most of what you need in supermarkets at (sometimes) reasonable prices.
Firstly a few words on cross-contamination. Consuming a gluten free vegan diet – understanding the gluten-free products available and the recipes you can make with them – is great. But and there is a big BUT cross-contamination is easy: spreading margarine contaminated with ‘normal’ breadcrumbs on your gluten-free toast; using the same toaster for gluten-free and ‘normal’ bread; stirring a gluten-free dish with a spoon that has been stirring gravy made with wheat flour. Even small amounts of gluten can cause the symptoms of coeliac disease to return. Make the following simple but important changes as part of your routine in order to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen
- Store gluten-free flours separately
- Use separate spoons and knives to prepare gluten-free food
- Keep a ‘gluten-free’ sieve, rolling pin, pastry brush and chopping board
- Wash everything well and clean surfaces before cooking and eating.
Milk and Cream alternatives
- Soya milk. There are lots of brands many of them are sweetened and made to taste like cows milk. Try supermarket own unsweetened brands which are fortified with vitamins and minerals but not full or thickeners or sweeterners. They are also much cheaper
- Soya cream. Often much too sweet but fine as a treat with pudding
- Almond Milk. A good milk substitute for baking and in sauces for curries, also delicious for pouring over cereal, especially granola or muesli; it tends to use agave syrup as a sweetener (brands include Ecomil). Can also be bought as a powder – very handy for making ice cream
- Nut milks e.g. hazelnut, tiger nut etc. All good milk substitutes for baking
- Rice Milk. Good for use in baking and sauces, this is also very sweet but if you have a sweet tooth fine for pouring over cereals and adding to tea or coffee (brands include Rice Dream).
Margarine, spreads and oils
- Sunflower spread/ margarine. Look for a good-quality trans-fat-free margarine. The texture is a little grainier than Pure Sunflower Spread and it can become a little oily when used in large quantities for cooking (as in baking), but it has a good flavour nonetheless. Ideal for making sauces or simply to spread on bread. Brands include Biona
- Coconut Oil. With a creamy, sweet and strong flavour, coconut oil reacts in much the same way as butter when heated, making it ideal for use in cooking, especially baking. Coconut oil is a naturally saturated and completely trans-fat-free oil that: becomes a solid when stored at room temperature brands include Biona
- Rapeseed oil (lots of brands including Clearspring / Farrington’s Mellow Yellow/Hillfarm). Rapeseed oil is a good substitute for butter in all types of cooking, including roasting, frying and baking. British, cold pressed, rapeseed oil makes a wonderful alternative to olive oil for dipping and salad dressings
- Apple puree. This is great to have as a standby in your storecupboard for use as an egg replacement, adding a light and fruity flavour to your baking. Clearspring produce an apple puree and is usually readily available as supermarket own brands
- Energ-G/ Orgran Egg Replacer. These good-quality egg replacers work well in cakes, breads, biscuits and other baking
- Egg Free Mayonnaise. Lots of gluten free and vegan versions – Life Free From is an egg-, dairy- and soya-free mayonnaise
- Ground Flaxseeds. Work great as a binder (when mixed with water) and so are ideal for using as an egg substitute, especially in muffins and cakes (they give a lovely chewy texture to the inside of biscuits.
As well as certain flour mixes, there are other gluten-free flours that can be used for baking and cooking, such as rice, chickpea, potato, soya, corn, buckwheat and millet. If these are not available in your local supermarket, they can usually be found in health-food stores, local ethnic stores or ordered online. You don’t need to buy all of the flours but for general all-purpose cooking and baking rice flour a great all-rounder and corn flour is good for sauces and thickening in recipes. It is worth experimenting with other fours depending upon personal taste and availability.
- Gluten Free Brown Bread Flour. This bread flour uses. a combination of rice, tapioca, sarrasin, carob, sugar beet fibre and xanthan gum to create a light, brown bread flour, ideal for allergy free brown loaves brands include Doves Farm
- Gluten Free Plain Flour. This is a good all-rounder for bread, pastry and many other recipes brands include Doves Farm
- Gluten Free Self Raising Flour. Ideal for all baking recipes, it contains just the right blend of flours plus a little extra xanthan gum to create perfectly textured cakes and bread brands include Doves Farm
- Quinoa Flour. A light and grainy flour with a distinctive flavour, this produces a good loaf of bread when mixed with other, smoother, gluten-free flours
- Masa harina. This traditional Mexican flour is used for making tortillas and tamales. It is made from very finely ground maize flour and needs only a little water to form it into a rich dough
- Tapioca flour (AKA cassava flour).
