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Top 10 Gluten-Free Alternatives

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by Michael Wynands. Going gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your favorite dishes, so long as you’re willing to get creative in the kitchen. In this video, MsMojo counts down our picks for the Top 10 Gluten-Free Alternatives. For this list, we’re looking at the type of essential gluten-free alternative ingredients that help keep gluten free cooking fun and interesting, all while facilitating the creation of delicious meals. Submit your ideas on our interactive suggestion tool at

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Script written by Michael Wynands.

Top 10 Gluten-Free Alternatives

Going gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your favorite dishes, so long as you’re willing to get creative in the kitchen. Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Gluten-Free Alternatives.

For this list, we’re looking at the type of essential gluten-free alternative ingredients that help keep gluten free cooking fun and interesting, all while facilitating the creation of delicious meals.

#10: Polenta

Boiled cornmeal: it might not sound overly appetizing when described that way, but it’s a versatile dish originating in Italy that’s also totally gluten free. Polenta can be served hot, in a manner similar to oatmeal or grits, and basically is a porridge. But when allowed to cool, it hardens into a soft, doughy shape that can be grilled, fried and baked. You can also mix ingredients into it before hardening in order to make the loaf more flavorful or texturally interesting. Originally considered to be a food of the lower classes due to its simplicity, low cost and high nutritional value, it has since gone on to be reinterpreted in a variety of creative ways, including more gourmet preparations.

#9: Avocado / Coconut

When it comes to gluten free dessert alternatives, these two are the cream of the crop. Although one is often thought of as a vegetable, and the other a nut, they are both in fact, fruit. And both work wonderfully as gluten free ingredients in any dish that needs a creamy consistency. Ice cream might not scream for gluten, but in our world of processed food, gluten has snuck its way into most major store-bought ice cream. Thankfully, frozen avocado and/or coconut cream can be used to produce a silky smooth ice cream that will make you forget all about your old brand of choice. It’s also generally healthier, which is a rare quality to find in a dessert this good.

#8: Black Beans

Is there anything more comforting than a chocolate brownie? There’s no shortage of brownie recipes out there that use some form of gluten-free flour. But look deep inside and ask your childhood self… do any of these brownie recipes really hit the spot? Gluten-free brownies are often too dry, too cake-like or simply too dense. They often lack that rich, moist, delightfully chewy texture that makes a brownie better than a significant other. Black beans give you the best result - but as with any dish, you need the right recipe. Get it right and this dessert is pure heaven - decadent, rich, and fudgy. Why not whip up some meringue for a fat-free and gluten free frosting option?

#7: Grits

In theory, oatmeal should be gluten free, but as many celiac sufferers will tell you, anyone with a serious sensitivity is better off not risking it if the brand isn't explicitly gluten-free. These days, most brand name oatmeal have been cross-contaminated. Thankfully, grits makes for a scrumptious, carb-heavy breakfast to get you through the first half of the day. Unfortunately, grits can’t replace oatmeal in every recipe but when it works it works. While grits contains more carbs and calories than oatmeal, it balances the scale with a lower fat content and more folate, a water soluble B-vitamin that the average body doesn’t get nearly enough of.

#6: Cauliflower

Many people have bad history with this vegetable thanks to its regular appearances as a side dish - steamed to death, and utterly flavorless. But today cauliflower is enjoying a new image as a gluten-free, low carb chameleon. By grating cauliflower, it can stand in for couscous. Low-carb eaters also use it to replace rice. When we say cauliflower pizza crust, there’s bound to be more than a few raised eyebrows out there, but have faith… it’s delicious. By food processing cauliflower into an almost flour-like consistency, then straining out the water, you get a dough-like substance that results in one mind-blowingly good thin crust pizza.

#5: Portobello Mushrooms

Is there a role in hamburgers that a portobello mushroom can’t play? A whole portobello mushroom is a popular vegetarian replacement for beef patties. But for gluten free diets, you can keep the beef and use two portobello mushroom caps to serve as buns. The resulting burger is tasty and filling, so the likelihood of anyone asking for seconds is pretty slim. But with the lovely umami characteristics that the portobello mushrooms add, we doubt you’ll miss the soggy old traditional bun. That being said, not everyone likes mushrooms. For those whose mouths don’t water at the sound of fungi, thick slices of sweet potato, coated in olive oil, then baked or barbecued, can also serve as a healthy, gluten freealternative hamburger bun.

#4: Gluten-Free Flours and Starches

There’s a wide variety of gluten-free flours out there. But sadly, there’s no single alternative flour that perfectly mimics the characteristics of wheat. Thankfully, dedicated gluten-free bakers have put in the time and effort experimenting with flour blends to get you the best mixture for each of your baking needs - recipes for which can be found on popular cooking blogs. Baking may never be as simple as it was with gluten, but by using some mixture of sorghum flour, almond meal, rice flour, chickpea flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, corn starch, tapioca starch, or potato starch- to name just a few-, you’re sure to get a great end result.

#3: Quinoa

Couscous… those delicious little pearls of steamed semolina that make for the world’s best mixed salad. What potluck, picnic or classy party is complete without a couscous dish? Well, couscous might be off the table (or picnic blanket) when it comes to gluten-free food, but quinoa can be used in many of the same dishes. It provides a comparable mouth feel and even looks rather similar to the untrained eye. But quinoa is a gluten free grain, unlike couscous, which is similar to pasta in the way it’s made. Couscous is also simple carb, whereas quinoa is considered to be a superfood, delivering all nine essential amino acids, close to twice the fiber of your average grain, a healthy dose of iron and much more.

#2: Lettuce Leaves / Collard Greens

Almost every culture in the world has their version of a sandwich, and almost all of them are off limits on a gluten-free diet. Why? The dreaded bread. Sure, there are plenty of gluten-free breads out there, but they are too often expensive, complicated to bake or simply fail to provide the same mouth-feel. Rather than chase the bread they used to have, many gluten free eaters have turned to leafy greens. Lettuce leaves work great as crunchy taco shells, or wrapped around hamburgers. Blanched collard greens provide a sturdy, durable wrap, capable of holding together even when used for the most overstuffed burritos. Swapping out bread, tortillas and other breads for leafy greens also makes for a much lighter meal.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

• Tamari

• Brown Rice Tortillas

#1: Alternative Grains and Vegetable Spirals

Quinoa might be able to replace couscous, but what about the many forms of pasta out there? For starters, rice and quinoa noodles are both great options. Just make sure not to overcook them or they’ll fall apart. But what are you most looking for in gluten-free pasta? A recreation of the wheat version or something totally different? Much like with bread, vegetables can provide versatile solutions for gluten-free pasta dishes. Zucchini can be spiralled into noodle-like shapes, or flat ribbons for fettuccine. Eggplant lasagna is, to put it simply, divine. Spaghetti squash isn’t just a name either. When cooked and hollowed out, it makes lovely, perfect little spaghetti noodles. Just pick a pasta and start cooking!

Do you agree with our list? What are some of your favorite go-to gluten free alternatives? For more delicious top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.


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