Gluten Free Dinner

What’s for dinner?  The question that can inspire and get the creative juices flowing, or some days, simply strike panic into our hearts.  Work, kids, activities, housework AND you’ve got to get a nutritious gluten free dinner on the table.

Take a deep breath.  There.  Once you get used to it, you’ll find it's not so difficult after all.  You’ll have your “go to’s” for those hectic nights and some favourites for when you have a little more prep time.  Here are a few tips that I find work well:

Plan Ahead

If you have an idea what you’re going to make a day to two from now, you can save yourself some work.  Make extra mashed potatoes with tonight’s grilled pork chops so you can top your shepherd’s pie tomorrow.  Cook extra rice for your chicken fried rice to make the rice crust pizza for Friday night.  A little meal planning goes a long way.

Make Leftovers Appealing

There nothing wrong with pulling every container out of the fridge one night a week and letting everyone make up and microwave their own plate.  It’s a great time / sanity saver for those crazy nights when you’re late getting home from work, one kid needs to be delivered to tae kwon do and the other to a friend’s house to work on a school project.  But leftovers can be the basis of a whole new and scrumptious gluten free dinner too.  Last night’s roast chicken can be tonight’s chicken pot pie.  Leftover steak can be sliced thin and added to a stir fry or pasta sauce.  Baked beans make a great vegetarian taco.  Leftover roast potatoes and root veggies are awesome in a frittata.  Just stick your head in the fridge and see what sparks your imagination.

Eggs for Dinner

Why not?  Eggs may just be the perfect food.  High in protein, not to mention iron, Vitamin A, D, E and a host of minerals, eggs make a great meat substitute and they are quick and easy to prepare.  And don’t worry about cholesterol.  There is absolutely no correlation between the number of eggs consumed and heart disease. 1.  A frittata makes a simple and delicious gluten free dinner and is a great way to use up leftover veggies and meat.  Or why not just scramble up a big perfect pan-full and top with some grated cheddar.  Add a side of steamed broccoli and a slice of gluten free whole grain toast.  What could be better?

The Freezer is Your Friend

Make more than you need and freeze single serving portions for lunch or dinner in a hurry.  Baked beans freeze nicely.  I freeze cooked rice and quinoa in one cup portions.  Homemade soups, pastry to top the pot pie, leftover turkey from the holiday meal.  When you just can’t come up with one more exciting way to prepare leftover turkey, freeze the rest.  In a month you’ll enjoy it in a soup or stir fry. 

Keep frozen veggies on hand.  They’re quicker than chopping and preparing fresh and almost as good.  Excellent time saver when you need to top off your gluten free dinner with something green.

Elevate Your Meal with a Savory Sauce

Many cooks are intimidated by sauces, but once you get the hang of it, you can whip up something tasty while the potatoes are boiling that will turn ordinary baked salmon or chicken breasts or boiled cottage roll into extraordinary, unexpected, astonishing, amazing…you get the idea.

From the Freezer Section:

Frozen vegetables and fruits are fine.  In fact they are the next best thing to fresh and far better than canned.  But the prepared meals and meats worry me on so many levels.  First of all, that’s where the risk of hidden gluten lies.  Sauces, crusts, toppings etc mostly contain flour or bread crumbs.  But beyond that, I just can’t imagine that they are using the best quality whole meats and vegetables.  If we’re concerned about the quality of the meats on the meat counter then how much more should we be concerned about what they are using in the prepared product that’s disguised with seasonings and sauces.  Much better to find a reputable butcher who sells non GMO pastured meats and a good supplier of organic vegetables and make some gluten free dinners ahead to freeze yourself.

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Sources: 1.  Harvard Heart Letter July 2006, http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/egg-nutrition

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