- Gluten free porridge oats. Produced in a strictly controlled, dedicated gluten-free environment, gluten-free oats are ideal for using in any baking recipe and are delicious made for breakfast, a little pouring of soya milk and some brown sugar as their accompaniment brands include Nairn’s
- Gluten free cornflakes. This cereal has all the flavour and crunch of cornflakes without the added barley which is so common in other brands. Can be used in baking as well as for breakfast with your favourite dairy-free milk brands include supermarket own brand and Doves Farm.
The market for gluten-free breads grows each year however the availability of gluten free and vegan bread is very limited. The products available do not taste good ‘straight from the packet’. They are also super expensive. The ideal would be to make your own. So far the search has not found a good, simple, gluten free vegan bread recipe. However the search continues…
- Ener- G Rice Loaf. A gluten- and yeast-free pre-sliced loaf made entirely from rice. Comes sealed in a vacuum pack and so has a long shelf life; it makes great toast and is also very useful for making breadcrumbs. Not great straight from the packet. Expensive!
- Buckwheat is the seeds of the buckwheat plant,used as a grain or ground into flour. Buckwheat contains starch, protein, dietry fibre, potassium, iron, zinc, B complex vitamins, and vitamin E. Unlike other cereals buckwheat doesn’t contain gluten, The sticky protein found in cereal grains. However it is rich in rutin, a substance that strengthens the tiniest blood vessels in the circulatory system. It originated in Russia and was once called beechwheat. Buckwheat flour is traditionally used to make Russians blinis, a kind of pancake. It comes roasted or raw and you can sprout it if you buy it in the raw state. Buckwheat has a full nutty flavour and is good served plain
- Millet is frequently used in Africa and Aisa as an important source or dietry protein and iron, millet is sadly overlooked in the west, where it is most often encountered as animal fodder. There are many varieties of millet found primarily in the form of grains, flakes and flour.
Once a staple food crop for the poor of many Western feudal economies, millet fell from grace partly because it contains no gluten, the very quality that makes it a popular food now
- Polenta is a granular form of maize meal and has become a staple in Italian cookery. It can be served hot or cold, and once cooked is highly versatile. A great alternative to breadcrumbs
- Quinoa. This is a great addition to the diet, providing an excellent source of protein as well as being gluten-free. It is a great substitute for couscous or bulgar wheat in salads and side dishes
- Rice is absolutely essential for your store cupboard. Rice is a grain that is cultivated in more than 100 countries and is one of the world’s staple foods. It can be grown on hillsides, in soil, or in irrigated waters, either deep or shallow. The different cultivation techniques, as well as cross-breeding, have resulted in thousands of varieties of rice, including sticky rices, wild rices and fragrant rices: all can be categorised as long-, medium- or short-grain. Long-grain rices such as basmati are thin, dainty and pointed. Medium-grain and short-grain rices are plumper, starchier and more absorbent. Examples of medium-grain rices are risotto and paella rices such as arborio and calasparra. Short-grain rices include pudding rice and sushi rice. While many people in the West think of rice as a simple side dish, it’s exciting when cooked as a meal in its own right and readily absorbs other flavours.
Pulses and beans
Pulses and beans can be used in stews and casseroles, but are also great in salads or as side dishes. The availability is very good. Choose from fresh, tinned, tetrapak or dried depending on your preference, availability and price. Those beans and pulses sold in a tetrapak tend to have no added salt or sugar and are softer than tinned (and I think more delicious).
- Aduki beans are little red numbers with a taste and texture quite unlike any other bean – they are sweet and nutty. Originally from China, and they are now very popular in Japan, where they are sometimes called the “King of Beans”. They are high, for a bean, in carbohydrate. Use in soups and patés; they can also be sprouted. They keep their colour well when cooked, and if simmered with rice they’ll give it a fine purple colour
- Black beans have a rich flavour and velvety texture, and hold their shape well during cooking. Black beans are a particularly good source of antioxidants, iron and protein. Black beans are a staple of South American cooking and delicious in soups and stews
- Black-eyed beans are small, creamy-flavoured beans with a black ‘scar’ where they were joined to the pod. They are much used in American and African cooking, and are the essential ingredient in a traditional southern-style dish known as Hoppin’ John (a mixture of black-eyed beans, bacon and white rice, traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day)
- Borlotti beans are a variety of kidney bean. Italy’s noble bean grows in cream and claret flecked pods where they are available fresh in season, and dried or tinned all the year round. US recipes refer to them as Cranberry Beans. They are good when cooked with aromatic herbs like rosemary, sage or basil, and work well when added to hot pots with tomato sauces or in a risotto. Having a nutty flavor they can be substituted for red or white beans in many recipes
- Fresh broad beans are sweet and delicious pod beans with a smooth creamy texture. They only have a short natural season during the summer, so are often dried, canned or frozen to preserve them. Fresh beans are more popular than the dried variety, which tend to be quite floury. Young thin beans are eaten pods and all, but larger, older broad beans need to have the tough pods removed. Broad beans are also called fava beans, particularly in the US
- Butter beans (also called lima or marrow beans) are large, creamy-coloured beans that have a soft, floury texture when cooked. They make a great vegetarian pâté and work well in mixed bean salads, or rich, wintry stews. They are also a useful source of potassium
- Cannellini beans are a small, white, kidney-shaped bean good for using in salads and casseroles
- Chickpeas are a small legume popular in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cookery. Sometimes also called garbanzos, gram, or (when split) chana dal, chick peas originated in Asia and travelled to the Mediterranean. They are therefore a humble staple of many cultures and not surprisingly are highly versatile. Use in salads, soups, casseroles, and in the famous Middle Eastern dishes of hummus and falafal. In India they are ground into gram flour and used to make pastries and bhajis. For a bean, they are high in vitamin C. Chickpea, besan or ‘gram’ flour, made from dried ground chickpeas, is widely used in Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine
- Flageolet beans are small, creamy, pale green beans with tender skin and a fine, delicate flavour, these are much prized in France. They are actually small, young haricot beans that have been harvested and dried before they are fully ripe. Use them in tomato-based stews, in mixed bean salads or tossed in olive oil to accompany rich main courses
- Haricot beans also known as navy beans in the US) are small, oval, plump and creamy-white with a mild flavour and smooth, buttery texture. They are the classic ingredient in Boston baked beans. Haricot beans are widely used in the cooking of countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and South America. With little flavour of their own, they absorb other aromas and flavours easily, which makes them popular beans to use in bean salads, vegetable soups, slow-cooked dishes such as cassoulet or bean purées
- Kidney beans are reddish-brown kidney-shaped pulses with a soft, creamy flesh. Dried kidney beans need soaking and should be cooked carefully because they contain toxins on the outer skin when raw, which are rendered harmless by boiling. They’re great in mixed bean salads and stews such as chilli sin carne
- Lentils are a large family of pulses with many varieties, sizes and colours. Lentils do not need soaking before cooking. Some will hold their shape well when cooked; others will collapse once cooked, so you need to decide what kind of recipe you are using the lentils for. Whole lentils are good for hot or cold salads, as well as accompaniments rich main dishes, or they can be added to soups and stews. Lentils that cook down easily are excellent for making Indian dhals or savoury purées
- Pinto beans are the original ingredient of Mexican refried beans: this orange-pink bean with rust-coloured specks grows across Latin America and the American South-west
Nuts and seeds
- Chestnuts are the edible fruit of the chestnut tree. Their husks are covered in lots of small sharp spikes and they grow singly. The smaller nuts that grow on semi-wild trees, usually in clusters of three, can be dried to make chestnut flour
- Linseed/ flax is a graceful little plant with turquoise blue blossoms, a tall, erect annual, 30-60 cm high. Linseed is a good source of essential fatty acids: omega 3 and omega 6
- Pumpkins, and their seeds, were a celebrated food of the Native American Indians who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties. The cultivation of pumpkins spread throughout the world when the European explorers, returning from their journeys, brought back many of the agricultural treasures of the New World. While pumpkin seeds are featured in the recipes of many cultures, they are a special hallmark of traditional Mexican cuisine. Pumpkin seeds have recently become more popular as research suggests that they have unique nutritional and health benefits. They are a good source of protein and minerals including magnesium, iron and copper. They also contain some calcium, potassium and zinc
- Sesame seed is probably the oldest crop grown for its taste, dating back 2000 years to China. The Egyptians used Sesame Seed as medicine around the same time, and the Turks used its oil in 900 BC. The term “open sesame” first appeared in the Arabian book “The Thousand and One Nights.” The phrase refers to the seeds’ ability to pop, at the slightest touch, when ripe. Sesame was imported from India to Europe during the first century. Persians used sesame oil because they had no olive oil. Africans, who called it “benne,” brought it with them to the United States in the 17th century during the slave trade. A good source of protein and calcium and protein, it also contains vitamin B3, iron, and zinc
- Sunflower seeds are native to South America. Sunflower (Helianthus annus) is an important crop in many parts of Europe, chiefly for the light cooking oil that is extracted from its seeds. High in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, sunflower oil is widely used in frying and as a salad oil. In many Mediterranean countries, roasted and salted sunflower seeds in their shells are a popular snack. Sunflower seeds can also be sprouted and added to salads, being highly nutritious and pleasantly nutty. Good for; protein, essential fatty acids, thiamin, calcium & zinc
Pasta and noodles
Gluten-free pastas are becoming more and more common and are readily available in supermarkets (most supermarkets have their own brand gfv pastas which are excellent value). The majority of gfv ‘pasta’ brands available are rice based. Oriental rice noodles are gluten-free as are varieties of soba noodles that are made entirely from buckwheat.
- Doves Farm Gluten Free Pasta. A lovely, light golden pasta with a nice smooth texture. The Doves Farm range of spaghetti and pasta is among the best available. You would be hard pressed to tell these apart from good-quality wheat-based pasta, and they cook in very much the same way, making them ideal for nearly all dishes using standard pasta
- Rizopia Brown Rice Pasta. Rizopia is a specialist brand of gluten-free pasta and spaghetti made entirely from brown rice. These have a slightly denser texture than corn-based pasta but a great flavour nonetheless, making them one of the closest-lasting things to ‘real’ pasta currently on the market
- Salute. Possibly the best gluten-free pasta on the market, this Italian-made, maize- and rice-based pasta has a fabulous texture and a taste! It is delicious.
- Baking powder . Standard baking powder often contains gluten. Gluten-free baking powder is now widely available in the baking sections of supermarkets (e.g. Allergycare/Doves Farm). Bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar are naturally gluten-free, so if you prefer to make your own gluten-free baking powder, simply mix 2 parts bicarbonate of soda with 1 part cream of tartar and use this spoon for spoon.
- Xanthan gum. An essential binding ingredient for gluten free vegan baking. Xanthan gum greatly aids gluten-free baking, to some extent it replaces the ‘gluten”, that gluten-free flours lack. It is available in specialist health-food stores and in many supermarkets. Xanthan gum is only used in recipes on this site where it is really needed preferring instead to use a variety or mix of other flours to get the best results. It is often used in bread recipes, scones, as well as cakes and biscuits.
- Agave syrup. A naturally sweet syrup made from juice obtained from the agave plant. Sweeter than honey but not quite as sweet as golden syrup. Ideal for baking with – it adds a wonderful gooey texture to cakes and puddings
- Custard Powder. Gluten free custard powder can be made up with any dairy free milk and used as a base for ice creams or in biscuits to add a creamy, vanilla flavour
- Nut butters. There is no end of the delicious (salt and sugar free) nut butters available from a range of manufacturers. You can even grind your own in some stores (e.g. Whole Foods Market). Biona almond butter is made from lightly roasted batches of whole almonds, with no added sugar or salt. It is wonderful in home-made biscuits or granola bars, or you can spread it on toast for a delicious breakfast or snack
- Dark Chocolate. Montezuma’s range of dark dairy- and soya free chocolates are delicious.
- Tamari. Gluten free soya sauce is indispensable. Lima Foods produce a 1 l bottle which is great value for money (available from Whole Foods Market) and Kikkoman also produce a gluten free tamari
- Colman’s Mustard Powder. Made from grinding brown and white mustard seeds this mustard powder is a handy store cupboard staple. You simply mix it with equal amounts of water to create a pungent condiment for adding to dressings, sauces and sandwiches. Please note that the ready made version of this product contains wheat flour and so is not suitable for allergy-sufferers; only the mustard powder itself is gluten-free
- Gluten free and vegan bouillon/ stock. Kallo Yeast Free Vegetable Stock – available in cubes or as a powder. Marigold Swiss Vegetable Vegan Bouillon Powder has a great flavour as well as being among the few gluten-, dairy-and yeast-free stock powders on the market – a storecupboard essential.